Clocks and watches can do far more than simply tell time. A new exhibit at the Zimmer Children's Museum shows that when sliced, diced and deconstructed by artists and humanitarians, timepieces can edify, entertain and even inveigh against social injustice.
"Show & Tell: The Art of Time" features 74 works ranging from whimsical clocks decorated with painted pink bunnies to clocks that comment on race, class and even the wretched state of California's youth prisons. Several high-profile artists, including Charles Arnoldi and designer Paul Frank, submitted works, and all the timepieces are on sale for $500 to $15,000. Nearly half the works already had sold during the exhibit's April 30 to May 6 preview. Proceeds will go to youTHINK, a Zimmer program for public-school students that uses art to teach fourth- to 12th-graders to think critically about issues of social justice.
"The art is over the top, and the community response has been incredible," said Esther Netter, the Zimmer's chief executive. "This is a grand slam for the museum."
"The Art of Time" is a successor to "Show & Tell: The Art of Connection," a 2004 exhibit that showcased 179 phones decorated by artists, humanitarians and entertainers. That exhibit raised more than $125,000 for youTHINK. However, the challenges of gathering and displaying so many works led Netter and her staff to curate fewer works this time around and not seek submissions from athletes, actors and most others in the entertainment industry.
Given "The Art of Time's" early success, said Netter, Zimmer has plans afoot to unveil another ambitious collection in May 2007. "Show & Tell: The Art of Harmony," will feature musical instruments as works of art.
Los Angeles artist Kingsley said nonprofit groups regularly ask him to contribute works for worthy causes, but that he turns down many requests. He agreed to donate a clock for the current exhibit and a refashioned musical instrument for next year's show, because he supports the Zimmer's mission of touching young people's lives through art.
"This is an opportunity for us artists to give back to the community," said Kingsley, whose "Gramps," a grandfather clock wrapped in pieces of canvass painted in red, blue and green, fetched $10,000 before "The Art of Time" officially opened.
Other works on display also make a strong impression. Kenan Malkic's stark "I Can Still Work" depicts a shattered, albeit still operational, clock held together with tape. Like his clock, Malkic's a survivor: He lost both his arms and a leg after stepping on a land mine in Bosnia at age 12.
"My clock proves that it is what's on the inside that counts, " he says in a note running adjacent to his work.
In a more fanciful vein, designer Frank created a black-and-red animal-like figurine with its face fashioned out of an alarm clock. The piece, called, "Tor Tor," resembles Pokey, the claymation pony from the "Gumby" cartoons of the 1960s.
In a plea for racial unity, lawyer/artist Stephen Frank Gary's "Isn't It About Time" features a large clock surrounded by branches, trees and wires. Gary has replaced the clock's numbers with painted white, red, brown and black human hands
"Isn't it about time," he asks in the program notes, "that we join together as one?"
“Show & Tell: The Art of Time” exhibit will run from May 7 to June 9 at the Zimmer at 6505 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles. Admission is free. For more information, call 323-761-8992, or visit www.zimmershowandtell.org.