LA Art: Getting Better All The Time

Los Angeles is a city of image and imagination: a vast urban expanse filled with buildings and streets, yet relatively free of famous landmarks. There is neither an Eiffel Tower nor a Times Square, no Big Ben or Golden Gate Bridge to symbolize the complex essence of the city. Ironically, its recognizable landmarks such as the Hollywood sign, City Hall, Watts Towers–even Sleeping Beauty’s Castle at Disneyland–carry powerful connotations that transcend their association with Los Angeles.

The city lacks a concrete identity. Intangible and often transcendent qualities such as light, air, smog, and sunshine have come to define it. Despite its impressive environment, surrounded by mountains and perched at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the face of L.A. is virtually anonymous.

Every artist responds to the vagaries of the city in a unique way, but themes recur. For this show, the works were arranged into three conceptual and thematic groups: observation, imagination, and motion. Beginning with works in the observation category, I started the show off with a lithograph by David Hockney. Perhaps no other artist has defined our perception of 20th-century Los Angeles as much as this artist. Pool I, the work I chose to feature, is an aqueous blue print depicting the comer of a swimming pool. The diving board casts a narrow, abstract shadow into the pool’s depths as the water’s surface reflects a shimmer of patterned crosshatching. Hockney’s ability to take a simple subject and transform it into a meditation on space, place, and drawing–the crux of his work–is beautifully illustrated.

A meticulous untitled watercolor from 1986 by Peter Lodato and Helen Lundeberg’s Double View, an acrylic on canvas, were hung near the Hockney print Both are interior/exterior views and capture a quality of dreamy light and timeless atmosphere particular to Southern California. From different generations (Lodato is considered part of the 1960s Light and Space School, while Lundeberg is a Southern California arts pioneer who first received Continue reading…