Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baroque Treats for the Eye, Ear and Soul

Angel Playing Zither, Angel Playing Bagpipe, and Angel Playing Timbrels, 14th century

Cultural immersion at its best

Under the gazing eyes of Lucas Cranach the Elder's depictions of Adam and Eve, and Hans Memling's panel painting of Christ Giving His Blessing, Harmonia Baroque Players will perform baroque chamber music, as well as medieval and renaissance-era pieces this Friday, July 25th, at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. Moreover, the concert will be performed with the use of period instruments and held in the museum's early- renaissance gallery. Sure, you could always bring your best iPod mix of Bach or Händel to the gallery, but there's something to be said about simultaneously contemplating the brilliance of notable masters of both sight and sound. Such a performance is a rare treat, indeed, so get there early if you want to get a good seat.

Also, while you're there make sure to stop by my favorite work at the Norton Simon, Francisco de Zurbarán's Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose. The only still life signed and dated by the artist, many scholars believe that this painting was executed by Zurbarán as a mystical evocation of the Virgin Mary. Find out about the work here. Whether you tend to read more into the symbolic qualities or metaphysical implications of this memorizing canvas (or simply enjoy a good still-life painting now and then), there's something for everyone to enjoy. I think that this is probably one of the most remarkable still life paintings in the U.S. The fact that a painting of such exceptional quality made it from Europe to Pasadena is truly nothing short of a miracle!

Harmonia Baroque Players at the Norton Simon Museum; 411 W. Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena; Performance begins at 7:00 p.m.; (626) 449-6840; Admission $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, free for students with valid I.D. and patrons aged 18 years or younger; Concert is free with museum admission.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

TMITF on Modern Art Notes

Accumulations from Coast to Coast

Remember back in June, when I posted my review of the Andrea Zittel show at Regen Projects? I wrote about that crafty quarter for a quarter exchange. Much to my surprise, the cleaver quarter snatcher was none other than Tyler Green from Modern Art Notes. Read his post here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bambi and Thumper?

What do John Lautner, Bambi and Thumper have in common?

Here's a clip from YouTube, which features the Elrod Residence in Palm Springs (not to mention "Bambi" and "Thumper" -- hehe) from the 1971 James Bond classic Diamonds Are Forever: .

More to come, I promise...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bruce Busby at SMMoA (Project Room I)

Filter Tent #BMCD900, 2006
Nylon fabric, fiberglass poles, silicone rubber, 5 x 5 x 4 feet

You Won't Find These at REI...

Summer is in full swing. One of my guilty pleasures during these especially hot months, involves escaping the traffic jams, smog and tourists, and beginning plans for a quaint over night camping trip in the mountains. I am one of those people that is absolutely enthralled by California's pristine and seductive landscapes. For me, there's nothing more incredible than sleeping under the stars and waking up to the chirping of birds at 5:30 a.m. Okay, so maybe not the bird-chirping part, but you know what I mean. I know that for some of you, spending quality time in the great outdoors is just not your cup of tea. Well, for all you "urban" campers out there, head on over to SMMoM to see (and experience) Bruce Busby's Creativity Enhancement Shelters. In his first museum show, Bruce Busby: Super Faulty Reconfiguration at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, Busby offers you a sheltering and meditative experience that doesn't involve rubbing two sticks together.

Upon entering the gallery, you're greeted by several mesh, tent-inspired structures that capture your attention from first glance. Busby describes these works as "cutting-edge teepees," which is quite an understatement if you ask me. They're more than just cutting edge, they're not of this world! These metaphysical mesh and nylon structures range in size and adorn the floor, ceiling and wall spaces of the gallery. You can even crawl into one of them -- just take off your shoes, please. They seem to offer you a unique escape from the confines of the modern world. The works conceptually echo the architectural tradition of a sacred space, like a mosque, Buddhist temple or church.

Filter Tent #BMCD900 (Detail), 2006
Nylon fabric, fiberglass poles, silicone rubber 5 x 5 x 4 feet

Busby's work is based on the premise that "there are impurities and 'inhabitants' in our atmosphere that cause creative blockage, frustration, inefficiency, and confusion." These shelters are meant to serve as refuges from the turmoil of our daily lives, fine-tuning the various components of your inner-being back into spiritual equilibrium. Busby's ideas are validated by the notion that these shelters are not just museum objects, but are actually fully-functioning items that could be used on a day-to-day basis. The objects and its various components are also completely collapsible and transportable. Imagine your boss' reaction when you mention that you are starved for inspiration, so you begin popping up one of these Creativity Enhancement Shelters in your office or cubicle (I could have definitely used one of these in my work space a few months back, that's for sure). The genius of these objects lies not only with just viewing them in a museum setting, but also pulling them out of a controlled gallery environment and assigning it a true utilitarian duty.

