Tuesday, December 13, 2005

LACMA Garage Goes Down: Fragments and Memory

LACMA Garage Demolition

There was a last minute effort led by Los Angeles City Councilmember Tom LaBonge to save the murals by Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee that graced the LACMA garage, but it seems to have come up short. Yesterday, workers were hammering away at the structure with heavy machinery sending cement chips into the air.

Tom LaBonge echoed Tyler Green's point that the main issue was one of value. We have lost not just artworks but visual clues to our time. In fifteen years curators and artlovers will look back, aghast, at our rush towards some sort of progress.

After watching the destruction of the garage for a while, I walked over to the Page Museum at the Rancho La Brea Tar Pits in the heart of Los Angeles. The museum holds an immense collection of fossils of extinct Ice Age plants and animals. I wandered the exhibits and gazed at reconstructed skeletons that attempt to piece together Los Angeles as it was between 10,000 and 40,000 years ago when saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin.

It is a shame that LACMA did not have as much foresight as the Page Museum. They could not hold on to the McGee and Kilgallen murals for the future.

Instead we are left with fragments and memory.

I want to thank Filmmaker Alan Caudillo, Councilmember Tom LaBonge, Tyler Green, the Architectural Resources Group, and MVH for their efforts in this cause.

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