Lifestyle // Entertainment

Frieze Los Angeles

In launching the first Frieze Los Angeles this month, the prolific and independent art platform with three magazines, an art academy and now four international art fairs (including Frieze New York, Frieze London, and Frieze Masters) is bringing the best of the contemporary art world to one of its most receptive and forward-looking capitals.

Greatly engaged in advancing global arts, and one of its linchpins, Los Angeles is fertile ground for the Feb. 14-17 art fair that will be held—with or without irony—during another glittering awards season at Paramount Pictures Studios. At the helm is a cast of serious L.A. art insiders, notably Executive Director Bettina Korek (founder of ForYourArt) and curator Ali Subotnick (formerly curator at the Hammer Museum).

The tie to Hollywood makes it a more interesting moment for the event, with its locale, though generally unconventional, not especially so for a Frieze art fair, which is typically out-of-the-box so far as settings are concerned, with custom structures by significant architects. To this end, there is Kulapat Yantrasast.

The founder and creative director of L.A. architectural firm wHY designed a bespoke structure for the smaller and more focused yet creatively ambitious Frieze Los Angeles whose program aspires to a broader conversation about contemporary art and culture.

Hamza Walker of LAXART will curate Frieze Talks and Frieze Music, while his counterpart Subotnick heads Frieze Projects, which will feature works of performance, installation, and sculpture scattered throughout a cinematically familiar street on Paramount’s NYC backlot. These pieces are best understood as responses to the unorthodox context.

Participation for Frieze Los Angeles is substantial, with the roughly 70 participating galleries including locally known names like The Box, The Pit, Regen Projects, and David Kordansky Gallery, along with a robust international representation. Frieze Week, meanwhile, will run Feb. 11-17 and feature a spectrum of related events, from gallery opening to talks and more.



Caruso’s Welcoming Palisades Village

Caruso is known for creating beloved town centers such as The Grove, and the newly opened Palisades Village promises to be yet another of the L.A.-based development company’s popular neighborhood destinations. Imagine a walkable gathering place that serves as a centerpiece within one of California’s most desirable coastal communities, complete with a curated mix of high-end shopping, dining and lifestyle offerings.

Now think of a coveted selection of brands ranging from the first brick-and-mortar Amazon Books to sought-after fashion labels like Tamara Mellon and Rachel Zoe, along with the Bay Theatre by Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas boasting a replica of the original marquee created in 1948 by motion picture theater designer S. Charles Lee.

“With Palisades Village, Caruso aimed to create the best street in the world, a truly walkable downtown area in Los Angeles,” says Dave Williams, executive vice president of architecture.

“We drew inspiration globally and focused on small scale storefronts and details from many great shopping streets—Bleecker Street in New York City, Fillmore Street in San Francisco and Newbury Street in Boston. The design team visited coastal villages like Sag Harbor, Nantucket, Newport Beach and Balboa Island, and layered in residential details from Pacific Palisades, to create our own vision of ‘California Coastal’ architecture.”

A vision, indeed. Situated at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Swathmore Avenue, Palisades Village features a variety of architectural design themes, including Mid-century modern, contemporary and coastal aesthetics, all enhanced by residential-style materials such as crisp white trim, high-gloss paint, brick and masonry, slate roofs and copper gutters. The center also is on course to be the first ground-up business district in the state to achieve LEED Gold certification.

The entire project encompasses 125,000 square feet on 3 acres. In addition to the aforementioned sites, the center also includes 10 restaurants and cafes, from casual eateries, like edo little bites for healthy cuisine, to fine-dining establishments such as Vintage Grocers offering a neighborhood market with chef-driven prepared foods.

Amenities include concierge services, garage and valet parking, a complimentary bike-share program, an expansive park with a sidewalk promenade and patios, and a community room for local residents. Living options also will be available at The Residences at Palisades Village, featuring eight one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 1,352 to 2,524 square feet, all showcasing private terraces and courtyards.

“At the heart of Palisades Village is the hope that it will become a part of the everyday fabric of the community and a daily gathering place for locals, their friends and families,” says Michael Gazzano, Caruso’s vice president of development. “That is why everything about the development, every decision that was made, tied back to how it fit within the infrastructure of the Palisades and its local community.”


