CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 34
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 Jacki Apple Aparna Bakhle Ellis Tressa Berman Betty Brown Shana Nys Dambrot Peter Frank Kio Griffith Michael McCall Max Presneill Eva Recinos Phil Tarley
Contact Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Web: thisisfabrik.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
Sherin Guirguis is an Egyptian-born Los Angeles based multi-media artist who juxtaposes Western minimalist concepts with traditional Eastern decorative motifs. See page 124 for more on the artist.
CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 34
Sherin Guirguis. Untitled (lahzet zaman), 2013. Mixed media on hand-cut paper. 108 x 72 inches. Photo courtesy of The Third Line Gallery, Dubai and the artist.
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
FABRIK ISSUE 34 Despite what’s going on in the world around us – and perhaps even energized by the surrounding tumult – the art scene is thriving. Even so, under a new administration that seems wary of freedom of speech, and appears poised to focus on priorities that preclude support for the arts, there is cause for concern. Rather than be discouraged by this, we feel compelled to be optimistic. We must engage with and champion art. This issue of Fabrik takes an optimistic look at global influences on art from an LA perspective. In our Spotlight on the LA presence at Miami Art Week (this past December) and our preview of this season’s LA art fairs, we gaze at the local scene within a global context. We also explore some of the new and exciting LA institutions that continue to position Los Angeles as a major player in the international art world, as in Aparna Bakhle’s Spotlight on the new Main Museum in the Downtown LA Art District. From another angle, Shana Nys Dambrot interviews Naima Keith, the recently appointed deputy director of exhibitions with the California African American Museum, discussing that museum’s role going forward as it presents the work of artists of African American heritage and from the African diaspora. A Museum View by Tressa Berman investigates the retrospective of the late Cuban artist, Belkis Ayón at the Fowler Museum. The Los Angeles art scene is very international indeed. We’re excited to be a part of it. Megan Abrahams Managing Editor 5
CONTRIBUTORS MEGAN ABRAHAMS is a Los Angeles based artist, writer, art critic and editor. The managing editor of Fabrik, she is also a contributing writer for Art Ltd. and WhiteHot magazines. An artist member of the Los Angeles Art Association, Megan is currently working on a new series of paintings and writing a novel. JACKI APPLE is a Los Angeles based visual, performance and media artist, designer, writer, composer and producer whose work has been presented internationally. Her writing has been featured in numerous publications including THE Magazine LA, The Drama Review, Art Journal and High Performance. She is a professor at Art Center College of Design. APARNA BAKHLE ELLIS writes and engages with the consonance and dissonance of living in Los Angeles and how this intersects with her interests in contemporary art, l’ecriture feminine and activism. Formerly Fabrik’s managing editor, she now curates submissions for familial.us, a multimedia archive for poetic narratives about identity, estrangement and belonging. TRESSA BERMAN Ph.D. is an art writer, anthropologist and curator. The author of two books, she has contributed to New Art Examiner, Review, Art Papers, Interarts and other publications. Berman is the founder of the Institute for Inter-cultural Practice. She currently divides her time between Los Angeles and Asheville, North Carolina. 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, was presented at Groundspace Project in September, 2016. 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. MICHAEL McCALL is a Los Angeles based visual artist. His work is represented by Timothy Yarger Fine Art in Beverly Hills, California. McCall is currently completing a memoir, Captain Squid and the Tentacle Room, scheduled for publication in 2017. 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 in the LA Weekly, The Creators Project, PSFK and other publications. She is less than five feet tall. PHIL TARLEY s a fellow of the American Film Institute and a member of the Photographic Arts Council. Tarley writes about contemporary art and pop culture and curates photography for the AC Gallery, in Los Angeles. His book, Going Down on Cuba: Notes from an Underground Traveler, is slated for publication by Fabrik Press in 2017.
FEATURES & COLUMNS 8
Spotlight: The New Classic California African American Museum (CAAM) SHANA NYS DAMBROT
Spotlight: New Directions at The Los Angeles Art Show
Spotlight: 2017 West Coast Art Fairs
Spotlight: LA Snapshot of Miami Art Week
Profile: The Aerial Abstracts of Donn Delson
Profile: Mixed Media Experimental Photography of Kaethe Kauffman and Nolan Preece PHIL TARLEY
Spotlight: The Main Museum of Los Angeles Art and Beta Main APARNA BAKHLE
Spotlight: Inside WeHo Arts: City as Cultural Curator
Fresh Faces in Art: Artists You Should Know
MEGAN ABRAHAMS MEGAN ABRAHAMS PHIL TARLEY
104 Performance 2016: Mining the Past to Change the Future 112 Art About Town: Gallery Reviews 124 Art About Town: Museum Views
THE NEW CLASSIC CAAM —
WORDS SHANA NYS DAMBROT PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM (CAAM)
With the 40th anniversary of its state charter this year, the California African American Museum (CAAM) is in the midst of an institutional reinvigoration, deepening its mission “to research, collect, preserve and interpret for public enrichment the history, art and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States,” with more verve, vitality, ambition and contagious enthusiasm than ever. In addition to critical and popular acclaim for recent landmark exhibitions such as the surveys for Mark Steven Greenfield and Overton Loyd and the Hard-Edged Abstraction survey curated by Mar Hollingsworth, there’s huge buzz surrounding last year’s appointment of Naima Keith as deputy director for exhibitions, a big part of the administration under new Director George O. Davis. 8
Jesse Owens. Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936. American Olympic athlete Jesse Owens runs his historic 200 meter race at the 11th Olympiad in Berlin. Owens won the race with a time of 20.7 seconds, establishing a new Olympic record. Courtesy of Library of Congress.
Keith is an LA native whose own story traces a professional and personal full circle with this move. After getting her MFA at UCLA she joined the Hammer Museum team. She held the position of curatorial fellow at the Hammer from 2008 to 2011, an era notable for exhibitions such as Now Dig This! and the laying of plans for programs with Leimert Park’s Art + Practice. Keith then moved to The Studio Museum in Harlem, where she served as associate curator for almost five years until her appointment at CAAM. Her tenure in New York yielded important exhibitions by notable LA artists like Glenn Kaino and Rodney McMillian, as well as a survey of Charles Gaines’ early work that helped fuel his resurgence in art history. “I had no master plan when I got there,” Keith said. “But people are working in California, I wanted to let everyone know that. [These artists] deserve to be championed, to make their impact. It was not a hard sell.” CAAM’s first curator, Lonnie Bunch, inaugurated its Jack Haywood-and Vince Proby-designed edifice in Exposition Park in 1984 with an instantly iconic exhibition celebrating the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. The Black Olympians, 1904-1984, featured the actual track from the games as an unforgettable exhibition design structure and poignant motif. In historical counterpoint, the museum’s current exhibitions include Politics, Race, and Propaganda: The Nazi Olympics, Berlin 1936. Traveling from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, it was also the only thing on the calendar when Keith arrived. The rest of the current roster of contemporary projects was her doing—undertaken in a very conscious attempt to balance contemporary and historical threads with original projects, traveling shows and fresh engagements, along with the extensive permanent collection. Current projects from Hank Willis Thomas, Genevieve Gaignard, and the four-person show, The Ease of Fiction, initially curated for the Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh by Dexter Wimberly, combine to take faceted perspectives on the museum’s core issue: the armatures on which identity is constructed and by whom. (See CAAM Museum View in this issue, page 124) “LA as a city is poised to be a major player in the international institutional world,” Keith noted. “And CAAM has been a hidden gem within the city. I’ve proven myself as a diehard Angeleno. Now I’m thinking about the program as a whole, as part of a larger social and political dialog, rooted in SoCal but then also so much larger. I want to stretch the idea of California as far as humanly possible.” One way to achieve this is through a modern approach to curating and interacting with the extensive permanent collection of more than 4,000 objects of fine art and historical value. Taking Place: Selections from the Permanent Collection, another 10
Edward Mitchell Bannister. Landscape Scene, 1900. From the exhibition, “Taking Place: Selections from the Permanent Collection.” Oil on canvas. 30” x 42”. Gift of Richard F. Connally, Jr.
Taking Place: Selections from the Permanent Collection, Installation View.
Lookin’ Back in Front of Me: Selected Works of Mark Steven Greenfield, 1974-2014.
Lookin’ Back in Front of Me: Selected Works of Mark Steven Greenfield, 1974-2014.
current exhibition, has a tragically still-salient voting booth/outhouse by the legendary John Outterbridge; a new gift from Sadie Barnette; and a Betye Saar not shown in 20 years. “We really want to not only cycle through the greatest hits, but to rotate through the collection’s true depth,” Keith observed. “Our labels include the original dates of acquisition, to demonstrate that we are not late to the party. We’ve been in this game quite a while!” And the museum is actively looking for ways to offer new expanded contexts and themes with the added benefit of real historical hindsight. For example, opening in March, Vida L. Brown curates a show highlighting works on paper from the CAAM treasure vaults. And from now on, all five exhibition spaces will change at once, three times a year, in an attempt to mix up the audiences for the different aspects of their programming and thereby introduce them to new experiences and aesthetics. It’s all part of the plan to raise the local presence of the institution along with its national profile. “So many people, even art people, have somehow never heard of or visited us,” Keith said. “But that is starting to change.” This attention is partly spurred on by live talks and other public programming, from President Obama to Mark Bradford. Keith did her Masters work on Bradford, so when he heard about her post he said, “What can I do to help? Sign me up.” As Keith noted with satisfaction and gratitude, a lot of artists here want CAAM to succeed, to take its place among institutions like the Hammer, ICA LA and the Underground Museum. “It’s essential to claim a place,” she said, “starting by asking what it means to be an LA artist.”
