Nancy Kienholz on Five Car Stud

October 12, 2011

Nancy Kienholz spent three years restoring Five Car Stud, prior to the current exhibition at LACMA. She was present to supervise the installation and talk with staff and the public about the piece.

Five Car Stud was completed in 1971, the last of Kienholz’s works made in Los Angeles. Kienholz readily acknowledged that his work was challenging and even painful. On the web, we have an extraordinary firsthand account–what he called a pictorial chronology — documenting the making of the work. He describes the models that he used, how he struggled to source various elements, and the circumstances behind the fact that the tableau was not exhibited in this country. In fact, except at documenta V in Kasel in 1972, it has not been shown publicly until now. It was kept in a private collection in Japan from 1974 until Nancy began the restoration in 2008 at the Kienholz studio in Hope, Idaho.

Kienholz concludes the chronology with this statement: “I should probably add that in my mind my work has always taken on a kind of life and identity of its own and as I push one way it seems to push back another. In this continuing internal dialogue I understand things better and do hopefully grow. The conversation with Five Car Stud is still very painful and slow, but one thing has been established for sure: if six to one is unfair odds in my tableau, then 170 million to 20 million is sure as hell unfair odds in my country.”

Amy Heibel

Tim Burton’s Contagious Creativity

October 10, 2011

Looking back on the past four months of my Tim Burton experience, it seems as though my fellow gift shop employees and I have seen and heard just about everything. The sheer number of people we encounter on a daily basis can be overwhelming, but fortunately at night, as we close the store, we are able to slow down and reflect. This is the time of day that the public doesn’t experience—when all the chatter has dissipated and the Sleepy Hollow scarecrow looms large in our direction, the only sound being the spooky melody emanating from the diorama of Stain Boy’s suburban home (a tune eerily similar to that of an ice cream truck, which has haunted my dreams now for months. Tim Burton speaks of his fear of clowns. One man’s clown is another man’s ice cream man. Thank you, Danny Elfman).

After speaking to literally thousands of people who have just experienced the Tim Burton exhibition—which closes at the end of this month—I have realized that it is really no coincidence that so many people purchase colored and graphite pencils from the shop (among lots of other items) before they leave.  In fact, the conclusion I’ve drawn (no pun intended) is that it is not so much about the art as it is about the process. Pure creativity is contagious, and this exhibition is like the plague. After viewing it, one immediately wants to return home to draw, to create.

I think part of what makes this show exciting to young artists in this city is that it all seems so, well, immediate—in both time and space. It doesn’t take too much imagination for these kids to see themselves in Tim Burton’s sneakers one day. He was born in the same century as a lot of our NexGen members (free kid’s membership—check it out!), and he grew up right over the hill.  LACMA and Burbank are close enough to see and breathe in the same smog.

In other words, it isn’t impossible for a teenage girl visiting the show today to imagine her own retrospective on the walls of LACMA in forty years: The Childhood Sketches and Doodles of the Great Holographic Filmmaker Tammy Batman, coming in 2051. Needless to say, most of Tammy’s films will also feature Johnny Depp, who, by then, will be enjoying a golden-age career resurgence à la Betty White.

Future filmmaker “Tammy Batman” (aka Hannah, L.A. native and NexGen member) gets inspired by Tim Burton.

Living in modern-day suburban Los Angeles, these young artists might not see themselves as the next Renoir, or Caravaggio, or Matisse. But what they can envision is being in their bedroom late at night and drawing for fun and imagining that one day they might translate having fun into making a living.

Although a career as a popular artist might not seem so unattainable while strolling through the exhibition, getting to that point requires work, and it’s evident from the show that a creative life is as much about the journey as it is about the end result. An artist’s personal outlet as a child connects with millions down the line because of years of diligence, hard work, and practice, practice, practice. In Tim Burton we see someone who really engaged in what he loved and made a very successful living out of it.

The show reminds us that process is the key. Tim Burton’s early sketches and drawings and models show us that the process can also be art. It’s called a work of art because it’s work. And when it connects with others, it’s magic.

Matt Liberman, Sales Associate


This Weekend at LACMA: The Forgotten Space, Free Concerts, and More

October 7, 2011

Did you know that this season’s Jazz at LACMA is its twentieth? It is. And did you know that pianist Frank Strazzeri was the very first performer ever to take the Jazz at LACMA (neé Friday Night Jazz) stage? He was. Strazzeri returns tonight with his quintet.  

Tomorrow night we are presenting a free screening of The Forgotten Space, directed by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch. The film looks at the impact of everyday people—farmers, truck drivers, factory workers—on the global economy. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Sekula, Bérénice Reynaud (co-curator, Film at REDCAT), and others.

Our exhibition California Design is into its second weekend, and Sunday would be a great day to check out the show, since designer Bernard Kester will be on hand for a conversation in the Art Catalogues Bookstore

On Sunday night you can see the Capitol Ensemble perform works by Brahms during our free Sundays Live concert.  

