Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boombox Army invade Party Walk

I was part of Unsilent Night, an annual sound event which is performed during the holiday season in many different cities. This performance had been performed at Pan Pacific Park the last few years. This year Downtown Art Walk was the new venue Thursday, December 10th.

The deal is, you sign up and bring a boombox or other portable amplifier to the event. On it is played a sort of modern classical experimental piece which was either on CD, MP3, or the beloved cassette tape (remember those?). I figure there must've been 40 or so people with boomboxes who participated. There was one person on rollerblades with a groovy retro backpack boombox. Sweet!

I had organized a sound performance a month earlier for Art Walk and so had available a loud, homemade-ish, portable amplifier ready to go for some more fun. I met a few friends there also participating, Tommy, Jud & Jodi. We started on Spring street at the Arcade Building. We walked up and down Spring and Main street in between 4th and 9th roughly for around 45 minutes. The song had a lot of dynamics going from crinkling, tinkling bell sounds to loud clangings and tonal washes.

It was pretty fun. Our sound army got lots of curious stares as we rumbled into the bustle of the downtown crowd. The walk also gave me the opportunity to see all the new stores that have opened up downtown and some of the new ones about to come in. It's changing so quickly now. The stores are getting more expensive, corporate, and grandiose. Is an ominous "fratscape" a'blooming in downtown? Maybe a corner is being turned from artsy and up and coming to Mallville? Still I guess it's better than Crackton. Anyway, next year be sure to be part of this fun and interesting event.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Beauty at the Geffen

I enjoy a lot of conceptual art. But, in order for it to be worthy of my attention it must have beauty. I'm not talking about pretty flowers here. I'm talking about some sort of perceptual experience of satisfaction beyond the idea (thanks wikipedia). Over the years the curators at MOCA have evidently declined to pay any heed to beauty as evidenced in their current show: MOCA'S First Thirty Years.

I haven't seen the entire show though, only the 1980-NOW section down at the Geffen which has mostly sculpture and installation. So, who knows, maybe there's some beauty hanging out down at Grand Ave. though I'm certainly not inspired to see it after wandering through this maze of horrors. I have been in LA for over ten years (making me officially from here) and I've seen many shows at MOCA that have had stand out, jaw dropping, exceptional work. The curators apparently neglected to purchase any of that for their permanent collection.

Is it just me or is this stuff intensely ugly? Seriously, some of this looks like rubbish left by the assembly crew. I mean some of this crap is not even good enough for LACE. Whoops, did I say that? I think I know why MOCA has had it's recent money woes. It's not mismanagement, it's because their collection has not aged well. It is the equivalent of sub-prime mortgage backed securities or junk bonds traded into worthlessness. It doesn't even look antique, just out of date.

Even the things that are supposed to be ugly are ugly. Just in time for xmas is Paul McCarthy's horrifying Tokyo Santa, installation. Don't get me wrong, I hate xmas as much as the next guy and I appreciate the punch below the belt to the season. But, this gratuitously retched half-naked santa montage is just so predictable.

But, it wasn't all bad. As I exited I saw a man taking some photos of the most compelling scene at the Geffen, the tinted late afternoon sunlight shining through the windows at the front door. Too bad it wasn't part of the show.