Another 300 words on Sympathy for the Records Industry founder Long Gone John's current art show at Grand Central? Anything you say, Mr. Calendar Editor. There's really a lot that's not been said—though, sadly, not nearly enough of it is on display at Grand Central Art Center. See, Santa Ana has fire codes; and John—whose show of examples from his art collection is the result of his moving from Long Beach to Washington—is very nearly a third living Collyer brother.
Langley and Homer Collyer, a.k.a. the Hermits of Harlem, were the classically-trained sons of a family who traced its roots to the Mayflower. They were also packrats who, after their parents' deaths lived together in the family brownstone until 1947—warming themselves with a kerosene heater and trying to generate their own power with a Model T Ford-powered generator. But that was the year Langley, who cared for Homer—who was rheumatic and blind—became trapped under piles of the newspapers he'd amassed and died. (Horrifically, Homer, who was unable to summon help, starved to death.)
John's a collector—not a packrat; he merely approaches one in amount. The difference, of course, is that instead of junk he accumulates curious toys, apparatuses, medical cabinets (and, sometimes, chicken bones). Especially—now on view in Santa Ana—he collects paintings by Mark Ryden, Todd Schorr, Camille Rose Garcia, Robert Williams: gorgeous canvases by the pillars of the lowbrow movement.
The installation, which also spotlights his toys and a few pieces of furniture (handcarved chairs), is purposely in one of the gallery's smallest spaces: its project room—an almost successful attempt to capture the clutter and dim views of John's longtime Long Beach home, a vintage Spanish-style with dark purple interiors. It's awesomely close.
Pictures of the Gone World: From the Collection of Long Gone John, in the Project Room at CSUF Grand Central Art Center, 125 N. Broadway, Santa Ana, (714) 567-7233; www.grandcentralartcenter.com. Tues.-Thurs. & Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; closed Mon. Through Mar. 18. Free.