The one thing I have not written about much at all on this blog is art. More than eight hours of my every day is spent with art – choosing, hanging, selling, loving ART. It finds its way into my dreams.
My work days are spent in proximity to artists ranging from canonical status to the new, clear and bright energy of those in the process of pushing their way into a wider visibility. It is a dream of a job. The job was a dream that I made reality.
Anyway. This weekend was art weekend in Los Angeles. Many shows, many artists, many venues. As part of my job, I need to be out and about seeing what is new, what energy is in the gallery business, who is doing what, connecting with other dealers, artists and clients. Shaking hands, talking and talking, smiling, nodding, sharing, listening, praising, villifying, avoiding, and (if I’m lucky enough to come in contact with someone worthy) flirting. All as per usual in the daily life of a gallerina/curator.
Rather than drive to Los Angeles (a drive that always leaves me with my shoulders hunched up around my ears from traffic tension after spouting the most horrific swear words your mother should never hear) I took the train. And it was fabulous. Two and a half hours of stressless bliss later I arrived relaxed at Union Station. Before I knew it I was walking slowly through the art deco hall of the lobby admiring the beamed and painted ceiling, the round discs of chandeliers, the streamlined leather chairs for weary travelers to sink into; public art in a very fine, California style. I waited for my super friend to pick me up, the lighted station sign behind me and rows of dusty iconic Cali palms in front of me, my shoulders nowhere near my ears and no need to wash my mouth out with soap.
As seems to be a common occurence these days, I took a moment to notice my good fortune: to be standing outside a beautiful building, dressed warmly for the cold evening, stress-free and waiting on a friend, with the whole weekend ahead.
Flash forward to Saturday morning. It’s not every day that I get picked up by one of the most handsome and gentile men ever, who happens to have the same interest in art as me and is one of my oldest friends. More good fortune. Every woman should experience being picked up by a lovely man in a black jaguar after months of post failed-relationship-rehabilitation solo ventures. It does much for boosting one’s faith in pretty much everything.
We headed to LACMA. The standouts there, for me, being two works by Chris Burden: the now iconic lamp posts and the more recent Metropolis II.
The lamp posts I love because they are old, refurbished reminders of childhood holidays in Pasadena, echoes of Oak Street. For a contemporary curator my heart is, ironically and iconically, stuck in the past.
Twelve hundred custom Matchbox cars move ceaselessly through Burden’s urban creation. Metropolis II is a racing study of the the rapidity of life and all that we miss by moving so quickly through our lives, the shapes of beautiful buildings lost in the blur as we rush to the next destination guided by lines, not unlike cattle through a chute on their way to… where?
Metropolis II by Chris Burden
The result is a hypnotic study of motion that, once sucked in, is difficult to peel away from.
After the speedy metro world, we traversed the galleries to see the California Lifestyle exhibition (my personal favorites were the matching his and hers lobster printed swim costumes, but no photos because I got yelled at by a guard for taking photos of other exhibitions) and colonial art of the native Americans of Mexico and South America.
I have an interest in the casta paintings of colonial Mexico, but they only had one example. Casta paintings resulted in a need to classify the mixed race unions that were an obvious result of colonialism. Such a painting would often depict a white man, a native Mexican woman and their new breed offspring.
A good example of a Casta painting. From Wikipedia.
These paintings, to me, are wonderful documents of families, of history in the making, but also the beginning of defining separation of classes and race. Okay, maybe not the beginning, but an EARLY artistic reference to race and class definition.
Once through all of that, we slid into hipster chairs in the LACMA located restaurant, Ray’s.
Tableside at Ray's.
My favorite part was the little drawer in the table that held the utensils. Brilliant design. The food was phenomenal (sashimi, salad, and an extra spicy Bloody Mary for me). Brought to the table was a chopping block of crusty bread and a small plate with a slab of butter covered in salt crystals and small green bits of chives. Pretty and delcious. Apropos of an art museum.
After lunch we cruised through semi-empty streets downtown to the Convention Center and the LA Art Show, while listening to Etta James to honor her passing.
To be continued in Part II (otherwise this post would be hideously long and also I’m tired and need to go to bed)