CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 33
framing studio www.voilaframingstudio.com
MASTHEAD Publisher Chris Davies Associate Editor Peter Frank Managing Editor Megan Abrahams Creative Director Chris Davies Art Direction & Design Chris Davies and Paul Soady Proofreader Eva Recinos Contributing Writers Megan Abrahams Betty Brown Shana Nys Dambrot Peter Frank Kio Griffith Kristen Osborne-Bartucca Max Presneill Eva Recinos Leah Schlackman Phil Tarley Kay Whitney
Contact Editorial: email@example.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: fabrikmagazine.com Mailing Address 269 S. Beverly Drive, #1234 Beverly Hills, CA 90212 Subscriptions Annual subscriptions: Four issues only $26 in the U.S. Subscribe online: fabrikmagazine.com or use our mail in form on page 96. Information Fabrik Magazine is published quarterly by Fabrik Media, Inc., 269 S. Beverly Drive, Suite 1234, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Contents cannot be reproduced in part or in full without the written permission of the copyright holder. The opinions expressed are those of the artists and writers themselves and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Fabrik or Fabrik Media, Inc. Copyright © 2016. All rights reserved. PRINTED IN LOS ANGELES
ON THE COVER Karla Klarin. Blue for RD, 1996”, oil on 3D, full painting 55” x 80.5” x 6”, photo courtesy and copyright Karla Klarin. Karla Klarin, a native Angeleno, is a visual diarist of compounded realities. Her work reflects four decades of transformation and reinvention of the LA’s landscape. See page 104 for more on the artist.
CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 33
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
FABRIK ISSUE 33: ART IN A TIME OF SOCIO-POLITICAL FLUX “You can’t help it. An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.”— N I N A S I M O N E All art is derivative of the art that came before, the concepts we are formally taught and those we casually see, consciously seek, accidentally absorb. Myriad sources of inspiration surround us. Some of these influences can be traced, others leave an invisible mark, imprinting themselves on our subconscious. Regardless of medium, genre or art form, artists are a product of their environment and experience. We live in a time fraught with change and uncertainty. Art responds to the turbulence, but it also helps to shape opinion and offer new ideas. In the midst of the turmoil, there are joyful moments when artists come together, recognizing our ability to make change. One recent example was the documentation of LA female artists orchestrated by Kim Schoenstadt at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel in August. More than 700 female artists gathered for the historic photo shoot. I was honored to be Number 516. In this issue of Fabrik, we look at art that responds to, and perhaps explains, our complex times. Among some of the features in this issue that touch on the socio-political theme, Shana Nys Dambrot surveys art instal- Now Be Here: August 28, 2016 Courtesy Kim Schoenstadt and Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. Photo: Isabel Avila lations at LAX, the gateway to our city. Kristen Osborne-Bartucca’s piece on Fréderick Gautier examines an artist’s response to the LA River, which relates to the strange geography of this city, the fragility of our resources and local environment. Eva Recinos takes a look at the Long Beach based Museum of Latin American Art on its 20th anniversary, its history and where it stands at a crossroads today. We celebrate art that makes our lives richer and helps us interpret and understand the world. Megan Abrahams Managing Editor 5
CONTRIBUTORS MEGAN ABRAHAMS is a Los Angeles based writer, art critic and artist. The managing editor of Fabrik, she is a contributing writer for Art Ltd. and WhiteHot Magazines. Megan is currently writing a novel and working on a new series of paintings. For links and more info, visit her sporadically updated blog: onbeyondwordsandpictures.com BETTY ANN BROWN is an art historian, critic, and curator. She has written about contemporary art in Southern California since the 1980s. Brown’s most recent curatorial project, Fantastic Feminist Figuration, opened at Groundspace Project in September. SHANA NYS DAMBROT is an art critic, curator and author based in Los Angeles. She is currently LA Editor for Whitehot Magazine, Contributing Editor to Art Ltd. and a contributor to KCET’s Artbound, Flaunt, Huffington Post, The Creators Project, Vs. Magazine, Palm Springs Life, Desert Magazine and Porter & Sail. She writes a lot of books and speaks in public with alarming frequency. PETER FRANK is a New York-born, Los Angeles-based art critic and curator. Associate Editor of Fabrik and art critic for the Huffington Post, Frank has served as Editor of THEmagazine Los Angeles and Visions Art Quarterly, as art critic for the LA Weekly, Village Voice and SoHo Weekly News, and as Senior Curator at the Riverside [CA] Art Museum. KRISTEN OSBORNE-BARTUCCA is a freelance educator and arts writer based in Los Angeles. She is the creator and host of The Contemporary Art Podcast, in which she covers both established and emerging artists. MAX PRESNEILL, KIO GRIFFITH & COLTON STENKE / ARTRA CURATORIAL is a volunteer organization focused on creating new modes of artist-driven exhibitions, platforms, opportunity based interactions and community building events locally, nationally and internationally. Founded in 2009, ARTRA has orchestrated MAS Attack and other large scale art events in Southern California with additional projects in Europe and Asia. EVA RECINOS is a freelance writer and social media producer based in Los Angeles. Her writing has been featured LA Weekly, The Creators Project, PSFK and others. She is less than five feet tall. LEAH SCHLACKMAN is a Los Angeles-based writer. A recent New York transplant, Leah studied art history and creative writing at NYU. In addition to contributing to Fabrik, she also writes for Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art and works for an architectural arts restoration firm. PHIL TARLEY is a Fellow of the American Film Institute and an artist member of the Los Angeles Art Association. An art and pop culture critic, he posts stories on the WOW Report, ArtWeek LA and writes about contemporary art and photography for Fabrik. The Critical Eye, his art blog, is featured on Fabrik’s website. Tarley’s writing and photography has appeared in the LA Times, the LA Weekly, Adventure Journal, The Advocate and Adult Video News. He curates photography for the Artists Corner Gallery in Los Angeles. KAY WHITNEY (kaywhitney.net) is a sculptor and writer. Her last solo show, ...a jest, was at Torrance Art Museum in 2015. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented in numerous collections. She is the author of many catalogs, and a frequent contributor to Sculpture Magazine and Ceramics Monthly.
FEATURES & COLUMNS 8
Profile: A Profile of Artist David B. Jang
Profile: Inside PØST Gallery
Spotlight: Ed Ruscha and The Great American West
Spotlight: Inside the New SFMoMA
Spotlight: The Art of Scent
Spotlight: LAX Airport’s Art Program
Spotlight: MOLAA Turns 20
Spotlight: Frédérick Gautier: Eat the River
Fresh Faces in Art: Artists You Should Know
KAY WHITNEY MEGAN ABRAHAMS
PHIL TARLEY SHANA NYS DAMBROT
100 Art About Town: Gallery Reviews 108 Art About Town: Museum Views
David B. Jang Red Inclination, 2016; 100” x 31” x 31”; Window Blinds, Steel, Electric Motor and Custom Circuit Board.
Man and the Machine: A Profile of Artist David B. Jang WORDS LEAH SCHLACKMAN IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
David B. Jang Red Inclination, 2016 100” x 31” x 31” Window Blinds, Steel, Electric Motor and Custom Circuit Board
One part artist, one part engineer, David Jang is inspired by man’s dependence on the man-made. His kinetic sculptures nest in the cross-section between the experience of man and machine. They are simultaneously hilarious and haunting; they shift, drip and whirl, causing us to re-examine our dependence on the appliances and electronics that populate our daily lives. Jang’s process is one of constant experimentation: he refines and re-thinks each sculpture until it is warped, flipped, tripped and running just as he wants. “I look at these sculptures like a drawing or painting,” he said. When you draw, you go back and forth, there’s a push and pull that’s happening with your physical motion and thought process. For these sculptures the push and pull comes from me experimenting and science, or biology, or whatever you want to call it, pushing back.” 10
David B. Jang. Red Inclination, 2016; 100” x 31” x 31” Window Blinds, Steel, Electric Motor and Custom Circuit Board
In his most recent work, Deflecting Production, featured in his Fall 2016 solo show at Gallery 825, the push and pull is witnessed in the perpetual motion of the installation. Driven by an electric motor and custom circuit boards, the hinged rods produce a scissor-like movement that never ceases. The patterns made from the overlaying of one metal rod on top of another create an intricate, detailed and always changing room-sized object. In their play with light and pattern, Jang’s sculptures constructed of window blinds, such as Red Inclination and Black Lewdness, are among the most painterly in his oeuvre. As the blinds automatically switch from open to 12
closed, they shift the light that filters into the room through their slats, having just enough impact on the surrounding environment to change the way the room is perceived. The patterns created by the layering of blinds on top of blinds draw in the eye, moving it around the sculpture as might a painted pattern on a canvas. “When I first began this window-blinds piece, I was manually turning them,” said Jang. “I started to wonder what it would look like if I were to have several cubicles of window blinds, hooked up to an electric motor so they could turn in unison. So they would adhere to a particular pattern of performing.” 13
David B. Jang. Subjectivity Value, 2014; 105” x 444” x 150” (dimensions variable) Window Blinds, Steel, Electric Motor and Custom Circuit Board
There is a palpable, literal rhythm to Jang’s work: the sculptures make noise as they move. Whether it’s the plastic clinking of the blinds opening and closing, or the whirring of an electric fan, the kinetic motion is further articulated by the sound created by synthetic materials shifting through space. In his work, Compression Panorama, unmarked plastic soda bottles are hung from above and hooked up to an electric motor that causes them to vibrate against one another. Here Jang plays with the language of movement and how motion is perceived in today’s consumer culture. The vibrating bottles create a heavy hum, loud and impossible to ignore. In today’s world we recognize a 14
vibration as an alert: a new e-mail, text, or other notification is communicated through a visible and audible buzz that demands a response. By distorting the original functionality of the appliance or fixture in his sculpture, Jang tests the bounds of the Uncanny Valley, the theory which postulates that the closer a robot, puppet, or other non-human entity comes in appearance to a human, the more repellent it is to an actual human. If a robot or puppet looks sufficiently non-human but behaves as a human does, its humanist traits elicit an empathetic response (think C3PO for example). However, if the entity appears realistically humanoid, its non-human characteristics become 15
David B. Jang. Deflecting Production, 2016; 120” x 216” x 120” (dimensions variable) Electric Motor, Steel and Custom Circuit Board
more pronounced, evoking a feeling of eeriness or strangeness to its human counterpart. Jang’s allowing these electronics and fixtures from the everyday landscape to take on different motions or functions from their intended purpose, lifting them out of their normal, domestic context, makes them provoke this same feeling of strangeness. Appliances are human-like in their purpose. They have a job, a function, they contribute to society in their way. Machines were, and continue to be, invented to minimize human labor. “All of these fixtures are like therapy,” Jang hypothesized. “We constantly rely on these things. We fetishize consumerism. Just watch a show about a house renovation. The fantasy is about how comfortable their lives will be, about how much better they’ll feel because of their new appliances and devices. Everything now is moving so fast. Convenience has become a human priority.” The narrative of machines revolting against their human masters is not a new one. It has appeared in science fiction since the beginning of the genre. Viewing Jang’s art, one may be reminded of the machine rebellion à la Maximum Overdrive, in which once docile appliances and vehicles begin to fight back, re-appropriating their human-programmed functions to attack the species that created them. Jang addresses notions of the machine’s dependability and our reliance on the effectiveness of our own electronic devices to aid us in functioning as humans in today’s society. We function as humans because we have access to phones, computers, appliances and electronic devices that make our lives comfortable and convenient. Are we judged as much by our access to machines as we are by our compassion or empathy towards others, qualities that are often defined as being exclusively human? Machines were created to enhance our experience of life. What Jang makes clear in his kinetic sculptures is that such machines have become inseparable from the human experience.
