Pitzer College Art Galleries and LACE present Juan Downey: Radiant Nature

Rarely seen work by renowned Chilean-born artist is part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time LA/LA Initiative

Juan Downey Radiant Nature

Claremont, Calif. (August 21, 2017)—Juan Downey: Radiant Nature, a new joint exhibition by Pitzer College Art Galleries and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE), brings to life interactive works by the Chilean-born artist Juan Downey (1940–93) that haven’t been witnessed for generations. Drawing on groundbreaking research, Radiant Nature features recreations of Downey’s electronic sculptures and installations from the late ’60s and documentation of his early, innovative performance pieces. Part of the Getty-led Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, this two-part exhibition opens at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, on September 9, and at LACE in Los Angeles on September 13, and runs through early December 2017.

“Juan Downey is known primarily for his pioneering video work; Radiant Nature instead highlights his early experiments with cybernetics and interactivity as played out in these three early bodies of work—electronic sculptures, happenings and performance, and progressive environmental installations.” said co-curators Ciara Ennis, director of Pitzer College Art Galleries, and Robert Crouch, executive and artistic director of Pasadena Arts Council.

Downey’s interactive art responds to the viewer or performers, whether human or non-human. At Pitzer, the Life Cycle: Electric Light + Water + Soil —> Flowers —> Bees—>Honey environmental installation, will video record more than 20,000 live bees housed in a portion of the gallery while a monitor simultaneously plays back footage of the bees at work. Converted from Portapak videos, LACE’s documentation of the performance piece Three Way Communication by Light shows performers filming and projecting images of their own faces onto each other.  These works were intended to be played with, turning passive onlookers into active participants, said Ennis and Crouch.

“Downey was especially interested in the potential of technology to facilitate viewer participation, transform social relations and forge new modes of communication between organic elements or environments and machines or machine systems,” they write in the show’s introduction.

Born in Chile in 1940, Downey eventually settled in New York City, where he developed a practice that included sculpture, performance, installation and video. In the ’70s, he became known for his multi-channel video works such as Video Trans Americas (1973–76) and The Thinking Eye (1974–89), which critique Eurocentric views of Latin American identity. With support from the Getty Foundation, Ennis and Crouch spent three years researching his earlier, often ephemeral works that pre-date Video Trans Americas.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a symposium exploring the relationship between cybernetics and aesthetics will illuminate how Downey’s progressive ideas played out in his electronic sculptures, performances and installations while reflecting on their continued resonance to contemporary practice.

Pitzer College Art Galleries and LACE join more than 70 cultural institutions taking part in the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. The Getty Foundation awarded more than $16 million in Pacific Standard Time grants to arts institutions of all sizes and types throughout Southern California. At the Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College Art Galleries, the Pomona College Museum of Art and the Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery at Scripps College are mounting PST: LA/LA exhibits.

Major support for Juan Downey: Radiant Nature is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation.

Additional support is generously provided by Dirección de Asuntos Culturales, DIRAC, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Embassy of Chile; Pasadena Art Alliance; Estrellita  B. Brodsky; and Consulate of Chile in Los Angeles.

In-kind support is provided by Human Resources of Los Angeles.

Juan Downey: Radiant Nature Opening Receptions

Pitzer College Art Galleries
Saturday, September 9, 3–5 p.m.
Nichols Gallery, Pitzer College
1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont

Wednesday, September 13, 7-10 p.m.
6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

Juan Downey: Radiant Nature Related Events
Exhibition Publication Launch
Wednesday, November 1, 7–9 p.m.

6522 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles

Symposium on Cybernetics
Saturday, November 18, 10 a.m.–3 p.m.
Benson Auditorium, Pitzer College
1050 N. Mills Ave., Claremont

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

Pitzer College Art GalleriesPitzer College Art Galleries mounts visually arresting and memorable exhibitions that promote the value and understanding of contemporary art within a local, national and international context. Through curatorial creativity and visionary programming, Pitzer College Art Galleries provides context, support and a critical framework for artists and curators. The galleries are part of Pitzer College, a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution.

About Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
LACE Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
LACE both champions and challenges the art of our time by fostering artists who innovate, explore and risk.  The nonprofit moves within and beyond its four walls to provide opportunities for diverse publics to engage deeply with contemporary art.  In doing so, LACE furthers dialogue and participation between and among artists and those audiences.

About Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Supported by grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA takes place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California, from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Media Contacts:
Anna Chang
Pitzer College
[email protected]

Fiona Ball
[email protected]

About Pitzer College

Pitzer College is a nationally top-ranked undergraduate liberal arts and sciences institution. A member of The Claremont Colleges, Pitzer offers a distinctive approach to a liberal arts education by linking intellectual inquiry with interdisciplinary studies, cultural immersion, social responsibility, and community involvement. For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu.

About Pitzer College Art Galleries

The Pitzer College Art Galleries’ mandate is Education and Advocacy through the Pitzer College core values—social responsibility, intercultural understanding, interdisciplinary learning, student engagement, and environmental sustainability. By following these precepts, Pitzer College Art Galleries engage and interrogate contemporary and historical issues of importance to expand our audiences’ understanding and contribution to our artistic, intellectual, and social culture. Through curatorial creativity and innovative programming, the Galleries seek to provide context, support, and a critical framework for artists and curators working today and, by doing so, inspire meaningful dialogue that fascinates, excites, and invigorates.

For more information, please visit www.pitzer.edu/galleries or email [email protected].

Media Contact

Office of Communications
[email protected]