ON AIR
00:00:00 | 3:02:50

DONATE!

close

FROM THIS EPISODE

Northern and Southern California have long histories of artists who use skills usually associated with handicrafts to make large scale sculpture. Two figures in particular are being shown together at the Palm Springs Architecture and Design Center: In Conversation: Alma Allen and J.B. Blunk 

 
Installation view, In Conversation: Alma Allen and J.B. Blunk,
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center,
Feb.3 – June 4, 2018, photograph by Lance Gerber

Located in a renovated mid-20th century bank building, the undivided gallery space with terrazzo floors allows the work of these two artists to engage. Organized by Brooke Hodge of the Palm Springs Art Museum, it is meant to be the conversation that the two artists never had in real life.

Blunk (1926-2002) studied ceramics at UCLA, graduating in 1949, but then drafted to serve in the Korean War. On leave to Japan, he met the master of organic modern form, Isamu Noguchi, who encouraged his work in ceramics and introduced him to other key figures. Most important, in Japan he learned first hand the idea of wabi sabi, the role of imperfection in a hand-made object, especially ceramics.


Installation view, In Conversation: Alma Allen and J.B. Blunk,
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center,
Feb.3 – June 4, 2018, photograph by Lance Gerber

Thanks to Noguchi, he was also introduced to Surrealist English artist Gordon Onslow Ford who was living in Inverness. In exchange for work done on Ford’s house, Blunk was given his own land where he built his own house and most of the furniture. Some of these pieces are on view in the show including a rough edged, smooth surfaced table with his ceramics placed on and around it. His large scale sculptures tend to be voluptuous, often sexually suggestive, the redwood polished to a smooth, warm glow. 


Installation view, In Conversation: Alma Allen and J.B. Blunk,
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center,
Feb.3 – June 4, 2018, photograph by Lance Gerber

Blunk would seem very much of his time and place but Allen, born in 1970 and, until recently, a resident of Joshua Tree, followed a similar path. From his hand-carved wood items to sizeable sculptures of wood, stone and bronze, Allen counters attention to form with medium. This is especially impressive considering that he has been using a robotic arm to help him since developing painful carpal tunnel in his hands. Hard materials such as stone are honed to appear soft. Instead of traditional pedestals, he rests floor bound pieces, such as one made of white stone surmounted by two rounded indentations, on wooden boards on the floor. 

Both artists, who made furniture and tableware, created highly personal living environments and the show features photographs that give a sense of their self-designed worlds. The show continues to June 4. 

A few blocks away, at the Palm Springs Art Museum, an exhibition presents an artist who withdrew from any hint of personal handicraft. Andy Warhol Prints from the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation includes most of the Pop artist’s greatest hits. Yet, it is uncommon to see many of these pieces in the context of a large, even complete, series. Organized by Sara Krajewski of the Portland Art Museum with Mara Gladstone of PSAM, the installation is unusually clever.


Installation view, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collection of
Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Collection,
Palm Springs Art Museum, March 3 – May 28, 2018,
photograph by Lance Gerber

The show opens with rows of his Campbell’s soup can prints on a tomato red wall. Eight Marilyn Monroe prints dazzle on walls lined with reflective silver and green wallpaper. Nine silkscreens of Mao are stacked like a pyramid. And seldom seen sexually explicit prints, all black on white, are in a darkened gallery with blackened walls.

 
Installation view, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collection of
Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Collection,
Palm Springs Art Museum, March 3 – May 28, 2018,
photograph by Lance Gerber

Warhol (1928-1987) began as a commercial illustrator and the show includes some pre-Pop work from 1953 to 1969. The transition to working collaboratively with silkscreen printing at his Factory studio was natural. Presenting some 250 prints together in a single show offers clear documentation of his use of repetition and seriality as a way of reinforcing the impact of an image. It is also a way of tracking the evolution of his own interests in celebrity, politics and mortality. It is a rare opportunity made possible by the fact that these many works were collected over time by the dedicated Jordan Schnitzer. The show is a visual essay on the benefits of focused scholarship and commitment in collecting art, even contemporary art.


Installation view, Andy Warhol: Prints from the Collection of
Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Collection,
Palm Springs Art Museum, March 3 – May 28, 2018,
photograph by Lance Gerber

Warhol’s fascinating milieu is chronicled in a parallel exhibition of black and white photographs, Michael Childers: Having a Ball, many also from the Schnitzer collections. A photographer for Interview magazine, Childers managed to capture Warhol in unguarded, even vulnerable, moments. Plus, there are a few wish-you- were-there pictures such as the 1968 portrait of Warhol’s drag superstar Ultra Violet sitting in Robert Rauschenberg’s bed. On the wall behind her hangs Roy Lichtenstein’s comic-style painting of a revolver pointed at the viewer. Goodness! Both shows are on view through May 28. psmuseum.org.

Subscribe to the Art Talk newsletter

Edward Goldman's take on what’s worth a visit in LA and sometimes beyond.

 

More From Art Talk

LATEST BLOG POSTS

Latest From KCRW

View Schedule

Events

View All Events

iTUNES SPOTIFY
AMAZON RDIO
FACEBOOK TWITTER

Player Embed Code

COPY EMBED