By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
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By Bill Raden
Mohn's space, finished in 2005, doubles as a screening room and has a rectangular opening and LED light programs. "It has to be watched as one would a movie or a TV show," he says of being in the space during a light show. "One can't just look at it for 10 seconds and get it at all. ... Part of the joy of sharing the work is to notice that people talk a lot for the first 10 minutes, then quiet a bit with some talking. By the last 15 minutes almost no one speaks. ... And it's done with no sound, no words, no text and no images. Just light."
Its effectiveness is impressive, but it's also intriguing that the effect of the experience was enough to motivate collectors to invest in these site-specific, hard-to-resell projects.
Nicholson hypothesizes that Turrell keeps building in L.A. for the same reason Lautner stayed here. "My old boss, he didn't like Los Angeles," he says, remembering that Lautner joked about rolling a boulder down the Hollywood Hills and taking out tasteless buildings. "But he had to be here — out of several million people, there was always someone" willing to build something visionary.
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Region: Mid-Wilshire/ Hancock Park
2902 Nebraska Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90404
Category: Art Galleries
Region: Santa Monica
"James [Turrell] said something once about taste being restriction and Los Angeles being the revenge of the tasteless," says Maggie Kayne, who co-runs Kayne Griffin Corcoran gallery and represents Turrell with partners Bill Griffin and Jim Corcoran. Her parents, whom she introduced to Turrell, commissioned an open-air skyspace, similar to the public one he built in Claremont in 2007. Theirs was completed in Santa Monica in 2013 (see photo).
When Kayne Griffin Corcoran decided to move from Santa Monica to a building on 12th and La Brea, they commissioned Turrell to design the renovation. Griffin, who represented Turrell before partnering with Kayne in 2011, explains that the artist was interested because he had "yet to find perfect light in a gallery."
There's nothing epic about the look of the new space, which opens May 25 with an exhibition of drawings, plans and tools related to Roden Crater. It has glass-paned front doors and skylights in its main gallery, though at night LED lights installed in the skylights work in tandem with track lighting to make it look like it's still daylight.
Its conference room will be a skyspace with white walls and doors with minimal or no fixtures on them so that they can be closed to make a perfectly white cube. It will have a colored light program that happens, when operated, at sunset.
Berkut, the composite aircraft company that made the retractable roof for Goldstein's space, is finishing a retractable roof for the gallery's skyspace, too. Made of fiberglass, it weighs less than 500 pounds and has a curved, egglike underside. It can be operated digitally and will be synched with the security system, in case anyone gets ideas about "the big hole in the ceiling," as Bill von Helmolt, Berkut's CEO, puts it.
"We look at this space as a kind of vessel for collaboration," Griffin says. The gallery's roster has an unusual array of artists, and they have invited guest curators and done shows with emerging European artists, as well as L.A. icons.
"It's a real open architecture," Kayne adds.
"Like tech and software companies," Griffin continues, explaining that he sees Turrell's work as a kind of virtual reality, one that makes people feel more present and aware. In the case of their gallery, the job of Turrell's work will be mostly to compel people to spend time with art other than his, which seems almost more earnestly ambitious than compelling people to watch the sky through a specific frame.
JAMES TURRELL: A RETROSPECTIVE | Los Angeles County Museum of Art | 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile | May 26-April 6 | lacma.org