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Bill Lasarow

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS:
VISUAL EPIPHANIES



Drawing by Kent Twitchell




Your ticket will be one of an original edition of 600,
1/10th of one artist's image for your seat at a table of ten.


Animation and ticketing project: Kim Abeles / Flash programming: Jody Zellen

To be honest, at the time I helped initiate this project that became ArtScene in 1982 I would have broken up in laughter if a visitor from the future arrived to inform me that I would still be publishing this visual art digest 25 years later. But such foresight would likely have omitted the various ways that I and my contributors have devised to maintain an expansive and generous spirit. Not to mention the ways in which the art world here has molted and morphed several times over.

But it is ever so that we do not grasp the implications of our actions at the moment of decision. Imagination typically cannot measure up to reality. If the launch of ArtScene Visual Radio last month, and this month’s "ArtScene : 25" event at LACMA demonstrate anything it is that ArtScene is a platform, a kernel of possibility. These things are the product of a pact made with myself 25 years ago that remains thoroughly in effect: ArtScene must not only reflect the standards and principles of art, but live in accordance to them. If risky at times, it is without doubt exhilarating. If we don’t always know where we are going. . .well, that’s the point.

This month we’ll give ourselves and you a party at LACMA, "ArtScene : 25, The Los Angeles Art Awards," that is my personal idea of what an evening of art can be.

The opening panel, in the Bing Theater under Ruth Weisberg’s moderation, is made up of AVR’s four program hosts: Peter Clothier, Marlena Donohue, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, and Mat Gleason. They will discuss the trajectory of the new digital media on both art coverage and art making.

We will then move to the L.A. Times Central Court, where performance art projects will be the pillar of the evening. Suzanne Lacy has collaborated with Kim Abeles and Jeff Cain to produce a remarkable new performance project, “Swarm,” with a cast of performers that will surprise you. Llyn Foulkes will perform his personal brand of music on the Machine, his instrument/sculpture that is like no other. The Empire of Teeth performance collective will be popping up throughout the evening, sometimes where you might predict, but usually where and how you would not expect.

Dinner is served by the Patina Restaurant Group, one of the great providers of culinary experience, and we have worked with their staff to select a menu that we think is quite extraordinary. We will all sit and enjoy their creative food throughout the festivities, which will be emceed by Richard Montoya of Culture Clash, fresh from the success of their “Water and Power,” recipient of the L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award.

Montoya will introduce the evening’s official hosts and presenters of the Henry Hopkins Awards, named for the greatest museum director, teacher and mentor of his generation. Hopkins and LACMA Director Michael Govan will be introduced before we get to the presentation of the awards by Jackie Goldberg, Peter Goulds, Joni Mitchell, and Adolfo Nodal. Lita Albuquerque has designed a sparkling blue statuette that each recipient will be taking home that night.

These awards may recognize three of L.A.’s top art people, as determined by your votes at artscenecal.com, but if you take a look at your ticket--a special project developed by Kim Abeles--or at the centerpiece at your table you’ll see the real spirit behind this effort: There are many and vastly talented creative people that make L.A.’s art world a major creative force. That it is our good fortune to be a part of that totality is what we are truly going to celebrate on April 18th.

Marking 25 years of providing you with information and opinion about the current art of Southern California can’t help but provoke reflection about who we were at the time we launched compared to what we have become. Being fans of origin stories of all kinds, we naturally took this question to our contributing writers. We asked them: What are your stories, a key personal experience that ignited your engagement with art, that convinced you to immerse yourself in its alchemical brew? What moment of emotional impact, of sudden clarity, of doubt turned to certainty brought you to dedicate yourself to the creative encounter?

Thus Mario Cutajar’s September issue column began a season of reflection that is also one of a new beginning. 25 years of publication means that we have a history to draw on, and relationships with you, our readers to maintain. But it also means that we must continue to look beyond the horizon, to find new ways to allow this vehicle to illuminate the public options for visual art. We do it because we prize the encounter, we are energized by the discussions, and we are endlessly surprised by all of it.

If the personal stories that our contributors are sharing with us give the season its special accent, it is about much more than what they reveal about these special people. It is a reminder that art--beyond the popularity of an artist, the prices at auction, or the hot new gallery district--is fundamentally a private matter. Beyond the vast structure of the art world on which it rests, there is the creative impulse that produces art and the curiosity that drives us to go see it. This is what is substantial, it’s why we are here, and it’s what will always keep us coming back for more.