Experimental films by Topanga Canyon creatives @ Los Angeles Filmforum

Film · Ideas & Opinion

An upcoming program at Los Angeles Filmforum — screening experimental and avant-garde film and video art, documentaries, and experimental animation — captures my interest.

It’s the ninth installment of Filmforum director Adam Hyman’s extensive and rigorous 24-program exhibition of experimental films made in L.A. between 1945 and 1980. This survey fits neatly into the time frame of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time examination of post-War California art. LA Filmforum is a participating organization in PST.

In the mid-1960s, the fascinating jazz-inspired collage artist, Wallace Berman, straight outta Boyle Heights, communed with a close-knit circle of actors and artists to screen underground films in their bohemian digs in Topanga Canyon. The films were influenced by Berman’s spiritualist and radically amateur concepts of art that nevertheless thrived in the intersection among art, Hollywood, and the institutions of the semi-commercial underground.

Included in Topanga’s magic circle were Dennis Hopper, Russ Tamblyn, Toni Basil, Dean Stockwell, George Herms, Bruce Conner, and Robert Alexander.

Co-curated by arts·meme friend, USC Professor David E. James, with Rani Singh of the Getty Research Institute, this screening runs in conjunction with the Pasadena Armory’s exhibition “Speaking in Tongues: The Art of Wallace Berman and Robert Heinecken, 1961-1976,” which will be open that evening before the screening. 

Photos:  Wallace Berman, Self Portrait Crater Lane, 1955, courtesy wikipedia
George Herms, Topanaga Canyon, 1965, Photograph by Wallace Berman

“Wallace Berman’s Underground” | presented by Los Angeles Filmforum @ Armory Center for the Arts | Saturday Dec 3, repeats at Cinefamily Jan 7

Like this? Read more:

Leave a Reply