Tom LaDuke at Angles Gallery
Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright at Orange County Museum of Art
The USC Fisher Gallery exhibition of specially commissioned art works by fifteen artists living in Southern California and Mexico is an interesting attempt to address a rather debatable premise that "as far as cultural product is concerned, the border is not only porous it is all but invisible." Titled "Mixed Feelings: Art and Culture in the Postborder Metropolis", the exhibition is conceived as an academic thesis in search of artistic material to prove an argument.
The case would be stronger if the artists had created these new works on their own, out of their own artistic impulses, rather than addressing issues raised by curators. But saying that, I have to admit that some of the artworks won me over with their exuberance and sheer outrageousness. Like me, a number of visitors to the show on a recent afternoon seemed taken by the exhibition. Hands down, the most memorable work is a customized lawn-mower by Rub-n Ortiz Torres which dances, gyrates and shakes its bon-bon to most hilarious effect. Unfortunately one can see it in action only on a small video monitor installed nearby.
If our unseasonably hot weather proves to be too much for you, leave behind the Fisher Gallery in downtown and head straight for the beach - to Santa Monica. The paintings and sculptures by L.A.-based artist Tom LaDuke at Angles Gallery make for a very cool exhibition indeed. His landscapes of Southern California vistas painted on aluminum panels are difficult to describe. On entering the gallery from the sunny street, one is surprised by his dreamy landscapes with their "softly blended shades of white". The paintings are dominated by expansions of pale skies with barely discernable elements of industrial landscapes placed at the very bottom of the compositions. I would compare the visual impact of these quiet paintings to the sound of a proverbial pin drop. You know, the kind of quietness that makes your ears hurt. The quietness, the emptiness of his paintings is unsettling and slightly off-putting. But when approached with patience, they reveal a poetic, melancholic and uniquely personal take on a seemingly recognizable reality, which slips away the moment you lay your eyes on it.
The ultimate guilty pleasure for your weekend escape from L.A. is the travelling exhibition of fifty stained glass windows by Frank Lloyd Wright at the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach. Gathered from public and private collections this exhibition is a rare chance to see some of these windows for the first time. Ironically, early in his career, the architect complained about the necessity of placing windows in the facades, saying it was like cutting holes in his beautiful buildings. But soon he revolutionized the centuries-old art of stained glass windows, creating his own "light screens" as he called them, which were inspired by Japanese shoji screens. Rarely have I seen an exhibition installed so attractively, presenting complex material and information in such an innovative way.
To see images from these, and other exhibitions around L.A., go to kcrw.com, keyword Art Talk. It's been Edward Goldman with Art Talk on KCRW.
For more information:
"Mixed Feelings: Art and Culture in the Postborder Metropolis"
September 4 - December 7, 2002.
USC Fisher Gallery
3620 S. Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90089-2538
"Tom LaDuke: terrane"
November 1 - December 7, 2002
2230 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405
"Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright"
October 5, 2002 - January 5, 2003
Orange County Museum of Art
850 San Clemente Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660