Photographs courtesy of

Sugar Paper’s Handmade Art

In a fast-paced world dominated by technology, why launch a business that could be considered old-fashioned at first sight? Sugar Paper took just such a chance, focusing on stationary. In defying the odds, the L.A.-based brand found immediate success.

“In 2003, we started tinkering with a letterpress and helping our friends put beautiful paper in the mail,” say Sugar Paper cofounders Jamie Grobecker and Chelsea Shukov. “It’s hard to explain why we thought it was so important and why we felt such a connection to it. Maybe because our mothers always told us how important thank-you notes were or how much we loved her handwriting, and the fancy pens and paper they used.”

Going beyond simple words, every message conveys an emotion and is truly personal. “As each bespoke piece was sent, more and more people inquired,” say the founders. “So more and more stationary was made.” Today, the brand has a presence in thousands of stores across the United States and around the world, including an international shop-in-shop at Harrods in London. Its two Southern California boutiques—in Santa Monica and Newport Beach—invite passersby to discover brand’s unique, subtle aesthetic.

The white background of Sugar Paper spaces foster an overall feeling of airiness, despite the storefronts’ small size. Perfectly curated, products are harmoniously staged with a great sense of detail. Soft blues and pinks combine with touches of gold to create a cozy yet glamorous atmosphere, reminiscent of the pre-Internet age.

“We took a risk and stayed focused on building our business offline, making beautiful, tangible things by hand that would far outweigh anything in the digital space,” say Grobecker and Shukov. Quality, creativity and personalization are at the heart of the Sugar Paper concept.

“There is something special about personalized paper,” Shukov explains. “It’s a simple luxury that feels elegant.” With every card designed and hand-printed at the brand’s Los Angeles studio, Sugar Paper uses extra thick paper and subtle variations in ink, and every envelope is lined by hand. Candles are individually hand-poured and available in two scents: crisp white linen and pale pink petal, reflecting the beauty of the handcrafted.


“Good things take time,” say the cofounders. “We believe love is in the details.” The collections also comprises baby books, wedding planners, notebooks, pens, journals, calendars, phone cases, place cards and key fobs. “At Sugar Paper, we make practical things for busy people,” note Grobecker and Shukov. “When no one in the studio can live without something we’ve made, we know we’ve created something special.” Helping people get organized, connect with others and be inspired, Sugar Paper is also a way to go back to basics. It’s a breath of fresh air in an era when many people are rediscovering the beauty and value of small, well-made things.



A Spanish Romance in Napa Valley

The bucolic enclave of Rutherford is a Napa Valley jewel, its sun-dappled landscape home to estate-grown grapes and some truly excellent Cabs. Ironically, in this upcountry hamlet celebrated for its heritage wineries is a place that owes its existence not to wine, but to salt—Rancho Caymus Inn.

Originally built for Mary Tilden Morton of Morton Salt family fame, the intimate hotel lingered on the scene for decades until shuttering two years ago for a refresh worth millions. Reopening last year, visitors lured here by the promise of a wine-filled weekend in some of the loveliest landscape in the valley find walls that, could they talk, would tell a vibrant story about a most vibrant woman.

One presumes that Mary Tilden Morton could have spent her life resting on the laurels of her last name—instead, she became a vintner and pilot, a sculptor and collector of Ecuadorian antiques, and a visionary. In the 1970s, her determination to transform a parcel of land into a kind of village, first with plans for dining and swing dancing, then with the construction of a rustic luxury inn, resulted in a beloved wine country landmark.

Like Mary Tilden Morton herself, there was nothing cookie cutter about Rancho Caymus Inn. Everywhere was the imprint of local artisans: Napa Valley carpenters worked with California wood and imported white oak wood from an 1899 Ohio Yorkshire barn that they themselves dismantled; artist Gaye Frisk created arresting works of stained glass; and hand-thrown stoneware basins were installed.

Mary personally shopped the markets of Ecuador for vividly rendered textiles and hand-worked interior touches from mirror frames to furnishings, and brought it all together in a dramatic patchwork of passions.

Upon its opening, an article in The Napa Register lauded the inn as a “casual hacienda elegance, handcrafted accouterment and works of art.”

