March 1 was perhaps the sunniest Sunday of the year so far, and a crowd of art lovers and rock music fans soaked up some rays at the Bergamot Station parking lot, where the grinding guitars and bombastic baselines of legendary local alternative rockers served as a perfect soundtrack to an edgy exhibit inside the Robert Berman Gallery. The concert, a benefit for the Santa Monica Museum of Art, was named after the Berman exhibit, Rock, Paper, Scissors, a collection of contemporary drawings, collages, and paintings by crossover artists who have also established themselves as musicians. Rockers who took to the stage for the benefit included Raymond Pettibon and the Niche Makers, Mike Watt and the Secondmen, and Ron English and Electric Illuminati. Pettibon and English are also featured artists in the exhibit. Concertgoers included Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Obama campaign artist Shepard Fairey, who also served as DJ at the exhibit’s opening night gala. Robert Berman, who is a bit of a crossover artist himself, as evidenced by his skillful horn playing at Sunday’s gig, said the merging of multi-talented artists and musicians who collectively appeal to a young audience makes the exhibit special. “I really like to bring youth culture into the fine art world any way I can, but this particular exhibit came together from my director, Jon Cournoyer, who is a rock star in his own right,” Berman said. “Almost all of my staff members play instruments and the idea of brining together Raymond Pettibon, Ron English, and the work of Daniel Johnston, among others, was so exciting. We had record crowds at Bergamot for the opening.”Pettibon has famously done artwork on album covers for numerous bands, including Los Angeles punk rockers Black Flag and the Minutemen, while English is known for his pirating of billboard space for the purpose of creating subversive art. Johnston is a left-of-center cartoonist and musician, whose deep-seated talent and struggle with manic depression are outlined in the 2005 documentary film, The Devil and Daniel Johnston.Elsa Longhauser, executive director of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, said she was happy to see the concert and exhibit come together at such a crucial time. “I just think that this is a moment when those of us who are truly committed to the life of the mind and the spirit have to find ways to be even more creative than we’ve been before,” Longhauser said. “So, out of crisis and uncertainty comes even greater possibility for greater creativity. It’s a time when people really need the sense of community and when art can really sustain a sense of joy, even in the face of adversity.” Rock, Paper, Scissors runs through March 21. For more information, call 310.586.6488 x112.
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