Monday, September 27, 2010

Time for the Fair!

Since the Los Angeles County Fair is on (well, not today. The Fair is dark Monday and Tuesday), this Mosaic Monday post will focus on the delightful animals on the outside of the Fair's Millard Sheets Center for the Arts. Like this monkey...or gibbon.

The Fine Arts Building was one of several added to Fairplex in 1937 by the WPA--the Works Progress Administration. The same program that brought new post offices and murals to so many parts of the country, and pretty much created a style that--subliminally, at least--most Americans recognize and enjoy. And it put food on the table for a lot of craftsmen and construction workers.

(I'll let the historians left and right argue about how effective the program was in lowering the unemployment rate, which soared to around 25% in the 1930s. Whatever the WPA's effect on the Depression, the buildings and art it generated are part of our  collective culture now.)


Anyway, we're still using the buildings erected then. The Fine Arts Building was renamed the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts in 2007. Millard Sheets, of course, is the artist responsible for these animals. ***error--see comments. Wayne Long is the name of the artist per Christy, and I will post a correction.*** Sheets operated the Fine Arts Building for years, as his son Tony--who says he practically grew up at the Fair--does now.

The Flower Garden and Clock Tower were not added until the early 1950s (I'm surprised; I thought they were older.) This year, the flower and plant arrangements and the gardens celebrate Mexico in a vivid display. Here's a teaser picture:

Back to the mosaics. The racoon above and the owls below, and several other critters, are on the exterior of the Millard Sheets Fine Arts Center and look down on a patio area. That's where--this year, at least--artists and artisans work while fairgoers watch and ask questions. Some of the artists are very well-known and have been involved with the Fair for years. Beside those on the patio, others inside the Fine Arts Building in various nooks are also sculpting, brushing and carving, working with canvas, paper, glass, wood, clay and fabric, showing us all how art is made.

And all this is background. The exhibit is actually about Three Centuries of Artistic Innovation, with displays showing--for example--how printing developed over the years. Or photography. Or what steam power allowed us to invent. The exhibit demonstrates, over and over, how one brainstorm led to another and another, each building on previous ideas. Read how it all came together here.

10 comments:

Nancie Mills Pipgras said...

We love your love of mosaics -- especially Millard Sheets You've been tweeted again. Best wishes and thanks again, Nancie@ http://mosaicartnow.blogspot.com

Vix said...

Thank you so much! And for anyone intested in mosaics, especially those with a love of fine art, please visit Nancie's blog or the MosaicArtNow.com website.

Christy said...

FYI: Wayne Long is tile artist
All I know about Wayne Long

Wayne Long

Born in Washington State, 1910. Studied at Art Center School and Chouinard Art Institute. Taught Los Angeles County Art Institute. Work represented in both public and private collections. 1954-56: Recipient of two purchase awards at the Crafts Exhibit, Los Angeles County Fair, 1954; won Arcadian Ceramics Sculpture award at 18th Syracuse National; designed and executed permanent ceramics tile on Fine Arts Building, Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona, California. Wayne Long: started teaching Otis 1947

http://land8lounge.com/profiles/blogs/spatial-artifacts-eckbo
Bay Lido Building: Bay Lido Building Pocket Park, 1958

Associate Prof, Design & Professional & business Practices in Art; Director of Exhibits.Designed, ceramist, gallery director, Studied: Fullerton Junior College, 1931-32; Chouinard Art Institute, 1932-34, and Art Center School, 1934-37, LA. From 1946-54 operated his own design studios, working with major decorators, dept. stores., etc., in this country Canada and Europe. Designed and executed murals in clay, concrete, glass metal and mosaic, for both public and private buildings, including the LA Country Fair Fine Arts Building; Hillel Council build, USC; Mercantile Nat. Bank, Dallas, TX; Bay Lido Building. Newport Beach, CA. Has had more than 29 one-man exhibitions in most of this country’s major cities, and has won numerous prizes and awards, including five @ National Ceramics Exhibitions, Syracuse NY, and the top award in the 20th Ceramics International. Was one of two sculptors invited by the State Dept. to represent the US in an exhibition which traveled through Europe & Asia. Invited to exhibit in the Syracuse exhibit , 1000 Years of Pottery in America, & LA County Fair, winning 2 purchase awards. Has been called upon to install numerous special exhibitions throughout the country.

Pasadena Art Museum Exhibition, May 6 -June 11, 1958
Architectural ceramics, fanciful ceramic animals, birds and humans, in round and relief.

