I rely on e-MORFES to show me the cool stuff that I’d otherwise miss. Like this: Artist Terry Border takes ordinary everyday objects and bits of wire and turns them into the most fabulous characters. He calls the project Bent Objects: The Secret Life of Everyday Things.
It’ll put a smile on your face.
art. everywhere. texture. pattern. structure. light.
I was meeting Thom after work yesterday. His showroom (Witford) is in the “blue whale” – the Blue building at Pacific Design Center. This massive structure contains six floors of home furnishings showrooms, most of which only sell to the trade (i.e., you need to be, or be with, an architect or interior designer to buy) – but the public is welcomed throughout the building. If you’re interested in furniture and interior design, this is part mall, part school, part playground! (It’s not the most appropriate place to bring kids, I should add.)
The building itself is a monumental sculpture designed by Cesar Pelli and built in 1975. (The Green and Red buildings followed in 1988 and 2011.) It dominates the streetscape along Melrose Avenue, like a big blue castle looming over the village. But the unconventional shape clad in cobalt blue glass gives this monster a playful personality. On the southwestern corner of the property by San Vicente stands a 20-foot tall aluminum chair; on the east side of the building is an equally oversized lamp. Message: This is a design center, not a condo for Smurfs.
What many people may not know is that in addition to the design showrooms, the Blue building is also home to a number of art galleries. (There is even an outpost of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) located in the fountain courtyard of PDC – but that’s another post.) I had about an hour to kill, so I wandered around the 2nd floor to visit some galleries. They don’t all keep regular hours, so it can be hit or miss. But there were a half dozen open on a Thursday afternoon.
So I meandered, rarely bumping into another person. In one gallery, there were tables and chairs and entire walls covered with circuit boards and other computer innards. Not really my cup of tea. But then I came upon the most fantastic sculpture at the CMay gallery. Korean artist Bahk Seon Ghi creates the most amazing installations composed of small bits of black charcoal suspended by almost invisible nylon filaments.
The nearly weightless piece has visual mass. This is the only piece here by Bahk Seon Ghi. A Google search delivers a treasure trove of his other works. He specializes in creating architectural forms – columns, staircases, arches – using suspended charcoal, which lets him play visual tricks by tweaking the structures. I’m tempted to include a dozen images, but you can start with the link, below.
I also found artmergelab with an exhibition curated by Jae Yang featuring four artists, all of whom incorporate photographic imagery into their work. I was particularly drawn to several pieces by Bryan Bankston. He creates composites using hundreds of images of human faces found on Google. The resulting “portraits” are mesmerizing.
There is so much more awaiting you at PDC. More galleries, artists, and the showrooms, of course. There’s also a decent restaurant upstairs, and a ‘sidewalk’ cafe by the main entrance on Melrose. And that’s my contribution to your cultural enrichment for today!
The End (so far)
If you’re going to call your design firm Universal Everything, well, you’d better be able to dance along the cutting edge, grab people by the eyeballs and leave their jaws on the floor.
Check. Check. And check. Dip your toe in here (and turn on your sound):
Walking City: Architecture + Evolution + Movement
And then – if you have a LOT of free time or at least some wiggle room in your deadlines – click through to the mother ship: UniversalEverything.com. They take visual design, music, and video technology down to the molecular structure and recombine the DNA into something you’ve not seen before, new and different, high tech + organic, challenging yet familiar.
OK, one more tease to reel you in:
Now, will someone in Los Angeles, some developer or city father/mother or miscellaneous billionaire, anyone, please commission something mind-blowing from the good people at Universal Everything? You’ll find them in London, of course.
Credit where credit is due:
When sharing something like this, I prefer to link directly to the author/artist/creator; in this case, Universal Everything. And then I think it’s a nice thing to do to acknowledge the folks who found it and shared it on their blogs and put it in my path. So thanks to Margaret Rose Stringer and This Is Colossal – both well worth a follow!
The End (so far)
In recent years, Los Angeles has developed quite a reputation for moving gigantic, massive objects… at a snail’s pace… along city streets… where nothing so large was ever supposed to be traveling in the first place.
On 20 September 2012, one of the retired fleet of space shuttles – Endeavour – hitched a ride to Los Angeles on a NASA 747 for its final mission: to become the star attraction at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.
