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Oolong Gallery is pleased to announce Bread and Chocolate, a sculpture / painting show between Minga Opazo (b. in Chile; lives and works in Ojai, CA) and Peter Stearns (b. 1945, Woodland, CA; lives and works in North Vista, CA). After 30 years in hiding, Stearns' new figurative paintings explore floating shapes, geometry and rural CA living in surrealist tropes (domesticated rope / shinto knots; cross-dressed roosters). In a similar warm palette, Opazo recycles found textiles to make sculptural work, even harvesting natural elements in certain installations (like soil, grass, or mushrooms over six months). Peter Stearns' body of work spans four decades and merges autobiography, fantasy, and whimsy with sardonic and spiritual humor, imagery, and themes. As an autodidact painter, the formal possibilities of his art work can be traced back to Second Generation Bay Area Figuration painting — from the influence of Peter's time well spent there at the peak of Haight Ashbury counterculture (1968-1972) but not associated with any formal painting movement. Opazo is a fourth-generation textile crafter who explores the relationship between climate change, contemporary textile production, and Chilean textile history and design. Born in Chile, Minga immigrated to Los Angeles at the age of 16 where she recently completed her MFA at CalArts, following a BFA from UC Berkeley. Opazo questions the textile industry by creating a series of cultural works that explore the idea of solastalgia, a term which describes the mental or existential distress caused by environmental change and living in an era of excess, constantly consuming and throwing away. Both artists transmute the weight of the human world with a lightness of being in their painting and sculpture practices alike. Oolong Gallery is happy to present this hot summer show.

Minga Opazo | Peter Stearns

Bread and Chocolate

June 24 - August 1

Oolong Gallery

349 N Coast Hwy 101

Solana Beach CA 92075


Telephone +1 858 229 2788

Peter Stearns

Out in Leucadia , 2020

Acrylic on canvas

48 x 36 in

Minga Opazo

wip currently in residency

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha, NE

Minga Opazo

detail view of textile / fungi installation

little oyster mushrooms: Pleurotus Ostreatus

Peter Stearns

A Good Morning (1968) , 2020

Acrylic on canvas

60 x 48 in

Minga Opazo

in studio (Ojai, CA)

photo by Margo Yinger

(Oolong Gallery)

In Opazo's practice, she is dedicated to research the textile industry further and to create work that exposes, reflects and finds a solution to the current situation of the textile waste industry. She completed her BFA at University of California, Berkeley in 2016 and her MFA at California Institute of the Arts, 2020. Opazo exhibited works across the US and Latino America, including the Museum of Visual art of Santiago, Chile, ACRE gallery in Chicago and the Bunker Art Space part of the Collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody. In Los Angeles, her work has been shown at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and Gavlak gallery. She has been awarded with various residency including Banff art center, ACRE residency and Haystack mountain school of craft, Anderson Ranch Art center, Mass Moca and Bemis Art center. She recently had her work published at Artforum, Lum art magazine and American Science magazine.

Peter Stearns

cover painting

September 1995

Stearns settled in San Diego in the early 1970s when his painting career began. He showed in various San Diego galleries and institutions most notably MCASD, Quint Gallery, and Simayspace alongside such artists as Ernest R Silva and Raul Guerrero. Stearns was often reviewed by Robert Pincus as early as 1981 in the Tribune and listed in an online archive of the historical Cooprider Art Collection. The painter's life story serves as a mythological California tale, fodder for his art, and now a time capsule Oolong Gallery is honored to open with the audience. 78 year old Peter is very lucid, has been attending our openings, and is still painting actively — rigor he gained from a second act in life fasting, being vegetarian, trusting in Tibetan Buddhism, and cleaning pools for a living into the present. After walking in our gallery this past winter, it quickly became clear he is coming out of hiding with a long history in SD arts on ice. While never quitting to paint, he moved on from exhibiting in downtown SD galleries in the mid 1990s and lived by the spiritual / bohemian community of Leucadia, CA (North County, SD). Stearns has made a living for decades servicing pools in wealthy art collecting places like Rancho Santa Fe, including for the Heaven's Gate cult he was able to find humor in and stay detached from. 30 years in hiding as a painter was his way of letting the "schmooze fest" go, i.e. turning away from careerism as it's called today and, as was the case back then, away from the disregard for figurative painting by hyper intellectuals in the art world. Oolong Gallery welcomes Peter back into the fold of a new arts community that thinks outside the box like him.

Press inquiries to interview Stearns and further unearth his rich history:

Peter Stearns in discussion with artist Hiroshi McDonald Mori and gallery assistant Elliot Frueh (photo by Ryan Fields)

Oolong Gallery  

349 N Coast Hwy 101 San Diego CA 92075

Telephone +1 858 229 2788  Mobile +1 917 340 0877

© 2023 Philipp Scholz Rittermann photography