CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 35
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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 Alicia Eler Contributing Writers Megan Abrahams Betty Brown Jorrit R. Dijkstra Shana Nys Dambrot Peter Frank Steven Irvin EvaÂ Recinos Leah Schlackman 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 ÂŠ 2017. All rights reserved. PRINTED IN LOS ANGELES
Kerry James Marshall: Mastry. Portrait of a Curator (In Memory of Beryl Wright). Photo courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA). See page 70 for more.
CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 35
ON THE COVER
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
FABRIK ISSUE 35 STANDING UP FOR THE ARTS “I wish people would understand that although it would be delightful, it is not possible for the culture to make up for society.” Fran Lebowitz (on Real Time with Bill Maher, February 24, 2017) As we go to press, it is difficult to convey the urgency of whatever small role we might play in world and national matters without seeming heavy-handed. This may only be a tiny platform, but with it comes a responsibility to take a stand, if not make a call to action. Even if our livelihood does not depend on the arts, the inclination to imagine and create is what distinguishes us as humans. The arts are vital to the health and vibrancy of our society – but the reverse is also true. The arts depend on public support to be viable. At a time when public funding for the arts is being threatened, we owe it to ourselves to help them survive. There are many ways to do so: We can contact our representatives, support public broadcasting, subscribe to our favorite newspapers and other publications (even little book format art magazines with passionate voices). Sustain the arts! It’s particularly heartening to recognize a number of local arts organizations (while private) that contribute to making Los Angeles a thriving art mecca (dare I use that word?). In this issue, read Leah Schlackman’s spotlight on the new Marciano Foundation, yet another museum jumping into the local landscape (opening May 25th). Sadly, development plans at Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station are forcing out some galleries, as covered in Steven Irwin’s Spotlight on the Bergamot scene. Also in this issue, my look at Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World at the Hammer Museum – an important exhibit that might never have been seen by the public if not for funding from the NEA. This issue of Fabrik is being launched to coincide with Fabrik’s EXPO Contemporary Fair, Photo Independent and The Los Angeles Festival of Photography — three events produced by Fabrik Media. All take place the weekend of April 21-23, at the Reef in DTLA. Please stop by, check out the fairs and festival and visit the Fabrik booth. We look forward to seeing you – and to continuing the conversation… Megan Abrahams Managing Editor 5
CONTRIBUTORS MEGAN ABRAHAMS is a Los Angeles based artist, writer, art critic and editor. The 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. 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 Sept. 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. JORRIT R. DIJKSTRA writes about photography for international media and is the senior editor of the contemporary photography magazine, Silvershotz. As a freelance journalist he writes for SHUTR.photo magazine in the Netherlands and The Big Issue in Australia, among other publications. 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. STEVEN IRVIN is a visual and performance artist from Los Angeles. Trained as a gallery manager and art handler, he provides support for museums and galleries county-wide. Irvin has also contributed to Art Issues. and Art Week magazines. EVA RECINOS is a freelance writer and social media producer based in Los Angeles. Her writing has been featured LA Weekly, The Creators Project, PSFK and other publications. She is less than five feet tall. LEAH SCHLACKMAN is a Los Angeles-based writer. A recent New York transplant, Leah studied art history and creative writing at NYU. In addition to contributing to Fabrik, she also writes for Whitehot Magazine of Contemporary Art. PHIL TARLEY is 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 Hollywood. His travelogue on Cuba is slated for publication in 2017.