John Mason Interview:
And then the second year I was there I did sign up for a ceramic class, which was taught by Wayne Long, who was not a ceramic artist. He was an interior designer, and I don't know how it came to be that he taught the class. But it wouldn't have existed otherwise, and it had virtually no equipment. You bought the clay in the store, and there were a few of these old converted sewing machines, treadle wheels that were used primarily for turning plaster molds. I tried to throw on them, and that was a great frustration, because I was interested in throwing. Eventually I built my own kick wheel.

Susan Peterson Interview
So it turns out he [John Mason] had been across the way at Otis Art Institute, which had been there already, as Nelbert had been there already, across MacArthur Park from each other. He'd been over there, and there was a guy named Wayne Long who taught ceramics there with a one cubic foot, electric kiln, low temperature, one cubic foot electric kiln, and Wayne Long himself made angels. I don't know if you ever saw Wayne Long's angels.

Lucy Bradanovic Agid
Agid earned tuition for the Otis Art Institute by packing sardines and tuna in San Pedro canneries. It was at Otis that she met and studied with Wayne Long, Joe Manyani, and Francis d’Erderly.

Christy said...

Wayne Long

Born in Washington State, 1910. Studied at Art Center School and Chouinard Art Institute. Taught Los Angeles County Art Institute. Work represented in both public and private collections. 1954-56: Recipient of two purchase awards at the Crafts Exhibit, Los Angeles County Fair, 1954; won Arcadian Ceramics Sculpture award at 18th Syracuse National; designed and executed permanent ceramics tile on Fine Arts Building, Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona, California. Wayne Long: started teaching Otis 1947

http://land8lounge.com/profiles/blogs/spatial-artifacts-eckbo
Bay Lido Building: Bay Lido Building Pocket Park, 1958

Associate Prof, Design & Professional & business Practices in Art; Director of Exhibits.Designed, ceramist, gallery director, Studied: Fullerton Junior College, 1931-32; Chouinard Art Institute, 1932-34, and Art Center School, 1934-37, LA. From 1946-54 operated his own design studios, working with major decorators, dept. stores., etc., in this country Canada and Europe. Designed and executed murals in clay, concrete, glass metal and mosaic, for both public and private buildings, including the LA Country Fair Fine Arts Building; Hillel Council build, USC; Mercantile Nat. Bank, Dallas, TX; Bay Lido Building. Newport Beach, CA. Has had more than 29 one-man exhibitions in most of this country’s major cities, and has won numerous prizes and awards, including five @ National Ceramics Exhibitions, Syracuse NY, and the top award in the 20th Ceramics International. Was one of two sculptors invited by the State Dept. to represent the US in an exhibition which traveled through Europe & Asia. Invited to exhibit in the Syracuse exhibit , 1000 Years of Pottery in America, & LA County Fair, winning 2 purchase awards. Has been called upon to install numerous special exhibitions throughout the country.

Pasadena Art Museum Exhibition, May 6 -June 11, 1958
Architectural ceramics, fanciful ceramic animals, birds and humans, in round and relief.

Vix said...

Wow. I'm all over the web, trying to verify this (I don't doubt you; I'd just like to see that Mr. Long is getting credit somewhere for his work) I'm not finding anything that states the artist's name for these animals (which is why I assumed they were Millard Sheets' work, as he managed the Fine Arts Building at the Fairplex for 25 years.)
THANK YOU so much for this information!

Christy said...

Vic, Sorry this posted twice.
The first paragraph is quoted from the catalog of classes at the Los Angeles Art Institude (Otis) 1956/57.

This is a website that should confirm:
http://land8lounge.com/profiles/blogs/spatial-artifacts-eckbo

johnson@ceramicmuseum.org

Christy said...

Can't resist further comment. On closer inspection of the monkey tiles, written in the upper right hand corner, is W Long.

I visited the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts yesterday. It's a nostalgic trip for me - I was curator for the Center for 14 years, 1990-2004.

Christy Johnson (not Cindy)

Christy said...

Thank you Vickey. You are great. I loved your article on Sheets's murals in Westways mag.

To learn more about Wayne Long and other ceramic artists of the post-WWII era, check out the American Museum of Ceramic Art Web site, under "AMOCA received grant funding from the Getty Foundation for research and planning for the exhibition entitled:Pacific Standard Time:" - lower rt corner. It's a long story, but AMOCA will mount an exhibition and publish a book (Nov 2011) Our exhibit will focus on the ties between Sheets and the ceramic community (1945-1975).

Also, AMOCA will be moving in a year to the former Pomonal First Federal bank building on Garey Ave. Inside is a Sheets mural, 77' long. We will have a preview open house the month, Oct 17th at 2 pm.

Christy
Art in L.A. 1945-1980

Vix said...

Thank you! This is great information, and I will try to get to the open house.

Anonymous said...

I was reading the comments, and I absolutely agree with what Sam said.