Photos: The 2008 California Biennial at OCMA.

Matt Lucero’s concrete boom box on OCMA’s front lawn. It works, using solar powerEven better: it was tuned to a Mexican radio station. My bad: the audio isn’t live radio. It’s a six-minute soundtrack. (Photos by C-M.)

California’s medical marijuana laws are clearly having an impact on the art that is being produced in the state, because the 2008 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art in super-ritzy Newport Beach, is a veritable bonanza of art for stoners: things that spin, optical illusions and 14 minutes worth of atomic explosions. It’s enough to make a girl say, duuude. Not that there wasn’t a good dose of Whitney Biennial-style fare as well. Namely, piles of detritus that blur the line between avant garde art and garage-cleaning day at your parents’ house. 

Unfortunately, the buzzkills at OCMA don’t allow photography in the galleries, so I have scant photo documentation. However, as part of the expanding line of services here at, I would like to provide a rundown of the most stonerrific pieces in the show: 

  • Untitled, 2008 by Elad Lassry: a video that places live figures on a geometric optical illusion painting in ways that seem to defy gravity. Neat-o. 
  • Looking for Mushrooms, 1959-65/1996 by Bruce Conner: A near-quarter hour of mushroom clouds, one after another. Like, totally gnarly.  
  • Mata Crush, 2006 by Tony Labat: A 10-minute video of the artist’s Lincoln Continental getting smashed in slow motion. Better than any Monster Truck rally. For reals. 
  • Blur, 2007 by Tony Labat: More slo-mo, this time of a moving train loaded with crazy cargo. Pairs well with Hindu Kush and Fritos.
  • Untitled, 2008 by Mark Hagen: A canvas with volcanic glass arrows arranged to look as if they are exploding. Or are they imploding? Look again. And then again and… 
  • Crushed by the Hammer of the Sun, 2008 by Kara Tanaka: A mesmerizing mechanical sculpture of a spinning silk skirt. Watching this could easily absorb an entire afternoon.
  • Vanishing Intent, 2008 by Marco Rios: The press release describes this installation as a “minimalist room with a drop-ceiling at the artist’s height that creates an awkward space of discomfort and paranoia.” I describe it as trippy in a Being John Malkovich kind of way.

Click on images to supersize. Find a key to the ratings after the jump.

Tanaka’s Crushed by the Hammer of the Sun. See a nice photo sequence of this piece here.

Hagen’s Untitled explosion/implosion.

Text Messaging: 1,000 Points of Might, a series of lawn signs by Patrick ‘Pato’ Hebert decorated the museum’s front lawn. Very Jenny Holzer.

More from Hebert.

Another detail from Hebert’s installation.

More parking lot art: Marco Ramirez’s Signs, 2008, seemed to channel Darius & Downey.

A detail from Gronk’s site-specific, graffiti-inspired mural BOCHANO!

Ratings Key:
 You are getting tingly.
 Time is going by very, very slowly.


  1. Pingback: C Monster on The 2008 California Biennial : Bad at Sports
  2. just a note

    Hey C-M. Just a correction; Matt Lucero’s boombox piece was not tuned to a radio station. Looking at the materials listed in the catalog it appears that there is an mp3 player inside that is triggered by a motion sensor as people walk by.