Metropolis II, opening at LACMA on January 14, is installation artist Chris Burden’s action-packed, raucous, optimistic view of Los Angeles sometime in the not-to-distant future. Eleven-hundred custom-made, die-cast cars, about twice the size of a Matchbox car, race through a multilevel system of 18 roadways that twist and turn and undulate amid buildings that seem vaguely familiar but are not replicas of any specific landmark (although, strangely, there is what looks like an Eiffel Tower). The cars whip along on a plastic roadway at fantastic speeds, producing an enormous din that echoes off the gallery walls like the incessant roar of real-life freeway traffic. HO-scale trains and 1930s-era trolley cars roll along tracks of their own, adding a cheerful nostalgia to the mix.
The House That Sam Built:
Sam Maloof and Art in the Pomona Valley, 1945–1975
The Huntington Library, Art Gallery, and Botanical Gardens
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, CA
Through January 30, 2012
The exhibit explores over 100 works of renowned midcentury furniture craftsman, Sam Maloof (1916–2009) and his circle of friends, who gathered at the Maloof residence and workshop—which have become a central part of the dynamic Pomona Valley art community—to share a meal and their common interest of hand-crafted objects. The exhibit showcases some of the earliest Maloof pieces, such as a round, plywood coffee table with walnut legs, decorative arts and crafts such as ceramic works by Otto and Gertrude Natzler (above), an office chair made for the prominent industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss, three iterations of his classic rocking chair, a table lamp by William Manker, among other objects. Visitors will also find two rare watercolors produced early in Maloof’s career. The exhibit is part of Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980, a Getty collaboration spanning six months, bringing together over 60 cultural institutions all across Southern California.
Now that it’s clear that Christian de Portzamparc’s Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum in Hollywood will not happen (the Academy will instead reimagine the old May Company building for the museum), the Academy recently shared its plans with the LA Times to build a new amphitheater and 17,000 square foot event space on the dead project’s land. The group purchased the 3.5-acre lot near the intersection of Vine Street and Fountain Avenue in 2005 for $50 million. According to the Times, the amphitheater (to be used, of course, to screen movies) will include a raised grassy area and will seat about 300 people. Plans call for a 10,000-square-foot patio adjacent to the amphitheater designed for special events. It looks like the space is probably temporary, as Academy President Tom Sherak said the Academy will keep the space until the site’s value climbs back to its 2005 level. On second thought, this amphitheater could be here a while.
For the last several years, SCI-Arc’s Studio 1A has given new students the chance to literally make their mark by producing projects that become permanent fixtures at the school. On Friday, this year’s class revealed a project that started as a piece of clothing, then became a wire model, then became a mockup, and finally ended as a new undulating and faceted canopy and wall. Made of a recycled carbon fiber called Nyloboard, the project’s more than 2,000 pieces were all hand cut and, somehow, none are exactly alike. They’re attached with Gorilla Glue, nails, and screws. “It’s something that exists at the scale of the world, which can take years for an architect,” said Nathan Bishop, who along with Jackilin Hah Bloom and Jenny Wu led the studio.
Adding to his pop culture resume (appearing on the Simpsons, designing a hat for Lady Gaga, starring in a documentary) Frank Gehry has designed the official poster for the 54th Grammy Awards, which takes place in February. It appears that Gehry simply placed the Grammy trophy in front of a collection of models at his office, leaving the question, can you spot any specific projects? If so leave a comment. We’d like to see Gehry’s interpretation of the iconic gramophone made of his signature curving titanium forms. Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, said in a statement, “Frank’s exemplary creative accomplishments through a variety of artistic platforms have been inspirational. We are honored to work with such a well-respected talent who has served as an influential figure within the arts on a global scale.”
Coincidentally, Gehry will be designing sets for the LA Philharmonic’s production of Don Giovanni at Disney Hall this May. The Philharmonic is nominated for a Grammy this year for its performance of Brahms Symphony Number Four.
Earlier this fall the rapper Ice Cube pleasantly surprised us by turning up in posters promoting the Getty’s exhibition series Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a sweeping SoCal round-up that also covers the work of architects and designers. It turns out that before founding the group N.W.A., Ice Cube studied architectural drafting, and in the process he became a fan of Ray and Charles Eames.
In a video just released by the Getty, Ice Cube communes with the designer couple’s famous Case Study #8 house in Pacific Palisades, walking around the exterior to admire the “off-the-shelf factory windows, prefabricated walls” and then kicking back in a 670 lounge chair inside to hold forth on the Eames’ approach of mixing the new with the old, comparing it to sampling in music: ” They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.” But the most instructive part of the video may be Ice Cube’s decoding of the traffic specific to L.A. freeways…watch for it here:
For more on Ice Cube’s take on design, read his interview with the New York Times.
The developers of Santa Monica’s gallery haven Bergamot Station are planning another art center, this time in San Pedro. “Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles,” which was just approved by the Los Angeles Harbor Department (city council approval is still pending) will offer paintings, sculptures, and other artworks sold by 500 artists sitting in open stalls. The facility, set to open next summer, will be located inside the city’s warehouses No. 9 and 10, located near Cabrillo Marina. The structures, totaling 140,000 square feet, were used by the Navy during the 1940s, then later for storage. Their clerestory windows and huge doors will allow lots of light and air inside.