Cool Art and Hot Fashion South of LA

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Installation shot, Guo Pei: Couture Beyond. Bowers Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Let me ask you, my friends – how often do you find yourself driving South on the 5 freeway? I do it infrequently, driving past Disneyland on my way to Santa Ana, to visit Bowers Museum. On Sunday, I went there to see the sparkling, silky, and shiny fashion exhibition of the acclaimed Chinese couturier Guo Pei.

L&R: Installation shots, Guo Pei: Couture Beyond. Bowers Museum. Photos by Edward Goldman.

There are 40 of her gowns presented in the most theatrical, dramatic style, as if you are attending a red carpet opening of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Gala. Take a look at these dresses – they are totally crazy… and, if you have been listening to my Art Talk through the years, you know I say that as a big compliment.

Installation shot, Guo Pei: Couture Beyond. Bowers Museum. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Each piece of couture has its own spotlight on the stage. Among Pei’s many celebrity clients are royalty, political elite, and businesswomen. Her Rose Studio in Beijing has 500 skilled artisans who help her come up with her fantastical fashion designs, which “imbue contemporary high fashion with ancient tradition… invoking history and mythology through intricate craftsmanship, opulent embroidery, and sumptuous detail” (Bowers). The only regret I have about visiting this exhibition is that I had to fight the temptation to touch the gorgeous fabrics and feel the texture for myself.

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Lobby of the temporary Orange County Museum of Art displaying the new model and design by Thom Mayne of the future OCMA. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Just a few miles away from Bowers Museum, I went to check out the temporary quarters of Orange County Museum of Art. The museum right now is in transition. Its new ambitious building, designed by Pritzker Prize winner Thom Mayne, will be built at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. Take a look at the photo of the model of the museum. The horizontal expansion of the building will compliment the giant, vertical COR-TEN steel sculpture by Richard Serra dominating the plaza.

L&R: California Scenario, aka Noguchi Garden. Isamu Noguchi. Costa Mesa, CA. Photos by Edward Goldman.

And now that we are talking about Costa Mesa, let me remind you about the hidden-in-plain-sight jewel there, commissioned by Henry Segerstrom in 1979 and completed in 1982 – Isamu Noguchi’s sculpture garden California Scenario. Its vast spread of 1.6 acres is open to the public day and night, and in some ways, it is the perfect sculptural portrait of California, with deserts, mountains, and water.

Stills from Nureyev (2018) film official trailer of Richard Avedon’s portraits of Nureyev:

And talking about portraits… it would be negligent of me not to tell you about the new documentary film Nureyev, playing this week at Laemmle Music Hall. This movie allows you to experience the magic of Rudolf Nureyev, one of the most famous dancers of the 20 th century. After Nureyev’s defection from the Soviet Union in 1961 became front- page news all around the world, he became a global celebrity and continued to be until his death from AIDS in 1993. This documentary is a rare artistic portrait of this man who hypnotized the world with his great talent and beauty.



Kathleen Yore