NEW DIRECTIONS AT THE LOS ANGELES ART SHOW JANUARY 11-15, 2017 LOS ANGELES CONVENTION CENTER — WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS
The LA Art Show reliably heralds the launch of the Los Angeles winter art season – albeit a little earlier than usual this year. Beginning with the VIP preview the evening of Wednesday, January 11, viewers will have the opportunity to partake in a multiplatform program that traverses international art frontiers while embracing the Los Angeles art scene in a holistic way. Representing more than 90 galleries from 18 plus countries, the 2017 fair reflects an ambitious global outlook, with a dedicated focus on Latin American and Latino art as well as presentations from Europe, China, Japan, South Korea and Cuba. 16
Hiroshi Mori. Home Sweet Home. Courtesy S.E.A. Gallery, Japan.
The fair’s Latin American focus is intended to foreshadow and coordinate with the Getty’s 2017 iteration of Pacific Standard Time LA/LA (which will run from September 2017 to January 2018 in various Southern California cultural institutions, with support from the Getty). In concert with PST’s focus on the artistic connections between Latin American and Latino art, in dialog with Los Angeles, the LA Art Show will present thematically relevant special curated exhibits, installations, performances and programming. One such program is the panel discussion, A Conversation of Pacific Standard Time LA/LA to be moderated by Idurre Alonso, Associate Curator of Latin American Collections at the Getty Research Institute. The program is part of the 4th edition of the LA Art Show’s Dialogs/LA series of talks and panel discussions — featuring prominent artists, collectors, museum directors, curators and internationally renowned art world players — which are geared to proffer cutting edge ideas on issues of importance to the Los Angeles and international art communities. Casting a wide net, this year’s fair involves a host of local cultural institutions in an effort to reflect and engage the diverse and vibrant LA art community. In a far-reaching collaboration, the LA Art Show 2017 features special events and programs produced with The Broad, the Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Latin American Art (Long Beach) Muzeo Museum (Anaheim) and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. As a precursor to PST LA/LA, LACMA will present a series of special exhibitions featuring artists who will participate in the PST program. Included in the exhibit is the still-life mural work, Cut-Outs, by LA artist Ramiro Gomez. In one of the planned synergistic Dialogs/LA discussions, MOCA Director Philippe Vergne joins LA Art Show producer Kim Martindale for a conversation on the production of Jeff Koons’ limited edition Balloon Dog, by the French porcelain company Bernardaud. A newly released Balloon Dog (Orange) edition, along with other colors, will be available for purchase by collectors on site at a satellite MOCA Store. Other fair highlights will reach beyond the conventional dimensions of visual art, such as the experimental low-frequency radio program Talking Head Transmitters, co-created in 2001 by Chilean artist Eugenia Vargas. Presented by Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center to LA viewers for the first time, the work invites the participation of fair attendees and is intended to demonstrate the 18
Gary Lang. Bluelight, 2015. Courtesy Ace Gallery, Los Angeles.
expanded reach of performance art through the power of radio. The installation will be part of Deconstructing Liberty: a Destiny Manifested. Organized by LA Art Show and independent curator, Marisa Caichiolo, this group show explores patriotism, community, citizenship, freedom, the pursuit of happiness, equal rights and activism through performance, installation, video, painting and photography. The program showcases the work of artists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and Venezuela. The broad international emphasis of this year’s fair will reverberate throughout the five-day event, as in the exhibit, a wall, by American artist Louis Hock, presented by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center and curated by Chon Noriega. This temporary installation made from recycled paper pulp bricks will extend throughout the Show premises, prompting visitors to consider the significance of walls and how they divide, with symbolic reference to borders and immigration. Echoing the borders theme is the talk, Behind The Wall: Detrás del Muro, focusing on the socio-cultural and democratic project addressing notions of freedom, conceived during the 2015 Havana Biennial. Continuing this thread, is Cauce/Riverbed, a performance piece by Cuban performance artist Carlos Martiel, rooted in the issue of undocumented immigration and its impact on families. In the same vein, Deep Blue: Underwater, an immersive installation by Chilean artist Norton Maza, seeks to connect all the waters of the world that people have crossed in search of security and better lives. The fair also places significant emphasis on contemporary art from China, as in the curated exhibition The Mood of Ink, presented by the private Beijing museum East Art Center, featuring a group of emerging and established Chinese artists. Cospace will present Water & Wind, an exhibition of Hai Pai paintings from the Shanghai School. The Chinese Cultural Media Group is showing a group exhibition of ink paintings as part of the National Exhibition of China, a joint endeavor organized by CCMG (Beijing) and the National Base for International Cultural Trade (Shanghai). A special exhibit of Korean monochrome paintings will also be presented at the fair. Dansaekhwa III: Formation and Recurrence, curated by SM Fine Art Gallery in Seoul, South Korea and New York, will feature two of the genre’s minimalist masters, Kim Tae-Ho and Kim Tschang-Yeul. The majority of LA Art Show exhibitors are located in the Modern/ Contemporary section, which includes 23 LA galleries. There are also curated areas: Works on Paper. Project Spaces (featuring three LA dealers) and Littletopia, a series 20
Lee Haegee. Looking for Myself. Courtesy Simyo Gallery, Korea.
Elise Ansel. Feast of the Gods, 2013. Oil on Linen. Ellsworth Gallery, Santa Fe.
of galleries – including three from Los Angeles – curated by LA gallerist Greg Escalante with Noah Antican. The fair also engages with non-profit art organizations. In one such noteworthy program, the LA Art Show provides a platform for the work of emerging LA artists through the Los Angeles Art Association. The LAAA is a nonprofit art organization that provides opportunities, resources, services and exhibition venues for emerging Los Angeles artists of all media, with a home base at Gallery 825 in West Hollywood. At the fair, LAAA presents Ping Pong 2017. An independent multi-destination, cross-cultural collaborative exhibition, Ping Pong is designed to cultivate exchange among artists from Basel, Miami and Los Angeles. While it may be more than a year away, the LA Art Show 2018 is already in the planning stages. Looking ahead, next year’s fair will explore the international theme of Africa. 22
2017 WEST COAST ART FAIRS WE’RE WATCHING LOS ANGELES / PALM SPRINGS / SAN FRANCISCO — WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS
Untitled San Francisco January 12-15, 2017 Pier 70 art-untitled.com/san-francisco
JANUARY LA Art Show: Modern / Contemporary January 11-15, 2017 Los Angeles Convention Center laartshow.com
The first edition of Untitled, San Francisco brings a dynamic curated selection of top galleries to the Bay Area, along with the debut of Untitled Monuments, a site specific selection of ambitious large scale works not typically seen in an art fair setting.
The 22nd edition of LA’s annual civic celebration of the visual arts - hosting 90 galleries from more than 18 countries and collaborating with local cultural institutions to celebrate the world class Los Angeles art scene.
Art Los Angeles Contemporary January 26-29, 2017 The Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport artlosangelesfair.com
Photo LA January 12-15, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA photola.com
Now in its 8th year, ALAC is an engaging curated contemporary art fair, presenting top international galleries with a Los Angeles focus in a fun alternative space.
In its 26th edition, Photo LA offers an eclectic showcase of photographic art, ranging from 19th Century works to contemporary and innovative photo-based art. 23
ART FAIRS Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Art Show
stARTup Art Fair LA January 27-29, 2017 Highland Gardens Hotel startupartfair.com
FEBRUARY Art Palm Springs February 16-19, 2017 Palm Springs Convention Center art-palmsprings.com
In its second LA iteration, stARTup is an innovative contemporary art fair designed to provide a direct entrée for emerging independent artists to collectors and the public, in a surprising and fun alternative setting.
Art Palm Springs is an international fair of modern and contemporary art - exhibiting a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, photography and mixed-media work.
PHOTOFAIRS San Francisco January 27-29, 2017 Fort Mason Center photofairs.org/sanfrancisco/
The LA Art Book Fair February 23-26, 2017 The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA laartbookfair.net
PHOTOFAIRS is dedicated to presenting fine art photography and moving image from leading international galleries and their representative artists in leading destinations around the world.
The 5th Annual LA Art Book Fair – organized by Printed Matter, Inc. – shows artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals and zines presented by more than 300 24
EXPO Contemporary Presented by Fabrik April 21-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA fabrikexpo.com
international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists and independent publishers.
APRIL Spring Art Week LA
EXPO Contemporary, presented by Fabrik Magazine, bridges the gap between those who love and collect art and the artists who make it â€” a celebration of art, design, multi-media and performance art in the heart of the Downtown LA Arts District.
LA Festival of Photography April 21-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA laphotofestival.com
The Los Angeles Festival of Photography is an international photographic festival bringing together photographers, curators, students, amateurs and professionals in the industry â€“ geared to encouraging and celebrating the art of photography.
Objects of Art / Los Angeles April 21-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA objectsofartshows.com
Ranging from contemporary to historic and antique to modern, Objects of Art offers a varied selection of paintings, sculpture, furniture, books, fashion, jewelry, textiles, tribal, folk, American Indian, African and Asian art. With more than 70 prestigious galleries and exhibitors, it is truly a showcase of the unique and unexpected.
Photo Independent Art Fair April 21-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown Los Angeles photoindependent.com
Photo Independent is the only international art fair directly bridging the gap between aficionados of photography and those who create it. Championing a new generation of photographers, Photo Independent is quickly becoming one of the most significant annual photographic events in the United States.
CURATORIAL ASSISTANCE EXHIBITIONS & ART SERVICES
FEBRUARY 16-19, 2017
Cheryl Ann Thomas, William Siegal Gallery
Palm Springs Convention Center Opening Night Preview Thursday February 16
Photographer applications are now being accepted. PHOTO: CASSANDRA Â© E.F. KITCHEN. 2016 EXHIBITOR.
April 21-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA photoindependent.com
LA SNAPSHOT OF MIAMI ART WEEK NOVEMBER 29 TO DECEMBER 4, 2016
WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS
In the solar system of more than 20 concurrent art fairs, events and parties of Miami Art Week, Art Basel was the Sun around which everything revolved. The august international fair set the stage within the expected formality of the Miami Convention Center venue and a preponderance of blue chip galleries, as well as the emergence of some welcome and unexpected political themes. Predictably, a number of the 193 participating galleries highlighted renowned art stars like Damien Hirst and Julian Schnabel. 30
Art Basel in Miami Beach 2016. Courtesy Art Basel.