FEATURES & COLUMNS 8
Profile: LA Painter Andy Moses
Profile: Photographer Roger Ballen
Profile: The Human Lens of Photographer Pamela Littky
Profile: The Classic Photography of Andy Burgess
Spotlight: Kerry James Marshall: Mastry
Spotlight: The Marciano Art Foundation: LAâ€™s Newest Art Museum Unpacked LEAH SCHLACKMAN
Spotlight: Bergamot Station in Flux
Art About Town: Museum Views
106 Art About Town: Gallery Reviews
JORRIT R. DIJKSTRA
WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 30-YEAR SURVEY SANTA MONICA COLLEGE, PETE & SUSAN BARRETT ART GALLERY (FEBRUARY 14-MARCH 25, 2017)
ROCK, GRAVITY, FLOW: PROFILE OF LA PAINTER ANDY MOSES
“Beauty, like truth, is relative to the time when one lives and to the individual who can grasp it.” — GUSTAVE COURBET “The power of beauty at work in man, as the artist has always known, is severe and exacting, and once evoked, will never leave him alone, until he brings his work and life into some semblance of harmony with its spirit.” — LAWREN HARRIS “Why should beauty be suspect?” — PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR
To say the paintings of Andy Moses are works of beauty is both a self-evident truth and an oversimplification. They are not beautiful in a fleeting way, like a one-night stand — alluring at midnight but expendable at sunrise. Instead, their beauty is grounded in years of experimentation in the chemistry of paint and a devotion to the physics of gravity and light. It is a beauty attained through an unyielding determination to push the underlying science and vision to new levels. Rooted in a curiosity about the natural world, the paintings of Andy Moses are the result of observation as much as the mastery of a meticulous process. 10
Andy Moses. Detail of Geomorph 1504.
Installation View. Santa Monica College, Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery.
Donn Delson. On the Town.
Andy Moses. Veil of time, 1986. Acrylic and alkyd on canvas, 60 x 90 inches.
The artist’s recent mini-retrospective at Santa Monica College Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery offered an overview of painting from the last three decades, beginning with work Moses produced in New York during the 1980s. The exhibit chronicles the evolution of his palette, from black-and-white to riveting color, and conceptual arc, from two-dimensional works to sculptural paintings with curved surfaces that leverage light with scintillating impact. Even though Moses grew up immersed in the presence of art as the son of legendary LA painter Ed Moses, he was not encouraged to follow in his father’s footsteps, and hadn’t planned to become an artist. Rather, from childhood, he was enthralled by the sciences. “Math was my first love — math and science — and later, literature and film. I didn’t really start painting until I went to Cal Arts, so I didn’t grow up painting and having a great sense of color. It came over time just by looking very closely at things, and through trial and error,” said Moses, during a one-on-one interview and private walkthrough of the exhibit. His curiosity about science didn’t vanish when Moses became a painter. The early black-and-white paintings in particular are derived directly from scientific themes. Many of these paintings feature a sort of enigmatic rock or one-cell, amoeba-like subject. Moses also used the weekly New York Times Science page as a background for a series of mixed-media works in which astronomy, geology, medicine and marine biology were catalysts for composition. When he moved back to California from New York in 2000, Moses discovered a new quality of light. “I had a studio in Venice where light flooded in. I’d never had a studio like that — even in Montauk. It’s not like California light. It’s different.” During this time, Moses was concentrating on his white paintings, luminous works, such as the aptly titled tondo, Enigma (2003), with its swirling pearlescent white forms. After leaving one of these paintings leaning against a wall in his studio at the end of a day’s work, he returned the next morning to find it dramatically lit, its slanted angle catching the light obliquely off the surface. This epiphany prompted the idea to paint on a curved surface, deliberately optimizing the effect. The curved paintings followed — often panoramic, variously convex and concave. The harnessing of light also led to the incorporation of color. Moses’ palette became increasingly saturated with high proportions of iridescent and interference colors to maximize vibrancy — again capitalizing on light. The curved surfaces also had the effect of making the iridescent elements shift as the viewer moved. “I’ve always wanted imagery that looks like it’s moving or shifting or changing, like you’re catching a moment,” Moses said. “And then a moment later, it’s something else. Nothing is fixed.” While truly abstract, even the more recent gravity-flow paintings still allude to representational elements — or more specifically, elements and forces of nature. The works could be construed as referring to landscape or planetary forms viewed 16
Andy Moses. Sea Hitchhikers Long Journey, 1989. Acrylic, alkyd and silkscreen on canvas, 60 x 78 inches.
Andy Moses. NASA to Probe the Heavens Natural Chemicals, 1988. Acrylic, alkyd and silkscreen on canvas, 65 x 90 inches.
Donn Delson. Training Ground.
Installation View. Santa Monica College, Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery.
