By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
“There’s a lot of bullshit on this wall,” says a young man in a leather coat. He and his friend have British accents. “I mean, ‘Just win’? What is that?”
“What did you guys paint?” I ask. They glance at each other mischievously.
“‘England 3, Switzerland 0!’ Now that’s art.”
By 2 a.m., the Shag and Robbie Conal and Gary Baseman book signings are long over, but the “Beyond Geometry” exhibit is still open. People roam the galleries and halls with the playful energy of open-house night at school. Motorized metal hexagonals and trapezoids “self-distort” on my left, casting shadows on the wall. I stare for a long time at a canvas painted with painstakingly aligned waves. Next to me a young couple — a boy and girl, cute as a Benetton ad — stare as well. “It almost hurts to look at it,” says the girl, squinting her eyes.
“Is this art?” says the boy, pointing at a huge glass disc propped up against the wall.
“It looks like a giant contact lens,” I say, and we laugh.
“This is not nature exactly per se,” says a young man across the room, “but a mirror of nature, which amplifies philosophically, in contrast, while managing yet to convey a certain . . . sterile sensibility.”
“Precisely,” his friends nod.
“Look, honey,” says an older woman to her portly husband, pointing to a cluster of fluorescent bulbs arranged into a cross, “that looks like something you made in your garage.”
A museum guard stands watch over a cordoned-off room. The room itself is the art. A square of frosty blue neon light glows in the center. Is it mist? Is it fog? People crowd in. “I felt like praying in that room. It is so beautiful. Thank you,” says a man, placing his fist over his heart. “It’s amazing to be surrounded by so much creative vibration.”
“You’re welcome,” says the guard. And then, after a beat: “I’ll be here all night.”
A rowdy group of boys tell me that they are backpacking through Los Angeles. They’ve just come from a bar and are a little drunk. “We leave for London tomorrow,” one says, “and we’re not going to sleep. Take a picture with us?” We mug for the camera in front of an Agnes Martin painting: acrylic primer, graphite and colored pencil on canvas, Untitled, 1962. It is 3 a.m.
In the “18th-Century Mexican Casta Painting” exhibit next door, a rumpled, bespectacled man is busy taking notes. “I need to figure out the system,” he says, showing me a branching diagram he’s drawn on a museum catalog. “But there are just so many combinations.” He scurries away purposefully. “People look at the strangest things,” says the guard. She flexes her feet. “They stare at the humidity monitor. Or they go nuts over the wallpaper.”
I myself had been zoning off, staring at a painting of an infant suckling the breast of a mestizaje wet nurse. In the museum café, they are serving pancakes and sausages. And in the courtyard, they are giving away jars of peanut butter. It is time to go. But there are many still who, for the love of art — or at least the idea of it — will soldier on until dawn.
Love Was in the Air
For lovers who (the story goes) fell in love while tossing and catching each other in midair, the climactic moment was fitting.
Like most weddings, vows were exchanged and rings placed on fingers. However, when this happy couple — Diavolo Dance Theater high-fliers Nehara Kalev and C. Derrick Jones — finally took the plunge as husband and wife, they did it from 20 feet in the air before a paying audience. It was just one of many moments that made it clear this was not your father’s wedding.
In planning their nuptials, the daredevil duo decided to use their wedding budget to underwrite their first joint venture as creative collaborators. There was some logic to this. After all, a wedding follows the same game plan as a dance performance: One group of people sits and looks on while young, beautiful people full of shine and promise perform a series of orchestrated moves in a specially designated space. Not to mention, if you’re going to debut new choreography, you’d have a hard time finding a more sympathetic audience than several hundred wedding guests. And who could complain about the location? The plush faux-velvet seats were comfortable (forget those bun-numbing pews and flimsy folding chairs), and the Wilshire Ebell’s low-slung rake offered great sight lines (no need to worry about Aunt Ida blocking the view with her big hat!).
Still, I was skeptical, even a tad cynical, when I first heard about The Wedding Journey: Vows in Midair. Who sells tickets to their nuptials? Were Kalev and Jones really getting hitched, or was the wedding–cum–dance concert an attention-grabbing stunt? With performance art doyenne Rachel Rosenthal officiating, it sounded like a spectacle in the making. But then, aren’t all weddings?
If it was just a gimmick to attract an audience, Kalev and Jones succeeded. Saturday night the grand old hall filled with family, friends, colleagues, and those who had simply read about the event in the newspaper. One guest overheard the people sitting behind her debating how many nights The Wedding Journey was going to run.
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