Sometimes I wish for the moon and the stars: I wish for the rapt attention of a new audience for contemporary art. Like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for—it might come true. On Monday morning I met a group of journalists at the gallery, and for pretty much the whole day, I had the pleasure of their company. All seven arts journalists were awarded fellowships for the ninth USC Annenberg/Getty Arts Journalism Program. They showed up in a small white bus, guided by Sasha Anawalt, Director of the program, and Jeff Weinstein, Deputy Director.
The program for the day started with their visit to the gallery and a look at our Craig Kauffman show. I gave our guests a bit of background on Craig, and author Hunter Drohojowska-Philp filled in the history of the 1960s in the L. A. art scene. She’s got all kinds of anecdotes on the tip of her tongue these days, as her soon-to-be-published book is nearing completion. The group seemed to be delighted to see the Kauffman show, and one, Alissa Walker, has already posted her impressions on her blog and flickr.
I haven’t had such an attentive group come to the gallery—ever! There’s nothing like a group of journalists taking notes, snapping pictures—and really listening. We moved on to the studios of Larry Bell and Ed Moses. The writers were treated to some extraordinary moments. I swear that the Larry Bell visit was a classic: an explanation of his intentions, a denial of his intelligence, his pointed and clear overview of methods and technology, and his sound-enhanced and humorous anecdotes (my favorite was the story about Marcel Duchamp knocking at his studio door in 1963).
Ed Moses was unusually touching and subdued–yet showed them work that is vibrant and alive with color. It’s just so powerful to see someone at 84 years old, and having gone through a life-threatening period in the hospital, making inventive new work. The group gathered and then grew silent when he talked.
So I got what I have been wishing for: a day that makes my occupation worthwhile—meaningful work and an audience that wants to understand it.