David B. Jang. Transitive V.94, 2016; 111” x 31” x 28”; Refrigerator Compressor, Fluorescent light bulbs, Silica Sand, Aluminum, Steel and custom circuit board
CURATORIAL ASSISTANCE EXHIBITIONS & ART SERVICES
ART SHOW 2 0 1 7
JANUARY 11-15, 2017 LA CONVENTION CENTER | WEST HALL
L Aâ€™s p re m i e re e v e n t f o r e x p e r i e n c i n g , c o l l e ct ing, s har ing & p urc h a s i n g a r t. F e a t u r i n g o v e r 1 0 0 p ro m i n e nt galler ies from ov e r 2 0 d i ff e re n t c o u n t r i e s - e x h i b i t i n g p a i nt ing, s culp t ure, w or k s o n p a p e r, i n s t a l l a t i o n , p h o t o g r a p h y, v id eo & p er for mance.
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INSIDE PØST —
WORDS KAY WHITNEY IMAGES COURTESY OF PØST
Under the best of circumstances, an artist-run space is a forum for initiating an exchange of ideas. Because it is (somewhat) free of market-driven restraints, the artist-run space is far more able and adept than the conventional clean, white commercial space at showcasing crossand interdisciplinary forms of art-making. For PØST, the space founded by Iranian-born artist HK Zamani, ‘artist-run’ has meant developing networks, initiating exchanges and, through curation, activating creative ideas and arguments. 22
Kim Abeles. Pope Joan, 2016. Photo: Ken Marchionno
Brought into existence by Zamani in 1995, the first incarnation of PØST was lodged in downtown’s Skid Row, in a warehouse off 7th Place, a block from the Greyhound Terminal. You entered from a half-deserted, barely lit street that was a combination of alley and parking area. Zamani had moved into the space in 1989, at a time when many artists were occupying downtown’s inexpensive spaces. The warehouse had two stories; the upper space held Zamani’s studio and additional rooms, the lower was a large raw space. Both levels were served by a large freight elevator. This arrangement allowed Zamani to spend time in his studio and also provide exhibition opportunities at a time when there were few such artist-run spaces. Zamani’s original strategy was to organize thematic group shows with one person from the group having a solo project in a small space upstairs. In 1995, he opened both spaces together, formally creating POST. “POST was established as an experimental system to suggest that the existing support systems are lacking and require intervention,” said Zamani. He named the space for its distinguishing feature, numerous load-bearing posts. He was overwhelmed by the support for, and reception of the space. Early on, POST received critical attention in all four Los Angeles art publications. At the end of the first year, Zamani ran out of money and organized the first $100 Show fundraiser. Subsequently an annual event for the next three years, the proceeds from the $100 Shows were always split 50/50 with the artists. Artists bought most of the artworks, helping to assure another year of programming. The profits were never substantial, however, and Zamani further funded the space through teaching and sales of his own work. In POST’s second year, Zamani inaugurated a new strategy and began inviting artists to curate thematic group shows themselves and have concurrent solo shows. “Your own ideas may be exciting,” Zamani said, “but as soon as you invite others into the process, the project begins to grow exponentially.” After that, he began mounting multiple, solo and group exhibits. The freight elevator was its own exhibition space and garnered reviews in Art in America and the LA Times. In the fall of 1998, Zamani opened a second gallery on Wilshire Boulevard to explore commercial possibilities. Zamani’s partner, Emma Jürgensen, ran POSTwilshire and Zamani POSTdowntown. Between the two spaces, seven month-long shows were organized. After a year and a half, Zamani and Jürgensen closed PØSTwilshire to focus on the original, experimental POST downtown.
(Top) Linda Besemer, 1998 Installation View
(Bottom) Curated by Young Chung, 2010 Commonwealth; Kamikaze Series
Gerald Giamportone, 2016
In September of 2005, after ten years of operation, Zamani closed POST to focus on his own work. He reopened the space in 2008, changing the name’s spelling to PØST, the slash through the O designating the shift from the space’s past to its present. For the next seven years, the programming consisted of month-long Kamikaze Shows—31 shows, one each night of a designated month (usually July). As he said, “the Kami-Kaze (Devine Wind) exhibits are rooted in the idea of abandon and sacrifice, making of art and sharing it.” Skid Row gentrified quickly after 2012, forcing many artists out of spaces they’d occupied for decades. After 26 years in the building, 20 years for PØST, Zamani was given notice to move last year. He celebrated the space’s 20th year anniversary with PØST Ghost, an imaginary exhibit. Later in 2015, PØST was reorganized as a non-profit. It currently operates in the Bendix Building at 1206 Maple Avenue, in the heart of the downtown Fashion District. One of Zamani’s plans is to exhibit artists who have either intentionally removed themselves from the gallery system or have inadvertently been left outside it. The new space will support older generations of artists, young emerging artists and artists of the Global South. Its first exhibition featured Kim Abeles, an influential artist whose last solo exhibition was held in 1993 at the now-defunct Santa Monica Museum of Art. In July, Zamani hosted his first annual fundraiser art auction for which more than 170 artists donated a wide range of work. The online bidding process allowed PØST to continue its programming. The next exhibition featured the work of Gerald Giamportone, whose last LA solo exhibit was at Angles Gallery in 1996. The October show is a curatorial project by emerging artist Shagha Ariannia. Closing out the year, is a two-person show by veteran California artists Melvino Garretti and Joe Ray. Throughout the evolution of PØST, Zamani has sustained an active and successful career as a painter and performance artist. His heavily textured paintings hover between abstraction and representation and feature iconic, cartoon-like imagery. He describes his work as “portraits… self-portraits, fragile portrayals. Some are ruins, some are vessels and transport.” His paintings of the past few years featuring dome and tent forms, seem to be more about paint than image. Zamani has exhibited and performed in multiple spaces in L.A., New York and other locations in the U.S. and abroad. His work is featured in multiple private and public collections, including the L.A. County Museum of Art and Berkeley’s University Art Museum. His most recent show, Past Present Future, A Survey, was held at the Long Beach City College Art Gallery. 28
Ingrid Calame, 1997
CURATORIAL ASSISTANCE EXHIBITIONS & ART SERVICES
Ed Ruscha. Schwabâ€™s Pharmacy, 1976; 1976, from The Sunset Strip, series published in 1995; Gelatin silver print from altered negative; 20 x 30 (50.8 x 76.2 cm). Published by Patrick Painter Editions, Vancouver and Hong Kong. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Watts Fund.
WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS IMAGES COURTESY OF THE DE YOUNG MUSEUM, SAN FRANCISCO
DE YOUNG MUSEUM, SAN FRANCISCO
Ed Ruscha and The Great American West (JULY 16 â€” OCTOBER 9, 2016)
Ed Ruscha. Gas, 1962; Lithograph; 20 x 15 (50.8 x 38.1 cm); Published by the artist. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund.
