Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper at MOCA

I believe in the saying "share the wealth." There is nothing worse than some multi-talented, renaissance man/woman stealing more than their share of genius from the cosmic pool. Prime examples include Natalie Portman (talented and successful actress, beautiful, and a Harvard grad), Zoey Deschanel (talented and successful actress, beautiful, and now with a band and records to prove it), Jay-Z (epic rapper, owner of his own clothing line Roca Wear, owner of the NJ Nets [lets hope they fair better this season], and married to Beyonce), and Clint Eastwood (amazing actor, director, and musician/composer). I mean, leave some for the rest of us. [Insert heavy sigh here.] I recently found out that I can add Dennis Hopper to this list of over accomplishers. Turns out the rebel actor was also a director - and get this - an artist. When I say artist, I don't mean he dabbled here or there for a brief time; I mean full-fledged, scaping body of work, master of every medium artist.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA currently has Hopper's work on display. The exhibit is called "Double Standard" and it features an array of Hopper's work throughout his life. Hopper worked with the museum to put the show together, but unfortunately did not live to see it's completion. When describing Hoppers work, you could use all the adjectives that characterized the late, great actor: counter-culture, edgy, yet oozing talent. His photographs were amazing. He photographed everyone from Jane Fonda to Martin Luther King Jr. to Andy Warhol. I love his subject matter: anything counter culture. Artists, musicians, revolutionaries, change, rebels. My sister described it perfectly: "Hopper took blunt photos of the people who punctuated a golden age of cinema and cool. He wasn't a threat, he was one of them. His closeness allowed him to freeze-frame intimate, genuine, hilarious moments of people who we usually only saw in an affected and poised way."

The other amazing thing was that Dennis Hopper always considered himself a jack of all trades, but master of none. He considered himself an amateur at everything he did.

"There are moments that I’ve had some real brilliance, you know. But I think they are moments. And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough. I never felt I played the great part. I never felt that I directed the great movie. And I can’t say that it’s anybody’s fault but my own.” - Dennis Hopper

After moseying through the exhibit, my lovely twin sister Jennifer Hood and I exited through the gift shop (a movie you must see by the way), picked up a book of his photos (Dennis Hopper: Photographs 1961-1967, (MOCA Edition)) and headed out to find some dinner. After an hour of checking out the city (a.k.a getting lost and then stuck in the traffic jam surrounding the Sunset Strip Music Festival) we happened upon the legendary Canter's Restaurant on Fairfax in West Hollywood. Turns out this diner and it's adjacent Kibitz Room bar and club are brimming with rock n' roll history. Jakob Dylan used to play the Kibitz Room every Tuesday night, and Guns N' Roses were fed by the Canter family (who's son grew up BFF's with Slash) until they hit it big. If any of this doesn't check out, blame our good friend/waiter/rock n' roll historian, Daniel at Canter's. To this day, you can head down to the Kibitz Room any night of the week and enjoy live music with no cover charge while soaking in a little bit of history.

Feeling sufficiently inspired, I will leave you all with some of my fav Hopper pieces from the show and a couple of snapshots from of our night/adventure and get back to my painting-in-progress.

Listening to: The Band's "Atlantic City"

[Jen in front of MOCA with her new book in hand.]

[Me getting touristy in front of the exhibit.]

[Claes Oldenburg (Portrait with Cake Slices), 1966]

[Jane Fonda with bow and arrow, Malibu, 1965]

[Double Standard (for which the exhibit was named), 1961]

[Biker Couple, 1961]

[Ed Ruscha, 1964]

[Bruce Connor (in tub), Toni Basil, Teri Garr, and Ann Marshall, 1965]

[The famous Canter's]


  1. Multi-faceted, like his art career. Ehhh? Clever, aren't I? haha


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