A piece I wrote on CAFAM for the KCRW blog, which can be found here.
For anyone still unfamiliar with Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, it’s like a Southern California art history class with no pre-requisites, SATs, GREs or student loans to encumber your studies. Specifically, Pacific Standard Time is a 6-month monumental coordinated overtaking of the Southern California arts community via museum and gallery exhibitions. Reaching from Santa Barbara to San Diego, more than 60 museums and arts venues will be participating. There will be free dates and shuttles and it will further the discussions of Los Angeles as a longtime substantial participant in the international art scene. It begins with the post-World War II era and continues to the ’80s.
One outstanding PST participant will be the Craft and Folk Art Museum located on the Wilshire District’s Museum Row directly across the street from the La Brea Tar Pits and LACMA. A venue with a rich California history, their intimate galleries feature exhibitions that merge skilled craftsmanship and design with the telling of a people’s story. In a conversation with CAFAM’s newest Executive Museum Director Suzanne Isken (former Education Director at MOCA), spoke about the importance the museum and founder Edith Wyle were to L.A. growing as a real arts capital, “Edith was a real mover and player and shaker to the art scene… and [CAFAM] was a real center. People came, artists came. She was a very active and important person – passionate about the work she was doing and very into the dissemination of information across cultures. She would travel and curate exhibitions and bring these other cultures to L.A. at a time when people didn’t really know about these things.” Behind these dedicated efforts of Edith and CAFAM, the L.A. arts community was given a home to play in once the museum officially opened its doors in 1974.
Golden State of Craft represents 75 groundbreaking artists that all contributed to forming the history and language of California Design. Their work propelled craft into new and uncharted directions, whose effect has had a lasting impact on contemporary art practices. All artists of Golden State have previously shown at CAFAM.
The Alchemy of June Schwarz: Enamel Vessels from the Forrest L. Merrill Collection celebrates the exquisite beauty of the work of a veritable, “Living Treasure of California,” as recognized by the California State Assembly. June Schwarz, now 93, was an innovator in the process of electroforming in art – the use of a chemical bath to build layers of metal onto objects. For June’s work, by hammering, sewing and pleating these metals onto her vessels, forms evolved that created a stunning and intricate interplay between the corroded surfaces and vivid color.
When speaking about these shows, Isken says, “Our physical plans are not as large as some of the big campuses but these artists are amazing. These are artists not shown in the large institutions and who really deserve a look and social recognition. They’re inspiring. You walk out thinking, ‘I want to do that,’ or, ‘I want to make something,’ or something you really feel a part of. It’s a special brand of hope.” Her excitement for the entire Pacific Standard Time program continues with the perspective, “With PST there’s a sense of history to all of [the programs] that’s both charming and a nostalgia. It allows you to look back at your life and what you were born around and see the objects that were made in this time and have a larger sense of who you are and where you came from. And that’s pretty exciting.”
Golden State of Craft: California 1960 – 1985 and The Alchemy of June Schwarz will open to the public this Sunday, September 25 through January 8. CAFAM is a KCRW Fringe Benefits partner. Members who present their card at the ticket counter will receive 28% off admission and 10% off purchases made in the store.