Last week, I had the opportunity of attending the opening of Gary Baseman’s new show at the Skirball Cultural Center called The Door Is Always Open, an amazing look into what makes the artist who he is. The amount of detail that went into the show is incredible. Every corner and every nook and cranny are covered in something that Gary created. Wallpaper, pillows, bedding, paintings, it’s all him. It’s certainly one of those shows where feel like you’re truly getting a look into the mind of an artist.
Kyle wrote a full rundown with a ton photos of the show over on Los Angeles, I’m Yours, so you should check that out for more information. I really liked this paragraph he wrote though, which truly gives an idea of the depth of the show.
The show is a series of seven rooms that are made to look like his house. This sounds absurd but it isn’t: it truly looks like his house. Although we never saw his childhood home, we are certain it is a combination of where he grew up, where he lives now, and a dream home where the walls are covered with Chou Chou wallpaper. Each room has a theme too and is dedicated to an aspect that makes Gary. From the celebratory dining room to his playful den, they all represent key roles in his life. For example, the study: this room stands as a metaphor for Gary’s researching and literal study he had to dedicate to climbing his family (Birch) tree and trying to piece together his family history. From visiting his parents’ home town in Europe (which they left in order to escape from the Nazis) to studying a book of stories the survivors of the town penned, the room explains his personal history and points to how this informs his work. This all comes together in the room through a large painting of his characters and portraits of his family wandering through the Birch tree forest that Gary’s father sought cover in from the Nazis.