Jelly, jelly so fine

Monday, May 5, 2008

Crash and Burn in the City of Angels

I believe in Hockey parlance it's called a doughnut. As in totally shut out. For the first time in 15 years, I failed to write a ticket at a show. The Los Angeles Modernism Show, to be more precise. This Angel's wings have been clipped and singed.

And the weird thing is, I felt it coming. I have always had a hard time working in Los Angeles. I do very well in San Diego, San Francisco, Scottsdale, Santa Fe, virtually everywhere else but can not penetrate the L.A. psyche. My last straight job was as a consultant for a Beverly Hills Co. in the early 90's and we had a mutual hatred thing going. Except for sparing Nate and Al's and a couple other spots, a part of me lies hoping that Rodin or Godzilla will return and annihilate the city one day.

I blame no one but myself for my fruitless run. The promoter, Dennis Boses, is a truly wonderful guy, who genuinely cares about his show and his dealers. Great advertising, great opening night, food, party, etc.. He and his wife Lisa are professional and pull out every stop. He gets bummed when we fail.

The problem for me is the material and angelenos themselves. I have done the show on and off for 12 years and for me it's sort of like pulling teeth without anesthetic. But Dennis is a vast improvement over the old promoter, Caskey-Lees. They were nasty, Dennis is a mensch.

I just don't believe in the stuff anymore. We are starting to see some of the material I furnished my model houses with in the 70's and 80's when I was a real estate developer. Bad torched brass wall hangings. Opaque and chrome ball lights. Not the cool 40's and 50's stuff, no, the eighth generation new derivative garbage. We are cycling through the detritus of a vapid, soulless epoch, one that had little redeeming aesthetic merit. But it is being merchandised with a straight face.

I brought a wide array of paintings and prints and some objects but as I said, they failed to spark. People of the Ikea generation seemed to gravitate more toward the visceral and immediate rather than the pedigree. Which is fine. But personally, I will go back to the 19th century before I hop on board this disco train. I am a classical person who will occasionally foray into modernism if it's great. I love Maloof, Nakashima, Naguchi and those I consider the true artists of the generation. I love the sixties as well and was buying and selling it 30 years ago. Give me acid, not this big Quaalude fest. I guess I'm a snob as well.

There was truly great material at the show and I was not alone in my quiet despair. Phenomenal pieces by Dagobert Peche, Josef Hoffman, Moser all went untouched on outstanding dealer's shelves. And the economy certainly is affecting things, I suppose. But I am having my best quarter in many years and will not accept that things have suddenly caved in. I think that it is the jaded, dastardly L.A. populous.

A friend of mine who is one of the great silver collectors in the world took me aside during the opening Friday night and whispered in my ear, " Robert, you don't know how to talk to people in Los Angeles. You can't approach them or they will run away." My open attempt to connect was apparently viewed as a threat to these super cool mavens. I gritted my teeth for the next two days and practiced my benign neglect. It worked no better than my original tact so I reverted to standard form and my eventual fruitless bounty.

I was chuckling to myself on the way home, thinking that the $4000.00 the show cost me could have been more happily spent on a week at the Grand Hyatt in Poipu, Kauai, slurping lustily on Lava Flows and making passionate love to my wife. Alas, not to be. I guess I could still get some call in the middle of the night from some potential customer who was enduring sleepless nights tormented by visions of something he or she had to have in my booth but I'm not exactly banking on it.

The goat barbecue at the mexican restaurant on Pico was a highlight as was the Tommy's chiliburger furnished by John Fillmore. I got to watch Ringo Starr on a great TV special back at the hotel. The weather was gorgeous. Celeb sighting were few, John Malkovich (who stared straight ahead and refused to make eye contact) and the guy who played Apollo Creed. There were rumours of 3 french women who were allegedly buying a ton of schlocky crap.

Some legitimate people did very, very well. Maybe my train wreck was divine retribution for some unnamed sin or larceny. But for this weekend, the shit sandwich was all mine.


NYSTAN said...

mid century blues...living in fear of total nuclear destruction and bomb shelters with large cans of water...and you expect great art? Only in LA would people be interested in that crap..stick to the stuff you usually have in your booth. LA...hah!

willy said...

Nice can of worms! Maybe people are sick of the same tired,overpriced fecal. Maybe you should bring something people would actually want to buy. And the next time your mowing away through a can of nite crawlers please chew with your mouth closed.maybe your bubbly effervesance or animal magnetism was putting up a sheild.try singing ZIPitty-do-da ZIPitty-day.
oozing neurosis. self fulfilling prophecy.ZIPitty-do-da, ZIPitty-day.
It was great to hang with you at the show. C U s@@n. Be down for the pottery show and long beach.

Anonymous said...


Is this how they made you feel?

Blue Heron said...

Thanks Willie - I'll try to chew with my mouth closed - delicious!!!

Anonymous said...

so let's see here...........you impale yourself on a bed of blogosphere nails, diving into the new reality that states that if it isn't shared on line it didn't happen; you openly bleed for someone to pour gasoline on the Santa Monica train wreck that you not only foresaw but attended in a conductor's cap, and then someone, (an occasional shopper? a competitor?) fulfills your masochistic wish, do I have that right?

And quit the cheeseburgers..we need you...the music vibe is actually interesting....