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Why the Ferus Gallery artists loved Barney’s Beanery

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What do the Ferus Gallery artists and Rita Hayworth have in common? They both hung out at Barney’s Beanery in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The ‘Gilda’ star already was hugely famous at the time, and the artists -- including Billy Al Bengston, Ed Kienholz, Robert Irwin and Larry Bell -- were on their way but still in need of the credit that the restaurant’s owner extended to them for their meals.

So frequently did the community of artists visit Barney’s (it was around the corner from Ferus on Santa Monica Boulevard) that Kienholz created a sculpture called ‘The Beanery,’ and installed it outside of Barney’s Beanery for three days.

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In her book, ‘The Ferus Gallery: A Place to Begin,’ Kristine McKenna gathers remembrances of Barney’s from Ken Price, Craig Kauffman, Dennis Hopper and Irving Blum.

‘Every night we went to Barney’s -- for a long time the place was like Ed Kienholz’ living room. There wasn’t much there in the way of girls, but everyone was friends and Barney would cash checks for us,’ Kauffman says in the book.

To read more about the Ferus artists and Barney’s, including some fun anecdotes from Billy Al Bengston, click here for the story in Thursday’s Food section.

-- Jessica Gelt


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