The latest version of Rancho Caymus Inn toggles a relaxed state of lavish, courtesy of new and present owner George Altamura Jr., who wisely and sensitively opted to preserve the character of the initial property while at the same time substantially elevating it.

Original homages include a stained glass mosaic by Guillermo Wagner Granzio overlooking a new spa and pool in the central courtyard; hand-woven textiles by Ecuadorian Indians reworked as wall hangings in guest suites; and hand-hewn solid oak doors, California black walnut beams and reclaimed white oak.

Complementing the artisan touches are sumptuous upgrades, from plush living spaces and private patios, to Restoration Hardware and Frontgate furnishings, to bathrooms done in gleaming white tile that stand in rich and beautiful contrast to the abundance of heritage wood. Event-ready spaces Morton Hall and the Rutherford Room are the results of stunning and thoughtful restorations, while a lounge area offers fire pits for respite at all moments of the day.

While the presence of Mary Tilden Morton is still larger than life—one imagines her traipsing about quite comfortably here—her vision has been refined and appropriately memorialized for today. The place is still a showpiece (and one of the highest rated properties in Napa Valley), but more so an expression of authenticity and graciousness, like its founder. It is to this new and improved Rancho Caymus Inn that one simply says what one does in the wine country—cheers.

POW! WOW! Pop Culture

A homegrown street-art festival gives way to the bright, imaginative murals making a cultural statement in Hawaii

Word on the street in Hawaii: turn a corner, go under a bridge, pull into a parking garage, or simply stride the sidewalk for a while and encounter a large-scale assault of the sensory sort. This means murals—enormous in size, ambition or both, always beautiful, sometimes comical, many with a bold social undertone. These epic, eye-popping pieces pulsate with an energy and animation that give color, character and creativity to a place that is all these things and more.

Public art is nothing new; it’s long been a means of beautifying communities. But the practice of taking it to the streets is especially resonant in Hawaii, which nurtures a rich storytelling heritage and is a prominent part of Native Hawaiian culture. The fact that Hawaii is one of the most isolated places on Earth, her islands scattered in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, makes it a melting pot of different ethnicities, which has resulted, quite strikingly, in one of the most diverse, and imaginative, street art scenes in the world.

“Being based in Hawaii, Native Hawaiian culture is very important and we try our best to use public art as a vehicle to tell cultural stories,” says artist, curator and entrepreneur Jasper Wong, who founded POW! WOW!, an annual street art festival that gives participating artists—half of them locals—the opportunity to share one’s history and story via their own work of art. “It takes it directly to the general public without the barriers of other institutions.”

Named after comic book culture (“POW!” is how art impacts the individual, “WOW!” is the measure of one’s reaction to it), the weeklong event has become its own movement, in Hawaii and beyond, active in more than a dozen cities across the globe. Locations change, but the goal does not: POW! WOW! aims to spruce up communities, thereby changing their very fabric, helping increase foot traffic in once-forgotten districts in order to support small business, bring people together, prop up local creative industries, promote indigenous artists, and serve as an educational resource for community youth.

“We hope this will then help to build bridges between people and create a worldwide collective of like-minded individuals,” says Wong.

That the beauty of Hawaii is a wellspring of artistic inspiration may be cliché, acknowledges Wong, but it’s also fact. How an artist chooses to translate this is singular to personal experience, perception, and intention. The same is true in other places where POW! WOW! is painting the town—though no canvas could ever be considered as radiant as Hawaii.

Written by Jenn Thornton
Photographs: courtesy of Jasper Wong and Brandon Shigeta

Norton Simon Museum Stages an Exhibit of Ellsworth Kelly’s Lithographs

Uncommon Bond

Norton Simon Museum stages an exhibit of artist Ellsworth Kelly’s lithographs

In the 1960s, artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923–2015) started creating lithographic prints. At the time the American artist was midway through a successful art career and had confined himself to sketches and sculpture and painting. His first two collections of lithographs, started at roughly the same time, are a study in contrasts, and how things that appear very different on the surface can have more in common than one might initially think.

Currently on display at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, Line & Color: The Nature of Ellsworth Kelly exhibits these two collections side by side: Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs is a collection of brightly colored abstract works; Suite of Plant Lithographs is a classicist’s study, figurative and sparse, of plants, flowers and fruit.

