Saturday, March 3, 2012

Art in Los Angeles

There were many art galleries and museums to see with the College Art Association in town for the weekend. For the record... I did not make any attempts to see Ed Ruscha. My only regret is missing out on the Museum of Jurassic Technology for the second visit in a row. I even learned that it is next to another favorite institution that I must see sometime in the future - the Center for Land Use Interpretation. It's on the next trip's agenda no matter what (whenever that may be)!

The Museum of Contemporary Art was a priority for two reasons: Naked Hollywood: Weegee in Los Angeles and A Tribute to Mike Kelley. Other surprises would pop up along the way.

This spring I plan on seeing two major Weegee exhibitions and the first did not disappoint. Weegee has always intrigued me. I will never forget one night I was preparing a lecture featuring his work for a history of photography class when the doorbell rang. Two police officers asked to look into the living room to make sure that a "woman was not tied up with rope." A homeless man had informed them that he saw this act through the venetian blinds and they were obligated to check to be sure that wasn't true. They rolled their eyes as they asked, convinced that the vagrant had led them astray to avoid interrogation. After finding no evidence, I returned to Weegee in the office thinking of him following his police radio to the murder victims portrayed in his photographs. He arrived before the NYPD but that night, he (by way of my powerpoint) was interrupted.

Above is a wall of Weegee's Marilyn Monroe photographs, many taken with the "elastic lens" that distorted the faces of celebrities. The top left image is from the collection of Cindy Sherman which is fitting.

There were several large vinyl prints in between framed images and posters. Some (like the above) occupied a whole wall. This was one of my favorites - the scale was roughly 7' tall by 9' wide.

There was a large variety of book covers, pulp magazines, business cards, and even film clips of the movies that Weegee starred in during his brief stay in Los Angeles.

There were several highlights from the Permanent Collection including Wallace Berman's Black Piece from 1967.

A little fake dessert and shoes by Claes Oldenberg.

Ninety postcards from On Kawara's I Got Up At..., from 1974-75 were also on display. I love this series and became particularly interested in seeing who these cards were addressed to:

Let me also add finding out where John Baldessari lives to my next Los Angeles "things to do" list. Why I didn't consider him for the Artist Stalking series earlier is beyond me but I clearly didn't have time this weekend.

Mike Kelley's Silver Ball from 1994 was part of the tribute exhibition. MOCA included 23 of the 34 works in their collection in this small show curated after his death in early February. According to the wall text, Silver Ball "reveals Kelley's knack for finding common ground between the mystical and the banal." I couldn't help wonder about the outdated stereos in many of these sculptural installations. What happens when they no longer work? Will the piece be compromised if a brand new stereo replaces the nonfunctional one? How does technology breaking fit into the grand scheme of keeping the artwork original? Art conservations feel free to answer this question.

I couldn't resist posting Kelley's Cat Litter Box. I can't imagine that any other artists have displayed this as a serious work of art before Mike Kelley did. That is one of the reasons why I admire him.

There was also a section of art that Kelley donated to MOCA including Marnie Weber's Brown Bear from 2005.

A photograph of the Kenneth Anger: ICONS installation. Along with Anger's Hollywood Babylon books, there were projections of the Magick Lantern Cycle. Unfortunately, the clock was running out and I couldn't spend as much time as I would have liked here.

I ended the weekend with Kelli Connell's Double Life at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery. It was the first time I was able view Kelli's prints in a white cube and it was a beautiful display. Lots of catching up with old friends and new ones at her opening.

Overall, it was a fun weekend that even featured running into my old student from ten years ago at Oregon State - Jordan Christian. Now I am trying to get ahead before next week's Art Extravaganza. Details coming soon.

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