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  • Brenda Harrop

Liberating Neon and Alluring Azure

Updated: Aug 8


Light and Space innovator John McCracken's (1934-2011) alluring azure lacquer surface was sanded and polished to perfection after each square was built with plywood, covered with fiberglass and polyester resin and then sprayed with lacquer. With the viewer's kinetic participation, the "being" and "personality," as McCracken referred to the characteristics of his works, emerges forth from the fusion of glistening finish, color and form. "Blue Block in Three Parts" from 1966 appears solid at one moment and reflective the next moment and is alive in its environment. McCracken's otherworldly minimalist, monochromatic sculptures, "beings," breathe new perception to the viewer and sensory examination of reality.


Exploration into perception, light and space to create absence has been the focus of visionary Light and Space artist Doug Wheeler (born 1939). Like many of his contemporaries in Los Angeles during the 1960s, Wheeler started out as a painter. Eventually the gestural influence from Abstract Expressionism dissolved and he began to paint a series of innovative monochromatic white paintings embedded with neon lights along the edges as seen in "Untitled" from 1965. These works are portals for the viewer's perception to transcend their habitual experience and be immersed in a celestial state of perception which is absent of light and space peripheral vision.


Image: Installation view, Inaugural Collection Installation, April 9-July 17, 2022, MCASD: John McCracken, Blue Block in Three Parts, 1966, lacquer, polyester resin, fiberglass and plywood; Doug Wheeler, Untitled, 1965, acrylic on canvas with neon light,

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