The Whimsical Eye of Gary Baseman

The Skirball Center's new exhibit delves into the artist's exuberant illustrations.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Monday, Apr 29, 2013  |  Updated 8:12 AM PDT
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The Whimsical Eye of Gary Baseman

Gary Baseman

"Gary Baseman: The Door Is Always Open" is on view at the Skirball Center through Sunday, Aug. 18.

There was a day when the type of work an artist did was neatly categorized and put under a single heading and filed away without argument.

The last few decades really undid that wrong bit of thinking, thank goodness. Artists like Gary Baseman led the way in making art that covered a lot of bases and ticked a lot of boxes, work that couldn't and wouldn't be neatly summarized.

"The Door Is Always Open," the new Skirball Center celebrating the artist's exuberant illustrations and his Jewish heritage, is on view through Sunday, Aug. 18.

You've likely seen Mr. Baseman's work in galleries around our city, yes, but consider the other offbeat places where you've experienced his work. One? Television. Yep, he's the man behind "Teacher's Pet," the animated series from Disney/ABC that aired in the '90s. Two? Board games. Own Cranium? Then you've enjoyed the artist's work on your own kitchen table.

And three, and possibly our favorite? He's the artist behind the logo for the Beverly Hills Farmers Market, meaning you'll regularly see Mr. Baseman's whimsical output on banners around the 90210. When we see them we think "Baseman!," complete with exclamation point. How many farmers markets get a famous artist to make their logo?

In short, the LA-raised iconoclast is a big thinker, a leader for other pop artists, and his creations have shown up in the most wonderful and non-gallery-ized places. Through his toys and television and logo design and other outlandish avenues, many not taken by traditional artists, Mr. Baseman's art has had (and continues to enjoy) a wide reach.

There is no neat category for that, and again we say thank goodness.

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