That’s just the room Lavin has labeled “ENVIRONMENTS”. The other rooms are “PROCEDURES,” “USERS,” and “LUMENS”—four primary means by which she said architects and artists found themselves working together. In a stroke of artistic serendipity, the show’s rooms are unified by Judy Ledgerwood’s Chromatic Patterns, a site-specific installation of vibrant floral wallpaper throughout the historic building.
As artists and architects alike pushed the image of LA beyond the clean modernism of Richard Neutra, they increasingly found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Carl Andre’s Cuts (1967) was a blueprint for moving work from New York to LA, looking within the context of this exhibit more like an architectural drawing than a sculpture. Meanwhile, the architects of Morphosis acted like artists when they drew up farcical plans for their modular 2-4-6-8 House, a model of which could be folded up from a box of “assembly parts” or mailed around the world.
Designers of all backgrounds experimented similarly with ideas of space, time, and materiality, too, as when Peter Alexander trapped evaporating water in a cloudy resin box—an ethereal event captured in time. A piece of Cesar Pelli’s “blue whale” curtain wall for the Pacific Design Center sits nearby, attesting to a “finish fetish” Lavin said pervades the time period.
Of course the roiling creativity of artists and designers during the 1960s and 70s was more than just a collection of formal and conceptual ruminations. It was often acutely political. Judy Chicago’s dry ice mall installations speak of the same “light and space” movement of Peter Alexander’s resin box, while plans for a Womanhouse (1971) housing female artists are as pointed as they are architectural.
Lavin’s collection is engrossing, and more than a little enjoyable. The mixed media, which includes a video installation and several freestanding sculptures, helps bring the era in question out of the past. A celebration of the artists’ often whimsical humor helps—Alison Knowles’ 1967 House of Dust was a computer-generated poem that the artist’s collaborator Norman Kaplan arranged to have dropped from a helicopter over area campuses and museums.
Well aware that the artist/architect binary is a forced division, Lavin doesn’t make too much of such crossovers for crossover’s sake. Instead such work emerges as a natural condition of creative exploration from the time. But tackling urbanism, environmentalism and individuality in a postmodern city, the work in Everything Loose Will Land doesn’t feel like a geographic or historical oddity. It’s alive, still inspiring experimentation today in points far beyond LA.