Foundersland: Finding Inspirational Art in Familiar Places

By Marty Sklar, Founder, Past President, Chairman Leadership Council

Leah and I are frequent attendees at performances of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. The music, under the baton of the brilliant Gustavo Dudamel, is always a treat. But what I look forward to as eagerly when it’s our night at the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the inspirational design of architect Frank Gehry.

Of course the Concert Hall exterior is an international star. But what excites me even more is the “eye delight” I always experience when we reach our seats. It doesn’t matter where I start my inspection of the Concert Hall interior—or where I end my inspection “tour”: the visual treats are everywhere.

I admit that more than likely my visual tour will start with the great organ Gehry designed. You don’t have to hear it play to know how important the master architect regarded that organ design – dominating as it does the view behind the seated orchestra.

But don’t stop there -- you are literally surrounded by artistic treats: the acoustic paneling, the shape of the balconies, the seat design, the lighting and patterns of shadow and emphasis it creates. If you are in the middle orchestra, turn around at Intermission and marvel at the space itself: the ceiling “windows” that bring the night (or daylight) into the auditorium…and the wonderful view from even the least expensive seating areas.

Now as I sit in our breakfast room at home writing this, I look around and realize that artistic beauty is everywhere in our world. The treats I find in Frank Gehry’s world are also to be found in design that could be called “every day.”

In my view right now is a Karen Hansen water color painting (purchased at a Ryman Arts “An Affair of the Art” event)…a “robot clock” from the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry…two little fired clay “pink piggies” our daughter Leslie created in elementary school many years ago…a Michael Graves designed tea kettle… a maquette of a proposed sculpture by Bret Price…a cover of the New Yorker Magazine … and a cherry red Kitchen-Aide food blender.

And I just arrived home from an awful hour on the Southern California freeways, during which I mitigated the traffic mess with eye candy: that silver Corvette, the hub caps on that Escalade SUV, that yellow Mustang GT Fastback, and of course Lamborghini, Ferrari, Bentley etc…all creeping along at the same 15 miles you are navigating. It’s Southern California after all; Good & Plenty is everywhere.

Here’s the point: everything we admire – everything we encounter – in our daily lives is influenced by some kind of design. Some design is admired for its utilitarian usage – the Kitchen-Aide blender, for example. But more often, what we admire is the line of that Bret Price maquette…the shape of that sleek Corvette…the plump sweetness of those “pink piggies.”

It all starts, of course, with the training those designers and artists experienced as young talent, in classes like our Ryman Arts program. Later in life (we’re seeing it already!) we can thank those young artists for helping us find inspirational art works in familiar places. So as you take a new look around you, think of how those visual treats came to be, from the hands and hearts of creative talent who are passionate about what they design…and about the pleasure it brings into your everyday life.


Photo Credit: Los Angeles Philharmonic Association