Friday, April 24, 2015

The Art Set: Loving Los Angeles

My vantage point at Kohn Gallery in Hollywood of the Wolk Morais finale for their 2016 “LA New Look” Resort Collection.
The Art Set: Loving Los Angeles
by Charlie Scheips

What a great time I’ve had in Los Angeles during these past ten days. Not only is it the time of the annual blossoming of my favorite jacaranda trees but LA is also simply bubbling with creativity and style — not to mention its continuing and growing prominence as one of the world’s top art capitals! 
My favorite LA moment — the blooming of the Jacarandas all over the city.
On Saturday April 11th, Gemini GEL opened Richard Serra Reversals, 2015, a series of Ten Paintstik editions. I went over and walk to find Ayn Grinstein, Joni Weyl and Sidney Felsen greeting a group of friends at the door. We traveled throughout the Frank Gehry designed studio where some of the greatest limited editions prints of great variety have been produced in the decades since the late Stanley Grinstein and Sidney founded the fabled place (
Always dapper Gemini GEL cofounder Sidney Felsen unveiled the new works by Richard Serra
produced at Gemini.
On Monday, April 13th, Brian Wolk and Claude Morais, who first came to fashion prominence with their Ruffian line, presented their namesake label Wolk Morais 2016  “LA New Look” Resort Collection at Michael Kohn’s spacious gallery on Highland in Hollywood. 

The duo moved from New York to Los Angeles last year — a year to the day of their latest show.  I had dinner in the garden of their cozy West Hollywood bungalow a week before the show and they showed me their inspiration books for the collection which conjure, in their words, “California-centric story lines that range from West Coast “Cool School” minimalist paintings to Technicolor film grandeur.”
Crowds gather at Kohn Gallery entrance for Wolk Morais fashion show.
I arrived on the early side and ran into Christopher Ford who is now directing the Clyde Beswick gallery here.  I also spotted Maynard Monroe with Sarah Gavlak (who recently opened her swank LA gallery on Highland in addition to her gallery in Palm Beach). It was at Galvak's space here where Claude and Brian showed their first collection in LA last year. Beth De Woody arrived soon afterwards — joined by her daughter Kyle (who started the art site and collaborative entity Grey Area a few years back) and Beth’s equally talented son Carlton. I’ve known both of them since they were toddlers! Carlton designed the exterior of a “#Suburuartcar” inspired by Wolk Morais’s new collection that was parked near the back door “main entrance” of the gallery.
Carlton De Woody and his mom Beth pose with Subaru car exterior he designed for Wolk Morais
Selfie with Grey Area's Kyle De Woody.
Inside, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house as benches lined the perimeter of the Kohn Gallery for the show.  The show only lasted about seven or eight minutes but featured a stream of models in day glow and Technicolor dresses wearing brightly colored eyeglasses courtesy of l.a. Eyeworks (designed by Barbara McReynolds and Gai Gherardi) in a fast-paced show styled by Elizabeth Stewart.  You can tell Wolk Morais’s yearlong honeymoon with LA is still going strong. The CFDA’s Steven Kolb and Lisa Smilor were out from New York to cheer them on.
Wolk Morais 2016  “LA New Look” Resort Collection at Kohn Gallery.
Wolk Morais models in day glow and Technicolor dresses and l.a. Eyeworks eyeglasses.
Claude Morais and Brian Wolk flank CFDA's Steven Kolb after the fashion show.
Two days later I drove up to the famous Tony Duquette house “Dawnridge” in Beverly Hills for an al fresco lunch hosted by Hutton and Ruth Wilkinson — owners of that extraordinary compound.  Hutton and Ruth hosted a cocktail reception there this past  December with the Costume Council of the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) for my Elsie de Wolfe’s Paris: Frivolity Before the Storm book.
Hutton Wilkinson give a rapid-fire tour of Tony Duquette's Dawn ridge before lunch. Behind him is the famous cabinet Tony Duquette created for Elsie de Wolfe at the beginning of his career.
The occasion was an assemblage of a dozen of the Wilkinson’s wide range of friends to hear Nicoletta Carlone discuss her upcoming book on the infamous 1922 murder of film director William Desmond Taylor at his bungalow in Hollywood. Nicoletta has “solved” the murder but she didn’t let the secret out at lunch. It was a fascinating story nevertheless as she explained her complex journey while researching her own genealogy that led to the upcoming book and already a possible film. We even got a peak at the actual pink nightgown, gloves and feathered headdress of Mary Miles Minter that were found almost 90 years ago at the murder scene.
Hutton shows his luncheon guests part of the multi-level sprawling gardens.
Portrait painter Juan Bartos, Thomas Graf, Rusty Frank (whose book Tap! The Greatest Tap Dance Stars and Their Stories 1900-1955 remains in print since it was published 20 years ago!), Tim Scully and Paddle8’s Jason Stein were there along with Nicoletta’s dapper husband Maxwell DeMille — whom she married in January at  LA’s Art Deco extravaganza, the Cicada Club, located in the 1928 Oviatt Building downtown.   

