October 12, 2016

Art Gallery to Show ‘Why We Collect’

Exhibition of artwork from famous artists opens at Mesa College Oct. 12

By Lauren J. Mapp

Exhibition of artwork from famous artists opens at Mesa College Oct. 12.

“Why We Collect,” an art exhibit featuring work from renowned artists of the 20th century, will open at the San Diego Mesa College Art Gallery Thursday, Oct. 13 with a reception at 4:30 p.m. in D-101, followed by a panel discussion at 6:30 p.m. in G-102.


Curator Kraig Cavanaugh is an adjunct instructor at Mesa College who teaches art history and color theory. He describes the idea of the exhibition as a grassroots effort to make art more accessible to students and the local art community, and to show that you don’t need to be rich to be an art collector.


“I wanted to bring something special into the classroom – in this case, an encyclopedia of art that fills an entire art gallery,” Cavanaugh said. “Each artwork featured was borrowed from someone like myself. These are our treasures, and we wanted to share them with the students.”


This multimedia art exhibit features Man Ray’s “Le Cadeau (The Gift); a neoclassical style drawing from Pablo Picasso; music from Marcel Duchamp; and “Rhythmus 21” – the 1921, hand animated, abstract film by Hans Richter. Some of the other artists featured in the exhibit include Elaine de Koonig, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Fernand Léger, Sue Coe, Josef Albers, Joan Miro and more. The collection spans across many art movements from the 20th century, such as dada, neo-dada, surrealism, Bauhaus, Performance/Activism, expressionism and fauvism.


“As instructors, what good is it in our houses – we want people to see these works,” Cavanaugh said. “You’d have to go to Los Angeles to see some of this stuff, and it’s right here at Mesa College and free.”


Fine Art Professor and Gallery Director Alessandra Moctezuma got her start as an art collector while she was still a student. The first piece that she purchased was a silkscreen by Lalo Alcarez, the artist behind the nationally syndicated comic strip “La Cucaracha.” She describes the political piece as being inspired by the Rodney King trial, and said that it reflects the inequality of “the system.”


She said she hopes that this show and the lecture that follows the opening reception will inspire students, professors and other attendees to start art collections of their own.


“Professors, friends and family – everyone with ‘modest means’ have helped to assemble this collection of works – and that was something that we were trying to present to people,” Moctezuma said. “People have the idea that collectors are millionaires and they’re the only ones who buy art, but we want to show people that we (also) buy art.”


Moctezuma added that for those looking to start a collection on a budget, small art galleries and student shows are great avenues to find more affordable pieces. She suggests that art fans looking to start or expand their collection visit the gallery for the Fall 2016 Student Exhibition reception and art sale on Thursday, Dec. 1 at 4 p.m.


For more information about this and future exhibits, contact Alessandra Moctezuma, Gallery Director and Professor of Museum Studies, at or visit the gallery website.

Tags: Art Exhibit, Art History, art gallery