The wandering camera

Richard Newton, who has created art from decades of roaming, will screen short films at Laguna Art Museum.

May 09, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Richard Newton in "Get Under the Table — Don't Look at the Windows" from 1980.
Richard Newton in "Get Under the Table — Don't… (Coastline Pilot )

A storage unit, a garage, a car, a professor's office and a tent on a campsite.

These are only a few of the 24 Irvine spots where Richard Newton bunked over two years in the early 1970s.

This nomadic life — the yearning to feel out new surroundings — sparks inspiration.

"The seed of my ideas comes from other places and, I suppose, works with my restlessness — I'm always going somewhere," he said. "I have personally found that the most interesting part of life is to be exposed to other people, cultures and places — to somehow step completely out of where you come from and immerse yourself in someone else's world."

Newton, who has off and on for the past decade called Pasadena home, will be at the Laguna Art Museum at 7 p.m. Thursday. The event, titled "Some Poets," is a screening of 11 short films he created between 1969 and 1987.


The museum and UC Irvine — Newton's alma mater — also hosted between 2011 and 2012 "Best Kept Secret," which was part of a regional exhibition called "Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945-1980." The upcoming series traces Newton's life from Laguna Beach in the '70s, to downtown Los Angeles from the mid '70s to late '80s and then to Hollywood, where he lived until the '90s.

"Each place that I lived affected the film I was making, or the films that I was making reflected where I was," Newton explained, adding that the work depicts his progression while adapting to different environments.

A two-minute color movie, "coming into the 'vine," will be up first at the Laguna Art Museum. Newton shot the film in 10 minutes in 1969 on the UCI campus without actors or a script. Like other films he created at the time, this one is silent save for Santana's song "Jingo."

Others in the pipeline are "In Vivo," all 14 minutes and five seconds of which were created at Crystal Cove, Laguna Beach, Point Ferman, San Pedro and USC; "The Artist Landlord," a depiction of Newton's artist friends Chris Burden, Gina Pane, Barbara Smith and Charles Hill relaxing in his loft; and the U.S. debut of "The Weirdos," a vignette of Hollywood musicians including John and Dix Denney, Cliff Roman, Willy Williams and Art Fox of the eponymous band.

Along with the opportunity to interact with the filmmaker, viewers will be regaled with full movies and snippets portraying everything from transvestites to contemporary artist Paul McCarthy reading a poem to chiseled adonises in "Lamy Men."


'More of a gypsy'

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