“In 1972, the illustrious artist and Chouinard alumnus, Corinne Hartley, heard that her renowned alma mater was being abruptly shut down. She made her way to the school’s original building near MacArthur Park to find the Institute with its doors chained shut. On the side of the building was a trash heap in which Hartley saw various records and materials. What caught her eye were the drawing benches she recalled using in the 1950s, which she began to gently pull from the pile. In all, there were seven benches, which she took home as mementos, ostensibly saving them from destruction.”
→ From the Chouinard Foundation Instagram, July 12 2019 – April 07 2020
In tandem with the Chouinard Foundation, Marta hosts seven original artists’ benches from the Chouinard Art Institute (1921–1972).
Built in 1921 as partial exchange for tuition fees by then-students Millard Sheets (1907–1989) and Phil Dike (1906–1990), these recovered pieces begin to tell the dynamic, complex history of the art school and its alumni: artists and designers like John Baldessari, Milo Baughmann, Mary Corse, Sadamitsu Fujita, Edith Head, Sister Corita Kent, Allen Ruppersberg, Ed Ruscha, and Peter Shire, among scores of distinguished others.
These iconic, layered, century-old benches — donated to the Foundation in 2002 by their salvager — present themselves as humble primary documents whose graffiti, adornment, and patina tell the story of Chouinard perhaps better than anyone or anything else could.
An edition of newly-built replicas of the Chouinard artists’ benches — rendered in Douglas Fir and appearing much as they would have in 1921 — will be made available in tandem with the exhibition. By reconstructing these functional works of furniture that, in their day, facilitated the making of early artworks by some of the city’s most renowned artists, Marta celebrates the Chouinard benches not only as beautiful and functional works unto themselves, but also as items that inherently promote and facilitate the making of other works of art.