Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Andi Campognone, Curator, Lancaster Museum of Art and History,Lancaster, CA,Behind the Scenes Conversations

Andi Campognone with student at the museum.
Andi Campognone is Director and Curator for the Lancaster Museum of Art and History.  I met Andi about nine years ago at a Riverside Museum of Art sponsored artist career workshop. As a curator at the museum at that time, she offered some very succinct and truthful advice for how artists should approach galleries and curators about their work.  A few years later I was fortunate to participate in a group show, “Material Girls” that  Campognone curated at the museum.  From these experiences, as well as our conversation during the interview, it is clear that she is a sympathetic champion of California artists as well as the institutions and galleries that support and promote them.

It was Kodak’s ‘brownie’ camera, made popular in the 1960’s ,that captured Campognone's imagination, and by five years old she was taking tons of photos. She was raised in Claremont, California, which at the time was mostly an agricultural town.  She attributes her great aunt as having given her the gift of exposure to the arts.  Campognone studied classical ballet for several years and her aunt took she and her siblings to the opera, ballet, museums and other cultural activities in Los Angeles.  In high school she further developed her interest in art because her boyfriend’s family at the time were important art collectors and it was her first introduction to having a more personal relationship with valuable works of art. She carried her strong interest in image-making into college where she attended Woodbury University in Burbank which partnered at the time with Otis College of Art and Design.  After one year, Campognone left Woodbury for Georgia State University to study business as her family was grooming her to run the family business.  During that time, she married, had four children and moved back to California. 
Nike Schroder, "34'N 118'W"

Campognone went to work at Chaffey College in Rancho Cucomonga, as the Assistant to the Dean of the Arts program. She then went on to work as Director of New Photography at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts in Pomona where she became more interested in curating than art making, though she exhibited her photography for ten years and occasionally still does.  Campognone left the Millard Sheets Center after several years and in 2005 and went to work as Associate Director and Curator at the Riverside Museum of Art.  When asked about the exhibition she is most proud of, Campognone talked about  “Driven To Abstraction”, an exhibition she co-curated with Curator/Writer Peter Frank. When she began doing research for having a show focused on southern California artists and movements, Campognone found that there was little, if any, historical information, academic writing or publications that talked about it. She was particularly interested in the years from 1950 – 1980. What followed was an exhibition that was a large survey of non-objective painting in southern California during the post-war decades. These were the thirty years during which Los Angeles came of age as a major American art center and emerged into the international scene as well. Campognone also partnered with LA galleries who held simultaneous exhibitions that featured painters of that era.

In 2007, Campognone left Riverside Museum to open her own gallery in Pomona,  dba256 Wine Bar, then moving to a different location in 2009, under the name of Andi Campognone Projects.  Andi Campognone Projects is a curatorial service and project gallery designed to facilitate ambitious exhibitions of the highest museum quality, specializing in both thematically driven group exhibitions which include emerging and mid-career artists and solo exhibitions of historically relevant mid-career and established artists. Though she still maintains this space today, her primary focus is on her position as Director and Curator at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History.
Chris Trueman, "Slipstream"
 Campognone is passionate about curating and about the Lancaster Museum and its exhibition plans. She commented that she is particularly interested in the relationship between curator and art maker and views it as a collaborative process. She is focused on creating world class exhibitions. Campognone finds excitement in educating the people of the Antelope Valley, especially children, about contemporary art as well as the history of the geographical area. Campognone added that while she enjoys working with artists, she cautions them to approach curators in a professional manner by doing research and being certain that their particular work fits the mission of the institution or gallery. She pointed out that the Lancaster Museum has an online link under the heading “Get Involved” on its homepage where artists can submit work for review.  It is fun to see Campognone’s energetic spirit, joy and commitment for curating translated into exciting exhibitions and we look forward to seeing more in the future.