It can take years to get a project off the ground in Hollywood.The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd.; 310-746-4000; thewallis.org) in Beverly Hills—after a series of stops and starts and 17 years in the making—proves just that, opening on October 17 with its own Hollywood unveiling. (Special guests include Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.)
The spectacular building encompasses the original Beverly Hills post office and a new 500-seat theater—all done by architect Zoltan Pali, who was brought in on the build in 2006 and talks here about what the project has meant to him.
Q: What about this was so challenging and time consuming? A: Projects like these often take what appears to be some time because of a combination of things. I started working on the project in early 2006, and I must say that even though that seems like a bit of time, it really is not that unusual for cultural projects of this scale. Design was two years, construction was about the same and the entitlement process was about 18 months. There were some gaps in between all that for fundraising and other approvals.
Q: The history of its location is notable. A: Pre-2006, it was imagined that the 1936 post office would be transformed into a 500-seat theater while adding a new wing for the studio theater, educational classrooms and administration components. It was my opinion that a better scenario would be to reverse that thinking and actually build a brand-new state-of-the-art theater south of the post office and utilize the post office itself for the [rest]. The 120-seat studio theater fit nicely into the original 1936 mail-sorting room, the classrooms fit nicely into the original loading dock and the administration fit nicely on the second floor, where the postal workers had offices and breakout areas. The old and the new are connected below ground and the basement is utilized for back-of-the-house facilities.
Q: What is your favorite area of the new space? A: As the architect, it is difficult to answer—it is like asking what part of your child is your favorite part. However, gun to my head, the space along the pedestrian walkway between the old building and the new building is quite compelling to me. It feels very urban. You get the understanding of both buildings and read each one’s individuality and how they relate to each other.
Opened on September 21, the exhibit “Where Wild Won’t Break,” at the Dallas Contemporary, put the work of Faile—a Brooklyn-based twosome known for influential street-art collaborations—on display. Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller met nearly 20 years ago and have been working together since 1999, creating everything from large-scale paintings to sculptures to multimedia installations.
Though McNeil and Miller are predominantly known as part of the street-art genre, they have eked out a niche with their dynamic visual imagery to change its perception—which, thanks to fellow artists like Retna and Shepard Fairey and shows like 2011’s “Art in the Streets” at L.A.’s MoCA, has morphed drastically over the past few years.
Going southwest to Dallas was a bit outside Faile’s urban comfort zone of New York, but it also provided a great deal of inspiration. “The theme for the show was greatly inspired by Texas and the idea of the West and westerns,” they say. “Americana and quilt making were also influential, as they are ongoing themes in our work.”
The images created ultimately played out in many different directions. “Faile draws images from our collective visual culture and finds meaning in the clutter of pictures and illustrations,” says Pedro Alonzo, adjunct curator at Dallas Contemporary. “In doing so, they have developed an impressive body of work based on the creation of a unique vocabulary of icons.”
Considering their myriad examinations of mass culture, do McNeil and Miller have a favorite piece in the exhibition? “Between the two of us there were a few specific images that were favorites,” says the pair. “ Almost Midnight, Where the Hammer Drops and Werewolves of Laredo.” Giddyup, indeed. Through December 22; 161 Glass St.; 214-821-2522; dallascontemporary.org.
Christine Argillet’s childhood was the same as any other save for one detail: the presence of artistic genius Salvador Dalí, a family friend. The daughter of Pierre Argillet, Dalí’s publisher and confidante for more than 50 years, she spent her entire life near the artist and is now curator of “The Argillet Collection,” one of the most vast and comprehensive compendiums of Dalí’s work.
On display (and available for acquisition) at Off the Wall Gallery(5015 Westheimer Rd., Ste. 2208; 713-871-0940; offthewallgallery.com) in Houston beginning September 21, the collection gives guests the opportunity to see the works and meet Argillet herself. (She will make appearances on September 28 and 29.)
“The Argillet Collection” divides its permanent home between the Museum of Surrealism in Melun, France, and the Dalí Museum in Figueres, Spain. Included in the Off the Wall exhibition, which runs through September 29, is the rarely seen “Songs of Maldoror,” 50 etchings created by Dalí between 1934 and 1973 that have been exhibited only once before during a four-month stint at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Here, Argillet (pictured above with the artist) shares some of her fondest Dalí memories.
Q: How did you get so close to Dalí? A: When I was six or seven, my parents would spend the entire summer in Spain close to Dalí’s house for a very important reason—he was otherwise selling the artworks that were my father’s publications to anyone who came by the house. So my father was very angry and decided we would spend the summer there.
