ML - Vegas Magazine

Vegas - 2016 - Issue 3 - Summer - Sush Machida

Vegas Magazine - Niche Media - There is a place beyond the crowds, beyond the ropes, where dreams are realized and success is celebrated. You are invited.

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Page 96 of 147

PHOTOGRAPHY BY BODE HELM (BENGSTON); BRIAN FORREST (RIDERS OF DESTINY ) BILLY AL BENGSTON AN L.A. LEGEND ARTS ON. BY MICHAEL HERREN In the pantheon of postwar California Cool artists— adventurers with names such as Ruscha, Price, Bell, Altoon, Irwin, and Graham—Billy Al Bengston is the trickster god. He's one thing; he's its other—an entertaining intro- vert who's naturally the life of any party but who's also a natural in his studio, alone, a party of one. A self-pro- claimed pistonhead who has surfed toes-on-the-nose and raced motorcycles for cash and glory—and who then translated this love of speedy sleekness and slick sheen into motifs and finishes in his paintings. Born in Dodge City, Kansas, at the height of the Depression, Bengston and his family settled in LA in the late 1940s, just in time for high school, where he developed a passion for ceramics before switching to painting. He then proceeded to have five solo shows at the famed Ferus Galler y on North La Cienega Boulevard between 1958 and 1963, and at age 82 he continues to strive to paint a pretty picture—noting, however, that his idea of a pretty picture might not be yours. "Painting, it's like self-flagellation," he says. "You sort of like it, and hope other people like what you did while you were beating yourself." Bengston is donating a hand-colored monoprint, Untitled (1972), which will be auctioned on July 16 at Summer on Seventh, the annual L A fundraiser- cum-arts happening benefiting Inner-City Arts (inner-, a nonprofit that provides underserved youth in Los Angeles with access to free arts educa- tion. Bengston's work is featured in "Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney's Collection," which runs April 27, 2016 through February 12, 2017, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., New York, 212-570-3600; "PAINTING, IT'S LIKE SELF-FLAGELLATION. YOU SORT OF LIKE IT, AND HOPE OTHER PEOPLE LIKE WHAT YOU DID WHILE YOU WERE BEATING YOURSELF." —BILLY AL BENGSTON LOS AN G E LE S Nicknamed "Rainbow" in high school for his multicolored outfits ("I'd do a complete wardrobe change at lunch," he says), Billy Al Bengston, photographed in his Venice studio in front of Milwaukee Monster (2016, FAR LEFT) and Ascot (2016), has been a lively fixture on the LA arts scene for nearly 60 years. COVER, BOTTOM LEFT: Riders of Destiny (1966). VEGASMAGAZINE.COM 95

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