THE BLOG
10/31/2011 11:19 pm ET | Updated Dec 31, 2011

Happy Memories Are Here Again

A few weeks ago, in Art Talk, I shared with you the story of an unusual collaboration between Ed Ruscha and Joe Goode that took place in the late 1980s. The project was initiated by major Los Angeles art collector, Fred Weisman, who asked these two well-known artists to paint his private jet, both inside and outside. I put the photo of this plane on the Art Talk page of the KCRW Website.

And sure enough, one of the listeners sent me an email with a fascinating photograph of this very jet with a few Angelinos standing in front of it, looking happy, very happy. It was taken when Mr. Weisman invited his friends to join him on a trip to Baltimore. So let me share this new photo with you on our website. Here they are, left to right: Joan Quinn, the Los Angeles collector with her trademark red hair; Joe Goode; Dana and Ed Ruscha; Fred Weisman himself; Henry Hopkins, founding director of the Hammer Museum; and Beulah Chang, longtime friend of Henry Hopkins.

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You probably want to know what happened to this plane. Who is its lucky current owner? Where, 25 years later, can it be seen? Sorry to disappoint you, but this unique plane, which was so much a part of Los Angeles art lore, is no more. Part of the deal between Mr. Weisman and the artists was that, if the plane is sold, the painting done by Joe Good and Ed Ruscha must be whited-out. And that's exactly what happened. Imagine how adventurous, how glamorous this plane would look in front of one of the pavilions of the Getty Museum as part of its current exhibition, Crosscurrents in LA Painting and Sculpture, 1950-1970, celebrating LA art at its iconic best.

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But enough with this wishful thinking. After all, upon entering the museum rotunda we are greeted by an impressive, massive black granite sculpture by Robert Irwin, specially designed by him for the museum. Somehow, this sculpture comes across as minimalistic and, at the same time, a rather dramatic art work, exuding a lot of gravitas to accompany its crushing weight of twenty tons.

According to the museum press release, this sculpture, titled Black on White, will be on display only through March, which is a pity. After the ten years of research and $10 million that the Getty invested in the current citywide extravaganza of Pacific Standard Time, wouldn't it be the perfect symbolic gesture for the museum to acquire this sculpture for its collection? The usual excuse that the Getty doesn't collect 20th century art simply doesn't hold water any more.

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After all, the museum's terraces and its major garden, which, incidentally, was designed by Robert Irwin himself, are full of monumental sculptures by a number of important 20th century artists. With all the time and money that's been already poured into celebrating L.A. art, why not turn this monumental sculpture into a lasting memory of the unique, super-ambitious project that the Getty undertook to honor the artistic legacy of our City of Angels?

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Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of "Art Talk," a program on art and culture for KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the show and hear Edward's charming Russian accent, visit Art Talk on KCRW.

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