“The preoccupation with self-expression . . .” — Eames, A+D, LACMA, JF Chen, LAMA, CicLAvia

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“The preoccupation with self-expression is no more appropriate to the world of art than it is to surgery—That does not mean I would reduce self-expression to zero. I am sure that the really great surgeons operate on the edge of intuition. But the rigorous constraints in surgery – these are important in any art.” Charles Eames

This is just one of the pithy observations delivered by designer Charles Eames, and captured in the show that opened this week at A+D Museum and manages — after two months of planning and a lot of talent (esp. Deborah Sussman, Tina Beebe, Andrew Byrom, M/Arch) and sweat equity — to present a really fresh and delightful take on the designing duo. It showcases not Charles and Ray’s design, but their thoughts and their design influences or things they simply took delight in — from vivid wools to the design of scissors to the classic Jeep — and a classic Mac. Like Steve Jobs, whose passing so many of us are still processing, they inspired people to “think different”.

But if you want to see the Eames’ actual work, that’s on show too; their entire living room from the Pacific Palisades Eames House is recreated in Living in a Modern Way at LACMA, a show of decorative arts from the mostly postwar years that manages, in a spirited installation design by architects Hodgetts + Fung curated by LACMA’s Wendy Kaplan with Bobbye Tigerman (described on this DnA), that manages to remind us of the peppy optimism of years that were also fraught with fears of the atom bomb and racial conflict (see the Eames DCW chair of 1949 in picture, right). And not far from LACMA, an entire show is devoted to the Eames artefacts; Collecting Eames, the JF Chen Collection is yet another of Joel Chen’s seductive displays in his warehouse discreetly located on Highland Avenue. Highly recommended.

LAMA (Los Angeles Modern Auctions) will have an auction tomorrow of the entire collection of eclectic Angeleno collector Richard Dorso (see, in photo by Grand Mudford, left).  Peter and Shannon Loughrey’s auction house got its start 20 or so years ago by bringing to market then-affordable midcentury Modern furniture by the likes of the Eames; now they are carving out a niche with art. Their showroom deep in Van Nuys is worth a visit even if you don’t buy; like Joel Chen, it’s a completely anonymous warehouse that takes your breadth away on entering.

This is a brief round-up that touches on a few design events that are part of the huge display that is Pacific Standard Time, a smorgasbord of art shows that take us back to an LA when free expression co-existed with muscle cars and smog.

A completely new reinterpretation of what it is to be Angeleno is the one-off event now being a fixture on our town, namely cicLAvia (seen right in photo from April’s event, courtesy of Creative Commons). If you haven’t yet joined the 100s of 1000s of bikers and walkers on wide streets in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods that are usually dominated by cars, I guarantee you’ll love it. And I emphasize walkers — even though I’m a biker — because tomorrow’s cicLAvia, says co-founder Aaron Paley, is explicitly not just about bikes but about creating a public space on the roads where pedestrians, performers, stall holders and more can takeover the streets for a few car-free hours.