Two weeks ago, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery welcomed a family event that gave everyone an education on the “Cool School.” The Cool School was a group of Los Angeles artists who lived and worked in LA in the late-fifties, many of them guys who pushed creative expression to new levels. The group included artists like Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Craig Kauffman, Wallace Berman, Ed Moses, Robert Irwin, and overlapped with that of creatives in the area like John Baldessari and Dennis Hopper. Set in the beautiful Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery atop of Barnsdall Park in association with their Civic Virtue show, the event was a giant celebration of all things Cool School…but, we all missed it. Don’t fret, though: you can have your own Cool School event and still catch the last few weeks of Civic Virtue (which closes Feb 12) by picnicking at Barnsdall Park during these beautifully sunny February days.
To have a Cool School picnic at Barnsdall, you don’t need that much: just some food and fun activities based around these prolific Los Angeles artists. Now, you can have it in a more formal fashion or in a more laid back fashion–up to you. But, first, we’ll cover some ideas for a carefully planned picnic.
Now, since you are dedicating some time to this, you should make lots of good food and find items to make art projects. To start, celebrate Robert Irwin with a nice cheese platter of white, disk-like cheeses with salt and pepper water crackers, all from the Silver Lake Cheese Store. If you are especially organized and prepared, you should also pick up a game of Tiddlywinks to play in the park, clear colorful disks that definitely do some Irwin evoking. As Ed Moses’ paintings played with colorful thatching and patterns, you should do the same thing through side dishes: get tabbouleh or a nice caprese salad, two foods that have distinctive color and pattern play. For Craig Kauffman, why not make a main course of glass noodles and sautéed vegetables, which you could even dye if you were in a particularly festive mood. The dish would be perfect for a hot day and can be served hot or cold–up to you. Dessert would definitely be honoring Ed Ruscha, where you could make a Jell-O that shifts in color and place sugar letters on its face (or in whipped cream) to clearly evoke him. Moreover, you could even bring a Polaroid camera and take photos as the sun sets, applying sticker letters on each of them to make little Ruscha paintings. Finally, make (and even leave around) assemblages like Wallace Berman’s, collecting found objects in the park, found photos/magazine clippings, and even paints you got from Blue Rooster on Vermont. Of course, do not make or leave a mess, but creating assemblages in the park could be very, very fun.
For more on Cool Schooling in Barnsdall (and cheaper, on-the-go options), check out Pacific Standard Time’s blog!