Empty Walls and Light Filled Streets

Inspired by my trip last month to New York and the enlightening visit to see Julian Schnabel’s paintings, I decided to create more organic shapes with my new work. Titled Wave Distortion, I have discarded the ruler in favor of a less planned composition. The first line of paint is applied with a more random gesture and then built out with a stretched line that ends when it reaches the edge of the panel.

WaveDistortion1,2015,12x12inWave Distortion 1, 2015, acrylic on birch panel, 12″ x 12″

Working for more than 20 years as an artist has left me with the unique position of career counselor to my own two children. As much as I try to steer them away from a fine art career, I am realizing more and more that they are creative beings and doing so would be counter to my own life. I can’t expect people to love, buy my paintings, and respect my own career while at the same time devaluing it to my own children. I realized this as I received an email alert for royalty payments my daughter earned on a book she published; she is twelve. She wants to be a writer and I encourage and support her efforts. Writing is a creative field that may prove even more difficult than my own but I see her gift and now understand why my own parents were so supportive of my art school dreams.

WaveDistortion3,2015,12x12inWave Distortion 3, 2015, acrylic on birch panel, 12″ x 12″

Hopefully my career is at a turning point at this very moment as I find my studio walls completely empty. There is no greater feeling than ordering more supplies because I find my work in demand rather than just making more work for the sake of making of more work. If I can be a role model for my young girls, then it has all been worth it.

WaveDistortion2,2015,12x12inWave Distortion 2, 2015, acrylic on birch panel, 12″ x 12″

With the death of Chris Burden this month, I decided to take a closer look at his work on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Burden died on May 10 just before his Ode to Santos Dumont kinetic sculpture opened at the museum. The sculpture is a replica of a balloon flown by the Brazilian-born aviator around the Eiffel Tower. The milky, translucent helium-filled balloon flies around in a futile circle for 15 minutes four times a day tethered by cables to the floor and ceiling to guide the aimless journey. The sculpture, fabricated by John Biggs, was beautifully constructed but while the spectacle dazzled the children, it left me cold. Thinking the performance ended about 5 minutes later (the motor failed) people applauded with genuine appreciation and pleasure. I think the spectators wanted to show their gratitude for Burden who had so recently died and even though I wasn’t moved by the flight of the blimp, I was thrilled to see the audience clearly in appreciation of Burden and his contributions to the Los Angeles art scene. And the fact that our museum is showing so much work by local artists is heartening.

OdeToSantosDumontChris Burden, Ode To Santos Dumont, 2015

I also appreciate that the buildings housing Burden’s work were donated by local philanthropists. The Ode to Santos Dumont is housed until June in the Resnick Pavilion and Metropolis II is on permanent display in the Broad Building or BCAM. When I was a child I attended an Easter party at the Resnick’s home and I found the golden egg. The prize was a four foot tall Peter Rabbit. Later out of college, Edythe Broad came to my first solo show in Venice Beach, CA at the Cruz L.A. Gallery and later that day I was lucky enough to be invited to see the Broad family home designed by Richard Meier. A Rothko painting hung in their living room – it took my breath away.

When my grandmother was still alive, she took me and my mother to the home of Francie Brody one afternoon for lunch. It was there I saw a massive Matisse ceramic installation affixed in an atrium courtyard. I was only a child but I remember thinking it was one of the most beautiful and impressive pieces I had seen by Matisse and it was permanently installed with cement in this home. Touching it was not off limits since it was designed to live outdoors and I remember thinking if it was at my home, I would caress it every day and thank it for being there. Somehow it was dismantled, moved, and now lives at the museum where I saw and photographed it on this recent visit; bequeathed by Mrs. Brody estate to LACMA in 2010.

MatisseLACMAHenri Matisse, La Gerbe, 1953, ceramic tiles

I wonder if Chris Burden ever thought that a career which began with having himself shot for a performance piece would end with him creating a street lamp installation, Urban Light, and Matchbox car city, Metropolis II, beloved by all Los Angeles children. Urban Light is a beautiful pattern of antique street lights located at one entrance to the museum and within view of passing cars on Wilshire Blvd. At night the installation illuminates allowing a 24 hour appreciation of what I think is the best of Burden’s work. It is the type of art that is beautiful and complex without being alienating to the public. This installation is fast becoming a Los Angeles landmark we can be proud of celebrating our design, architectural, and cultural heritage without any ode to Hollywood or muddied by the cloud of movie stars.

UrbanLightChris Burden, Urban Light, Two-hundred and two restored cast iron antique street lamps

This Month’s Music: Hiatus Kaiyote

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