While flipping through a magazine, I noticed an ad for Margaret Noble‘s “44th and Landis,” an art exhibit that was described as 1980’s meets Victorian. My curiosity was piqued. The exhibit, on display at the Downtown Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, CA, is just that: an Alice in Wonderland-like amalgamation of cut-out paper dolls, street icons, and whimsy.
It’s hard not to feel nostalgic when looking at the childlike display. However, as you look closer, you realize the subjects aren’t so childlike at all: padlocks, bustiers, over-loved teddy bears, and pantyhose taunt the viewer as they pierce the impression of innocence. Noble’s display is subtle, and deep: as she navigates what it means to be a child growing up in an urban setting, the viewer becomes the child him/herself by walking through the display in both awe and confusion.
The Museum spans two buildings with temporary exhibits, as well as a permanent collection that varies impressively in form and content. From Juan Downey’s “The Laughing Aligator,” a short ethnographic film on the Yanomami in the Amazonian rainforest, to the Wendy Jacob’s “breathing wall,” a subtle installation of a wall that quietly hums while expanding, or “breathing, inwards and outwards, MCASD showcases a very unique collection of contemporary art.
Extra points: students under 25 are free at MCASD so us young folk can “feed our greedy organ.” I love thinking of it that way. Whenever I feel uninspired, unsure, or like I’m lacking in something to give voice to, feeding myself more art, reading more, exploring more – that fixes everything. While Noble’s exhibit was more than enough to draw me in, I can’t wait to head back to see what they have coming up next.