A Wave of Support
Report from the "Celebrate: Groundswell" Gala for the A+D Museum
June 28, 2014 from 7:00-11:pm at 5900 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, CA
This year, A+D Museum’s annual gala was “Celebrate: Groundswell”—a tribute to the vibrant surf and skate cultures that enliven the Los Angeles area. Challenging designers, architects, and artists to use surf and skate boards as inspiration for their projects, the A+D helped to produce a dynamic collection of pieces that went up for silent auction (100% of proceeds went toward funding the A+D Museum and its programs).
The creators rose to the occasion. Their work not only utilized boards as canvasses, as in the case of Richard Meier & Partners, or played with boards’ fragmentation, as did Karten:Design's “Endless Sinter”; but they also transformed the boards into components of larger pieces, such as Arup’s untitled surfboard table. Other creators, working in more traditional media, considered how the boards and their related spaces could provoke visual fantasies and dreamscapes that pushed viewers beyond the two-dimensions of painting and photography (a favorite in this category was Jerome LeBlanc’s “Surfing la Cité des Anges”).
What became increasingly noticeable among this spread of pieces was how surf and skate cultures draw attention to the interconnectedness of Los Angeles’ urban and natural spaces: their evolutionary flux as well as humans’ place within those sites. Over and again, these artists pushed attendees to ask: how does Los Angeles leave an impression on us, and what marks are we leaving behind?
One key example of this visual query is Kevin Corrado via the Carlos Reed Gallery’s “Transfer Blue,” a photograph depicting a man’s blue-stained hand against the Pacific backdrop. Representing ambivalent causality in its single frame, “Transfer Blue” leaves viewers uncertain of what leaves the mark and what is marked: has the man’s blue hand painted the ocean, or has the ocean transferred its blueness to him? A host of meaningful personal, communal, environmental, and ethical responses exist for either possibility.
Supporting emcee Boise Thomas’s apt assertion that “Los Angeles is a city known for youth”—that of its inhabitants as well as its constantly “evolving and reinventing architecture”—several pieces also emphasized the past, present, and future of surf and skate. Using sustainable bamboo and iconic illustrations, Imaginary Forces’ “SoCal Surf” paid homage to the culture’s continuing lightheartedness. Similarly, Orgassian Designs with Ann Sacks utilized a traditional skateboard deck, but decorated its surface in an endless reiteration of Japanese weave that suggests no clear end or beginning.
Though many of the participating designers admittedly privileged form over function in their pieces (see, for example, AECOM’s “Hang Ten Million,”) the “Celebrate: Groundswell” planners never let attendees forget that surf and skate are, at base, always tied to action. The swells of gala-goers moved rhythmically to beats provided by Raul Campos, witnessed art occur in real-time thanks to the talented Gregory Adamson, and witnessed boards and apparel come alive on the runway thanks to a host of athletic and healthy looking models (a delight in a world that still privileges a less than realistic bodily ideal).
Much like the items up for auction, attendees’ sartorial decisions were diverse. Ranging from Badgley Mischka cocktail wear to flowing jersey hibiscus print Tilly, the dresses’ color and pattern created a swelling sense of motion that matched the crowd’s energy as it moved from applauding Adamson’s performance art in the outdoor courtyard, to shouting approval for their favorite boards’ appearance on the runway, to laughing along with Thomas and his quips during the show. Not surprisingly, a crowd-favorite of the night was reflective of this: SPF Architect’s lounge chair in black—a piece which, according to Jennifer Convy, “Seems like something alive, really moving and not just simply boards and nails.”
Ultimately, this A+D fundraiser stood out for its ability to treat high design as an important cultural concept in need of preservation while also making it accessible and playful. This event invited stakeholders new and old, from any background, to celebrate and participate in maintaining Los Angeles and its innovations. For Jacki Breger, founder and director of educational non-profit City Life, that is what A+D really provides: a chance for “teaching young people what this city has to offer.”
A+D Museum is dedicated to exhibiting progressive architecture and design to the LA area, and it is committed to partners such as City Life, who seek to use art, history, and architecture to educate local children and teenagers.
For more information, please visit: www.aplusd.org.