Photographs (from left) Blue and Orange and Green (Bleu et Orange et Vert), 1964-65 Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923-2015), Lithograph on Rives BFK paper, 35-3/8 x 23-7/8 in. (89.9 x 60.3 cm), Norton Simon Museum, Gift of the Artist, P.1969.019, © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Maeght Éditeur; Camellia II, 1964–65 Ellsworth Kelly (American, 1923-2015), Transfer lithograph on Rives BFK paper 35-3/8 x 24-1/4 in. (89.9 x 61.6 cm), Norton Simon Museum, Gift of the Artist, 1969, P.1969.044, © Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and Maeght Éditeur

Though visually different, the artist meant for the two collections to mingle. Their connection? The soft geometric shapes of Suite of Twenty-Seven Color Lithographs were informed by the clear-cut lines and silhouettes of the plant lithographs—and vice versa. “Shape and color are my two strong things,” said Kelly in 2012. “And by doing this, drawing plants has always led me into my paintings and my sculptures.”

The different aesthetics of the two collections makes sense given Kelly’s biography, which includes postwar years spent in Paris studying classic art forms—and drawing plants—followed by a return to America in the 1950s that coincided with a burgeoning Abstract Expressionist movement in New York City. It was there that Kelly set up shop in Lower Manhattan alongside Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and others, and his bold, abstract works found a home.

Accompanying the exhibit are two of Kelly’s paintings. At nearly 30 feet long, “White Over Blue” consists of two oversized panels that hand alongside each other, commissioned for Montreal’s Expo 67. The other is “Red Orange White Green Blue,” a collage of five panels joined together to create an unbroken spectrum across the wall. Should one find oneself seeing double, the exhibit runs through Oct. 29.

For More Information:

Written by: Constance Dunn    

Snoop Home Tour 2018

SNEAK PEEK — Prying eyes will get their fill of luxe architecture and décor at the popular Sophisticated Snoop Home Tour

More than 40 years ago, Manhattan Beach resident Debbie Walmer attended a seminar to brainstorm about fund-raising ideas for the American Martyrs Parent Association. A lover of homes, she suggested a tour of some of the area’s standout properties. The idea stuck, and she’s chaired the event ever since, even going door to door to numerous residences annually each year to unearth a variety of interesting architectural styles and interiors. Now in its 45th year, the 2018 Sophisticated Snoop Home Tour, taking place May 18-20, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., will present five newly culled residences complete with a stately abode boasting 160 rose bushes gracing the front yard, an extensive art collection and even a train room.

“The home at 701 25th St. is over the top,” says Walmer. “It took the owners six years to build, and it looks like a chateau you’d see in France.” Known as “The Hedani-Sydow Home,” the residence transports visitors to Provence via lush front gardens replete with a French limestone fountain paired with high-end interior details such as the artistic owner’s stained-glass creations; hand-sculpted herringbone oak flooring; hand-carved limestone fireplace imported from France; a maple-clad master suite with hand-painted ceiling; and custom-built, 8,500-bottle wine cellar. A hobby room reveals an extensive model train collection, while a kid’s lounge showcases upholstered walls and its own kitchen.

The tour’s remaining residences each present a distinctive brand of show-stopping features. In Manhattan Beach, tour-goers will find a stunning contemporary home in the Hill Section highlighted by a wine cave; media room; glass-walled gym, sauna and steam room; and outdoor space with a hot tub, Ping-Pong table, fire pit and seating area. A beautifully appointed, modern farmhouse in the Sand Section was built in 2008 and has since been updated with five bedrooms; a spa room (formerly the living room) with a vaulted ceiling and fireplace; and custom teen “apartment,” while an elegant Santa Barbara-style property showcases a backyard haven with a decked-out guest house and three-story game house featuring full-sized arcade games, plus indoor environs sporting a golf simulator and inviting family room theater.

