"Time" was on the side of art-loving bicyclists on Saturday afternoon, as about 45 of them cycled around Santa Monica to check out four newly opened art exhibitions.
The free bike tour revolved around Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980, a recently launched collaboration between 60-plus cultural institutions in Southern California. For the next six months, the institutions are displaying exhibitions celebrating the birth of Los Angeles' art scene.
The three-and-a-half-hour tour was the 's latest collision of bicycling and art, spurred by Director of Education Asuka Hisa, who is an enthisiast of both. Previously, she coordinated three Tour Da Arts outings, in which participants bike around Santa Monica and make periodic stops to check out music and dance performances, as well as art exhibitions.
"People aren't just one-dimensional," Hisa said on Saturday afternoon. "They love adventure and discovering the city."
She recalled what inspired her to meld bike-riding with art-perusing.
"I did it out of a personal enjoyment of riding and understanding the zeitgeist that's going on about finding alternative modes of transportation in a city that's been referred to as a car culture," she said.
Bikes were stationed outside SMMoA as Pacific Standard Time tour participants filtered into the museum and congregated in the front gallery. At 1 p.m., Executive Director Elsa Longhauser introduced them to the first of four exhibitions they would see over the course of the afternoon: Beatrice Wood: Career Woman—Drawings, Paintings, Vessels and Objects.
Underwritten by grants from the Getty Foundation, the Pacific Standard Time exhibition features works by Wood, who was nicknamed "The Mama of Dada." The pioneering feminist artist—who inspired the character of Rose DeWitt Bukater in the movie Titanic—died in 1998 at age 105.
"She wasn't concerned with perfection of form," Longhauser said. "Each one of her works is a little wonky but has its own uniqueness. Her work has this saucy feeling, individualized and colorful and bold and bright. The luster [in her ceramic pieces] was the manifestation of this glorious woman's personality."
After checking out the exhibition, tour participants exited the museum and assembled for the first bicycling leg, with guidance from members of Santa Monica Spoke and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. A few minutes later, they arrived at , where they were ushered upstairs to the Sam Francis Gallery.
There, art writer Kristina Newhouse spoke about the exhibition she is curating for the gallery: She Accepts the Proposition: Women Gallerists and the Redefinition of Art in Los Angeles, 1967-1978. Through the exhibition, Newhouse is spotlighting previously overlooked contributions of female art dealers attracted to nontraditional art practices.
"The works exhibited here were new and experimental, what the critics were scoffing at," Newhouse said. "But it was all very important."
Next, the tour brought bike-riders to , where they observed and interacted with Essential Eames: The Design of Knowledge. The exhibition examines films, installations and presentations surrounding the educational philosophies of the math-and-science-obsessed Charles and Ray Eames, considered to be two of the most important American designers of the 20th century.
" 'Learning by doing' was a key philosophy of theirs," said Eames Office's Marlow Hoffman, who pointed out the exhibition's four highlights: the Moebius Strip, Celestial Mechanics, the Probability Machine, the History Wall and the Image Wall.
After staring in wonder at some of those displays, bicyclists trekked to their final destination, the . Inside the gallery, Alex Donis walked them through Collaboration Labs: Southern California Artists & The Artist Space Movement, which he curated.
The exhibition features works of artists and artist networks including the Sherrie Rabinowitz and Kit Galloway (Electronic Café International), EZTV, Rachel Rosenthal, Suzanne Lacy and Leslie Labowitz Starus, and Barbara T. Smith.
"EZTV mirrors the early AIDS pandemic," Donis said about the queer-video project. "Many of the filmmakers aren't alive. We only have these frail remnants they left behind."
Look above to see photos and videos taken over the course of SMMoA's Pacific Standard Time bike tour on Saturday.