The vast western vistas, the Panavision Hollywood backdrops, the rambling highways of adventure and the endless scenic horizons — all are emblematic settings of the American far west, and the wellspring for much of Ed Ruscha’s ouevre. Although he was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and grew up in Oklahoma, Ruscha adopted this landscape, and Los Angeles in particular, as both his home and the font of inspiration from which he began gathering and absorbing material in 1956 on his first road trip here at the age of 18. The revelatory journey in a Ford sedan took Route 66 along the way. In his subsequent work, Ruscha explored the gas stations by the the highway, the telephone poles, billboards, flat tires and trash, along with the palm tree-fringed skylines, the iconography of the film industry, the Hollywood sign and the romance of the Pacific coast. He re-contextualized — and continues to re-contextualize — such familiar and not-so-familiar landmarks, bringing them into a new focus, flavored with his characteristic wit.
Ed Ruscha. Rodeo, 1969; Color lithograph; 17 x 24 (43.2 x 61 cm); Published by Tamarind Lithography Workshop, Los Angeles. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund.
Long a Los Angeles icon himself, inextricably entrenched in the local culture that has embraced him back, it’s revealing to re-encounter the artist in this insightful retrospective at the de Young Museum. The Northern California venue offers a sort of contextual shift for engagement with Ruscha’s LA-centric work. Setting the stage for the retrospective is a selection of the artist’s stunning series focused on the Standard gas stations beginning in the 1960s. The word Standard is tinged with a hint of double entendre: There is nothing standard about Ruscha’s envisioning of it. The vantage point of the original composition is still surprising, as if viewed from below, looking up at the red gas pumps in a row and the rectangular forms of the station and roof, which appear in an unexpectedly skewed perspective. Ruscha repeated the same composition with myriad variations—incorporating flames in the sky, for instance, or replacing the blue sky of daylight with the black background of night. He revisited the composition, decades later, with, Ghost Station (2011, mixografia print on handmade paper) in which the image is only seen in relief on white, like an embossing, reducing the idea to its simplest elements, melting into pure abstraction. In the series, the use of text—the word ‘Standard’—was an organic element of the subject, a component of the original gas station captured in a photograph as a reference. Ruscha went on to superimpose sometimes incongruous text on many of his images, or used text as the sole subject, his pithy lines amplifying what might otherwise be regarded as dreary mundane things about life in the west—as in the 1977 pastel on paper work (expanded into a mural in 2014/2015): Honey, I Twisted Through More Damn Traffic Today. As a kid, Ruscha was most interested in making cartoons. After attending Chouinard Art Institute from 1956 to 1960, he launched a career as a graphic artist in the advertising industry. The technical expertise acquired via that experience, along with the tools, the use of type, and the marriage of image to words, integrated into Ruscha’s visual lexicon, becoming a stepping-off point he went on to adapt, leverage and elevate to fine art. His soft focus airbrush paintings and prints exploring symbols from film are a nostalgic homage to the cinema, as is his series playing on the words, The End, as they used to appear at the end of old movies. As words and text became integral to Ruscha’s imagery, it was natural that he began producing artist’s books. Back home, at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills, during the course of the de Young exhibit, Ed Ruscha: Prints & Photographs and Ed Ruscha: Books & Co. offered a timely complement to the museum retrospective. The book survey was mounted so viewers could handle and turn the pages of many of the books. The artist’s concept books consist of photographs of cultural curiosities— 38
Ed Ruscha. Coyote, 1989; Lithograph; 36 x 27 (91.4 x 68.6 cm); Published by the artist. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund.
Ed Ruscha. Busted Glass, 2014; Dry pigment and acrylic on paper; 15 x 22 3/8 (38.1 x 56.8 cm); Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Endowment Fund and gift of the Achenbach Graphic Arts Council.
Ed Ruscha. Standard Station, Amarillo, Texas, 1962 Gelatin silver print 4 15/16 x 5 1/16 (12.5 x 12.9 cm) Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Purchase with funds from The Leonard and Evelyn Lauder Foundation, and Diane and Thomas Tuft
(Above) Ed Ruscha. Noose Around Your Neck, from the series Country Cityscapes, 2001; Color photogravure with screenprint 18 x 14 (45.7 x 35.6 cm); Published by Graphicstudio, University of Florida, Tampa. Fine Arts Museums of San San Francisco, Gift of the artist.
(Right) Ed Ruscha. The Absolute End, 1982 Dry pigment on paper 23 x 29 (58.4 x 73.7 cm) The Robert A. Rowan Collection
beginning with Twentysix Gasoline Stations, which Ruscha published in 1962 under his own imprint, and which gradually attained a kind of cult following. He went on to publish many more books, all offering a wry portrayal of phenomena mostly related to his road trips and life in Los Angeles, like Nine Swimming Pools and a Broken Glass (1968). The survey also included a vast collection of tribute books on related themes (Twentysix Abandoned Gas Stations, Twentysix African Gas Stations) by artists inspired by Ruscha. In his paintings, prints, photographs and books, Ruscha has done much more than simply immortalize and distill symbols of the West. He recognized the deeper innuendo in ordinary everyday thingsâ€”in many instances lifting them out of the quotidian visual vernacular and reframing them, prodding the viewer to see them in a new light. Bridging genres, Ruscha is a painter, photographer, printmaker, conceptual artist, visionary and, with his adroit use of words, poet. For more than half a century, he has offered a witty and perceptive commentary on American culture rooted in the West. In a timeless way, his work captures the essence of the excitement and newness he must have experienced as a teenager, arriving here on his first trip from Oklahoma.
Snøhetta expansion of the new SFMOMA, 2016; Photo © Henrik Kam, Courtesy SFMOMA
WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS IMAGES COURTESY OF THE SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (SFMOMA)
INSIDE THE NEW SFMoMA
Antony Gormley Quantum Cloud VIII, 1999 Steel; 88 1/4 x 49 in. x 38 in. (224.16 x 124.46 x 96.52 cm); The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; © Antony Gormley; Photo: Courtesy Jay Jopling/White Cube
The recently transformed and expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), which re-opened last May after a three-year closure for construction, is captivating on many levels – seven stories, if referencing floors — but even more so through engaging architecture that interplays with the city, embraces the outdoor environment and invites ambient light inside. These features all combine to enhance the experience of looking at the art – and there’s much more of that, too.
Whereas the Los Angeles County of
Museum of Art (LACMA) spreads out in many disparate buildings over a large campus – reflecting, in a way, the sprawl of the surrounding city — SFMoMA is more compact, a tall multi-level entity that integrates with and conforms to the San Francisco urban dynamic. 48
The Campaign for Art Modern and Contemporary exhibition featuring a selection of chairs each of a single material; Photo ÂŠ Iwan Baan, Courtesy SFMOMA.
The new structure, designed by the architectural firm Snøhetta, increases the exhibition area from 70,000 to 170,000 square feet of art-infused space, beginning on the first floor — open to the public without admission — where visitors can walk through Richard Serra’s monumental interactive spherical sculpture, Sequence (ongoing). The second floor (reception level) orients visitors for embarking on the museum as an experience. As a point of departure, Open Ended, Painting and Sculpture since 1900 (through June, 2017) includes a freshly re-envisioned sampling of art from the museum’s collection, ranging from Rauschenberg to Matisse, a touchstone of formative art that segues into the contemporary era. The museum’s expanded exhibition space makes room for more of its permanent collection, along with the first showing of 600-plus new works promised to SFMoMA as part of its Campaign for Art as well as recent commissions. In addition, perhaps the most stunning of the new surveys comprising SFMoMA’s inaugural exhibits is a new selection of 260 pieces by almost 70 artists from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, showcased on the third through sixth floors. The inaugural rotation enticingly samples the Fisher collection, which includes more than 1,100 works by 185 artists. Owners of The Gap apparel chain, the Fishers began collecting art in the 1970s, relying on their own personal instincts rather than consultants to amass a formidable collection of works by postwar and contemporary American and European artists. The Fisher collection includes American abstraction, pop, minimal and figurative art, German art after 1960 and British sculpture. SFMoMA has the mandate to install, conserve and treat the collection as if it were part of the permanent collection, for 100 years. The collection includes standout groupings of works by artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close, Ellsworth Kelly, Gerhard Richter, Cy Twombly and Andy Warhol. Among transcendent works featured in the inaugural exhibit are those in the 4th floor Agnes Martin Gallery, a small alcove- like space in which a selection of the artist’s quiet meditative paintings induce a state of awe, as if the viewer has entered a chapel. Another highlight from the Fisher Collection is Alexander Calder: Motion Lab (through September 10, 2017), strategically mounted in a third floor gallery with windows opening on to the Sculpture Terrace, allowing light to enter the gallery so that quivering shadows mimic the floating movement of the elegant mobiles.
Chuck Close. Agnes, 1998. Oil on canvas; 102 1/8 x 84 in. (259.4 x 213.36 cm); The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Â© Chuck Close; Photo: Ellen Page Wilson.
Approaching American Abstraction. The Fisher Collection exhibition; Photo Â© Henrik Kam, Courtesy SFMOMA.
A City Gallery at SFMOMA featuring Untitled by Joel Shapiro (1989); Photo Â© Iwan Baan, Courtesy SFMOMA.
