Open Art »

Why Aren’t People Eating in Medieval Depictions of Feasts?

By | November 26, 2015

When most people think of a medieval feast, they envision a room filled with boisterous guests and the lusty consumption of hunks of meat and goblets filled with wine. Feasts certainly performed a key social function in aristocratic households, and in the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, some of these feasts were quite splendid and impressive. Artists delighted in illustrating such scenes, often with a …

Open Art »

The Invention of the Light Bulb Did Not Conquer the Night

By | November 19, 2015

For many of us in the modern world, light at the flick of a switch feels so natural that it’s difficult to imagine a time when even the meager flame of a candle was hard won and too precious to waste. But until the late 18th century, the means for lighting up our surroundings had changed little since the Pleistocene Era, when limestone vessels with …

Open Art, The Takeaway »

I Feast, Therefore I Am

By | November 12, 2015

We shouldn’t let today’s cultural obsessions with health and moderation diminish the pleasure of partaking in feasts that connect us to friends and family, panelists agreed during an “Open Art” event on gluttony co-presented by the Getty at the Redondo Beach Historic Library.
Those panelists—a historian, an author of a book on gluttony, and a well-known chef—argued that feasting helps define us as human. When the …

Open Art »

Can Gluttony Set You Free?

By | November 10, 2015

On the question of excess-of too much food, drink, or anything else-poet William Blake wrote, “You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”
This bit of wisdom from Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790) gets at how tricky it can be to measure how much is too much-to know when the glass is full and set to overflow. …

Open Art »

The Accidental Color That Redirected Human Expression

By | November 5, 2015

True blue, royal blue, ultramarine: During the Renaissance, these were all names for the most prized of all pigments, lazurite, derived from the semiprecious mineral lapis lazuli. Mined and processed since the sixth century almost exclusively in Afghanistan, and imported to European markets through Venice, it was worth more than five times its weight in gold. It was used sparingly, often reserved for the richest …

Open Art »

An Artist Who Sees Holiness in Wonder Bread

By | August 27, 2015

The retrospective exhibition “Someday is Now,” currently on view at the Pasadena Museum of California Art, has brought a lot of attention back to the Southern Californian artist Corita Kent. It’s a focus that hasn’t existed in the nearly three decades since her death. While many of her contemporaries have become household names—including friends and influences John Cage and Charles and Ray Eames—Corita Kent hasn’t …

Open Art »

Why the Iconic ‘Great Wave’ Swept the World

By | August 6, 2015

In the aftermath of the horrific 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Tōhoku, Japan, a well-known image of a single cresting wave popped up everywhere, from relief fundraising appeals to the work of Japanese artists who adapted it to comment on the disaster. The 1831 woodblock print, “Under the Wave off Kanagawa,” depicts a swell of water that appears to engulf not only the boatmen delivering …

Open Art »

The Seedy, Funky, and Fabulous Hollywood Boulevard of the 1970s

By | July 17, 2015

In the 1970s, photographer Ave Pildas roamed Hollywood Boulevard, snapping thousands of shots of its many characters in patchwork denim bell-bottoms and floppy hats. There was the group of transvestites who posed next to Judy Garland’s star on the Walk of Fame. And the boy dressed up for Halloween, one hand clenched in a fist and the other holding a devil’s spear. “I kicked his …

Open Art »

The Mythology and Art of the American Road Trip

By | June 25, 2015

An art exhibition usually takes place in a gallery, where you go to see work that’s been installed there for a few months. But what if you could see an exhibition unfold over space and time, while speeding along the freeway in your car?
The Manifest Destiny Billboard Project, conceived of by L.A.-based visual artist Zoe Crosher and co-curated with Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), answered …

Open Art »

The Greatest Muralist You’ve Never Heard Of

By | June 22, 2015

Manuel G. Cruz has produced the best folk art I have encountered in Los Angeles. Through his religious and historical murals, he proves himself a good storyteller and colorist, with figures inhabiting dry, treeless California landscapes of brown hills, cacti, agave plants, and lakes. He also decorates the exterior walls of shops with scenes displaying their products, purveyors, and customers.
Cruz is an octogenarian who, in …