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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.