By Margaret Gill
From the exterior, the Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum is obviously a contemporary art museum. The bold geometric shape of the building’s new 4,000 square foot expansion clearly sets it apart from the other buildings on CSULB’s campus. “Previously people couldn’t easily see our doors and it wasn’t clearly understood that we were a museum, so it’s really important for us to make sure the community knows we’re here,” says Amanda Fruta, Public Affairs and Communications Specialist for the museum.
Starting February 12th, The Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum is excited to welcome visitors to their newly renovated space. Although they’re commencing with limited hours due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, the museum’s expanded size allows them to accommodate more guests than ever before. “It gives people more breathing room so they can more comfortably physically distance. The more wiggle room we have the better. We want people to feel comfortable and welcome.”
On top of having space for more guests, the expanded gallery space enables the museum to bring even more critically acclaimed works of art to our city, some of which are on display in the United States for the first time. “We had to go to France to get these,” says Fruta, referring to two pieces from Linda Besemer’s Slab Series. The mesmerizing three-dimensional works, meant to replicate a ripple in water and made entirely from layers of acrylic paint, have never been displayed outside of Europe. The museum’s staff is clearly proud to provide the community with exclusive access to these groundbreaking works of art.
But The Kleefeld doesn’t just feature globally renowned artists. Their Community Gallery sets aside exhibit space to showcase the artwork of California locals. Currently on display is the collection Sacred Path by Hung Viet Nguyen, a Torrance resident whose works convey the uniquely Southern Californian experience of escaping city life by retreating to the neighboring mountains. This unique gallery is just one of the many ways the museum supports the developing careers of regional creators, including self-taught, emerging, and recently graduated artists.
Even before its galleries have reopened, The Kleefeld is already serving our community with its expanded outdoor gathering spaces. It’s plentiful seating and sprawling lawn make for a welcoming environment “where you can study, eat your lunch, or have a breakout sessions with your classmates,” explains Fruta. The museum is also planning on hosting yoga classes and other outdoor activities as soon as Covid regulations allow for them.
The Kleefeld is open to the public for free! Its abundance of resources, including an archives room, education laboratory, and works on paper study room, make it ideal for students conducting research, but it’s vibrant, eclectic, and engaging collection make it the perfect experience for life-long art aficionados and beginning appreciators alike.