September 16, 2019 at 9:04 am PDT | by Scott Stiffler
Gear up for fall arts at LA’s vanguard venues

Installation view of “Sadie Barnette: The New Eagle Creek Saloon.” (Photo by Robert Divers Herrick)

As the seasons change, Los Angeles cultural institutions remain steadfast in their commitment to challenge, inspire, and stimulate. Anticipating what fall has to offer, the Blade recently spoke with reps from some of the area’s most iconic destinations about current and upcoming offerings that speak to the heart of our community, and the soul of their mission.

The Marciano Art Foundation | This contemporary art space in the heart of Los Angeles contains a collection representing well-established, mid-career, and emerging artists, predominantly from the 1990s to present. The Foundation, they note, was “built by a family whose passion and dedication to the arts initiates special projects by artists working in all areas of artistic production, in order to encourage curiosity and contemplation of art and the ways it impacts and enriches our lives.”

Senior Creative Director Olivia Marciano says the MAF offers “a welcoming, inclusive environment for all. As part of our ongoing mission, we work to embody this fully.” Throughout the fall, they’re hosting Donna Huanca’s solo exhibition, “Obsidian Ladder,” which Marciano describes as “a femme intervention in a formerly male-dominated space of the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple.” Painted femme models will inhabit the environment every Saturday, asserting, says Marciano, “their freedom against the power structures and hierarchies in our society.”

Of further interest to LGBTQs, Sept. 28 sees a work produced alongside REACH LA. “The Awt (say it out loud) of Measuring Resilience” is an afternoon of visual and performance demonstrations representing REACH LA’s 25-year history of serving queer youth of color, as well as its current activities in the house and ballroom community (as facilitated by Sean/Milan Garcon).

The Marciano Art Foundation is located at 4357 Wilshire Boulevard. Call 424-204-7555 or visit marcianoartfoundation.org.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens | This treasured triple threat offers gardens, galleries, and hundreds of rare materials in the Library Exhibition Hall, along with programming that includes public lectures and botanical workshops. On view as of Sept. 21, “Nineteen Nineteen” celebrates The Huntington’s centennial, via 275 objects from their vast collection. (Vast is an understatement—the institution has some 11 million items.)

Interim Chief Curator of American Art James Glisson, who created the exhibition with Curator of Photography and Visual Culture Jennifer A. Watts, recalls that rather than an overview of their last 100 years, “We decided we would just tell the story of the year of our founding.”

Everything on display was copyrighted, edited, or exhibited in 1919. In doing that, Glisson says, “We found a variety of materials that will surprise people familiar with The Huntington,” including a 39-foot-long map of the LA street car line.

“What this shows,” says Glisson, “is that 1919 was a tumultuous year” in which The Huntington was founded against the backdrop of extraordinary global changes. “Keep in mind, back in Europe, the Treaty of Versailles was negotiated, and an entire new world order was being formed. Locally here in LA, there was a streetcar strike in August. Nationally, the summer of 1919 is called the ‘Red Summer,’ because of the extraordinary violence against returning African-American soldiers.”

Glisson says LGBTQ visitors will find their community represented by materials on modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis, books hand-printed by Virginia Woolf, and suffragist material about women, and the passage of the 19th Amendment that year.

The Huntington is located at 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. General admission includes all exhibitions, galleries, and gardens. Call 626-405-2140 or visit Huntington.org.

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles | Founded in 1984 as the Santa Monica Museum of Art and reestablished in 2017 with a new identity, ICA LA prides itself in being “an epicenter of artistic experimentation and incubator of new ideas.”

Opening Sept. 29, “No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake” is the largest survey show of the artist, says ICA LA Deputy Director Samuel Vasquez. It also marks their first solo institutional presentation in Los Angeles.

“Not only is Nayland an artist,” says Vasquez, “but also an educator and a mentor—a very important figure in the art community, given the wide range of work.” Blake is, notes Vasquez, “a queer-identified, non-binary individual, and a lot of the work deals with issues of representation [Blake is biracial; African American and white].” Identity is a theme that comes up, says Vasquez, “because Nayland is what would be considered ‘passing,’ because they have a ‘white’ appearance. But the general theme is this notion of ‘play.’ There are a lot of objects such as bunnies, references to S&M culture, and the punk culture.”

Particular focus, press materials note, “will be paid to work produced while Blake lived on the West Coast, first in the greater Los Angeles area as a graduate student at CalArts, followed by a decade in San Francisco—years bookended by the advancement of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and the ‘culture wars’ of the 1990s.”

Also at ICA LA, through Jan. 26, 2020, is “Sadie Barnette: The New Eagle Creek Saloon.” Barnette, a Bay Area-based artist, has crafted, says Vasquez, “this incredibly colorful, vibrant installation that is a homage to her father’s bar, which was the first black-owned gay bar in San Francisco.” (Rodney Barnette was founder of the Compton, CA chapter of the Black Panther Party. His bar was in operation from 1990-1993.)

The installation’s title, notes Vasquez, “is the name of the bar, and it’s an actual bar that is activated through performances, programming, and talks, as an homage to what her father created—a safe space for the community.”

Vasquez says these two offerings speak to what has been “in our DNA since we were the Santa Monica Museum of Art. And going beyond the LGBT community, we’re a space for all communities, regardless of class, social position, or identity.” ICA LA, he adds, creates that safe space by “hiring staff not only from diverse backgrounds, but from a wide range of representation. When you come in, you are greeted by, maybe, someone who is non-binary or identifies as queer.”

