arts 28 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY May 9-15, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Monterey Museum of Art continues its “four seasons, four exhibits each” formula. The first exhibit of the summer season, Into the Blue, opened April 25; exhibit two, Bay of Life: From Wind to Whales, opened May 2. Exhibits three, David Ligare: Spheres of Influence, and four, A Silver Tide: Cannery Row and the Monterey Fishing Industry, will open in about a week, on May 16. A couple of them are as recognizable as they are exciting. Often celebrated by the MMA, David Ligare is still—at age 78—one of best realist painters in Monterey County, and the Bay of Life project by the National Geographic duo photographer Frans Lanting and his wife Christine Eckstrom continues to gather interest. Both Lanting and Ligare celebrate the big blue, the ocean brightened by summer light and its grand blue underwater kingdom. They celebrate the sky—the azure answer to the blue depth of the water, from cobalt, silver blue to inky Prussian blue. “We put the season together that responds to the key show, which now is David Ligare,” says Corey Madden, the MMA’s executive director. A brief description of all four exhibitions follows below, with less space devoted to Ligare, who will be featured in a cover story in the July 11 edition of the Weekly. Into the Blue (until Aug. 11) The exhibit shows a glimpse into the MMA’s rich general collection; the museum has been regularly supplied by donors and continues to acquire new art, with an emphasis on minority artists. The selection was made by the museum’s director of collections and exhibitions, John Rexine, and Madden herself; the exhibit’s feature is a face of a lady who floats on the water by artist Vladimir Popov. Among other artists, Irish second wave impressionist John O’Shea is on display, an important Carmel artist between 1917 and 1945, along with one of the first artists in Carmel, painter Ferdinand Burgdorff. Suda House, a contemporary California photographer (with both unaltered and very altered blue photography) is featured, too—as is Emile Norman, who died in 2009. It also includes space art by Carmel-based Gary Lopez and even one very blue early painting by David Ligare. Bay of Life: From Winds to Whales (until Aug. 18) “This installation is part of a much bigger project,” Lanting says to a group of MMA docents. “The project [that also has educational and environmental elements] is to show the Monterey Bay as a whole, a crown jewel of our planet.” We might think we know Monterey Bay, but we don’t. “There’s so much stuff here: life on the surface of the ocean, all energized by the sun that serves agriculture and burns redwoods,” he continues. Lanting shares the history of astonishing numbers of whales and sea otters that once plied local waters. This abundance is partially back after decades of conservation work and is visible in Lanting’s big pictures that take the viewer to the middle of groups of whales dining, and images that make a viewer feel that they are standing in the middle of a tidepool. A Silver Tide: Cannery Row and the Monterey Fishing Industry (May 16-July 21) Before Monterey County became the “Salad Bowl of the World,” Monterey was the “Sardine Capital of the World” and home to a large population of fishermen. The boom was over by the 1970s, however, and the fish population depleted. A part of the permanent collection, this exhibit documents this story. Some of the artists exhibited in the show worked in the 1930s and died without ever being recognized. Others are visitors— some international—who had chosen Monterey County for adventure, visiting for a couple of years and often settling here, all part of the American westward movement, Madden says. As for lesser-known artists, Madden feels that it’s the museum’s duty to collect and popularize them. David Ligare: Sphere of Influence (May 16-Sept. 1) Famous for his formality and interest in the classic art of Greece and Rome, Ligare thinks about the Monterey Peninsula as the imaginary extension of Mediterranean cultures. The exhibit showcases his most recent works that focus on form inspired by a philosophy. Perhaps it would be fit to say that Ligare’s paintings are the real things one sees for the first time, leaving Plato’s cave. They embody eternal ideas. (Check back for more about Ligare and this exhibit in the July 11 issue of the Weekly. Ligare appears as a guest at the Mic’d Up in The Press Club series on the same day at 12:30pm in the Creperie Cafe, 1123 Fremont Blvd. in Seaside.) Monterey Museum of Art is at 559 Pacific St., Monterey. Open 11am-5pm Thursday-Sunday. $15 admission. 372-5477, .montereyart.org. Tone On Tone From blue to a tide of silver, Monterey Museum of Art opens a new season of exhibits. By Agata Pop˛eda “There’s so much stuff here.” Above: David Ligare’s 2014 oil painting “Magna Fide” (The Great Belief), became part of the Monterey Museum of Art’s collection, purchased in honor of Ligare’s 75th birthday. Below: Frans Lanting’s 2021 photograph titled “Tide Pool” is part of an exhibit showing ocean scenes in a different medium. Courtesy of Monterey Museum of Art Frans Lanting