Building upon yesterday’s post, our curators have two more recommendations for your winter break excursions. Erin Curtis, who is managing our current retrospective, Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, visited the Autry’s new permanent exhibition. And Erin Clancey, who is herself hard at work on a Skirball exhibition about a rock legend (to be announced soon!), ventured to the Grammy Museum to see an exhibition honoring rock music icon Ringo Starr. Read below for two more exhibitions to add to your list. And don’t forget—any well-planned winter break museum crawl should also include our Global Citizen, so we hope to see you at the Skirball this month. Happy museum-going!
Once upon a Time
I had been planning to visit Art of the West, the new permanent exhibition at the Autry National Center, since it opened on June 15. I’ve long enjoyed the Autry’s exhibitions about the American West, in part because I find “the West” to be a fascinatingly imprecise concept (each person has different ideas about exactly who and what comprises the West). I was looking forward to seeing a new display of art from the Autry’s collection that examines, in the words of the Autry’s website, “how shared values and interests have inspired artists from different cultures and times to create distinctive, powerful works that speak to their experience of the West as both a destination and a home.” Also, I too like cowboys.
The pieces in the exhibition are organized around three simple yet powerful themes: “Religion and Ritual,” “Land and Landscape,” and “Migration and Movement.” Grouping diverse objects together in broad categories allows for unusual, eye-catching, and often provocative juxtapositions of pieces from different places, cultures, and periods. In the “Migration and Movement” section, a 1948 Indian Roadmaster motorcycle sits beneath Mateo Romero’s War Music II.
Around the corner, in the “Religion and Ritual” section, a totem pole from the Pacific Northwest stands near a crucifix of roughly equal height. These often unexpected pairings are one of the show’s strengths.
I was also particularly drawn to the exhibition’s photographs, including David Levinthal’s six-part series The Wild West, for which the artist photographed toys in order to depict the West as he imagined it in his childhood. There is also a lovely display titled “Yosemite after Adams,” dedicated to the challenges that contemporary landscape photographers face in capturing Yosemite National Park years after it was so famously and definitively documented by Ansel Adams. Okay, there weren’t any sharks (as a visitor requested in my photo above), but a visit to the Art of the West is my winter break recommendation nonetheless.
“Don’t Pass Me By”
If you are a fan of The Beatles (who isn’t?), don’t pass on the exhibition Ringo: Peace & Love, currently at the Grammy Museum until March 30, 2014. Richard Starkey (b. 1940), a.k.a. Ringo Starr, is arguably the most famous drummer in the history of rock, and the only drummer ever to be honored by the Grammy Museum with a solo exhibition.
Ringo: Peace & Love includes memorabilia that will make your jaw drop, including one of Ringo’s iconic drum sets with
The Beatles logo on it, the outfit he wore on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, family photos, personal correspondence, and a very early concert poster you’ve likely not seen elsewhere.
Besides ogling rock ’n’ roll relics, there are also plenty of interactive activities in this exhibition. You can listen to music at one of several listening stations, watch The Beatles’ legendary Ed Sullivan Show performance on a vintage 1950s television set, and sing along to “Yellow Submarine” in a karaoke booth. Most exciting is the drum kit you can actually play while taking a virtual tutorial from Ringo via a computer screen.
Ringo: Peace & Love perfectly combines extraordinary artifacts and a gripping backstory, and is a beautiful tribute to a man whose personal philosophy was to spread peace and love. A perfect exhibition to visit during the holiday season.