Apples and expats

Gertrud Natzler at a throwing wheel, 1939.

Gertrud Natzler at a throwing wheel, 1939.

Courtesy Of Natzler Family Trust

Thanks to Martha Chapa, the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts, at 1020 O Street, is loaded with apples. None to eat, but no matter.

Chapa’s Most Recent Works, up through June 30, shows the obvious and whimsical influence of René Magritte, the Belgian surrealist best known for his succulent green apple covering the face of “The Son of Man.” Like Magritte, Chapa takes her apples to places they’ve never been. In “Earthquake Apple,” a juicy, solitary apple gazes up at a peak spewing smoke. Also a cookbook author, the Monterrey, Mexico, native confesses her interest in apples includes “the one that fascinated Eve, made Atlanta lose the race, hypnotized Cézanne, the one that is growing in the tree over there.”

There are no apple trees in the museum, but through the double doors is a traveling exhibit from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles. Driven into Paradise: L.A.’s European Jewish Émigrés of the 1930s and 1940s, running through August 27, focuses on contributions to American arts and culture made by Jewish exiles after they escaped Nazi-dominated Europe for the paradise of Hollywood. You may not quickly recall their names, but you know their work. Billy Wilder left Austria in 1934 to become the writer and director of Some Like It Hot, Sunset Boulevard and many others. Otto and Gertrud Natzler arrived in 1938, armed with a kiln and potter’s wheel just months after winning a silver medal for their wafer-thin glazed ceramics at the Paris International Exposition. Over the years, they pumped out more than 25,000 vessels and, as true innovators, gave inspiration to many others in their field. For more information, call (916) 653-7524.