Rounding out the tour is a custom-built, modern coastal masterpiece situated at the end of a private cul-de-sac in Hermosa Beach that offers sweeping views of the Pacific. Expect soaring ceilings, travertine flooring, glass sphere chandeliers and an extensive art collection, along with a toy room, and an outdoor patio highlighting an oversized stone spa, built-in barbeque and plenty of seating to enjoy the stellar vistas. $30 in advance, $35 at the door;

Written by Wendy Bowman  |  Photography Courtesy of Liz Chalmers


The Last Bookstore

From downtown L.A. loft to browser’s bohemia, The Last Bookstore is a reading refuge for bibliophiles

The independent bookstore, so ablaze with ideas, offers something tangible in a world when vast swaths of the population might go about life with little human interaction for days on end. With conversation and exchange (and almost always a few curious regulars milling about), bookshops are the lifeblood of communities still lucky enough to have them.

One of these enclaves is Downtown Los Angeles, where in 2011, Josh Spencer showed uncommon resolve in unsure digital times by opening the Last Bookstore in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th & Spring, the third chapter of a success story that started in an L.A. loft, moved to a small place at 4th & Main, then set up shop as a behemoth of a brick-and-mortar, with 22,000 square feet of retail space, art galleries and shops on the mezzanine level, an Art & Rare Books Annex, and a mammoth catalog of some 250,000 titles.

Now California’s largest operator of new and used books, along with vinyl records, the Last Bookstore runs a brisk but selective buy-sell-trade business. Do you want a beat-up second-hander? How about a scratched-to-death record (CD or DVD)? Neither do these folks. The place trades in mint-condition inventory, much of it hard to find. (The original Sweet Valley High series? It’s here.)

Housed in an old bank, the Last Bookstore is columned and maze-like, with ceilings as high as the heavens, bank vault reading rooms, a tunnel made of books and other curiosities. Together, these touches evoke what could easily be the prop department of a Baz Luhrmann movie. It’s theater, the Last Bookstore, magical in the way old places can be—distressed here, dressed there, with period details of so much soul. Walls painted dark, a lustrous bit of custom lighting, all “makes the store feel like a trip to the past,” says manager Katie Orphan. And a bit of a trip, period. There’s also a stunning bit of local art from artists with galleries above the store, and an upstairs labyrinth that leads shoppers on a paper chase through a warren of books.

Spencer, the creative engine of the place and a born orchestrator with clear smarts, understands that for the Last Bookstore to survive in the age of Amazon, it needs to serve as a community’s cultural core. This it does, with an atmosphere unlike anything else, with a rabbit hole of events, ranging from the expected (author talks, community meetings, book clubs for feminists, horror fans, etc.) to more unorthodox fare (an evening with the cast of Portlandia, pop-up dinners, the wedding of authors Ransom Riggs and Tehereh Mafi).

Engagement might just be the most important of all independent bookstore bona fides, its competitive leg up. “There are things at which an independent bookstore really excels, like having knowledgeable staff who can make personalized recommendations of books to customers, and that’s hard to replicate online,” says Orphan. “We can recommend sleeper titles and promote lesser-known authors in a way that other retailers aren’t necessarily equipped to do.”

With all the screen time we’re logging these days, even the idea of a bookstore feels mooring, the flip of a page all the more reassuring in its consistency, the encounter of a new character a thrill in the finding. This is true everywhere, but poignantly so in Los Angeles, a city with a contradictory nature, progressive but rooted to the independent spirit of the West, that sense of willingness and freedom to do whatever one wants—be it build, or grow, or create. The revitalization of the city’s downtown matches the Last Bookstore’s ability to tap into our analog side while speaking to a larger literary renaissance.

“People don’t like to lose something that they’ve loved for centuries,” said Spencer in a Vimeo video. Not a new concept, perhaps, but novel —

Written by Jenn Thornton  |  Photography Courtesy of The Last Bookstore

In Pursuit of Perfection

Thomas Jefferson’s historic mountaintop home Monticello expresses the spirit and architectural legacy of its founding father

If home is an expression of oneself, then Monticello is Thomas Jefferson’s autobiography, revealing the essence of who he was, what he valued, and how he lived. Appropriating the Old World for his vision of life in the new, Jefferson fashioned Monticello at the same time he helped fashion the nation and, in doing so, supported the great experiment of liberty.

