The relatively young California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art succeeds where other biennials and fairs have often failed: in developing its own inimitable style. Here, in a response to the globalized art world, the focus rests decidedly on local features. This year's program with 55 contemporary artists will reach more viewers than ever before. The works will not only be shown in the building of the OCMA, but in all of California. Works and installations of the 2008 California Biennial can be seen from October 26 through March 15 on beaches and highways everywhere from the Mexican border to San Francisco.
The works address themes such as California's hybrid culture; the American idea of "anything goes"; the early-day pioneer spirit of the European immigrants; and the influence of Latin American culture. The billboard of the Cuban-American artist Felipe Dulzaides on the museum building's entrance façade illustrates this perfectly. At first glance a classic advertising poster of the kind that can be seen everywhere on American roofs and highways, it confronts visitors with the colorful style of Cold War Cuban propaganda posters of the '60s and '70s.
The biennial juxtaposes paintings, videos, and installations of the most important west coast artists, such as Yvonne Rainer, Sam Durant, or Raymond Pettibon with the works of their younger colleagues like Jedediah Caesar or Matt Lucero. The result is a surprisingly diverse pool of mutual influences, artistic languages, and aesthetic strategies. What visitors can witness at the California Biennial is nothing less than an exciting revival of the legendary West Coast art scene.