CHRIS BURDENíS NEW METROPOLIS
For several weekends in January, the Gagosian Gallery in Los Angeles invited collectors, critics and artists to visit to Chris Burdenís mountaintop studio in Topanga Canyon. There, inside a massive warehouse, Burden has constructed Metropolis II, a model of a city that measures about 19 by 28 feet. Its architectural diversity suggests Los Angeles: marble tile faÁades reminiscent of the Getty Center, glass high rises, stucco bungalows with decorated facades, a wooden church. Only the model of the Eiffel Tower seems incongruous.
The elaborate, multilevel Metropolis II is made from Legos, Erector sets, Lincoln logs and kits for hobbyists. Itís interlaced with 13 train tracks, complete with working trains, and 18 roadways, including a six-lane freeway where 1,080 customized Hot Wheels cars chug up an incline only to whip down again at great speeds. A human minder keeps an eye on things, retrieving cars that flip off the tracks and dealing with occasional malfunctions.
"The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars,í Burden says, "produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st century city." As if any of us needed that!
Burdenís interest in the urban condition is well known. He collected and renovated the early-20th-century lamposts that are now a landmark at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. LACMA is also the designated site for Metropolis II, where it is to go on view at a date as yet undetermined, courtesy of its new owner -- museum trustee Nicholas Berggruen.
Berggruen, the so-called "homeless billionaire," who has abandoned the usual status symbols to focus on his art collection as well as "values investing," has contributed $20 million to establish Think Long Committee for California, a think tank searching for solutions to the stateís many woes. Purchasing and exhibiting this Burden sculpture (whose price is undisclosed) may be considered a promising gesture of his extreme faith.
NEW ART FAIR FOR HOUSTON
Art fair organizers Rick Friedman and the Hamptons Expo Group, who mastermind ArtAspen and ArtHamptons, are adding yet another fair to the ranks, this one in Texas. The Houston Fine Art Fair, Sept. 15-18, 2011, opens at the cityís George R. Brown Convention Center, alongside the Houston Antique Dealers Associationís annual Fall Antiques Show + Sale. About 80 dealers are expected, though the exhibitor lineup is still in formation. Booth fees begin at $7,500 (for 12 feet square).
Director of the fledgling fair is Fran Kaufman, a former head of Art Palm Beach and partner in Rosenberg + Kaufman in SoHo. The opening night gala benefits the Glassell School at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the fair as a whole is part of a big Houston Art Lovers promotion.
In terms of its spot on the calendar, the fair follows fast on the heels of ShContemporary11 in Shanghai, Sept. 7-10, 2011, and is slotted in ten days before Chicagoís Merchandise Mart launches Art Platform-Los Angeles on Sept. 30, 2011.
BRAZIL IN OHIO
Mid-America is nothing if not multi-culti. The Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio, has launched a four-year, $1-million-plus initiative focused on the arts and culture of Brazil. Teaming up with other divisions of Ohio State University, the Wexner plans a range of special programs in Brazilian art, music, dance and theater, all beginning this coming fall. Funding comes via a $782,300 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York. Further details on the major exhibition, set for 2014, are forthcoming, says Wexner director Sherri Geldin.
WAR ON DRUGS IN L.A.
When you think of Hollywood and drugs, what comes to mind? River Phoenix? Lindsay Lohan? Well, itís not all about overdosing. Over 750,000 Americans were arrested last year for simple marijuana possession alone, victims of the governmentís costly and pointless "War on Drugs."
With this issue in mind, members of the Los Angeles art community have joined with the Drug Policy Alliance to mount a special benefit art auction and cocktail party at Honor Fraser Gallery in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2011, 7-10 pm (tickets are $100). Re:FORM Los Angeles, as the event is called, is co-chaired by filmmaker Gus Van Santand artist Ed Ruscha, and features artworks for sale by 70 artists, ranging from Philip Argent to Lawrence Weiner.
Other members of the benefit committee are Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin, MOCA Los Angeles chief curator Paul Schimmel, producer Jeffrey Soros and POM Wonderful philanthropists Lynda and Stewart Resnick. For more info, click here.