|CONTINUING AND RECOMMENDED, OCTOBER 2016|
Amy Bennett, “Sleepy Town,” 2016, oil on canvas, 20 x 28”, is currently on view at Richard Heller.
"Small Changes Every Day" is at once the title and the methodology of Amy Bennett's new paintings. She renders an invented landscape and the ensuing town that develops, drawing us in a holding our focus as we examine minute details and variations in painting style within a given work. The paintings depict the same town viewed from varying perspectives and are, in fact, of an expansive 3D model of this invented locale. Bennett began with the landscape, carving mountains and hills, then populating the scene with wire and foam trees. The empty landscape is depicted in numerous paintings, and can be seen in the background of the paintings of the town. She fabricated over 450 buildings at a 1/500 scale, filling an eight-foot square platform. Her progress is effectively documented through the paintings. While the model from which the paintings were inspired is not exhibited, seeing its photograph in the catalog puts the whole project into perspective and makes it even more impressive (Richard Heller Gallery, Santa Monica).#mce_temp_url#
Rebecca Puga, “Ice Pink,” 2015, oil on canvas, 52 x 40”, is currently on view at Sloan Projects.
Rebeca Puga calls herself a very “slow painter, it takes me a long time to make them,” although the works themselves have a deceptive simplicity that makes them look as if they might have been created in a single dream-like session. Created over a period of years, these abstract works are each focused on Puga’s approach to environment. This environment appears to be metaphysical as much as physical, as she approaches the world around her externally, and additionally, through subjective perceptions of time and space. There is a sense of possibility in her works that go beyond the canvas, as if each piece were still in transition between the visible world and another dimension. Whether it is the cooler, thicker pink forms giving birth to the finer lines and geometric patterns of “Ice Pink” or the ladders and lines of “Home Structure,” a dwelling floating in air, Puga’s shapes create light and space that trembles tantalizingly on the verge of deeper meaning (Sloan Projects, Santa Monica).#mce_temp_url#
James Richards, “#251” (front side), 2015, acrylic on polypropylene rope, cloth, plastic netting and wood, 52 x 52 x 13”, is currently on view at Shoshana Wayne.
James Richards' freestanding works in "Hack the Analog" are funky ad hoc assemblages. These double-sided works are both sculptures and paintings. By allowing us to walk around a portion of the works, Richards reveals the process of their creation. The supports, fully exposes in the back of each work, include metal shelves and milk crates that have been roped together. They are the supports (rather than traditional stretchers) for thick, hand woven canvases covered with white paint, which provides the base coat for the application of painted shapes. The simple monochromatic forms span the irregular shaped canvases in a dialog between positive and negative space. This represents a new direction for Richards, whose previous paintings were paintings restricted to the wall and emphasized explorations of color and form (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica).#mce_temp_url#
Henry Taylor, installation view, 2016, is currently on view at Blum & Poe.
Though Henry Taylor's crude paintings remain a tough sell, his installations have become increasingly powerful. In the main gallery, the paintings become virtually side notes to Taylor's larger vision, a re-created dirt lot environment, composed of a ceiling-height leafless tree, a graffitied cinder block wall that encases a homeless encampment — complete with tent, tarpaulin, bike and numerous salvaged plastic jugs — and a Michael Jackson wall painting memorial. The scene embodies a particular intensity of urban grittiness; it's the definitive concrete jungle, where the only green to be found is a small section of graffiti and a smidge of background in a very tall painting featuring a homeless man holding a cardboard sign, his other hand raised in a gnarled version of the "hang loose" signal.
The second installation offers plenty of green — in the form of AstroTurf, which surrounds a mock pool of sorts. The "pool" is all of about two to three inches deep and is completely waterless; its 'pool-ness' is signified by its classic cement pool light blue, and is topped by several foam pool noodles, tauntingly impotent sans water. One could argue that this miniature faux pool is merely a set piece for the surrounding paintings, which feature African-American kids and adults restlessly lounging on plastic pool chairs, with green (presumably AstroTurf) backdrops. One painting, however, directly behind the pool, features a couple of men lounging on their noodles in actual pool water, but in context it comes off as fantasy, as a dream sequence. This is no set piece, in other words; there is no pool, there's only cement, plastic, and AstroTurf; this is Taylor's primordial landscape (Blum and Poe, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Suzan Woodruff, “Space Rain,” mixed media, 24 x 25”, is currently on view at George Billis.
