What People Are Saying About the MOAH in Lancaster

AV Arts Blog asked what people thought about the new Modern Art and History Museum in downtown Lancaster, California – the MOAH. Here is what people are saying about the new Antelope Valley cultural space:

Comment from Janet K. – “Was there Sat, May 5, at public opening. Loved the rooftop live band. ‘Though with the sun and heat blaring at them, sundown concerts or facing opposite direction would please all more. Architecture is unique and exploratory. Structure has so much potential for housing of Antelope Valley art works on a revolving basis. Can easily visualize this most special museum as an art mecca of national interest.”

Posing the Question on Facebook (at an AV Arts Group Page), a discussion erupted. Well, erupted might not be the best term, but it seems to capture some of the dynamic.

In the spirit of neutral discussion, we’ve deleted the names of the people behind each post,  but that doesn’t completely anonymize the discussion as some names are used within the posts. The point isn’t who said what anyway. The point is what was said.

The different directions in which artists come to their opinions museum are clear in these posts and point to a continuing conversation on the arts in the Antelope Valley:

    •  The facility is dope by far but as far as the art inside huge fail

    •  I think it’s a great start. The building is attractive and has a lot to offer in a relatively small space. Personally, I’d like to see less emphasis on postmodernist work that most people find unrelatable and elitist. The general population has better taste than they are given credit for by the urban art establishment. I do appreciate MOAH’s willingness to also display art that is based on skill and thoughtfulness, rather than shock and the trend-of-the-day. All in all, I think it’s a good thing and I look forward to important future exhibitions.
    • Why do you think the art is a fail Michael?
    •  The art is prevalent to the area not hiding that but who wants to see landscape paintings all day everyday. I have nothing against it all but how much is to much ?
    • I don’t know where you get “all day everyday”. Are you being held captive on the second floor? What about the shiny stuff on the ground floor? One room and the hallway upstairs is a show called “The Painted Desert” which, yes, is landscapes…some traditional, some modern. When that show is over it will be something else. The only thing you’ll see every day is the history exhibit…and that will change too.
    • Well, the only way for local artists to participate was through the painted desert exhibition which for some of us was irritating because it often seems the only acceptable means to show out here is to paint landscapes. In order to facilitate more types of local art it would have been appreciated if there had been an opening or opportunity for other types of work to support the “new” facility with new facets of AV art and to flesh out what desert art actually is rather than just simply depictions and illustrations of the desert. For me a museum is much much more than a building. While I can appreciate the new facility and some cool furniture, I was disappointed in the admission fee, lack of community connection, and lack of educational information. I did think the art was fantastic-it was great to see Judy Chicago, Larry Bell, and Craig Kauffman. I’m not sure how I feel as an opening exhibition since LMAG previously had the Weisman Foundation collection which addressed many of the same ideas, but it did bring some amazing pieces here so I guess I wish that there had been more research about any connections to this specific area rather than the general “aerospace occurs here” (and in Burbank, LA and many other areas). Like Michael, I also wish that AV art had been fleshed out past painted deserts. Hopefully an exhibition schedule will be produced and there will be opportunities to expand the definition of local art to incorporate more than just illustrations of things with more conceptual/thoughtful insight into this area. All in all I’m just happy that the museum is again open (!).

    •  We have to remember that it was a huge undertaking just to finish construction and get the place open. There are three opening exhibits. One is modern and non-representational, one is specifically paintings of the desert, and one is a history exhibit (don’t forget that there is an “H” in MOAH). The fact that ANY local artists were given the opportunity to participate is a major step and not what one would expect from a museum at all. The gallery next to the gift shop is another ongoing opportunity, and is currently displaying work that is certainly not traditional landscape. These are all finite shows. When they come down, something else will go up. I have a friend who left in a huff because he didn’t like the postmodernism. You can’t please all the people all the time. I can tell you one thing: just because someone owns a box of crayons and calls themselves an artist, doesn’t mean they have a right to show in a museum.