Zio Ziegler. OCHI Gallery Installation View at the Untitled Art Fair, Miami Beach 2016.
Adding to the mix, were works like Mel Bochner’s eye-catching and amusing text-based painting Indifference which was prominently mounted in the booth of Marc Selwyn Fine Art, for the Beverly Hills gallery’s Art Basel debut. At the same time, several representative LA galleries showed a cadre of exciting local artists, such as Elliot Hundley, whose stunning large-scale multi-media collage Revolutionary Song, was showcased in the Regen Projects booth. Less predictable was the emergence of a resounding political and socially conscious theme, whether by coincidence or design, prevailing throughout Art Basel. On entering, it was impossible to miss Sam Durant’s bold and cautionary electric sign with black vinyl text, “End White Supremacy” popping from a red background. Prominently mounted on the outside wall of Blum & Poe’s booth, the piece (edition 1 of 3), circa 2008, had gained renewed relevance post-election, at the dawning of a new era when the alt-right has moved from the fringes into the mainstream. Angelenos will have a chance to view edition 3 of 3 of the Durant piece – which is part of the Hammer Museum’s contemporary collection – when the museum re-opens in its newly expanded space in early 2017. Most striking as a cultural undercurrent throughout the exhibit hall, was a significant showing of major pieces by prominent and mid-career contemporary African American artists: Stephen Friedman Gallery showed Kehinde Wiley’s Equestrian Portrait of Isabella of Bourbon (2016) a dramatic large-scale painting of an African American female figure on a horse, re-contextualizing the 1635 Diego Velazquez classic. The inventive painting and mixed media figurative work of New York artist Derrick Adams cropped up repeatedly – at Tilton Gallery, as well as being featured in the Art Basel Miami special curated exhibition Kabinett. New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery showed pieces by Kerry James Marshall, Nick Cave and Barclay L. Hendricks, while Blum and Poe restaged a small section of the marvelous street scene from Henry Taylor’s installation at the Culver City gallery last fall. Particularly timely and poignantly relevant was an exquisite photo-realistic portrait of Barack Obama by Karl Haendel: Unfinished Obama (mirrored) (2016) (pencil on paper) at the Wentrup booth, in which the outgoing president is portrayed gazing down with an expression of deep concern. The inadvertent African American theme breathed life into Art Basel while injecting an optimistic note, seeming to suggest that artistic freedom transcends political agendas. With a vibe somewhat comparable to Art Los Angeles Contemporary, (ALAC) (coming up at Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hangar, January 26-29), Untitled Miami is set up in an alternate venue – an airy structure with a wall of glass windows and doors opening onto Miami Beach, with the Atlantic surf in the background. Also 32
Elliott Hundley. Revolutionary Song, 2016. Paper, oil, pins, plastic, glass, lotus pods, metal, foaming linen on panel, 96.25 x 80.25 x 9 inches at Regen Projects, Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. Photo: Megan Abrahams.
Barkley L. Hendricks. Buck. Circa 1970. Oil on canvas. 47 1/2 inches in diameter, at Jack Shainman Gallery, Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. Photo: Megan Abrahams.
Klowden Mann Installation View at Untitled Art Fair, Miami Beach 2016.
Sam Durant. End White Supremacy, 2016. Edition 3 of 3. 2008, Electric signs with vinyl text, 96 x 136 inches, at Blum & Poe, Art Basel. Miami Photo: Megan Abrahams.
Zak OvĂŠ. From The Invisible Men Series. Cast Resin and Fiberglass. 127 x 32 x 18 cm. Modern Forms, Untitled Art Fair, Miami Beach 2016. Photo: Megan Abrahams.
about to debut in San Francisco, Untitled is an international curated art fair with an engaging selection of galleries, non-profit organizations and artist-run booths. Among participating LA galleries were Shulamit Nazarian, Wilding Cran, Ochi Projects, Luis de Jesus, Diane Rosenstein, Cirrus Gallery and Cirrus Editions, Steve Turner and Klowden Mann. It was the second year for Ochi Projects, and the Culver City gallery will also be participating in Untitled San Francisco. Gallerist Pauli Ochi reported that the Miami fair was a great success for Ochi Projects. “We were a bit bold this year and brought a large installation of several eight-foot tall paintings by Zio Ziegler, which was very well received. The Untitled team does a wonderful job and I’m looking forward to showing Los Angeles based artists Rives Granade, Molly Larkey and Brian Wills at the inaugural Untitled SF,” Ochi said. As if echoing Art Basel’s African / African American undercurrent, one of the standout booths at Untitled was that of London-based Modern Forms, which showed sculptures from Zak Ové’s Invisible Man series. These seven-foot tall figures are based on an ebony African statue the artist’s father gave him in the 1970s. Also featured was an installation of Ové’s inventive collage “paintings” composed of found vintage crocheted doilies with superimposed metal faucets. Down the beach, the Scope Fair, with a focus on emerging galleries and artists, presented an engaging selection of 125 exhibitors from 22 countries, and included LA presences like BG Gallery, Duncan Miller and MRG Fine Art. Appropriate to the emerging artists theme, Scope is characterized by a viewer friendly, high-energy buzz. Featured among the gallery booths, the Bombay Sapphire Artisan series is one of the sponsored outreach campaigns of Miami Art Week. A collaboration with Russell and Danny Simmons’ Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, the project offers national exposure to unrepresented artists. The Bombay Sapphire party, one of numerous hosted events during Art Week, was held on the top level of a Miami parking structure, with a dazzling view of the lights of the city below. Partygoers got a preview of work by some of the featured emerging artists while being bathed in the glow of Bombay gin blue strobes. Pop-ups all over the city rode the tide of Art Basel, such as an exhibit by Culver City’s Fabien Castanier Gallery in the Wynwood Arts District featuring a coterie of the gallery’s urban contemporary artists, including LA-based Andrew Schoultz (continuing through January). Much more off the beaten path – at Marina Blue on Biscayne Boulevard – “Neo-Global: A House for Mr. Biswas” offered another perspective on the Miami art scene. The intriguing curated mini-fair reflecting a selection of work by Caribbean artists added to the overall smorgasbord of flavors that is Miami Art Week. 37
CHANNELLING • MIXED MEDIA (ACRYLIC, METALLIC PAINT, VELLUM ON WOOD PANEL) • 33” X 33”
Artist applications are now being accepted.
EXPO CONTEM PORARY April 21-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA fabrikexpo.com
EXPO Contemporary, presented by Fabrik Magazine, bridges the gap between those who love and collect art, and the artists who make it â€” a celebration of art, design, multi-media and performance art in downtown LAâ€™s Arts District.
CURATORIAL ASSISTANCE EXHIBITIONS & ART SERVICES
APRIL 21 - 23, 2017 THE REEF 1933 S BROADWAY, LOS ANGELES, CA 90007
WORDS PHIL TARLEY IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Donn Delson. Hidden Treasures.
The Aerial Abstracts of Donn Delson
Donn Delson grew up in Ohio. His father was an aeronautical engineer, which perhaps explains the son’s fascination with aerial photography. Delson’s drive to travel the world, shooting potent abstracted images, comes from his strong entrepreneurial background. Reflecting on how his life story influences his art-making, Delson said, “The best investment you can make is in yourself. Being an artist is my major form of self-actualization.” Back in his school days, the artist-photographer recalled reading Once and Future King, a historical fiction about King Arthur. “In the book, Merlin turns a boy— the future king—into an eagle, so that the boy could realize the oneness of the earth and all its inhabitants. He wanted the boy-king to see that the fences and borders that exist on the ground disappear completely in the overview. The experience of flying in a helicopter above the world erases those artificial boundaries.” 45
Donn Delson. On the Town.
Delson’s vertiginous aerial photography is music to the eyes. In Xylophone, what seem like tones on percussive plates, whimsically line themselves up for inspection. Emerging from abstraction, the work reveals itself to be keyboard rows of multi-colored storage units trucking across the image, a photo shot from a helicopter 3,000 feet above the earth. Delson’s unique perspective gives him an indelible, omnipotent point of view. Some of the best photographers are painters or cognoscenti of painting. Delson takes leaps of creative inspiration from Paul Klee and Piet Mondrian. On the Town is a luminous homage to Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie. Its grid of city streets, chock-a-block with glossy New York taxicabs, was indeed shot while the artist was flying directly above Broadway. It evokes Delson’s highly energetic entrancement with aerials. The artist elaborated on his fascination with modernist painters: “I try to realize a Mondrian-like perspective in my aerial photography. I am creatively liberated when I am up in the air—no doors, no windows—just flying above the world.” Delson looks at abstract images on a flat plane because they have vibrancy, rhythm and a life we don’t usually see. The photographer mused, “Broadway Boogie Woogie speaks to me of big city, energy and urban vitality.” Delson’s Double Vision is steeped in the work of Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella and Ad Reinhardt, who famously quipped: “Art is Art. Everything else is everything else.” Delson knows exactly where the art is and points his helicopter directly at it. In this dreamy photograph, pictorialization dances a pas de deux with a painterly partner to present a reality that is graphic, minimalist and full of movement. Here, the artist creates a meta-reality. Soccer players on a field are depicted not as people but as long dark shadows that act as stand-ins for the players. These shadows become more real than the actual men on the field. Again, the soft musicality in the image offers up a chimerical and sub-textual leitmotif. Whether of train stations, storage units or shipping containers, the artist’s images convert humanity’s vast and overwhelming excess into totems of manufactured production. While the photographs sing harmoniously, the deliberate, abstracted delaying of the viewer’s understanding of the subject matter provokes a re-engagement with the prevailing themes of modernity. Delson makes art in a big way. A high-resolution Sony camera, an enormous passion for travel, and state-of-the-art large format photographic printing and finishing, allows him to make meaningful artworks with extraordinary production values. He is also contemplating creating prints on a scale of eight by twelve feet, to be mounted under plexiglass. His highly dramatic aerials are so 48
Donn Delson. Double Vision.
Donn Delson. Xylophones.
Donn Delson. Training Ground.
