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Return of the long weekend

November 14, 2002|Sorina Diaconescu | Special to The Times

Back in his grad student days at Cal Arts, L.A.-based artist Dave Muller began throwing together one-day shows in his studio. He would put up his drawings, buy some beer from Costco, spin some records, invite a bunch of friends over.

At these party/exhibit hybrids everybody checked out the art and had a good time. "It felt like the workers got the keys to the factory and could make whatever they wanted. Kinda like punk rock or something," Muller says.

The innocence of that approach remains intact to this day, 8 1/2 years later, even though Muller's bashes, dubbed Three Day Weekends, have since evolved into full-fledged social events on the arts scene -- movable feasts of art, music and all-around good vibes that have traveled from various So Cal locales to places including Malmo, Sweden; Tokyo; New York; and the belly of a freight elevator in Frankfurt, Germany.

In one memorable instance, Muller's friends staged a Dave-Muller-in-Absentia Weekend, opening his downtown L.A. loft while he was away and inviting people to come in and turn his possessions into objets d'art: "They did drawings of my bed, my record collection, my clothes, even my underwear," Muller recalls.

This illustrious track record was augmented Sunday when Muller, whose selected works are on display at UCLA's Armand Hammer Museum in the "Dave Muller: Connections" exhibit, put on another of his signature shindigs in the museum courtyard.

The air was balmy and a lovely breeze rustled the still-green leaves of maple trees in the courtyard -- possibly nature's unintended pun on a series of drawings titled "As if There Were Seasons in L.A.," which Muller provided for the cover of Hammer's fall catalog.

The galleries stayed open throughout the night, allowing the visitors a free peek at Muller's and other artists' exhibits. Muller's show consists of mostly handmade replicas of direct-mail pieces for his artist friends' shows, posters advertising art exhibits, articles on art, even subscription coupons from magazines. The reproductions are rendered in intricate detail in ink, acrylic paint, pencil and even makeup glitter, and are in subversive opposition to the slick marketing materials that inspired them.

There was more fun to be had in a corner of the darkened Hammer auditorium, where photographer Patterson Beckwith had set up a photo studio. About 20 volunteers waited in line to have their picture taken in front of a black background with a special film Beckwith exposed twice to create surreal images. The plan is to blow up selected prints over the next two weeks and annex them to Muller's exhibit.

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