After 31 years of covering Art and Culture in Southern California, this is the last Art Talk that I am presenting on KCRW. It has been a privilege and an honor, my friends – and I mean that sincerely – to speak to you for three decades about the Arts in our City of Angels.
When I started my Art Talks, the LA art scene was so much smaller. Back then, after finishing each program, I would scratch my head wondering, “How the hell am I going to find something equally interesting and important to talk about next week?” Today, years later, with an art scene so vibrant, prominent, and vastly bigger, my weekly concern is, “How the hell am I going to choose what to talk about next week, with so many amazing cultural events happening right now?”
Several years ago, I had a rather amusing conversation with a successful New York art dealer, who decided to close his gallery in Chelsea and move his business and family toLA. When I jokingly asked him, “Hey, have you lost your mind, leaving New York?” His response was, “Let me tell you, Edward – Today, Los Angeles has become a destination for art, just like New York was for Paris, after WWII.” I was awestruck by his succinct and profound response. Of course, after WWII, so much of the European Avant-Garde started to move across the Atlantic to New York. In the last decade, we’ve seen a similar magnetic affect attracting famous artists and art businesses West, turning LA into a major global art destination.
In the last few years, Los Angeles added to its cultural luster two ambitious private art museums: The Broad and The Marciano Art Foundation. And another major institution, the $1-billion Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, is scheduled to open next year in Exposition Park.
Let’s not forget that some of our Los Angeles cultural institutions have a long history. The Huntington Library and LA Philharmonic are celebrating their 100th year anniversaries, and the USC Fisher Museum of Art is marking its 80th anniversary. Being an art critic for KCRW gave me the pleasure and privilege to meet and interview world renowned figures of American culture, including Phillipe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan Art Museum, who stunned me by reciting some Russian poetry – and doing it in Russian – the language he had studied in college.
And God knows how I survived interviewing Richard Avedon. I told him how much I admired his work and described one photograph of his that I particularly loved. He paused, and then said, “Edward, you’re giving me a compliment that I don’t deserve. I wish it was my photograph, but actually it’s by Irving Penn.” Ouch. When I heard that, I wanted to die. But Richard, in spite of my faux pas, continued to be gracious and charming throughout the rest of the interview.
My friends, I’ve been talking to you about the Los Angeles art scene for 31 years. There are so many wonderful memories, and more to come…
In this final program, I want to tell you how grateful I am to you for listening to my Russian-English all these years. I’d love to keep hearing from you. You can keep in touch with me through my email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow me on social media, to stay up to date with all the latest art happenings in LA.
So, let me end with a famous Latin saying, “Ars Longa, Vita Brevis,” which reminds us that life is short, but art is forever…