It’s fanciful and fun. It’s generous, grand, and gorgeous. It may bring a welcome distraction–solace or even levity–to a public space where the less fortunate among us traverse weighty health issues with perhaps troubling or stressful emotions. This gift to our city by philanthropist David Bohnett got a lovely launch party this week on the campus of Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center where it is now installed. And gosh it looks handsome.
At a dedication ceremony hosted by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Medical Center, artist/creator Brad Howe delivered words about his whimsical and eye-catching parade of sculptures. (There are two long wall-stretches of them, and they are situated in the foreground with the massive Art Deco County Hospital looming behind.)
“All the pieces are tied together as stations of an epic poem,” Howe explained. “Each piece has a meaning that is sequential, and it’s laid out as a journey.”
“We are all moody creatures,” posited Howe. “We arrive at the sculpture with our moods. I am not the owner of its meaning.” Having established that premise, Howe toured a few of the sculptural elements just to illustrate his thinking behind them.
The first sculpture, said Howe, “invites the viewer to enter the frame. It’s an aperture, like in a camera, it’s designed to open and close like the lens in your eye … to open the viewer’s experience of the wall.” The second sculpture resembles both a tree, and the palm of a hand. Howe indicated that this reflects David Bohnett’s involvement in the tech industry and his work with computer code. The third sculpture, admitted Howe with a laugh, he “straight out stole from Georgia O’Keefe.”
The installation was originally a commission for Bohnett’s prior home in the Holmby Hills, an iconic A. Quincy Jones-designed structure. Bohnett, who was not present at the dedication, was represented by Michael Fleming of the Bohnett Foundation.
Jorge Orosco, above, the newly named CEO of Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center personally welcomed the art work to his campus as a “beacon of hope to our community,” noting that “art has healing powers,” and that he could imagine both “patients and doctors being inspired by this wall.”
County Supervisor Hilda Solis noted that “this wall is a uniter not a divider” and she offered a public “shout-out” to David Bohnett in recognition of his “selflessness in giving a deeply appreciated gift” that will “last for decades to come.” She underscored that “noone is turned away from this hospital” and then likened the wall’s eclectic nature to Los Angeles County’s social diversity and inclusion.
One diverse-and-inclusive pair of very social pals who enjoyed the afternoon event was Tom Gregory, a friend of Bohnett and Howe who tracked the sculpture’s development, with artsmeme‘s Debra Levine. A hearty welcome to this beautiful work of public art!