Lunch was a delicious mélange of tamale pie, chili rellenos, and salad washed down with pitchers of refreshing brewed ice tea and a desert of sponge and fruit cake flecked with gold — so Tony Duquette — but also SO Hutton!
Lunch table in a pavilion at Dawnridge including tablecloth desgined by Hutton Wilkinson (
Then on Saturday, we went for lunch to The Alcove on Hillhurst to meet my pals Holger Gräf and Daniel Lantz, who design and produce their amazing handbags from their studio here in Silverlake near downtown.  They gave me a felt and leather tote bag a couple years ago and every time I carry it I get comments on it.
Gräf & Lantz's Jaunt tote. Mine is on the right.
Historian and steam train conservator Jim Wilke joined us, as did OakNYC’s cofounding fashion designer Louis Terline. After lunch we drove over and had a tour of the Gräf & Lantz atelier (
Gräf-Lantz studio in Siverlake.
Workers making bags at the Gräf-Lantz studio.
Daniel Lantz and Holger Gräf with Frankie in their Silverlake studio. Photos: Heather Hixon.
I headed back up to the Hollywood Hills where I was staying to quickly change into my tuxedo and then headed back down Nichols Canyon to the Los Angeles County Museum (LACMA) for their 50th Anniversary Gala. The dinner had long been sold out for the museum 750 patrons but they were kind enough to invite me for the cocktail and unveiling of 50 for 50: An Exhibition of Major Gifts of Artworks Donated to the Museum.
The invite for LACMA 's 50th.
I arrived early, which was great because it was one of the most beautiful evenings since I arrived in Los Angeles for this trip. Guests traveled on the red carpet after leaving their car with valet service on Wilshire Boulevard — moving through Chris Burden’s now iconic Urban Light sculpture of an assemblage of old LA city lampposts. A miniature version of one the lampposts were included in the invitation — which included a button to turn on the lamp! 
Drummer's greeted arriving guests at LACMA in front of Chris Burden's Urban Light.
The red carpet that led to the other "red carpets" — when in Hollywood?!
Strange Fruit performance at Chris Burden's Urban Light.
I did manage to find a place to smoke nearby — thank God!
The crowd awaits the unveiling of the new show.
I lived in LA from the mid 1980s until the early 1990s. In 1988, I was working for David Hockney when we presented his major retrospective at LACMA’s then new Anderson Wing. Earl “Rusty” Powell, Jr., (now longtime director of the National Gallery in Washington D.C.) was then LACMA’s director. I ran into Rusty talking to LACMA’s senior curator Stephanie Barron who created Hockney’s 1988 retrospective and is now, all these years later, the Museum’s longest-serving employee having started there in 1976! I also saw LACMA pals including curator Carol Eliel and Costume Senior Curator Sharon Takeda. Soon after I met up with Richard Koshalek, who was director of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) during my years here and then moved on to a long stint as director the Hirshhorn Museum.
LACMA Curator Carol Eliel and Paul Schimmel. Bob Iger and LACMA Trustee Willow Bay.
Charlie Scheips and LACMA Senior Costume Curator Sharon Takeda at the LACMA 50 Gala
I never saw in person the three LACMA trustee co-chairs for the anniversary: Ann Colgin, Jane Nathanson and Lynda Resnick, but I did manage to say hello to Katherine Ross Govan and her husband, LACMA Director Michael Govan in between the endless photo-ops they posed for. I also chatted with art dealer Peter Goulds and his wife Liz — I first met Peter in Chicago in the early 1980s when the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (MCA) mounted a major show of the work of Ed and Nancy Kienholz. Peter’s LA Louver gallery in Venice will host a major show of David Hockney’s new Paintings and Photographs later this summer.  I saw Gagosian, Beverly Hill’s Director Deborah McLeod, Graham Steele (who recently left White Cube gallery in London) to join the soon-to-be-opened Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in LA. Paul Schimmel was the longtime chief curator of MOCA who joined the Hauser & Wirth global empire a couple years ago. I spotted him among the crowd. 