Written by Jenn Thornton  |  Photography ©Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello


Located outside Charlottesville, Virginia, Jefferson called Monticello his “essay in architecture,” one that commanded several revisions. Construction that began in 1769 was left unfinished while Jefferson served five years as minister to France. Steeped in that country’s metropolitan culture, Jefferson began to rethink the project and, upon returning to America, jettisoned his original plans. Among the numerous improvements he made until the project was complete in 1809 was to tear down part of the initial structure and build around it, reorganize interior spaces at great expense, and add the home’s signature dome.

Derivative of Greco-Roman design, with porticos and a Palladian language, Monticello is quintessentially American in that Jefferson designed a “framework for living,” says Monticello curator Susan Stein, a way to organize and orchestrate domestic life. Which is to say didactically. Jefferson filled his life with books, study and conversation, so while a cultivated environment, Monticello is also self-consciously anti-aristocratic—a place of 43 rooms (33 in the house itself) that appears to be smaller than it is.

It’s not false modesty, exactly, but one does not find, for example, something like a grand stairway to suggest aristocratic ascent to the higher level. Into this classical context Jefferson brings comfort and convenience. His cabinet, or study, is a model of efficiency, with a revolving desk chair, a worktable with a moving top and a rotating stand for holding books, pamphlets or papers. There is a Windsor bench for stretching his legs and physical evidence of his curiosities. “He doesn’t keep his interests hidden—they’re everywhere,” says Stein of Jefferson’s maps, globes and correspondence. “His purpose is to educate. He uses Monticello as kind of his laboratory, a proto-museum, to educate people. He has a large collection of paintings from France. He has sculpture and portraits of America’s founders.”

Completing Monticello proved something of a Sisyphean task (skilled tradesmen were in short supply and politics took Jefferson to France, Philadelphia and Washington DC for prolonged periods), but “It’s what he did,” says Peter Onuf, distinguished fellow with the American Antiquarian Society. “It’s the work of perfection, of getting it right. It suggests an attitude toward life, aspirations and the old idea that work is life.

In a way, Jefferson keeps the place in constant turmoil because he’s not looking for a place of repose, of stasis, of stopping. It’s the very dynamism that he lives with and causes to happen. I think it’s very important to his sense of who he is in the world. While there are technical explanations for why he doesn’t get around to putting the columns up front, it’s knowing the man and what gives him satisfaction in life.”

Broadly, Monticello informed Jefferson’s later projects, including the University of  Virginia, with its domes Rotunda and connected pavilions, which he established. It also paved the way for the country’s temple-fronted public architecture, the capitol buildings and courthouses that define our civic identity.

Both a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO Heritage Site (the only home so designated in the United States), Monticello is stewarded by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and visited by millions. But with preservation and restoration efforts ongoing, Monticello is what it has always been: a work in progress.

Exhibit L.A.

The ninth annual Art Los Angeles Contemporary lands at Barker Hangar this month

Written by Jenn Thornton

The global art community turns its gaze to L.A., as Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar welcomes Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC), Jan 25-28. Now in its ninth year, the West Coast extravaganza will put the contemporary art world on show in a city as culturally diverse as its representation.

“As the international art community looks towards Los Angeles as a new global epicenter, it is essential to have an event that draws upon a comprehensive notion of the city,” said Tim Fleming, founder and director of Art Los Angeles Contemporary. “ALAC is a product of Los Angeles’ unique cultural community composed of an incredibly diverse array of artists, galleries, curators, institutions, collectors and enthusiasts.”

A quick glance at ALAC’s 2018 exhibitor list proves Fleming’s point. Along with a substantial group from L.A., including David Kordansky Gallery and AA|LA Gallery, are domestic galleries from San Francisco, Chicago, Detroit and New York, and an international contingent spanning from Montréal to Moscow and prominent points in between. Fair first-timers from Bogotá, Lima, and London will join both upstart and established galleries. This exhibitor group, as well as programming devised to provoke an examined discussion of contemporary art, will, as Fleming puts it, affirm L.A.’s emergence as a “powerful cultural hub.”

Another edition of note: the special issue Art Los Angeles Reader, produced in collaboration with Mexico City quarterly Terremoto and spotlighting contributions from leading curators, artists, writers and others.

Barker Hanger
3021 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Life in Movement

The Norton Simon Museum honors the sculpture of Edgar Degas

In 1917, Edgar Degas, the French artist renowned for his dreamy depictions of ballet dancers, died in Paris. Marking the 100-year anniversary of his death, the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, home to one of the most remarkable collections of the artist’s works in the world, presents Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor.