“Properties of Light” glows inwardly and outwardly, whether it is Suzan Woodruff’s exhilarating acrylic on panel or mixed media acrylic works that resemble the expansion of the heavens, or Brad Howe’s stainless steel sculptures, which reflect everything around them in their geometric shapes. Curated by William Moreno, the show dazzles with its partnered qualities of light and both inward and outward reflection. Placing the artists’ works side-by-side effectively transforms the gallery space into something more ethereal. Howe’s large, shiny abstract sculptures seem to float on air, despite their composition of steel. Woodruff’s abstractions also create the sensation of floating, through the atmosphere and beyond. Both use manipulation of light — enhanced by the placement of the two artists’ works in tandem — to present a world that travels through the eye to the senses in, well, the speed of light (George Billis Gallery, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Jun Kaneko, “Mirage” (studio installation view), 2016, nine acrylic on canvas paintings, 9 x 63 feet. Photo: Takashi Hatakayama.
Jun Kaneko’s “Mirage” appears to be just that, images so impossible and arresting that we stop to take it all in. One of the most visually pleasurable and immersive exhibitions I’ve seen recently, Kaneko’s large-scale works are astonishing in their complexity. This represents the first solo exhibition of both painting and sculpture by the Japanese-born, Southern California-based artist, who is well-known for his acceptance of visual challenges in both his paintings and ceramic works.
The large scale “Mirage” consists of nine acrylic on canvas works displayed in one continuous, sinuous curve. A site-specific installation, this piece covers 63-feet with the arrangement of 7-foot tall paintings. As we walk into the gallery’s long display space, the immediate impact of the color is powerful, a world based on a vivid palette of reds, oranges, yellows and golds, with colors deepening toward the reds as the installation proceeds. Also featured are black and white ceramic sculptures. One piece, “Untitled, Dango” towers alongside “Mirage,” the juxtaposition creating the feeling of a monolith from an ancient culture. Smaller ceramic works, still powerful given the diminished scale, are also on display (Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Andrew Masullo, “6430,” 2015, oil on canvas, 24 x 30”, is currently on view at Zevitas Marcus.
Andrew Masullo began showing his modest-sized colorful abstract paintings in the East village in the 1980 and has continued working in this vein, refining his style and the relationships between color and form. On view here are more than 25 paintings (all titled by number) presented as a colorful frieze around the gallery walls. Entitled "Pretty Pictures and Other Disasters" the works, in accord with Masullo’s reductivist aesthetic, strip away everything that is not necessary so they "come closer and closer to what they were meant to be." The shapes, colors and textures have, over the years, evolved into their own language that produces a constant conversation other across the space that keeps things lively (Zevitas Marcus, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Zemer Peled, “Under the Arch,” 2016, porcelain shards, ceramic, wooden base, 63 x 36 x 36”, is currently on view at Mark Moore.
Zemer Peled's intricate and complex works are large- and small-scale ceramic sculptures that could be botanical forms from an alien planet. The works are built from thousands of porcelain shards that protrude from a central spine glazed in dark black or bright orange. The white shards that cover the sculptures allude to the spikes on an odd-shaped cactus suggestive in the case of “Under the Arch" of a prickly moebius strip. The pieces have a simultaneous delicacy and brutality that feels at once familiar yet you know is utterly impossible. From a distance the sculptures — each placed atop a white wooden base — look soft but close up the knife-like sharpness of the shards becomes evident (Mark Moore Gallery, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Dan Miller, “Untitled,” 2016, acrylic and ink on paper, 22 1/2 x 30”, is currently on view at Diane Rosenstein.
