Monday, November 27, 2017

Nothing Lost ... Somethings Gained: Found in Translation - Design in California and Mexico 1915 - 1985

Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico 1915 - 1965 is one of LACMA's offerings in the Getty-sponsored festival of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.
PST LA/LA... (hey, pssssssssssssssssst! over here! 
 Never say la-la, as in tra- ...!

This exhibition does much more than clear up the ruse of Olivera Street (set up as a tourist attraction like Chinatown LA). It honors, not just disparages, the mutual admiration society between CA and ME!

Being a child of the post-WWII era, an early consumer of television and having emigrate from the Mid-Atlantic region in the late 1970s to CA, the show strikes a familiar chord of cultural sensibility, but now I can see the back-story of what was projected as the "goldene medina" of my mediated youth. I will now admit to having drawn a serape-d/sombrero-d "Mexican" propped up against a saguaro sleeping in the noonday sun in a mural in middle school. 

What did I know? I was brought up in Philadelphia area in the age of TV!
California was once part of Mexico and which was a Spanish colony. The very soil, the ocean, the forests and mountains, the weather and the sun ... above all, the sun! The indigenous people were not waiting to be discovered! They were also not consulted when design images were attribute to them. It is still hard for me to eat lettuce and grapes, given what I learned about the Chicano Movements ... Woody Guthrie was right. California was and remains the "Garden of Eden", and we sill need, more than even, the Do-Rey-Mi!

It's a full range of design and architecture dialogues between California and Mexico from 1915 - 1965. The more I visit this exhibition (and tour school kids to show the Portrait of John Dunbar, by Diego Rivera), the more I learn, such as the fact that Ruth Asawa, a participant in the Black Mountain College art/community experiment, learned how to weave wire into sculptures in Mexico! I was already familiar with Peter Shire's work, and love the inclusion of his "Mexican Bauhaus Tea Pot".

The Mexico / USA California split in 1804 never left either wish a sore spot in term of design sensibilities. There has been a natural trickle up and down effect for a long time despite efforts to appropriate imagery and disseminate stereotypical impressions via the then "new" media as photography, wire audio recorders and movies and later TV. There was and continues to be a "mutual admiration society" among the colonialists. There are a few indigenous pieces, but mostly this is a celebration of conquest.

The triptych (right) includes (l-r) LACMA's Standing Male Figure with Club" a (200 BCE - 400 CE) slip painted earthenware acquired in 1986 and Dora De Larios (b1933, active Los Angeles) "Warrior (mid-1960s) and "Blue Dog" (1979). I couldn't help but chuckle, as they reminded me of 2 pieces in the permanent collection on the top floor of the Pavilion for Japanese Art. (l-r) "Seated Figure" and "Horse", both Haniwa (tomb figures) from the Late Tumulus Period (4th and 5th Centuries, CE). 

#FoundinTranslation @ #LACMA has opened as one of the PST/LALA offerings around town thanks to the #Getty. It's a full range of design and architecture dialogues between California and Mexico from 1915 - 1965.

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