Ask David Salle what he remembers from his college days and he gives an answer with which many might identify.
"I was confused," recalled the 35-year-old painter, who went to the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia in the early 1970s. "I also worked hard. I was serious about what I was doing."
Salle, whose blend of confusion and seriousness became grist for a highly controversial career, remembers the "endless curiosity" of his favorite teacher and the experimental fervor of his peers--one of whom was Eric Fischl, another painter who went on to renown.
Salle, Fischl and others who attended CalArts have brought the school a reputation for turning out unusually determined artists. That determination is the backdrop for "Skeptical Belief(s)," a show of work by 58 CalArts graduates that opens tonight at the Newport Harbor Art Museum.
Susanne Ghez, director of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, first assembled the exhibition there in May; here, it has been doubled in size by Ghez and Newport curators Paul Schimmel and Anne Ayres.
CalArts, founded 18 years ago with funds given by animator Walt Disney, provides one of the country's more progressive arts educations. "There is no one position that (CalArts graduates) take," Schimmel said. "They are abstract painters, pop painters, minimalists--but these people aren't any one of these things. They are very well informed about everything that is going on, but they don't sign on the dotted line of any one theory."
The show further reflects the gamut of contemporary art forms, including painting, sculpture, site-specific installations, drawing and videotaped performance. [Allan Jalon, Los Angeles Times]