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June 30 - September 3, 2005 at L.A. Louver Gallery, Venice

by Bill Lasarow

Summer is that break period between exhibition seasons in the art world. Galleries gear up for the big round of September openings and ask themselves who they will be as a result of the artists they plan to show. Like baseball’s trading deadline, July and August is the time for gallery directors to assess their rosters with an eye towards cuts and acquisitions.

That makes it a natural time for audition shows that give us a taste of how an artist, or selection of artists, will look in a gallery’s space and context. A good summer group show, in short, does not rehash the past season (the dreaded inventory show) in favor of previewing what may lie ahead. And that also means, if we are to take this type of show seriously, that it is about the venue.

“Rogue Wave” is a selection of 19 artists that range from freshly minted MFA grads (eg., Tanya Batura, Jessica Minckley) to those entering their mid-career (eg. Lucas Reiner, Drew Dominick). Most have begun to accumulate a track record of exhibitions at a range of local galleries: Kell

Thus, when L.A. Louver’s Peter Goulds set forth with his preparator Christopher Pate to evaluate and select artists for this show (the gallery informs us that over 100 artists were considered, and nearly 40 studio visits were conducted), it was hardly at random or within a contextual vacuum. Let us take it at face value that Goulds’ intent is no more complex than to reflect the present trajectory of new art coming out of Los Angeles based on his personal ranking of individual artists. Given that all are still early enough in their career to be regarded as contenders who have only begun to arrive, this has the feel of a valedictory address. Judging by the previous “Rogue Wave” group done in 2001, among whom were such increasingly familiar names such as Pae White, Steven Criqui, Tamara Fites, and Gajin Fujita (Fujita was the only one among that group to ultimately join the gallery’s lineup), you should learn the names here; most figure to be around next fall and beyond.

Besides provoking reflection about the efficacy of Goulds’ aesthetic judgment and the process by which the art world certifies its leading players, there is, finally, the art. It may, taken together, be unavoidably and disjunctively varied, but it is visually engaging, even rich, full of clever references, and credible to remarkable in its commitment to craft. There is a visible strain of surrealist and automatist thinking. On the whole it’s all more impressive than surprising.

That banner into which the gallery building is enfolded is not promotional, it is in fact one of the concept works on view. Titled “Parade,” by recent Otis grads B & T, a duo whose videos (a new one is on view here) rely on deadpan theatrical humor and low tech wit easy to find endearing. Violet Hopkins’ clouds of volcanic ash violently and romantically recast Hillary Brace’s memorable cloud drawings. Kelly McLane’s mural sized “Mad Dog 20/60” displays wonderfully sensuous draftsmanship in a flowing image that appears to have emerged from, well, nowhere in particular. The awkward but eloquent lines of Evan Holloway’s sculpture tenuously hold together spatial volumes and suggest folk stories around the technological campfire. This is art with a good portion of thorniness, but also with plenty to warm up to.

Karl Frederick Haendel, "Faith/Failure
(after Florian Maier-Aichen after
Mungo Thomson)," 2004,
pencil on paper, 51 x 41".
Courtesy of Anna Helwing Gallery.

Mark Bradford, "The Some
of Its Parts," mixed media
on canvas, 60 x 72".
Courtesy Brent Sikkema, New York.

B & T, "Parade" (detail), 2005,
banner/video installation, banner
dimensions 120 x 385'.

Violet Hopkins, “Lady Cab
Driver,” 2005, pencil on paper
mounted on aluminum, 4 x 4”.
Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery.
Photo: Joshua White.

Kelly McLane, "Mad Dog 20/60"
(detail), 2005, graphite and
oil on paper, 51 1/4 x 190 7/8".
Photo: Robert Wedemeyer.

Evan Holloway, "Television," 2003,
metal/plaster/paint, 110 x 44 1/2 x 67".
Courtesy Marc Foxx Gallery.