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Archive for the ‘Exhibitions’ Category

In May, I ventured to Gallery 1988 (of Damon, Carlton and a Polar Bear fame) to see a new, mysterious show by graphic artist Olly Moss.  The theme and media for the gallery opening were kept tightly under wraps, but I was game for a new show so I met up with my friend, Amy, and stood in line for whatever might be unveiled.

Moss is known for his bold, simple graphics and illustrations for all manner of pop culture clientele, so I assumed I’d see more of the same…

…but that’s when my mind was blown.  😉

Amy and I were waiting in line for a while and so we didn’t get a glimpse at the show inside until we were almost near the front door.  I took a peek over people’s heads to see row after row of what appeared to be those old-timey papercut silhouettes…the kind your grandmother took you to get at Knott’s Berry Farm when you were 8 (OK, that’s my own memory).

Hmmm…strange, I thought.

But as I looked closer, the first papercut I could sort of make out looked vaguely like…Mary Poppins?   And then when I got a bit closer, I spied another that looked a tad like…Pee Wee Herman?… And then the smile grew wide on my face.

The entire show was an ode to pop culture in the form of papercut.  Frame after frame was a loving little homage to each of our favorite characters from the past:  The Dude, Willy Wonka, Mr. Miyagi, all of the characters from The Breakfast Club.  It went on and on.

Every person in that space had the look of childlike delight.  Such a simple concept that brought out the joy in every person who attended.  And the added fun was trying to figure out exactly who was represented in each papercut…it was sort of a game that encouraged everyone to interact, guess and ask questions of one another.  Real. Human. Interaction.  There was even a “Where’s Waldo” piece that was “missing” and you had to find Waldo somewhere hidden in the gallery.  It was so enchanting – as art and as experience.

This speaks to the incredible power in a simple, elegant concept that has ties to our happy memories.  Charm, with a bit of humor, wins every time.

Here’s a video about the show from Threadless:

And click here for a link to Olly’s own blog post about the show.

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Today is a very special day (and not only because it’s my birthday!).  😉

January is Los Angeles Arts Month, and today is the kick off complete with an official opening today at the Music Center Plaza downtown.  The celebration is open to the public and will include performances from Cirque du Soleil and Los Lobos, so if you’re downtown from noon to 1:30 today, check it out!

Here’s more information about the event:

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2010/12/cirque-du-soleil-to-perform-at-music-center-for-opening-of-la-arts-month.html

And here’s the website for ExperienceLA so you can plan the next few weeks of exciting LA experiences:

http://www.experiencela.com/

Pick something fun that you’ve never done before and take a friend – you’ll never regret having a new adventure.

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I’ve been meaning to write my “magnum opus” review about a new destination that opened a few blocks from my place, so that’s to come shortly.  In the meantime, I saw this quick little article about the importance of scale models in exhibition design (which gave me flashbacks to my exhibition design course and my behind-the-scenes tour of the Getty!). 

Click HERE for the article from the San Francisco Chronicle

So, to all aspiring experience designers: become solid model makers and hone your visual presentation skills.  These are the things that best communicate your ideas to the powers-that-be… from donors to curators to clients.

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See you soon with my review.  Until then, happy April!

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Happy Weekend, Experience Design Fans!

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For the complete article about the making of the video on Billboard.com, click HERE

And for Syyn Labs, click HERE 

And click HERE for a great article about Mindshare LA, which partners with Syyn Labs.

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I’ll be checking in with a recap and review of the Olympics Opening Ceremony soon, but in the meantime I thought I’d share a couple of recent articles with you.

First, Randy Kennedy of the New York Times wrote an article about Jerome Neuner, director of MoMA’s department of exhibition design and production.  As I learned from taking a wonderful course in Experience Design with Merritt Price, the design manager at the Getty Museum, not many museums have an exhibition design department –  it’s quite a luxury to have a staff that’s dedicated solely to the design and production of a museum’s shows.  This article gives a nice little sneak peek behind the scenes at just such a department:

Click Here:  NY Times – Invisible Hand in MoMA Shows

Second, my friend Robb Thornsberry of Infinity Events recently produced the world premiere of 3-D Imax surf film The Ultimate Wave Tahiti at the California Science Center, and – lucky for me – he asked me to come and co-manage the event.  (Lots and lots of very cute surfers make for a good night!)   As usual, Robb did a stellar job with production and design, and he was rewarded with a write-up in BizBash complete with some great photos of the event.  I’m crossing my fingers it leads to a cover! 

