Once again, the folks from Fallen Fruit are descending upon the museum for a special EATLACMA event this Sunday: the Public Fruit Jam.
Bring your homegrown or street-picked fruit and join in to make collective fruit jams! By the end of the event we hope you’ll have made some new friends as well some wild new jam. The event is free, but space is limited, given on a first-come first-served basis.
This weekend also marks the final screenings for our Ernst Lubitsch series. Friday night sees two early silent films, The Marriage Circle (1924) and So This is Paris (1926), both featuring live musical accompaniment by Robert Israel. On Saturday, for our final two screenings, we’ve got Lubitsch’s only color film, Heaven Can Wait (1943), starring Don Ameche, and Lubitsch’s last film, Cluny Brown (1946).
Lots of great concerts this weekend too—perfect for date night, whichever night you so choose. Tonight jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek will perform in the BP Grand Entrance starting at 6 pm. (Get here early and you can also check out the galleries—they’re free after 5 pm for L.A. County residents.) Saturday evening Bill Cunliffe leads Imaginacion as they perform Latin jazz in Hancock Park, also free. And, on Sunday, the Helios Guitar Quartet will take to the Bing Theater to perform selections from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and other works.
Want samples? Videos for Gazarek and the Helios Guitar Quartet are below; you can hear samples of Cunliffe and Imaginacion at their MySpace site.
What is now internally referred to as LACMA West, the building on the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire, used to be a May Co. department store. Built in 1939, the building is a beautiful example of streamline moderne architecture; the store had four floors of merchandise and a fifth floor housed a tearoom and restaurant. Eventually the tearoom became a place where women would come daily to play panguingue, a variation of gin rummy and bridge. Purchased by the museum in 1994, some of the staff was moved over to this building with the ever-growing demand for more space. There are still a lot of places in the building that have never been converted. Last week I had our building supervisor, Harry, take me on a tour of these unused spaces of the building. Harry has worked here for over 18 years and patrols this building, top to bottom, every day.
A giant water tower used to sit on the roof. It was so big that when they removed it they had to break it down into several pieces to get it down the stairs and out the doors.
All of the escalators, while not working, are still here.
May Co. used to house the Craft and Folk Art Museum on the fourth floor
A beautiful example of old lettering.
Outstanding employees walk of fame
Someone was drinking on the job; an old bottle of Imperial Irish Whiskey.
Before there were security cameras there was someone, on the other side of the wall, spying on customers to make sure no one was shoplifting.
When I first encountered Catherine Opie’s photographs some time ago, I was delighted and intrigued by her work; her attention to detail, sensitivity toward color and composition, and fearless documentation of queer subcultures left an impression on me as an artist and thinker.
And so it was with equal delight, if not perhaps slight confusion, that I came face to face with her football series for the first time (on view in Catherine Opie: Figure and Landscape). For Opie, these photographs were a more traditional approach to photography in subject matter and style: crisp and colorful photographs of an American tradition. But, as I soon realized, there was far more to these photographs beyond their initial aesthetic viewing pleasure. As these photographs continued to grow on me, I realized that Opie’s portraits of high school footballers became, in part, a critique of the way in which our culture constructs masculinity.
Catherine Opie, “Tyler,” 2007, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, purchase.
The subjects of these portraits are not men, nor are they boys; they are teenagers in transition, and it is with acne, braces, and a youthful awkwardness that they come to inhabit the hyper-masculinized footballer’s uniform and identity. They do not quite fit into their roles as footballers, or as men, but it is clear that they have made a choice about where they stand. Or has this choice been made for them? The portraits possess a quiet dignity as well as an underlying critique of that very dignity with which these teenagers hold themselves.
Henry William Crouch, Intern, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department
While she was here installing Figure and Landscape, Catherine Opie took a break to tell us about her experience photographing high school football players over the course of the past three years. She traveled the country, working with coaches and players to create dozens of images of young men on the field or looking directly into the camera during their moment one-on-one with the artist. The result is a complex depiction of masculine identity and the American landscape.
A phrase like “Manly Pursuits”—the title of our Thomas Eakins exhibition, which opened yesterday—requires a strong statement for an exhibition title wall. I knew I wanted to do a take on the banners seen in the background of Eakins’s boxing paintings, but the trick was how to get them up there.
There needed to be ropes. Wrestling, boxing, rowing, equestrian riding, and sailing—ropes are used in all of them. I dug around at hardware stores and scoured Marine supply websites looking for the perfect pulleys, fender hooks, and manila rope.
With a lot of help from our great Gallery Services staff and the good folks at Olson Visual, who produced the banners, we managed to create really cool exposed rigging that connotes the hardware of sailing, while recasting Eakins’s work in a slightly steampunk light.
The man on the banners is John L. Sullivan, who was both the last of the bare-knuckle fighters and the first heavyweight gloved boxer. Sullivan was fighting at the same time Eakins was painting, and was one of the first American sports superstars. Eakins and Sullivan each symbolize two sides of the professional athlete. While Eakins seemed to paint the quiet quest for physical excellence, Sullivan was photographed for cigarette cards and made millions—a harbinger for the flashy, billion dollar industry professional sports has become in the last hundred years.