    •  ‎”The fact that ANY local artists were given the opportunity to participate is a major step and not what one would expect from a museum at all. ” Oh Todd you’re killing me with that one! DISAGREE! Museums are for the community and the arts community in particular has been integral to this museum since it inception so the museum should never cut out participation. never. ever. Even kids with crayons. This is museum 101. People make a museum and participation is required! It absolutely is expected unless you want a mausoleum of things that no one cares about seeing or learning about. Museums are forums for discussion-good bad and ugly. It’s where you go to express. You may not be shown in the museum, but there should always be opportunities to try- to improve-to participate. This is the “Lancaster Museum” which states that we should take pride in our AV art production and explore what that means in order to develop an understanding of this place in relation to others. (and art is historical. pet peeve- H is redundant. see also Western Hotel Museum)
    •  Todd Todd Todd your killing me haha

    • Okay Larissa, you probably know more about museums than I do, but I’ve visited a few and I’ve never seen an exhibit in the main hall by Joe Blow from down the street. The point is, this museum IS inviting participation by locals…in more ways than one. Just because some locals are not in a show dedicated to paintings of the desert doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to be in the next show, or the one after that. And if someone never gets their work in a museum or a gallery or a juried show or never sells a piece to a stranger, maybe they should look at the quality of the work instead of blaming the world for not supporting the arts.

    •  hmmm. define quality for me.

    •  hmmmmmm. I haven’t seen the museum, and I’m not an expert on art or museums. but who is anyone to say that anyone else is an artist? isn’t art in the eye of the beholder? If some one creates to express their emotions in whatever medium, if someone contributes to the art community, whether it is showing, conversing, learning, or selling, wouldn’t that make them an artist? (even though it wasn’t directed at me) That statement just makes me feel bad about myself and art in general. I consider myself an artist because I create, because i use words and colors to relay a message or emotion. I do not call myself a professional artist because I am constantly growing, and learning, and trying every medium and art form I can physically handle. I think the fact that the museum has started dialogue is amazing and artistic in itself. Whatever direction the museum goes in, as long as they offer the community some type of art, postmodern or traditional I’m just happy to have an art venue, and I’m happy that there are some intelligent artist in this group to offer their insight.

  • Knowing Todd’s perspective on art, I can understand why he feels that craft and skill is most important to him. The great thing about the arts is the numerous perspectives and amount of diversity in the works. Don’t feel badly about your art or your position in the arts Cassandra. Everyone starts somewhere and forms their ideas and voice continually through life. I disagree with Todd saying that Joe (and Jane) Blows aren’t showing in museums. AVC’s Frank Dixon, and Lee Bergthold both have had well deserved solo shows at the museum and are teaching others right here at AVC. We have AV artists working here who were taught by Craig Kauffman and other well respected artists. We had Tom Miller. I know and have studied with people who have shown at LACMA, MOCA and the Smithsonian and they too really are just the artist’s next door (I’ve seen them get spinach in their teeth). One of the major issues out here is the gully between emerging and professional artists. We need emerging artists. Many are trained in universities or art schools and return here to a void of production and opportunity. We’re missing major pieces like the Lofts Gallery which allowed younger artists to gain experience in showing and producing ideas for different types of shows. Unlike a museum, it gave freedom in the types of events that occurred. Not to bring up old wounds but that type of space is necessary to give younger more experimental opportunities in investigating and growing an arts practice without the pressure of a professional level exhibition. Anyway, my long winded point is that museums build strategies to meet the needs of their local communities—yes that is one facet of the duties—international exhibitions and other strategies do come into play, but this discussion is only helpful to the museum if the needs and wants of this area are expressed. If emerging artists want to be a part of the museum than they should say so. If the younger crowd is sick of desert landscapes, then they should say so. It’s okay to critique and disagree because museums fight for balance. It’s not easy but it’s part of the job and what makes museums important to those it serves. The museum can work to provide residency opportunities, training events, and any number of strategies to address these and many more issues. I have complete faith the museum is listening, and will adapt its programs to the needs of this community because that is exactly what museums do. So as Eric has asked with this thread, what did you think? and furthermore what else do you want?
    Have something to add? Please leave a comment and we’ll may be able to edit it into this post.

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