Monday is a holiday for many, and LACMA is here for you. Bring your kids to the Boone Children’s Gallery to make art! As on every Monday, we also offer story time in the Boone at 2 pm.

This three-day weekend is a great opportunity to take in many of the exhibitions we have on view, from California Design to Monet/Lichtenstein to Asco and more. And of course, Tim Burton, which is only on view for three more weeks!

Scott Tennent

Free California Design App

October 6, 2011

Despite the rain, a steady stream of midcentury design fans are flocking to the Resnick Pavilion to see California Design, 1930-1945: “Living in a Modern Way” since it opened last weekend.

Don’t miss the free exhibition app for iPad and iPhone. The app features more than 100 highlights from the exhibition, including furniture, graphic design, industrial design, jewelry, fashion, toys and ceramics.

Look for CADesign (iPhone) and CADesign HD (iPad) in the iTunes app store

There is also an interactive map highlighting locations key to the history of midcentury California design. And, best of all, the app includes exclusive extended video interviews with a dozen living designers included in the show. (An internet connection is required to access the extended videos.)

LACMA’s own Bernard Kester is one of the designers featured in the exhibition and in the app. Bernard and his signature bow ties have been a fixture at LACMA for decades, as he’s been designing exhibitions for us since 1966. But that’s not all – his biography suggests a master of multitasking. He taught art and design at UCLA from 1956 to 1993. He served on the board of the Craft and Folk Art Museum here, and as a trustee of the American Craft Museum in New York. He contributed to publications, curated several groundbreaking exhibitions of craft and fiber art, and, of course, created textiles and ceramics, being equally proficient in both disciplines. Bernard also exhibited in all of the historic midcentury California Design exhibitions at the Pasadena Art Museum  that helped bring visibility to California modernism, and designed three of them.

The exhibition gift shop at LACMA includes a limited-edition scarf based on another one of Bernard’s designs, called the Strand textile. In the video, you’ll see Bernard sitting in Ray’s restaurant at LACMA, where another one of his textile designs decorates the main wall, and visiting our modern art galleries where he worked with curator Stephanie Barron to design the current installation. Here’s an excerpt:

Amy Heibel

Q&A with Artist Adam Silverman

October 5, 2011

In conjunction with California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way,” LACMA invited artist Adam Silverman to create a limited-edition work. The ceramic multiple he created is very much inspired by the time period that is examined in LACMA’s exhibition and is made in homage to the architecture and design of the era. In 2008 Silverman launched a partnership with Heath Ceramics to open a gallery/studio in Los Angeles. He is both the studio director and the permanent artist-in residence there. We asked him a few questions about his practice and the pieces he created for us.

Adam Silverman's limited-edition ceramic works at Art Catalogues

Your own work deals very much with surface and texture. As an artist with an architecture background, do you feel that your architecture training has informed your practice as an artist?
Yes, absolutely. Architecture is very much in my DNA. Critical thinking through a design lens is important to the process I go through to make things, particularly with a project like this one for LACMA. The form, surface, and texture are each individual elements that I think about and try to integrate specifically, much like in a building. Many of the most influential people on my personal practice are architects like Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and Tadao Ando.

Limited-edition ceramic by Adam Silverman

Designs by Heath Ceramics are featured in the exhibition, which was one of the reasons we felt it was an opportunity to invite you to create something for LACMA. What initially drew you to consider a partnership with Heath?
It was a very unique set of circumstances. Cathy [Bailey] and Robin [Petravic] had just purchased the company from Edith Heath, and were in the process of restoring it. They are both very smart, hardworking people who had grand plans for Heath. So it was a chance to be part of something with a great history and legacy, as well as a very exciting future. Heath gives me a great amount of freedom as well as a great foundation to work from. I have access to amazing people and technical resources, and I think that the partnership has been very successful so far.

Adam Silverman's studio at Heath Ceramics

With so much material included in California Design, were there particular artists, designers, or architects you were thinking about when you made this piece for LACMA?
Initially when I met with [exhibition co-curator] Bobbye Tigerman and looked at what was going to be in the show, I thought that maybe there would be an object that would inspire what I was going to make. In the end, however, there was so much great work in the show that it became impossible, and perhaps too literal, to focus on one person or thing. Instead what I left our meeting with was an idea that the show was not just focusing on the objects, but also on the imagery and publications that recorded and promoted the objects, so my project became about that.

For the object itself I decided on a timeless and region-less form, one that references the gourd, the bean, the torso, the guitar, the violin, etc—a form that has been made for thousands of years in many materials, but that is still contemporary and relevant. In a way it references all of the work and none of the work in the show. Then I decided to take a black-and-white 35mm photo of the work being made in my studio, and from that I made postcards, too. So the edition is a pot, a framed photo, and a stack of postcards, so you can have your object, appreciate the making process and context, and then disseminate the image yourself.

Learn more about Adam Silverman’s limited ceramic edition.

Erin Wright, Director of Special Projects


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