Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Museums Link Up for Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles 1945-1980

Charles & Ray Eames @ LACMA

 [Excerpted from November 2011's Los Feliz Ledger]

A grand retrospective of post-war art to the 1980s—that also encompasses architecture, design, street and performance art and more—the Getty Foundation-sponsored Pacific Standard Time is well underway with dozens of exhibitions across town. As mixed media snapshots of an era, the exhibitions reflect differing emotions from sunny post-war optimism to the disaffection of the late 1970s punk rock era.
Take home a souvenir Barbie

At LACMA, California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” is a must see for fans and fanciers of mid-century modern design. The casual California way of life, where the gentle climate led to letting the outdoors in, impacted design and material culture.

There are some key contributions from Silver Lake residents such as furniture from both Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. “Silver Lake was an incubator of ideas,” advises Bobbye Tigerman, the museum’s assistant curator of Decorative Arts and Design.

Interesting Silver Lake-made pieces include a prototype for a  “Camel” desk (so-called because legs could be altered) from the Neutra-designed VDL house and rarely seen Rudolph Schindler furniture, crafted for the un-built Shep house. So many works on display are very familiar, from the first-ever Barbie and Ken dolls to Heath Ceramic tableware to Eames chairs, demonstrating the lasting power of good design.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA hosts "Under the Big Black Sun" (named after an “X” album) that surveys California art from 1974-1981. Dark is the only way to describe the mood of the show, as the art explored reflects the tumult of the 1970s and the questioning of sexual identity and gender roles colored by disturbing geo-political events. Large screens click through historic snapshots—slideshows of chaos. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s assassination, the fall of Saigon, the Jonestown mass suicides are backdrop to work by Mike Kelly, Ed Ruscha and Robert Arneson’s famed but long-hidden ceramic portrait of San Francisco mayor George Moscone.

Archival pieces are added in for context including President Richard Nixon’s letter of resignation. In a far corner, a video loop from San Francisco’s Target Video showcases seminal punk bands of the era and artist Raymond Pettibon’s flyers for Black Flag form a colorful collage. [Extremely amusing to those who may have lived through that era.]