Since the revamped Petersen Automotive Museum reopened in December 2015, the Los Angeles, California, institution has seen more than a million visitors walk through its doors. Part of the museum’s appeal is the ever-changing tableau of exhibits, and at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, museum executives previewed some of the things in store for the coming year.
Opening to the public on September 29 (following a VIP preview reception on September 27), Auto-Didactic: The Juxtapoz School looks at the impact of the art and culture magazine Juxtapoz, founded in 1994, the same year as the Petersen Museum. Blending a variety of themes that include hot rods, surfing, skateboarding, urban art, and underground art, Juxtapoz took these “lowbrow” and often disregarded art forms and brought them into the spotlight, ultimately becoming the largest circulation art magazine in the United States.
Original artwork from Jeremy Fish.
One of the artists behind the formation of Juxtapoz is Robert Williams, recently honored by the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum for his contributions to hot-rod culture. As Dan Strohl recently detailed, Williams’ time as art director for Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, his comic-book-like paintings (many centered on hot rods), his experience in the underground comic world, and his front-row seat at the rise of the punk-rock movement all contributed to his diverse artistic vision.
Like other such non-mainstream artists, Williams found himself on the outside looking in, rejected by many established galleries and museums. That changed in 1993, when the Laguna Art Museum debuted an exhibit entitled “Kustom Kulture: Von Dutch, Ed ‘Big Daddy’ Roth, Robert Williams & Others.” The success of the exhibit, which unified often overlooked art and artists, led to the creation of Juxtapoz (founded by Robert and Suzanne Williams, Craig Stecyk, and Greg Escalante) in 1994.
Robert Williams’ ’32 Ford hot rod.
Replacing “The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón E Inspiración” in the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery, the exhibit will feature art from Kevin Ancell, Shag, Anthony Ausgang, Sandow Birk, Chaz Bojorquez, Mister Cartoon, Art Chantry, Coop, Robert Crumb, Marc D’Estout, Kim Deitch, Von Dutch, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Jeremy Fish, Damian Fulton, Rick Griffin, Makoto Kobayashi, Frank Kozik, Laurie Lipton, Pete Millar, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, Ed Newton, Estevan Oriol, Patricia Piccinini, Gary Panter, The Pizz, Sara Ray, Rick Rietveld, Spain Rodriguez, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, Mark Ryden, Kenny Scharf, Todd Schorr, Gilbert Shelton, R.K. Sloane, Nicola Verlato, Keith Weesner, Eric White, Robert Williams, Suzanne Williams, S. Clay Wilson, Basil Wolverton, and Chet Zar.
In late 2018 or early 2019, the Charles Nearburg Family Gallery will host a new exhibit entitled “Built in L.A.,” which will focus on racing and competition cars built in Los Angeles and the surrounding area. The museum promises this will encompass “all genres of race cars from Southern California,” including everything from land speed record cars to Indy Cars, dragsters, sports racers, and more. The highlight of the opening night reception (date TBA) will be the presentation of the Robert E. Petersen Lifetime Achievement Award to Parnelli Jones for his many and varied accomplishments in motorsports.
Von Dutch’s “Kenford,” a Ford pickup fitted with a Kenworth cab.
In spring 2019, “The Porsche Effect” (housed in the Mullin Family Grand Salon) will be replaced by an exhibit focusing on transportation from a potentially dystopian future. Though the display has yet to be finalized, expect to see vehicles from films like Back to the Future, The Fifth Element, and Blade Runner.
The museum’s Richard Varner Family Gallery typically plays host to two-wheeled content, and in the spring of 2019 the current “Custom Revolution” display will be replaced by a new exhibit, examining outlaw motorcycle culture in Southern California. Details on this are pending, though we’ll admit to being curious as to how in-depth the topic can be explored in a family friendly museum.
Finally, the success of 2018’s “Future of the Automobile” symposium has prompted the Petersen to create a new exhibit, “Imagining the Future.” This will be enhanced with a series of lectures, panel discussions, and other programmatic events that will enable guests to interact with experts on a variety of forward-looking topics.
The museum celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2019, so look for more news on special events in the coming months. For more information, or to purchase tickets for upcoming special events, visit Petersen.org.