Located in the heart of La Jolla, the Museum of Contemporary Art is San Diego's premiere destination for all things modern and, of course, contemporary. MCASD is split between two beautiful and distinctive locations--La Jolla and Downtown San Diego. The original location, in San Diego's popular northern beach community, was founded in 1941 as "The Art Center" in a home designed by Irving-Gill (once owned by local philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps). The collection has grown to include over 4,000 works and the unique structure has been modernized and adorned with a variety of site-specific works, such as Mauro Staccioli's Untitled piece from 1987.
The Downtown venue takes a more minimal approach, hosting expansive, conceptual installations in its light-filled galleries. The Downtown location can be found in two buildings along Kettner Boulevard, one being the baggage building of the historic Santa Fe Train Station. The classic architecture mixed with the contemporary works of art is a beautiful juxtaposition. This second location also features a great collection of site-specific works by artists such as, Jenny Holzer, Richard Serra, Richard Wright and Roman de Salvo.
Currently on display at the La Jolla location of MCASD is the exhibition Ed Ruscha Then & Now: Paintings from the 1960s and 2000s, featuring a wonderful breadth of work from an innovator of West-Coast Pop and Conceptual Art. Ruscha's work draws heavily from the landscape of California, especially Los Angeles--playing with text and the vibrancy of commercial culture. MCASD states, "This tailored exhibition considers the artist’s use of recurring words, images, and themes across the decades. The iconic artist first gained attention in the 1960s for work that combines text and image with deadpan takes on American vernacular culture. The show is anchored by MCASD’s 1962 canvas Ace, and will highlight select works from the sixties alongside more recent canvases." The exhibition presents pivotal works like The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire and Large Trademark with Eight Spotlights. These two works speak to Ruscha's unique style and ability to play with American culture.
After exploring the galleries, be sure to step out into the sculpture garden. A huge billboard-inspired piece by Ed Ruscha entitled, Brave Men of La Jolla (1995-1996) rest just above the exit. Works by Judith Shea, Vito Acconci and Gabriel Orozco also await you. Before you go, don't forget to stop in to see Robert Irwin's 1°2°3°4° (1997) in the main galleries. This beautiful piece provides visitors with an amazing perspective and view of La Jolla. The open portions of the glass provide for a calming coastal breeze.
For more information on the Museum of Contemporary Art and Ed Ruscha, click here.