Among other major additions to the new SFMoMA is the Pritzker Center for Photography — the largest gallery, research and interpretive space devoted to the photographic medium in the United States. Particularly relevant to Angelenos, the museum’s first special exhibit in the Pritzker Center is a retrospective of Los Angeles photographer Anthony Hernandez (through January 1, 2017). Featuring some 160 photographs, the exhibit spans the photographer’s 45-year career, with a focus on his trademark street photography and its unique vantage point on the Los Angeles scene. Even hardcore art aficionados may reach saturation point in a museum of such breadth and magnitude. Numerous terraces and outdoor sculpture gardens provide abundant opportunities for fresh air. Just outside the Motion Lab exhibit is the Sculpture Terrace featuring Calder’s Constellation, among other engaging sculptures, against the backdrop of the Living Wall. This vast breathtaking vertical garden (29 feet 4 inches tall x 150 feet wide), designed by San Francisco horticulturalist David Brenner, features 19,442 individual plants representing 38 plant species. Seemingly endless when viewed up close, the lush green wall provides a vibrant contrast to the proverbial white gallery cube. The airy, light-filled Botta atrium, preserved from the museum’s original structure, and numerous windows throughout the museum offer the respite of outdoor light and views that showcase the surrounding architecture – the brick walls, rooftops and structures of San Francisco’s SoMa district – of which SFMoMA is such an organic and vital component.
Grand Palais, Paris, France. Photo by Nathalie Baetens. Courtesy of Maison Francis Kurkdjian
THE ART OF SCENT WORDS PHIL TARLEY IMAGES COURTESY OF INSTITUTE OF ART AND OLFACTION; THE SCENT CULTURE INSTITUTE; MAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN & NATHALIE BAETENS
The sense of smell is integral to human perception, linked to desire as well as survival. The artificial creation of scent involves both science and artistry. Some of the most redolent fragrance formulations have moved into the rarefied zone of fine art. Epicurean collectors have vaulted the value of the most coveted blends to stratospheric heights as they perfume the culture-scape of Los Angeles. The Institute for Art and Olfaction, located in LA’s Chinatown, uses scent in new ways to draw a somewhat fringe art form into a more robust, contemporary niche. Institute founder and director, Saskia Wilson-Brown, elaborates with an edgy, incandescent wit. “For most of its history, perfumes have tried to interpret sexual attraction. Mainstream scents are made to get you laid. Experimental scents don’t service seduction because artists care more about disturbing than seducing.” 60
Grand Palais, Paris, France. Photo by Nathalie Baetens. Courtesy of Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Wilson-Brown is taking fragrances out from the counters of department stores and moving them into museums, galleries and public spaces. She wants to thrust experimental scent installations into the laps of artists and curators. “People have a complex relationship with scents. Some worship, while others abhor them. Our Institute celebrates scent innovation and sponsors the Art and Olfaction Awards, a yearly juried show that honors creativity in global, independent, artisan, and experimental perfumery.” Experimental scent narratives have been emerging across the world. Last year, artists and scientists from the Netherlands’ Avans University curated Famous Deaths, featuring scents from John F. Kennedy’s final motorcade, Whitney Houston’s last bath, Princess Diana’s fatal ride and Muammar Gaddafi’s violent end, installing them in macabre, coffin-like enclosures at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. As have we all, I’ve experienced accidental dalliances into rare olfactory zones that have stunned me with profound episodes of déjà vu. Once, in Santa Maria Novella, a perfumery on Melrose Place known for its ancient, Dominican Monk-inspired fragrances, a strange bouquet filled my consciousness as I inhaled from an odd-looking tester bottle. An old aromatic that I only vaguely recalled seemed suddenly familiar. Instantly—and in the way that only fragrances can—I was transported to childhood, when I would tag along with my grandfather to his favorite barbershop, where I sat in his lap while he had his shave and haircut. Here, now, decades later, were the same warm and masculine scents, tangs from another time and place, retrieving the visceral memory of the pheromones of my grandfather, now long dead. Please Do Not Enter, an atypical DTLA non-white-cube contemporary art gallery run by two Parisian expats, also functions as a boutique presenting unique fashions and jewelry as objets d’art. The gallery features the exclusive perfumes of scent artist, Francis Kurkdjian, the legendary French nez (nose). An elegant, bearded man, Kurkdijian, awarded the Prix François Coty for lifetime achievement, created his first men’s fragrance, Le Mâle, from an erotic brief of sun and ocean saltwater for Jean Paul Gaultier, when he was only 24 years old. Starting from a memory, he conjures a fragrance intended to evoke the recollection directly in those who experience the scent. When Kurkdijian presents his exhibition juice, his showmanship emerges in highly visual ways. He uses mammoth orbs of soap bubbles and mists spun from playful pinwheels to roll brilliant, whimsical visual components into his olfactory mix. 62
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Claus Noppeney, The Scent Culture Institute, Bern, Switzerland.
Hammer Museum, January 2014. The Institute of Art and Olfaction staged A Trip to Japan in Sixteen Minutes, a reimagined presentation of Sadakichi Hartmenâ€™s ill-fated scent concert of 1902, composed of six multisensory experiences.
Grand Palais Installation, Paris, Fance. Photo by Nathalie Baetens. Courtesy of Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Nicolas Libert, who along with his partner, Emmanuel Renoird, owns Please Do Not Enter, demonstrates a delightful curatorial wit. Adorning an exhibition case in his gallery is a selection of French men’s briefs, called Ça Sent Bon (it smells good). Encapsulated in their fabric is a fresh-clean fragrance that is activated as the wearer moves and perspires. An exclusive line of scented leathers by Kurkdijian, yet to be released in Los Angeles, draws on historical perspective by taking inspiration from the origin of the perfumer’s craft: the creation of fragrances to mask odors associated with leather tanning. Libert referred to the 1981 John Waters film, Polyester, shot in Odorama, featuring a scratch-and-sniff card given to each audience member. When the number seven or eight flashed on-screen, viewers would scratch-and- sniff the corresponding odor to smell anything from bubble gum to pizza to baby vomit. Odorama-enhanced films bring the practice of scent perception back into the public domain of scent marketing and popular culture. How fragrances are merchandised and promulgated in our modern world, whether in laundry detergents or the most opulent perfumes, is the purview of Dr. Claus Noppeney, the director of the Scent Culture Institute at the Bern (Switzerland) University of the Arts. Noppeney, a German-inflected social scientist in his 30s, lectured at the Institute for Art and Olfaction one afternoon. Smartly-artily dressed, tall and bespectacled, Dr. Noppenney views the scentscape as would a sociologist or cultural anthropologist. “We are at the intersection of art and technology, and we promote and reflect on the sense of smell in culture, business and society,” Noppenney explained. “Smellscapes, smell-cultures, olfactory criticism and scholarship where analysis, contextualization and the design and communication of smells—along with the juice and its creator—become the object of our studies. Critics are the guardians of aesthetic values.” 64
Innovative discourse is opening access to artistic and artisanal scents outside of museums and public spaces. Scent Bar on Beverly Boulevard, a cozy, niche-driven, den of Los Angeles perfumery, is but one example. Perhaps, someday soon, the art of scent will give rise to the art of the totally sensual, utilizing all five of our sensory receptors, through virtual reality. We can hardly wait.
Scent Bar, Los Angeles
Winter Competition September 30 - November 27, 2016
Top twenty finalists will be exhibited at photo l.a. January 12-15, 2017
to enter visit us at
LAX AIRPORT ART PROGRAM REDEFINES THE EXPERIENCE OF TRANSITORY PUBLIC SPACE —
WORDS SHANA NYS DAMBROT PHOTOS PANIC STUDIO LA; COURTESY OF LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORTS
Even at its best, an airport is still a place of enforced loitering, usually with little beyond the tedium of queues and onslaught of shops, bars, advertisements, admonitions and muted TVs to engage your senses for the duration of your toolong wait. But as the international design and architecture world steps up its game, the airport experience has been changing at hubs from Houston to Miami to Chicago. Nowhere is this more the case than in Los Angeles, where LAX has launched an expansion and renovation—with an innovatively integrated visual art program as the jewel in its crown of plans. Sarah Cifarelli, Airport Art Manager for the Los Angeles World Airports (the public/private organization overseeing the agenda) puts it this way: “By expanding the art presence at LAX, we hope to give passengers an art experience at all stages of their journey.” 68
Courtney & Greene, Studio Furniture, Terminal 3 Arrivals. Photo: Panic Studio LA
Occupying 11 diverse exhibition sites across Terminals 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and Tom Bradley International Terminal, a roster of both permanent and rotating temporary installations of painting, sculpture and video enlivens and redefines ideas about public space and reinforces the city’s brand as a cultural capital and arts-driven economy. LA’s Department of Cultural Affairs is a major partner in the undertaking, which explains why many of the artists involved are among the best-known in the city. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will love everything they see. But that’s fine, because the program aims to present not only pleasing pop or defanged decoration, but serious contemporary fine art, from the narrative and historical to the mysterious and experiential. While LAWA is busy figuring out the logistics of what an airport art-walk might look like, in the meantime you don’t even need a plane ticket to see it all, as several artworks are mounted in parts of the airport that are open to the non-traveling public. Mark Bradford’s suspended sculpture in Bradley International Upper Departures Level is a permanent work called Bell Tower. Quite large, at more than 24 x 33 feet, it’s constructed of 12,000 pounds of aluminum plates, tubes, wood and paper, and suggests a cross between Bradford’s signature brand of palimpsestic abstract expressionism and the central broadcast module of a sports arena. Many find it haunting and unusual, a massive structure assuming the heft and panoptical presence of an information beacon, yet pulsing instead with richly layered texture, color, decay and the accumulation of emotion rather than directive. Its un-prettiness has been somewhat controversial, but the work’s strangeness and tattered majesty succeeds in both activating and asking questions about the sometimes confusing qualities of shared experience in public spaces. Also in Bradley, in the Arrivals Customs hall, is a dimensional mural-based installation by Erika Lizée. A temporary work on view through February, 2017, Transfiguration occupies a lengthy vitrine a few feet deep along a busy hallway. 70
Tim Nolan. LAX Terminal 7. Like Sound Going Sideways, “Shine On” Photo: PanicStudio LA Installation View
Lizée’s gift for illusionistic depth and blended rendering techniques here combines with actual sculptural and bas relief elements, adding real shadow and movement to a largescale, otherworldly form with the attributes of botanical and extraterrestrial sentience. In Terminal 3 Upper Level Ticketing (no ticket required) through July, 2018, Megan Geckler’s We’ve got to cross this great big world somehow, tethers the earth to the sky in a pair of soaring sculptural vortices made of hand-dyed ropes and advanced mathematics. Geckler’s trademark large-scale weaving technique is applied in hot and cool colors that occupy high-ceilinged spaces, flooded with natural light, in a manner both monumental and breezy, creating an engaging optical puzzle that actually makes your time in the security queue its own reward. 71
Luciana Abait. Terminal 3, Arrivals.
