This week, we’re checking out a pair of exhibitions at the Central Library, admiring the work of Ernie Barnes, seeing fearless fashion at Skirball and watching movies outdoors.
Ansel Adams, Jose Ramirez
The LA Central Library has two exhibitions worth a look.
The first is “On Assignment: Ansel Adams in Los Angeles,” a set of photographs taken for Fortune magazine. In 1940, Fortune was putting out an entire issue on the nation’s air power and wanted Adams to photograph two airplane manufacturing facilities; Douglas in Santa Monica and Lockheed in Burbank.
“For both locales, he documented the flurry of activity as legions of workers broke for lunch, but also captured some of the employees in nearby homes or bars and bowling alleys,” the library’s blog said. “He also journeyed throughout the city and beyond, capturing architecture and Angelenos from downtown to the ocean.”
Over the course of the assignment, Adams shot over 200 frames on 120 film, which were sent to Fortune. The March 1941 issue included 12 of the photos in a piece called “City of Angeles.” Most of the negatives were returned to Adams, who filed them away and quickly forgot about them.
In 1962, in the process of moving, Adams found the negatives and offered them to the library. He gave permission to the library to “dispose of them in the incinerator” if they had no value. The library graciously accepted the donation, appraising the complete collection at $150 for tax purposes.
“Eighty years later, the collection serves as a fascinating look at a city that is now barely recognizable, other than an occasional landmark,” the library’s blog says. “It’s a city of modest but now long-vanished amusements, trailer courts that have been replaced by multi-million dollar developments, and airplane factories that once upon a time, enticed workers from around the country. The photos have become a document of a once towering industry of Southern California that has long been in decline.”
The Ansel Adams exhibition is on display in the Central Library’s Annenberg Gallery through Oct. 20.
The second exhibition of note is “Jose Ramirez: En su propia tierra/In His Own Soil.” Ramirez is an artist, teacher and urban gardener.
“Deeply influenced by Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros and by the populist Chicano Art Movement of the 1960s, Ramirez’s work features an array of mysterious places and characters — humble workers, ancient warriors, gangsters, laborers, innocent children, and mystical creatures that stir the imagination,” the library’s blog said. “They are seen against lush tropical gardens or Downtown’s jagged skyline, like ancient sentinels, reflecting the city’s unique Mexican history and experience.”
His work is described as “dream-like apparitions that bring to mind the enchanted realism of Latin American writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges or Laura Esquivel.”
The Ramirez exhibition is on display in the library’s Getty gallery through Aug. 4.
The Central Library is located at 630 W 5th St. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday.
If you watched the TV show “Good Times” in the 1970s, you would recognize the art of Ernie Barnes. The work attributed to the character J.J. (Jimmy Walker) was done by Barnes. His painting “The Sugar Shack,” seen in the show, would also be used as the cover for Marvin Gaye’s 1976 album “I want You.”
The California African American Museum (CAAM) just opened a retrospective of Barnes’ work.
“Barnes created some of the 20th century’s most iconic images of African American life,” the museum’s website says. “Known for his unique ‘neo-mannerist’ approach of presenting figures through elongated forms, he captured his observations of life growing up in North Carolina, playing professional football in the NFL (1960–1964), and living in Los Angeles.”
The exhibition includes examples of his paintings of entertainment and music and also highlights how Barnes, the official artist of the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, extensively represented athletes and sports.
“Being an athlete helps me formulate movement,” Barnes said in one interview. “Movement is what I want to capture on canvas more than anything else. I can’t stand a static canvas.”
CAAM is located at 600 State Dr. in Exposition Park. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday; and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday.
The Barnes exhibition is on display through Sept. 8.
The Skirball Cultural Center has just opened an exhibition on fashion designer Rudolph “Rudi” Gernreich (1922–1985), one of the most prominent fashion designers of his time.
On view through Sept. 1, “Fearless Fashion: Rudi Gernreich” will feature more than 80 ensembles—including the topless swimsuit, the thong, unisex clothing and pantsuits for women that earned Gernreich worldwide acclaim. Also on view will be original sketches, letters and personal papers, photographs, press clippings and newly filmed oral histories of friends and colleagues that shed new light on how Gernreich continues to influence fashion today.
“After fleeing Nazi oppression as a teen, Rudi Gernreich immigrated to Los Angeles, where he encountered discrimination again,” Bethany Montagano, the exhibition curator said. “He would eventually find safe haven in the performing arts world and the gay rights movement. These early experiences fueled his commitment to promoting a truer expression of self and designing clothes that proclaimed, ‘You are what you decide you want to be,’ as Gernreich himself put it.”
Gernreich’s designs, Montagano said, welcomed everyone into the fold regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality and body type, broadening the scope of who is “fashionable.”
Gernreich’s forward-thinking, body-positive designs sometimes resulted in backlash, according to the Skirball. His “monokini” swimsuit of 1964 brought him notoriety, as critics ranging from the Soviet Union to the Pope thought it signaled the end of morality in the US.
The Skirball Cultural Center is located at 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd. and is open from noon to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Friday; and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $12 for adults, $9 seniors, students and children over 12; and $7 for youth 2 to 12.
In a sign that summer is nearly here, Street Food Cinema and Eat/See/Hear are kicking off their outdoor movie seasons on May 11.
Street Food Cinema has two offerings on May 11: “The Princess Bride” at Park Center, 4670 Crystal Springs Dr. in Griffith Park and “Dirty Dancing” at Exposition Park, 700 Exposition Park Dr.
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at both venues. Both will have live bands, Livingmore at the “Dirty Dancing” screening and So Many Wizards at Griffith Park. Movies start at 8:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $14 in advance at Streetfoodcinema.com and $17 at the door.
Eat/See/Hear will screen “Crazy Rich Asians” at LA State Historic Park, 1245 N. Spring St. Music will be provided by Mating Ritual. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. General admission is $14. For more information, visit eatseehear.com
Cinespia is also starting its season at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., however its screening of “Beetlejuice” is sold out already. They are offering a free advance screening of the new TV show “Good Omens” at 6:30 p.m., May 17. Author Neil Gaiman is scheduled to appear. Although the screening is free, you’ll need to grab a ticket at cinespia.org