When I walked into the Ruskin Theatre last Saturday, to hear Richard Hertz read from his new book at Art LA, I was floored by how many people I recognized -32 bodies in the room and I could name 7 of them. Then, when Hertz began moving through his various narratives-The Beat and the Buzz: Inside the L.A. Art World includes a slew of narratives from people who have shaped the LA art world since 1970. The 30-plus people featured talk a lot about Walter Hopps and eccentricity (Jim Hayward: "I've always thought that art is the one profession in which dying is considered a good career move"), and, at least from what I heard Hertz read, the book also brings to the forefront how small the LA art scene has always been and really still is.
This is an unconventional flavor piece because, ultimately, I'm just pointing out the fact that LA is just one big neighborhood with lots of different personalities claiming their own part of the sidewalk. My point? First, it's that those of us on the younger end of what's happening in LA should read Hertz's book and enjoy every minute of it (Hertz interrupted himself at one point: "I know I shouldn't say this, but the stories in here are pretty good"). Then we should start thinking about what the Beat and the Buzz sounds like among those of us who showed up in LA over the last decade, excited about the freedom that art in LA seemed to represent, initially unaware of Ferus Gallery, Walter Hopps, and the history they represent.
(Image: Robert (Bob) Alexander, John Reed, Wallace Berman, Unknown Female and Walter Hopps at Ferus Gallery LA 1959)