Dan Miller exemplifies the problematic nature of the term “outsider artist.” Even a cursory glance at his paintings yields echoes of Jackson Pollack (the dense skeins of paint), Cy Twombly (the scratchy marks), Jean-Michel Basquiat (the inclusion of esoteric text and amateurish shapes) and Philip Guston (the cartoonish abstraction). Color, line and text frenetically and obsessively intermingle in a way that suggests familiarity with the narrative of art history, but Miller is self-taught and autistic. His linguistic limitations play out in his obfuscated words and bold marks. Viewers see the artist’s unfettered aesthetic concerns and compulsions on the canvas and are forced to conceive of them as outside a critical context or teleology; who gets to be “inside” or “outside” feels limiting in the face of Miller’s compelling work. A strong example of his aesthetic is an “Untitled” work featuring the words “home” and “house” resting atop a textured maze of blue, green, and black brushstrokes. Under the paint are thinly penciled lines densely crisscrossing the canvas, and the intimation of shapes suggestive of a domestic edifice. In all of Miller’s work there is sound and fury, but it certainly signifies something (Diane Rosenstein, Hollywood).#mce_temp_url#
Jonas Lund, “Your Logo Here,” 2016 installation currently on view currently at Steve Turner.
"Your Logo Here" is the third show/stunt that Jonas Lund has produced here in consecutive years. This time the concept-over-object quotient is turned up nearly all the way. The installation features logos festooned on blue and red vinyl wall banners, blue and red floor barrier banners that mark the perimeter of a ping pong 'arena' (where visitors can bone up on their games by hitting balls fed by a machine with adjustable speeds and spins), blue and red "Your Logo Here" soccer jerseys, and four UV print-on-Plexiglas wall works that are the most aesthetically-minded of the bunch. The logos are derived from real sponsors, but instead of financial backing, it's social backing — or exchange — that they provide: a social media shout-out, an ad in an art magazine, inclusion in a digital platform, or even the in-real-life purveying of House Beer, served at the show's opening and the live ping pong tournament later on. It's difficult to reconcile the generally idealistic tones of an "exchange economy" culture with a logo-laden, coldly corporate, non-aesthetically applicable concept delivery system, but you have to give Lund a lot of credit for hooking up all these outlets, among them Art Brussels, The Armory Show, Whitechapel Gallery, ArtBinder and Paddle Palace. Oops, hang on a second … did I just give them free advertising? (Steve Turner, Hollywood)#mce_temp_url#
Michael Andrews, “Melanie and Me Swimming,” 1978-79, acrylic on canvas, is currently on view at the Getty Museum. © Tate, London and The Estate of Michael Andrews.
When do new art movements begin? Art historian Martin Fox says that generally they emerge in a specific time and place, sometimes organically from artists interested in the same aesthetic concepts; at other times they can develop around a central figure or institution. The School of London emerged through the initiative of London-based artist R.B. Kitaj, who organized an exhibition titled “Human Clay” at the Hayward Gallery in London in 1976 that showed exclusively figurative drawings and paintings with a stress on the human condition. It ignited art world controversy because it countered then dominant abstraction, minimalism and conceptualism. “London Calling” features 80 paintings, drawings and prints by the key artists of that movement: Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Leon Kosoff, Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach and Kitaj. The two most haunting artworks are Andrew’s painting “Thames” (1995) and Francis Bacon’s “Triptych August 1972” (1972). The former was created when Andrews was receiving treatment for cancer. Indeed it turned out to be his last one before he died. The colors are soft and a bit somber. It shows a man in the distance on top of a cliff, turned away from us looking down at the water and toward a boat with a ghostly appearance. A boatswain, standing up on another smaller boat seems to wait for him to row him into an unknown place. On the left, three anglers are walking up a hill, implying that their work is done for the day. Bacon’s triptych, part of his "Black Triptychs" series, also deals with mortality and the decay of the human body, tellingly painted after his lover George Dyer committed suicide (Getty Center, Los Angeles).#mce_temp_url#
Pat Sandler, “Alex,” 2016, photograph, is currently on view at dnj.