Donn Delson. Building Blocks.
voluptuously detailed, they seem to transport the viewer, as if taken along for the ride to share the view outside the photographer’s helicopter window. Building Blocks, shot over Stuyvesant Town on the east side of New York City, is not so much deconstructed as re-ordered in engrossing symmetry. Its architecture is an ode to classic French and Italian Renaissance gardens, like at the Palace of Versailles. These environs, with their fountains, plantings and buildings, were designed to represent unanimity and order, to invoke the ideals of the Renaissance and to recall the virtues of Ancient Rome. In the same classical vein, Delson’s photographs present the world in peace and tranquility. The artist methodizes his realm of the Renaissance, so that all the elements in his compositions are in graceful, congruent agreement. His images evoke balance and a sublime visual concordance. They fly us into the sky to observe the measured and majestic earth below, and to share the wizard Merlin’s magical perspective. Donn Delson’s photographs will be featured in an exhibit opening at TAG Gallery in March 2017. 54
JACQUELINE LEVINE Represented by Fabrik Media
For inquiries regarding art or commissions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Nolan Preece. Afternoon, 2016. Chemigram, 16” x 24”.
WORDS PHIL TARLEY IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTISTS
Mixed Media Experimental Photography
KAETHE KAUFFMAN AND NOLAN PREECE
Kaethe Kauffman Meditation 2 Iron Bars «
Although totally unknown to each other, two pertinacious Nevada artists—Kaethe Kauffman in Las Vegas and Nolan Preece in Reno— will soon have their photography featured together in Los Angeles. The two artists each distill a clarity of vision that is metaphoric and, at times, hauntingly nuanced with spirituality. A practicing Buddhist, Kauffman creates original figures of contemplation. Preece’s work is steeped in primeval naturalism, and includes protests against the ecological depredation of our environment. 61
Kaethe Kauffman. Meditation 2 & Shadows.
Kaethe Kauffman. Meditation Oblique Red.
Kaethe Kauffman. Meditation Oblique Dark.
Kaethe Kauffman. Surrender Meditation.
Kaethe Kauffman. Canelle Quad.
Kauffman holds a PhD in Art History from Union Graduate School in Cincinnati, Ohio. After many years teaching art at Honolulu’s Chaminade University, she now spends most of her time in her Las Vegas studio. Her work dwells at the intersection of the physical and the spiritual, at the confluence of the transcendental. Kauffman’s creative practice itself is devotional, enhancing her meditations, personal reflections and reveries. Profoundly introspective, the artist explains, “Religious art glorifies the sacred experience. My imprint is personal and through my process, it is my inner world which is revealed for all to see.” Kauffman begins by drawing, sometimes adding collage which is photographed or scanned, re-collaged, then re-photographed and digitally printed with archival pigments and papers. This repetition produces the final substrate, which the artist hand-embellishes to complete each piece. Many of Kauffman’s subjects celebrate the world they inhabit with a vivid polychromatic palette. Forces of unity and peace fill the cosmology of her figures; her use of Buddhist tropes conjoin inner and outer lives. This duality of mind and spirit, the positive and the negative, the abstract and the concrete, is a leitmotif of her work depicting the inner self and its doppelganger. In Canelle Quad and Meditation Oblique Red, four personalities—or states of being—blaze joyously in their resplendent colors. Kauffman’s work languidly entices us to share her various states of consciousness, welcoming the viewer deep inside the emotional, spiritual and intellectual layers of her pieces. Her artworks ultimately become fantasies that shimmer with divine reverence. Preece is an experimental photographer who creates images without lens or camera, by painting various chemicals onto light-sensitive silver halide paper. After they are fixed and dry, the images are scanned by the artist into high-resolution files, which he uses to make prints, the biggest of which measures 44 by 54 inches. The artist came to this continually evolving process through his own experimentation in the early 1980s, calling his new invention, the “chemigram.” In the 1950s, Pierre Cordier, who was unknown to Preece at the time, had developed a similar process. The fascinating results of this technique are a combination of inspired painting and photographic realization. Both luminous and numinous, Preece’s chemigrams confound the mind and delight the eye. A long-time professor of photography at Truckee Meadow Community College, Preece now works full time at his Reno studio. At Forest’s Edge, like many of the artist’s chemigrams, is a sensuous imaging that recalls the sublime,
Kaethe Kauffman. First Meditation Angled Black.
Nolan Preece. High Tide, 2016. Chemigram, 16” x 20”.
Nolan Preece. Climate Change Hummingbird Trap, 2012. Chemigram Hybrid, 16” x 20”.
Nolan Preece. At Forest’s Edge, 2016. Chemigram, 16” x 20”.
Nolan Preece. Marbled Canyon, 2016. Chemigram, 20” x 16”.
Nolan Preece. Big Oil Meets with the Big Fracking Deal, 2013. Chemigram Hybrid, 20” x 16”.
Nolan Preece. Chemical Tiffany #2, 2016. Chemigram, 16” x 20”.
mystical nature of primordial forests, lakes and rivers. The work is seductive and phantasmagorical. Employing lushly swirled brushstrokes of chemicals to anoint his light-sensitive papers, the artist references the cliché-verre photograms of early-19th century French painters. Preece’s contemplations on the bonds of nature are filled with viscous resists and gullies of washes that draw one back into that painterly epoch. The artist’s oeuvre includes works that are dystopian and post-apocalyptic. These pieces highlight the artist’s growing concern about the politics of ecology, global warming and the menace of fossil fuels. Big Oil Finds Its Page in Time, Chemical Climate Forcing, and Chemigram with Disappearing Oil Refinery are but three works that decry the massive machinery of oil pumps and refineries savaging the landscape. The destruction depicted is brutal: sinister machinery rips at the soft horizontals of the landscape, while unknown chemicals dissolve the vegetation, effecting an eradication of the earth’s geo-morphology. These chemigrams express a mournfulness while giving a hard slap of protest to those devastating the ecology of the planet. Preece, who is married to a research ecologist said, “I’ve been concerned about the destruction of the environment for many years. My first chemigrams, made in the early 1980s, had an emphasis on our physical surroundings—our earth, our waterways. I document and fight for the environment.” Kauffman and Preece take two different approaches to the spiritual: Hers, an interior meditation; his, odes to the outside world and the beauty of nature. Ultimately, these two artist-photographers blur the painterly and photographic in highly imaginative ways. Both combine elements of painting, photography, drawing and digital reimaging. Their mastery of technique synthesizes a mystical, almost alchemical methodology into a potent, velvety, poetic presentation of images that lifts the soul. Their work will be shown together in an exhibit at The Loft at Liz’s in February, 2017.
A MUSEUM OF (AND IN) PROCESS: THE MAIN MUSEUM OF LOS ANGELES ART AND BETA MAIN —
WORDS APARNA BAKHLE
As the new Main Museum of Los Angeles takes shape, Holland Cotter’s words in Towards A Museum of the 21st Century come to mind: “The new museum won’t be defined by architectural glamour or by a market-vetted collection, though it may have these. Structurally porous and perpetually in progress, it will be defined by its own role as a shaper of values, and by the broad audience it attracts.” The Main Museum, scheduled for completion in 2020, and opening in phases until then, will eventually re-purpose three historic buildings—the Hellman Building, the Farmers & Merchants Bank and the Bankhouse Garage—in the Historic Bank District of DTLA. 80
Manifesto Installation at Beta Main. (See full Manifesto at the end of this story).
The project, led by local architect and SCI-ARC professor Tom Wiscombe for Old Bank District developer Tom Gilmore and partner Jerri Perrone (both founding benefactors of the museum) is part adaptive re-use, part new construction, and intends to capitalize on the tension that often arises between historical and contemporary architecture. This ambitious addition to LA’s historic core, designed to resurrect the latent as well as lost three-dimensional space that weaves through these buildings, will take an unorthodox form: it will holistically eschew iconicity for nuance by featuring a residency program at its center rather than a collection. The Main, situating local artists prominently, and supporting their continued engagement within the evolving Los Angeles landscape(s), advances a unique proposition when compared with many newer art museums and high-end galleries jostling to define the downtown art scene. Its mission and fluid ability to respond materially to artists’ contemporary needs, primarily with space to live/create/work/exhibit, contain potential for subversion and change. Art in the Main will emphasize the questioning of preconceived notions of art’s role in culture and its relationship to a specific form or medium. During the Main’s elaborate build-out, the ground floor of the 1907 Hellman Building on 114 West 4th Street houses Beta Main, a test site operating in tandem with the development of the rest of the museum. For its inaugural exhibition, Beta Main commissioned Performance Lessons: Suzanne Lacy Teaches Andrea Bowers Performance Art. Performance Lessons follows the two artists’ durational installation at The Drawing Center in New York in 2014, where Bowers taught Lacy how to draw. Using the practice Lacy was foundational in forming, roles were reversed. This time, Lacy taught Bowers how to do performance art. For ten days (October 30- November 8, 2016), the pair lived at Beta Main while Bowers was assigned lessons, developed performances and undertook the formal critique process art students endure as part of their education. Incorporating how social practice and avant-garde performance art emphasize intimacy, immersion and the experiential, the artists’ project explored the history of performance art in California from 1968 to 1980. Lessons, as well as several instructive panels featuring guest artists, were all free and open to the public. The result, rigorous yet experiential, was a deliberation of collaboration, art-making as a woman, the politics of female friendship and performance as activism, all gracefully brought together into a series of multi-generational consciousness-raising sessions. During these choreographed happenings in 2016, the museum’s director, Allison Agsten, showed a singular responsiveness to the artists in residence, 82
Rendering of restaurant cantilevered over main by Tom Wiscombe Architecture.