Q: Give an example of one particularly special memory. A: Even as a child I was surprised at what an incredible imagination he had. His house was composed of a number of different houses, reunited, that were former fisherman’s houses that created a labyrinth. When Dalí would see me and notice that I was bored, he would tell me to go up to his bedroom and look behind the bed and bring down what I find. [Once] I found a huge glass jar of bonbons! I brought them back down and Dalí told me to go outside and stand discreetly behind the fisherman and throw them on the shore. These were little cherry candies that would make popping sounds when they hit the shore. I was scared but it was so hilarious.
Q: Do you have a favorite work in this exhibit? A: I am leaning toward his tapestries that are wonderful handwoven artworks. I also love the Argus that has a hundred eyes that are all different—different and foreboding as to what is going to happen in Greek mythology. It is very colorful and unique in the way it is presented. It’s a magnificent work done in a nontraditional way.
The Los Angeles art scene—the one found outside the confines of museum walls—is increasingly being recognized for its well-known artists and up-and-comers alike. Whether one is looking at galleries in Silver Lake, Chinatown or Culver City, an abundance of artistic output in a variety of mediums in available to see. Add to that “Listeria,” an exhibit of work by local artist Justin Beal on view at the nonprofit art space Laxart through August 24.
Opened on July 20, the show consists of an architectural sculptural installation, an experimental video and a book. "Listeria" references a strain of bacteria named after English surgeon Joseph Lister, a forerunner in the evolution of sterile surgery; it occurs in a variety of fruits, like the cantaloupe seen in Beal’s video.
“Last year I made a series of cast-aluminum cucumber and cantaloupes,” he explains. “Both fruits had appeared in my work before. I suppose it is inevitable when approaching fruit as a surrogate for the body that you end up with two forms that have such an exaggerated metonymic and sexualized relationship to the human body.”
The title is also an homage to the Italian design collective Memphis Group. In the 1980s, Memphis designer Ettore Sottsass made decorative patterns and graphic prints from photomicrographs of bacteria, lending his visual language to the disorder of the natural world swarming just below the surface. Whereas the technology behind science and medicine made invisible pathogens and organisms discernable, advanced architecture and design sought to deatomize the body using the formal structures of the built environment that give social life dimension.
Beal’s artistic interpretation perceives the external world, where function distorts form and vice versa—proving that organic material, as it stands, is never just that when it comes to art. 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd.; 310-559-0166; laxart.org.
This year is looking a lot like the 1980s (Day-Glo fashion, anyone?), and art exhibitions around the globe are following suit. A show of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s work just closed at Manhattan’s Gagosian Gallery, a collection of Warhols will be on display at the Scottish Parliament in October and “The Political Line”—one of the most extensive retrospectives of Keith Haring to date—opens on April 19 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Haring, who studied at New York’s School of Visual Arts and skyrocketed to celebrity in the 1980s, cemented his legacy as a pop-art icon before dying of AIDS-related complications at age 31. His work runs the gamut of street art—from text-based collages to subterranean chalk drawings to his iconic block figures emblazoning everything from coffee mugs to Nicholas Kirkwood heels—and has been exhibited alongside heavyweights like Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Jenny Holzer and Daniel Buren, as well as Basquiat and Warhol.
But “The Political Line,” which highlights the diversity of Haring’s iconography over the course of his career, goes beyond what we think we know about the artist and his beliefs. “This show will focus on how important he is in the world of art, as well as his sociopolitical investment in society as an artist,” says curator Odile Burluraux. Featuring more than 250 works—including a selection of large-scale paintings on view at Paris’s Le Centquatre—the exhibit touches on topics such as capitalism, racism and AIDS. “His works are not only masterworks,” Burluraux says, “they really carry a message that still resonates today.” Exhibition sponsored by Citizens of Humanity; Through August 18; 11 Av. du Président Wilson; 33-1/5367-4000; mam.paris.fr/en.
Many of us consider skidding across a frozen pond on a cold winter’s day one of the greatest joys of childhood, and Audi has now recreated a similar thrill for adults. Its Ice Experience takes place on a wintertime course—usually a frozen lake in Sweden or Finland—against the backdrop of some of the most awe-inspiring settings on earth.
Audi hired a team of experts to teach intrepid drivers the ins and outs of handling an S5 Sportback, testing their abilities to navigate a slalom course or perfect handling skills while negotiating the frozen tundra. Uwe Fricker, a top driving instructor, says the experience isn’t just for thrill-seekers—there is a practical side, too. “Participants are learning how to maneuver their vehicles to avoid dangerous situations,” he says. “While driving against a stunning European landscape, they are also learning how to perfectly control a drift. Winter conditions are generally dangerous because people tend to lose control of their vehicles. When people participate in this program, we show them how to maintain control in even the most extreme conditions.” Fur coat not included. From $4,000; audiusa.com.
