Hoping to posthumously please Frank Lloyd Wright with a contemporary intervention inside one of his best-known works is an arguably fruitless creative exercise. It’s a good thing, then, in the case of the Hollyhock House, the 1919-designed home that sits atop Olive Hill in Los Angeles, there is an equally important historical muse: Wright’s client, Aline Barnsdall, the iconoclastic oil heiress and arts patron who proved to be a formidable match for the architect’s strong will. The duo’s dueling relationship is now the muse behind “Entanglements: Louise Bonnet and Adam Silverman at Hollyhock House,” a first-of-its-kind installation opening today within the landmark residence.
“There was this push and pull, but they had to work together,” artist Louise Bonnet tells AD PRO. “In a way, I have more interest and respect for her,” adds her co-exhibitor, the ceramicist Adam Silverman. The artists detected common threads between Wright and Barnsdall’s dynamic—“balance and suspension, and pulling and squeezing,” as Bonnet defines it—and their own creative processes. The artists leaned heavily into the concept of opposing forces to inspire several new original works each for “Entanglements,” which marks the artisan couple’s first shared presentation.
The exhibition also represents a first in that Hollyhock House has never before hosted a contemporary art installation. Bonnet and Silverman managed their expectations accordingly when they contacted Hollyhock House curator Abbey Chamberlain Brach last summer to gauge her willingness to host a show of the sort. Fortunately, their timing was just right: Hollyhock House, which was one of eight Wright buildings (and L.A.’s first) to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, had just reopened following a two-year restoration plan, and the curatorial team was eager to “think more creatively,” says Chamberlain Brach. “These are layered spaces and there are so many voices. To add new ones to our narrative is really important.”
Those new voices—Bonnet’s and Silverman’s, to be exact—can now be perceived as soon as visitors pass through the residence’s narrow entrance. Bonnet’s highly emotive oil paintings, such as Hollyhock Green, featuring tightly grasped, disembodied hands in the entry, engage in conversation with Silverman’s complexly layered ceramics. To the right, in a light-flooded pocket transitioning between the loggia and the living room, is Hollyhock Gold, a larger-scaled fleshy grip placed alongside another ceramic vessel in a choreography that explores physical and conceptual boundaries of attachments. “They’re always joined,” Silverman says of the strategic pairing.