Children with autism and other special needs are repeatedly plagued by stigma and discrimination. They are frequently subject to humiliation and bullying. But not only they are treated poorly, so are family members, causing isolation and emotional distress. Hence, “Inside/Out” is a beautiful collaborative art project by art therapist and photographer Pat Sandler, who builds for us a bridge of insight to the otherness. The project consists of portraits, texts and photographs of 20 young artists with special needs from The Help Group’s Village Glen Schools. Each student is displayed in a black-and-white portrait shot by Sandler. Beside these are displayed the photographs and insightful personal writings of the students. These provide a window to their souls to which we can connect. For example, a photo of Gerardo, resting on his bed with his eyes closed, tells us that although he looks like a typical boy from the outside, he is different due to his autism. His condition has robbed him of a carefree childhood, making him grow up faster, so that he calls himself a man-child seeking happiness. An image of Ebony, an African American teenage girl, depicts her palms pointing at us, covering part of her face. She writes, “When I look at this picture. I see beautiful hands hiding an emptiness underneath a tender face. Yet she smiles when the world turns away. Who is she? Who does she wish to be? Anything but nobody” (dnj Gallery, Santa Monica).
Katie Shapiro, “Rainbow Mount Assiniboine,” 2015, archival pigment print, 41 x 28”, is currently on view at Kopeikin.
The genre of landscape photography in the West has been around for a long time, with images of precipitous mountains, silent lakes, and endless vistas of towering trees attempting to capture the grandeur of nature. Katie Shapiro ostensibly works in this genre, but her beguiling photographs go beyond the usual. Her take on the Canadian Rockies does not just depict natural wonders; rather, she shoots sites considered sacred by First Nations people as well as spiritual seekers in the modern era. She calls attention to the energy and mystery of the sites through her aesthetic choices, overlaying the prints with clear gel and sheer fabric strips, then collaging them with strips of tape. “Rainbow Mount Assiniboine” features the rocky peaks outlined in beige, orange, and pink as if they were vibrating with power. “Lake Ohara Window” is a view of placid water with a snowy peak in the background, but overladen with sheer orange; the impression is of a negative, the mood of smoldering power. “Lake Ohara” features dense forest and foliage with a feeling of ominousness achieved by the smoky gray, yellow, and orange colors that seem to bear down on the trees. Through juxtaposing color with image, Shapiro lets us see nature anew (Kopeikin Gallery, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Joni Sternbach, “08.08.04 #5,” 2008, Katherine (Montauk, NY),” 2008, tintype, 8 x 10”, is currently on view at Von Lintel.
Joni Sternbach's tintype photos of female surfers are a modest revelation — their juxtaposing of woman/girl power portraiture with a very old photographic process is invitingly seductive without compromising the surfers' individualistic-cum-iconoclastic auras. The beachside portraits, which have both the crispness of large-format photos as well as the washed-out, antiquated look of 19th century photographic technology, include an extremely pregnant woman posed with her stand-up paddle board; two women holding their boards while in the buff, their buttock bikini tan lines in evidence; a woman in her wet suit with board showering off while her infant son playfully engages with a cup; and multiple portraits of exotic and quietly confident teenaged girl surfers. This iteration, titled "Her Wave," is part of a larger ongoing series called “Surfland.” In Sternbach’s world women and adolescent girls not only rule the universe, it's their universe alone. Picturing Sternbach making these tintypes, in which she uses a large-format camera, a silver-coated metal plate, and a portable darkroom so she can develop on site, evokes an intimate exchange. One can easily regard her and her subjects as sisters-in-arms, be they in Montauk on Long Island, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz or Biarritz, France. It's hard not to wonder what supports such an exotic lifestyle, but more power to her for making surfing her art, and art her bridge to surfing (Von Lintel Gallery, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Brett Weston, “Untitled, Dunes, White Sands, New Mexico,” 1946, gelatin silver print, is currently on view at the Autry National Center.
Your fantasy of getting one of the Western landscape photographs you have personally produced exhibited adjacent to celebrated images such as Ansel Adams’ “Half Dome, Blowing Snow, Yosemite National Park, California,” Brett Weston’s “Untitled, Dunes, White Sands, New Mexico," or contemporary photographer Richard Misrach's “Train Tracks, Colorado Desert,” could come closer to becoming a reality. Start by posting your photograph to a public Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account with the hashtag #RevolutionaryVision. But consider this. If you engage in that tempting added attraction to the “Group f/64 and Richard Misrach" exhibition of eighty stunning photographs by Misrach along with photo-modernist giants of f/64, would you be capable of locating and capturing the beauty of a site as romanticized as those immortalized by the photo-modernist giants of f/64 without employing Photoshop? Or would you choose instead to join with the contemporary Misrach in unveiling the effects of man’s growing overuse of the environment? That question is at the heart of this eye-opening show (Autry National Center, Glendale).#mce_temp_url#
Mika Tajima, “Epimelesthai Sautou (Take Care), 1,” 2014, thermoformed acrylic, spray enamel and aluminum, 78 x 78 x 32”, is currently on view at Kayne Griffin Corcoran.
