LA Fridays with Bob and Tom: Ai Weiwei

LA Fridays with Bob and Tom

Week 14: Ai Weiwei


This week we visited three galleries displaying a new exhibition by the acclaimed Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.  The Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, on Orange Drive, the UTA Fine Arts at UTA Artist Space located in Beverly Hills Los Angeles and the Marciano Art Foundation, on Wilshire Blvd.  


The Jeffrey Deitch exhibition consists of a central space filled by STOOLS (2013), pictured above.  There are 5,929 wooden stools gathered from villages across northern China forming a 72-foot square, creating an enormous variegated surface.  Complementing the stools is a new series of Zodiac works composed from thousands of plastic LEGO bricks.  There are twelve Lego Zodiac animal heads overlaid onto twelve landscapes and monuments which from a distance appear as tapestries rather than Lego designs.


Central to the UTA exhibition is a new collective performance project, HUMANITY (2018), a global campaign reaction to the tens of millions of persons displaced by war, famine and climate crises, and gives a personal and group voice in support of the idea that humanity is one.


The Marciano exhibition, Life Cycle, is the culmination of ten years of effort, featuring works related to the artist’s diverse interests including mass production, antiquity, mythology, and the global refugee crisis.


As a prolific artist, activist, architect, curator, and filmmaker Ai Weiwei has developed a body of work that, in addition to installation, encompasses sculpture, painting, photography, film, architecture, public art, and performance.  An outspoken human-rights activist who has openly criticized the Chinese government, Ai Weiwei was arrested by Chinese authorities in April 2011 and detained for three months. His position as a provocateur and dissident artist clearly influences the tone of his most recent work.


Based on his extensive personal and professional experiences inside and outside of China we recommend that you research some of his past prior to attending these provocative exhibits.  It will make his work more meaningful to you




Robert (Bob) is a PhD physicist whose career has spanned academia, government and private industry. As a faculty member of the Department of Physics at the University of Tennessee, a Branch Chief at the United States Department of Energy and Vice President of an American International Group Company, his scientific endeavors include radiation physics, environmental research, environmental insurance and nanotechnology.

Originally from the East Coast, Bob was seduced by his sons and their families (and the California weather) to leave Washington, DC after retiring in 2010. While recovering from culture shock, Bob found many outlets to reconcile his eclectic interests. As a member of Senior Scholars for over six years he continues to take courses in a myriad of subjects ranging from film to art history to brain science and finds great intellectual and social rewards in Senior Scholars and the Plato Society.

As a latent artist, he sketches scenes about town once a week with an artist friend from his college days and is attempting to learn to play the electric guitar.

On moving to Los Angeles, he found Tom Jacobson, another recent transplant. They became great friends and decided to explore their new town together leading to over 113 sites in our city. Dubbed “LA Fridays with Bob and Tom” they are happy to share their experiences with others.

Bob lives in Brentwood with Phyllis, his wife of 56 years, an education policy executive. They have two sons and four grandchildren, one of whom plays a guitar a lot better than Bob.




Thomas (Tom) is an attorney who practiced trial and constitutional law in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Born in 1938 in Bamberg Germany, he was one of the youngest passengers on the ill-fated voyage of the Damned, the SS St. Louis, turned away from Cuba in 1939.

Tom represented local civil rights activists and Dick Gregory and twice argued cases successfully in the United States Supreme Court. In 1970 he was the Democratic candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General.

Retiring in 2008, he and wife, Peggy, moved to California to join their two sons and four grandchildren, and enjoy the warm weather.

Tom has kept busy as a member of Senior Scholars and Plato for the last six years keeping his brain stimulated and active. Yoga and swimming have kept his body in shape.