Results tagged “Los Angeles” from ARTicles
Next year, 25 exhibitions will open in museums and galleries across Southern California, focusing on art made in Los Angeles from the postwar years up to 1980. They will cover the full range of movements that either began in the region or had a strong base there, including Pop, Happenings, Minimalism, and Conceptualism, among others.
Recent L.A. shows, too, have focused on this period. Earlier this year, two galleries exhibited work related to the seminal Ferus Gallery, in which many L.A. artists debuted in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Ken Price, Robert Irwin, Ed Ruscha, and Wallace Berman. A documentary about that gallery, called "The Cool School," released in 2008, is still making the rounds.
The shows next year, part of a Getty Foundation initiative called "Pacific Standard Time," will present important and dynamic work that some people may still feel is overlooked. At the Getty Museum on May 19, three influential artists from the Light and Space movement--Peter Alexander, Helen Pashgian, and DeWain Valentine--participated in a panel discussion at the Getty to talk about old times.
While most of the discussion was about the difficulties and hazards involved in working with plastic resins, which the three helped pioneer, talk also degenerated into complaints about how L.A. art, including their own work, was dismissed for years by the East Coast art establishment. Pashgian recalled how a New York critic panned three concurrent shows by L.A. artists in the '60s, including her own solo show, by
The Los Angeles Times ran two prominent stories last week, including one on the front page of the April 30 edition, about billionaire Eli Broad's plans to build a museum for his contemporary art collection either in the city of Santa Monica or in downtown L.A. Broad, who is often described as a tough negotiator, appears to be pitting the two cities against each other, hoping to get the best deal before he commits to a site.
There aren't many people in Los Angeles with as much money as Broad, so when he agrees to donate money for a new building or a cause, institutions are quick to cave to his terms. In this case, one or two officials in each city are balking at Broad's demands for virtually rent-free land, questioning whether it's in the public interest to lease Broad valuable plots of real estate for a total of $1 a year, so he can build a place to show off his art. They would most likely get an arresting architectural edifice, with his name prominently displayed on it. Broad, who made his first fortune building homes for average folk before making his second fortune selling insurance policies, expressed dismay at the chutzpah of these ungrateful officials.
Broad told the Times, "It just burns me that people are saying they're giving me, a billionaire, $1 a year for nothing without looking at the public benefit that's being created, without thinking of all these children that are going to go there free of charge and all the other benefits."
Okay, now for a little good news. Local though it may be, I figure we can all take heart and maybe other cities can benefit from the experience. It concerns Renaissance Arts Academy in Eagle Rock, which is a stone's throw from downtown Los Angeles. I learned that RenArts (as this music and performing arts public charter school is affectionately called) was recently named the highest scoring middle school and the second highest scoring high school in the LA Unified School District.
That's a monster big deal. There are about 350 middle and high schools in L.A. (including magnets and charters). But the thing about RenArts is it's only five years old. To get in, you don't have to audition. Just take a lottery number and pray.
During the day its student body -- 55% of whom are from economically disadvantaged families, 12% of whom are Special Education students, 54 % of whom are Hispanic/Latino, 29% Caucasian, 12% African American, 3% Asian/Pacific Islander and 2% Native American-- learn the arts from professionals. Arts are completely integrated with academics.
After school, a vitiminized Conservatory program offers professional arts training to 250 at-risk and underserved students (which is nearly the whole student body). The Conservatory boasts three dance companies! Three orchestras!! Multiple chamber groups and two choirs!!! They are mixed-age. And they have good reputations from people other than the students' kin. I've heard full-throttle praise from unaffiliated arts experts who know the difference between "inept, but promising," and "accomplished."
No wonder RenArts has captured the attention of the LA Philharmonic. Its soon-to-be music director, 27-year old Gustavo Dudamel trained as a violinist, composer and conductor as a youth within El Sistema -- a program not entirely unlike RenArts Conservatory though far more extensive and institionalized. El Sistema spared Dudamel and the many, many other Venezuelan kids who might otherwise have languished in ghettos, joined gangs or suffered from next to no education. Possibly.
A hundred percent of RenArts students graduate. Every single grad is pursuing further education. The arts have everything to do with it. Read the RenArts' mission statement if you want to weep -- because it's not just words on the screen. This is real.
As real as is this YouTube snippet of Dudamel and the El Sistema-trained Simon Bolivar Orchestra in 2007, rocking the house with Leonard Bernstein's "Mambo." If L.A. school kids can follow this path, watch out!