100 year old Angeleno trips out on joy, ego with first gallery exhibition

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Photo: Gary Friedman, LA Times
Morrie and his bride of 75 years, Betty Photo: Gary Friedman, LA Times (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

It’s been quite a year for Morris Markoff. First, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez paid him a visit and wrote a profile of Markoff’s adjustment from Silver Lake to Downtown LA. A couple months ago, national press swooped in on the occasion of his 75th wedding anniversary to wife, Betty. Now, this just-turned-100-year-old is having his first art show. (t must be a trend! A few weeks ago we profiled an 89-year old artist having his first show.)

If you’d like to shake the hand of a centenarian, head downtown on Wednesday from 5-8 pm to party with Mr. Markoff and admirers at Chinatown’s Red Pipe Gallery, which is exhibiting 20 of his artworks for a limited time only. (Markoff is emphatic that the works are not for sale. They are to remain in his family.)

I asked the century-old artist what it’s like to publicly unveil his work at this age:

KCRW: Why a show now?
Markoff: Accidental circumstance. (He and his wife met the gallerist on a bus; she was charmed by him and moved by his work once she saw it.)
KCRW: What made you start expressing yourself artistically?
Markoff: A toilet I fixed. (The pleats of the floating ball inspired him to work with found materials.)
KCRW: How is making art different than your profession (Markoff ran an appliance store on Melrose)?  Similar?
Markoff: One is inspired and the other a definite job.
KCRW: You got media attention last year on your milestone anniversary. And now this. How does it feel to be in the limelight?
Markoff: Exciting at my age. Basically, an ego trip.
KCRW: What words of wisdom do you offer, as an elder statesman, to anyone who wants to create… but doesn’t?
Markoff: Desire won’t do it. When the inspiration comes, it will.
Red Pipe Gallery, 978 Chung King Road in Chinatown 5-8pm Wednesday