Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West

Isa Melsheimer
April 14 – July 7, 2012

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Exhibition view

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, 2012

Santa Monica Museum of Art

 

Photo © Monica Orozco

Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West

Isa Melsheimer
Santa Monica Museum of Art
April 14 – July 7, 2012
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Isa Melsheimer’s Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West at the Santa Monica Museum of Art was a never-before-seen installation that explored Hollywood’s cinematic heyday and its motion picture icons, investigating notions of glamour and luxury as they relate to characters, architecture, and locations in and around Los Angeles. Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West was Melsheimer’s first American museum exhibition.

 

Santa Monica Museum of Art Deputy Director Lisa Melandri was the curator of Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, in which the artist utilizes commonplace, and largely domestic materials, to create site-specific environments, including a mixture of altered and embroidered t-shirts, live plants, paper, pearls, yarn constructions, and cast concrete sculptures.

 

During a 2007 residency at Villa Aurora—a nonprofit organization located in Pacific Palisades dedicated to German-American cultural exchange—Melsheimer became interested in Los Angeles’s landscape and architecture, as well as the fictional and historical characters that inhabit these spaces.

 

Influenced by classic Hollywood films such as David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, and the stories of J.G. Ballard, Melsheimer examines the effects of architecture and location on Los Angeles’s glamorized cinematic figures; as well as the demise of those figures from lifestyles of fame and financial success. Melsheimer is particularly drawn to examples such as the Salton Sea, a former glamorous resort area new Palm Springs that has since degenerated into a kind of wasteland, and the character Norma Desmond—and her shabby mansion—from Wilder’s iconic film.

 

With Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West, Melsheimer wants viewers to be aware that architecture is always representative—of ideas or subjects that permeate society. She asks viewers to consider: Which fictional and historical subjects are admired within Los Angeles? Why do residents emigrate from Los Angeles? What aesthetics characterize Los Angeles’s buildings; and what sentiments manifest in the region’s architecture?

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