Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Remembering Bernard Kester "Celebration of Life" January 14, 2019 LACMA

Bernard Kester taught for nearly four decades at UCLA, serving as Chair of the art department (1972-1975) and acting Dean of the arts (1987-1991). Among his many accomplishments (along with his years at UCLA ) was his position as curator and principal exhibition installation designer at LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 1981 to 2011 as well as a multitude of organized exhibitions at the Contemporary Craft and Fiber Art (Aka The Egg and I gallery), Pasadena Art museum, J.Paul Getty museum. In his 90 years he was a great contributor to the Arts and in particular to bringing the art of fiber and off loom sculptural weaving to the forefront in the art world in the early 1970's with his 'Deliberate Entanglements"
groundbreaking exhibition in 1971. It was at that time that my life took on a new path as I began graduate work for a Masters degree in design, specifically working with Bernard Kester in exploring weaving and 2-3 dimentional woven sculptures. I met the most creative and talented young artists who were my peers and who became my life long friends. We were all most fortunate to have been part of Bernard's flock. He held each of us to the highest standards, and opened our minds and creative spirits in ways only he could do. He was unique and dapper, charming and disarming and left an indelible mark on everyone who ever had the opportunity to be in his presence. The Celebration of his life brought people from every aspect of his life in the arts together. For me it was a special reunion with some of my dearest classmates Daniella Woolf, Yael Bentovim Burkes,   Kris Dey and others. May you Rest In Peace Bernard Kester. You devoted your life to the Arts and you inspired and guided so many as a teacher. You were and will always be unforgettable.

 Large off loom woven piece Francois Grossen

 Two environmental pieces by Daniella Woolf

 Wrapped wall hanging by Kris Dey

A Birthday Celebration for Karen at the Eldo Pub

 We gathered last night, January 22nd to celebrate our friend Karen's upcoming birthday


 and, of course  "Eat cake!"

 The usual suspects were in attendance.

 Sherri, Maria, Lynda

 Kathy, Judy

Donna, Judy, Karen

 Jo and Barb

Stories were told:

 and sage advise given

naturally food and drinks were involved 

and always the feeling of wonderful friends together

Wishing you everything wonderful in life dear Karen!

 May all your wishes come true! 

 * The  Eldo Pub located in the El Dorado neighborhood of Long Beach established in 1957.   

