The Getty invited a distinguished list of media and art luminaries to the historic Studio A in the Capitol Records building in Hollywood earlier this week to announce Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. The next installment in the Pacific Standard Time exploration of Los Angeles and Southern California design culture will be more modest, with eleven exhibitions and accompanying programs in and around Los Angeles scheduled for spring 2013. The Pacific Standard Time Presents event will continue the momentum of 2011’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A., 1945–1980 events, which included exhibitions and programs at 60 arts institutions across Southern California. The momentum carried by Pacific Standard Time is very real: according to a study by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, Art in L.A. generated $280.5 million in economic output and supported 2,490 jobs with total labor income of $101.3 million for the Southern California region.
To the large population of Southern California residents familiar with modern and post-modern architecture, a series of exhibitions focusing on the region’s unique place among the constellation of modern and post-modern architecture (both its buildings and its practitioners) will seem a natural fit. Exhibitions will grace the region’s variety of architectural-minded museums (e.g., the Getty, LACMA, Hammer, MOCA, A+D), world-class design schools (e.g., UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, Cal Poly Pomona, USC, SCI-Arc), and the multitude of galleries, organizations, and activities that serve as the home base for Southern California’s architectural sensibilities (e.g., MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Center for Land Use Interpretation, CicLAvia, the Los Angeles Conservancy, the Huntington, Machine Project, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Pasadena Heritage).
The kick-off event was packed to the gills—thanks in no small part to the rare access available to the bowels of the Capitol Records building, along with the promise of the continued good work of the Pacific Standard Time brand. The event featured speakers like Hammer Museum Director Ann Philbin, Eric Owen Moss, Michael Maltzan, and a video narrated by musician and Los Angeles architecture aficionado Moby. Moss and Maltzan, especially, spoke of the ongoing revision of the Los Angeles design experiment, both settling on a positive note after expressing some concern at the risk of failure inherent in ambitious intentions. Maltzan, no stranger to designing for populations decidedly not among the One Percent, claimed the work of Los Angeles’ architects for the social good: “What we also invented, both in terms of form and practice and architectural personalities, produces positive, progressive change,” said Maltzan. Certainly, the organizers of Pacific Standard Time Presents should be careful to provide plenty of evidence to support that case.
The argument that the experiment of Los Angeles is not over—and what makes it such a worthy subject for the Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. series—was perhaps most fully summed up by an anecdote told by Moss, who recalled the story of Don Quixote when he tilted at the windmills in the famous story by Miguel de Cervantes. Don Quixote, of course, believed the windmills to be giants and decided to attack. His faithful but pragmatic assistant Sancho Panza believed that they were windmills. According to Moss, “The caricature of the L.A. point of view…is that the guy who was right was Don Quixote. Not that he had a great imagination, but in fact that he was willing to say, ‘They’re giants.’” The attitude of L.A.’s tradition of architecture, according to Moss, is that “You build it as you think it ought to be, and to hell with Sancho Panza.”
Exhibitions receiving Getty Foundation grants include:
A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California (MOCA)
Quincy Jones: Building For Better Living (Hammer)
The Presence of the Past: Peter Zumthor Reconsiders LACMA (LACMA)
Stephen Prina: As He Remembered It (LACMA)
Technology and Environment: The Postwar House in Southern California (Cal Poly Pomona)
Everything Loose Will Land (MAK Center for Art and Architecture)
Windshield Perspective (A+D Architecture and Design Museum)
A Confederacy of Heretics: The Architecture Gallery, Venice, 1979 (SCI-Arc)
Outside In: The Architecture of Smith and Williams (Art, Design & Architecture Museum, UC Santa Barbara)
Support for related public programs has also been provided to:
Center for Land Use Interpretation for On-Site Office Trailers: Invisible Architecture of the Urban Environment, an exhibition of original photography and related construction site tours.
Community Art Resources, Inc. for CicLAvia: Modern Architecture on Wilshire Blvd, an architectural guide and special programming as part of their June 2013 car-free/open streets event.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens for the online exhibition, Form and Landscape: Southern California Edison and the Los Angeles Basin, 1940-1990, and public programming.
Los Angeles Conservancy for Curating the City: Modern Architecture in L.A., 1940-1990, an interactive online resource as well as tours, public programs and print material.
Los Angeles Philharmonic for The Mozart/Da Ponte Trilogy Conversation, a discussion with the three Pritzker Prize-winning architects who are designing sets for this unique interdisciplinary series.
Machine Project for The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture, a performance series at architectural sites across the city.
Pasadena Heritage for Pasadena 1940 Forward: Residential Architecture of the Recent Past, a tour of modernist homes in the Pasadena area along with a related lecture and oral history project.
The UCLA Architecture and Urban Design Department for Extreme IDEAS: Architecture at the Intersection, a series of discussions about the dynamic and interdisciplinary future of architecture.