Loris Lora looks for California modernism’s connections

Los Angeles Times Book Critic

What do Alfred Hitchcock, Edith Head, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton have in common? They’re all featured in Loris Lora’s glorious, and unexpected, “Eventually Everything Connects” (Lowbrow: unpaged $40), a celebration of mid-20th century California modernism in visual form.

Lora, a 2014 BFA grad of Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design, takes her inspiration and her title from designer Charles Eames’ assertion that “Eventually everything connects — people, ideas, objects … The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se.”

The work here, however, is entirely her own.

Designed as a Leporello — a book that unfurls like an accordion, revealing a double-sided mural, fan-folded, 6 feet long on each side — it traces the links between a variety of diverse Southern California figures, beginning with Eames and his wife, Ray, moving on to their friend Billy Wilder (portrayed here lounging in an Eames chair), and then across a variety of creative landscapes: jazz, architecture, the peculiar industry of the motion picture set.


In an interview on the blog It’s Nice That, Lora explains the genesis of the project, which grew out of an Art Center class on modernism.

“I was particularly interested in the relationships between some of my favorite creatives,” she recalls there. “… All of a sudden I was creating a ‘connect the dots’ map of all these designers, architects, entertainers, creatives, etc., which is now featured with the book.”

That map is included in “Eventually Everything Connects” as a guide to the images; it features small portraits and capsule bios of figures ranging from John Lautner to Ed Ruscha. That’s useful, and important, but the real draw here is the art itself.

“Eventually Everything Connects” works like a panorama, sweeping from private to public settings: the Eames’ house to the set of “Vertigo” to the Brown Derby and the Beverly Hills Hotel. Perhaps my favorite setting is a jazz club where Gerry Mulligan plays with Dave Brubeck while Claxton works his camera; in the audience are June Christy, Marilyn Monroe, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

The idea is to illustrate the ramifications of that Eames quote, to establish a sense of the ways in which ideas, art and expression, overlap. We tend to think in categories, to imagine that distinctions between individuals and aesthetics can be rigid, when in fact it is the other way around.

How could the figures here not influence each other? How could they not influence us now? Culture is a mash-up, more circular than linear; whatever order emerges is only available to us in hindsight, if even then.

Such a notion resides at the heart of “Eventually Everything Connects,” with its bright, bold illustrations — gouache mostly — and its recognition that the lines we imagine dividing art and artists are really points of intersection instead.

That’s one of the intentions of modernism, which sought to break down traditional hierarchies. In “Eventually Everything Connects,” Lora celebrates (both literally and figuratively) this horizontal vision, in stunning imagistic terms.

Twitter: @davidulin