So my first stop on my whirlwind self-guided art walk in downtown Los Angeles (I was way too ambitious for a four-hour window — DTLA is huge!) was the wondrous sculpture “L.A. Prime Matter” (1991) at the corner of Wilshire and Figueroa. It’s by Eric Orr (1939-1988), a seminal figure in the Light & Space Movement, and I first heard about the work from Orr expert John Reyes at Bentley Gallery in conjunction with a review I was writing. The fire feature of the sculpture — which licks at the mist surrounding two 32-foot-high bronze towers — can be seen for a few minutes at the top of every hour. The sculpture is officially on private, office-tower property, so I obeyed the security guard’s order that I stand as far off the property as possible to shoot video. I was a little miffed that passersby didn’t join me in admiring “L.A. Prime Matter.” Are Los Angelenos a bit jaded about public art?
Well, there’s plenty of it, as I discovered as I headed up Bunker Hill and onward to the Museum of Contemporary Art on Grand Avenue. I was able to identify all the pieces that I’m using in my slideshow (below) through the help of a site maintained by the USC Libraries.
My main museum stop was at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, where an unforgettable show by William Pope.L is on view until June 28, 2015. It’s called “Trinket,” perhaps because that word seems like the exact opposite of the exhibition’s largest installation, a 45-foot-long American flag with 51 stars that is being ferociously blown by industrial fans, to the point that Old Glory is seriously fraying (and onlookers are feeling particularly windblown). In an essay accompanying the show, Pope.L states, “This project is a chance for people to feel the flag. People need to feel their democracy, not just hear words about it.” Like I said, it’s an unforgettable sight, and I appreciated being in a place with such provocative and courageous installations.
Between the time spent at MOCA and my wanderings into Little Tokyo, I wasn’t as energetic of an art-goer as I wanted to be. Next trip to LA: Gallery Row, where studios and galleries are contributing to the resurgence of DTLA. Only this time, I’m gonna schedule it better!