Artist Betye Saar, an important part of the Black L.A. art movement in the 1970s, and one of Los Angeles’ modern art iconoclasts, watched Simon Rodia build the Watts Towers as a child. This experience went on to subconsciously influence her penchant for collecting as well as the detailed execution of her own art, even though she tried her hand at social work, graphic design, and enamel jewelry before she found her voice as one of America’s most important assemblage artists. On a recent visit, I learned Saar is someone who embodies the notion of speaking softly while carrying a big stick. She is a diminutive firebrand, beautiful and energetic despite her 89 years, ready with stories and recalling events as if they happened yesterday. Driving up to her Laurel Canyon studio, one experiences a lost era of Los Angeles, a neighborhood of midcentury, DIY architecture that once housed the city’s most creative minds. Saar’s plot is a small, hilly compound that includes a sprawling flower garden, as well as her home of 50 years, where she raised her three daughters: artists Lezley, Alison and writer Tracye. Once inside, if you are even remotely familiar with Saar’s work, you immediately recognize the spacious studio as if it were one of her installations: immaculate, color coded by project and shelved by theme. Read more.
A Constellation traces connections among twenty-six artists of African descent: eight who emerged in the mid- to late twentieth century, and who are represented in the exhibition by works from the Studio Museum’s permanent collection, and eighteen younger artists whose works are being shown at the Studio Museum for the first time. The works in the Museum’s collection serve as material and conceptual anchors exploring themes of the figure, formal abstraction, economy, African diasporic history and materiality. The newer works expand on these themes and prompt an intergenerational dialogue in visual space. The artists in the exhibition embrace a broad range of conceptual approaches. Some employ making as a form of politics, others explore how race and cultural production affect aesthetics, while still others combine these methods or create their own. Together the works function as a “constellation,” both as a metaphor for stars that form a pattern, and as a representation of a gathering of dynamic, kindred artists. As suggested by the title, the connections drawn here present just one possible combination among an infinite variety of configurations. A Constellation is organized by Amanda Hunt, Assistant Curator. Read more.
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“’Patriotic Humanitarian!’ That should be the title of the article!” James Hayward, outfitted in blue jeans and a white ten-gallon hat, leads us around the grounds of his Moorpark ranch. He has a six-shooter in his right hand and a lit joint dangling from his pursed lips. The ground below his shoes crunches and crumbles as he serves up his slice of the American Dream. Hayward—72 and tall, weathered like a cowboy, with sunlit eyes that have seen their fair share of “war stories” (according to his friend and fellow artist Ed Moses)—has been creating visual artwork since the third grade, but is mostly known for his extensive body of minimalist, abstract paintings. Exhibited at MOCA and LACMA as well as ICA in London, along with more than a dozen other galleries and museums, Hayward says, “[I want to] make something that is shareable. That your fellow human beings can maybe look at and instead of seeing war and being ashamed of their species, they can look at it and go, ‘my people made that. I’m part of that.’” For the complete article, please visit the following link.