Erika Lizee. Transfiguration Installation. Tom Bradley International Terminal, Arrivals.
Megan Geckler. Terminal 3, Departures.
Barbara Strasen. Flow & Glimpse, Terminal 2
Carolyn Castano. Desert, Terminal 1.
Elsewhere at LAX , Ball-Nogues Studio and Pae White Studio have each created permanent installations, Air Garden and Woven Walk respectively, also playing on the idea of suspended, hovering and weaving-based architectural interventions. Air Garden’s color and contours appear to change according to vagaries of ambient light, while the “tapestry” Woven Walk is a colorful play off the undulations of extant ceiling cables, augmented with fiberglass and aluminum threads. In Terminal 2 Departures Atrium, (non-ticketed space) the long-term installation by Barbara Strasen, Flow and Glimpse, is composed of some 90 wall-mounted panels. In its way, Strasen’s work is designed to be responsive to ambient light and the changing perspective of viewers in motion. The images are lenticular, with each panel combining two images of Los Angeles—one natural environment and one manmade—into a flip-flopping interspliced whole, orchestrated across six walls of the atrium. Terminal 1 Baggage Claim (non-ticketed space) features Ventanas by Carolyn Castaño, a series of watercolor paintings mixing landscape, abstraction, references to the history of air-travel graphics and the compositional structure of the window. In the Terminal 7-8 Departures Hallway and Ticketing Lobby, Timothy Nolan’s Like Sound Going Sideways and Shine On also directly reference the everyday surrealism of air travel in their collage-based images merging natural and built images, original photography and vintage decorative and topographical source materials. Both are vibrant, Pop-inflected collections that combine narrative, poetic content with the simple joy of enlivened transitory space. Speaking of which, back in Bradley International, the permanent video installation See Change features 28 site-specific works and four hours of looped programming by 17 artists from LA, New York and beyond. The installation includes a 58-screen, 90-foot video array suspended from the ceiling, and a 25-screen wall, streaming non-stop every day from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. In past years, musical and even site-specific dance performances have taken place throughout the terminals, no doubt to the happy bewilderment of unsuspecting travelers, and more such events, as well as the idea of a public airport-wide artwalk, are currently being planned. Visit www.lawa.org for emerging details as they alight.
MOLAA TURNS 20—AND GEARS FOR THE DECADES AHEAD —
WORDS EVA RECINOS IMAGES COURTESY OF THE MUSEUM OF LATIN AMERICAN ART (MOLAA)
As cultural institutions, museums serve as important spaces for education and sociopolitical reflection. Within the space of the museum, the visitor can wonder, question and explore. Art museums can offer particularly rich experiences by providing both aesthetic enrichment and cultural interpretation. MOLAA at Twenty: 1996-2016 (through January 1, 2017), explores the history of the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA) at a time when the museum gets ready to make pivotal changes in the way it influences visitors and relates to the public as a whole. The exhibit includes artifacts, photographs and artworks that shed light on the unique history of the space. 76
Ester Hernandez. Sun Mad, 1982. Screen print, ed. 73/100, 26 3/4 x 22 in Gift of Armando Duron. Photo courtesy of MOLAA
Alejandro Otero. Delta Solar, 1979 Stainless steel and aluminum, 20 1/2 x 39 3/16 x 23 in Gift of Beatriz & Manuel Kohn. Photo courtesy of MOLAA
Established in 1996, the Long Beach, California museum came into existence thanks to the efforts of Dr. Robert Gumbiner, a passionate collector of Latin American art. Part of the building was previously known as the Balboa Amusement Producing Company. The other part was the Hippodrome, a roller skating rink. Photographs of the Producing Company show its role in California film history. In one corner, a pair of worn roller skates helps the viewer visualize the bodies moving throughout the space on skate wheels. “We wanted to share these fun facts with visitors, but I also wanted to set the tone, as you walk in, that MOLAA is a hub for creativity and reinvention,” Edward Hayes, MOLAA curator of exhibitions, said in an email. “628 Alamitos Avenue is preceded by a history of entrepreneurship in film, entertainment, and medical industries… and I hope that legacy of reinvention inspires us to remain relevant to the communities we serve today.” Dr. Gumbiner later turned the space into a healthcare center. After retiring from the healthcare field in 1996, he turned his focus to two major endeavors: the Ethnic Art Institute of Micronesia and MOLAA. The new exhibition highlights the growing collection in sections. The Founding Collection shows Dr. Gumbiner’s first acquired pieces from his travels, featuring artists like Eduardo Kingman and Oswaldo Guayasamin; Mexico explores his relation to Oaxacan and Mexican artists including Rodolfo Morales and Rufino Tamayo; Geometric Abstraction features the work of Carlos Cruz-Diez and Alejandro Otero, offering an array of bright and bold colors and patterns; and Contemporary Cuba highlights the work of artists such as Roberto Fabelo and Esterio Segura. Other sections focus specifically on media such as photography and printmaking. “We have over 1,600 works in the Collection and close to 150 are highlighted in MOLAA at Twenty,” wrote Hayes. “Works in the exhibition are grouped in clusters that represent the Collection’s inception, depth, growth, and potential.” A variety of social, political and historical contexts can be found in each part of the exhibition as well. “Some works of art overtly refer to their social and political contexts without much didactic text or strategic positioning within the show,” said Hayes. “In New Directions, we have Esther Hernández’s iconic Sun Mad (1981), a print that appropriates the Sun Maid raisin box and infuses the image with satire, bringing to light key labor rights issues central to the Chicano Movement of the 1970s.” The museum made a recent change that proves quite 80
Ramiro Gómez Jr. Saturday Morning, Hollywood Hills/ Sábado por la mañana, Hollywood Hills, 2013 Acrylic on magazine, 8 1/2 x 11 in Gift of Charlie James Gallery Los Angeles Photo courtesy of MOLAA
Wilfredo Lam Sin título/Untitled, 1978 Charcoal and pastel on paper, 21 3/4 x 29 1/2 in Robert Gumbiner Foundation Collection Photo courtesy of MOLAA
significant: including Chicano artists along with Latin American ones. Because the collection had started with Latin American pieces, later acquisition fell under the same umbrella. Chicano art — work created by Latino artists born in the U.S. — did not fit into this category. Now, the category has been expanded. The first exhibition the museum presented with this new integration took place last year. “Somewhere Over El Arco Iris: Chicano Landscapes 1971-2015” featured pieces by both Chicano and Latino artists like Vyal, Shizu Saldamando, Carlos Almaraz, John Valadez, Jaime “Germs” Zacarias and Roberto Gutíerrez. Spanning media and generations, this group offered a look at the ways in which Chicano and Latino artists continually create work that can be viewed through a decolonized lens. Recent acquisitions by the museum include work by Ramiro Gomez and Judithe Hernandez. MOLAA will present the first museum retrospective of Frank Romero in 2017, but Hayes stresses that the museum’s focus on Chicano art will extend beyond one specific time frame. “There is no once-and-done year of Chicano art. We are committed to a true integration,” Hayes said. “Frank Romero will share the 2017 exhibition schedule with a Frida Kahlo color photography exhibition and our upcoming Getty Pacific Standard Time exhibition Relational Undercurrents: Contemporary Art of the Caribbean Archipelago, among other projects.” Moving forward, Hayes emphasizes that the museum wants to highlight the work of both “emerging artists” and established “fan favorites” like Kahlo. The legacy and relevance of the museum seems to hinge on the idea of reinvention, most obviously related to the physical space in a time when art can be seen almost anywhere (overcrowding and high rents have sparked a trend of unconventional exhibition venues). MOLAA is also in between presidents, as Stuart Ashman stepped down earlier this year to take a leadership position at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe. A successor has not been found. Hayes says the Long Beach museum is seeking an “energetic, dynamic, and experienced museum professional who will lead MOLAA through its next phase of growth and development.” But the real challenge lies in keeping the reinvention going strong within the gallery walls — making sure that the space can change according to culture and art-world progressions as easily as it changed from a skating rink into a cultural institution.
