Thursday, June 23, 2011

Craft and Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles

By Merritt of Not Without Merit

I was in Claremont, California this past weekend to attend my father’s retirement party. On Sunday we decided to head into LA and while searching for museums around The Stinking Rose (a friend has been pestering me for years about going there while I am out visiting family), I came across the Craft and Folk Art Museum.

The exterior of the building does not look like a traditional museum, but then again, what museum does nowadays, anyway. When you enter the front door, to the right is the lovely gift shop, and to the left is the front desk. After we paid the $7 for my adult ticket, and $5 for each of my senior parents, we headed upstairs to the third floor for the Ann Weber exhibit.

Ann Weber makes amazing large-scale sculptures out of discarded cardboard and staples. From a distance they appear to be wicker or rattan, but upon closer inspection they are in fact cardboard cut into strips and then made into rounded almost alien-like forms. Some of the sculptures are the normal brown cardboard, but others feature patterns that were originally on boxes that she collected.

We then headed downstairs to the Jennifer Angus: All Creatures Great and Small Exhibit. WOW! This could be one of my all-time favorite exhibits (and I am a HUGE museum nerd). Je

nnifer creates installation pieces that incorporate insects used in traditional methods of decorating Victorian-era homes.

This is a great video of Jennifer talking about her work, but here is the description of the exhibit from the website: “Naturally electric blue, emerald green, pink, purple and red insects coalesce on the walls to create an immersive Victorian-era room that recalls an age of excitement, exploration and scientific discovery. Complementary small-scale dollhouses covered in beeswax are home to anthropomorphized insects that provoke viewers to revisit their own relationship with the eco-system.

For Angus, pattern is associated more with meaning than decoration. Her works call to mind themes of death, cultural association and ideas about collection.”

I was only able to take one photo on my phone, that really does not do her work justice, so I took to google and swiped some images from there:

My parents and I spent a good hour just walking around each piece saying “Wow! Did you see this beetle?” “Hey! Did you see this roach in front of the mirror?” “What about this bed-bug?!” That was my dad’s favorite—it was a bug lying in its own bed—he loves puns. The sheets on the bed even had ants woven in the pattern. She had beeswax flowers all around half-globes on the walls that had imaginary bugs (put together by the artist using different pieces from different insects to create fantastical creatures), all the while beetles were lining the walls as chair rail and some sort of grass-eating insect was used as wainscoting.

It was very obvious (in a good way) that the curators of this museum were cognizant of the Tim Burton Exhibition just up at LACMA. These two exhibits were totally inline, and complimentary of what was going on down the street without seeming to want to copy or cling on to the Burton show. I truly hope that at some point we in Boston are lucky enough to see some of Jennifer Angus’s work here!

I went to Youtube to find some help conveying her amazing work, and found some great videos here, here, and here.

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