2012 L.A. Jazz Treasure Award: Gerald Wilson

September 6, 2012

Mitch Glickman, Director of Music Programs, is the man behind Jazz at LACMA as well as the 4th annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award, to be awarded to seminal musician Gerald Wilson this Friday.  Glickman tells Unframed’s Stephanie Sykes why  Wilson is a deserving recipient of this year’s prize and offers a glimpse into what the fall holds for LACMA’s free jazz series.


Can you tell us about the history of the L.A. Jazz Treasure Award?
When I took over LACMA’s music program in 2006, I refocused the jazz series to exclusively feature Los Angeles jazz musicians. We have the world’s greatest pool of jazz artists and it was important to shine the light on them and their contributions. Part of my programming is to feature the legends as well as the next generation of jazz greats. Many of these legends are still with us, though not necessarily performing these days, and I wanted an outlet to celebrate their contributions to jazz. So in 2009, in partnership with the Los Angeles Jazz Society, we started the annual L.A. Jazz Treasure Award to those individuals have made an indelible contribution to jazz and have given back to the community. The first year features NEA Jazz Master and trumpeter Snooky Young, followed by keyboardist Les McCann, and then for the twentieth anniversary Jazz at LACMA we honored saxophonist Wayne Shorter.

Gerald Wilson

How and why was Gerald Wilson selected as this year’s recipient?
This year, Gerald Wilson turns 94. He is living jazz history. Starting with the Jimmie Lunceford big band in the late 1930s, Gerald has been an important ingredient is so many of the classic big bands throughout history–as a trumpet player, composer/arranger, and then as a leader of his own big band. He has written for the Duke Ellington band, Count Basie band, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, and Nancy Wilson. And he is still active, turning out great recordings.

It’s a lovely gesture that Gerald Wilson’s son will perform, heading up the Anthony Wilson Nonet jazz ensemble. As the legacy of jazz passes through generations, how do you feel the genre evolves while staying true to its origins?
Ironically, “Legacy” is the name of one of his recent projects. His son and grandson are wonderful jazz musicians in their own right and the list of musicians that have been a member of his big band reads like a who’s who of jazz greats–Teddy Edwards, Buddy Collette, Jack Nimitz, on down to some of the young lions of today including Kamasi Washington. Anthony Wilson has a “modern” big band–a streamlined, contemporary ensemble (nine members) that takes the great tradition of big band into a contemporary setting. So as the great tradition of jazz being passed down from one generation to the next continues, it is indeed in good hands, taking the sounds of the past into new settings for the present and future.

What additional highlights can we expect in the remaining Jazz at LACMA series this fall?
The Jazz at LACMA free concert series continues through Thanksgiving weekend and can also now be heard every Sunday night on KJazz 88.1 FM. The radio series features the concert along with an interview with the featured artist. Highlights coming up include jazz veteran Phil Ranelin and his Jazz Ensemble on October 5. The opening band for this concert is the winner of the Angel City Jazz Festival Young Musician Competition, highlighting Jazz at LACMA’s focus on mixing the established with the emerging. Other highlights include vocalist Sara Gazarek October 26 and drummer Ralph Penland with his band on November 16.

A special jazz concert will be presented on Thursday, October 4. The free concert celebrates the late sculptor Ken Price, whose exhibition opens next week; Price grew up studying trumpet with Chet Baker. The October 4 concert features trumpter Brian Swartz and his Band saluting Chet Baker and pianist John Beasley (former Miles Davis band member) and his Quintet saluting the music of Miles Davis.

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The Studio Glass Movement, 1962–2012

September 4, 2012

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the studio glass movement, and commemorations have taken place at museums throughout the country. To celebrate this milestone, LACMA has organized an installation of eleven examples of contemporary glass from our permanent collection, The Studio Glass Movement, 1962–2012.

The origin event of the movement is considered to be a series of workshops held at the Toledo Museum of Art in 1962 and led by glass artist Harvey Littleton. Until that time, glass was primarily considered a material for industrial uses, such as plate-glass windows, and for utilitarian drinking and serving vessels. Inspired by studio ceramists, who had expanded the scope of their work to include sculpture as well as useful objects, glassmakers no longer felt bound by functional imperatives and embraced the potential of glass for artistic expression. Thus began a fertile period of experimentation that continues today, in which glass artists have often worked on a massive scale and employed a variety of techniques to highlight the brilliance, transparency, and visceral power of glass.

Harvey Littleton image: Harvey Littleton, Red/Blue Combination Arc, 1984, LACMA, gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser

Chihuly image: Dale Chihuly, Basket cylinder, c. 1976, LACMA, gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser

The Studio Glass Movement, 1962–2012 showcases the work of the movement’s pioneers, as well as a younger generation of makers, including such artists as Dale Chihuly, Harvey Littleton, Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova, Richard Marquis, Mary Ann “Toots” Zynsky, and many more. We are particularly excited to permanently install some of our monumental pieces of contemporary glass for the first time. Owing to the constraints of our previous cases, which couldn’t accommodate the weight or girth of these behemoths, we had not been able to show such massive and captivating pieces as Green Eye of the Pyramid and Music.

Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova, Green Eye of the Pyramid, 1993, gift of Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser

Vera Liskova, Music, 1980, gift of Werner Boeninger

LACMA is not the only Southern California institution celebrating the emergence of studio glass. The Craft and Folk Art Museum will open Balancing Act: The Glass Sculpture of Stephen Klein in late September and there will be an exhibition of work by the artist Alison Saar at Otis College of Art and Design that includes some of her glass pieces. There will also be displays at the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Fallbrook Art Center.

LACMA has organized programming for both children and adults in conjunction with the installation, including a series of glass-themed Andell Family Sundays in October. On Tuesday, October 30, the noted craft scholar Glenn Adamson will cast the history of glass in a new light when he speaks about The Attack of the Blob: Glass Art and the Will to Form.

This installation is on view in the American art galleries on the third floor of the Art of the Americas building. It is made possible by a generous gift from Daniel Greenberg and Susan Steinhauser.

Bobbye Tigerman, Associate Curator, Decorative Arts and Design

LACMA is Free Today!

September 3, 2012

Looking for a way to spend the unofficial last day of summer? Good news: LACMA is free all day today, thanks to Target. That means you can see great exhibitions like The Sun and Other Stars, Sharon Lockhart | Noa Eshkol, and more! Chris Burden’s popular Metropolis II will be running today, and of course Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass is open to all as usual.

Panamanian guitarist Rogelio Mitchell will be performing live at 12:30 and 2:45. Make the connection to art by checking out the exhibition Stitching Worlds: Mola Art of the Kuna—textiles created by Kuna women, who live on the east coast of Panama.

Felix the Cat, Panama, San Blas, Kuna People, last quarter of 20th century, gift of Lindy and Ellen Narver in memory of Grace Narver

Check out all the exhibitions and installations on view to plan your visit—and don’t forget about the Boone Children’s Gallery too. Happy Labor Day!

Scott Tennent

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