It’s time to escape the gray of winter, and the vivid exuberance of Mark Dean Veca’s installment Passaggio di Pop on the first floor of the Museum evokes the life and color of spring!
The second recipient of the John S. Knudsen Endowment Prize, Veca was commissioned to transform a corridor gallery on the Museum’s first floor, between Friedman Court and the education center. In addition to the installation, the prize will fund the Crocker’s purchase of Veca’s painting Oh Yeah, which visitors may also recognize from the 2017 exhibition, Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of Hi-Fructose.
The fund was established at the Crocker in late 2012 by a gift from the estate of art collector John Knudsen to annually support an emerging or mid-career California artist while also funding programs, exhibitions, acquisitions, and other endeavors related to the artist’s work at the Museum. Artists may use the award to work in the studio, to travel, to purchase materials for a specific body of work, and to pursue other creative projects. Awarded by a committee of review, the prize is open to all artists in California, with priority given to painters, and may be awarded only to artists who have not yet had a solo exhibition at a major art museum.
Born in Shreveport, Louisiana, Veca attributes his improvisational free-hand linework to the influence of jazz music. His work is inspired by alternative culture—MAD Magazine and underground comics, skateboard graphics, and album cover art—as well as the paintings and drawings of Philip Guston. In addition to pop culture, Passaggio di Pop references Veca’s Italian heritage and his father, who passed away in 2018. Veca is known for his colorful, psychedelic patterns and the all-encompassing scale of his installations that draw on Baroque art and 18th-century wall treatments.