Rendering of rooftop sculpture garden and cafe by Tom Wiscombe Architecture.
their friends and colleagues, as well as guests. Agsten’s well-honed sensitivity to Los Angeles artists and their practices had evolved in her previous role as curator of public engagement at the Hammer Museum, where she led a pioneering program devoted to creating an exchange between visitors and the museum through works of art. Agsten also oversaw the museum’s artist board, initiated the Hammer’s visitor services department, and organized a major offsite partnership with Art + Practice, an art and social services non-profit organization in south L.A. Previously, Agsten was director of communications at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Now, Agsten’s grounded commitment to matters of accessibility around contemporary art expands daily through her role in conceptualizing and birthing what will one day be a sprawling museum complex. Other artists’ residencies scheduled include the Boyle Heights-based photographer Star Montana and conceptual artist Sid M. Dueñas. In further efforts to build community at this nascent stage, from Tuesday, November 29 to Wednesday, December 7, Agsten held Office Hours at which local artists were
Suzanne Lacy and Andrea Bowers during Performance Lessons. Photo: Nicola Goode
invited to meet with her one-on-one and present their artwork. Some pieces were set up in the Beta Main space as Office Hours on View ran from December 8 to 18, 2016. As Asgten explained, Office Hours offered an opportunity for exchange with the community, and to get to know one another on a very personal basis. “At the culmination, I’ve invited all of the artists to meet for a reception to expand their own networks and to see their art hung together,” she said. “The immediacy of these one-on-one meetings in the space has been energizing and will directly impact the work we do at The Main. I’m meeting artists with whom I might not have come in contact otherwise, and as always with artists, they are teaching me new things about the world and about this community.” For more information, visit mainmuseum.org
MAIN MUSEUM MANIFESTO We entered this project together to explore the aesthetic and politic implications of our personal relationship. The work frames the transfer of knowledge between women as an act of resistance. Two women, two generations: our lives and work are shaped by unwavering commitment to justice, which encompasses not only women, but all those oppressed by the powerful. The mythologies underlying misogyny were in full evidence in the months and days leading up to the historic election on November 8, 2016 and in the subsequent results. This project embodies some ideas of performance art as it developed in downtown Los Angeles during the socially turbulent 70s, where identity, body, and politics mixed. Among many who attended our conversations, we discovered a desire for community that celebrates intergenerational relationships between women as a political necessity. In this moment of peril for our country, we are committed to relationships that honor differences and build alliances. Art has never been more urgent because our liberation is bound together.
Nancy R. Wise
PILLARS OF LIGHT • 45” X 54” • ACRYLIC ON CANVAS
Showcasing at The Los Angeles Art Show stARTup Fair LA
INSIDE WEHO ARTS: CITY AS CULTURAL CURATOR —
WORDS EVA RECINOS IMAGES COURTESY OF WEHO ARTS
In Los Angeles, plenty of openings, public art projects and performances pop up from weekend to weekend, ensuring that culture vultures never go hungry for too long. But the City of West Hollywood is particularly ambitious in organizing cultural projects for Angelenos to enjoy. WeHo Arts involves the combined efforts of the City’s Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission and Arts Division, featuring events related to film, music, arts, theater and more. The Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission dates back to 1987, with the mission to “promote and nurture the arts and cultural life of the City of West Hollywood.” 88
Art duo YoMeryl (Bronwyn Lundberg and Sarah Zucker). The Kicks of Route 66.
HACER. The Chase.
Today, its programming includes an extensive list of pieces. For instance, two site-specific digital billboards by Alison O’Daniel and Basma Alsahrif (at 9039 Sunset Blvd. and 8410 Sunset Blvd, respectively) were on display until the end of 2016. At the West Hollywood library, visitors can learn more about the Sunset Strip riots in an exhibition entitled, There’s Something Happening Here… On the Sunset Strip 1966 (a riff on Stephen Stills’ song For What It’s Worth) on view until May 3. In his trademark origami style, sculptor HACER created The Chase, a series of four pieces which were on view through December 2016, starting at Santa Monica Boulevard and Doheny Drive. The list goes on. “Writers such as Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Parker had called West Hollywood home, as have countless actors, filmmakers, musicians, artists who either lived in West Hollywood or played here,” said Andrew Campbell, Arts Manager of the City of West Hollywood. “It was something of a bohemian enclave that abutted working class housing and bumped up against Beverly Hills to the west and the Hollywood Hills to the north. There has historically been a great creative energy in this 1.9 square mile area.” Efforts like WeHo Arts, Campbell explains, were created in order to preserve this cultural legacy and encourage further experimentation. To that end, WeHo Arts includes a wide range of art expression, from public art installations to performances. Earlier this year, Brazilian artist Manuel Lima lived inside a “cube on the Sunset Strip for 10 days and over that period composed a new work which was influenced by the sounds of the location as well as random radio excerpts that inspired his piano improvisations.” It’s not every day that city employees encourage someone to live in its streets for the sake of art. But Campbell emphasizes that the programming is meant to encourage all sorts of artistic output, even while maintaining a “small town atmosphere with music, art and theater.” Yet Los Angeles as a whole definitely isn’t a small town and WeHo Arts does include some large pieces. Art duo YoMeryl (Bronwyn Lundberg and Sarah Zucker) created a 32-panel mural called, The Kicks of Route 66 measuring seven by 684 feet. The mural, which runs along Santa Monica Boulevard, features local landmarks such as Barney’s Beanery, and is a nod to the Chuck Berry song, Route 66. “We were thinking about Route 66 as this unifying icon of classic Americana,” said Zucker. “The song, ‘Get your Kicks (on Route 66)’ came to 92
Henry Diltz. Joni Mitchell. From the exhibition, “There’s Something Happening Here… On the Sunset Strip 1966” at the West Hollywood Library.
Henry Diltz. Crosby, Stills and Nash. From the exhibition, “There’s Something Happening Here… On the Sunset Strip 1966” at the West Hollywood Library.
Shepard Fairey Peace Elephant, 2011 West Hollywood Public Library
mind, and we thought of using shoes, or “kicks” as a means of both referencing the song and conveying people from every walk of life who’ve traveled on the ‘Mother Road.’” Both artists hope that viewers will follow the mural for the whole distance. “We’d love for people to walk the entire perimeter of the fence to get the full story, as it starts in Chicago on Crescent Heights, stretches from the California desert to the Santa Monica Pier on Santa Monica Boulevard, and then continues on a rainbow road over the ocean on Hayvenhurst,” said Zucker. “There are lots of fantastic Easter eggs and homages to Route 66 landmarks, and at seven-feet-tall, the mural works well as a backdrop for photos!” And the projects just keep coming. While some events are set in stone, ideas still come to the group “on an almost daily basis.” WeHo has its pick of a range of Los Angeles artists and collectives. Some have already participated, and the door remains open for other artists to present their work. “Currently, we have a pretty open proposal process for artists or organizations interested in presenting projects, as well as a grant program that supports the work of nonprofit arts organizations that would like to present or perform in the City,” said Campbell. “While it is challenging to assess all these ideas, it has also provided us with the opportunity to work with so many wonderful artists, curators and organizations.”
FRESH FACES IN ART
ARTISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW BY ARTRA CURATORIAL: MAX PRESNEILL (MP), KIO GRIFFITH (KG) & COLTON STENKE (CS)
RICHARD ANKROM With his hugely successful first forays into public art and social practice, Richard Ankrom’s freeway sign project, Guerrilla Public Service, ushered in his unique form of political and social critique which both mocks and interrogates with an acidic positioning of humorous disdain for societal dysfunction and plots class warfare. Using historical research, he creates works which combine technology and honed craft skills to make deliberate and direct social commentary. Ankron’s projects have addressed the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, the historical battle sites in California between Mexican and American forces and forms of visual propaganda used by the government, among others. Riffing on the ready-mades of Duchamp, the kitsch of Koons and the uneasy sexual currents of McCarthy, Ankrom’s figurine series tears into consumer society and the nostalgic saccharine of American Utopianism with a humorous but contemptuous abandon. Ideas of freedom, control and suppression are the subtext here. Again, it is the political landscape which configures the reading of Ankrom’s work. In addition, Manifest Destiny, his series of flags placed subversively in public spaces without permission, acts as another call to self awareness vis-à-vis how we are represented and the way our voices are appropriated by systems of power to enact violations of human dignity, while highlighting our Imperial tendencies. His work includes sculpture, video, signs, actions, paintings and more—all geared toward a sense of outrage that fuels his practice. Now, more than ever, his work has moved into a position of exceptional relevance with its focus on the relationship between government, history, language, suppression and human rights. (MP)
Richard Ankrom Cindy Bust
FRESH FACES IN ART
JANE MULFINGER A double, if not, multiple sensory phenomenon is the way humans interact with the external world by negotiating our internal desires within the game of what we know. Jane Mulfinger archives human artifacts and engages the public in conceptual and perceptual reflections on the significances of specific human behavior. Used clothes, tools, household goods and novelties transform into mesmerizing insights explored by leveraging these objects beyond their factual properties. In Lost For Words, the engraved fragments of musical scoring and Morse coding wall-projected through second-hand spectacles play upon the paradox of vision, reading and memory. Her Mobile Apparition Series features perambulatory hand-propelled units manifesting the slow angelic movement of feathers interacting within the fast movements of a city center, providing possible moments of awe and visual enlightenment. The sensational potential in what is overlooked, embodied and normalized in our human understanding of objects can trigger the most compelling transformation. (KG)
(Opposite) Jane Mulfinger Common Know
(Above) Jane Mulfinger Exacting Hasselblad Installation
FRESH FACES IN ART
RONALD PRICE In the documentarian work of Ronald Price, AKA Dingo, we are confronted with the exploration of masculinity, specifically black masculinity, as defined through the lens of a contemporary history of black outlaw motorcycle clubs and their roots within a black Western cowboy tradition. Seeing both sub-cultures as intrinsic to the growth and self-reflection of the American psyche but ignored by the culture at large, Price charts the link between both and researches the untold tales of the MC lifestyle. With a background in Hollywood, as well as an active membership in the Chosen Few Motorcycle Club (a multi-racial MC), Price re-narrates lost and hidden aspects of marginalized black history as a critique of racism and invisibility. Something of a beacon of hope for young black men, through the potential shown by those who have blazed trails before them, Price’s work focuses on positive role models and ideals. Part propaganda, part history lesson, his work invests the artist into the scenarioas a reflected subject while also maintaining a pivotal location as distanced investigator. Interviews with infamous Hells Angel Sonny Barger, iconic “Easy Rider” Dennis Hopper and other illustrious biker alumni set the stage in Price’s fulllength film, “Free Black Horse,” which traces these cyclists from their earliest hedonistic days of wild freedom on steel horses and the rising Civil Rights movement, through the drug addled epidemic that decimated inner city communities in the ’80s, to today’s younger sets of participants of all colors as they continue the rare experiment in multi-racial MC life, its brotherhood, rivalries and legacy. A strong sense of the constituent parts of this layered stratum of a male society and its bonds, mythologies and abuses are investigated through photographic mise-en-scène and the documentary film format, as well as through handcrafted functional objects related to the biker experience. The independence of Price’s ‘maker’ approach echoes those modes of Americanism that the work explores—rugged individuality, self-reliance, honor and integrity—and are all reflected through the construction of the stereotypes, self-imaging, wish fulfillment and social codes of these groups. Unlike Hunter S. Thompson’s foray into Hells Angel culture, Price has committed to a lifestyle that he then explores from the inside. A search for identity, a search for freedom…(MP)
