My father was a blue-collar guy who never went to college. But for some reason he was mad about music and museums. So as a kid I was dragged to the opera every Saturday afternoon, which has led to my passion today for the LA. Opera programs. And because he exposed me to art museums all over Manhattan, I have become an aficionado of our LACMA and MOCA, especially the latter. My Huffington readers may recall my recent review of the astonishing Urs Fischer exhibit there, and last night I attended the opening of another MOCA (The Museum of Contemporary Art) exhibition which kind of blew my mind. Most art lovers don't realize that downtown's MOCA on Grand Avenue has The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo and a scintillating West Hollywood branch at the Pacific Design Center at Melrose and Robertson, with entrance on Melrose (parking is $10, admission to the museum is free.)
all photos by Jay
On a rare rainy evening recently, I skipped through the puddles to the separate building on the terrace and entered the magical world of artist Jacob Hashimoto and his "Gas Giant" installation. It marks Hashimoto's first solo museum exhibition in California. Why was I so moved by this show? Well, it combines traditional kite-making techniques and painting into a sculptural environment. He creates these massive space-altering installations with thousands of thin paper sheets. This show, Gas Giant, was previously presented in Venice, Italy last year and before that in Chicago. Beginning on the ground floor of the building here, it shows black and white clouds of box kites. Then, it chromatically rises up the stairs and erupts into the second-floor gallery with a kaleidoscopic explosion of flight and color. Believe me, folks, you gotta see it to get the full effect... it is mind-blowing.
The artist Jacob Hashimoto and a curator.
This is mind-blowing... all paper, wood and string.
I had a chance to speak to the artist and he said that his work emerges from a history of abstraction and traditional patternmaking. The new Director of MOCA, Philippe Vergne, later explained to me that Hashimoto has uniquely developed his work into studies of visual experience in space, artifice and craft that simultaneously combine sculpture and painting. He showed me that, with taut strings tied into thousands of knots holding painted and translucent sheets of paper, the artist binds the aerial and the earthbound, establishing a direct relationship between the work and the viewer. Vergne pointed out to me that Hashimoto deftly unites opposites, building and layering with simple materials -- string, wood, paper and paint, as the artist composes wondrous landscapes made only by hand.
Another view of the installation.
I asked Hashimoto where he lives, and the youngish man smiled and said he lives and works in New York. He regularly exhibits here with the Martha Otero Gallery, and this is his first MOCA exhibit, and he praised their senior curator Alma Ruiz and curatorial assistant Selene Preciado for their work. The museum's charming Director of Communications, Lyn Winter, told me the show will be at MOCA Pacific Design Center until June 8th, so I strongly suggest that you take an hour or two to visit this startling exhibition. You will not believe what some paper and string can accomplish in the right hands!
The new MOCA Direcor, Philippe Vergne and his staff at the show.
Jacob at the first floor exhibition.