Inside USD

Game Changer 2: Contemporary Art from Strauss Family Foundation

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Contemporary art from around the globe will be featured in a University of San Diego exhibit in February.  Game Changer 2: Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture from the Matthew and Iris Strauss Family Foundation runs from Feb. 6 to 28 in the Exhibit Hall of USD’s Student Life Pavilion.

All 18 works in this exhibition were created within the last 30 years; the most recent, a lyrical abstraction by Ross Bleckner was just painted in 2011. “Working in traditional media, the artists in Game Changer 2 stretch our appreciation for contemporary practices throughout the world,” said Derrick Cartwright, director of University Galleries at USD.

Several of the artists in Game Changer 2 are originally from Latin America or the Caribbean – Guillermo Kuitca (Argentina), St. Clair Cemin (Brazil) and Josè Bedia (Cuba). Many others are identified with abstract painting in New York, or Germany, and other artists are more closely associated with the vibrant Southern California art scene including Jean Lowe and Faris McReynolds.

“While indisputably of their own time, contemporary artists often express a complex indebtedness to history,” noted Cartwright. “Their works bear out this complexity by referencing past masterworks and inflecting them with new meaning.” For example, Raul Guerrero’s Amazonas: Gonzalo Pizarro, 1540-53 borrows indirectly from Diego Velázquez’s baroque painting, Venus at Her Toilet (The Rokeby Venus), (1647-51). Guerrero invests that famous depiction of a figure gazing indirectly at the spectator through a mirror with historical urgency by mapping a path of Spanish conquest across the curvature of the female nude’s spine.

Other works in the exhibition “contend with art history in more nuanced ways,” Cartwright added.  ”Some ‘purely’ abstract paintings beg to be understood in terms of the lessons of 20th century modernism. Sarah Morris’s painting looks at first glance like an investigation of geometric forms and contrasting color relationships, but its title, The Mall (Capitol) links the work to the phenomenon of reflected light off of a specific, well-known architectural setting.”

This new exhibit follows USD’s first partnership with the Strauss’, Game Changer: New Media and Multiples from the Matthew and Iris Strauss Family Foundation that drew unprecedented crowds to the USD campus a year ago. Almost immediately, plans to mount a second collaboration began to take shape.

While the new exhibit shows numerous works that have never been displayed on a college campus before, “it still does not come close to exhausting the full range of works held by the Strauss Family Foundation,” Cartwright said. “We thank Matthew and Iris and the directors of their Family Foundation for sharing their collection once again with USD. We look forward to still more future partnerships with this enviable local resource.”

Game Changer 2 is part of a rich and diverse array of exhibits at USD this semester. Other presentations will include more than 50 works by the renowned 16th century Flemish printmaker, Hendrick Goltzius; an exhibit of Native American basketry from the Southwestern United States, and photography memorializing the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda. For more information, go to

— Liz Harman

Image: Jean Lowe, Love for Sale #5, 2008. The Matthew and and Iris Strauss Family Foundation Collection

Game Changer 2: Contemporary Paintings and Sculpture from the Matthew and Iris Strauss Family Foundation
Feb. 6 through 28
Exhibit Hall in USD Student Life Pavilion
Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.

  • Share/Bookmark