PST, A to Z: One person's quest to see it all
Pacific Standard Time will explore the origins of the Los Angeles art world through museum exhibitions throughout Southern California over the next six months. Times art reviewer Sharon Mizota has set the goal of seeing all of them. This is her first report.
If you’re wondering why the words “Pacific Standard Time” seem to be everywhere at local museums and galleries, it’s because a slew of exhibitions on Southern California art history, funded by the Getty under that name, will open over the next few months and continue into the spring.
Spanning 1945 to 1980, the 60-something shows range from large museum surveys to more focused explorations of lesser-known artists and movements. From Santa Barbara to San Diego, Santa Monica to Palm Springs, the initiative will probably seem even bigger as countless galleries mount satellite shows, revealing the history of art in L.A. to be as sprawling as the city itself and as rich.
For the next three months, I intend to see every PST show listed on the project’s website (http://pacificstandardtime.org) — there are 52 of them opening between now and December. I’ll be writing regularly about my adventures for Culture Monster.
It may be a foolhardy endeavor, but I hope to augment the L.A. Times' more in-depth features and reviews with additional insights and perhaps draw unanticipated connections.
Large surveys at the Getty Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art are obvious draws, but I’m particularly interested in the nooks and crannies that seldom make it into art history surveys. Some PST exhibitions explore ceramic art, political posters, experimental film and early performance art as well as the ways in which divisions of gender, race and sexual orientation have shaped artistic communities and practices.
I’m hopeful that Pacific Standard Time will not only provide L.A. art with the sense of history it deserves but will give some marginalized groups and movements their art historical due. Its wide-ranging approach seems less about anointing masters and masterpieces than about exploring and understanding many types of art making and points of view. This makes sense for a city whose most definitive feature is that it’s nearly impossible to define.
When I arrived in L.A. from the Bay Area five years ago, it took me awhile to grasp the depth of this multiplicity. Now I’m looking forward to learning about Beatrice Wood as well as Los Angeles’ role in the Mexican avant-garde and the connections between activism and art in African American communities in South L.A.
I’ll start my PST travels next week with three very different shows at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. “ASCO: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987” makes insiders of the conceptual art collective that once tagged the outside of LACMA’s building to protest the exclusion of Chicano art. “Maria Nordman ‘Film Room: Smoke,’ 1967-Present” is an installation of an unscripted, 1967 film shot on a Malibu beach. And finally, LACMA is staging Ed Kienholz’s immersive installation “Five Car Stud.” Created between 1969 and 1972, it was the last work Kienholz made while living in L.A. and remarkably, this is the first time it will be publicly exhibited in the U.S.
I hope you’ll check in from time to time and share your thoughts and reactions too.
— Sharon Mizota
Above: "Instant Mural," 1974, Asco. Performance documentation, color photograph (left to right: Gronk and Patssi Valdez ). The work appears in LACMA's Pacific Standard Time exhibition "ASCO: Elite of the Obscure, A Retrospective, 1972-1987." Credit: From Harry Gamboa Jr.