Telephoning Buddha


Though the city of Brea might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of Contemporary Art from the Pacific Rim, get ready to re-examine your prejudices. Perhaps after this month's exhibit at the City of Brea Art Gallery, the city will elevate itself to the third or possibly even second place that comes to mind.

"Westward Toward the East: Contemporary Art From the Pacific Rim" showcases works of 28 artists who hail from Asia, the Pacific islands, and the U.S. West Coast. In this group show, the estimated 70 art pieces demonstrate a clever, original exploration of the impact of the Pacific Rim's influences on Southern California. The use of everyday and recognizable materials in the art pieces not only examines mass culture in a unique light, but also forces the audience to analyze its own perceptions of the Pacific Rim region.

A few artists of which to take note include Long-bin Chen, Anna Bogatin and Kim Joon. Chen's "New York Buddha," a sculpture of Buddha's head, is carved out of a stack of old Manhattan and New York telephone books, which harmoniously balances sentiments of sophistication and innovation in the artwork. In Bogatin's "Contiguity," California red wine is used to create red bars on large sheets of tracing paper—like Chen's, it's another piece using contemporary culture to inscribe new meaning to old forms. Kim Joon's digital prints, such as "We Cubs" and "We Starbucks," are comprised of nude female and male bodies—from what I've heard, sometimes his own. Aside from the nakedness, the most interesting thing about his prints is they are imprinted with such Western pop-culture icons as the logos of the Chicago Cubs and Starbucks. Sorry, rest of the world! You can run from Western culture, but you can't hide.

"Westward Toward the East: Contemporary Art From the Pacific Rim" at the City of Brea Art Gallery, 1 Civic Center, Brea, (714) 990-7730. Call for hours. Through Sept. 22. $2; free for Brea residents and children 12 and younger.

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