Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mark Your Calendar: Birth of the Cool in Oakland

I confess: I don't go to museums as often as I should. I will, of course, make a point to visit big-city museums like London's Tate Modern, San Francisco's de Young, and New York's MoMA when I'm in town. (Did I ever tell you about the time my son, who was then a toddler, gleefully leaped into what he thought was a ball pit but that was actually a 3D installation at MoMA by a really famous Japanese artist whose name now escapes me, and how we were then quickly escorted out of the museum by horrified security guards? Ah, good times ... )

I tend to forget about the smaller, less glamorous museums in my own backyard, though -- like the Oakland Museum of California, which I believe I've only been to once, and that was while chaperoning a second-grade field trip. But there's a new exhibition arriving at the Oakland Museum on Saturday, May 17, that I'm pretty excited to see, and that will finally snap me out of my hometown-museum slacking.

Birth of the Cool: California Art, Design, and Culture at Midcentury "looks at the painting, architecture, furniture design, decorative and graphic arts, film, and music that launched midcentury modernism in the United States." The show includes a jazz lounge; film, animation, and television clips; Van Keppel Green furniture and architectural pottery; a period art gallery featuring hard-edged abstract paintings; art, architectural, and documentary photography; and an interactive timeline that highlights California, national, and international culture and history in the 1950s. Featured artists, photographers, musicians, filmmakers, architects, and designers include Lorser Feitelson, Julius Shulman, Miles Davis, Oskar Fischinger, Richard Neutra, and, of course, Charles and Ray Eames.

Though Los Angeles was the epicenter of the American Modernism movement, the Oakland Museum has added a dose of contemporary homegrown cool in the form of Cool Remixed. The exhibit examines modern-day "Made in Oaktown" youth culture in the form of graffiti, DJs, themed lounges, street fashion, scraper bikes, skateboarding videos, a quarter-bowl skate ramp, impromptu hip-hop performances, and T.U.R.F. dancing, as well as art rendered on car hoods, hubcaps, and sneakers. (Random Oakland claim to fame: Both "hella" -- hence my "I Hella Love Oakland" series -- and "hyphy" sprang from O-Town's dense primordial soup before entering the American lexicon.)

Birth of the Cool and Cool Remixed will be at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak St. at Tenth, through August 17. Museum admission is $8 for adults (although it's free on the second Sunday of each month). Catch them while you can!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I saw Birth of the Cool at the orange county museum of art a few months ago. I really enjoyed it, definitely recommended.


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