Los Angeles’ Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980

January 2012

The Los Angeles art scene has been vibrant and varied for some time now, but Pacific Standard Time (PST): Art in L.A. 1945-1980 puts L.A. art on the international art scene for all time, as PST is receiving well-deserved worldwide attention and acclaim. 

The Getty has collaborated with over 60 art institutions across Southern California in an effort to highlight and celebrate the evolution of Los Angeles’ incredibly diverse art, architecture and design heritage. I’ve had an opportunity to visit some of the various exhibits across the city, but have many to explore before the event closes in April 2012. Here are a few of the exhibits I highly recommend:

MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House – Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Architecture and Design 

Held in one of the most iconic, important and modern residential structures in L.A., this exhibit focuses on the range of architectural historian Esther McCoy’s role in American modernism. The display includes various mediums including photographs, drawings, texts, videos, and audio interviews, showcasing McCoy’s work, which greatly focused on fair labor practices in the 1930s. Her contribution to LA’s advancement is profound. 







Watts Towers Arts Center - Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Watts Towers Art Center

This exhibit explores the evolution of this arts institution, centered on preserving Simon Rodia’s Watts Tower steel-and-mortar sculptures. A poor Italian immigrant, Rodia was illiterate and destined to be unaccomplished, but he defied the odds and constructed beautiful and inspiring sculptures from trash, shells, Malibu tile, tires and more. Today, the sculptures reflect incredible determination, discipline, creativity and cultural enrichment.







LACMA – California Design, 1930-1965: “Living in a Modern Way”

I was incredibly impressed with the staging of this exhibit. With more than 350 objects on display – from furniture and ceramics to fashion and textiles – the exhibit is whimsical and bright – a reflection of optimistic and thriving times . Highlights include a Weber’s Airline Chair, Julius Shulman’s photograph of the Kaufmann House, Gregory Ain’s Avenel Apartments, Saul Bass’s poster for “man With the Golden Arm,” and the Eames living room, recreated with all their original belongings.







Eames House Foundation - Indoor Ecologies: The Evolution of the Eames House Living Room

Designed by Charles and Ray Eames as a live-work space in 1949, the structure was an experiment in materials and technology, as well as, a way of living that came to define the post-World War II era. This is a great opportunity to see the home’s living room, which, with a flexible frame, is designed to accommodate changing needs in which indoors and outdoors coexist.





Santa Monica Museum  of Art - Beatrice Wood: Career Woman-Drawings, Paintings, Vessels, and Objects

From her early Dada Movement drawings and paintings to more recent ceramic work, Beatrice Wood’s career is accomplished and varied. I particularly enjoy her later work, which includes extraordinary ceramics with magical glazes and forms. This exhibition surveys the range of her ceramics—from  miniature to large, from functional to fashionable, and from the vessel to figurative sculpture.


Hammer Museum – Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980  

This profound exhibit examines the legacy of L.A.’s African American artists, portraying works through some of the most recent volatile and meaningful movements that reflect African American identity and culture. I found this exhibit to be extremely compelling and poignant, as it highlights a determined network of African American artists who strongly influenced L.A.’s creative community during this period.







Other exhibits worth seeing include: In Words and Wood: Sam Maloof, Bob Stocksdale and Ed Moulthrop, Under The Black Sun, Edward Kienholz: Five Car Stud 1969 - 1972, Revisited

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