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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 01-23-09 Francis-JMU
January 23, 2009
Art Gallery to Present Works of Abstract Master Sam Francis
Not able to make that winter trip to the Chicago Museum of Art this winter? Are New York City’s Guggenheim Museum and Metropolitan Museum of Art just too far away? Will a spring trip to the Musee National d’Art Moderne in Paris, France be a little out of your price range?
You don’t have to travel around the world to see world-renowned artwork -- it’s coming to Santa Clarita instead.
Continuing its mission to engage the community in the visual arts through a variety of exhibitions, this month the College of the Canyons Art Gallery will exhibit a private collection of work by world-renowned abstract expressionist painter and printmaker Sam Francis.
“If you’re an artist or in the art world you’ll know Sam Francis and his work. He is one of the preeminent abstract expressionists of the 20th Century, and certainly one of California’s greatest artists,” said Larry Hurst, gallery director at the college, in reference to Francis’ California roots.
“His work is in every major museum in the world, and now it will be at College of the Canyons,” Hurst said.
Providing an extremely rare opportunity to view the artist’s work outside of a traditional museum setting, the gallery’s Sam Francis: American Master exhibit will feature a 13-piece private collection presented by the Martin Sosin-Stratton-Petit Foundation, and arranged my Francis’ close friend and colleague Mr. Martin Sosin.
Including a mix of work completed by Francis between 1986 and 1992, and a self-portrait dating back to 1960, the exhibit will provide an opportunity for visitors to experience the vivid colors and massive scale that Francis’ work were so celebrated for -- and which helped define the California school of modern abstract painting.
“When you think of Sam Francis you think of color, especially primary color, but there’s also a monumental quality to his work. You can’t avoid being impacted by paintings that are so big you feel you can walk into them,” said Hurst, adding that some of the pieces on display will span up to 10 feet in length.
Born in San Mateo, Calif. in 1923, Francis attended University of California, Berkeley before serving in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, during which he was injured in a plane crash. It was during the resulting several-year hospital stay that Francis began to paint.
After time spent exhibiting in Paris in the 1950s, Francis returned to California during the 1960s and continued painting in Los Angeles. The final three decades of his career featured a move to Francis’ style of large-scale bright works of abstract expressionism. Francis died in 1994.
During his time in Los Angeles, Francis was introduced to Martin Sosin through a mutual acquaintance and later hired Sosin to manage his business and finances. Payment for Sosin’s services would come in the form of art, which would eventually form the Davis, Fischer, Sosin Families Sam Francis Art Collection.
The Sam Francis: American Master exhibit will run from Tuesday, Feb. 17 to Saturday, March 14 at the College of the Canyons Art Gallery. In addition, a special artist reception featuring a presentation by Debra Burchett-Lere, director of the Samuel L. Francis Foundation, will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 21.
Works included in the exhibit are on loan from Mr. Sosin, Santa Monica; Mr. and Mrs. Alan Davis, Ventura; and Mr. and Mrs. Sam Fischer, Los Angeles. In addition, this show was made possible thanks to a donation by Mr. Sosin to the college’s Friends of the Fine Arts foundation.
“If we were talking musicians, this would be like Mozart -- you just can’t overstate Sam Francis’ significance in the art world,” said Hurst. “So this is a tremendous opportunity for our community to see one of our 20th century masters in a museum quality show right here at College of the Canyons.”
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Visitors unable to attend during these hours are welcome to call the gallery at (661) 362-3612 to make an appointment.