In an exhibition that is one part dual solo shows and another part two-person show, Mika Tajima offers numerous delights. Her transformations of the common jacuzzi are most alluring: in one, a thermoformed acrylic shell is spray painted in bright red, orange and pink hues, then mounted vertically off the wall with an aluminum frame, creating an allegorical potpourri of a virtual sunset while also translating the physical relaxation of hot tubbing into its visual analog. In "Social Chair," Tajima lends a four-quadrant, love seat-style wooden bench a jacuzzi touch with nozzles embedded in just the right places. Elsewhere she shows tall, Jacquard loom-produced textile pieces that are design-sourced from field recordings and a complex contribution of participants. Titled "Negative Entropy," they can work as fabric-based "paintings," though given their proximity to the Jacuzzi pieces, not to mention Jean-Pascal Flavien's work, they're just as likely to be interpreted as visual and conceptual counterpoints. Flavien's pieces, meanwhile, resemble large-scale, monochromatic twist-tie tags (eg., the just-off square plastic tabs marked with a date you find on bags of bread). The pieces themselves, about 3 1/2-feet square, take on dimension in the form of aluminum sides, and they hang off nails on a diagonal tilt. It turns out their shapes are actually derived from cutout floorplans of his "statement house," which is shown in the gallery's courtyard. As with Tajima's "Meridian," a LED lightbulb installation, Flavien's "statement house" is also connected to digital platforms. In his case, a whole narrative life of the house is being written on Twitter. Intriguing art material is afoot here, though in this two-person confabulation, there isn't nearly enough breathing room as there could be (Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Miracle Mile).#mce_temp_url#
Ry Rocklen, installation view, 2016, is currently on view at Honor Fraser.
"L.A. Relics" brings new life to discarded and everyday objects. The artist, Ry Rocklen, begins with that which surrounds him — his wardrobe as well as things he encounters in his travels through the city — transforming them into evocative floor- and wall-based sculptures. The ingenious two-sided objects “Bruce," “Untitled," "Bottled Up" and “Whiskers” gives us pause. One side of these objects is a flat photographic enlargement of a discarded object bisected by a glass shelf. The photographic image faces outwards, however these works are not flat. Their versos, seen through wall-based mirrors, are plaster casts of other found objects that create intriguing juxtapositions with the photograph. Double takes guide us through the exhibition. A seemingly ordinary mesh trash can is lined with dollar bills that are covered in sand on the side facing the viewer and whose mirrored base reveals an infinite regress of money. Other objects include casts of the artist's shirts, perforated gym lockers and an altered football. Rocklen is interested in the absurdity of the everyday, as well as layers of meaning that can be pulled from collective experiences. His attention to detail and precision of craft bring these altered objects to a heightened plateau (Honor Fraser, Culver City).#mce_temp_url#
Mira Schor, “Power Figure: The Great Man Speaks,” 2016, ink, flask and gesso on tracing paper, 64 x 24”, is currently on view at CB1.
Mira Schor and Tom Knechtel offer a strong pair of solo shows here. Schor’s “‘Power' Frieze” fills the gallery’s main space with large-scale drawings, a “second iteration” according to the New York-based artist, of a show she did there last year. In an adjoining room, a smaller selection of Schor’s related, earlier work, “War Frieze,” is also on display. “War Frieze” was begun after the 1990 Gulf War, focusing on militarism and aggression. “‘Power’ Freeze,” according to the artist, was “inspired by the power figures created in African sculptures. The sculptures were ironic because colonialism was destroying Congolese culture. Today, these pieces deal with our current political situation.” Created with ink, paint, charcoal and gesso on paper, these dynamic pieces are worked both “from the front and back in many cases.” Although the title may be ironic, the images are nonetheless extremely powerful, the large elongated figures demanding our attention and respect.