In early October, Endeavour completed the final leg of its final journey: a 12-mile crawl through the streets of LA. The 85-ton orbiter left its hangar at LAX late one Thursday night and arrived at its new home in Expo Park, just south of downtown, on Sunday afternoon. More than 60 hours later. Something to consider next time you’re stuck in traffic on the 405. But, what an uncharacteristically slow victory lap for this engineering marvel which would rocket into orbit at 18,000 mph – nine times faster than a bullet! These photos and the following video are by the Los Angeles Times.
Here’s an incredible time-lapse video of that epic slow-motion journey across LA:
(Trying) not to be outdone by the Science Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) jumped on the ‘Big’ bandwagon the following year. On 28 February 2013, this 340-ton granite boulder left its quarry in Jurupa Valley, California aboard a custom-built transporter for the 110-mile journey to its new home at LACMA’s campus on the Miracle Mile in LA. It arrived 11 days later to much fanfare, at an estimated cost of ten million American dollars.
And even the most ardent fan of Big Heavy Things would have to ask, Why?
I don’t mean to insult the artist. Michael Heizer’s creative impulses are as legitimate as yours or mine. His 1969 sketch for the concept of this giant-boulder-installation is itself part of a collection in a Berlin museum. I would just argue that perhaps not every sketched idea is necessarily worthy of being executed. In this case, I would say that the idea of Levitated Mass (as it is called) is simply more intriguing than its execution. (Figure out a way to really levitate that baby, and I’m all in!)
So yesterday, making one last stop on her way out of town, Lisë and I found a convenient parking space at a meter on 6th Street, just outside the LACMA back gate. And we wandered in to have a look at The Great Big, Very Large, Quite Massive Rock Thing. As you approach, it looks like a large boulder just sitting in the middle of a couple of acres of dirt. Well, decomposed granite. (You wouldn’t be too far off with “dirt”.) Then as you walk in line with the east-west axis of this installation, you see that the giant boulder rests astride a 456-foot-long concrete slot that descends gently to a depth of 15 feet below the boulder, and then angles back up. The slot is stark, unadorned concrete. The
most only interesting design aspect is the integral negative-space handrail. Otherwise, it resembles nothing so much as the charmless cement bunker of the LA River. All so you can walk… beneath… the giant… rock. And you can see it and take pictures of it from different angles on your approach, and then you can walk out the other end, and the light hits it from different angles depending on the time of day and where you are: in the slot, under the rock, beside it… I suppose another way of looking at it would be to hire a helicopter and fly over it… you get the idea.
Or not. It must be obvious by now that I don’t get the idea, at all. Here’s what LACMA would like us to take away from our encounter with Levitated Mass (from the museum’s website):
Taken whole, Levitated Mass speaks to the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from megalithic stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and cutting-edge feats of engineering.
No. No no. No no no no oh no no no. NO! I’m sorry. No. I can’t… I just… Are you…? But… No. WTF?!! You spent TEN MILLION DOLLARS to build a truck that could carry a 700,000 lb ROCK – it’s a rock! – more than 100 miles to the middle of LA, and then you dig a ditch so that people can walk under it. Which I have now done. And let me say: it was the most fabulous stroll I’ve ever taken under a great big rock. Really. Bravo. But I must also tell you, LACMA: I found that whole “expanse of art history” part just, well, completely missing from the experience. And I’m an imaginative guy, but… as Charlie Brown would say, “I got a rock.“
May I make a suggestion? You’ve got more than 900 linear feet of blank concrete walls on the inside of that slot. Maybe you could reinterpret those walls as gallery space, and install a curated collection of art at intervals every ten feet. That would give you room to display 90 works of art representing the sweeping ‘expanse of art history’. Just a thought. Even if you chiseled the names of artists into the walls, beginning with Neanderthal cave painters and running to our modern day street artists, or the people who arrange individual atoms to make smiley faces, or extremely skeptical bloggers (I know several)… then you might introduce some expansiveness, some art, some history to this big-rock-on-long-ditch. Oh, and I might as well tell you that calling 2 acres of
dirt decomposed granite a “lawn” is like calling a great big rock “art”.
Oh… maybe I’m starting to get it?
