To inaugurate the centennial year of the building of its historic villa, the Montalvo Arts Center
presents an unconventional timeline exhibition entitled O' Great Reverie: Montalvo 1912-2012. The exhibition, which is organized by Associate Curator Donna Conwell and Montalvo Design Fellows Women-the creative partnership of Los Angeles-based designers Scott Barry and Neil Doshi-will open on Friday, January 27 and run through Sunday, May 13.
For O' Great Reverie, Conwell, Barry, and Doshi have taken what they collectively describe as an "idiosyncratic approach." Opting against a standard linear chronology, they have forgone efforts to generate an exhaustive, authoritative account of Montalvo's history. Instead, they have chosen to upend the conventions of a timeline exhibition and examine how creating a history of a place is always based on personal selections and interpretations.
To this end, they have organized the exhibition materials-including historical documents, letters, ephemera, photographs, audio and visual footage, and rare books all drawn from the holdings of the Montalvo Archive and Library and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley-around four core themes, emphasizing Montalvo's multiple overlapping histories, personal narratives, and poetic associative relationships among the past, present, and future: LANDSCAPE, exploring the way in which Montalvo's buildings and grounds have transformed over time; PUBLICS, examining how different groups of people who have visited Montalvo over the years have interacted with it in their own unique ways; COMMUNITIES, discussing the various circles of volunteers, artists-in-residence, and staff members who have actively shaped Montalvo's evolution; and PRESERVATION, asking important philosophical questions about the limits and legitimacy of historical restoration.
The designers have conceived of and constructed every aspect of the exhibtion, including a modular display furniture system, audio-video viewing kiosks and reading stations, and didactic texts in the form of take-away broadsides. Barry and Doshi have also crafted a series of subtle sculptural interventions in the gallery space along with several creative works that respond to Montalvo and its histories, such as a 100-page guestbook, in which visitors are invited to participate in the telling of Montalvo's histories by recording their recollections and experiences.
For the first weekend of the exhibition's run, a series of special events, lectures, and workshops are planned, all engaging with key aspects of Montalvo's past and present: