Chalk It Up

June 19, 2009

For the past three years I’ve participated in the Paseo Colorado Chalk Festival in Pasadena. Sponsored by the Light Bringer Project (where proceeds go to art education in Pasadena classrooms and other community-based projects), the event is held in June on Father’s Day weekend, where chalk artists work from sunrise until sundown on their murals. Artists can work individually, with a partner, or in a group on a mural that can be as large as 10 x 10 feet—but I’ve seen much larger:


The techniques used are amazing. Methods include priming the surface with a base layer, sketching, meticulous blending, painting ground chalk mixed with water, spraying down pulverized chalk, or other various combinations. Some participants take inspiration from the year’s current events, pop culture, even masterpieces in local museums.


Every year there are always new ideas and new designs; some works are so seamlessly blended it’s hard to believe they’re done with chalk.


The Chalk Festival attracts several visitors, and while the large crowds and parking might be a detractor to some, here’s an insider’s advice: beat the summer heat and get there early on Sunday. The parking meters are free, and you can also catch the Pasadena Police Classic Car Show that runs concurrently with the Chalk Festival. If Dad wants to sleep in on his special day, you can always go at dusk: take advantage of the long summer days and see the murals in all their glory after the crowds have died down. But don’t wait too long: the concrete gets washed clean the next day.

Devi Noor

Wish You Were Here

June 17, 2009

“I stopped keeping up after Sam Cooke and the Beatles and… what’s the one with Mick Jagger?”

Our exhibitions administrator, Elaine Peterson, was one of the few LACMA staffers down in the offices when I walked in yesterday morning. Everyone else was up on the BP Grand Entrance watching Incubus.

Wait, what?

Yes, Incubus performed live at LACMA Tuesday morning—a secret show put on by KROQ’s Kevin & Bean morning show. They’ve been giving away tickets all week to true-blue Incubus fans and told them the location at the last minute. Kevin and Bean were broadcasting from LACMA all morning, since 5:30 am. The crowd rolled in around 7:00 and, as at any good rock show, started drinking by 7:05. At 8:00 Incubus took the stage and performed three songs from their new album, Monuments and Melodies, which was released this week, then closed it out with their hit “Love Hurts.” LACMA was chosen as the location for this event as a tie-in to the album title—the band wanted to perform in front of a monument, so Chris Burden’s Urban Light provided the proper backdrop for their show.


The whole show was taped by KROQ and there were a lot of cameras in the audience, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up on YouTube soon. We’ll tweet about it if any videos surface [Update! As soon as we posted this, a youtube video indeed popped up. Check it out below.] Stay tuned to our Facebook page as well, where our intrepid behind-the-scenes video crew will be posting an interview with Incubus’s singer (and art lover), Brandon Boyd, in the next few days.

Scott Tennent

Five to See at the LA Film Festival

June 16, 2009

Though we’ll likely have to wait until AFI FEST rolls around this autumn to catch some of the notable entries from this year’s Cannes, there’ll be plenty of enticing titles from the international festival circuit at this summer’s Los Angeles Film Festival. Here are the five I certainly won’t miss:

Our Beloved Month of August

Portugal’s improbable ’09 Oscar submission is a category-defying double-album film about filmmaking set in the land-locked municipality of Arganil and performed largely by locals. This second feature from Miguel Gomes places everything onscreen—the equipment, the crew—and fictionalizes a summer’s tale while documenting the season’s bustling surplus of disarray. Here’s the trailer, and an interview with Gomes.

Embodiment of Evil

Embodiment of Evil

Embodiment of Evil

Brazil’s maestro of rhapsodically gory, bargain-basement bloodbaths José Mojica Marins, pushing 70, returns as atheist gravedigger Zé do Caixão (“Coffin Joe” is the decent and ubiquitous translation) for his only directorial effort in two decades. Certainly a first—has a ZdC title ever screened in a US film festival?—this Gran Torino of sorts is flush with hardcore surrealism and baroque terror. Visit the official site.

