<b>IF YOU BUILD IT:</b> Atelier Manferdini’s “Eye Candy Table” (2012) is printed stainless steel.
Courtesy Photo

We should probably thank Frank Gehry. In the 20-some-odd years since the architect designed his famously innovative — and gloriously dazzling — Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, it seems the architectural rulebook has been all but abandoned. Nowadays, top architects are also graphic designers, tech wizards, and fashion innovators — and the impact it’s having on the visual art world is both notable and game changing.

And that’s precisely where Almost Anything Goes fits in. The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara’s newest group show, which opens this Sunday, January 5, is subtitled “Architecture and Inclusivity,” and it’s bringing together some of the most forward-thinking minds on the West Coast for an architecture show that’s anything but typical.

Curated and co-conceptualized by Miki Garcia, Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara executive director, and longtime friend, colleague, and architect Brigitte Kouo, Almost Anything Goes features six rising stars of the Los Angeles architecture world, including Ramiro Diaz Granados of Amorphis L.A., Elena Manferdini of Atelier Manferdini, Benjamin Ball and Gaston Nogues of Ball-Nogues Studio, Catherine Johnson and Rebecca Rudolph of Design Bitches, Doris Sung of DO/SU Studio Architecture, and Miles Kemp of Variate Labs.

“We’re very much billing this as an architecture show,” said Garcia, on the phone last week from the museum’s Paseo Nuevo headquarters. “But the works will challenge people’s understanding of what that means. Don’t expect to see any building models.”

Ball-Nogues Studio’s “Music Legs Glob Lamp” is pulped paper and a lightbulb on a wooden base.

What you will find in Almost Anything Goes is a wide swath of pieces inspired by and rooted in building design. Almost all of the artists are contributing new, site-specific work for the show, including Kemp’s interactive virtual tour of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye and Ball and Nogue’s collection of papier-mâché lamps. Johnson and Rudolph have created a whimsical installation piece involving concrete and clouds, and Sung is building a sculpture inspired by her study of materials and how they react to their environment.

“The sculpture in itself is a gorgeous shape and form,” said Garcia of the Sung piece, “but it’s really rooted in Doris’s investigation of how materials react and how that can inform future building projects. This particular material expands and contracts with heat.”

Ultimately, says Garcia, Almost Anything Goes aims to swing the doors wide open on the current state of the architecture industry and create a dialogue among designers, appreciators, and the community at large about art and functionality.

“We’re really encouraging people who come to interact with the space and with each other,” said Kouo. “We want to show that we don’t have to be so limiting in our preconceived notions of what art is and what architecture is.” I doubt Frank could have said it better himself.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara will host an opening reception for Almost Anything Goes: Architecture and Inclusivity on Saturday, January 4, 6-8 p.m. The show runs January 5-April 13.For info, call (805) 966-5373 or visit mcasantabarbara.org.


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