Fresno Art Museum

March 4, 2023

(Finished March 11. I just could not get focused!)

Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,

Fresno art culture isn't the same as San Francisco's, but we do have an art museum, a small but pretty good one. Since our last visit, most of the displays have changed, so we needed to get back.

Support for an art museum in Fresno started in the late 1940s and the current Fresno Art Museum (FAM) building broke ground in 1960. Maybe because it's such a relatively young organization, the focus is art from the mid-1900s with fewer than a dozen rooms. Small, it is more doable than most! Here is a quick summary of all the spaces.

Nathan OliveiraOliveira

Olivera was a Northern California artist whose works now hang throughout the world, from SFMOMA to the New York Guggenheim. His practice was to give his three children their "inheritance" annually, and FAM reached out to them for contributions to this one-time display. Here are a few pieces, but the show has dozens, so you need to go yourself.

intro figure 5 pieces
M favorite my fav detail

Marianne's favorite on the left, mine on the right, with a look at detail

Bruce Beasley

Beasley's work was dramatic, that's for sure, both two-dimensional and three. His process involved "sketching" on a computer, waving shapes, snipping out parts, and rearranging them to make "photos". In 2020, he converted the shape to "Aeolis 10", a flowing stainless steel creation that dominated the room. As an added benefit, Marianne encountered Robert, a fellow artist we had last seen at a show in Moscow Idaho. Small world.

beasley two dimensionalM and Robert

Arthur Dyson

Local architect Arthur Dyson showed a collection of drawings, models, and pictures of some of his creations of the last several decades. We had no idea such avant garde buildings were around us, but apparently Dyson considered it a career crusade to introduce radical shapes into the conservative San Joaquin Valley. Now Marianne and I have to go search these out, the public ones at least.

Caroline Harris and Cay Lang

In a small gallery on the back side of FAM, Harris' colored and folded paper works showed how creative even simple material can be. On the opposite wall, Cay Lang displayed garbage pictures, or rather ethereal photos of scrap hardware and dying flowers. The photographer in me is intimidated by such technique and creativity.

Lang Lang nails


Raul Colon and Margarita Engle

The last gallery, and one I had seen before, displayed Raul Colon's illustrations for Margarita Engele's children's book: Light for All.

warThe book's themes include struggles immigrant children suffer. Although the book and illustrations certainly predate the current Russian destruction in Ukraine, I could not help but be reminded.

A melancholy end to a just-right-sized art museum visit.

What's next?? No idea.

Stay tuned,

John and Marianne