ICA LA is located at 1717 E. 7th St. Admission is free. Call 213-928-0833 or visit theicala.org.

The Hammer Museum | The Hammer believes in, they note, “the promise of art and ideas to illuminate our lives and build a more just world.” They’re currently expanding on their commitment to that notion—literally. A multiyear construction project is taking place, which will see 40,000 square feet of newly acquired space, along with the renovation of their current facility. Throughout, the Hammer remains open to the public.

Case in point: Opening Sept. 29 is the comprehensive retrospective “Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence.” As both painter and social critic, Pittman has been, Museum press material notes, “a strong presence in both the international sphere and the LA art community.” This retrospective takes visitors from the early days of collage and decoration, to iconic 1990s paintings that reference the AIDS crisis and culture wars of the 1990s, to more recent works.

“In addition to being an extraordinary painter, Lari has been an important figure in the Los Angeles art community for the past four decades as both artist and teacher. He has influenced generations of artists as a professor in UCLA’s art department, and is part of a generation of artists who emerged internationally in the 1990s,” says Hammer Director Ann Philbin. “His paintings confront history, politics, violence, and sexuality in a highly aestheticized manner that is both exquisitely painted and deeply responsive to the issues of our time.”

The Hammer Museum is at the corner of Westwood and Wilshire boulevards in Westwood Village, three blocks east of the 405 Freeway’s Wilshire exit. Admission is free. Call 310-443-7000 or visit hammer.ucla.edu.

ALSO OF NOTE

Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust | This “primary source institution” commemorates those who perished, honors those who survived, and houses the precious artifacts that miraculously weathered the Holocaust. Free Holocaust education to students and visitors are among its offerings, as part of a mission to “build a more respectful, dignified, and humane world.” Through Oct. 22, “Women at the Frontline of Mass Violence Worldwide” is a traveling exhibit that gives voice to female survivors of mass violence and genocide, via portraits and excerpts of testimony from, among others, Roma female survivors of the Porajmos (the genocide against the Roma during World War II) and indigenous women from Guatemala, victims of the internal armed conflict in the 1980s. The exhibit is presented in English and Spanish. Located at 100 S. The Grove Dr. Call 323-651-3704 or visit lamoth.org.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art | With LACMA construction taking place, original collection galleries are closed, BCAM and Resnick Pavilion feature art from the collection in ongoing exhibitions. A new building for the permanent collection—the David Geffen Galleries—opens in 2024. Upcoming offerings include the Sept. 22 debut of “Thomas Joshua Cooper: The World’s Edge,” featuring 65 large-scale and 75 8 x 10 black and white photographs showcasing Cooper’s “The Atlas of Emptiness and Extremity, The World’s Edge, the Atlantic Basin Project,” a charting of chart the Atlantic Basin from the extreme points of each north, south, east, and west coordinate. “For him,” the LACMA website notes, “each place is a point of departure allowing contemplation of the ocean’s emptiness beyond the extreme points of the land.” Located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd. Call 323-857-6000 or visit lacma.org.

The Broad | A major survey by groundbreaking artist Shirin Neshat opens on Oct. 19. “I Will Greet the Sun Again” spans roughly three decades of creative output, which, they note, “engages with Iranian history, the experience of living in exile, and the human impact of political revolution.” “Greet” also includes the global debut of “Land of Dreams,” a feature-length film addressing social injustice and major cultural changes in America. Located at 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles. More info at thebroad.org.

The J. Paul Getty Museum | The Museum collects, presents, conserves, and interprets great works of art. Its collection of more than 120,000 separate objects inspires curiosity about—and enjoyment and understanding of—the visual arts, among audiences of all ages.

On view through Nov. 10, says Head of Public Affairs John Giurini, “is our major exhibition, “Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story.” Parks (1912-2006) was, notes Giurini, “an African American photographer who was very active in the 1960s, and this particular series, he did on assignment from Life magazine, to do a photo essay on poverty in Brazil.” A young boy by the name of Flávio da Silva became a subject of focus, with Parks returning to Brazil multiple times, to document Flávio’s life. “It shows,” says Giurini, “how a photographer interacts with a subject, and they develop a relationship, a bond.” The exhibition is accompanied by another called “Once. Again. Photographs in Series,” which, Giurini notes, “looks at how photographers, over the years, revisit the same subject” to observe change.

Giurini says photography allows the Getty to address present day concerns, via a medium still in its infancy when compared to the majority of their collection, which is “very defined by Western European works prior to 1900,” in which LGBTQ subject matter is rarely overtly addressed.

An exhibition premiering on Dec. 17 promises diversity in content and theme, as “Unseen: 35 Years of Collecting Photographs” looks at photography accumulated (and still being acquired) by the Getty. “Within that,” says Giurini, “there will be artists who are LGBT. It will show the way we’ve worked hard to develop a very diverse body of artists and work… Photography, particularly because it brings us into the present day, allows us the freedom to expand and grow—and our curators do ask the question, ‘How do we present it [the rest of the collection] in a way that allows us to explore different topics and subject matters?’ ”

The J. Paul Getty Museum is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles. Admission is free. Call 310-440-7300 or visit getty.edu.

Lari Pittman, “Untitled #8 (The Dining Room),” 2005. Cel-Vinyl, acrylic, and alkyd on gessoed canvas over wood. 86 × 102 in. (218.4 × 259.1 cm). From “Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence,” opening Oct. 29 at the Hammer Museum. (Collection of Christen Sveaas. © Lari Pittman, courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles)

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