Got Tea?

Yesterday I strolled into the not-yet-installed Art of the Pacific galleries to check out a neat project in progress. In collaboration with Franz West, Viennese artist Andreas Reiter Raabe and two assistants are painting the walls with a tea wash. The idea is that tea played an important role in the featured cultures and, additionally, that the faint green color would be an interesting enhancement to the show. (I’ll add that the smell of the tea seems to match the look of it on the walls—lilting, understated, and just generally lovely.) After trying different recipes, Andreas settled on a concoction that involves fifty Mate tea bags—green tea wasn’t green enough—to half an Arrowhead water jug of boiling water. Only problem: Andreas was almost out of tea when I met him late Monday afternoon. One assistant had already wiped out the Mate selection at the ten closest Ralphs and Whole Foods. I sent out a tweet asking for recommendations of places where we could purchase more Mate teabags and guess what, you guys really came through for us. Within seconds, I had many suggestions, including a great one from @YelpLA to check out Erewhon, a natural foods market in the neighborhood. I called the store, a Mate treasure trove as it turns out, and Andreas’s assistant headed out once more on a quest for tea. This time, he found enough to finish up the project. In addition, the LACMA staff quickly responded too, both with shopping efforts and donations of Mate tea by 10 staff members. You’ll be able to see, and hopefully still smell, the tea-stained walls when the installation opens later this fall. In the meantime, some photos of the work in progress.

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Allison Agsten

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