Archive | June, 2014

Street art and Renaissance books

12 Jun

elsegundoshow_wholeroom_IMG_20140607_115255What on earth could this title mean?

On the weekend, I read the following announcement:

Not reading closely enough, we decided to go down to see the show on Saturday. I had checked the museum hours and assumed it was open its normal times, so we were very disappointed when we got to El Segundo and found the Museum locked. Just as we were getting ready to leave, two young German guys with all kinds of camera equipment arrived; they were making a documentary of this project, and said the curator was just coming, too.  They also told us that the show’s opening had been the night before, when over 800 people–a mixture of street artists, dudes, museum folk, and artists–had crammed into the space for a wild, wild evening, the likes of which El Segundo has rarely seen. What we had failed to notice was that the show wasn’t supposed to open to the public until Sunday. OOOPS!

Just then, David Brafmann, curator of Rare Books at the Getty Research Institute, appeared. All of them were a little worse for wear–it was QUITE a party!–but David kindly allowed us in to examine this incredible production.

And here he is, explaining how he had the idea of combining street art and rare 16th and 17th century books of calligraphy and printmaking:



Initially, he managed to get 150 street artists from all over SoCal to produce one sheet to put into a Liber Amicorum, a friends’ book, as Renaissance artists did–here it is:

elsegundoshow_amarcordbook_IMG_20140607_113951And here’s a link to the Getty page where you can look at every page the artists made:

He then had a handful of the greatest of these artists–guys whose works we have all seen on LA buildings and walls–and showed them old calligraphy books by Dürer and others, which inspired them to come to the museum building, where they stayed for days, and painted these works together on the panels of the museum’s gallery.  The Renaissance books were displayed along with their images:

elsegundoshow_b+wwall_IMG_20140607_113821    You can see them here, next to the front wall in the case below.















Some of my favorites are here, including Gaijin Fujita:













He also included a wall of wax, accompanied by a vitrine with cuneiform, and allowed visitors to scratch into the surface:

elsegundoshow_waxwall_IMG_20140607_114916                                                     elsegundoartshow_waxwall2_IMG_20140607_114921

The words “PIMP COW” in the middle of the wall have something to do with Brafmann’s own story–Google Brafmann and Pimp Cow to see why!







This is one of the most exciting shows I’ve seen in a long time, and we are so grateful to Mr. Brafmann for taking the time to talk to us, when he must have been more than thoroughly hung over!


If you have any interest in grafitti art, or street art, or the sheer buzz of immediate street-generated creativity, go see this show!


Memorable meals in literature

11 Jun




A photo of a meal described in Catcher in the Rye.




A review of this book in Bookforum by Melanie Rehak (sadly, not available online) made me ponder what fictitious dishes I relish from literature. Aside from Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup with Rice, I’ve gotta go with John Graves’s description in his great Texas book “Goodbye to a River”, a book about a nostalgic trip down the Brazos River before it’s dammed into oblivion. Graves describes the incomparable way in which his old friend and former Pullman cook can fry eggs over an open fire. I don’t have the book with me, but that description remains embedded in my mind.
What’s YOUR most memorable fictitious meal?

Now I’ve found the section in Graves’ book:  “And later trips when they let you go out with a friend named Hale and a huge colored man named Bill Briggs…who could fry eggs, rounded and brown on the outside and soft within, in a way you have never seen since…”

Now why has that passage stayed with me all these years?