Two sister museums, the de Young and the Legion of Honor, are hosting western-themed exhibits. The star attraction, Ed Ruscha and the Great American West, is at the de Young in Golden Gate Park. The B-side, Wild West: Plains to the Pacific, is at the more remote Legion.
But like “I Will Survive” and “Maggie May,” sometimes B-sides are the real hits.
That’s the case in San Francisco. Ruscha has an original eye, but much of his work is neither beautiful nor moving. Many of his subjects, like “ThirtyFour parking lots in Los Angeles”, are intentionally, yawningly banal.
Wild West, by contrast, features brilliant woodcuts by Chiura Obata, stunning photos by Edweard Muybridge, searing screenprints by Ester Hernandez, iconic posters by Michael Schwab, and much, much more.
Triumph of the B-side.
Wild West closes September 11; Ruscha, October 9.