Current Exhibitions

Transcending Trash: The Art of Upcycling

April 26, 2014 - August 31, 2014


Transcending Trash: The Art of Upcycling celebrates the transformation of throwaway objects into complex and colorful works of art. The exhibition includes work by a dozen different American painters, sculptors, and video artists who confront the reality of our cultural dependence on mass-produced disposable items by repurposing them as components of larger artworks.

Assembling preexisting objects into finished works of art has a history stretching back at least to the early 20th Century. Pablo Picasso famously collaged newspapers and other non-art materials into his paintings, and constructed sculpture from found objects. Marcel Duchamp recognized that the meaning associated with a utilitarian form like a bottle rack could be partially erased simply by upending it and presenting it as abstract sculpture. Each of these early examples revealed the ever-present play between an object's original purpose and its new role as an element of a painting, sculpture or collage.

The American artist Joseph Cornell created evocative surreal narratives by arranging disparate mundane objects and images in wooden boxes. Later, Robert Rauschenberg would expand this strategy to a larger scale with "combines" like Monogram, which incorporated painting on a full sized taxidermied goat with an automobile tire slipped over it.

The French artist Arman's aggregations of shoes, paintbrushes, clocks, and other thrown away consumer goods provide perhaps the clearest antecedents of the work of many assemblage artists working today. The practice of collecting and repurposing throwaway materials, primarily those made of plastic, now directly reflects an earnest concern by the artist for the planetary crisis of human produced pollution.

Incorporating a found object into a larger artwork no longer represents the "happy accident" of recognizing a new aesthetic meaning for it as part of a painting or sculpture. Instead, materials otherwise bound for a landfill or the ocean are consciously chosen as subjects for often large scale artworks that directly engage the viewer with the effects of our consumer lifestyles.

Though arranged and sometimes altered, plastic bottles, bags, utensils, and other elements might collectively mutate into a different overall form, but they are never unrecognizable for what they are—the detritus of our everyday lives, disposed of because they are inconvenient to keep around.

Sometimes the activity of collecting these trashed materials is the subject of the artwork itself. These collections or accumulations serve as microcosms for our global condition, where junk simply refuses to be cast entirely away, washing back up on a seashore or resisting decomposition into the soil.

The artists of Transcending Trash return the many things we throw away, the trash that escapes our control or notice back to us in the form of artworks captivating both for their sheer beauty and for the insight they offer into our material lifestyles. As is often the case with compelling art, their work is simultaneously pleasing and unsettling.

Matthew Leslie, Curator

Artwork by:
     Dianna Cohen
     Marina DeBris
     Jeffrey Frisch
     Jenice J. Heo
     Jessica Hokanson
     Julie Kornblum
     Pam Longobardi
     Cynthia Minet
     Ann Phong
     Lila Roo
     Steve Schmidt
     Shirley Tse

Anaheim Art Association 51st Open

June 6, 2014 - June 28, 2014


See the winners of the Anaheim Art Association Open: 51st Annual Juried Art Show in categories of oil, acrylic, drawing & pastel, mixed or other media, and photography.

A free exhibit in the Carnegie Gallery.

American Quilts in the Modern Age, 1870-1940

November 15, 2014 - February 15, 2015

Buy Tickets


From pieced block to Crazy style to Colonial Revival examples, as well as one-of-a-kind creations, this exhibit from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers a valuable visual and tactile understanding of American culture and society bridging the transition from traditional folk culture to the age of mass production and consumption.

For more information, please call MUZEO at 714.95MUZEO (714.956.8936)