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Richard Allen Morris with Giacometti’s Door, 1980, wood and metal, 79 X 6 X 5 in. Photo: Mary Kristen and Anna O’Cain. Exhibition brochure for Richard Allen Morris: A Sense of Place, Mandeville Gallery, University of California San Diego, February 27 – March 27, 1988 and La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art Downtown, April 16 – July 3, 1988.

Installation of More like a Forest: Paintings and Sculptures by Richard Allen Morris, 2019, MCASD, La Jolla, CA
Photo courtesy of Esoteric Survey


"And when they knocked this building down. Caused it to fall apart. Richard went around and collected some of its parts and put them together all over again. But when he was finished putting them together, doing the best he could, what he got was not a building but more like a forest or a grove of trees."
-David Antin, “Thinking of Richard Allen Morris – Some Sentences,” 1988

In 1980, Richard Allen Morris constructed a body of sculptural totems out of splintered wood debris that he gathered from a demolished building near his studio in downtown San Diego. The group of 39 sculptures was presented at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art (now the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego) at its downtown annex on G Street as part of the  artist’s mid-career survey in 1988.

More like a Forest: Paintings and Sculptures by Richard Allen Morris reprises that sculptural installation, presenting the complete series in MCASD Downtown’s Strauss Gallery. Morris stored the sculptures at his Golden Hill studio until 2018, when urban redevelopment forced him to relocate. 

Borrowing its title from artist and poet David Antin’s essay in the Museum’s 1988 exhibition publication, the current presentation offers a tribute to Morris’s ceaseless transformation of ordinary materials into extraordinary creations. On another level, the exhibition points to ongoing issues of gentrification in downtown San Diego and the struggle of local artists to find sustainable work spaces. Accompanying the installation will be a selection of Morris’s paintings from MCASD’s permanent holdings, featuring pieces from 1960—when the Museum began collecting Morris’s work—to the 2000s.

More like a Forest: Paintings and Sculptures by Richard Allen Morris is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and made possible by generous lead underwriting from Marcia Hazan. Additional underwriting support provided by Bo and Anita Hedfors. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.

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