I’m just a tad embarrassed to say that until about two weeks ago when fellow columnist Charles Andrews and I attended an arts luncheon, I had never been to the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University, nor to the Pepperdine campus itself. Wow, what a revelation. Lucky kids who get to go there!
Weisman and his ex-wife Marcia, whose brother was the namesake of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, were prolific art collectors. What’s so odd is that I kept thinking it’s a still-new museum and that I’d get up there soon – but decades passed and somehow I never visited.
Well, there’s a good excuse for all of you to go, coming up at the end of August, and should be a real lollapalooza of a show. It’s so big, it will spill over into the Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery at the Santa Monica College Center for the Performing Arts.
“Pop! 50 Years of Art & Popular Culture” will feature some of the most renowned names of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s, perhaps best epitomized by Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can paintings.
FOUNDING FATHERS, NEXT GEN
Some of the founding fathers (sorry, but they were mostly men) whose work will be exhibited include Claes Oldenburg, best known for his giant public art installations (co-created with wife, Coosje van Bruggen) featuring soft-sculpted pieces representing everyday objects. Take a walk past the Google campus (formerly Chiat/Day) in Venice and you’ll see Oldenburg’s almost two-story-high binoculars.
James Rosenquist, like Warhol, took inspiration from contemporary commercial and consumer culture; he was influenced by his work as a sign and billboard painter. He’d use fragments of ads and other cultural imagery, adding a touch of the surreal to his works.
More than 50 pieces, all of them from the Weisman collection, will include vintage and historical works as well as next-generation artists inspired by Pop Art, including Richard Artschwager, Keith Haring and Yayoi Kusama, who’ve taken the form to new levels.
Haring’s work was graffiti inspired; Artschwager used Formica and created 3-D furniture and wall sculptures, and Yayoi Kusama’s polka-dotted pumpkins will surely bring the fans who (like me) fell in love with her work at The Broad Museum downtown.\
Pop! will open on August 28 and run through December 2; on September 9, from 2 to 4 pm, there’s a reception, the public is invited, no charge for admission. Located on Pepperdine’s main campus at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, CA, the museum is open Tuesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Call (310) 506-4851 or visit: arts.pepperdine.edu/museum
THE BERGAMOT CONNECTION
It turns out that Michael Zakian was sitting at my table at the press luncheon. He’s been the Weisman Museum’s director for more than two decades and has overseen some seriously big-name shows, including the aforementioned Andy Warhol, Dale Chihuly’s glass art, Chuck Close, known for his representational portraits composed of tiny pixelated elements that create a vibrating whole, and local hero, Larry Bell, perhaps best known for mystical glass cubes.
And, as it happens, Michael’s married to Lia Skidmore, of Skidmore Gallery at Bergamot Art Station, which has a really interesting show up right now, one I visited during the recent Bergamot Summer Celebration.
It ends this weekend (Aug. 4), so get there quickly. Isabel Emrich, a tall, willowy and eccentrically fashionable artist, has a series of paintings of women’s faces, fully immersed or partially underwater.
She really gets those watery elements. Close up you see painted strokes, but as you stand back, these paintings look almost representational and simultaneously fantastic. Worth your time.
As is the work of Maxine Smith, whose depictions of ladies (and some men) run the gamut from 20s Flapper Girl, to a moderne version of a white swim-suited woman, to a fur-laden lady who looks like she might just have stepped off of Ellis Island. Her works are influenced by German Expressionism and the wondrous long-necked portraits made by Modigliani, both familiar and strange.
I bought a last-minute ticket for a really wonderful event last Wednesday – a “silent” concert on the beach performed by pianist/composer Murray Hidari, a Burning Man regular.
The evening begins before twilight falls, in this beach setting demarcated with giant white balloons, outsized candelabras, a white blossoming tree, a small stage with a grand piano. Following a lovely group meditation, with the marine mist rolling in, the blue lights of the headphones glowing, the hotels on the boardwalk lighting up, the amazing light show on the Pier with the rollercoaster’s ribbon of rainbow colors and the ever-changing patterns on the Ferris Wheel, this was simply one of the most transporting experiences I’ve ever attended.
Find out all about upcoming concerts and events in our area and elsewhere (there’s one coming to the Fowler Museum at UCLA this month) at www.MindTravel.com. Check out the video of the recent beach concert. Highly recommended!
Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, now retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.