Visual art: 2 things I look forward to in 2022

With museums and galleries officially reopening across San Diego — fingers crossed — 2022 looks set to be a full calendar year of programming and exhibits. There is certainly a high profile reopening in the new year, but however grand it is, it will be the art on display that will be the real star of the year.

“Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s” and “Selections from the Collection”, Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla

A lot of articles will be written and much attention will be given to the upcoming reopening of the renovated, redesigned and expanded MCASD La Jolla (700 Prospect St.) and understandably. After four years, MCASD’s flagship location will have four times the gallery space, plus a new public park and oceanfront terraces with ocean views. I was recently able to visit the campus designed by Selldorf Architects and the emphasis on natural light and high ceilings brings an almost illusory feel to the space. It’s sure to be a marvel, and one that’s likely to attract all kinds of national attention.

But alas, we must not forget about art. MCASD La Jolla will mark the reopening with two new exhibits, both of which should complement the space perfectly. First there is “Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s”, a retrospective of the early works of the deceased artist. Saint Phalle is best known for her fantastical sculptural works (locals are likely already familiar with her works in Balboa Park and on the University of California San Diego campus) and MCASD curator Jill Dawsey said the new exhibition will offer viewers a look at Saint Phalle. quirky depictions of female agency and will that resonate strongly in our own moment.

Then there’s “Selections from the Collection,” which will feature works from the museum’s permanent collections, particularly those from the California Light & Space movement. Seeing the works of local legends such as John Baldessari, Robert Irwin and Marcos Ramírez ERRE should serve as the perfect baptism of the new space.

Photograph by Don Bartletti

“Don Bartletti: Elusive Moments – Enduring Stories”, Oceanside Museum of Art

From his photos of the war in Iraq to his gripping coverage of migration along the US-Mexico border, one look at Don Bartletti’s photographs and it’s easy to see why he’s a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist. It’s high time we had some sort of career retrospective of the local photographer and “Elusive Moments – Lasting Stories” is precisely that.

Opening Jan. 23 at the Oceanside Museum of Art (704 Pier View Way) and running through May 1, the exhibit will feature dozens of award-winning photos, including some from Bartletti’s ongoing “The Roads Most Traveled” series, which spans 40 years deserves its coverage of migration issues along the Mexico-US border, some of which appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the Union-Tribune over the years. Bartletti says, “Even though I know when the sun will set in Carlsbad or where the emigrants will cross the US-Mexico border, the pivotal moment of the story inevitably hides in plain sight.

Combs is a freelance writer.