Art Appreciation, Hollywood-Style


"It's really easy to be safe right now, and this is not safe art," collector Susan Gersh told Ruth Bloom.

"I've never been safe in my life," said Bloom at the opening of Ruth Bloom Gallery in Santa Monica Thursday night.

Though art galleries across town are shutting down at a disturbing rate (the new gallery was previously the location of her Meyers/Bloom Gallery, which dissolved in May), Bloom told Gersh she can deal with the risk of doing business in an uncertain economic climate.

"I have a positive outlook--I believe things turn around. And good art is still being made and it has to be shown," insisted Bloom.

No, there's nothing timid about the woman, including her taste in art, as the inaugural exhibit of conceptual artist David Ireland proved.

"Some pieces either elude me or I elude them," offered Sylvester Stallone as he studied the large and small scale works incorporating everyday objects such as potatoes, glass jars and cement blobs.

"I'm completely surprised by it. I just need to get used to it," allowed Jim Wiatt, president of ICM. "This is very different stuff."

Bloom's Hollywood connection--her husband Jake is a partner in the entertainment law firm Bloom, Dekom & Hergott--ensured a heavy industry crowd for her opening, including Alec Baldwin, Dawn Steel, Mace Neufeld, Larry Gordon, Ned Tanen, Dan Melnick, Roger Corman, Mark Rydell, Martin Bauer and Arnold Rifkin.

But Bloom said she finds that the movie crowd is amenable to contemporary art, with or without Jake. "If they're not knowledgeable about it," she said, "they're so visual, it just takes a little push to shift them from the big screen to cutting edge art."

"We're just beginning to collect," confirmed Rifkin, a principal at Triad, of himself and his wife. "In our business, it's a very natural segue."

Ireland, meanwhile, watched as the crowd negotiated one of his pieces entitled "79 Dumb Balls Rolled With Concentration or Stored In Four Easy to Carry Wood Boxes Dedicated to the Memory of John Cage, 1912-1992."

The memorial to the late composer involves 79 cement balls scattered across the main gallery floor. "I thought there would be chaos with the party going on around the work," admitted the artist. "I think it's remarkable that it's working this well."

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