Though best known for his Impressionist oil paintings and pastels, Degas was quite the sculptor. He may have only exhibited one sculpture during his career—the bronze Little Dancer, Aged Fourteen (1878-81), which broke tradition with its realistic, features, silk slippers and wig of human hair—but during his life, Degas produced hundreds of them.

After his death, 150 of these small-scale modèles, fashioned in wax, plaster and clay and depicting horses, dancers and bathers, were taken from Degas’s studio. Of these, 74 among those in the best condition were picked by the artist’s heirs to be preserved in bronze. Remarkably, the Norton Simon Museum has acquired 72 (the fate of the remaining two is not known). To note, the modèles accurately preserve the state of the sculptures as they originally stood in Degas’s studio, reflecting the tactile, focused way in which the artist worked, down to the pressed texture of the original wax and plaster.

Taking Shape: Degas as Sculptor presents the entire collection of Degas’s bronze modèles, brought together for the first time, and accompanied by his pastels, drawings, and paintings. It’s an opportunity to see the artist’s creative output gathered across media and materials, and to ponder Degas’s lifelong pursuit of capturing the form and movement of living beings—perfectly correct in their details; unidealized and beautiful.

The exhibit runs from Nov 10 to April 9, 2018. Tip: When visiting the Norton Simon Museum, take time to stroll the grounds, including the lovely pond, sculpture garden and Garden Cafe, which has plenty of shaded seating and is operated by Patina Restaurant Group.

Modern Mexico

Another Promised Land: Anita Brenner’s Mexico at Skirball Center

Written by Constance Dunn | Photography Courtesy of Skirball Cultural Center

In the 1920s, Mexico City was a place humming with artists, writers and thinkers, many of them homegrown and many who came from Europe and America. On-hand to chronicle the decade was a unique figure: a woman, Anita Brenner, born in Mexico to Latvian Jewish parents. As an observer of and personal confidante to leading artists of her day—such as Mexican painters Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and French-born painter Jean Charlot— Brenner channeled a first-hand accounting of their lives and work in her 1929 book, Idols Behind Altars.

A current Skirball exhibit, Another Promised Land traces Brenner’s life in five sections, and with it gives one a closer, intimate look at major figures of the Mexican modern art movement from 1920-1950—called the Mexican Renaissance—and its years beyond.

The exhibit starts at Brenner’s teen years. She had returned to Mexico City after spending years in the States, specifically San Antonio, Texas to escape the violence of the Mexican Revolution, lasting from 1910-1920. There are portraits and other works sourced from her growing artists’ network in the capital. Another section of the exhibit includes photographs of Mexican cultural sites and folk art, including some pre-Columbian works. Yet another delves into the mural movement, much of it politically based and made internationally famous by Mexican artists such as José Clemente Orozco and Diego Rivera, whose powerful, dream-like works are on display.

Starting in the 1930s and onward, Brenner’s focus was on promoting Mexican tourism. To do so, she emphasized the country’s cultural roots and showcased more works of her personal circle. Brenner’s output during this period included children’s books and the popular guidebook Your Mexican Holiday (1932), along with her magazine, Mexico / this month, which she published from 1955 to 1971. A select number of the magazine’s graphic-rich, creative covers are on display at the exhibit, along with vibrant images by famed Mexican photojournalists Héctor García and Nacho López.

In contrast to the folk-driven works commonly associated with the Mexican Renaissance, the exhibit spends time showcasing modern works, including those from the 1950s to 1970s created by Brenner’s friends who were involved with International movements of the day, such as geometric abstraction and surrealism.

Though Brenner passed away in 1974, a central goal of her life’s work—to give those outside Mexico a close look at the distinctive culture of her homeland—continues on with this exhibit. As both an intimate to leading Mexican artists and a chronicler of Mexican art during her life, she was afforded a unique and personal perspective, one she generously passes along to us many years after her death.

The exhibit, running through February 25, 2018, is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an exploration of Latin American and Latino art initiated by the Getty, and taking place at more than 60 institutions across Southern California.



310.440.4500 | SKIRBALL.ORG

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