Monthly Archives: January 2019

ACCIDENT OR INSPIRATION: DID THIS ARTIST CREATE A MASTERPIECE BY SPILLING RED WINE AND BEET SALAD ON A CANVAS?

It’s a question you have to ask, right? Look at this painting! It’s a masterpiece of post-modern art. The painting is a major work of abstract expressionism by artist Helen Frankenthaler. (You can find it in the permanent collection of LACMA in Los Angeles.)

Titled “Renaissance,” it’s a beautiful mix of juicy, sultry red hues like crimson, burgundy, and scarlet, to name a few.

But look carefully, gentle reader, and you’ll see that it is plausible that Frankenthaler simply knocked over a few bottles of red wine and maybe a bowl of beets onto a canvas to create this artwork.

So how did this happen? Perhaps it happened like this: In a fit of painter’s block, the artist took a lunch break. On a table nearby sat a selection of wine bottles. She dined on beet salad (an unusually large beet salad!). As she dined and sipped an earthy Cote du Rhône from a glass, she thought about her painting and her vexing drought of ideas.

Suddenly in an act of frustration she upturned the dining table like a Real Housewife does a table flip. Wines and very unusually large beet salad went crashing onto the canvas as it lied on the floor. Her work was done.

If only this is how it happened. But alas the process was probably very different. And way more complex.

DYING TO KNOW: IS THE “THE BLUE WHALE” THE POSTER CHILD OF LATE MODERNISM?

Is this building the poster child for late-modernism? No, it isn’t. But maybe it should be. It’s certainly one of the boldest, loudest manifestations of late modernism. (A more agreeable candidate for this distinction of “poster child” might be the Citicorp Building in New York City.)

The building pictured is known as “the Blue Whale.” Officially it’s the Center Blue building of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, in Los Angeles. Unlike many late-modernist style buildings, which sprung from the legacy of sleek, glass-skinned, minimalist International Style office towers and architect Mies van de Rohe, the Blue Whale is not a tall, slender tower. It’s a relatively low-slung structure with a long footprint many times greater than its height. It’s so long that it appears as if the it’s a skyscraper turned on its side.

And then there’s the color. As its name suggests, it’s blue — A bright, confident primary blue. The building possesses a neat, restrained, urbane swagger, at once cool, “designery” and unabashedly unconventional. It’s a landmark that immediately would stand out in a police line-up of late-modern buildings.

CLASSIC, VINTAGE, CREEPY AF VAN

We saw this van parked in the far corner of the sprawling parking lot at our gym in Los Angeles yesterday. Is this not one of the creepiest-looking vans you’ve ever laid your eyes upon? The vehicle seems like a late 1970s or ‘80s make. It’s likely from an American automaker or brand like GM or Chevy. Needless to say, it’s a classic. The van would perfectly fit into a period film like Boogie Nights or Fast Times at Ridgement High. In any case, it’s creepy AF. Furthermore, its sketchy circumstances give it a kind of serial-killer vibe. However, in the right hands, with a little cleaning-up, it could be a spectacular retro-hipster surfer wagon. In a few short weeks it could ready for #vanlife Instagram glory. Wonder what the owners would sell it for?

EPIC! MARK BRADFORD’S “160 PORTRAIT TONE”

This epic painting is by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Bradford. Its title is “160 Portrait Tone.” LACMA is showing the painting in a place of prominence. When you see it at first, the artwork hits you full force with its giant scale. Its gritty aesthetic — bold, typographically distressed sans-serif words — overwhelms you when you enter the museum’s sprawling Resnick Pavilion.

YOU HAD US AT “HELLO…”

The artist Roy Lichtenstein is a giant of post-modern art, and, more precisely, the pop-art era of the 1960s. His iconic body of work is mostly comprised of paintings that took the visual language of newspaper comic strips and playfully re-contextualized the imagery and style of comics, literally reframing them with starker, deeper — and funny — readings. It seems like every modern-art museum collection in the world has at least one of Lichtenstein’s iconic paintings. Not to sound dismissive, but sometimes it’s feels like if you seen one, you’ve seen them all. But one of his best and atypical comics painting is the one posted here. “Hello…” happens to be on view as part of the permanent collection at LACMA in Los Angeles. It’s one of our favorites and, like all these artworks, open to interpretation. The viewers can read into the artwork what they will. To us, the woman’s “Hello” suggests a kind of loneliness and search for human connectivity.

ESSENTIAL LIGHT BEDTIME READING

The latest issues of the magazines Monocle, the Surfer’s Journal, and — most exciting — Juxtapoz with photo of recent artwork by KAWS. Got the bases covered here: Art, design, and surfing. Only thing missing is a cup of espresso, but we try to avoid coffee before bedtime! Haha! 😉

“NOH”

“Noh” is a poster designed by Los Angeles-based Japanese designer Takenobu Igarashi. Using a mix of Roman and Japanese characters, and referencing the traditional Japanese noh theater genre, Igarashi’s design looks like graffiti art at first glance. The poster was designed for the Asian Performance Arts Institute at UCLA in 1981. The aesthetic was way ahead of its time and has a futuristic dimension that was prescient of design trends to come in the decades that followed.

GRAVEYARD OF WORDS

Did you know that words can die? It’s true. This stencil street art on the pavement in Venice Beach, in Los Angeles, is a virtual cemetery of words like “Cool,” “Art,” “Truth, and “Reality.” Each world has its own gravestone and years. Of course, most of these words are far from dead. But perhaps some more than others are on their way to dying sooner than later. The larger point is perhaps that the meaning of these words are in a state of flux or open to question in our current culture (e.g., “reality”), especially given the political rhetoric and circumstances of the Times.

ARTIST GUSTAVO ZERMENO‘S AWESOME “NEED $ FOR RENT” STREET ARTWORK

Don’t we all? Don’t we all need money for rent, in some way, at some time? At least, don’t most of us? Like the man portrayed in this street art, most of us need to pay rent or mortgage and/or HOA fees. The artwork is by artist Gustavo Zermeno and painted on the wall of a popular bar along Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, Los Angeles. It’s a wry commentary on the cost if living in America’s second megalopolis.

At present in Los Angeles, there’s simultaneously a housing shortage and a building boom that can’t construct new housing fast enough to meet rising demand. Housing prices and rents have skyrocketed in the past few years. Perhaps nowhere is more emblematic of ridiculously expensive rents than Venice, the one-time rundown beach town on L.A.’s westside that has been thoroughly gentrified the past decade.

A few blocks inland from the beach, Abbot Kinney Blvd. serves as an expensive, bougie-hipster main drag cutting through the heart of Venice proper. It’s home to fashionable restaurants, cafes and boutiques for luxury brands big and small, and attracts tons of tourists.

The narrow boulevard is named after the property developer of Venice. In the late 19th Century, Abbot Kinney had a vision for a beach town, inspired by Venice, Italy, and its canals and architecture, that would be a cultural and recreational mecca. Kinney probably never imagined a Venice that would someday become a seaside slum nor — after gentrification — the epicenter of “Silicon Beach” tech and media companies. Nor did he likely imagine the vast sums of money people are willing to spend now to live there now.

Which brings us back to Zermeno’s street artwork. The man depicted in the painting is Mr. Abbot Kinney himself.