(Top) Ronald Price Dennis Hopper
(Bottom) Ronald Price Last Ride
FRESH FACES IN ART
MUTANT SALON Transformative self-care is the world-making operative at Mutant Salon, a phantasmagorical beauty salon comprised of the mercurial interactions of Young Joon Kwak, Marvin Astorga and Alli Miller. Birthed as a platform for experimental performance and beautification, the community of LGBTQ POC, womyn and mutants offer haircuts, psychic readings, makeup, nails, tattoos and other metamorphosing services to engage the audience with new aesthetic experiences and makeover extravaganza. Performers of ambiguous gender, crazed in a hot mess of excessive makeup, wigs and lingerie, writhe, thrust and pound to the parodies of 1980s aerobic videos. In its grotesque and immersive exploration of beauty, Mutant Salon creates the space to celebrate an ethos of change and critical togetherness. (KG)
PERFORMANCE 2016: MINING THE PAST TO CHANGE THE FUTURE —
WORDS JACKI APPLE
In 2016 – at a time when American politics and media culture sank to an all-time low—where could a thinking person go to find respite from the deafening toxic assault on both reason and sensibility? Certainly not to the pandering media that fueled this degrading spectacle. Where could one go to find insight into the human condition—even a small beam of illumination on how we have arrived at this place, let alone a redeeming vision of an alternative way of being? Where could one look when language failed us? 2016 might go down as the year in which so-called real life became a perverted form of bad performance art, and many had their 15 minutes of infamy. 104
The Four Larksâ€™ The Temptation of St. Antony. Photo: Four Larks
Fortunately, hope was to be found in a surprising number of new performance works incorporating dance and music, with a focus on the live performer unadorned by flashy technology and its illusory environments. These distinctly different productions had one additional common thread. Each drew upon historical works as source and offered a contemporary interpretation that casts a different light on the turmoil and uncertainties of a world in upheaval. The most unexpected of these was an entirely new version of The Temptation of St. Antony created by the Four Larks, a young theater collective led by creative director and composer Mat Diafos-Sweeney and artist Sebastian Peters-Lazaro. The saga of the third century Christian Egyptian monk’s struggle to resist the temptation of the seven deadly sins during his sojourn in a cavern in the desert has long been fodder for art and literature. Most notable is Gustave Flaubert’s poetic tome written in the form of a play script begun in 1849, the final version published in 1874. While this text provided the foundation for the Four Larks production, Diafos-Sweeney’s intertextual version offered a dialectic between the biblical narrative, the writer – both the 19th century author and his contemporary counterpart – and a 21st century deconstructing critic. Thus, the dilemma of the pious monk in resisting the temptations of material and sensual pleasures becomes the struggle of the artist against the enticements of commercialism and fame. The question of what one is to believe in, and if anything can be “believed”, are the existential problems of this time. Are virtue and worldly success incompatible? Has language itself become unreliable in the age of the Internet? The Four Larks’ St. Antony stood in sharp contrast to the hellishly black 1988 Wooster Group’s Frank Dell’s The Temptation of St. Antony in which flesh and spirit grappled with itself in a dark night. Channeled through the delusional yet brilliant drug-soaked brain of a profane Lenny Bruce (who had used the pseudonym Frank Dell) the quest for spiritual “truth” played itself out in the underbelly of a depraved and decadent cultural body. In 2016, the new dialectic became the question of knowledge contained in books versus the white noise of information in the digital domain, signified here by bodily material evidence versus the illusiveness of the disembodied spirit. The brilliance of this postmodern opera is how this version of the text is staged visually and performed musically, including some glorious singing throughout by Esther Hannaford and chorus. The 12 performers, six of whom
The Four Larks’ The Temptation of St. Antony. Photo: Four Larks
are also the musicians, were all clad in white on a white set constructed of stacks of books, obsolete technology and old furniture. In the center, the Hermit (Antony)/Writer (Flaubert & his present-day counterpart) pounded away at a manual typewriter, reciting the texts and confronting his inner demons, which include boredom and isolation, desire and doubt about the virtue of suffering. As played by Max Baumgarten, Antony seesaws between frenetic obsession, melodrama, unexpected humor and youthful angst reflective of both Flaubert’s temperament, and current millennial anxieties. Flaubert, who began this work in his 20s, was rigorous in his intellectual pursuits, while his sexual proclivities led to lifelong venereal diseases. Antony’s protagonists come in the form of singing and dancing seducers bearing banquets of food and drink, tossing coins. They include the Queen of Sheba, Nebuchadnezzar, and Bacchus among others. The second half began like a screenplay pitch session that evolves into a philosophical debate between science and logic, and religious doctrine. “All is nothing,” posited Sophia (goddess
of Wisdom) in her contemporary “academic” guise. But Antony wanted to see the Lord’s face. She presented him with a hilarious parade including a dancing man-God with a fish head, another with a three-faced goat head (Father/Son/ Holy Spirit), the Egyptian Goddess Isis, Diana the huntress with megaphone, the Devil — God of the Flesh. Finally the computer voice of Siri, our contemporary goddess of information, spoke. “It is all in your mind,” we were informed at the end, as masses of paper fell from above leaving the nature of Truth, purpose and meaning up in the air. But not without the possibility of future questions and answers, and a disarming sense of optimism about what artists can do with inventiveness as their primary resource. In d’après une histoire vraie, a contemporary dance performance with an illuminating perspective on the human condition, French choreographer Christian Rizzo drew his inspiration from kinetic rather than textual historical material. Rizzo had a transformative experience in 2004 that changed the course of his work. He sought to understand why a group of Turkish men performing folk dances had had such a profound impact on him, the memory of which resonates to this day. His response is a work that explores something we rarely, if ever, see in this age of identity politics – masculine bonds of friendship, affection and brotherhood – love without sexual overtones. Performed by eight European men to the music of drummer-composers Didier Ambact and King Q4 accompanying them on stage, the piece expresses a deep sense of male camaraderie. Guided by ritual forms drawn from cultural traditions, Rizzo transformed them into contemporary models of possibility other than the stereotypical ones of war and sports. Performers paired up, grouped in circles and lines, came apart and re-grouped in complex repeating patterns of theme and variation. Hands clasped behind backs, arms around each other’s shoulders, or spinning out, they were propelled by the rhythm of the drumming, a fusion of tribal exuberance and rock energy. The music was hypnotic, the dancing exhilarating, the movement precise, clean, sharp, yet emotive, ranging from joyousness in shared communion, to tenderness in duets, and solemnity in aloneness. When one fell as if expired, his comrades revived him, bringing him back into the circle. With sources as varied as traditional men’s folk dances and the minimalism of Lucinda Childs and Laura Dean’s spinning dancers, Rizzo has created a passionate and insightful work very much his own. There were no projections, no electronic computer-based music, no costumes. Just the unmediated shared 108
Christian Rizzo’s d’après une histoire vraie. Photo: Stephen Wright
Christian Rizzo’s d’après une histoire vraie. Photo: Marc Domage
experience of barefoot, shaggy haired men in black pants and T-shirts dancing together to the driving rhythms and energy of live music. In d’après une histoire vraie, Rizzo and his company presented something rarely seen in American culture – a loving and compassionate celebration of masculine brotherhood without any implication of homosexuality, exaggerated machismo or adolescent buffoonery. It was as intensely moving and memorable as Rizzo’s own initial experience. (The complete version of this review which includes Takao Kawaguchi About Kazuo Ohno–Reliving The Butoh Diva’s Masterpieces, Robert Wilson/ Mikhail Baryshnikov Letter To A Man, Danielle Birrittella Sonnets to Orpheus appears on Fabrik’s website at http://thisisfabrik.com/performance-2016) Four Larks The Temptation of St. Antony August 27-October 9, 2016
Christian Rizzo /ICI-CNN Montpellier d’après une histoire vraie September 15-18, 2016
Vacant Warehouse 244 S Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles. FOURLARKS.com
REDCAT 631 W. 2nd Street Downtown Los Angeles REDCAT.org 110
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GALLERY REVIEWS 101/EXHIBIT, WEST HOLLYWOOD Jason Shawn Alexander: Glorious Poison (October 22-December 17, 2016) Words Shana Nys Dambrot
Jason Shawn Alexander has a flair for the dramatic. He loves a good story, an interrupted portrait, a dark character study, a ruined interior built of abstract walls. He is equally comfortable wielding pen or brush; achieving both moody, expressionistic abstraction and careful, evocative portraiture. He once regarded his dual practices of narrative draftsmanship in darkly progressive indie graphic illustration and his art-historically rich, emotionally raw, chromatic and gestural studio canvases as separate endeavors. Then he saw how deeply connected it all was. Subsequently, he has experimented with ways to choreograph his diverse stylistic impulses, and with each new body of work, he comes closer than ever to his goal of union. Previous iterations have tilted the balance of compositional power toward line or color, toward painterly or poetic concerns, symbolism or situation. Alexander’s most recent exhibition, Glorious Poison, takes a new approach to the equation. While privileging the inherent formal qualities and aesthetic potential of ink as a primary medium, he has created a body of work which explores not only the material’s association with draftsmanship and storytelling, but also its inherent formal and physical properties, as well as directing the operations of its behaviors at a significantly larger scale. For exemplars of Alexander’s meta-stylistic common ground, take two massive works on paper—Untitled (2016, Ink, coffee, acrylic and paper on canvas, 60 x 60 inches) and Flamenco (2016, Ink, white-out, acrylic and paper on canvas, 60 x 52 inches). In the former, a singular mass of mottled shadows resembles a Rorschach test which looks like an angel wing; while in the latter, a deft portrait of Miles Davis melts into (or convenes itself from) a shower of pigment and a rare passage of text. The two compositions mirror each other almost precisely, balancing on the same abstract/image knife-edge with the same energetic intensity. Together they encapsulate the most arresting aspect of this series—how the artist is able to translate the intimacy of drawing on a larger scale, balancing diaristic emotion and architectural engagement, taking on the operatic aims of painting with the simple tools of drawing.
