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Sculptor Jeans Wells and OMA Executive Director Daniel Foster squeeze into Well’s interactive mosaic sculpture “Maximum Capacity 7 Passengers.” Humor is a key element in her work. Photo by Promise Yee
Sculptor Jeans Wells and OMA Executive Director Daniel Foster squeeze into Well’s interactive mosaic sculpture “Maximum Capacity 7 Passengers.” Humor is a key element in her work. Photo by Promise Yee
Arts Rancho Santa Fe

Exhibits highlight what sculpture is

OCEANSIDE — The Oceanside Museum of Art mega reception on April 12 included five concurrent exhibits, and featured the works of local sculptors Jean Wells and Kenneth Capps.

Wells is known for her vivid pop art glass mosaic sculptures, and Capps for his purposeful use of lines.

Museum Executive Director Daniel Foster said the intention of the mega reception is to bring different art audiences together to experience art they love, and introduce them to other artwork.

The pairing of the Wells and Capps exhibits fit the aspiration.

“It really discusses the breadth and width of what sculpture is. They’re very, very polar opposites,” Tara Smith, OMA deputy director and chief curator, said.

“Dichotomy: Kenneth Capps” pays homage to the body of Capps work from the 1970s to today. The exhibit is not arranged as a time line, but as a visual relationship of Capps work over time.

Smith met with Capps for several months to discuss his work, and look through drawings Capps himself had not looked at for decades.

The result is a cohesive picture of the whole of his work, and the language he developed with lines.

“On display is a cross section of many different bodies of his work over 40 years,” Smith said.

During the reception Capps pointed out how a 1970s ink drawing he made of the side of a sculpture he created, led to a later idea for a recent sculpture on display.

Capps said the relationship between his works was not planned, but developed spontaneously.

Even without knowing the history of each work, the exhibit that shows ink on paper, steel cutout drawings, and steel and bronze sculptures side by side is precise, balanced and harmonious.

“His whole career really dealt with sculpture in all different materials,” Smith said. “He discovered form and really is discussing it. Form is the content of the show.”

Wells’ bright, playful sculptures in “Jean Wells: Icons of Desire” set a different mood. The exhibit is energizing and engaging.

Familiar American images are given a playful twist, and humor is a key element in each piece.

“It’s a very accessible show to the public,” Danielle Susalla Deery, OMA director of marketing and exhibit curator, said. “I love the pop art aspect of it.”

A 10-foot shimmering Frosty Cone, upon closer inspection, has a black and white cow head topping the swirling ice cream treat.

A line of 4-foot crayons is mislabeled with color names that do not match the hues.

Wells said adults do not always notice the discrepancy, but children are quick to point it out.

“While most of my work is easy on the eye, and what we might call happy or fun, underneath the surface I plant the seeds for further thought and investigation,” Wells said.

“My intention is to provide hope, challenges and meaning.”

Another reaction to her work that Wells shared is people want to interact and get inside the art.

Wells makes this possible with two of her pieces on display, “The Kiss” and “Maximum Capacity 7 Passengers.”

“The Kiss” is a 17-foot tall replica of a Hershey’s kiss constructed from aluminum foil layered over a form. Inside is an altar where several couples were legally married in celebration of the exhibit in February.

“Maximum Capacity 7 Passengers” is a bright yellow Mini Cooper, which seats two, decked out in punchy black and white checkered mosaic tile to resemble a taxi. The joke is in the title that suggests seven could fit inside.

Observers can open the taxi door, put on a fun taxi driver hat and sit behind the wheel.

Taking the taxi joke a step further, the museum is challenging teams to come to the museum and videotape themselves fitting as many people into the taxi as possible. A $1,000 prize is being offered for the most people squeezed in and the best theme.

“Jean Wells: Icons of Desire” is on exhibit through June 15.

“Dichotomy: Kenneth Capps” runs through July 6.

An all-day Sculpture Park Foundation tour of Capps work displayed throughout a 40-acre site in Warner Springs is scheduled for May 31.

OMA is located at 704 Pier View Way in Oceanside.