Disney Hall and the Rose Gallery

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Two very different cultural experiences kept my spirits up last week. The Los Angeles Philharmonic arranged a press tour of Disney Hall, which is nearing completion. The curvilinear forms of this instant L.A. landmark, designed by Frank Gehry, have been dominating the downtown landscape for quite some time. For almost three years we had a chance to see the formidable skeleton of this building growing against the city skyline. Then, the metal skin started gradually to grow over this mighty bone structure. Through all of that I had a chance to view the construction site on a regular basis, plus I had the rare privilege of seeing it from high above, from the 50th floor of a nearby building occupied by Price Waterhouse Coopers, where I curate their corporate art collection.

In a clear demonstration of an embarrassment of riches, Disney Hall simply doesn't have any angle from which it looks less than fascinating. One only hopes that in the future, when the few empty lots around it are developed, nothing is going to be built that will obscure the exuberance and sensuality of its architecture.

The best news from my walk-through is that, for the first time, the interior of Frank Gehry's building comes across as powerfully as its exterior architecture. Even with the Bilbao Guggenheim, he could not achieve a seamless transition from outdoors to indoors. No matter how innovative and entertaining its lobby and galleries, their inner logic and flow of energy feels somehow forced upon the visitor. Though I admire Frank Gehry's architecture, until now I always felt that his passion for creating architectural shapes was not balanced by an equal passion for creating interior spaces.

What I saw during the walk-through at Disney Hall indicates that here in L.A., in his largest and most important American project so far, Gehry, has at last found inspiration in interior architecture. One almost finished lobby, with the walls flying in all directions as if they were sails full of wind, made everyone in my group giddy as kids. It felt as if we were going to be blown away. The only straight line in view was the stone floor. The rest was swelling as if responding to the musical storm of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. After more than a decade and a half of delay, Disney Hall is turning out to be a much better building than it could have been if it were finished in the late eighties.

RadiografiaIn silver and platinum photographic prints by Mexican photographer Graciela Iturbide, hundreds and thousands of birds are flying as if to make invisible spirits visible. Rose Gallery at Bergamot Station has been showing the works of this talented artist for a number of years. Her newest body of work is deeply moving by its lack of artifice and by its keenly observed daily occurrences. There are maybe a number of good photographers with as much patience as Graciela Iturbide has to wait for the perfect moment to snap a picture. But there is an indescribable something that makes her images resonate so powerfully. Radiografia Could it be a lack of ego - a rare case of an artist refusing to insert herself between her art and the audience? I'm reminded of successful productions of Chekhov plays staged and acted so skillfully that all artifice disappears.

For more information and to see more pictures:

Graciela Iturbide "Pajaros"
March 29, 2003 - May 10, 2003
Rose Gallery
Bergamot Station Arts Center

2525 Michigan Ave., Building G-5
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310) 264.8440