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Nomadic dandy 

Thursday, Apr 19 2012
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"I create atmosphere," said artist James Lee Byars, a dandy and a nomad who lived in Japan and Europe, died in Cairo at age 65 and rarely admitted where in the United States he was born. Legend has it he turned down a show at the Whitney Museum of American Art because he wasn't American enough, and when Guggenheim director Tom Messer talked to him about exhibiting there, the artist insisted the whole museum be painted matte black. "To give Byars a show would be to destroy my museum," Messer said. "I'll give him a show when he is dead." While no walls are currently painted at Overduin and Kite gallery, the atmosphere there is spiritual and regal. Marble stars, moons and spheres that Byars sculpted in the late 1980s are encased in glass in one room; in the other, a billowing, ceiling-high, red silk tent houses a tall, gilded throne. 6693 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; through May 12. (323) 464-3600, overduinandkite.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: April 3. Continues through May 12, 2012
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