Andy Moses. R.A.D. 1704, 2017. Acrylic on polycarbonate, mounted on parabolic, vertical concave wood panel, 70 x 93 inches
Installation View. Santa Monica College, Pete and Susan Barrett Art Gallery.
from space — or conversely, a macro view of a small thing like an extraordinary variegated rock. There is an assertive physicality to the way his process — pouring acrylic paint of various viscosities in a strategic and controlled way — harnesses the natural flow of gravity, while something of the essence of nature is captured and reflected in the finished work. Gradually, linear marks that evolved from a reference to the horizon were replaced by echoing serpentine lines, like the pattern of marbled Florentine paper (which Moses was thrilled to discover on his first trip to Florence). In a satisfying way, motifs and approaches Moses began exploring 30 years ago continue to be developed, refined and synthesized in his work today. His oeuvre comes full circle as the rock form, so prominent in the early years, reappears. Moses brought back the rock, or as he calls it “the blob,” as the predominant subject of Metamorph 1502 (2016). Then, in a daring act, he took it a step further with Geomorph 1504 (2016). What would have been a fully resolved horizontally-oriented gravity-flow painting 22
was reassigned to the background as Moses superimposed a stunning rock-like form in the same palette, fiery red oranges and blues, in a vertical configuration in the foreground. The underlying painting could have been ruined if the attempt failed. Moses said, “It has elements of everything I’ve done up to now, and want. It’s the culmination of so much work and research.” All the experimentation, the exacting process, the leveraging of color and light, are propelled by one overarching objective: the manifestation of beauty. “It’s a huge driver in my work. It’s what I strive for. But I want something that’s mesmerizing — beautiful and complex as well,” said Moses. True beauty is dramatic, he added. “I want that kind of drama. Something that’s arresting, that stops you in your tracks. If something isn’t really stunning, if it doesn’t stop you with its beauty, for me, it’s engaging to a point, but it can never take me as far as I want to go.”
MAY 16 - JUNE 10, 2017
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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.
ROGER BALLEN: ART FROM THE OUTLAND â€” WORDS PHIL TARLEY PHOTOS COURTESY FROM THE ARTIST
The late 20th-century black-and-white documentary-style portraits of contemporary photographer Roger Ballen are simple, classic and elegant. His square format and tight compositions define an alien cosmology of post-apartheid, poor white Afrikaners living in the countryside of rural South Africa. These outlanders exist in a flat zone. Here, time, culture, disease and a certain amount of genetic familiarity, breed a strange brew of inhabitants. Born in 1950, Ballen grew up in Westchester, a suburb of New York City. His mother was an assistant to several photographers at Magnum Photos. In the 1970s, she co-founded the gallery, Photography House. Ballen got his first camera when he was 13-years-old. He studied psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and after receiving a PhD in mining and engineering, he moved to Johannesburg in 1982 and began photographing the South African underclass. 30
Roger Ballen. Dresie and Casie, Twins, Western Transvaal, 1993
Like Diane Arbus, Ballen photographs his subjects with a genuine affection that adds a sweetened layer to their raw authenticity. “I didn’t look at these people as extraordinary or different, I just saw them as … other human beings walking the planet, that’s all… No more… No less,” Ballen said in an email interview with Fabrik. “I liked them a lot more than the people in shopping centers pretending they’re more important and better than anybody else.” Later on in his career, the artist began experimenting with video. “I Fink U Freeky,” Ballen’s video collaboration with Die Antwoord, a South African rap-rave group, offers insight into his approach to photography. In the video, the band’s singer, Yolandi Visser, a dirty-strange, blonde siren of a performer, writhes lasciviously atop a pile of fat, furry white rats. “There’s an interesting relationship between my photographs and what Die Antwoord did,” said Ballen. “I think it’s useful to try to show how photography can be