Lisa Adams: As It Appears To Be, a 54-minute documentary directed by Juri Koll, presents a portrait of an artist who forged an individual, burn-the-ships path. It shows why her work is unique. It shows why it has integrity. And it shows, if you take a long-term view of things, why it will resonate far beyond the era in which she made it.
The film's title comes from a longer quote: "Nothing is as it appears to be." By nothing she means things fucked up or not. She's not cynical; she's a poetic pragmatist. In her aviary of a studio she conducts her examination into the imperfection of life. There, she creates miraculous images that confer beauty onto urban dystopias and personal trials. Both the inquiry and the product are noble.
The film grounds her paintings in specific geographical locales and life decisions. It includes scenes of her at work. It includes visits to the Los Angeles River. It includes drive-bys past local scrap yards, where, hilariously, she displays connoisseurship-like knowledge. We learn of her decision at the age of ten to become an artist. We learn of her stylistic and personal affinity with Vincent Van Gogh and Philip Guston. We learn of her heroic decision to continue to develop her already-successful art. We learn of the consequences of that decision. We learn of her Sophoclean plight at almost losing her vision. We learn of her decision to take sanctuary in her painting.
The film is peppered with comments by critics/curators Peter Frank and Shana Nys Dambrot, artist/musician Llyn Foulkes, and her gallerist Clyde Beswick. What emerges is a portrait of an artist who defied what was going on around her. Why? Because her art demanded it. As she burrows deeper and deeper into her work she shows, like the canary and the coal miner, how nothing is as it appears to be.
The most remarkable thing about the film is that these experiences didn't embitter her. Instead, she speaks with great serenity about what she's learned, what she's still learning. In fact, the only greater serenity is when she's painting. And there the silence is deafening.
The film appears one night only at 8 p.m., Friday, June 6, at the Crest Theatre, 1262 Westwood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90024. Tickets are $12, available at the box office 30 minutes prior to the screening. For more information call (310) 470-1508 or visit www.crestwestwood.com.
A trailer for the film can be found here.