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Rear-View Reflections

LA Now Lecture Series

January 21 2020

Jane Brucker, Maiden Mirrors, 1996, magnifying mirrors, engraved aluminum, 13 x 13 x 1.

Labeled as the one who “uses a flashlight to find the dark corners,” this long-time Los Angeles legacy goes by the name, Dr. D.

From the sunsets between “Patty” at Robert Hill Lane and Damon at UCLA, Dr. D spent a large portion of time in motion observing the everchanging, yet timeless city around him. This LA local was born and bred in a diverse city likewise to that of a palette of paint. The people, including local essayist D.J. Waldie, gave the city of angels its name. These faces range from the stifled homeless squatting on Skid Row to the multi-billionaire blondes flaunting Ferragamo on Rodeo. Early on in his life the people who supported his education influenced his studies and equipped him with the proper language utilized by an art historian. These people - his “punk rock” advisor Donald, Amelia Jones, the always worthy opponent Albert - all influenced the way he views the blueprint of architecture, culture, and art that is Los Angeles.

Marching forward, LMU was and still continues to be a huge influence for Damon as he spent his entire professional career learning here. As he “likes to raise more questions than answers,” it is clear his adoration of D.J. Waldie has infiltrated his perception of Los Angeles. Dr. D’s belief of posing more questions than divulging the secrets beneath the answers, at its core, parallels D.J. Waldie’s notion that, “the power of history is not to make us more informed, but more whole.” The importance of educating the whole person, as LMU preaches, is also at the forefront of Dr. D’s teaching style.

Jane Brucker, an LMU professor of Studio Arts, was first influenced by the teachings of conceptual artist Agnes Martin, Roland Rees, and her work as an assistant to the muralist Lucien Block. Her art encapsulates memories using a multitude of mediums. Matching stories to shirts she created a collection of fabric swatches to showcase the everyday objects that silently memorialize the lost. Similar to Banham’s thoughts on Los Angeles, Brucker draws inspiration from the past. Most of her art is repurposed, just as “most of [Los Angeles' buildings] [that were] the first and only structures are now ruined with living memory.” Here, I would say “ruined” should be replaced with “woven,” as the 88 white panels for her mother are now fabricated into her own life as a reminder of her mother’s presence through eternal light. Her project Ironing Things Out is an acute reflection of everything one has to complete, or rather achieve, before they die. This idea is reflected in Brucker’s belief of human beings, “the constant state of disappearing and reappearing,” just like the unexpected memories of those who have passed resurfacing in day-to-day life.

Her project Memory Mirrors focused on the symbols of identity similar to Banham’s discussion of the changing pop-culture landscape as, “Hollywood was...the end of innocence.” The use of mirrors is a reference to intrinsic reflection and symbolizes the shift of perception based on the bias of the viewer. Another parallel which ties Brucker’s installations and Banham’s phrases is the notion of how nostalgic “rear-view mirror” images can be for “historical illumination.” Following this idea, Brucker’s bronze miniatures are images recycled from her rear-view mirror, to lead her to the elucidation of her past. Again, D.J. Waldie explains the passage of time as it, “dwindles incoherently a the rear-view mirror.” To Waldie, time seems to blur while for Brucker it seems to stand still.

One last remark on Dr. D -

Gabrielson’s comment, “I don’t really see why you would ever want to fly if you were truly aware of all the hazards involved,” works as an idea in tandem with Damon’s preferred style of learning modified into question form. If you know there are more unanswered questions than answers in your field of study, why attempt to learn the subject at all?

(Both) Answered: Humans crave the ability to understand and master the unknown.


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