The Silence Before Bach

The Silence Before Bach

The Silence Before Bach

A few years older than Marins, Catalan filmmaker Pere Portabella is a comparable force of subversion, with a voracious ear and even a slight taste for the gothic (see his 1970 Vampir Cuadecuc). Positing Bach as a conduit of modernity, this elegant collage is lucidly “experimental” in John Cage’s sense of the word: “inclusive rather than exclusive.” Visit the official site.

United Red Army

United Red Army

United Red Army

A contemporary of Nagisa Oshima and the third filmmaker on this list north of seventy, Kōji Wakamatsu is perhaps best know for his pinku eiga efforts—furious low-budget spasms of pornography and anarchy—but United Red Army will certainly tower over the pulp. This three-hour-plus treatise on the titular, doomed left-wing paramilitary revolutionaries features an original score by the newly Japan-based Jim O’Rourke and concludes with a show-stopping snowbound climax set in the filmmaker’s own mountain lodge.

35 Shots of Rum

Claire Denis can always be relied on for some rumpled warmth. 35 Shots of Rum is her first feature since the sublimely elliptical L’Intrus in 2004, and this father-daughter duet is comparatively more conventional. But the luminous cinematography of Agnes Godard and Denis’s almost trancelike sense of rhythm should let it linger like a waking dream (or a hangover).

But if all the above just seem far too plot-heavy, there’s a whole day to be swallowed in the 840-minute Crude Oil. Screening for free inside a gallery at the Hammer Museum—which notably sits on land owned by Occidental Petroleum Corporation—this slab of real time from eminent docu-minimalist Wang Bing is a persistent, panoramic look at a drilling station and its workers in the Gobi Desert.

Bernardo Rondeau

Name the Object

June 15, 2009

Take a look at the permanent collection objects below and see if you can guess their names. Create your own title in the final bonus question and we’ll send a pair of VIP tickets to the Pompeii exhibition to the reader with our favorite suggestion. Answers are after the jump and more info on this selection of works, all which were included in our 2007 exhibition SoCal: Southern California Art of the 1960s and 70s, can be found on Collections Online.



A. Magma

B. Conch

C. Echo

D. Freckles




A. Untitled (The Elusive Eureka)

B. Untitled (The Epiphany Evident)

C. Untitled (Santa Monica Sunset)

D. Untitled (Tarry Night)




A. Badgirl

B. Goodboy

C. Sweetlady

D. Angryman




A. Old Cotton Fields Back Home

B. Chicago Plains, Harvested

C. Barren Citrus Groves Out West

D. Tilled Sand




A. Bob

B. John

C. Tom

D. Ron




A. Tetris in Blue

B. Blue in Two

C. Temples in Blue

D. Big Blue




A. Acid Breeze with Yellow

B. Silent, Asphalt and Cement

C. Ionic Gesture, Part II

D. Silence and Ion Wind




Ronald Davis made Roto, above, in 1968. It’s a Polyester resin and fiberglass sculpture, 62 x 136 inches. (See a larger view here.) What would you name this object? Tell us in the Comment section for your chance to win two VIP tickets to see our Pompeii exhibition.

Answers after the jump . . .

Read the rest of this entry »

Please Touch

June 12, 2009


Recent visitors to LACMA have noticed that the center of the BP Grand Entrance is now filled with a dense forest of bright, colorful plastic. The aptly titled HappyHappy is Korean artist Choi Jeong-Hwa’s site-specific installation created for the upcoming exhibition Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea (June 28–September 20, 2009). When the exhibition opens, visitors will be allowed to walk through HappyHappy and discover that the explosion of abstract shapes and saccharine colors are actually nothing more than floor-to-ceiling strands of thousands of household containers procured from local 99¢ stores.



Choi is considered the father of Korean pop art, and his enduring interest in popular materials and consumer culture is evident when you move through the rows and rows of plastic containers, many of which are manufactured in Asia and found in many Korean homes.

Consider this a sneak preview of Choi’s work. Installation of Welcome, a second site-specific project that will transform the façade of the Ahmanson Building, starts today…

Michele Urton, Assistant Curator


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