P.S. From the Dept of Inconvenient Truths
In an LA.Curbed.com article, someone floated the idea that this 340-ton boulder is “the largest or second largest thing ever moved by man.” Which sounds mighty impressive. Until you realize it is really quite wrong. Ironically, we need look no further than the Science Center for an example of a much, much larger and heavier thing that man has moved. At launch, Shuttle Endeavour and its main fuel tank and its twin solid fuel booster rockets weighed in at 2,200 tons – or about 7 of LACMA’s big boulder. And not only did Endeavour and its sister ships move, they hauled astronomical ass! 8 seconds after ignition, those 4.4 million pounds were moving 100 mph… after 1 minute, the shuttle hit 1,000 mph… after 2 minutes, 3,000 mph… after 8 minutes it reached escape velocity of 18,000 mph – or 5 miles per second. That’s the quarry in Jurupa to Wilshire Blvd in 22 seconds. Just sayin’. (Boulder images are by LACMA; last one is mine.)
Imagine buildings designed by architects named Picasso, Miro and Rothko. Federico Babina did. This is a terrific exploration of artistic styles writ large.
Art and architecture are disciplines that speak and lightly touch each other, the definition and function of the architecture are changing constantly with the development of contemporary art. In this exercise of style I took pleasure imagining architecture steeped of art, designed and constructed through the interpretation of an artist’s language..It is easy to find the art hidden behind an architectural shape or see reflected a geometry of a building painted on a canvas. It is impossible to conceive of the history of art in exclusion from that of architecture.
– Federico Babina
I’d be happy living in an Ellsworth Kelly (top) or a Frank Stella. Just sayin’.
Day 066 #100happydays
> Link to the artist’s site: http://federicobabina.com/ARCHIST
> Link to the blog I saw this on: http://emorfes.com/2014/03/13/federico-babina-archist/
Imagine walking through a park and encountering one of these whimsical works by Cornelia Konrads. Fantastic!
German artist Cornelia Konrads creates mind-bending site-specific installations in public spaces, sculpture parks and private gardens around the world. Konrads explains,
“I like to challenge, what is supposed to be “reliable” about reality: the laws of gravity, the solidity of walls or the ground under our feet… my installations can be seen as a filmstill, pointing backwards and forwards both temporally and spatially―an interim state, reflecting my idea of transience, passage and transformation.”
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A wet, gray winter’s day in LA is a great time for a mini-survey of David Hockney’s California paintings. The openly queer British artist found his way to Los Angeles in 1964 – part of the cultural Invasion more famously associated with the Beatles – and lived here on and off for thirty years. His houses in Nichols Canyon and Malibu became the settings for some of his best-known works (including above, “Mulholland Drive – The Road to the Studio, 1980”). Hockney’s vibrant colors celebrate the landscapes and lifestyles of Southern California. Enjoy!
David Hockney makes me happy. (If my use of these images makes Mr Hockney or his representatives unhappy, I will take them down, unhappily.) Day 053 #100happydays
Update: Here’s a wonderful interview with David Hockney, by Martin Gayford in The Spectator.
Last September, three giant jelly beans landed on the edge of West Hollywood Park. They are the work of artist Cosimo Cavallaro, who titled the installation Love Your Bean.
Art wears many hats. It can educate, inform, titillate, challenge (or support) the status quo. Public art installations tend to shy away from controversy. Woe to the public servant who puts something outrageous in the middle of the morning commute! West Hollywood takes its public art seriously, though. Its very active Art on the Outside program selects and commissions works by artists for placement in parks, along median strips, on billboards and murals.
The goal of much of the public art I’ve surveyed around Weho seems to be to make you smile as you walk past or drive by. That can be a tall order – getting noticed – in an urban environment that is already an insistent kaleidoscope of neon and natural light, colors, sounds, and movement. Add to that the fact that 90% of us experience 90% of everything going 40 mph in our cars listening to music, chattering and trying not to spill our lattes in our laps.
Even so, it’s hard to miss those massive black, lime and orange jelly beans that seem to have rolled to the edge of the grass along San Vicente Blvd – and then, it’s hard not to smile. In a way, the beans humorously echo the superjumbo children’s toys of the Pacific Design Center, just across the street.
Public art makes me happy.
Day 028 #100happydays