Pacific Standard Time

October 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Richard Tuttle at the Getty opening (Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)

October 5, 2011

The first weekend of October in Los Angeles was the official beginning of Pacific Standard Time, a six-month long collaboration of more than 60 cultural institutions across Southern California coming together for the first time, through a multitude of simultaneous exhibitions and programs, to tell the story of the Los Angeles art scene from 1945-1980.  Collectors, museum professionals and art dealers from around the world traveled to LA, striving to get to as many of the VIP events, private collection tours and gallery receptions as they could.  With over 70 galleries in Los Angeles and several in New York also participating, the Gemini workshop in Los Angeles and our gallery in New York each mounted complimentary exhibitions focusing on the works made during or inspired by the Pacific Standard Time era.  These two exhibitions, titled Pacific Standard Editions, aspire to represent the time when the Gemini workshop and its artists burst onto the West Coast scene, making a rich and unique contribution to this burgeoning period in the history of art in Southern California.

On Saturday, October 1st, as a treat for special invited guests, Gemini opened the doors to its LA workshop and offered a glimpse of the tremendous effort that goes into edition-printing.  Visitors watched as Master Printers editioned the enormous Serra Double Level II etching, Ed Ruscha’s colorful Liberty lithograph and Julie Mehretu’s 12-panel masterpiece Auguries.  Notable among the many guests were Pacific Standard Time Chief Curator Andrew Perchuk, and former Gemini salesperson Lindsey Christensen, who returned to LA for the weekend festivities and to quickly visit the new Los Angeles art fair, Art Platform.

The following afternoon, Richard Tuttle landed at LAX, arriving on the new non-stop American Airlines flight from Santa Fe, carrying only a small canvas duffle.  He came to town to check in on the ceramic project he is producing at Gemini and to sign the exquisite new etching that will be released this Fall.  Sidney and I whisked Tuttle away to Maxfield, fashion central for Hollywood and the music business, so he could buy something for the Pacific Standard Time festivities at the Getty Museum that evening.  With Tuttle dressed in a stunning new bright-green corduroy Balmain shirt, off the three of us headed to the hilltop Getty in Brentwood for the opening of Crosscurrents in L.A.: Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, where hundreds of LA artists, collectors, artworld luminaries and out-of-town visitors gathered at the gala reception.

Tuttle spent the following two days at Gemini, signing, numbering and hand-writing the title at the bottom of each impression of his new etching For John Altoon.  To each impression he also added a curled pencil mark, unique to each sheet.  The mark starts within the boundaries of the image, just above the signature, and, with drama and energy, spirals out to the margin of the paper.  Tuttle also resolved the framing of his six new ceramic series, each of which is uniquely formed out of red earthenware clay.  All are individually slip decorated, with the exception of the sixth series, which was finished with a yellow glaze.  In three of the six “editions” – actually series of unique works – wires, copper and other materials are added to the surfaces.

John Baldessari and Christopher Knight (Photograph by Sidney B. Felsen © 2011)

On his last evening in Los Angeles, Tuttle accompanied Sidney and me to a conversation between John Baldessari and Christopher Knight, held in the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum.  We were also joined by Kalyn and Sidney’s assistant, Kate Guillen.  Christopher Knight, Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist and long-time writer for the Los Angeles Times, began the evening by showing the promotional film created for Pacific Standard Time.  The witty video features actor Jason Schwartzman being pursued by the voice and oversized head of Baldessari, who encourages Schwartzman not to be intimidated by fine art.  It was a fun and engaging way to warm up the audience for the provocative and lively discussion that ensued.  Knight began the conversation by asking Baldessari about his early days in National City, California, and Baldessari was very revealing in the personal and creative journey that after many years brought him the international acclaim that he enjoys today.  He spoke of how he learned “more about painting from [ceramist] Peter Voulkos than anybody else,” and recalled meeting Paul Brach at University of California at San Diego in 1967.  Two years later, Brach became the founding dean at Cal Arts, and recruited Baldessari to come teach at the school, where he met Nam June Paik, Alan Kaprow and many other artists whose work and careers impacted Baldessari.  The evening was filled with informative dialogue on the mechanical process of Baldessari’s artmaking as well as the philosophical approach to the “what is art” question that artists ever since Duchamp have been exploring.

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