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Appearing in Santa Monica: Stephen Glassman’s Fiberglass Menagerie

FACES

“It’s the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria,” said sculptor Stephen Glassman as he glanced with a proud fatherly smile at “Eagle,” “Bear” and “Snake,” the three pieces of his “Zoo” installation in the courtyard next to the Santa Monica Museum of Art. “They’re like Christopher Columbus’ ships--they’re vehicles to explore some new frontiers and they’re meant to take some risks.”

Glassman’s animals--mammoth-sized ambulatory sculptures made of fiberglass, bamboo, ropes and fishing net--are a far cry from his recent ice sculptures containing portraits of Presidents that were on view at L.A. Municipal Art Gallery in this winter’s “Systems” show. For the artist, they represent a “ritual” which reconciles his art with other aspects of his life.

“Early on, like when I was 19 and 20, I came from a background in touring theater. Before I learned to draw and paint, I did things like scene-building and kite-making,” explained the Venice-based artist, now 34. “I needed a ritual--I needed to find a way where things in art were not separate from life. I wanted to travel, and I wanted to do something concerned with the environment. . . . So I invented this sort of outdoor touring spectacle, without the confines of the galleries.”

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Glassman looks at his sculptures--which also contain political symbols such as a hammer and sickle, Russian writing and the faces of Ronald Reagan and Leonid Brezhnev--as “a way of exploring the parameters and definitions of public art as a necessary, socially fundamental, evolutionary process.”

But the pieces, which will remain on view in the museum’s courtyard as an installation until June 10 (they will also be featured in Security Pacific Gallery at the Plaza’s “Of Nature and Nations” show beginning June 28), are much more than just public sculptures, Glassman said. Their full potential is realized when they are “performed.”

Such will be the case this weekend when Glassman and a couple of his trainees take to stilts to bring the pieces to life as part of a new collaborative performance piece--commissioned by the Santa Monica Museum--with choreographer Sarah Elgart, her troupe of dancers and composer Ed Tomney.

“The physical execution . . . is really a high for me. It’s physically gratifying to get out into the streets and into the people,” said Glassman, noting that performances will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. next Sunday. Tickets are $8; $5 for museum members, students and seniors.

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THE SCENE

Koplin Gallery is the latest to make the move to Santa Monica. The gallery, which formerly had a 3,000-square-foot space in the La Cienega area, opens its new 5,500-square-foot space at 1438 9th St. on Saturday, featuring “Eternal/Ephemeral,” a sculpture installation by Mineko Grimmer along with recent drawings by Robert Schultz. The inaugural opening reception is from 3-5 p.m. and will include the first of several “performances” of Grimmer’s installation which features a wave-like geometric form topped with pebbles encased in ice. As the ice sculptures melt, the pebbles randomly fall onto a stone garden. Other performances of the installation will be held on June 9, 16 and 23 from 2-5 p.m.

More than 5,500 people attended last weekend’s Venice Art Walk, which raised about $725,000 for the Venice Family Clinic. “Of course we’re very pleased, but I think we may have reached our limit,” commented Laura Maslon, one of the event’s volunteer organizers. “I get kind of nervous that if we had any more people the studios would just get too crowded.” Maslon said. A big hit of the annual event was a new feature called “Artists in the Back Room,” a show featuring works by 18 artists who work as handlers in local galleries. Maslon said organizers plan to make the show a permanent feature of the Art Walk.

Works by 32 prominent artists including Lita Albuquerque, Sam Francis, Frank O. Gehry, Robert Graham, George Herms, David Hockney, and Ed Ruscha will be on view Tuesday through June 9 at Fred Hoffmann Gallery. The works will all be raffled off (for $100 a ticket) at DC 3 in the Santa Monica Airport June 23 in “Artists Unite for Big Green,” a benefit for the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 initiative. The works will also be on view on a rotating basis at Venice’s West Beach Cafe from June 11-22. Information: (213) 395-1990.

