Renzo Piano Visits the Resnick Pavilion

July 7, 2009

One of the more interesting parts of my job as a communications specialist for LACMA is the behind-the-scenes access I have to various projects as they emerge on campus. Case in point: I recently walked through the construction site of the museum’s Resnick Exhibition Pavilion with an august group including the building’s donors, Mr. and Mrs. Stewart Resnick, the architectural team, Renzo Piano and Antoine Chaaya, and LACMA’s Director, Michael Govan.

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Renzo Piano and Michael Govan

As fascinating as being able to tour an as-of-yet unfinished space was, it was even more enlightening to experience it through each person’s varied perspective.

One of the most notable aspects of the building is that its entire ceiling is made from saw-tooth glass, so the natural light flooding the space was on everyone’s mind. The ambient light created in the 45,000 square-foot area is warm and soft, and to this woman of a certain age, very kind.

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In the Pavilion

Antoine described how the roof would reflect and diffuse the incoming southern light; he and Renzo also explained how the nylon mesh blinds are controlled by computerized timers that can be adjusted to address the needs of any exhibition, allowing for many variations of light—including its complete absence.

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Lynda Resnick

Mrs. Resnick loved the lighting, too. She and her curator, Bernard Jazzar, who also joined the tour, discussed how dramatic the opening exhibitions would be in that space (more on those to come in future posts). There was talk of possible intimate candlelit dinners as well as the gala opening.

Renzo’s focus was also on the marble, which comes from the same quarry as that used in LACMA’s building for contemporary art, BCAM. Some of the differences between the buildings are that the Resnick Pavilion’s marble has been washed to looked aged; the public enters on the southern axis of the building; and there will be restrooms on the east and west quadrants as one enters featuring, in the words of the architect, some of “the most gorgeous toilets in the world.”

Michael saw the space from a curatorial vantage as a perfect square with vast convertible space, no wasted space, lots of light, and endless wall possibilities. He called it an “honest building.”

All in all, it was unusually fascinating for me, providing not only an enhanced perspective on the coming building but a heightened sense of excitement.

Barbara Pflaumer, Associate Vice-President of Communications


Your Bright Playlist

July 6, 2009

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Another exhibition, another iTunes playlist created in its honor. This one was a little tougher to come up with than the Pompeii or Urban Light playlists, as those had subject matter that many a pop tune have addressed—volcanoes! light! Korea? Not so much. And while I might have done ten songs about “the future,” that seemed like a cheat. So this time around I tried to find songs whose titles riffed on the titles of the artworks in the show. You can download this mix at the iTunes store:

1. Viva Voce: Brightest Part of Everyone [for Bahc Yiso’s Your Bright Future]

2. The Books: The Future, Wouldn’t That Be Nice? [ditto]

3. Earlimart: We’re so Happy (We Left the Piano in the Truck) [for Bahc Yiso’s We Are Happy]

4. Minutemen: Do You Want New Wave or Do You Want the Truth? [for Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ Beyond Truth and Reason]

5. Al Green: Tired of Being Alone [for Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ Hey, Am I All Alone Here?]

6. American Analog Set: White House [for Jeon Joonho’s The White House]

7. The Easybeats: I’ll Make You Happy [for Choi Jeong-Hwa’s HappyHappy]

8. The Breeders: Divine Hammer [for Kim Beom’s Pregnant Hammer #1]

9. Iron & Wine: Radio War [for Kim Beom’s An Iron in the form of a Radio]

10. The Mekons: Hard to Be Human Again [for Gimhongsok’s Human Abstract]

11. Neko Case: The Needle Has Landed [for Kimsooja’s A Needle Woman]

12. Dios (Malos): You Got Me All Wrong [for Minouk Lim’s Wrong Question]

13. Superchunk: I Guess I Remembered It Wrong [ditto]

14. Elliott Smith: Shooting Star [for Do Ho Suh’s Fallen Star 1/5]

15. Sondre Lerche: Two Way Monologue [for Jooyeon Park’s Monologue]

16. The Electric Prunes: General Confessional [for Jooyeon Park’s Eclectic Rhetoric]

Scott Tennent


Independence Day

July 3, 2009
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Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, "Mrs. Schuyler Burning Her Wheat Fields on the Approach of the British," 1852, Bicentennial gift of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Schaaf, Mr. and Mrs. William D. Witherspoon, Mr. and Mrs. Charles C. Shoemaker, and Jo Ann and Julian Ganz, Jr.

Did Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler, wife of General Philip Schuyler, actually “burn her wheat fields on the approach of the British,” as Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze depicted? Probably not, but the work—the artist’s second of some dozen subjects from the Revolutionary War—is nevertheless one whose historical relevance is right on, complete with a red, white, and blue dress.


On Becoming a Gallery Educator

July 2, 2009

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I come from a family of artists and teachers, so when the world of museum education came knocking at my door it seemed a perfect match, and we rode off into the sunset together. I say “knocking at my door” because it found me. I was living in London producing and hosting a radio show where we featured various artists from the African Diaspora, discussing their influences and contributions. This led to an introduction to England’s Victoria and Albert Museum of decorative and applied arts. Their education department asked if I wasn’t interested in helping them host a black history month event. I jumped at the chance! It’s been bliss ever since. I continued to work in their access and inclusion programs trying to help bridge the gap between a seemingly elite institution and people’s general wants and needs from a public establishment dealing with the arts.

It only seemed natural that upon returning to my native Los Angeles I’d join forces with LACMA and their education team. After all, I’d grown up coming to this museum and had fond memories of family outings, field trips, and college projects. When the position of gallery educator arose it seemed a nice fit for me. On weekends we educators are placed in the contemporary and modern sections of the museum to answer questions, engage with the public, and initiate dialogues based on the pieces in the gallery.

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This new approach to touring seemed interesting. Instead of the educator leading the tour, the patron would. A perfect recent example was a couple from Shanghai who wanted to discuss what music some of the artists might have been listening to during their own eras. This opened up a discussion about the many artists influenced by music (from Kandinsky to Klee) and ended with the influence free jazz had on abstract expressionism.

I love the personal touch that comes from having a small audience with a particular interest. Whether it’s facilitating “Can you help me compare and contrast German expressionism and African art? “ or being there when someone concludes that “Lichtenstein is a modern-day impressionist,” they’re able to find their own answers through a series of questions we develop together around the object or artist. Why do you think the artist chose this color? What does it remind you of? How is it relevant to the subject matter? If LACMA is an artists’ library of sorts, then our meaningful experience with the art comes from sifting through its pages together.

Amber Edwards


Improving Your LACMA Experience

July 2, 2009

A few weeks ago, in an effort to better understand what our visitors want, we set up an “Ask Me” table on campus and fielded guests’ questions. As part of the same initiative, we’d like to hear from our virtual visitors. Give us a couple of minutes for a very brief survey—only 12 questions!—and we’ll use your input to make the LACMA experience even better in the months and years ahead.

Improving Your LACMA Experience

A few weeks ago, in an effort to better understand what our visitors want, we set up an “Ask Me” table http://lacma.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/what-i-learned-about-what-you-want/ on campus and fielded guests’ questions. As part of the same initiative, we’d like to hear from our virtual visitors. Give us a couple of minutes for a very brief survey—only 12 questions!—and we’ll use your input to make the LACMA experience even better in the months and years ahead.


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