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Jason Shawn Alexander. Glorious Poison. Courtesy 101/EXHIBIT, West Hollywood
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Betty Tompkins. From the Series Sex Works/WOMEN. Courtesy of Gavlak Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane
Marnie Weber. Chapel of the Moon, Installation View. Courtesy of Gavlak Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane
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GAVLAK GALLERY, LOS ANGELES Betty Tompkins: Sex Works/WOMEN Words, Phrases, and Stories (July 16-November 12, 2016) Marnie Weber: Chapel of the Moon (September 17-November 5, 2016) Words Betty Ann Brown
Betty Tompkins and Marnie Weber represent two generations of feminist art. Tompkins, whose career began in the late 1960s, interrogates what has been called “gender essentialism,” that is, the conviction that women are defined by their biology. (Think of the “central core imagery” once deemed the defining characteristic of female-produced art.) By contrast, Weber, who began exhibiting in the late 1980s, exemplifies the postmodern rupture of essentialist categories. Tompkins is best known for two bodies of work. The first—her Fuck Paintings— consists of large scale, close-up views of heterosexual intercourse, limned in breathtaking photorealism. Painted between 1969 and 1974, her graphic depictions of penises, vaginas and anuses continue to shock as much as Robert Mapplethorpe’s most transgressive photographs. Tompkins’ second series. Sex Works/ WOMEN, comprise more than 1,000 paintings of words used to describe women. One grouping of painted text ranged from Fish Hole to Jezebel to Puta. Viewers were invited to contribute more words. Given the timing of the exhibit, which ran during the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign, several wrote “Nasty Woman.” While Tompkins interrogates female identity as sexually based, Weber explores the expansion of femininity beyond the dualist notions of Western Culture. In 350 BCE, Greek philosopher Aristotle listed the binaries male/female, active/passive, mind/body, and culture/nature in his Generation of Animals. Greek concepts of dualism were reified in mythological characters like Medusa and the Minotaur who, in combining human and animal aspects, violated the culture/nature divide and were, therefore, designated as evil. Human/animal combinations had been conceived as divinely powerful in ancient Egypt (as in, Horus or the Sphinx) and Assyria (such as, the Lamassu), but the Greeks rejected such hybrids. The belief in human separation from, and dominance over, nature has been a tenet of the West ever since. Weber’s canny combinations of human and animal in the fantastical fairy tales that generate her film/video work, as well as the props and costumes that populate them, serve to undermine historic dualism. Her rupture of the culture/nature divide can be seen in the sexy goat-human satyr and the owl with a human face, as well as the elegant gilded trees with shimmering, stained glass leaves. Weber’s strategic conflation of men and women, culture and nature, human and animal, is quintessentially postmodern. In The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism (1983), Craig Owens argued that feminist artists were the first to challenge Western dualism. Weber continues to do so today.
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Lauren Marx. The Struggle of the Apathetic Saint. Mixed media: Ballpoint pen, ink pencils, ink wash, graphite, colored pencils, gel pen, and acrylic on mixed media paper. 15.75â€? x 20â€?. Courtesy Corey Helford Gallery, Los Angeles.
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COREY HELFORD GALLERY Lauren Marx & Alessandra Maria (November 5-December 10, 2016) Words Michael McCall
Entering Gallery #2 at Corey Helford, one is struck by the impact of the visual contrast. At first glance, the imagery seems small and precious. Up close, it becomes apparent the room is full of virgins and whores, bones and nature, myth and icons—symbols and themes that make one want to duck and cover. Lauren Marx’s drawings are loaded with surreal images of snakes, birds, tendons, innards, eagles, eggs, moths and fauna that are balanced and centered. The refined compositions are anything but tame; they tell stories—and the stories are mostly violent. The circular depiction of very carefully rendered elements leads the viewer into depictions of the violence of nature and the cycle of life. In The Struggle of the Apathetic Saint, in which two eagles are attacking a red snake. the violence is glaring, The birds are protecting their eggs, one black and the other white. The heads of the eagles are surrounded by an unexplainable halo of yellow moths. The reef of moths seems to reference the eagle on the American dollar, a symbol of strength and protection against invading enemies. It may be relevant to Alessandra Maria. IV - The Consultation, The Request. Mixed media: consider that the eagle is the Charcoal, carbon pencil, 23 karat gold leaf, black ink on coffee stained one bird known to steal eggs paper. 16” x 20”. Courtesy Corey Helford Gallery, Los Angeles. out of other birds’ nests. The snake is bright red, possibly referencing Satan. Who is the saint and who is apathetic? This becomes the quandary.
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On the opposite side of the room, Alessandra Maria’s exhibition, The Virgin, The Whore, and the Mother, presents religious symbols and iconography as artifacts or sacred objects. In her piece, IV — The Consultation, the Request, Maria portrays two female faces, drawn in a muted brown color that falls deep into space. In contrast, the use of 23-karat gold leaf pops from the surface just enough to enliven the work in a magical way. Not only is the gold, which traditionally represents the radiance of Heaven, used to depict the halo, it also appears in the garment on the female figure. The artifact becomes contemporary. The works are exquisite in presentation and technique. The mystical feminine power is present throughout the dozen pieces in the exhibition, comforting the viewer, if only for a moment.
THE LANDING, LOS ANGELES Rat Bastard Protective Association (October 1, 2016-January 7, 2017) SAN FRANCISCO MUSEUM OF MODERN ART Bruce Conner: It’s All True (October 29, 2016-January 22, 2017) CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, NORTHRIDGE Jay DeFeo: Paintings on Paper, 1986-1987 (November 5, 2016-January 7, 2017) PARRASCH HEIJNEN GALLERY, LOS ANGELES Deborah Remington: A Life in Drawing, 1950-2006 (October 15, 2016-November 26, 2016) Words Peter Frank
Its New York and Los Angeles scenes notwithstanding, the late-1950s/ early-60s Beat movement was based in San Francisco. It had a literary home at City Lights Books in North Beach and an artistic one at “Painterland,” the multi-studio complex in the Fillmore District. It was at Painterland that Bruce Conner established the Rat Bastard Protective Association. Under this playful moniker gathered most of the artists working in the complex, and a broad swath of their friends besides. In fact, by time the Association formed, painting wasn’t the only, or even the dominant, practice in Painterland. Conner and others in his cohort were rapidly moving from painting to assemblage, excited by the expressive potential “found objects” afforded. As the stunning exhibition – worthy of a small museum – at Landing demonstrated, some Rat Bastard artists went wholly over into pasted papers and
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Rat Bastard Protective Association. The Landing, Los Angeles
Rat Bastard Protective Association. The Landing, Los Angeles
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cobbled-together objects, while others kept painting but took a more and more extravagant attitude toward putting pigment on support, often combining scraps and discards into their paints to give their textures – and, more importantly, their imagery – an abject quality. The Landing exhibition also showed how important drawing remained, even to the most devoted assemblage aficionados: something about paper, as surface and as stuff, provoked the Rat Bastard Protectivists into productive paroxysm. Perhaps their friendships with Beat poets such as Michael McClure gave them a jones for the page itself. Perhaps their sensitivity to the news of the times made them see their own art as a kind of newspaper of the soul. To be sure, the Landing show featured great painting and sculpture by Carlos Villa, Wally Hedrick, Joan Brown, Robert Branaman, Manuel Neri and the under-remembered Alvin Light. But it’s the drawing and the assembling, realized by the likes of Jean Conner (Bruce’s wife), Wallace Berman, and George Herms, as well as several of the painters and sculptors, that gave the show its meaning and character. Painterland was a magnet for very gifted people, but Bruce Conner was the genius at its heart. His vision was so broad, ambitious and complex, and his world view so incisive and ornery, that out of necessity he became, as was said of Picasso, “pathologically inventive.” “Bruce Conner: It’s All True” clarifies Conner’s voluble, mischievous, anxious, angry, verbal, visual and musical sensibility, almost to the point of confusion. But it’s a giddy, enlightening confusion, an adventure not simply into someone’s head but into worlds of experience, whether it’s the Cold War, the Punk Scene or psychedelia. Assemblage was perfect for Conner, a way of breaking down and rebuilding the world; but after he gave up the practice in the mid-60s (deeming it too popular), he maintained the bricoleur attitude and sense of adventure, coming up with maze-like drawings, photogravure collages, ink-blot washes, body-sized photograms, rock-and-roll photography and myriad other devices and gambits. For instance, the survey includes documents from Conner’s 1967 run for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. Meanwhile, in LA, Kohn Gallery currently devotes itself (until mid-January) to a single work of Conner’s, “A Movie.” Conner was one of America’s great underground filmmakers, more or less inventing the found-footage film with this 12-minute 1958 masterpiece. It’s one of three films shown at critical junctures in the museum retrospective, but here the gallery’s main room has been converted into an austere movie theater in which “A Movie” shows continually (as originally intended). Conner’s hyper-montaged imagery jumps from bathos to pathos in the blink of a jump cut, but themes of destruction and elation quickly emerge, choreographed and moved along by the Pines of Rome soundtrack. (Respighi’s tone poem, Conner sensed, was movie music avant la lettre.) It’s one of the most ecstatic and profound artworks in any medium to come out of the Beat era.
