A Weekend with Gronk, DeLoss and Viola

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Installation view of "Gronk's Theater of Paint"
Craft & Folk Art Museum

For many of us baby boomers, Chicano artist, Gronk, is a well familiar name. In the 70's and 80's, he played a key role in ASCO, a multidisciplinary art collective famous for provocative performances and happenings. "These street theater pieces were largely improvised with members of the group taking on various personas and using the city itself as their set." With his new exhibition at Craft & Folk Art Museum, Gronk's Theater of Paint, the artist presents a few decades-worth of projects showcasing his engagement with high-profile opera productions, as well as his "love for the low-brow aesthetic of B-movies."

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Gronk, set model for "Ainadamar," 2005 (recreated in 2016)
Wood, cardboard, watercolor, ink
Craft & Folk Art Museum

For this exhibition, Gronk painted a series of murals on the museum walls, as well as covered the floor in one of the galleries with linoleum printed with his signature images. The moment you enter the exhibition, you swear you not only see, but also hear the monumental opera productions –– a few of them –– all at once. It's completely over the top, and that's exactly the way the artist wants it. And you millennials don't want to miss the show either –– I believe it'll give you one hell of a high.

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Gronk, "Tormenta 2016," 2016
Acrylic paint, oil pastel on wood panel
Craft & Folk Art Museum

If one had to choose one particular image to embody the art and philosophy of Gronk's work, it would be his iconic Tormenta, an imposing female figure dressed elegantly in a formal black dress and gloves. But the intriguing thing is, she is walking away from us, and we can see her only from behind. It looks as if she's on her way to the opera and somehow we've been invited to follow.

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DeLoss McGraw, "as with a picture, so with a poem"
Exhibition at Couturier Gallery

A new exhibition at Couturier Gallery of works by painter, poet, and illustrator DeLoss McGraw evokes the memory of his award winning illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. In this exhibition of works on paper, DeLoss quotes from his poems and journals, with references to his childhood, his relationship with his mother, and the influence of music in his life and work.

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(L) DeLoss McGraw, "A Sailor, uniformaly oceangoing man traveling the
curvaceous surface of life with its truths and lies," 2015
Gouache on paper, 60 x 40 inches
(R) DeLoss McGraw, "Psalms," 2015
Gouache on paper, 12 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches

The palette in this new body of works –– with DeLoss' trademark silhouettes of children and animals –– is more restricted than usual, but somehow the overall effect is even more dramatic. It's always a mystery for me how this artist is able to combine in one work both a sense of innocence and sophistication.

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Bill Viola, three video stills from "Inverted Birth," 2014
Length: 8:22 minutes
Color High-Definition video projection; stereo sound with subwoofer
Performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall, May 27, 2016
Video stills courtesy of Bill Viola

On Friday night, warned by a friend, I hurried over to Disney Hall for the amazing performance by LA Phil's Orchestra, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel. For me, the high point of the evening was seeing Inverted Birth, an 8:22 minute video by famous LA artist, Bill Viola. The video was projected on a gigantic vertical screen behind the orchestra in the center of the stage. It was shown between the orchestra's performances of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 17 in G Major, and Arvo Pärt's Symphony No. 4, Los Angeles. We watched a half-naked male figure in various stages of awakening and transformation. Drenched in thick black liquid at first, the man slowly gets "cleansed" as the liquid gradually becomes thinner and clearer. The concert became a rare experience of hearing great music along with seeing an outstanding work of visual art.

To learn about Edward's Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website and check out this article in Artillery Magazine.

All photographs by Edward Goldman unless otherwise noted.



Benjamin Gottlieb