Knechtel displays graphite works and prints created from 1979 on in what can be thought of as a career retrospective. The subjects are varied: images concerning identity and love are joined by those drawn from travels to India, and images portraying the artist and his family. This is accomplished work that is hauntingly delicate (CB1 Gallery, Downtown).#mce_temp_url#
Glenn Goldberg, “Okay (Blue),” 2016, acrylic, gesso, ink and pencil on canvas, 60 x 40”, is currently on view at Charlie James.
Glenn Goldberg’s “Somewhere” is an exhibition designed to make us smile — both at his meticulous, mosaic-like technique and the sweetness of dogs, birds and human beings embodied in his works. The New York-based artist evokes images of traditional folk art and weavings. Both silky and subtle, with a primarily pastel palette, Goldberg regards his work as “welcoming and a little bit surprising.” His almost ethereal subjects “ask us to pay attention with continued looking, but they don’t add to the difficulty of life.”
In “Okay,” a peaceful bird is perched against a striped backdrop with small flags forming a line across the top. Within the bird is a flower. “Okay Two” is a strong companion piece, with a bird perched on a dog — both canine and bird contain flowers, the dog having two, one on his nose. While there is a mysterious quality to these pieces, what stands out the most are how dimensional and textured they are, how airy and uplifting. “A lot of the work happens up in the sky. This not heavy matter,” Goldberg says. You want to float up there with it (Charlie James Gallery, Chinatown).#mce_temp_url#
Raven Servellon, “Fractalverse,” 2016, ink on paper, 18 x 24”, is currently on view at Coagula.
Raven Servellon’s exhibition “Velvet Sunflower” has the quality of a series of psychedelic quilts. The patterns could have been created from pieces of fabric, stitched together by a magical seamstress. But instead, these colorfully intense works are created from a series of delicate, handmade cutouts, with images stenciled in brightly colored markers on watercolor paper. The multiple layers of these vibrant works beg for extended viewing, as additional images and figures appear like gifts to those who look longest.
In “The Garden Party,” look carefully enough and unusually patterned butterflies yield to eyes in whiskery faces, set atop elongated bodies costumed in wings. The faces and eyes are also cat-like in appearance. In “Butterfly Experience,” these creatures sprout arms and hands. Given to flowers, butterflies, and hearts, there is something intensely feminine in these pieces, something fertile and life-affirming. Kaleidoscopic and transfixing, the seventeen pieces on display here are complex and a-glow. This is pop art at its best, created by a self-taught artist (Coagula Curatorial, Chinatown).#mce_temp_url#
Antonio Ballester Moreno, “one day after another,” 2016, installation currently on view at Christopher Grimes.
Antonio Ballester Moreno is a young Spanish artist living in Madrid who has developed a personal iconography that he uses to represent natural forms — mountains, water, sun, moon, etc. The paintings are raw and direct. Each canvas has a simple form in a primary color — a green triangle for a tree, a black triangle for a mountain, a black circle for the moon, a yellow one for the sun. Yet when presented together as a grid they become a striking presentation of the cycles of the day and the forms that comprise the natural landscape. The exhibition, as the title "one day after another” implies, emphasizes repetition and progression. Moreno shows himself to be precise but vigorous conceptual thinker (Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica).#mce_temp_url#
“The Tendency of the Moment, International Design: The Bauhaus through Modern,” installation view, 2016, currently on view at Peter Blake.
Should mid-20th century furniture design be regarded on equal terms with developments in modern and contemporary art? “The Art Design: Bauhaus to Modern” wants us to believe that it should. During several trips to Europe, Peter Blake visited art galleries displaying high-end furnishings, alongside paintings and sculpture. He regarded the furniture designs as having aspects and qualities similar to the California minimalist and Light and Space work he regularly exhibits, so he began collecting and refurbishing these pieces. Then after bringing these desks, sofas, tables, chairs, lamps and a fireplace to his gallery, he used his space as a kind of warehouse for awhile, with the furnishings scattered all over. With his curatorial eye and with the aid of custom pedestals, nearly 20 designers from Europe, the United States and India comprise the exhibition.