Rimowa first introduced its aluminum luggage in 1937 to address a travel problem experienced by Europeans who had begun to holiday in the Caribbean and Africa. The leather trunks used at the time could not withstand the humid climates, resulting in travelers arriving with (in essence) sweaty luggage. In 1950, the luggage purveyor took a cue from the material used on JU-52 aircrafts—lightweight yet resilient duralumin alloy—and introduced its now-trademarked cases.
Continuing the legacy, the new Classic Flight line features cases (from $595) with solid handcrafted leather handles, decorative inner linings and nostalgic packing straps inspired by the dawn of adventurous travel. To celebrate the advent of the collection, Rimowa sent out a vintage JU-52 with its original BMW engine. The plane took off in Cologne, Germany, for a whirlwind tour, stopping in Denver, Toronto and Los Angeles, where celebrities like Australian actor Chris Hemsworth and Emmy-winner Aaron Paul came out to see the aptly named “Flying Suitcase” in all its glory. Available at Rimowa stores worldwide; rimowa.de.
Fall 2012 is turning out to be a banner season for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). As part of its 2012 Art + Film Gala (October 27), the museum is honoring American artist Ed Ruscha and the late film director Stanley Kubrick.
“Ed Ruscha: Standard”—a new exhibition showcasing 300 works from the museum’s collection—debuts on September 22 (it continues through January 21). Ruscha, a seminal influence in graphic design, film and architecture, utilized all three disciplines in his depictions of urban history. “Ed Ruscha is a major figure linking the art world and the film industry,” says LACMA curator Britt Salvesen. “Not only does he depict the iconic Hollywood sign in his art, he has made films himself and acknowledges the impact of certain film genres—such as noir—on his sensibility. Ruscha sums it up best with a phrase he has used in several works of art: ‘Hollywood is a verb.’ ”
Kubrick gets his time in the L.A. sun on November 1, when the first retrospective of his work in the context of an art museum will go on view at LACMA. As for the gala itself, expect organizers to pull out all the stops. Leonardo DiCaprio and Eva Chow will cochair the event for the second year running, and a sea of celebrities (including musical guest Florence and the Machine) and L.A. art folk will be out and about in their black-tie best. Gala tickets, from $5,000; tables, from $50,000; call 323-857-6160 or email Nicole Greene at firstname.lastname@example.org; 5909 Wilshire Blvd.; 323-857-6151; lacma.org.
A Klimt Exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum in L.A.
Most artists hope for one great exhibition a year. But most artists are not Gustav Klimt, perhaps best known for his painting The Kiss. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of his birth, there are ten shows in Vienna alone, another at New York’s Neue Galerie and a special exhibit of his drawings at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, which opened July 3. “Gustav Klimt: The Magic of Line,” on display through September 23, showcases more than 100 drawings by the Austrian artist dating from the 1880s to the early 20th century. “In looking at four decades of drawings by Klimt,” says James Cuno, president and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust and acting director of the Getty Museum, “this exhibition reveals how he tackled line, space and the human figure, developing into one of the most distinctive, seminal figures in Modernism.”
This retrospective is the first fully dedicated to Klimt’s drawings, and the works come mostly from the Albertina Museum in Vienna, which houses one of the most comprehensive collections of his sketches. The artist reportedly drew live models virtually everyday, and approximately 4,000 of his drawings still exist. 1200 Getty Center Dr., 310-440-7300; getty.edu.
Back in 2007, Kallie Dovel, the founder of jewelry line 31 Bits, traveled as a student to northern Uganda, where she met an inspiring group of local women who were using their creative skills to make magnificent handmade beads made of nothing but 100 percent recyclable paper. Unfortunately, they lacked any sort of plan to market and sell their dynamic pieces of jewelry. So Dovel brought a box of their pieces back with her to the United States and spent the next year coming up with the concept that would become 31 Bits. Now, the artisans are empowered to rise above poverty and provide for their families, receiving invaluable financial training and health-care education. Since Dovel’s initial visit, 31 Bits has brought more than 100 Ugandan women into the fold.
The process behind making the jewelry is simple: strips of recycled paper—which comes from a variety of different sources, including old magazines and text books—are rolled into different shapes and designs and dipped into non-toxic varnish. Hollywood has taken notice (celebrities like Jessica Alba, Kathy Griffin and Giuliana Rancic are fans), and Kathy Lee Gifford has already worn her favorite designs numerous times on the Today show. Like all jewelry collections, everything is seasonal—expect to see the fall 2012 line launch in September and the newest wedding collection debut in October. 31bits.com
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