transformed through video.” A number of Ballen’s videos can be viewed on his YouTube channel. There, the film, “The Theatre of Apparitions” is described as “an animated theater of dismembered people, beasts and ghosts [that] dance, tumble, make love and tear themselves apart: A nightmarish subconscious world in black-and-white.” “The Theatre of Apparitions” has bizarre sequences that leave behind traditional filmmaking and photography, and parody high art. The images are painted, drawn, then animated in a way that might have been done during the late Middle Ages, when art, dance and music mocked sex, death and the Black Plague. Another of Ballen’s films, “Roger Ballen’s Theatre of the Mind” is characterized in its YouTube summary as “a psychological thriller set in a zone between sanity and insanity, dream and reality,” This work plays with conscious and subconscious stories that seem familiar, yet are distinctly odd and scary. Many of the actors, plucked from real life, have grotesque faces, and missing or filed-down, pointed teeth. They inhabit surreal, derelict buildings, teeming with black and white rats. (Ballen has said he believes rats are the smartest species on the planet in relationship to their brain size.) A skinny, shirtless, filthy man is a Jungian pied piper. He gathers the rodents into a misshapen cloth rucksack that he hoists over his shoulder as he skitters through a barren, Ballenesque cityscape. Often, these ruins have the artist’s drawings sketched onto the walls. Some make sexual references, others have disembodied, primitive faces. These works shimmer with inscrutable enigmas and the offbeat metafictions of mutant fairy tales. They are foreboding territories. Strangely compelling models, posed as if their bodies have been dismembered, enjoy a playful, endear32
Roger Ballen. Sergeant F de Bruin, Department of Prisons employee, Orange Free State, 1992
Roger Ballen. Puppy Between Feet, 1999
Roger Ballen. Brian with Pet Pig, 1998
Roger Ballen. Puppies in Fishtanks, 2000
Roger Ballen. Headless, 2006
Roger Ballen. Take Off, 2012
Roger Ballen. Liberation, 2011
Roger Ballen. Head Inside Shirt, 2007
ing perversity. Scary meets sexy. Black meets white. Swirled against tableaux that are sculpted with wires or drawn with charcoal, Ballen enacts his dark, dreamy Freudian rituals. These theatrical performances repurpose people, birds, puppies and kittens as objects to be juxtaposed in unsettling ways, then set up and starkly shot. Ballen’s psychological sojourns are caught up in a delightfully demonic, playfully perverse state of bliss, full of mystery, transformation and constant evolution. The photographer said he hopes his work “…will continue to transform people’s psyches in a positive way, assisting them to bring together disparate parts of their selves into a more unified state of being.”
Publications include: Platteland: Images from Rural South Africa (1994), Outland (2001), Shadow Chamber (2005) and Boarding House (2008), published by Phaidon Press. Later this year, Thames and Hudson will publish Ballenesque, a 50-year retrospective documenting Ballen’s aesthetic development. Ballen’s work is represented in international museum collections including the Bibliothéque Nationale and Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A center at the Zeitz MOCAA Museum in Cape Town was recently named the Roger Ballen Foundation Centre for Photography. Ballen said he hopes to help the museum develop this center to make a significant contribution to the appreciation of photography in Africa. He will appear as a keynote speaker and will be teaching a workshop as part of The Los Angeles Festival of Photography.
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THE HUMAN LENS OF PHOTOGRAPHER PAMELA LITTKY — WORDS LEAH SCHLACKMAN IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
Los Angeles-based photographer Pamela Littky has been a force behind the lens for more than a decade. When she isn’t busy photographing celebrities and rock stars, Littky turns her lens on the people and places that aren’t memorialized in glossy magazines. From expansive and barren desert landscapes to intimate portraits, Littky’s photographs shine a light on aspects of the world that are mundane and rarely celebrated, though in many ways are more recognizable than the scenes plastered on billboards and bus stops. 44
Pamela Littky. Gary, 2007. Accountant Series. Film.
