Review by Zach Long
Frank Lloyd Wright once said, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” The Graham Foundation’s latest exhibition uses this quote as a jumping off point for its exploration of the convergence of artists and architects in Los Angeles in the early 1970s. The diverse collection of drawings, prints, sculptures and models was curated by Sylvia Lavin, the Director of Critical Studies at UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, who divides the works into four sections, each examining a different aspect of the time period’s artistic conversion.
“Very little of this is work that was intended to be in a proper museum,” Lavin explained as she guided us through the exhibit. Many of the pieces are housed in custom display cases that incorporate domed skylights, lending a retro-futuristic sensibility to the exhibition. Much of the work itself echoes this theme, including Craig Hodgetts and Keith Godard’s depiction of a modular dwelling and collages by Ron Herron that incorporate outlandish signage into California locales. It’s indicative of the idealistic, forward-thinking mentality of the early 1970s, when the rise of computers and space travel sent reverberations through the artistic world.
Much of the collection demonstrates how artists and architects were able to work in tandem to advance their respective crafts. A highlight of the exhibition is a crude architectural drawing of a house built in Southern California during 1977, a collaboration between architect Frank Gehry and pop artist Ed Ruscha. Lavin’s research revealed that the structure was designed to incorporate windows, doors and other parts that Ruscha had collected and was modeled to echo the architecture of the nearby Pioneertown, a movie set frequently used in Westerns. The building is unlike any of Gehry’s (or, for that matter, Ruscha's) other work—a curiosity realized as a result of an unexpected partnership.
Describing the climate of the 1970s, Lavin expounded, “There were certain kind of pressures—new technology, changes in economy, etc.—that affected all of the arts. They responded to those pressures with the distinct expertise that they had and that response brought them together.” “Everything Loose Will Land” successfully showcases the impact of cross pollination on the art world at large by homing in on the fertile Los Angeles scene during a particularly tumultuous time. The disparate selection of artworks presented in the exhibition is essentially a collection of loose ends that Lavin ties together, demonstrating how a period of intense change necessitated a more collaborative future.