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Rebels In Paradise:

LA Art Scene In The 1960's

Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

Walter Hopps ran a gallery-free show by mounting paintings on a canvas stretched around the perimeter of a merry-go-round on Santa Monica pier.

Ed Kienholz had a run-in with TWA when they smashed a Tiffany glass lamp he was transporting from NY to LA. He demanded compensation but they refused. He was a big guy. He turned up at TWA lost-and-found with a large fire ax and chopped their main desk to pieces. He calculated that the expense and hassle of replacing the desk was about equal to the loss he'd suffered. TWA called the cops but decided not to press charges, no doubt calculating that the bad publicity of damaged luggage would far outweigh any benefit from suing Kienholz.

Mason ("Classical Gas") Williams commissioned one of the largest works of art, and the shortest duration - hired a skywriter to fly above the Mohave Desert at dawn to trace the stem and leaves of a sunflower, with the rising sun as the center. Measured 2 miles by 3 miles and lasted 40 seconds. (Cost him $5000). He was tall, good looking with hazel eyes and an income of $1/2million ... and unmarried. He had a lot of girlfriends in late 60's.

Ed Ruscha had a torrid affair with model Leon Bing. She gave him engraved business cards which said: Ed-werd Rew-shay, Young Artist. When affair ended he gave her a painting of words "I'd like to help out, but ..." in ketchup red against a yellow background.

Collectors usually expected a discount if they bought several works. Irving Blum ran his gallery Ferus as an artists' collective, and they were adamant that they wanted full price. Financier Joseph Hirshhorn, who had sold his mining business for $50 million, strolled into Ferus one day and offered to buy several works. But when he was refused a discount he just smiled and walked out. After that, Blum convinced his artists that their approach wasn't workable.

A bit later Blum opened another gallery under his own control, with the first show Ed Ruscha. Hirshhorn turned up again and offered to buy the whole show. Blum added up the prices, and then added 30%. When Hirshhorn asked for a bulk discount, Blum took the 30% back off.

June 1968 Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) manifesto, walked into The Factory, pulled a gun out of a paper bag, and shot Andy Warhol in stomach. He survived, but forever fearful of the sorts of strangers who'd visited so freely over the years. "The fear of getting shot again made me think that I'd never again enjoy talking to somebody whose eyes looked weird. But when I thought about that, I got even more confused, because it included almost everyone I really enjoyed."

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