Sunday morning, a cup of coffee, picking up the Calendar section of the L.A. Times- the usual. In response to the just-opened exhibition of William Blake at the Huntington Library, the paper interviews four Los Angeles-based painters who feel a kinship with his art. DeLoss McGraw, one of the four, is an artist especially well known to KCRW's audience because of his wonderful illustrations for the "Alice In Wonderland" book. Seeing his work so prominently displayed in the Calendar, I called to congratulate him. 'Yes, thank you, but do you know, Edward, they flipped the picture? And besides, the image is horizontal, but they printed it vertical.' Oops. But as we all know, things like that do happen. Hopefully, the newspaper will offer its readers a chance to see a reproduction of DeLoss McGraw's painting the way it was meant to be.
I think it's a good time to offer an apology for a mistake I made a couple of weeks ago, while talking about the San Diego Museum receiving a donation of $100 million dollars from a generous benefactor. It was generous, but not that much. As my good friend Christopher Knight of the L.A. Times brought to my attention, it was only $30 million dollars. What can I say? Maybe I shouldn't have had that second shot of vodka before going on the air.
Looking at the new issue of the magazine Los Angeles County Museum of Art sends its members every two months, I feel I don't need my vodka to get excited. Coming up in the beginning of February are two shows certain to generate heat. First, the celebration of the art of Ansel Adams, who would have turned 100 this year. Second is the guilty pleasure of basking in the virtuoso brushwork of John Singer Sargent, one of the best known American painters. An exhibition of more than ninety of his oil and watercolor paintings will explore his connection with Italy. If that is not enough, how about the blockbuster coming to LACMA this summer: top-notch masterpieces of French art from the Pushkin Museum in Moscow including mouth-watering delectables by Van Gogh and Gauguin, Cezanne and Matisse.
In her opening letter to LACMA members, museum president and director Andrea Rich shares the good news about a ten million dollar gift from the Annenberg Foundation for the museum endowment. Even with this welcome gift, LACMA's endowment still remains the smallest compared to the endowments of all other major American museums. Andrea Rich appropriately expresses gratitude to Wallis Annenberg for her generosity and thanks the public for its support. "You keep giving," she writes, "and we keep asking for more- but as we ask more of you, we ask more of ourselves." She talks about "efficiency in our expenditures- strength in our vision- our commitment to excellence" which makes me think of a keynote speaker addressing corporate shareholders and glossing over disappointing facts. One thing missing in her letter is the courage to acknowledge the failure to raise money for the Rem Koolhaas' proposed design and subsequent abandoning of the whole project. It's as if none of it ever happened.
"Ansel Adams at 100" and "Sargent and Italy"
February 2 - May 11, 2003
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036