Click Here:  Bizbash – 3D Surf Film Premieres

So that’s the scoop for now.  Until next time, Mahalo!

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As mentioned in my last post, I’ve been neglecting poor dandee a bit due to a crazy schedule.  But I’m here to report back on my visit to LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions) to see their recent exhibition, I Feel Different – a multi-media show organized by guest curator Jennifer Doyle, which sought to explore both “the experience of feeling different from others and the transformational power of art to make one feel differently.”

Before I get to the show, let me say that I have never been to LACE before, and just heard about the show while looking for something interesting to do.  When I saw the theme of the show, it seemed to speak to me so I decided to check it out.  I am certainly not an art expert, so the descriptions of the art are based solely on my own gut reactions.  The real reason I went to see the exhibit was to see how such an exhibition would be set up, and if – despite being a small show in a small space – there were indeed signs of experience design present.

LACE is a mid-sized space on Hollywood Boulevard with a few rooms and typical white gallery walls.  The front of the gallery has a reception desk, a small open bookstore area, and a few colorful murals all set around a large curtain that one must pass through to get to the first gallery space.  On the day I attended, there were two shows:  I Feel Different and Mark Tribe: Port Huron Project. 

Upon passing through the curtains, the first space was tranformed into a darkened room with two off-set video screens and a few round seats to show the Port Huron Project – a two-channel video installation showing reenactments of protest speeches by Angela Davis, Stokely Carmichael and Cesar Chavez during the Vietnam era.  The striking thing about this piece is that one screen showed the actor giving the speech surrounded by a crowd, but the other screen showed a only section of the crowd farther back and detached from the speaker.  This second screen and the way the video was shot made me feel as if I was actually in the crowd, because as anyone in a crowd knows, you’re not always necessarily paying attention to the speaker – you’re noticing the guy next to you fidgeting with his camera, or the girl leaning over to talk to her friend, or the film crew pulling up to shoot the event.    The round seats in the space reminded me both of stone seats in a park and of people dotting the scene. As such, the piece (and the space in which it was set) grabbed me by not only reenacting the speech, but by reenacting the experience around the speech which made it all the more tangible.

Beyond the first space, and through another set of curtains, was the main exhibition, I Feel Different.  As I walked in, I realized that it was basically contained in one room with about eight pieces or groupings, as well as two additional pieces down the hall.  A rather small show, but a nice manageable exhibit to analyze for my purposes. 

As I walked in, the most striking piece was a group of mixed-media portraits, Tragic Mulattos, by Lezley Saar.  The collection – which was created with paint, fabric, beading, wood, lace and other adornments – made me feel as if I was in an old home looking at a wall of family history, and one that became a shrine to that history of folksy, spiritual, slightly freakish otherness.

Looking around the rest of the room, I heard sounds from several of the other pieces (as well as an installation down the hall), but couldn’t see why.  By walking in and around the space, it was revealed that the fronts of these pieces were behind walls or facing away from the entrance – having the effect of both drawing me into the room and of reinforcing the feeling of separation and isolation (and of turning one’s back on life) offered by the show.

As an example, to the left of Saar’s collection was a wall of three prints depicting twisters by Susan Silton, and separated by a small, temporary wall  was a fourth piece by Silton – a silent video entitled twisted, which seemed to be showing various lone people rocking in the cold to keep warm.  The choice of putting the small video monitor behind the temporary wall was brilliant in that it highlighted the feeling of “other” and the shame and isolation associated with it. 

To the right of Saar’s assemblage was an installation, History of the Luiseno People:  La Jolla Reservation, Christmas, 1990, which I believe had originally been a performance piece by artist James Luna.  In this instance, performance had been exchanged for a video reenactment.  Beneath a wall of striped colors – perhaps tribal colors – was a single armchair strewn with cans of beer, a tabloid magazine, string lights and other debris across from a coffee table with a small christmas tree and a television.  The television played video of a man – presumably the one who sits in the chair – talking to a relative on Christmas as he stays home alone.  The piece required me to walk around it to see all of the elements surrounding it, and to view the video which is facing the chair, not the viewer. 

