Our friend Gary Baseman has a very special week ahead as he prepares to open The Door Is Always Open at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles on April 25. This will be the former Juxtapoz featured artist, illustrator, animator, and toy designer's first ever museum survey, long overdue in our book. The survey will also feature paintings, photographs, toys, sketchbooks, and videos, presented in a "novel gallery setting that evokes Baseman’s childhood home, replete with family snapshots and furnishings." Be there.
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In a fun-loving style apropos of the artist, the Skirball caps opening day with “Gary Baseman’s House Party,” a public 18+ event, on Thursday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. Gary Baseman will “play paintbrushes,” creating a spontaneous new artwork while indie rock band Nightmare and the Cat performs live. A DJ set by street artist and designer Shepard Fairey, as well as gallery tours and art-making activities, round out the evening. The opening-night program will be followed up by an array of Baseman-related talks, workshops, classes, performances, and family programs during the run of the exhibition.
Organized thematically, Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open examines the many facets of Baseman’s creativity and underscores the influence of his Jewish upbringing and American popular culture on his career. The exhibition presents more than 300 artworks and objects from his prodigious output and eclectic collections. Highlights include vibrant illustrations for The New Yorker and Rolling Stone; title card paintings and maquettes for Baseman’s Emmy Award–winning animated television series Teacher’s Pet; iconic artwork for the popular board game Cranium; and many of Baseman’s beloved, limited-edition designer toys. Also on display are examples of Baseman’s richly symbolic, sometimes dark paintings and documentation of his celebratory performance art. In new videos recently produced by the Skirball for the exhibition, Gary Baseman introduces the main themes of each section. In a separate gallery that recalls Baseman’s art studio, visitors can take a look at many of the artist’s sketchbooks and create art of their own.
Giving visual expression to the exhibition title, the artist has created the new painting The Door Is Always Open. Baseman explains, “We are titling the show ‘The Door Is Always Open,’ something my father would always say to me to remind me I always had a home.” The title also alludes to the “open door” the artist perceives between the realms of imagination and creativity and between fine and commercial art.
“We are thrilled to mount this first major exhibition on Gary Baseman, a true L.A. original,” says Robert Kirschner, Skirball Museum Director. “At the Skirball, we have been especially inspired by Baseman’s lifelong exploration of his Jewish heritage and the profound effect this has had on his exuberant, boundary-defying art.”
The Door Is Always Open
Skirball Cultural Center
April 25—August 18, 2013
Los Angeles, CA