Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Ghost of Steve Chase 3

As an employee at the museum confessed to me, he thought Steve Chase was a great interior designer, but as an art collector he left a lot to be desired, particularly since his collection makes up about half of the art on display in the museum. (All of the photos in the first two sections were a "Gift of Steve Chase.")

Part of the problem is that most of the great abstract expressionist works have already been collected and are in homes and museums on the East Coast.

Plus, a lot of abstract expressionism is just plain boring, particularly compared to the work in the Palm Springs Art Museum's permanent collection...

...that made up a smashing show called "Beyond Borders: Mexican Art Inspires 20th Century Art."

They convincingly showed off Mexican art from pre-Columbian times to the present...

...juxtaposed with work by Henry Moore, Botero, and others.

The show also included one of the most beautiful Diego Rivera drawings ever of his wife Frida minus all her wounds which are usually on display in Kahlo's own paintings.

Part of Steve Chase's decorating style, at least when I met him, was the use of bold, third-world art from huge Guatemalan ceramics to Mexican retablos.

How he decided "Abstract Expressionism" was what he needed to collect (most of the works are from the early 1980s), I don't have a clue.

When trying to research Steve for this blog entry, I realized that he died slightly too early, for the AIDS drugs that might have saved him, and for the internet and its search engines to really immortalize his own work. Instead, he's becoming a faint ghost, known as either an AIDS philanthropist whose name is on an annual A-Gay and Society event, The Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards at the Palm Springs Convention Center, or as an anonymous art patron with questionable taste.

The greatest favor the Palm Springs Art Museum could do for their benefactor, I believe, is to put together a show of Steve's actual design work rather than his art collection.

There have to be archives from great photographers all over the world displaying what it was that made his vision interesting.

The museum could also publish a catalogue and sell it in their very bright gift shop.

This would probably make the ghost very happy.


markleym said...

Mike, thanks for a wonderful tribute to Steve Chase. I had never heard of him but at least in your wonderful pix I like his art collection. So many of the pieces seem funky, sophisticated and free - a little oasis in the desert.

sfwillie said...

Hey Mike,

It's hard to say what makes the Chase series so enjoyable (other than the beautiful pictures). Chase design is a part of your current world. You have semi-moved into Chase' old world. Plus you were there years ago with Chase (to an extent) while he was creating the world he no longer inhabits but you now do, the power shift--you were "his twink," now he's your vignette. And the story is so self effacing. And there's no particular point or moral, it's more like an unexpected deep breath of that sweet, dry desert air. Very satisfying.

Alexis said...

Hi, Mike

I googled Steve Chase because I am doing an article for the local paper on a house he used to live in. It's for sale, and of course it's full of his own pieces. I'd never heard of him (though apparently I should have), so your series was more than a little illuminating. I learned a lot, much of which I can't publish!

Anyway, great stories and thanks again.

Lynne Rutter said...

thanks for posting this. i knew mr chase from completely different angle, and was really bummed when he died. he was a huge talent. there is very little about him on the internet.