David & Amanda by Gretchen Ryan (2013).

NOTE: This article contains images of paintings of a sexual nature that some may find offensive.

With the opening of Risqué {dirty little pictures}, it is safe to say that Ron Nelson, the Executive Director of the Long Beach Museum of Art, has completed his slow-but-sure 180-degree turn of the museum’s direction.

Risque02After all, since his tenure began in 2008, the exuberant art enthusiast’s programming has appealed to a far more contemporary and younger crowd than any director before him. One of his first installations, the 16-foot yellow baby sculpture entitled Child by CSULB MFA’er Matt Wedel, drew a massive amount of contestation—mainly from the residents whose Ocean Boulevard homes face the waterfront museum—that forced the museum to remove the sculpture.

But Nelson keeps pushing his quirky interests and sense of aesthetics—the museum’s still-running exhibit, Architecture of Dogs, is both amusing and fascinating—which has, in turn, separated the museum from its old reputation of being dated, boring, and irrelevant.

Risqué ushers in an entirely new collection, which was custom-created for the museum. The 40 8″x10″ paintings that make up the collection all exude two things: each asks one question, “What makes a piece of art risqué and naughty?” and at the same time, each harken to a time when erotic images—largely prohibited openly at the beginning of the 20th century by American society—were secretly distributed via small picture cards.

“Whenever I would visit artists at their studios,” Nelson said, “I would glance down at the many scribbles and doodles they would do and—whattya know—there were always boobs and dicks. Everywhere. So I just reached out to artists I knew and told them that I want to see something naughty but tasteful, risqué but elegant.”

Risque04The response was overwhelmingly positive to such an extent that Nelson might have the possibility of doing not just one but two more additional Risqué exhibits, since over 150 artists have expressed interest in partaking.

Running through November 10, Risqué is open to adults only and features the work of, among others, Sean Cheetham, David Choe, Katherine Doyle, Ron English, F. Scott Hess, Audrey Kawasaki, Jeremy Lipkin, Soey Milk, Brendan Monroe, Kevin Peterson, Scott Scheidly, Nathan Spoor, Winne Truong, Eric White, and Aron Wiesenfeld.

The Long Beach Museum of Art is located at 2300 E Ocean Blvd. Galleries and store are open Thursdays 11AM-8PM and Friday through Sunday 11AM-5PM. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students and seniors age 62 and older, free for Members and children under 12, and free for everyone on Thursday evening from 5PM-8PM and all day on Friday. For more information, call (562) 439-2119 or visit www.lbma.org.

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