Art in L.A.—Part 2

Since there’s more to L.A. and Hollywood than the movie industry …

The Geffen Museum down in L.A.’s Japantown used to be known as the Temporary Contemporary, back when the idea of a new museum of modern art—you know, the kind San Francisco and San Jose need desperately—had neither finances or a structure. Now named after the DreamWorks guy who “Free Man in Paris” was about, it holds slightly more daring and urban work than the MOCA a half-mile away.

It was mostly closed when we got there, in between shows; but we did get to see a retrospective of “Happenings” guru Allan Kaprow, who died in 2006. A warehouse-size space held a few of his (good) abstracts; meanwhile light projectors with transparencies allowed passers by to pick out images from a bin and check out some of Kaprow’s energetic, democratic performance pieces. Those honoring Kaprow are spreading the spirit through the L.A/ Basin this month by setting up recreations of some of his happenings. In April, people will be acting oddly everywhere from USC to Claremont.

I liked an apple-themed enclave in one edge of the gallery. Drifts of shredded paper, chain-link fences and television sets had made a rats nest for wanderers to explore and add to the environment. On a tape loop, a psychotronic animated version of the story of Adam and Eve (Good Book, Vol. 2 was the title) had a pair of kids and a cute robot visiting our ancestors just as they made the fatal mistake. (“G’wan Adam, God’s not a fuddy-duddy.”)

Portable typewriters were stationed so that people could write their own comments; in one typewriter, I found a denunciation of Jeff Koons that I rather liked. The anonymous commentator suggested that Koons emigrate to Easter Island with all of his art, so that he could join the fate of the people there who made art, consumed the island’s resources and vanished utterly.

You do get a lot of Koons in L.A., particularly at the new Broad Collection at LACMA—more shortly.

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