Friday, June 24, 2016

Thoughts on the LMNA

I felt a need to share this update on the LMNA, especially in light of the recent expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the closure of the Cartoon Art Museum. Few things in SFMOMA have inspired me as much as the exhibitions at the CAM. I should preface this my mentioning Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois, Lee Bul, Lee Bontecou and Lebbeus Woods as huge influences whose work I first saw at SFMOMA. From an early age I was instilled with a deep curiosity about all kinds of art and I value accessible spaces where we can experience modern art. On the other hand, some of my strongest memories of art come from mass-market science fiction novels, movie posters and superhero comics. Granted, local book stores and public libraries have made it easy to learn about the artists and the art from these genres, but here's nothing like seeing the real thing in person. I see things in actual paintings and comic book pages that the how-to books just can't show. Physical art is treasure trove of information and so much of the subtle materiality of a given work gets lost in a reproduction. I was probably drawn to work by artists who painted with an illustrator's imagination and specificity because they were master communicators. I could understand an illustration right away without second-guessing myself. Even when the work was hard to relate to content-wise, it inspired me to give this magical story-picture-making thing a try. So much of what ends up in museums today seems driven by educational trends, markets, culture and personal tastes. And that's just fine. We all can collect and preserve works that resonate with us in whatever forms and quantities you can. Whenever I see the names of founders, donors and private collectors on gallery and museum walls, I'm reminded that they did just that. The only difference is scale, wealth and access. 

Hopefully, the Lucas collection will find a home in California soon. It's just something I'd like to see either in the Bay Area, or at least somewhere in California. Maybe there are just too many cultural and political forces at play in most major cities to allow something like the LMNA to flourish. Then again, a place like Skywalker Ranch found a home well-outside the city limits of San Francisco. Pixar settled in Emeryville, not Burbank or Hollywood. It will be interesting to see how this saga ends.

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