The Clive Piercy exhibition at ArtCenter’s Williamson Gallery is a reminder of the influence of Los Angeles on at least one Englishperson. Like David Hockney before him, Clive Piercy (1955-2017), moved from Great Britain to Los Angeles. What he found affected him profoundly.
By Garrett Rowlan
The exhibit at the Williamson, scheduled to run until June 24, shows that Piercy didn’t follow Hockney’s painterly interest in Los Angeles, but rather his focus was on its architecture and typography.
Titled “Hello LA. Clive Piercy, Inside the Mind of a Designer,” is a mishmash of Piercy’s work, his influences, and even a table devoted to the tools he used to shape his response to Los Angeles. Piercy taught for years at ArtCenter, and there is even a mock-up of his office, suggesting that while he is no longer with us, his influence remains. As a reminder of his spirit of play, a Foosball table occupies one corner. Transcribed testimonials to Piercy also are available.
Piercy’s appreciation for the utilitarian architecture of LA centered around its apartment buildings. Those two or three level stucco structures with parking underneath are celebrated, if that’s the word, by a montage on one wall. Called dingbats, a term not derogatory in Piercy’s lexicon, or so one can judge by the way these structures seem to reflect his somewhat messy aesthetic. Even the punning title of his collection of photographs of dingbat apartments, Pretty Vacant, suggests an appreciation that stretches or modifies more classic definitions of beauty.
On another gallery wall is a mishmash of the kind of typography that inspired Piercy, including covers, posters, and maxims in an array of some 80 examples placed side by side with the jumbled effect that reflects his appreciation of the sensory overload of the LA experience. They point to an outlook where necessity mothered invention, as does the simple signage of YES KNOW MAYBE on another wall.
One is never quite certain if Piercy was enamored, appalled, or bemused by the Los Angeles he discovered. Perhaps the answer simply is: all of the above.
Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery ArtCenter College of Design 1700 Lida Street Pasadena, CA 91103 Gallery Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm. Reservations recommended.
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