The Eldo
3014 N. Studebaker Rd.
 Long Beach Ca. 90808

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

On Monday January 14th 2019 I  attended the Celebration of Life for Bernard Kester, one of the icons of the Art Department at UCLA this article is very timely. Actually so many of the names mentioned during this explosive period of growth in the art scene at UCLA were people I either had the privilege of studying with or being in the presence of almost daily during the early '70's. (As an undergrad I was a pictorial arts major later turning to design in Graduate school.)Diebenkorn, Amato, Lee Mullican, Elliot Elgart, William Brice, John Neuhart, Neda Al-Hilali, Robert Heinecken, Judy Chicago and so many other remarkable instructor/artists. I can see their faces, remember clothing they wore, their stances, many smoked cigarettes a lot in class. One year Ed Ruscha was a visiting professor. I took a painting class from him. He wore cowboy boots to class and drank a lot of coffee and liked the prettiest girls in class. On the other hand both Diebenkorn and Lee Mullican were wonderful teachers whom I admired greatly. Both extremely reserved. I never had Elgart but I liked his presence. He always wore white shirts with the sleeves rolled up above his elbows. I adored Robert Heinecken! I also remember Angela Davis coming to speak on campus and so many other dynamic personalties. Talk about being at the right place at the right time.
Since the 1960s, UCLA’s visual arts program has attracted premier working…
 Tony Berlant, who grew up in Culver City in the 1950s, aspired to be an artist from an early age. “As soon as I had a car, I didn’t go to the beach, I went to the museums and around to every gallery — there weren’t that many — twice every month,” he says. In 1960, when Berlant entered UCLA as an undergraduate, renowned painter William Brice, who was on the faculty, must have recognized his talent right away. He placed him in an upper-division painting class taught by visiting artist Richard Diebenkorn.
Berlant was thrilled. “I had admired Diebenkorn’s work from the time I was in high school,” he remembers.
In fact, UCLA Chancellor Franklin D. Murphy had taken great pride in recruiting Diebenkorn, whom he later called “one of the half-dozen most distinguished practicing painters at the time.”
Diebenkorn, from San Francisco, was associated with the Bay Area Figurative Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. But his greatest acclaim was for his 135 Ocean Park paintings, inspired by the light and space of Southern California and created after he moved south to teach at UCLA. These abstract creations are counted among the defining bodies of work of the late 20th century.When I was a student of Diebenkorn’s,” Berlant remembers, “he was already very famous. What you get from people like that is their attitude, dedication to independence, curiosity and focused obsession.”
But, Berlant says, famous or not, many of his UCLA teachers were tremendously smart, influential and supportive. Painter Elliot Elgart, for example, encouraged Berlant to change his major from art history to studio art, pulling him aside occasionally to coyly ask, “You know you’re great?” After Berlant made the switch, Elgart laughingly whispered in his ear, “You’re not that great.”
The ’60s were a singular time for art in Los Angeles. With cheap rent, plentiful light, good art schools and typical California verve, visual artists were blossoming here. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art opened in 1965. The nearby Ferus Gallery was a center of the nascent contemporary art scene. And midway through the decade, English painter David Hockney arrived to teach a summer class at UCLA, fell in love with the city and decided to call it home.
Changes were under way at UCLA, too. Murphy didn’t want students to “dabble in the arts” but to be “professionally trained.” So, in 1961, he formed the College of Fine Arts, helmed by an eclectic mix of exceptional working artists, including Laura Andresen (ceramics), Diebenkorn (painting), Brice (painting), Robert Heinecken ’59, M.A. ’60 (photography), Bernard Kester ’50, M.A. ’54 (weaving) and Lee Mullican (painting).
This stellar faculty nurtured a dynamic generation of students that included Neda Al Hilali ’65, M.A. ’68; Peter Alexander ’65, M.F.A. ’68; James Bassler ’62, M.A. ’68; Berlant ’62, M.A. ’63, M.F.A. ’64; Judy Chicago ’62, M.A. ’64; Vija Celmins M.A. ’65; Charles Garabedian M.A. ’61; Lance Richbourg ’60, M.A. ’62, M.F.A. ’67; and Don Suggs ’69, M.A. ’71.
“The main thing that made UCLA unusual,” Berlant notes, “was the particular set of students who were there at the time. That was easily as important as the teachers, who were excellent.”
Berlant even landed his first gallery show while still an undergraduate, when another influential faculty member, Robert Irwin, introduced him to gallerist David Stuart. Irwin, now perhaps best known to Angelenos as the creator of the Central Garden at the Getty Center, became a leader of the Light and Space Movement, the West Coast minimalists who explored how shapes and light could affect the environment and viewers’ perceptions. “Tony Berlant,” Irwin recalls, “was on a path of his own, and maybe I sharpened it up a bit.”
Irwin also recalls teaching Celmins, who became revered for her uncannily evocative paintings and drawings of everyday objects and natural environments. “I would think all week long about a question to pose to her,” he explains, “to expose her to her own wealth. ... And then she would come and talk about it. We would follow the path of her mind.”
Many of the teachers took an interest in their students’ futures as artists. Years later Garabedian remembered how Brice, who taught at UCLA from 1953 to 1991, helped his students “find out where and what they wanted to be.” Many of these students, like some of their teachers, came to define or significantly expand their genres, and to continue the cycle of learning, as some returned to UCLA to teach.
Judy Chicago, for example, was a pioneer in the field of Feminist art. More than a million viewers have experienced her iconic work The Dinner Party — a symbolic history of women in Western civilization, begun in 1974 and completed in 1979. Garabedian has been lauded by Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight as “among the best painters Los Angeles has produced.” Heinecken, who founded UCLA’s photography program, is credited by The New York Times with work that “radically expanded the range of possibilities for photography as art.” And Celmins is currently preparing for a 2018 retrospective of her work that will travel from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to the Met Breuer in New York.