PLEASE DO NOT ENTER FRÉDÉRICK GAUTIER: EAT THE RIVER WORDS KRISTEN OSBORNE-BARTUCCA IMAGES COURTESY OF FRÉDÉRICK GAUTIER & PLEASE DO NOT ENTER
The Los Angeles River’s associations are as vast as its nearly 50 winding miles: an eyesore, a wasteland of graffiti and detritus, a movie set for car chases and races, a natural refuge amid the skyscrapers and sprawl for birdwatchers and kayakers, or even a point of surprise: Los Angeles has a river? As the city plans to revitalize this long-neglected “water freeway,” (as it was deemed after the 1930s cement channelization carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prevent flooding), there is another association at play: a fertile interstitial site between city and nature rife with aesthetic possibility. Please Do Not Enter, a chic downtown Los Angeles art, design and retail space, invited the experimental French artist Frédérick Gautier to undertake a project entailing a two-month residency that culminated in the display of more than 100 ceramic objects derived from the cracks and imprints of the riverbed. 86
As one of Please Do Not Enter’s founders, Nicolas Libert, explained, “The intention of the project is to make an archeological statement before the river gets deeply remodeled. It’s also to question the status of the L.A. River as a source of life rather than a lethal landscape.” Gautier isn’t the only artist to look at the river and water in general at this moment: Current: LA Water, a public art biennial which ran from July to August, took water for its theme, with several artists exploring the ways in which this threatened natural resource is used, controlled and fetishized. Historically, in a similar vein, Sant Khalsa’s series Western Waters, from the early 2000s, looked at the commodification of water by photographing the ubiquitous retail water stores dotting the Southwestern landscape, while Ruth Wallen’s 2007 project Preserving Paradise; A Conversation About Suburbia, Sustainability and Climate Change, featured in Lucy Lippard’s exhibition Weather Report: Art and Climate Change, discussed the effects of drought and pollution in San Diego. The California drought is just one of several environmental crises occupying our attention right now, with many American cities endeavoring to make better use of their resources to promote ecological sustainability. As a Frenchman and an outsider, though, it is Gautier’s European sensibility that Libert believes brings, “a new vision as well as an exciting connection between two cultures.” It is not difficult to conjure up similarities between the paving of the Los Angeles riverbed and the 19th-century “Haussmannization” of Paris. Cities have always tried to direct the flow of people and nature in a way that promotes order, demolishing the old and fostering the new. Gautier is trying to push back against the artificial boundaries of city and nature, seeing the two as much more fungible. During his two-month residency, which began on July 20, he cycled and walked throughout the trenches and alongside the flowing water, looking for ways to “emphasize the potential for urban agriculture and a reimagined recreational commons.” He explains, “I like the comparison of [the city’s] porosity with nature,” observed in the fact that “despite the concrete, water is everywhere, and the vegetation takes these routes through the cracks and millions of aeration holes.” In the photographic documentation of his work he uses brightly colored tape to mark off spaces of interest to him, including resilient weeds thrusting themselves up through the cracks in the concrete. The physical objects—“mini-architectures”—that result from this artistic intervention are intended, Gautier says, to “invite viewers to discover the river, a forsaken place” and act as “an anthem to water, food, consumption, archeology.” They resemble manhole covers, pipes, bricks; they come from joints, fissures, and holes. Some are derived from found objects such as plates and keys, relics of Gautier’s perambulations. His choice to render his “excavated” objects in clay means there is a 90
deliberate juxtaposition between their fragility and the monolithic, obdurate site from where they were inspired. In their material delicacy they evoke the flora and fauna struggling to survive or, in some areas, flourishing, in the watery wasteland of the riverbed. However, the objects are also mostly large and flat, monochromatic shades of gray and green, echoing the concrete landscape. Like most of the city’s own denizens, Gautier sees the paved channels as seriously flawed, but believes the L.A. River is a place that can be salvaged, if not fundamentally revived. He waxes poetic about the possibilities, envisioning food gardens sustained by the river’s water and hoping it can one day be a great public park. In the duality of the structural tenuousness of his objects and their dynamic assertion of presence and longevity, they reflect urban planners’ ideas and hopes for the future of the L.A. River—a hybrid space, utilitarian but full of beauty and ecological sustainability. 91
FRESH FACES IN ART
ARTISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW BY ARTRA CURATORIAL: MAX PRESNEILL (MP), KIO GRIFFITH (KG) & COLTON STENKE (CS)
CARLOS BELTRAN-ARECHIGA Architectural settings act as stage for the hand gestures of a performance in Beltranâ€™s large-scale paintings. With a brightly hued palette, the brushstrokes explore the human condition within our constructed sites of civilization in a fluid narrative that prioritizes question over answer via a process that incorporates open-ended play. The lush surfaces remind us that we are experiencing painting as material at work. While they do not refer to specific locations, the paintings are set in a contemporary urban environment characterized by buildings and features of the inner city. Marks and traces of a figurative presence maintain the primary role and dominant aspect, encouraging a Humanist reading. (MP) WEBSITE: http://beltronicastudio.wixsite.com/carlos-arechiga
(Opposite) Carlos Beltran-Arechiga Container Acrylic, enamel, oil on board
(Below) Carlos Beltran-Arechiga Merida Oil, acrylic, charcoal, caulking paste, silicone, spray paint on canvas
FRESH FACES IN ART
CANDICE LIN The human-centric, phallic-minded world of patriarchal progress is on its last stand: structureless, bound in fictional history with multiple truths, merely arrows shot without aim, it cedes to hosts and parasites. In the alternative world order of collapsing realities, according to Candice Linâ€™s founding history of anthropological, anthropomorphic and pan-biological correctives, animals, insects, plants and germs proliferate in these â€œotherâ€? realities of social interactions and power structures. The dominant world is erected on buried narratives of the discredited, omitted and co-opted, where it engages in anti-colonial violence in retaliation for over-zealous policing. Lin portrays a deceptively familiar world. one that cannibalizes itself, engages in role plays and struggles, regenerates body parts, and makes tenuous claim to supremacy and evolutionary progress. (KG) WEBSITE: http://ghebaly.com/category/candice-lin/
(Opposite) Candice Lin Divinations of Ongoing War, 2012
(Top) Candice Lin Hormonal Fog Machine
(Bottom) Candice Lin Installation
FRESH FACES IN ART
JULIE HENSON Julie Hensonâ€™s ambitious works are scaled up like billboards, with life-size figures trawled from contemporary U.S. magazines and advertisements, or juxtapositions of visual ephemera through recent American history. They draw the viewer into a reappraisal of the power and influence evoked by these ubiquitous images. With their immediate presence and strange disjunction they can mimic the Vegas experience of overbearing immersion in a sea of commercial activity or political theater. Desire and fear, hand in hand, reflect the collective drives of our ideologies. Through her graphic, media-savvy articulations of the relationship between icon and meaning, of cultural ephemera and aspirational anxieties, Henson constructs installational settings of politicized pop for the digital age. (MP) WEBSITE: http://juliehenson.com/
(Opposite) Julie Henson Infant Universe
(Below) Julie Henson Civilisation
FRESH FACES IN ART
GALERÍA PERDIDA A collaborative venture, Galería Perdida explores the “getting lost” (as in its name) aspect of what a gallery could be. During the group’s 2005 residency in Chilchota, Mexico, it took a message from an aloof donkey’s behavior in honking traffic, “Let’s continue relative behavior and shift locations.” Despite any presumptuous equation in the message, Galería Perdida operates from variable locations in Los Angeles, New York and Michoacán, Mexico, providing platforms for exhibitions, film screenings and lectures. Its presented works and projects are transactions of ideas exchanged globally and locally, galvanized with a sharp sense of humor annotating investigations of cultural impact against the hegemonic forces of modernity. Experimenting with roles of artist, curator and visitor, Galería Perdida: Matryoshka, is a series of galleries nested within one another, modeled after the namesake Russian doll. In And Per Se And, language is sifted and reworked into semantic and aesthetic possibilities from destabilized sentence structures, syntax, errata and typography. A utilitarian device—the hair comb—is investigated through a series of 20 walnut wood designs in its form, historical value and cultural affiliation in the project I want to blush, f***ers at JOAN. (KG) WEBSITE: http://www.galeriaperdida.com/
(Opposite) Galeria Perdida Left out in the sun/to dry, 2016
(Top) Galeria Perdida Recto Verso Terracotta 2 objects, installation view MAK Center for Art and Architecture
(Bottom) Galeria Perdida Queens Museum Studio Program Exhibition installation view Queens Museum, NY, 2015
ART ABOUT TOWN
GALLERY REVIEWS MIKE KELLEY GALLERY, BEYOND BAROQUE, VENICE, CA Diane Silver: Torrent Stream (August 13-September 8, 2016) Words Betty Brown
Diane Silver’s Torrent Stream installation explored the relationship between water, the Southern California landscape and the digital data environment. The artist deployed three aesthetic languages to do so: installation, painting and monoprint. The installation was centered around what appears to be a rush of turquoise liquid flowing out of an open metal pipe. But in fact, the pool-blue water was actually shredded paper, each ribbon-like sliver marked with the binary code for water. The trompe l’oeil effect invited viewer engagement with the conflict between reality and illusion, direct experience and computerized representation, nature and culture. Such perceived tensions were echoed in Silver’s paintings, where pigment, dye and construction detritus combine to imitate waves in a dark, wind-tossed sea. Upon closer inspection, the paintings were revealed to be heavy fabric folded in high relief — something hard and dry and static depicting something soft, flowing and fluid. A similar manipulation of fixed sur-
Diane Silver. Torrent Stream Installation. Courtesy Mike Kelley Gallery, Venice, CA
ART ABOUT TOWN
face that implies aqueous material was seen in the five small monoprints that completed the exhibition. The monoprints used indigo tones to portray the precious substance that comprises so much of each of us, and our world. As Silver worked on the exhibition, she researched three aspects of the historic relationship Los Angeles has had with water: William Mulholland’s early twentieth century aqueduct built to bring water from the Owens Valley; Abbot Kinney’s concomitant plans for Venice, a real estate development involving a grid of canals and intended to be a cultural mecca; and the current drought that has desiccated so much of the Southern California territory. Each of these conceptual threads was woven through the exhibition, as Silver’s poetic visuals addressed timely social issues. Torrent Stream was part of the 2016 Current: LA Public Art Biennial, a series of cultural events this summer that “uses contemporary art as a platform for the exchange of ideas around critical issues our city faces together.” In this year, one of the driest recorded, the theme of Current: LA—like the theme of Silver’s Torrent Stream— was water. Both reminded viewers of Leonardo da Vinci’s important assertion: “Water is the driving force of all nature.”
