Saturday, May 14, 2011

Isle of Art

Yesterday I posted hastily because I was rushing out of the house to see an art exhibit in Culver City, which is not in Pasadena. Today is the last day* to see works by the LA Fine Art Squad at the Cardwell Jimmerson Gallery at 8568 Washington Blvd. (they're open 11-6). I know you may not get down there and I know this post is late and I know you may think it has nothing to do with Pasadena. You'd be incorrect on at least one count. One member of the "Squad" was and is Victor Henderson, who lives Pasadena-adjacent. His friends sometimes refer to him as "Mr. V." I don't know if he likes it.


The work above is called "Isle of California." It was painted in 1971-72 and is the only mural remaining of several such large works the Squad painted in the LA area. Much faded but still towering, the work depicts "Arizona beachfront property" after an earthquake dumps California into the sea. The parking lot attendant told us an earthquake occurred in soCal "two weeks after the painting was done. People came from all over and brought offerings--flowers and things."

I couldn't find a record of such a quake, but the San Fernando, aka the Sylmar earthquake (thank you, PA) occurred during painting. (see comments)

It would be nice to see this work restored. I know that means money. At least it's under LA City jurisdiction, and not LA County.

Even if you don't make it to the gallery today, you can visit the mural at 1616 Butler Avenue in Los Angeles, not far from the 405 freeway. Henderson has posted some good, unfaded photos of the work here, where you can get a better idea of the apocalyptic dream quality of it.

The rusting squares you see are visual irony--plates that anchor reinforcing bolts to keep the building stable during an earthquake--obviously added after the painting was finished. I think the drips of rust down the building add truth, if not beauty.


Italo said...

I LOVE THESE KINDS OF MURALS! WHEN ART IS FOR EVERYBODY.And yes, it's a wonderful idea a restoration.

dive said...

Wow, Petrea! That mural is awesome. Your posts always seem to suggest songs that get stuck in my head all day. Today's is Steely Dan's "My Old School" with that lovely line "California tumbles into the sea."

Love the wordplay with irony and the iron. Yes, the rusty plates do add a poignancy to the painting.

Susan C said...

Funny you should post this. Just this morning I looked up the dates of the Fine Art Squad's show, and the gallery's site says May 28. I hope that's right because I really want to see this exhibit.

If today really is the last day, I might just have to zoom out to Culver City.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Susan's correct. The show has been such a success, (critical/not sales) they've extended it's run to the 28th.

I'm so glad you could make it. BTW: the Getty has returned to do further testing on the mural. It may live to see the next big one.

The quake the parking lot attendant spoke of was the Sylmar quake. I had no idea about the flowers etc

Thanks Petrea

Speedway said...

Ooh, I like the faded version as it looks like a ghost of the apocholypse that may take it away, only to be discovered centuries from now by archeologists, like Pompeii.

I saw a picture on-line of the mural when it was first painted. That looks like the gouache illustration of a for a movie set.

Each in its own way is powerful and scary.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, PA. Even yesterday the Cardwell-Jimmerson site said 5/14, so I'm glad you chimed in here. I just edited the post. I'm glad it was extended! We were really impressed. And as long as you're in Culver City it's not too far to the mural, which is the real topper. There's nothing like seeing it in person, although Victor's photos give justice to what it must have looked like 40 years ago.

PA, I know you posted that video somewhere. Is it possible for me to link people to it? Italo, Dive and Speedway are too far away to come and I think they'd love it.

Petrea Burchard said...

Also, the lot guard mentioned the Getty's visit. He said they had a camera attached to a helium balloon that went very slowly across the mural from sector to sector; they were there for hours. I was gratified to hear it. When you go I hope you run into the same guy we met. He was quite knowledgeable.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Cardwell/Jimmerson took the video off u-tube. But... all the images were taken from Vic's slides. Here is the flikr link to the slide show.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

LA Fine Art slide show

We didn't make the Getty site visit. I thought they were just giving it a look over. How interesting. I believe they will be bringing in a cherry picker to take samples in June. One can only hope.

Trish said...

1971 Sylmar quake did cause quite a ruckus with this mural. People did come from all over and make a shrine, as if there were devine providence involved. Ironically, I heard the mural was partially done, which made the quake seem like it took off a portion of the mural. I believe some people wanted it to stay that way, but someone pushed to get it finished (lord knows Zev wasn't involved back then (he started in 1975), but close!)

Happened after the 1987 Whittier quake too.

This mural always reminded me of how the 2 Fwy was unfinished for what seemed like YEARS. Hung over the 134 and just stopped with rebar hanging out, as if there would some day be a ramp into the west end of Eagle Rock/Glenaoks Canyon area. Still shocks me today to see the flyover ramp completed to the NB 2 from EB 134.

Petrea Burchard said...

That gives me a chill, Trish.

Thanks for the slide show, PA. I love seeing it.

Bellis said...

It's a beautiful mural, with the faded look of a Renaissance fresco in Italy. I'd love to see it restored in all its colorful glory, if the Getty folks know how to do it.

Ms M said...

Haunting image and story.
I love murals, too, and hope they are able to restore this one before it's faded to the beyond....

Shanna said...

The Mural Conservancy knows how to restore it, I'm sure.

Do ...just go... see the show.

If you something. You will always be glad that you did!

dive said...

Wowee! Many thanks to P.A. for that astonishing slide show. How wonderful to have that visual record of the murals in their prime.
I've bookmarked it to show to my arty friends.

Petrea Burchard said...

Yes, go see the show. Culver City is not far. I used to drive over several times a week for auditions. Take the 110 to the 10 and exit at Washington Blvd. and you're there.

Shanna's right about owning original art. It's worth the price if you can pay it. And Victor's work from this period is incredibly detailed and meticulous. Bellis and I went together and stood in awe of this small exhibit. There are wonderful bits of memorabilia as well.

The slide show/video is shown at the gallery with titles that give history of the murals, where they were and what happened to them.

Susan Campisi said...

Those rusty bolts are so interesting. Yes, visual irony. Great post, Petrea. I'm glad to hear the show is extended. I'll try to go again and visit the mural while I'm on the westside.

TheChieftess said...

I hope the mural has a chance at being restored...looks like the Getty might just give it that chance!!! YAY!!

Dianne Emley said...

Thanks for posting this. Brought back memories of a similar mural on the back of a building in West L.A. when I was at UCLA and lived nearby in 1975. I think the mural was on Santa Monica Blvd. Must have been one of the group of murals you write of. I think the one I knew was painted over.

Yes, back then the talk was that the "big one" would sever CA down the middle. I believe the Sylmar quake happened before these murals were painted, so we were all still waiting for the big one (and still are, but no longer talk of state-splitting).

There was a golden era of mural painting in LA in the 70's. I still miss the "Old Lady of the Freeway" off the 101 in North Hollywood.

Petrea Burchard said...

Did you look at the slide show, Dianne? (PA's link.) The LA Fine Art Squad did several; maybe it was one of theirs. I wish I'd seen their "Snow on Venice Beach."