Berlant, based in Santa Monica in a spacious studio that was once a neighborhood grocery, is known worldwide for his painterly compositions in metal affixed to plywood canvases or boxes. His work appears in major museum collections, including at the Art Institute of Chicago, LACMA, Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art. One mural-size piece hangs in the lobby of the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, and another work is in the collection of the new UCLA Luskin Conference Center. When Berlant returned to teach at UCLA from 1965 to 1969, he shared a faculty office with Diebenkorn, cementing a lifelong friendship between the two.
Lance Richbourg, who is distinguished by his luminous paintings of baseball scenes, remembers his years at UCLA as “the most remarkable” time in his life “because of who was there. There was a tight nucleus of people who were quite attached to each other," he says.
One genre that got an early boost at UCLA was fiber arts. In 1961, Neda Al Hilali arrived in Los Angeles from Czechoslovakia. Knitting, crocheting and lace-making had been a regular part of her home life, so at UCLA she immersed herself in fiber arts. She began with a loom weaving class taught by Kester, a potter and textile designer who helped reposition fiber art from a folk or craft practice to a branch of the fine arts and started the UCLA program. He encouraged his students — including Bassler, Gerhardt Knodel ’61 and others — to experiment with sculptural work, sometimes without a loom, long before the practice became established.
In 1971, Kester curated a seminal fiber show at UCLA’s Wight Gallery titled Deliberate Entanglements. The exhibition was a turning point, demonstrating that fiber artworks could stand on their own as sculpture.
Today, Al Hilali’s work is in the permanent collections of the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design and others. She and Kester have remained friends. “I was so lucky to fall into his hands,” she says. “He brought in the art world, and then sent us out into it.”
At UCLA, the line between professional artist/faculty member and student was negligible, and faculty treated the students whose work they admired as colleagues. “Once you asserted yourself, you were in,” says Berlant, “and if you were making really interesting work, there was no sense of being a student. It was like, ‘Don’t come to school anymore, I’ll visit you at your studio.’”
Berlant immortalized this scene in his 1988 work Taxco CafĂ©. While Hollywood artists hung out at Barney’s Beanery in West Hollywood, the Venice/Santa Monica crew congregated at this small Mexican eatery at Lincoln and Venice boulevards. Berlant depicts the restaurant’s interior and places amidst the tables the names of members of the group, rendered in shorthand: Berlant, Ed Moses ’55, M.A. ’58, Karen Carson M.F.A. ’71, Garabedian, Celmins, Billy Al Bengston, Robert Graham, Doug Wheeler and UCLA faculty member Chris Burden.
During this time, Irwin was one of the artists showing at Ferus, the gallery founded in 1957 by artist Ed Kienholz and Walter Hopps. Hopps had attended UCLA and staged art events on campus, but had never graduated. He later became director of the Pasadena Art Museum. Others in the Ferus gang included John Altoon, Bengston, Joe Goode, Craig Kauffman, Moses, Ken Price and Ed Ruscha.
The nearby Ceeje Gallery, open from 1961 to 1970, was informally known as “the UCLA gallery” for showing the work of many graduate students and faculty. Before most galleries considered ethnic and gender diversity, Ceeje drew a diverse roster of artists. Among the UCLA artists who showed there were Les Biller M.A. ’60, Eduardo Carrillo ’62, M.A. ’64, Roberto Chavez ’59, M.A. ’61, Annita Delano, Garabedian, Aron Goldberg ’59, M.F.A. ’77, Marvin Harden ’59, M.A. ’63, Louis Lunetta ’56, M.A. ’58, Joan Maffei ’59, M.A. ’61, Richbourg, Ben Sakoguchi ’60, M.F.A. ’64 and Jim Urmston ’56, M.A. ’60.
While most L.A. galleries remained focused on European and East Coast works, Ferus and Ceeje sought out the free spirits of Southern California, whose vibe reflected the openness and sense of possibility that permeated Los Angeles. In contrast to the more formal scene at Ferus, Ceeje took an open approach, leading to the wry refrain that “If Ferus was the cutting edge of L.A. modernism, Ceeje was the ragged edge.” “The Ferus had sophisticated art world connections,” Richbourg recalls, “but those of us at Ceeje were funky expressionists.”
Today, galleries have sprung up all over the city, and Los Angeles has its own burgeoning Arts District, as well as a number of world-class museums. UCLA has embarked on construction of the Margo Leavin Graduate Art Studios in Berlant’s hometown of Culver City. On campus, students no longer park for free in a dirt lot, dig for clay on campus as they did with ceramicist Andresen, or need to hunt for their own studio spaces in the city. In other words, much has changed.
Yet one constant remains: At UCLA, practicing artists — often those who have reached the highest echelons — teach. They are mentors, role models and sometimes collaborators with their students. The Department of Art has retained its stellar status, continuing to attract such giants of their respective genres as conceptual artist John Baldessari; performance artist Burden, whose LACMA–based 2008 Urban Light sculpture (composed of 202 vintage street lamps) quickly became a Los Angeles icon; feminist postmodern artist Barbara Kruger; social documentary and fine art photographer Catherine Opie; painter Lari Pittman; sculptor Charles Ray; and sculptor and installation artist Nancy Rubins.
The department’s generational ethos — in which esteemed practicing artists nurture budding talent — is part of why L.A. is the vital art capital it is today, and why, Berlant says, UCLA is home to one of the nation’s top studio-based art programs. “UCLA gives highly talented artists the freedom to practice their art directed by their inner voices.”
The students are the lucky beneficiaries of this tradition of mentorship and excellence. The creative results speak for themselves.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Celebrating Sherri's Birthday on a Rainy Day in January 17, 2019

Due to such rainy weather we opted to have a quiet at home pre Birthday lunch celebration for my friend Sherri.  Soup and salad and some sweets and lots of Prosecco. This was the perfect beginning to a year ahead of many many celebrations! Happy Happy Birthday Sherri!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

A Night With John

We try to see our dear friend John as often as our schedules allow. Always such lively, intelligent and stimulating conversations about art, the latest books, latest movies and our latest adventures. Friends for decades. 

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