Eyes on Art

Cool weather brings even cooler art shows, where you can grab some face time with photographer Duane Michals’ celebrity portraits, see City Hall through the eyes of political cartoonist Rex Babin or walk toward the light in one of Bruce Nauman’s corridors. Here’s our guide to five see-worthy exhibits around the region this fall.

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Bruce Nauman: Blue and Yellow Corridor

Artist Bruce Nauman in his "Green Light Corridor" in 1970 (Photo by Frank J. Thomas courtesy of Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; copyright 2018 Bruce Nauman/Artists Rights Society, New York)

In 1968, artist Bruce Nauman premiered a work titled Walk with Contrapposto, in which he filmed himself strutting down a long, narrow corridor he designed while attempting to maintain a contrapposto pose (think Michelangelo’s David). The next year, at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art, Nauman installed that same corridor so visitors could also take on the challenge.

“That was the hinge in his work, making the viewer the performer in a way—it’s participatory and interactive,” says Ted Mann, who curated the new exhibit Bruce Nauman: Blue and Yellow Corridor, which is on display at UC Davis’ Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art until April 14.

Nauman went on to create over 20 additional corridors between 1969 and 1975 after studying under the likes of Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley as a graduate student at UC Davis in the 1960s. The 77-year-old artist, who currently resides in New Mexico, is also considered a trailblazer in other creative mediums, including performance, video, sound and sculpture. Time magazine has described him as “the most influential American artist of his generation” and the Museum of Modern Art has mounted a major retrospective of his work, currently on exhibit through Feb. 18.

The Manetti Shrem show highlights one of Nauman’s corridor concepts, which was designed in the early 1970s but never physically realized before now. In it, museumgoers enter a tight, U-shaped corridor, which is flooded with acid yellow and electric blue fluorescent lighting, while color television monitors at the entrance and exit—hooked up to strategically placed cameras—show them moving through the space. “It’s such a physical, kinetic experience,” says Mann.

Other examples of Nauman’s works are also on display, including several early videos, like 1968’s Wall-Floor Positions, which Nauman conceived while at UCD. “His work from that period still retains its capacity to surprise and be unnerving,” says Mann. “Given his roots here, it makes sense that this museum should celebrate him and his work.”

Free. Through April 14. Times vary by day. Manetti Shrem Museum. 254 Old Davis Rd. Davis. 530-752-8500. manettishrem.org