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‘It Happened at Pomona’ plays with viewers’ eyes

Brenna von den Benken
Arts Editor

Walking in between two blue glowing walls curved inwards and six inches closer than they appear to the eye could have been mistaken for being in a virtual videogame like Disney’s “Tron.”

The only thing missing was Daft Punk’s electronic soundtrack to complete the “Tron” effect.

Such was the experience of Tom Eatherton’s work, “Rise.”

The Pomona College Museum of Art presented the first of the three exhibitions associated with “It happened at Pomona: Art at the Edge of Los Angeles 1969-1973,” titled “Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona,” which began Aug. 30 and runs until Nov. 6 with a special 24/7 viewing.

“Part 1: Hal Glicksman at Pomona” focuses on the period of ground-breaking artwork and heavy intellectual ferment that became popular in the fall of 1969, when Mowry Baden, Pomona’s current chair of the art department, hired Hal Glicksman as gallery director and curator.

“This whole Claremont area was teaming with artists from the design, painting, and sculpture world, along with new artists who used space and lighting to create something new and innovative,” security information officer Cynthia Madrigal said. “This whole exhibit is about playing with perception, with what’s real and what’s not, what’s above and what’s below, and with time and skylines.”

In this project, Glicksman recognizes a profound shift in artists’ approach to creating work, and the potential that this process held for transforming how art functioned once installed in the museum.

During the academic year of 1969-1970, Glicksman established one of the first museum residency programs, “The Artist’s Gallery,” in which artists used the museum gallery as a studio space to create unique environments directly in the museum.

The exhibition brings together re-creations of the site-specific works shown at Pomona College during Glicksman’s time at the school, along with artworks and documentation of other projects shown at the museum during this era.

The highlights of this exhibition are the creation of a new work by Michael Asher in response to his landmark 1970 installation at Pomona college and the re-creations of seminal installations by Lloyd Hamrol and Tom Eatherton.

Other formative works by Lewis Baltz, Judy Chicago, Ron Cooper, and Robert Irwin were also presented.

Lloyd Hamrol’s “Situational Construction for Pomona” also creates an immersive environment in which the viewer gazes through a window into a luminous, water-filled tomb that simulates an abstraction of a landscape at sunset.

“It becomes an individual experience,” Madrigal said.

By the end of the exhibit’s showing in November, the balloons will lose its helium and alter the perception of the work.

On a similar level, Ron Cooper’s 1969 film “Ball Drop,” presented at the gallery, documents in dramatic slow motion the shattering of a massive glass panel, creating an abstraction of movement and allowing viewers to actually feel the movement of the image in their bodies.

“It Happened at Pomona” recognizes artists who use viewers’ eyes to create culture and imaginary space as the human eye loses depth perception through structured technique.

“I felt like a ‘Grid Bug’ from ‘Tron’ was going to come at me from nowhere in the ‘Rise’ room,” museum attendee Gregory Cole said. “It felt so out-of-this-world.”

“Hamrol’s balloon room looked like something that came out of some tourist site in Tokyo,” museum attendee Ruben Duran said. “It was really hypnotizing; I couldn’t take my eyes away from peering through the window.”

Brenna von den Benken can be reached at brenna.vondenbenken@laverne.edu.

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