Daughter Heidi (who was conceived/made in Los Angeles) and I went to the Hammer Museum UCLA for the “Made in L.A. 2014” exhibit yesterday to discover the latest artistic expressions from the Los Angeles art world. Over thirty artists exhibited and what a variety it was. There was a sign on one of the gallery doors that some of the artwork wasn’t suitable for children, and we soon found which ones.
I’ve never seen such a diversity of art forms at one exhibit—from short videos of all sorts to paintings and sculptural pieces in all kinds of mediums. Most of the art was made specifically for this exhibit. Fortunately, viewers could read general background information on each artist as well as specifics on the various pieces. Before we wandered the galleries, we ate lunch in their outdoor café and enjoyed a modern dance performance by a young man in a free-flowing garment (similar to a dress).
There’s not space to describe but a few of the highlights of this unusual mix of artistic expression. I’ll share a few impressions that stuck with me, like a video on a medium-size TV screen of the face and head of a young pretty Asian woman in red lipstick continually smiling without changing expression. It kept drawing my attention even while looking at another video, full of movement and dialogue in the same room.
Modern artists aren’t generally obsessed with beauty or conservative subject matter; they’d rather get to their truth. Artist Max Maslansky’s erotic paintings of sexual fantasies painted in pinks and reds took up most of a room. The artist achieved a soft blurry look by using old bedsheets instead of canvas, but the viewer wouldn’t have guessed unless you searched for the information. A documentary video in a small room nearby focused on the dangers of being a stunt man in the entertainment industry. The pay is lucrative but injuries are common, and the work is truly death-defying.
One of the more delicate and intriguing sculptors was Ricky Swallow, who crafts small objects in wood or cardboard and may cast them in bronze. Their forms were delightful—one looked like a tiny modern chair, one resembled a small ladder-back chair, which could have been just a decorative display.
The work of Marcia Hafif, who explores and experiments with types of paint, filled an entire room with square paintings, each a different color, and all evenly spaced and at the same height. I didn’t take the time to check on the subtle differences between the paintings.
I enjoyed the very vibrant work by Lecia Dole-Recio, and used the museum’s postcard of one of my favorites for this blog. She doesn’t title her work, which is what she calls “painted constructions” of paper, cardboard and tape, not quite paintings and not quite collages.
I was moved by a very personal, charming and amusing video by Judy Fiskin—“I’ll Remember Mama.” Her title was inspired by the film “I Remember Mama” made by George Stevens in 1948. Coincidentally, I became friends long ago with Peggy McIntyre, who starred as the daughter Christine in the old film. Peggy worked at AT&T in Hollywood as a fellow service rep in the 1960s.
Fiskin’s film focused on her own mother, who she filmed a few years ago at age 89. Fiskin decided to make a video when her mother was still alive instead of making it a memorial piece. Although affectionately done, Fiskin focused on the difference in age and personal preferences between mother and daughter, and the personal objects (furniture, etc.) her mother will leave behind. Her mother, like many other wealthy LA widows, lives by herself in one of the high-rise apartment buildings on Wilshire Boulevard. Narrating the film, Fiskin points out that at night, the lights of cars traveling down Wilshire reflect on the apartment windows and look like tears traveling down the face of the buildings.