A bittersweet moment yesterday at the Santa Monica Museum of Art's opening of its exhibition, Abundance and Devotion: The Art of Miriam Wosk. Sweet, because it was wonderful to have the opportunity to see so much of her work assembled and exhibited--much of it for the first time--in the museum's galleries. Bitter, because the artist herself was not there to share the joy with the rest of us. Her death in 2012 at far too young an age was a blow to those many who knew and loved her, and who valued her contribution to the arts. Miriam, of all people, would have loved to have been there, mingling with the very considerable crowd that showed up to honor her work as an artist; she yearned for the kind of recognition it finally, and deservedly, received.
"Abundance and Devotion" does a useful service in exploring Miriam's origin as a graphic designer and illustrator, much in demand in New York in the 1970s as a cover artist for such magazines as Ms and New York. Utterly unafraid of glitz, glamor, and sometimes gaudy kitsch, she took joyful pleasure in beguiling--even overwhelming--the eye with a superfluity of information in a carnival of color and visual delights. Her art was risky, at a time when such exuberance was looked upon askance by a generation influenced by minimalism and conceptualist thought, but it was also clearly a spontaneous expression of her own generous humanity.
I have written previously about Miriam's work in a number of different venues, both online and in print. This link will lead you to More About Miriam (The Buddha Diaries, November, 2010) and, in turn, to further links. If you're in the Los Angeles are go visit the museum, where there's a companion show of Peter Shire's equally colorful and equally outlandish variations on the teapot form that has long fascinated him; it's titled Tea For Two Hundred. The two artists make for interesting comparisons. If you can't see the show in person, you'll find an abundance of Miriam's rich and diverse images in the exhibition description at SMMOA's site. I can promise you that it's worth your time.