LA LOUVER, VENICE Heather Gwen Martin (July 13-October 9, 2016) Words Megan Abrahams
Curiously reminiscent of maps, with compositional cues that vaguely suggest surreal terrain, Heather Gwen Martin’s vivid abstract vistas might be thought of as escapes of the imagination rather than landscapes. Originally from Canada, the Los Angeles-based artist approaches the canvas with a clearly predetermined premise, and allows the idea to evolve with a degree of spontaneity. She works on the wall, responding to the shapes, hues and values as they play off each other. Referring to her process, Martin has said, “To me, it’s sort of like navigating around.” Clean, elegant lines demarcate the picture plane with indirect trajectories. Extrapolated from pencil drawings on paper, Martin’s lines are not straight, but sinuous. The outcome of gesture, they suggest a flowing liquidity. Where these irregular, sometimes loopy skein-like lines converge, they neatly bring form into focus, defining the borders of shapes that resemble continents or land masses on unknown seas, creating dynamic interplays between negative and positive space. Martin’s unexpected, almost startling, use of contrasting colors—as in Breezy (2016) with its dominant lime-green mass juxtaposed against a cadmium orange/red 101
ART ABOUT TOWN
Heather Gwen Martin. Sixes, 2016. Oil on linen. 37 1/2 x 35 in. (95.3 x 88.9 cm) Copyright Heather Gwen Martin. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA
backgroundâ€”is rooted in her experience as a comic book colorist while still a student in art school. Perhaps also adapted from the comic book genre, the artistâ€™s strategic use of black, while integrated subtly, functions as a dramatic marker and divider of space. Her approach seems to have a vague connection to early paintings by Jack Youngerman, with a smattering of the later works of Lorser Feitelson tossed in. Viewed up close, subtle deviations in the weave of the raw linen ground contrast with the pristine flatness of the painted surface and the clean, precise shapes. 102
ART ABOUT TOWN
Nubby bits of texture show through otherwise smooth layers of oil paint, adding an element of richness. While most of the work seems to inhabit the realm of abstracted landscape, hints of the figure creep in. However unintended, the orange lines in Sixes (2016) articulate the potential contour of a female leg.
GEORGE BILLIS GALLERY, CULVER CITY Suzan Woodruff & Brad Howe: Properties of Light (September 10-November 12, 2016) Words Shana Nys Dambrot
“It’s not birds that I sculpt,” Brancusi once said, “it’s the act of flying.” It was his desire to solve what he saw as an essential problem of sculpture—and of painting too, for that matter—which was how not only to depict and portray, but to energetically evoke and optically generate, palpable action and motion within the constraints of finite, earthbound objects. In a way, painter Suzan Woodruff and sculptor Brad Howe are still at work on Brancusi’s challenge, seeking through diverse material practices an avenue for creating fixed objects with the qualities of life and movement. They each succeed in capturing and encapsulating, refining and replicating, the kinetic energy of natural (Woodruff) and architectural (Howe) phenomena— but the genius of this pairing is that their diverse practices, when considered together in William Moreno’s perceptive and dramatic curation, highlight and enhance the special properties of each. Woodruff has long pursued techniques and studio methods capable of expressing her devoted fascination with the meteorological, phenomenological patterns of nature—river deltas, storm clouds, volcanic effusions, cosmic billows, stardust eddies, coastal erosion, tectonic crevasses. She draws from a conscious awareness of the awesome feminine energy that keeps the planets in orbit, a living energy whose power is manifested in the constant motion, evolution and emotional morphology of the mythological landscape and the literal climate. In the service of this idea, Woodruff developed a proprietary technological approach to brushless abstraction that requires her work to be executed in the constant, durational manipulation of wet pigment using the laws of physics like gravity and momentum to generate and replicate rather than depict her subject. Howe’s curvaceous, high-polish, mercurial and amoebic steel disks, oblongs and partitions gather, reflect and distort ambient light, environmental objects and the physical movement of proximate viewers like a lightning field of high-concept fun-house mirrors. In a way, to borrow from Brancusi’s dictum, he is sculpting the 103
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Suzan Woodruff & Brad Howe. Properties of Light. Courtesy George Billis Gallery, Culver City
act of seeing. The viewer is literally reflected in the sculpture, becoming part of it, lending experiential narrative and actual content to otherwise abstract works. When Woodruff’s paintings are captured and reflected in this prismatic way, their surfaces appear to ripple and sway just the way she intended. The outcome is nothing short of magical, fulfilling the ambitions of each in the most engaging and satisfying manner. The effect in turn highlights the operational dynamics of perception as an action and the quality of one’s own attention—an essential project of both art-historical modernism and latter-day metaphysics. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE Karla Klarin: Subdividing the LAndscape (August 29-October 8, 2016) Words Kay Whitney
There may be no other city as fragmented as Los Angeles. Across its 489 square miles, there is scarcely an acre which has not been cleanly severed from its past. The interventions in the landscape are continual, the erasures of histories and communities so thorough and relentless that in the minds of its inhabitants the city 104
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has become a reservoir of architectural palimpsests, overlapping memories, a city within illusory cities. Karla Klarin, a native Angeleno, is a visual diarist of these compounded realities. Her work reflects four decades of transformation and reinvention of the city’s landscape. Klarin has lived the changes. In the 1970s she was one of the first artists in LA to occupy one of the warehouses of its deserted downtown, now transformed into the Arts District. As intimate observer, she concentrates on the LA of tract homes, shopping centers, swimming pools, freeway vistas, downtown warehouses and uncomfortable skylines. Her work records places no longer extant and views altered beyond recognition. Neither critical nor moralizing, her paintings offer a poetic rather than literal evocation of the landscape. The retrospective traces the evolution of Klarin’s vision from figurative paintings to landscape, culminating in current work that combines aerial perspective with architectural elements. This work, with its tightly restricted coloration and fractured axonometric lines, sites Klarin’s paintings on the cusp of geometric abstraction. She has been employing her limited palette of grey-scale with carnation-pink since 2014. These paintings encompass a series she calls Natalie’s House, based on her memory of a pink house in her childhood Van Nuys neighborhood. The paintings use reconfigured elements of the recollected house—its pink stucco, white roof and front yard sectioned into geometric shapes. She has even resurrected its black driveway. The paintings reflect the disparate influences of Paul Cézanne and Richard Diebenkorn in their cubist break-up and reconstitution of landscape elements. They focus on the house itself, but also locate it within the grid that typifies LA neighborhoods; Klarin combines the specific with the general, creating images that acknowledge LA’s sprawl as well as the lives lived with specificity and individuality within.
Karla Klarin. Natalie’s House 7, 2015. 14” x 28”, Oil on Canvas. California State University, Northridge
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SHULAMIT NAZARIAN, VENICE CA Reuven Israel: As Above, So Below and Phillip Maisel: Habitat (September 14-November 11) Words Peter Frank
The pairing of Reuven Israel’s assertively peculiar painted sculptures with Phillip Maisel’s intricate near-abstract photographs determined two through-lines that connected the New York-based Israeli with the Chicago-born San Franciscan: a reliance on geometric formal languages so vivid and dynamic that they risk destabilization, and a multimedia approach that knowingly blurs the boundaries between artistic practices – painting, sculpture and architectural design in Israel’s case and photography, collage, drawing and installation in Maisel’s. Maisel works against the relative conventionality of his technical format, portraying elaborate structures – some purely geometric, others clearly rough and granular – and the spaces they inhabit entirely within the photographic frame. He clearly owes a debt to artists who endeavored this in the last century, from Paul Outerbridge to Barbara Kasten, but Maisel commands a painterliness and a range of form and texture not normally seen in such “architectural abstraction.” There is a sense of rhythmic evolution – compositions mutating at a measured pace – inherent in any one image, and Maisel heightens this sense by literalizing such mutation across photographic sequences. The shapes and objects in one image are essentially the same as in the previous and the succeeding, but have been very deliberately and noticeably re-arranged and re-arrayed. The ultimate pleasure is in Maisel’s sharpedged but elegant aesthetics: these handsome pictures are satisfyingly, gratifyingly grounded. Israel has invented a format all for himself, one that attenuates the nature of both sculpture and painting so that his objects look utilitarian (if not downright assemblaged). But they are of a piece, hand-crafted (NOT machine-made) and consistent in their structure and even their symbolic inferences. For one thing, they are almost invisible, and certainly anything but volumetric; the predominant element in each is a long copper grounding wire, straight and vertical, emerging from a colored, eccentrically shaped base and culminating in a differently colored, even more eccentrically shaped crown. Imagine if a standing light fixture were to begin transforming into a kind of futuristic totem, dedicated to an inexplicable function and at the same time the object of metaphysical interpretation. The real power of Israel’s spaceship garden, in fact, lies behind such fantasy: the objects he has fashioned seem suspended in mid-transit, and you can’t bring yourself to trust that, for all their symmetry and simplicity, they will look tomorrow as they do today.
