Intern’s PerspectiveJerson Hondall
“One week later, my father opened his annual Museum Christmas Exhibit. He collected stuffed animals from people in the community, and put them on display. My father printed a quote from The Velveteen Rabbit in large type on the wall…”
Beginners (2011), Mike Mills
The Magical Mystery Tour was an annual exhibition organized at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery by Josine Ianco-Starrels. Every December, from 1976 through 1986, the gallery presented an exhibition like no other; one exclusively conceived for young audiences and children. Starting from the idea that art was both a form of magic and not only for grown-ups, Ianco-Starrels encouraged the participant artists to transform the gallery into a place that could show artworks that were as magical as they were mysterious. This equally playful and dreamy perspective never aimed to diminish nor restrict the artists’ creative process. Rather, it was an opportunity for them to freely materialize their dreams (and nightmares too, of course) to be viewed from the perspective of a child.
The exhibition’s title was borrowed from The Beatles 1967 album of the same name. The lyrics of one of the songs describe the joyful approach that Josine Ianco-Starrels wanted the exhibition to have: Roll up/They’ve got everything you need/Roll up for the Mystery Tour/Roll up/Satisfaction guaranteed/Roll up for the Mystery Tour/The Magical Mystery Tour is hoping to take you away. During my internship at LAMAG one of my assignments consisted on working on The Magical Mystery Tour archive. Under the guidance and supervision of Jamie Costa (LAMAG’s Curatorial Associate), I developed a comprehensive timeline of every edition of the show. The purpose of this project was gathering information as well as selecting items (invitations, photos, newspaper clippings, etc.) that could be used for “Highlights from the Archive”, an ongoing display here at LAMAG.
Working on this project was a great exercise for me because I would like to become a curator one day. Through these past months I was able to develop and hone my research, editing, organizing information and communication skills. One of the things I enjoyed the most was reading Suzanne Muchnic’s LA Times reviews in which she exquisitely detailed the way visitors both reacted and related to the artworks being exhibited. Working on The Magical Mystery Tour made me well-aware of two things: 1) how wonderful exhibitions can be when a Gallery Director not only has a great curatorial understanding of the programs they want to develop but also trusts the artists enough and 2) how broad and always-expanding the definition of art is. This 10-year-long LAMAG exhibition series was a perfect example that art can be a vehicle of self-expression, self-fulfillment, a refuge and a platform for creating a dialogue with an audience regardless of age of demographic.