The piece de resistance is “Belgian Fireplace” (1960), artist unknown, of hammered enamel steel. This 92-inch high portable fireplace is like an elegant, elongated finely wrought sculpture. Edward Wormley’s “Sculptural Sofa” (c.1950s) of walnut and white and black leather is all sheen and spare minimalism. Norman Chernier’s spare “Walnut Armchair,” date unknown, is a magnificent piece of hand craftsmanship: composed of one piece of wood with sculpted, curved seat and back, and curved arms, it is an ingenious piece of engineering/work of art. Charles and Ray Eames’ “Speaker” (1956) of lacquered wood, laminate and enameled aluminum has the spare elegance of a Lita Albuquerque artwork. Here also is “Ziz-Zag Chair” (1932) of elm and brass in the shape of a “Z,” appearing as though it might collapse if you sit in it, but it is ingeniously designed to be quite sturdy. There are two spare, functional rosewood desks by Joaquim Tenreiro, both designed in the 1960s, and Pierre Jeannette’s fine stained teak and glass “Coffee Table from Chandigarh (c.1960). Not to be missed is Mies Van Der Rohe’s classic, sculpted chrome and leather “Mr, Lounge Chair” (c.1960) (Peter Blake Gallery, Orange County).#mce_temp_url#
Roberto Sebastian Matta, “Reverted Role,” 1987, painting, is currently on view at MoLAA.
The Museum of Latin American Art was established in 1996 by Dr. Robert Gumbiner. At the time, it was the only museum in the United States that showcased contemporary art from ALL the countries south of the border — all of them except Mexico. An ardent art lover, Dr. G. (as he was known to his patients), used a portion of his medical building for the new museum; and his own personal collection as the basis for MoLAA's permanent collection--which he added to each year as he gained new work. Now two decades later, MoLAA has it's own outstanding building, and a sterling reputation as an important part of the Latin American art scene. In fact, under recently departed CEO Stuart Ashman's leadership (his family were immigrants from Germany; Ashman was born in Cuba), accreditation for the American Alliance of Museums was granted, and a special exhibit, "MoLAA at Twenty: 1996-2016" is currently on display.
Designed to cover 1,600 works from more than 20 countries, this exhibit fills all the museum galleries for the balance of the year. In addition, the museum will showcase the Founding Collection, plus important work from new media, the Latino diaspora, and Chicano art which was never previously included. To further assist visitors, MoLAA arranges the exhibit into various categories: Mexico, Geometric Abstraction, Modern Masters, Contemporary Cuba, Printmaking, Photography, etc. Rather than attempt to get my critical arms around an exhibition of this type and scale, I simply wish to acknowledge the accomplishment of this unique museum that this show represents. If you haven’t seen it for yourself, lately or ever, make a point to getting over there (Museum of Latin American Art [MoLAA], Long Beach).#mce_temp_url#
Joseph Arthur, “Disappearing Soul,” 2915, mixed media on canvas, 22 x 28”.
“Rhythm” is a group show of with an abstract, street art vibe. Each of the seven artists is primarily a musician who also paints and draws. Joseph Arthur’s mixed media paintings, “Disappearing Soul” and “I Can Dig It Now,” both infused with neon pinks and blues, also contain line drawings of graffiti inspired figures. His “Night Painting,” with its large haunted head, evokes the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat. As a jazz fusion bassist, he has released 14 studio albums and worked with major musical groups. Bill Ward’s brooding canvasses, “Grief” and “Waiting for the Next Moment” are composed of large abstract, biomorphic shapes on dark canvasses. One of the oldest artists in this show, Ward was the original drummer in Black Sabbath. Chad Smith, drummer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, contributes two dynamic paintings, “Scream Dream” and “Watermelon,” each featuring large amorphous shapes, appearing to visually echo screeching musical notes. Contrasting with these is Incubus’ Brandon Boyd’s carefully rendered organic shapes in ink and watercolor paintings titled “Mirror Mirror” and “Maps of Inner Space.” The largest piece in this show is “Dum Vacation” by Matt Maust, bassist of the Cold War Kids. This collector of vintage ads, postcards, photos and other ephemera, incorporates much of this type of material in his mural-sized collage. This exhibition, which also includes work by artists/musicians Dave Lombardo, Chad Sexton and Moby, proves that the artistic individual when inspired can embrace more than one approach to creativity (Orange County Great Park, Orange County).#mce_temp_url#
Matt Eich, from the “Carry Me Ohio” series, 2016, color photographs, is currently on view at jdc Fine Art.