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Phillip Maisel. From the exhibition Habitat, 2016, Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles
Reuven Israel. From the exhibition As Above, So Below, 2016, Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles
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MUSEUM VIEWS CRAFT AND FOLK MUSEUM, LOS ANGELES Gronk’s Theater of Paint (May 29-September 4, 2016) There is a theatrical quality even to the most purely painterly, non-objective of Gronk’s work. After all, the east-Los Angeles-born painter began his career as a performance artist in the collaborative group ASCO, and his best-known pictorial work remains his ongoing series, begun in the 1980s, featuring La Tormenta, the mystery woman in the black gown with her back turned towards us. Although his recent work has favored abstraction, Gronk wanders at will in and out of an exaggerated, cartoonish figuration brimming with arch wit and an almost childlike playfulness. For all his La Tormenta paintings, engaging sketch-doodles, collages and vast, galaxial paintings, Gronk’s major work of the last two decades has brought him back to the stage. He still collaborates eagerly with other creative minds, but now he stays behind the curtain (except when leading workshops and experimental multi-media events that combine painting and performative activity). In short, Gronk has become one of L.A.’s leading, and arguably most exciting, set designers, working with playwrights, choreographers, composers, and impresarios on plays, dances and even operas. Indeed, Gronk has become one of Peter Sellars’ favorite set artists, and as such has seen his elaborate, dazzling sets travel as far afield as Spain and Russia. All this was documented in a survey of Gronk’s stage work that traced his performance origins and documented pretty much every one of his collaborations since his first foray onto the traditional stage in 1989. Back then, he worked with theater companies – Latino Theatre Lab, East West Players, Culture Clash – emerging from the cultural ferment of Los Angeles’ ethnic communities. Part of the dynamism and professionalism that brought these groups so quickly to the attention of the mainstream theater world was contributed by Gronk, who (as the exhibition demonstrated) consistently exercised the particular strengths of a stage artist: graphic power coupled with a keen sense of proscenium space, and the ability to envelop the players in a projection of their expression without swallowing them. The exhibition itself invited viewers into a central room activated by Gronk’s expansive abstract markings – a kind of modernist cabaret space, in which performances, from theater to poetry to dance to music, took place on various days. 108
Gronk. Gronk in his studio, 2016
This vibrant locale extravagantly betrayed the artist’s native inclination towards the dramatic. Gronk’s theater history rolled out in more intimate spaces on the periphery of the big one. Some works were documented with set fragments, others with notations, still others with performance videos, and the majority with a combination of such resources. In this manner, the retrospective consistently avoided falling into dull recitation or unspooling like a book-on-the-wall; every discrete display was engaging, even fascinating on its own, and the whole constituted quite a ride. If anything, Gronk’s Theater of Paint whetted one’s eagerness, even need, to see his next production. 109
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LAGUNA ART MUSEUM Peter Krasnow: Maverick Modernist (June 26-September 25, 2016) The reclamation of Southern California’s prewar modernist past continues apace – and the pace is a slow one. After all, there were few artists, barely any audience, and precious little infrastructure. The Los Angeles avant garde was composed of so many (or not so many) individuals devoted to a transcendent interpretation of reality. Peter Krasnow was one such avant gardist. When the Ukrainian-born painter and sculptor moved to Los Angeles in 1922, at the age of 36, he fell in with the likes of Stanton Macdonald-Wright, Edward Weston and Rudolph Schindler. Krasnow always drew on the core of the tiny art scene for intellectual energy but his work drew from theirs in spirit, not in form. The body of abstraction Krasnow generated from the 1940s until his death in 1979 is unlike anything else produced in California at the time; elaborate and densely organized, these vibrant, eccentric tableaux – and the carved wooden sculptures Krasnow also produced throughout his mature career – are at once riveting, exhilarating, mysterious, daft and painful to behold. Krasnow’s more conventional figuration, practiced in Boston, New York and Chicago, picked up on the post-impressionist influences circulating among American modernists after the Armory Show. While not evincing much regard for cubism, they presciently display the earmarks of Art Deco, especially once he arrived in LA. The brittle stylizations of Deco in fact maintain throughout Krasnow’s abstract work, which, atop its compositional peculiarities, brims with jagged, irregular contours and acid colors. (They invite comparison with the work of his New York contemporary Stuart Davis, but Davis’s flat, jazzy approach was open and musical, while Krasnow’s was tight and hierarchic, almost ritualistic.) Krasnow’s first entirely non-objective canvases, from the early 1940s, are much more classically disposed – they bespeak both cubism and the colorful geometric abstraction cubism generated – but by the middle of the decade, such poised and interlocked compositions, reminiscent of Herbin and Léger, were quickly dissolving into a much more “organic,” and yet much more thickly composed, approach, a kind of “cubisticated” surrealism that conflated landscape, animal and plant life, and ideographic symbols, into feverishly organized colored images. The several commissions Krasnow realized for houses of worship, requiring a high degree of stylization (especially when including stained glass designs), helped drive the flatness and opacity of his style. Contrarily, his devotion to a sinuous line, especially one that constantly turns in on itself, comes from his sculpture. These totemic objects went abstract well before his paintings did; large and imposing as they can be, one gets the feeling they were where Krasnow really let himself go looking for 110
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Peter Krasnow. Edward Henry Weston, 1925. Oil on canvas, 50 x 38 inches. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist.
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a higher reality. His warped but fervent devotion to the pictorial is evident throughout his painted oeuvre, but in the three-dimensional works, Krasnow’s metaphysical bent lays itself bare. If in the metamorphic tumult of the paintings anything seems possible, in the sculptures, even the multipartite ones that seem cobbled together like Craftsman-style furniture, only one thing seems possible: the presence of a different kind of being. The higher truth that Krasnow – product of a spiritually driven discourse – so clearly sought. can be found in the paintings, rolling around with all the other detail; in the sculpture, the artist – product of an anti-idolatrous tradition – imbues palpable objects with the ineffable.
THE NORA ECCLES HARRISON MUSEUM OF ART UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY A California Oasis in Logan Utah Art produced in California over the last century—especially, but not entirely, after World War II—has proven substantial and distinctive enough to warrant focused collection by many American museums. The majority of such museums, of course, are to be found throughout California itself. But around the country, institutions have found it impossible to ignore the ongoing artistic ferment of the Golden State. From New York’s Whitney Museum to the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska, art from California has been collected and shown as the art of California, representing a particular sensibility—or cluster of sensibilities—that simply does not manifest elsewhere. One of the museums most actively collecting California art as such does sit well west of the Mississippi, but remains at a significant geographic remove from the Pacific coast. In fact, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum (NEHMA) is perched on a hillside amidst a state university in northern Utah, about 20 miles from the Idaho border and hardly farther from the northern reaches of the Great Salt Lake (including Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty). NEHMA opened on the campus of Utah State University in 1982, specifically to house the burgeoning ceramics collection of area philanthropist Nora Eccles Treadwell Harrison (herself a potter) and her second husband, Richard Harrison. The building, solid but graceful from the outside and flowing and expansive within, was designed by prominent museum architect Edward Larabee Barnes. During the past three decades, the museum’s collection has expanded greatly, its collection now including well in excess of 5,000 objects. The concentration remains focused on modern and contemporary art produced in the western
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Agnes Pelton. Nurture, 1940. Oil on Canvas. 34.375 x 32.5 in. Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art.
United States, although work from other areas of the country has also entered the museumâ€”most particularly in the vast Marie Eccles Caine collection of American works on paper (including photography) and through the receipt of works donated from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection, with its bias towards New York art of the 1960s and â€˜70s. Exhibition programming is even more eclectic, coming from all over the world; such as Abstraction & The Dreaming, the engrossing 2015 survey of
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Helen Lundeberg. The Mirror (Enigma), 1934. Oil on Celotex Panel. 37.75 x 31.75 in. Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation. Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art.
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Australian aboriginal art hung in the museum’s upper gallery. But exhibitions drawn from the collection, as well as many hosted shows, favor art from the American west, especially California. Transcendence: Abstraction & Symbolism in the American West, currently on view (until December 10), is a case in point. Officials at NEHMA estimate that artwork from California constitutes about 20 to 25 percent of the overall collection. That might seem a small percentage, but it is probably the largest geographically defined group at the museum—and perhaps the single most distinguished. NEHMA’s California art ranges widely, representing artists not just from Los Angeles or San Francisco, but San Diego and Palm Springs, Santa Barbara and Sonoma, Sacramento and north. The selection gives credence to all generations, and most tendencies, in California art, going back well before the war. Indeed, California curators know to turn to NEHMA for loans of particularly important historic works. Among NEHMA’s specialties are the mid-1930s “post-surrealism” of Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg; Bay Area Abstract Expressionism; Beat-movement-related painting and assemblage; and early conceptual art. New Mexico Transcendentalism, with its own ties to California, is also featured in NEHMA’s collection. As part of Utah State’s Caine College of the Arts, NEHMA is first and foremost a “study museum.” As such, however, it welcomes even casual visitors to inquire into its collection, California and otherwise. And it also acknowledges its calling to educate the world at large. Even now, NEHMA is compiling an annotated catalog of its collection—one in which California will perforce be profoundly represented.
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In this issue of Fabrik, we look at art that responds to, and perhaps explains, our complex times. Among some of the features in this issue...