Personally, I found the presentation and exhibition design a bit crowded and overwhelming. The exhibition would benefit from having more breathing room, which could be achieved with better editing. The last gallery has models of several early Frank Gehry buildings practically climbing over each other, as if a small earthquake shook the exhibition space. The way the exhibition looks is a result of an unusual collaboration between the museum’s Design department and students of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. I don’t want to be unfair, but fewer cooks in the kitchen would probably serve this exhibition better. After all, we have here in Los Angeles well known architects with excellent track records designing exhibitions that could have been consulted. Recent examples include Frank Gehry with his impressive design for the Ken Price exhibition, and Frederick Fisher’s surprisingly minimalist design for the Caravaggio exhibition, both at LACMA.
Every time a snooty visitor to LA asks me, “Come on, Edward, how can you love this city? You can’t compare it to the beautiful cities you’ve lived in or traveled to.” To which I reply,“Thank God it doesn’t look like any other city in the world. Yes, it’s a totally unique city, a creature all its own.”
Just think about all beautiful historic cities as purebred horses that people breed, train and admire. And all of a sudden, you are confronted with a strange animal like no other you’ve seen before. Though it looks remotely like a horse, it’s three times bigger, and its proportions are totally wrong. Its hind legs are shorter than its front legs, its neck stretches up into the skies, and its ridiculously long tail with a brush on the end looks like an upended palm tree. What the hell is the name for this creature? Of course, I’m talking about a giraffe: a beautiful, exotic animal who cannot and should not be compared to a common horse.
So, if you try to compare Los Angeles to any other famous city – a comparison in which LA will always lose – you are totally missing the point. I see this beautiful, exotic and slightly weird metropolis of ours as a “giraffe” of a city. I even dreamed once of being on a clogged freeway and instead of driving a car, I was riding a giraffe. How about that?
For the next several months, thanks to the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time grant-giving initiative, we will have a chance to experience the uniqueness and ingenuity of Los Angeles architecture in all its manifestations and as a result, many more people will hopefully fall in love with this unique giraffe of a city.