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OVERHEARD

Bay Area artist Paul Kos’ “Revolution/Counter Revolution” was a big crowd pleaser at his opening last weekend at Dorothy Goldeen Gallery, prompting a multitude of comments from observers of the piece, which emits ticking sounds and Italian, German and Slavian partisan sounds in clockwise and counterclockwise sequences.

--"It’s certainly very modest, they should turn the sound up,” said one gray-haired man, whose wife received what she described as “an electrical shock” when she put her ear too close to one of the piece’s speakers.

--"This is kind of fun,” exclaimed a large man with a silver ponytail as he bounced up and down in time to the beats.

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--"It confuses me, I can’t quite follow where the beats are coming from,” a bespectacled dark-haired woman in her early 30s said quizzically.

--"That’d be interesting to have, if you had a wall that big to waste,” commented a tall, curly-headed fellow glancing at the 132-inch diameter piece.

CURRENTS

The La Jolla Museum of Art has changed its name. The 50-year-old institution is now the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, but don’t go looking for outdoor signs and correspondence from the museum to reflect that new name just yet. Although the name change was actually made official by the museum’s board in April, it was not publicly announced until last week, and the transition is not expected to be complete until January.

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“It’ll be phased in over the next six months,” said museum spokeswoman Diane Maxwell, who noted that she was not sure when signs outside of the new museum would be redone in the new name. “It’s not a black-and-white thing where one day you’re one (name) and the next day you’re something else.”

The name change is not expected to bring about any changes in the museum’s exhibitions program. Instead, it is an attempt to “reflect the full geographic identity that is San Diego,” museum director Hugh M. Davies said.

DEBUTS

Painter Robert Kingston has his first solo show opening Thursday at Ruth Bachofner Gallery. Kingston, who works with wax, tar, oil and resin, is a recent graduate of Claremont Graduate School and last year was included in “Dialogue/Prague/Los Angeles” in which several L.A. artists showed in Prague, Czechoslovakia. His show runs through June 30.

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HAPPENING

As part of Ilene Segalove’s multimedia exhibition at the Laguna Art Museum, KCET-TV Channel 28 on Friday will air “Why I Got Into TV and Other Stories,” which introduces excerpts from her video art. The half-hour program begins at 11 p.m., and the 18-year retrospective on view at the museum continues through July 8.

“Career Management Skills Workshop for Visual Arts Professionals,” a workshop covering topics including gallery relationships, grants and jobs, documentation, and business management and resources, will be held Saturday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Contemporary Artists’ Services, 9520 Jefferson Blvd., Culver City. Pre-registration is necessary for the $195 course (the fee includes lunch and a 40-page packet of resource materials). Information: (213) 559-8303.

The 30th annual Artists Market will be held Saturday and next Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Long Beach Museum of Art. Juried by Patrick Ela, director of the Craft and Folk Art Museum, Artists Market will include paintings, prints, photography, ceramics, sculpture, glass and wood work, textiles, handmade books and rubber stamp work from more than 50 artists. Admission is $3 for adults and free for children under 12. Information: (213) 439-2119.

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A symposium on “The Marketing of Art” will be held Saturday at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from 4-6 p.m. Participants include art dealers Larry Gagosian, Linda Cathcart and Richard L. Feigen; private art consultants Barbara Guggenheim and Ikkan Sanada; auctioneer Guy Loudmer; Michael Findlay, head of modern and Impressionist paintings at Christies New York, and Scott Schaefer, vice president of museum services at Sotheby’s New York. Tickets are $10; $5 for museum members, seniors and students. Information: (213) 857-6000.

ETC.

Beginning Tuesday, the Southwest Museum will raise its admission prices to $4 for adults and $2 for students and seniors. The price for youths aged 7-18 will remain at $1 and children 6 and under will still be admitted free. . . . June 15 is the deadline for entries in the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies project for publicly accessible artwork. The winning artist will receive $1,000 plus $3,000 for production/materials. The commission will be announced July 1, and the work will be shown at the center on 1048 West 6th Street in September. Information: (213) 482-3566.


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