Stewart Resnick, Katherine Ross, LACMA Trustee and Gala Co-Chair Lynda Resnick, and LACMA Director Michael Govan.
Marc Nathanson and LACMA Trustee and Gala Co-Chair Jane Nathanson. Barbara Davis.
Ed and Danna Ruscha with Bill Viola and Kira Perov. Deborah McLeod.
For a brief stint in the late 1980s, I was the deputy publisher of an LA-based art magazine entitled Artcoast that only lasted (sadly) for a mere two issues. One of the younger people on staff way back then was Joanne Heyler who now, after a long association as the director of the Broad Art Foundation, has just been named Director of the soon to open (September 2015) The Broad museum. The Broad will be located downtown on LA’s Grand Avenue and is designed by Diller Scofidio +Renfro. Joanne told me Eli and Edie Broad were in New York and unable to attend the 50th anniversary dinner. 
SELFIES! (clockwise from top left): Graham Steele and Charlie Scheips at the bar; Charlie with Joanne Heyler, the new director of The Broad Museum; Charlie with Cathie Opie.
Others I saw in the throng included: Beth De Woody and Firooz Zahedi, Angelica Huston, Dustin Hoffman, Lenny and Bernie Goldberg, Barbara Davis, W’s Stefano Tonchi, Christie’s Laura Paulsen, Blake Byrne, Frank Gehry, and many more.
Angelica Huston and Liev Schreiber. Lenore and Bernard Greenberg.
Ed and Danna Ruscha with Lari Pittman.
Jane Nathanson and Frank Gehry. Dustin and Lisa Hoffman.
Beth De Woody and Firooz Zahedi inside 50 for 50.
Around 7:45 the crowds gathered in front of the Resnick Pavilion where a huge white curtain was hanging in front of the entrance.  After Michael Govan welcomed the crowd the signal was given and the curtain dropped to reveal the 50 for 50 exhibition.   The entrance featured David Hockney’s huge The Jugglers, June 24th, 2012 — a video installation of a group of jugglers filmed using eighteen fixed cameras and presented on a grid of 18 high definition screens.
A curtain covered the entrance to the Resnick Pavilion during the cocktails at the LACMA Gala. As night fell, projections lit up the curtain in anticipation of the opening of the 50 for 50 exhibition.
LACMA Director Michael Govan welcomes the 750 guests to the Gala.
The first art people saw after the unveiling was David Hockney's multi-screen film The Jugglers.
Still from David Hockney's The Jugglers. ©David Hockney
Another view of The Jugglers at LACMA
Waiters ready the tables for dinner at LACMA
According to an article in the LA Times the following Monday, the art donated for the 50th Anniversary celebration was valued at $675 million dollars and includes a jewel of a painting by Claude Monet, an Andy Warhol's Double Marilyn and other works spanning centuries including major works by Edgar Degas, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and one of my favorite photographs — Yves Klein’s Into the Void.
Installation views of the exhibition 50 for 50: Gifts on the Occasion of LACMA's Anniversary at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (April 26, 2015 - September 13, 2015). Photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA
Yves Klein's Into the Void, 1960, at LACMA's 50 for 50 given by The Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection in honor of the museum's 50th anniversary.
You can see the 50 for 50 exhibition at LACMA through September 13, 2015. 

I love LA! 
LACMA photographs by Getty Images for LACMA (Charley Gallay, Chris Weeks, Donato Sardella, John Sciulli, Jonathan Leibson, Michael Kovac, Rich Polk, Stephanie Keenan); Wolk Morais photographs by Billy Farrell Agency.