Back when I first attended CalArts in the 80's, it was fairly common for the Hollywood studios to use CalArts as a film location. An episode of Airwolf was filmed there, along with an episode of Murder She Wrote. For one shoot, a fake art gallery full of fake art was built in the Main Gallery. In the picture above, the yellow banner below the "No Nuclear" sign covers up the school's name.
Still from The China Syndrome, 1979
All the props used, like the tables and chairs, were part of the existing CalArts furnishings. At the time, the only chair on campus were David Rowland's 40/4 chair. I remember hearing that one of the reasons CalArts was a popular location was the wide hallways, which made it easier to shoot at right angles to the walls. It was a generic modern space, and in the case of The China Syndrome, it became a nuclear regulatory institutional space.Fake Public Testimony in the Main Gallery
It's interesting to see art in the background. Now days, artists charge for these kinds of appearances. The light display on the side of the LAX control tower winds up in the background of many Hollywood movies. The artist Sheila Klein is able to generate steady income by suing the movie companies for unauthorized depictions of her work. Until recently, I didn't realize that it was a work of public art.Fake Public Testimony, Real Student Art
We used this staircase for a reinvention of Allan Kaprow's Scales, as probably did Allan, 35 years before. What caught my eye was the tubular drawing on the wall, and the way it lines up with the actors' sight lines. This particular still reminds of the appropriated movie stills used by John Baldessari. One of Baldo's fetishes is emphasizing the interactive space between two figures, as seen here, here, here, and here.I'm Fonda this Image:
Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda on the Main Gallery Staircase
Thinking about the era The China Syndrome was made, and how CalArtians like Jack Goldstein and David Salle (among others) were using appropriated imagery long before Baldessari adopted the practice.My Fake Baldo
For recent visitors to CalArts, they might not realize that twenty years ago there were five hundred fewer students on campus. The still above shows the Main Gallery's mezzanine before it became a warren of studio cubicles. One advantage to the lower attendance is that it allowed non-art majors to use the gallery spaces, and it also gave art students the opportunity (and space) to curate shows.The Mezzanine Gallery
Thanks to Adam Feldmeth for reminding be about this movie, now streaming on Netflix.