Until August 2nd at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, you’ll have the opportunity to check out, free of charge, some of the coolest art pieces chronicling an expansive history of the music business, notably its icons and iconoclasts. More than just memorabilia, though, the roughly 175 works by 35 artists detail a sea of iconography to be examined with care by the naked eye.
Notwithstanding the array of artistry inside the museum, half of the fun is actually getting there. When you first enter through the gates on S. Glendale Ave., a serpentine path that elevates and endlessly trails up and around will greet you with a bulwark of trees at every turn, and a skyline colored by verdant vegetation at every view. When you turn into the parking lot of the museum, perched on Heaven’s nest, the celestial body of land beneath your feet will empower your creative urgency just in time before you step inside the museum entrance.
Once there, you might notice several works by Dan Quarnstrom and Anthony Mostrom celebrating the jazz era of the 1930s and 40s alongside the wall on the left. In addition to the psychedelic and fluorescent concert poster, “Jimi Hendrix Experience at the Fillmore East,” by David Edward Byrd, you’ll do a double-take when you come across William Stout’s illustration of Jimi Hendrix as a merman and Hendrix as a flame soaring through a matchbook in “Jimi Hendrix Fire.” If you turn around to the opposite wall, you’ll fix your eyes on Stout’s expressionistic painting of Kiss’ Gene Simmons using his elongated, undulating tongue as the base for a roller-coaster ride.
In that first room, you’ll be in awe of other artworks commemorating the Bee Gees, Rita Moreno, the Grateful Dead, but perhaps especially Aerosmith’s “Toys in the Attic” (1975 album cover) by Ingrid Haenke, featuring an eclectic group of characters, and Drew Struzan’s “Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare,” an ode to an eerily innocent Cooper in a tux, touching his heart with his left hand and tipping his top hat with his right. But the highlight of arguably the entire exhibit arrives in mesmerizing fashion when the room is about to lead into the gift shop. There you’ll no doubt be standing and scanning the incredible collage of Michael Jackson by Kadir Nelson, which covers every milestone of the gloved one’s personal and professional life.
When you stride past the gift shop and into a room double the size of the initial one, the first thing that will grab your attention will be Roger Dean’s “Astra” (1985 Asia album cover), portraying a futuristic female robot posing with aplomb in the foreground. Dean’s work in particular, having been an album-cover artist for the bands Yes and Asia, is another reason to visit the exhibit. His choice to use vibrant and thematic tones, mixed with an otherworldly palette for exploration, makes his work come alive in “Heaven and Earth,” and specifically “Silver Birch,” comprised of floating trees and a dashing dragon, a juxtaposition that pleasantly encourages the depth perception of the observer.
As your passage through the museum comes to a close, you’ll find yourself amid portrait utopia with early photos and depictions of Bob Dylan, Prince, Jim Morrison, Madonna, Elvis Presley, Annie Lennox, Keith Richards, and more. However, these don’t quite take your breath away like David Willardson’s acrylic-on-canvas masterpieces, part mosaic and part Jackson Pollack-inspired, of which the most impressive is of the Beatles, who appropriately come across as being in between two worlds—our Earth and somewhere about the exotically unknowable ether.
1712 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale, CA 91205
Photos courtesy of Forest Lawn Museum
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