Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore Finally Combine for a Stunning, Uneasy Album

Before moving to the East Coast and devoting himself to New York Minimalism, the American artist Don Dudley lived and worked in Los Angeles. There he was one of the Finish Fetishists, bringing pop culture, hyper-glossy materials, and a Californian sensibility to gallery walls. On both coasts, his work tended to be sleek and geometrically pleasing. But one very early painting, from 1964, is stylistically at odds with the rest of his career. It depicts two lovers coiled up, flat on what looks like the desert floor, beneath a brilliant rainbow that cuts through a deep, pink-maroon sunset. It’s an uncomfortably calming portrayal of a smog-saturated atmosphere. It’s difficult to imagine it coming from anywhere other than LA.

Last year Meg Baird, the folksinger, took her friend Mary Lattimore, the harpist, to an exhibition called Between Two Worlds at the San Francisco MoMA. Lattimore had only been living in Los Angeles for a few months, and she was in the middle of a two-month residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts, a few miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Baird, conversely, had been in San Francisco for five years already. She was settled in the state. “There’s something about the extreme beauty of being in California,” she says. “The beauty and the danger and the dark and the light are so extreme here. It’s mind-boggling.”

At the MoMA, Baird specifically wanted to show Lattimore “Rainbow Series,” Dudley’s painting. “She loved it too,” Baird says. “The wall techs kind of framed it as these sunsets that were, at that time in Los Angeles, just so smog-ridden that they were blown-up and insanely beautiful.”

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