Visiting Notorious RBG and Skid Row Museum

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As the saying goes, one cannot be too rich or too thin. To that, I would add that one cannot have too much Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well. If you, like me, enjoyed the excellent documentary RBG, as well as the movie about her, On the Basis of Sex, then the new exhibition at Skirball Cultural Center, The Notorious RBG, is another pleasure not to be missed.


Installation shots, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Skirball Cultural Center. Photos by Edward Goldman.

The full title of this exhibition is "The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg," and it marks 25 years since her appointment to the Supreme Court. In a fashion characteristic of Skirball presentation, this exhibition consists not only of documents, historical artifacts, photographs, and contemporary art, but also interactive installations.


Top and Bottom: Installation shot, Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Skirball Cultural Center. Photos by Edward Goldman.

There are recreations of RBG’s kitchen, as well as her offices at home and at work. But, the major attraction is a full-scale installation of the Supreme Court bench, where visitors are invited to put on a Supreme Justice robe complete with one of RBG’s signature collars. Now, dressed appropriately, the visitor may take a seat behind the bench to be photographed. Take a look at the photo I snapped of a little girl who might become the next RBG…


Covers of books making friendly fun of RBG at Audrey’s Museum Store at the Skirball Cultural Center. Photo by Edward Goldman.

The selection of books about Ginsburg at the museum store, with lovingly cheeky portraits of her on their covers, make you think that no other Supreme Court Justice could illicit so much respect, love, and sympathy. One book’s title says it all: “No Truth Without Ruth.”


Top: Artists Manuel Compito AKA OG Man and Scott Taylor at the opening of Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor: Bridging the Divide. Bottom: Installation Shot - Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor: Bridging the Divide.  Skid Row History Museum & Archive. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Now, let me switch gears and ask – how many of you are aware of the Skid Row History Museum and Archive on South Broadway in Downtown LA? Guilty as charged, yours truly went there for the first time last Sunday, for the opening of a new exhibition, "Bridging the Divide," consisting of paintings by Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor.


L: Work by Scott Taylor in Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor: Bridging the Divide. R: Work by Manuel Compito AKA OG Man in Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor: Bridging the Divide. Skid Row History Museum & Archive Photos by Edward Goldman.

Both artists’ studios are in the Skid Row district, but their professional and personal background couldn’t be more different. Scott Taylor, who was educated at university and has had gallery exhibitions in New York and LA, demonstrates a knowledge and influence of modernist art in his semi-figurative paintings of Skid Row. Manuel Compito, also known as OG Man, is a self-taught artist who learned to draw as a child from his brother, and “spent a considerable amount of time cultivating his talents during a lengthy period of incarceration” (SRHMA).


L: Work by Scott Taylor in Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor: Bridging the Divide. R: Work by Manuel Compito AKA OG Man in Manuel Compito & Scott Taylor: Bridging the Divide. Skid Row History Museum & Archive Photos by Edward Goldman.

Shown side by side, the paintings of these two artists are not competing with each other but help us to understand and observe homelessness from two distinct points of view.

While Scott Taylor creates appealing, sophisticated images with a certain emotional distance, Manuel Compito’s paintings dive directly into Skid Row and build our empathy for the people and their lives on the street. Hooray to both artists who make homelessness the subject of their challenging art. I wonder what Notorious RBG would say about these paintings highlighting one of the biggest humanitarian problems in our country…

Credits

Host:
Edward Goldman

Producer:
Kathleen Yore