Looking up from Luna’s work, another work (entitled Neopolitan by Nao Bustamante) which had its back to me upon entrance becomes fully visable.  It’s a rather strange pillar of knit yarn covering a monitor, which features a single woman crying with her remote control as she watches television.  Above the monitor is an assemblage of house plants on top of which is a black crow wearing what appears to be a grandmotherly hat.  When I first walked in the room, I had no idea what this piece was, but upon walking around to see the woman on the screen, it struck me that this piece was about the loneliness of a single woman – perhaps one that stayed home with her television every night and knit herself into this monsterous prison of isolation.  The crow reminds me of Poe’s Raven, sitting above the woman as a stark reminder of the loss of the possibility of love as she descends into further reclusion. 

Additional pieces in the room, as well as two more video pieces down the hall, all highlighted separation and loneliness in a striking way.  This was the most successful part of the exhibition to me, as the other intention – to explore the power of art to make one feel differently – wasn’t as successful.  I seemed to take on a clinical, observer’s role when viewing the show, and I didn’t find the that the pieces moved me especially, other than to elicit a general sense of melancholy that exuded from the pieces.  Certainly, art does have the power to wrench emotion from us, especially in the form of film and music, but I’m not sure that these sorts of pieces would be especially transformative to a viewer in the moment.  They are, instead, much quieter pieces that ask the viewer to meditate on feeling separate from everyone and everything around you.  And I give credit to the curator and to those that set the show in that, with a few simple things such as placement, spacing and relationship, the design of the show supported the art and created something much more meaningful.

Forgive my sucky photos and video…for better photos, check out the exhibition website by clicking here.   😉

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Feelings, nothing more than…feelings.  OK, does anyone else hate that song as much as I do?  Not only is it shiveringly bad, but it always reminds me of the episode of the Carol Burnett Show when Eunice goes on the Gong Show and bombs.  Ugh!


Don’t worry – this post is not about that song…or the Gong Show.  But it is about feelings.  (By the way, I feel feisty!)

I was perusing some current exhibitions, and saw that LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Galleries) is presenting a show entitled I Feel Different, which explores the “experience of feeling different from others” as well as how art can alter the observer’s feelings.  As part of this exbibit, LACE is presenting a talk tomorrow night (January 14th) with the show’s curator, Jennifer Doyle, and one of the artists, Lezley Saar, as they discuss the exhibition and how Saar’s work relates to the show as a whole.  I plan on attending and will report back on the art, the talk and, of course, the design of the exhibition.  If you’re feeling up to it, perhaps I’ll see you there?

And as I linger on feelings, I might as well share with you an intriguing website, which I learned about at a recent 5D lecture at the Hammer Museum.  Amber Case, Cyborg Anthropologist (yes, there is such a thing…and as I learned, we are the cyborgs!), incorporated the website www.wefeelfine.org into her talk and noted how the site’s creators designed a program to extract the feelings of our collective society through something as simple as blog posts.  Their program crawls the web and looks for instances of the words “I feel” or “I am feeling”, pulls the data and then – in a beautiful and rather elegant way – distills the information to determine the emotional climate of our society and it’s smaller components while also honing in on individual experiences via the anonymous blog quotes.  Not only is it an interesting tool, but the the site’s use of color, shape, and simple yet engaging user experience make for a great little online adventure – sort of an emotional scavenger hunt.  The creators recently published a book that includes their findings and many of the statements pulled from the ether into an equally beautiful book, but check out the interactive online version of the site and see what pops up.   I feel you may enjoy it. 

By the way, does anyone else think that “Amber Case: Cyborg Anthropologist” is a crazy good name?! 

Anyway, it’s gloomy outside and I feel like going back to bed.  But – even more so – I feel the need to get paid, so off I go to work! 

I’ll report back on the exhibition this weekend, and in the meantime, feel good!

Photo Credit:  Kevin Labianco via Flickr

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