CRIMP #JHQNY804 (Creativity Impairment Plume), 2004
Charcoal pencil on paper 6 x 6 feet

The structures are complemented by a series of large-scale drawings of clouds of contamination rising from the actual fault lines of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas. The images are meant to serve as visual reminders of why such shelters are necessary, conveying the idea that both beauty and danger can be found in California's unique topography.

It's perfect timing that an exhibition like this is going on at the same time as the Lautner exhibition, as both impart strong messages of sheltering and nurturing the individual. My Lautner post should be up in a few days, at which point I'll elaborate further on how these two exhibitions are differnt, yet intersect in a very intriguing way.

The exhibition is on view at the Santa Monica Museum of Art from May 24th-August 9th, 2008; 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica; Open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. - 8 pm; Closed Sundays, Mondays, and all legal holidays; (310) 586-6488; $5 suggested donation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

COMING SOON: John Lautner exhibition at the Hammer Museum

Concrete Ideas Made to Withstand the Test of Time

A comprehensive survey of John Lautner's work, including whimsical drawings, architectural renderings, and models will be on view at the Hammer Museum starting Sunday, July 13th. The exhibition entitled: Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner has been a work in progress for nearly a decade. Most of the objects will be coming from the Getty Research Institute, which acquired the Lautner archive back in 2007.

Lautner, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright for six years, was part of the first group of
Talisen Fellows who lived and worked with the quirky cape-wearing architect at his Spring Green, Wisconsin estate. After branching out on his own, Lautner created iconic structures which helped solidify Los Angeles' reputation as the best place to see modern architecture in the world.

Until very recently, Lautner's significant contributions to international style have been overshadowed by more prominent names such as Richard Neutra, Rudolf Schindler, Pierre Koenig and Raphael Soriano. I think that in large part, Lautner's structures have been interpreted as either too commercial (i.e. Googie Cafe) or too over-the-top (i.e. Aranga Residence in Acapulco). The diversity of his architectural endeavours exemplify not only an interest in the aesthetic merits of any one commission, but also an obsessive work ethic which involved mastering complicated engineering feats that have never been seen or attempted before.

Many of his works have been featured as backdrops for films. One of my favorite James Bond movies, Diamonds are Forever, features a scene which was filmed at Lautner's Elrod House in Palm Springs. I'll have more to report on his work after the opening, but in the meantime if you can't wait until this Sunday, perhaps this trailer for the upcoming Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner documentary will suppress that insatiable desire for anything and everything Lautner. Also, take a look at The John Lautner Foundation's website if you want to see some great examples of his work online.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Trompe l'oeil" or "trompe l'esprit?"

Roger Dickes at Sea and Space Explorations

I've always had a soft-spot for drawing. In most cases of artistic practice, a drawing almost always precedes a final work of art and assumes the function of a preparatory study or guideline for an artist. However, in recent years it has become more common to feature drawings as finished works of art in and of themselves, rather than just a meaningless doodle in a sketchbook. There is historical precedence of such activity dating back to the Renaissance, if not earlier. A concrete example, which comes to mind for me, is Albrecht Dürer's Stag Beetle (Currently on view as a part of the Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum).

During the time of Dürer, drawings were not really considered art objects, but merely study notes that were compiled by the artist to organize their thoughts, and at times used to re-work ideas related to composition and layout. If you take a good look at this specific drawing, it is clear that Dürer had spent a substantial amount of time rendering this object to the point of completion as an independent work of art. Roger Dickes' show, Firmament Av. at Sea and Space Explorations in Highland Park, reminded me that the tradition of drawing is sometimes more interesting and potent than a completed art object on panel or canvas (or any other medium for matter). The exhibition features three drawings and two sculptures that present an important juxtaposition between implied meaning and interpretive illusions.

Two of the drawings on display are Untitled (TV negation #4) and Untitled (TV negation #5). From afar, the white barrier paper on which the drawings are executed look completely blank. However, upon closer investigation of the works, images of a television screen slowly appear. Both emit a slight shimmery luminescence that captivates the viewer at first glance. The mark making mimics the static glow of white noise that you would encounter on an analog television if the cable went out. The lines are executed with the utmost delicacy and leaves the viewer in total awe. This is T.V. programming that you don't mind watching for long periods of time. In a way, it gives you a kind of TiVo experience where the viewer can stop what they're doing, leave for a moment and pick up where they left off or re-live the same experience again and again. If you happen to be on the east side of town, make time in your day to see this exhibition.

The exhibition is on view at Sea and Space Explorations from June 28th-July 13th, 2008; 4755 York Blvd., Highland Park; Open on Sun. 1-5 p.m. and by appointment; (323) 445-4015.