Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Great California Design Show In Pasadena - In New York Times!!

Sick as a dog - but could not resist posting about this New York Times article by William L. Hamilton about a great California Design show that takes place at Pasadena's California Art Museum - but which closes this weekend!

What really stuns me is that I was somehow unaware this show even existed. Did the LA Times totally miss this? I did a quick search on their web-site and could not find it. But since I can barely even sit up or see, I can not even remotely vouch for the accuracy of that search. No matter! If the show is even one-tenth as good as it sounds - go see it!

The blockbuster show here right now is "Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs" at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

But for those interested in modern design, a small exhibit at the Pasadena Museum of California Art could be the portal to equally amazing discoveries - an antechamber to lost riches of the last golden age of American design.

The museum's second design biennial, which will end on Sunday, is a juried selection of contemporary California design that includes examples from obvious suspects like Apple Computer in Cupertino and Oakley, the eyewear designer, in Foothill Ranch.

But in the spirit of a remarkable series of exhibitions called "California Design," mounted by the now defunct Pasadena Art Museum and its director, Eudorah M. Moore, from the 1950's to the 1970's, the biennial also includes independents like Lauren Saunders in Ventura, who knits paintings as pillows; Trina Turk, a fashion designer in Alhambra; Bluelounge Design, a four-man office in Pasadena that designs everything from footwear to furniture; and Osborn, an architectural firm in Glendale that developed a set of paint stencils able to reclad an elementary school building quickly, with energetic color and pattern.

This is California, where even the weather feels both fortuitous and designed.

"California has a sense of - why not, let's try it," Ms. Moore said in a telephone conversation last week. She said of her exhibitions, "There was a brilliant optimism to what people were making and doing, and I thought it was important to record it." The shows, which were hugely popular at the time, are now largely forgotten outside the state.

"California Design: The Legacy of West Coast Craft and Style," a book by Jo Lauria, an independent curator, and Suzanne Baizerman, a curator of craft and decorative arts at the Oakland Museum, to be published next month by Chronicle Books, will revisit Ms. Moore's work and California's midcentury moment in the sun.

With its integral interests in craft and design, from furnishings to products to environmental art, outdoors as well as indoors, and fashion, too, California's contribution to the American imagination at home is something so ubiquitous now as to seem commonplace. We call it lifestyle.

California, characterized by the pop culture it created in music and movies, insisted that design was pop culture too, there to be used by all, in its every aspect.

As Pasadena's current biennial makes clear, California as a force in design, relevant precisely because it is regional, is not a thing of the past. It is an endless summer. If globalization is now a fond idea for industry looking to design to increase sales, California designers and their output seem continuing proof of the potential of the local climate.

"If Columbus had discovered California, there wouldn't be an East Coast," said Gere Kavanaugh, a designer in Los Angeles whose clients have included Nissan, Hallmark, Max Factor and PepsiCo, and who was included in "California Design." Ms. Kavanaugh shared a studio with Frank Gehry, now one of the state's favorite sons, in the 1960's and 70's. "All the major car companies in the world have a design studio here, I mean every single one, whether Japanese or European," said Dominic Symons, who founded Bluelounge. "They do all the advance concepts out here, and you wonder why that is."

There is much more in the article (and don't miss the New York Times slide show!), but below is the contact info - and remember - the show closes this Sunday August 28th!

Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

$6 for Adults, $4 for seniors (65+) and Students with valid ID, free to Children under 12 and PMCA Museum members.
Museum tours: For reservations and information call: (626) 568-3665

The Museum is located at 490 East Union Street
Pasadena CA 91101.
tel. 626-568-3665 fax 626-568-3674
Parking is available at the Museum


New York's GUTTER blog... umimpressed by California design! The below quote is attached to the photo illustrating the New York Times article.

Now we know what you're thinking. You woke up this morning, eyes still bleary, groggy from a night chamfering the corners off that new tower model you've been preparing, hoping for a little sunshine from the Gray Lady. And then you picked up H&H, because where better to find a little frivolity, a little senseless, pointless, useless, time-wasting, dopey-assed, paisley-patterned insipitude? And they delivered. Big time. California style. There's really nothing more to say. So we won't say it.

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