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Entering the Conversation

The St. Regis Monarch Beach and Linearis are on a mission to reshape the way people look at and commune with fine art through their Salon des Arts exhibits.– By Jennifer Pappas

 A strange phenomenon unravels whenever people gather in a room to look at art. It happens every hour of every day at museums and galleries across the globe: An individual approaches a painting and tilts his or her head, sustaining a 10-second gaze before leaning forward to read the words printed on a small placard on the wall—an only source of information. After reading, he or she walks away, oftentimes no closer to understanding or appreciating the art because there’s no context, no background and no entry into the conversation. This is not how the scenario plays out, however, at Salon des Arts exhibits at The St. Regis Monarch Beach sponsored by Linearis, a fine art institute whose sole aim is to simultaneously demystify and change the way people commune with fine art.Devoted to “promote the education, appreciation and participation of the visual arts” by hosting fine art exhibits in public spaces, the true aim of Linearis is to create what curator Suleyman Cooke calls “the conversation of art.”“In order to prompt that conversation, we have a professional art expert there, specifically trained to talk about the artwork,” Cooke says. “That’s the piece that’s missing. When you look at any particular museum, you’re there to experience and enjoy, but there’s a sense of isolation that takes place. With our program there’s an experience of a conversation. That’s the part that’s meaningful.”Located just outside Michael Mina’s Stonehill Tavern at The St. Regis Monarch Beach is the Salon des Arts, which showcases a variety of celebrated American masters and pop artists. The current exhibit is something of a departure for Linearis, whose collection up until now has been composed almost exclusively of acquisitions from Paris—namely old masters through Picasso.

“Throughout Picasso’s entire life he was fascinated with doves,” says Neil Verni, the affable director of operations for Salon des Arts Southern California, of a lithograph entitled “The Dove” at the Salon des Arts. “The artist kept them as pets, and he continued to paint and draw them through every period he explored,” Verni adds. “ ‘The Dove’ that we have on display is a great example of how even after all the abstraction and many directions he could still render a beautiful representational form with technical precision and attention to detail.”

As a curator, Cooke says that it’s important to look at the changing times and history to know what will drive the art market—what will interest people who love art. This is essentially how he selected the current pop art exhibit at the St. Regis.

“We felt it would be a significant advantage to people to start to look very seriously at the pop art, postwar artists,” he says. “Enough time has passed now; they have really solidified themselves into the canon of our history. That takes time, for a genre to embed itself into the fabric of our history.”

Cooke selected Andy Warhol to kick things off at the Salon des Arts, a fitting choice given his iconic status and celebrity-driven infatuations.

“Warhol’s contribution to the art world is unique, revolutionary and quite frankly perfect for its time,” Verni says. “The period in which Andy [Warhol] worked and gained prominence, primarily the late 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, became increasingly decadent and over the top, much like his art. The American culture also began its obsession with popular culture. Warhol, in creating the “Marilyn Monroe” series, observed this phenomenon and decided to portray not what was going on within him but within the culture.”

Warhol, in essence, did this by creating a portrait of the most iconic and recognizable face of his generation—Marilyn Monroe—and executed it in the colors of the time and produced it in the most industrialized medium of the 20th century: the silk screen.

“The ridicule and scorn he received by the opulent aristocrats of the contemporary art world only fueled his rise,” Verni adds.

In early 2013, exhibits at The St. Regis Monarch Beach will feature rare works by Roy Lichtenstein (of Benday dot fame, a printing process which combines two or more different small, colored dots to create a third color), Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Motherwell.

In addition to the timeliness of the exhibit, the choice to highlight American masters, over say another Picasso retrospective, has everything to do with the continuum of art—how pop artists like Ed Ruscha, James Rosenquist and Jasper Johns have helped shape contemporary trends.

“I don’t believe that installation art and performance art could be what they are—and art today in general—had it not been for pop art,” Cooke explains. “It paved the way … that huge visual impact that Warhol and Lichtenstein have. They helped bring about these wild and crazy installations that are now the norm.”

Thanks to Linearis and Salon des Arts at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, this norm is one we’re just beginning to understand—one conversation at a time.

Salon des Arts in 2013

Keep an eye out for these must-see exhibits at The St. Regis Monarch Beach, sponsored by the Linearis Institute.

Picasso: Linearis showcases a large Picasso exhibit each year, and 2013 will be no different.
Old master drawings: Rembrandt and Poussin are set to also make an appearance.
Ukiyo-e: Japanese woodblock prints from the turn of the century are an anticipated exhibit.