Left Coast Report

Back from California, visiting with both the Northern and Southern tribes. As always, the eye gets fed, and sometimes the finds are a surprise and unexpected.

San Francisco

Richard Diebenkorn: A gallery show at Paul Thiebaud Gallery consists of works that belongs to the late artist’s son Christopher. (In strange symmetry: Paul Thiebaud is artist Wayne Thiebaud’s son.) Fabulous range of paintings and works on paper. I was particularly enchanted by the small works (at the top, below) on cigar box lids.

Helen Frankenthaler: John Berggruen Gallery, one of San Francisco’s largest and most prestigious contemporary art galleries, is showing two floors of paintings by Frankenthaler. Her work played an important part in my development as a young artist (as did Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park series in particular) so my interest in her work tends more towards sentimental homage. The best Frankenthaler I’ve seen in a long time is actually hanging at LACMA (see below.)

Los Angeles

The Culver City galleries are full of lively, spunky, compelling work. Here’s a random sampling:

LACMA has great hours (open til 8pm, with “pay what you will” starting at 5), and is open on Monday. Unlike New York City where museums stagger their closed days, most of LA’s museums are closed on Mondays.

It’s a sprawling campus—becoming more so with each massive building addition—and the experience doesn’t lend itself to just wandering organically from pavilion to pavilion. But treasure abound nonetheless. There’s green space nearby when you need some nature for counterbalance, and the play of light throughout the day makes the space enchanting in its own eclectic, aggregated way.

Looking west over the soon to be open Resnick Pavilion; late day light on the whiteness of the Bing; The Resnick at sunset

Calligraphy from the Japanese Pavilion; Cambodian statue; Koran calligraphy

Big discovery for me was the work of Thomas Wilfred (1889-1968). Trained as a musician and fascinated by the concept of synesthesia that was very popular in artistic circles at the end of the 19th century, Wilfred created devices that could merge light, music and visual form. On display is one of only 18 existing Lumia devices (lent by Carol and Eugene Epstein) that plays a stream of moving images. Wilfred’s work was included at the 1952 show at the Museum of Modern Art that also featured Pollock, Still and Rothko. Intriguing and seductive, I sat through the full cycle of few times, felt my vibrational level drop into meditative ease.

Still image from Wilfred’s Luccata, Opus 162 (1967-68)

4 Replies to “Left Coast Report”

  1. Welcome back. Nice survey of visual delights. I was just looking online last week at the Paul Thiebaud show and noted in one of my upcoming All Art Friday columns.

    Love the Wilfred image.

    (Am heading to NYC Friday for my only’s NYU graduation. Plan to take in as much art as possible.)

  2. M, I’ll look forward to your (as always) very full report. My memory of my daughter’s graduation from NYU was that I had never seen that many guests and graduates so expertly herded into Washington Square and then so expertly disbanded when it was over, including the strategic placement of giant bins where the grads throw their caps & gowns as they return to real life on the streets of Manhattan. Ran like clockwork.

    Have fun!

  3. Unfortunately (or maybe not), graduation cannot be held in Washington Square because it is under renovation/reconstruction. Gallatin’s ceremony is in Avery Fisher Hall and the university-wide ceremony (neither my son nor I will be attending) is two days later in Yankee Stadium. Still, after all is said and done, getting to see my only walk down any aisle with a gold tassel on his cap (he was named a University Honors Scholar) fills this mother’s heart with gratitude.

  4. your shot of the diebenkorn cigar-top paintings is wonderful. thanks for that.

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