January 12, 2012 | 1:01
For the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 2012 means another year and another major new attraction.
Officials announced Thursday that a permanent exhibit tentatively called “Becoming Los Angeles,” the next phase of the $135-million “NHM Next” campaign that began in 2007, will open in December, adding 14,000 square feet of galleries documenting the region’s ecology and human history and how they intertwine.
The makeover will culminate in 2013, the museum's 100th anniversary year, with its first permanent outdoor exhibit, a 3.5-acre "urban wilderness" focused on the region's biodiversity, and the reopening of the special exhibitions hall that's been closed since 2006. The first attraction there, in June 2013, will be "Traveling the Silk Road: Ancient Pathway to the Modern World," a touring show about the famed trading route between Baghdad and China that debuted in 2009 at New York's American Museum of Natural History.
December 23, 2011 | 10:56
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 latest report.
Most Pacific Standard Time exhibitions offer a mix of artworks and documentation — such is the nature of a project with such a historical mission. But this approach sometimes makes the art look like a mere illustration of the history. It’s difficult to strike the proper balance between art that appeals to us on aesthetic terms, and history that seeks to tell stories or provide a broader context. Two PST shows, “Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles” and “The Experimental Impulse” at REDCAT don’t even try. The former is an exhibition of art; the latter features only documentation. As it turns out, both approaches work rather well, although they do require a bit of prior knowledge to fully appreciate the results.
“Artistic Evolution” is a small show in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum, which before 1965 was the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art. As Christopher Knight discussed in his review, it’s smartly and economically curated with succinct, informative wall texts and some early gems by artists who later went on to prominence. Despite the show’s historical focus, it puts the art first, a move that feels surprisingly appropriate amid halls of prehistoric skeletons.
October 27, 2011 | 12:13
If there were a prize for Most Artful Title in Pacific Standard Time, the big Getty-funded series of more than 60 art museum exhibitions that has been unfolding around the region in recent weeks, a very small but fine show at the Natural History Museum in Exposition Park would be a major contender. On the mezzanine of the rotunda between the museum's Hall of Dinosaurs and its Hall of Mammals, "Artistic Evolution" looks sideways at creationism -- not the kind undertaken by science-deniers armed with sacred texts but by artists equipped with paintbrushes and curiosity.
The show's full title is "Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1945-1963." The dates bracket the end of World War II and the founding of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Boulevard, when art got its own civic museum. As if to underscore the title's sly incongruity, it opens with a fine charcoal, ink and red-chalk drawing of an animal skull by Howard Warshaw (1920-1977), its bleached cranium laid out for examination on a russet-colored surface.
The skull points back toward the dinosaur bones on one side of the rotunda and forward to the taxidermy mammals on the other. (Warshaw's drawing shows a domestic cat.) The drawing's style, circa 1946, crosses realism with Cubism, its organic forms carving out voids that simultaneously swell into ambiguous solids. The deathly subject echoes with the wartime carnage just concluded, while hinting of the nuclear-shrouded future that had just arrived.
Warshaw's drawing was shown in a 1947 exhibition at the NHM, back when it was the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, the first dedicated museum building in the city and effectively the only institutional art-game in town. These 22 artists weren't at it 65 million years ago, unlike the nearby T. rex, but sometimes it can seem that way. The overwhelming emphasis in Pacific Standard Time so far has been on painting, sculpture, printmaking and installations made in the 1960s and 1970s, when L.A. first became a national player in the art scene, while the late 1940s and the 1950s have gotten short shrift. This little show's focus is a delightful exception.
August 25, 2011 | 10:31
It's one thing to read that the intelligent, eloquent and generally fearless artist June Wayne, who died this week at age 93, was a hub figure in the growing L.A. art scene of last century. It's another to see her deeply textured and spirited work, from lithography to tapestry, for yourself.
Local museum-goers will have the chance to do so this October when the museum behemoth Pacific Standard Time, meant to celebrate the birth of the Southern California art scene, kicks into high gear. Culture Monster has confirmed that these five Pacific Standard Time shows will include Wayne's work in one form or another.
"Proof: The Rise of Printmaking in Southern California" at the Norton Simon Museum. Opens Oct. 1.
"Doin' It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman's Building" at the Ben Maltz Gallery of the Otis College of Art and Design. Opens Oct. 1.
"Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, 1945-1963" at the Natural History Museum. Opens Oct. 2.
"Civic Virtue: The Impact of the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and the Watts Towers Arts Center" at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Opens Dec. 15.
"L.A. Raw: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles, 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy" at the Pasadena Museum of California Art. Opens Jan. 22.
— Jori Finkel
June Wayne dies at 93; led revival of fine-art printmaking
Her mellow? Not a chance
Photo: Times image of June Wayne in her Hollywood studio, 1989.