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Bruce Connor. A MOVIE. Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles
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Deborah Remington. From the exhibition A Life in Drawing, 1950-2006, Parrasch Heijnen Gallery, Los Angeles
Conner’s friend and fellow Painterlandian Jay DeFeo is best known for her painting The Rose, which took her the better part of a decade to make and weighs nearly a ton (and whose removal from her studio is the subject of another Conner film). But she was a brilliant painter – and photographer and collagist – for her entire career. Her paintings on paper shown at Marc Selwyn were produced after an extended trip to Japan, two years before her untimely death at 60, and show DeFeo at the top of her game. The modestly sized, gray-scale paintings – actually rendered in a variety of media – have at once a gravitas and a muscularity to them, and seem sometimes to portray a struggling force, while at others, a force at contemplative rest. Lighter areas glow as pockets within darker. Fittingly, DeFeo called these her Samurai series, as they have the centered energy of the fabled Japanese warriors. As the “Rat Bastard” roster reflects, DeFeo was one of a number of women prominent in the postwar Bay Area scene and now recognized as of the same level 122
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of importance as their male peers. Deborah Remington was not a Painterland person, but her commitment to gestural painting and, especially, to the mysteries of imagery equaled those of her Beat friends – and, if anything, came to surpass them. There are a lot of sketches and studies for Remington’s work from all periods in this traveling mini-survey, and it is fascinating to see her early abstract expressionist vocabulary crystallize into a strange, glowing kind of organic geometricism the likes of which have not occurred otherwise in modern art. Several large works on paper from the 1960s and 70s – which anchored the Los Angeles display – approximate the impact of the paintings, but almost everything in the selection, even many of the early ab-ex works, has that glistening, inexplicable allure. If Bruce Conner was a genius because he couldn’t stop investigating and inventing, Deborah Remington was one because she had to make images no one else could have imagined, much less made. 123
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MUSEUM VIEWS CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM The Ease of Fiction & Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses (October 19, 2016-February 19, 2017) Words Megan Abrahams
Both poignant and provocative in their visual narrative, two concurrent exhibits at the California African American Museum probe issues of race, class, identity, family and community, while demonstrating surprising ways history and ancestry influence artistic expression. Although not connected, the two exhibits, The Ease of Fiction—featuring the work of four artists from the African diaspora—and Genevieve Gaignard: Smell the Roses, investigate overlapping themes which seem particularly vital and relevant today. Organized by the Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, and curated by independent curator Dexter Wimberly, The Ease of Fiction brings together recent paintings, drawings, sculpture and multi-media works rooted in the broader historical context of each artist’s country of origin. The drawings of Nigerian-born, British-raised artist ruby onyinyechi amanze, feature allegorical creatures she has invented, including Audre the Leopard, Pidgen and ada the Alien. While the works seem whimsical on the surface, amanze, who lives in the U.S., uses these characters to investigate notions of identity, belonging and the experience of life as a foreign being in a strange realm. Born in Botswana, Meleko Mokgosi creates panoramic paintings formed by connecting several canvases sequentially. His striking narrative work, Democratic Intuition, Exordium, (2014-2015), addresses paradoxes of post-independent southern Africa in education, labor and democracy, giving these concepts visual presence as tribal villagers in traditional dress, domestic animals and wealthy businessmen in Western suits. In her mixed media sculptural paintings, Duhirwe Rushemeza uses symbols and patterns that were in existence before the Europeans came to Rwanda, her place of birth. Thickly textured, layered and scarred, the paintings draw from that region’s rich cultural history. The artist, who grew up in Côte d’Ivoire, was partly inspired by Western Modernism, traditional imigongo cow dung paintings and deteriorating colonial buildings recalled from the African landscape of her childhood. Born in Egypt, Los Angeles-based Sherin Guirguis extrapolates motifs from Egyptian architecture in her large hand-cut works in paper. Infused with symbolism,
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Genevieve Gaignard. Smell The Roses, 2016. Chromogenic print. 32 x 48 inches © Genevieve Gaignard and Courtesy of Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles.
Meleko Mokgosi. Democratic Intuition. Installation view, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. April 21–August 9, 2015. Photo: © Charles Mayer.
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Genevieve Gaignard. Basic Cable & Chill, 2016. Chromogenic Print. 30 x 20 in © Genevieve Gaignard and Courtesy of Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles.
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Duhirwe Rushemeza. Who Am I When I am Free, 2014. Thin set mortar, wood, acrylic, and metal detritus. 48â€? x 48â€? x 5â€?. Photo courtesy of the artist.
these delicate pieces reference doorways, windows and arches. Like cultural portals, they represent historically significant places of transition in the Egyptian feminist movement. The concurrent exhibit, Smell the Roses, comprises a soul-baring body of work pulsing with integrity. LA-based Gaignard examines her own personal background as subject matter. The artist is plainly on a quest, unflinchingly seeking clarity about her own identity, femininity, race and sense of belonging. In her series of deeply personal photographic self-portraits, she metamorphoses, presenting versions of herself as different personas. On the surface, the works leverage the selfie pop phenomenon. On a more profound level, they represent a concerted search for the 127
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truth. In them, Gaignard grapples with questions about her place in society, how to present herself and how she is perceived. The daughter of a black father and white mother, Gaignard grew up in a blue-collar town in Massachusetts. From an early age. she confronted a quandary, wondering whether her family was sufficiently black to be accepted as black, or whether they could pass for white. Across the gallery from her self-portraits, Gaignard has mounted two installations reminiscent of post-Katrina New Orleans shotgun houses. The immersive dioramas invite viewers inside to get a sense of the surroundings in which Gaignard grew up. Rich with evocative clues to at least some of the cultural influences that rippled through the artist’s coming of age, the interiors feature details like a collection of black rag dolls lined up on the bed, boxes of Black and White skin soap on a bathroom shelf and a Black is Beautiful poster featuring a nude female model, arms outstretched as if embracing life—a two-dimensional character from the past, one who also may have questioned her identity. FOWLER MUSEUM AT UCLA Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón (October 2, 2016-February 12, 2017) Words Tressa Berman
Nkame: a synonym of praise and salutation in the Abakuá language, pays tribute to a creator whose death left behind a message of life. Nkame: A Retrospective of Cuban Printmaker Belkis Ayón—the first major solo exhibition in the United States devoted to one of Cuba’s most celebrated artists—is at once a tribute to the artist and a portal into the world of Nigerian Abakuá mythology that captured her imagination as the defining motif of her vast oeuvre. There is a dramatic arc to the layout of the Fowler Museum’s ambitious retrospective (organized with expertise from Darrel Couturier, Cristina Vives, Dr. Katia Ayón Manso and the Belkis Ayón Estate), beginning with her early color lithographs and chalcography, produced as a post-graduate of the Higher Institute of Art (ISA) in Havana. Ayón’s work in color was punctuated by her 1988 version of La cena (The Supper), signaling a shift in her overall focus, and realized in the 1991 black and white collograph version of The Supper. By the early 1990s, Ayón had transitioned to her singular investigation of the Abakuá secret society, an all-male sect, which she depicts in black and white figurative imagery, shaded by her own interpolative evocations. The ongoing subtle shifts apparent in the chronology of her prodigious body of work are made all the more poignant by the leading fact, laid bare by the introductory text, that we are witness to the completion of her output, made finite by her suicide at age 32. 128
Belkis Ayรณn. La familia, (The Family), 1991. Collograph. Collection of the Belkis Ayรณn Estate.
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Belkis Ayón. Veneración, (Veneration), ca. 1986. Lithograph and blindprint. Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate.
Belkis Ayón. La consagración III, (The Consecration III), 1991. Collograph. Collection of the Belkis Ayón Estate.
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Ayón’s perfection of the large-scale two-toned printmaking format—denuded of color to illuminate the shadow—was a masterful conception that wed subject matter to technique, thereby creating an almost inseparable medium of expression between content and form. The three main foci of the exhibition, and her work at large, can be best understood by the language of her aesthetics and ideology; collography as the tool best suited to execute them; and the deployment of black, white and “near infinite” tones of gray. Many writers and artists, including Sandra Ramos, with whom Ayón worked closely in the 1980s through their graphics workshop, La Huella Multiple (The Multiple Imprint), associated Ayón with the female Abakuá figure, Sikán. According to the Abakuán myth, Sikán was ostracized for revealing the secret of the fish, Tanze, another repeated symbolic motif. Ayón approached Abakuá like an anthropologist: with minute attention to ritual details, study of the Yoruba language, and a symbolic understanding of the exclusionary male-centered ceremonies, with the lone female and the sacrificial fish at its core. Suggestion of a subversion of gender dynamics in her depictions read as possible plays at inversions of power. But to confuse the artist with the work would be a mistake, as much as it would be to look for her solely in the symbols of Sikán, Tanze, or in the faces and masks of ceremony. The artist’s stamp is the totality of her work, and does not rest strictly within the graphic narratives. Rather, there is something almost choreographed in the visual narratives that enliven their performative qualities. In fact, devoid of the meanings with which Ayón imbues her subjects, the work itself might read strictly as a graphic story (see La consagración I [The Consecration I], La consagración II [The Consecration II], 1991). The power of the images lies in the artist’s ability to take us beyond our direct observation of them, to seek a deeper, if not metaphoric, response. Indeed, in the Spanish language expositions about her work, two words consistently recur: poetica and profunda. Viewed in these ways, this long-overdue retrospective establishes Belkis Ayón as an artist of stature whose originality remains sacred and rare.
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April 18-23, 2017 The Reef, Downtown LA laphotofestival.com
The Los Angeles Festival of Photography is an international photographic festival bringing together photographers, curators, students, amateurs, and professionals in the industry with the aim of encouraging and celebrating the art of photography.