Matt Eich’s photographs are disturbingly familiar. In one sense, their characteristics and subjects strike us as the stuff of ordinary life, yet they also retain an eerie sense of uncertainty. From suburban backyard activities like yard work and chores, to a shocking image of a pet zebra in Cumberland, Ohio, this oddness is downplayed by titles that only reference the city and year of the photograph. The series is entitled “Carry Me Ohio,” which is part of a larger book project that explores a handful of Ohio towns. The collected images provoke uneasiness that leaves one unsure if these subjects are really what they seem to be. It’s certainly a version of Middle America that is subject to romanticizing, yet there are contradictions that mix emotions ranging from sadness to humor. A seemingly delightful image of a father carrying his daughter, but she appears to fall off the man’s shoulders. Terror overcomes her face as we wonder if she falling or perhaps she is being taken against her will. One is not entirely sure, as the questioning proceeds to who is this man? This dark line of inquiry continues repeatedly in the exhibit as responses range from hopelessness to hopeful. Eich’s critical documentation of these subjects raises second thoughts regarding the ways we imagine the heartland of this country (jdc Fine Art, San Diego).
G. James Daichendt
Rex Yuasa, “F.P.G.P.O.2,” 2015, acrylic, oil and alkyd on canvas, 48 x 48”, is on view at R.B. Stevenson.
Jeff Irwin’s clay material feels humble and natural and are roughly hewn. His simulated nubby wood surfaces emphasize textured, sawed off imperfection. Rex Yuasa’s surfaces are slick and shiny with resin. Irwin’s color palette is white and off-white. Yuasa’s color palette is all-over-the-place rainbow of rich, bright and bold, sometimes neon and intense colors that almost make you want to look away. Irwin’s sculptures have a humble, quiet, meditative and focused quality. Yuasa’s paintings are barely hanging on to a sense of order and composition with their repetitive use of the circle symbol. The subject matter of Irwin’s sculptures is based in the animal world and nature, commenting on the connections between the two. His large circular installation of many small extinct animals made of earthenware and glaze is Irwin’s featured work in his portion of the exhibition.
Yuasa’s works are not especially large, but surprisingly feel like they inhabit way more physical space in the gallery due to their visual explosions of color and loosely organized arrangements of objects. Yuasa’s abstract paintings interrogate space. Using similar-sized multiples of three-dimensional circles in a repetitive manner provides visual stimulation and a variety of sensations. The pairing of Irwin and Yuasa is all about a strong mutual counterpoint, and it sure provides us with a lot to reflect on and talk about (R.B. Stevenson Gallery, La Jolla).#mce_temp_url#
Daniel Dust, “Light Rising,” 2016, painting, is currently on view at Sparks.
Self-taught artist Daniel Dust packs a lot into several realistic portraits in an exhibit entitled “Dark Heavens.” This selection is complemented by a larger group show of San Diego artists that focuses exclusively on the human form. In contrast to the group show, Dust’s subjects command greater attention in part simply because of their large scale. But then there is the otherworldly vision the artist is drawn to. In “Light Rising” Dust depicts his sister as a strong and focused individual whose eyes radiate with piercing color. The mountains and cosmos behind the subject serve to frame her as a transcendent spirit rather than an ordinary person. Think a looser version of hyperrealism mixed with a head shop and the work of Dust makes sense. He moves stars and galaxies about the canvas, and they fight for the eye’s attention as they interact with the central subjects. Each of the paintings are deftly handled, but the exhibition could use more space for each one to breathe. While the exhibit is uneven in concept it successfully displays Dust’s zeal for the cosmos and the unique paths each subject takes in his universe (Sparks, San Diego).#mce_temp_url#