There is a part of me that rankles at the term ‘women artists’. It’s irritating that there needs to be a special category and we’re not yet really all playing on the same field. That, however, is a soapbox speech for another day. Today I want to write about a fun little exhibit I saw yesterday at the Autry Museum in Griffith Park here in Los Angeles. It’s called California’s Designing Women, 1896-1986. The fact that I went to a museum at all is notable since that has not occurred in a shamefully long time. I thank my friend Jessica Rust of Rust Designs for making it happen.
The show was small- just a few rooms in the museum. I was struck by how uniquely Californian most of the work was. For instance, Heath ceramics, which was founded by Edith Heath and still produces stunning and practical pottery. There is such an emphasis on usefulness but also great freedom to break from convention. To me that’s a very Californian ideal.
My favorite parts of the show were the video clips of some of the living artists. They all had such a wonderful spirit to them- grounded, lively, curious and confident. Lots of the ladies- mostly now it their seventies and eighties- had crazy spiky hairdos, insane eye-wear and outrageous jewelry. Jessica and I were smitten with them, big time.
I came away from the show not so much inspired by the artworks I saw, although much of it was really wonderful, but completely inspired by the women who had made them. So funky, so cool, so in touch with their creative flow! And in keeping with my new year’s resolution to turn envy into admiration, I resolved to take a page from their books and be braver, more outrageous, more adventurous than ever. And perhaps one day I too can look, and hopefully be, as far-out and awesome as these ladies.