Littky’s portraits illustrate the notion that each of us is the protagonist of our own constructed narrative. In her work, she is able to gracefully capture the qualities within each of her subjects that make them most human — the vulnerable, raw side that provokes empathy and understanding. Littky began her career taking pictures of rock musicians, but was quick to shift gears for one of her earlier series, Accountants. She explains that Accountants was an exercise in getting out of the rock-star rhythm and challenging herself to spotlight an archetype antithetical to that of the musician. Some of the accountants portrayed, like Gary, manage in their own way to embody a rock-star persona; slightly disheveled, relaxed, brooding. Others, like Larry, could have been pulled from central casting; they play to the accountant archetype with a candid sincerity. Where rock musicians are often depicted and treated as demigods, these accountants, mere mortals, are elevated to a similar pedestal. However, it’s not a perfect physique or unmatched poetry that elevates them, but instead, a quality within each that is relatable, recognizably human. For the series Vacancy, Littky immersed herself in the worlds of two cities located on opposite sides of the Mojave Desert. She recalled that everyone in both Beatty, Nevada, and Baker, California appealed to her as subjects. She would photograph anyone who let her. For Littky, it’s all about a spur-of-themoment subjective “it-factor.” “If I see someone that has an interesting face or something interesting about them, I want to photograph them,” Littky said in an interview with Fabrik. “If I’m driving down the street and see something interesting, nine times out of 10, I will pull over to shoot, even if it’s only with an iPhone.” Many of Littky’s portraits capture the rawest, most vulnerable side of her subjects, unavailable in celebrity photographs. “It’s such a different thing,” she says of her personal projects,“to ask a group of people that may not be comfortable in front of the camera to take the spotlight. There is a candid nature to the photograph, an unabashed raw quality to the image that is so powerful and real.” Often, an image will change shape throughout the shoot as a subject becomes more comfortable in front of the camera, a phenomenon Littky encourages as part of her process. “A lot of people ask me about the image of the husband and wife on the bed, where the man lies asleep and the woman sits in her bra and underwear. After a bit of shooting her sitting there wearing a robe, I asked her if she’d be comfortable taking the robe off and she said she was. I loved how raw it was with her just being in her underwear.” 46
Pamela Littky. Judith, 2015. The Villa Bonita. Film.
Pamela Littky. Frances, 2015. The Villa Bonita. Film.
Pamela Littky. Middle of Nowhere, 2010. Gateway to Death Valley. Film.
Pamela Littky. Liquor Snacks Soda, 2010. Gateway to Death Valley. Film.
For her most recent project, the book Villa Bonita, Littky photographed every resident of a historic Hollywood apartment complex. She speaks fondly of her shoots. “Each of my encounters [and my] time spent with each resident was special in different ways. So much magic came out of there.” The building itself, veiled in ivy and decorated with an extravagant cursive typeface, epitomizes old Hollywood, replete with allusions to “Sunset Boulevard” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” The Villa’s current residents, however, are varied and contemporary, dreaming dreams not confined to the realm of the silver screen. Villa Bonita romantically documents the lives of a group of people, diverse in age and background, their most notable commonalities the roof under which they live and a shared desire to follow their individual passions. Littky captures the Bonita dreamers and dwellers in the midst of the seemingly mundane activities that constitute their routine, although aspects of their daily practices are often weighted with inspiration. It is those moments, straddling the boundaries of the commonplace and the exceptional, that Littky aimed to capture. When she asked Josh, the photographer/bartender, what he did in his apartment, he said he took three showers a day, because that’s where he did his best thinking and came up with his best ideas. “So obviously,” said Littky, “I had to photograph him in the shower.” Littky’s next LA show — at the De Re Gallery West Hollywood in Spring, 2018 — will feature a new series, American Fair, her survey of state and county fairs and fair-goers across the country. Vulnerable and layered, Littky’s images are rich in texture and emotion. She conveys the qualities of her subjects that make them most real and relatable, in the midst of quotidian but often striking moments. Her work is empathetic, loaded with the common thread that runs through our individual and collective experience of what it means to be human.
Pamela Littky. Sharon and Arie, 2010. Gateway to Death Valley. Film.
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THE CLASSIC PHOTOGRAPHY OF ANDY BURGESS — WORDS JORRIT R. DIJKSTRA IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
He calls himself a compulsive image-maker, drawn to the urban environment, the accidental geometry of the city, the intersecting curves and planes of the modern world and the interplay of light and shadow in the human environment. An Englishman now based in Tucson, Arizona, Andy Burgess gained recognition as a painter of urban landscapes—the same subject that also suits his photography. He has had a ‘serious engagement’, as he calls it, with photography and its processes for more than 25 years, recently culminating in the series Narratives, (mainly shot in the last year or two in Tucson, Denver and Southern California). In this latest body of work, Burgess explores an interest in the city as a vibrant place of culture and creativity and a repository for dreams and ambitions. Burgess’ form of street photography features a quiet aesthetic influenced by abstract art and modernist preoccupations. 56
Andy Burgess. Journeys
Andy Burgess. Mannequin
Andy Burgess. Laguna Beach
Andy Burgess. Restaurant
Andy Burgess. Streetlights
“My interest is in classic photography,” Burgess explained. “I enjoy analog, working with a prime lens, black and white film and printing in the darkroom on silver gelatin, like for this series. Back to the roots.” During the past few years, Burgess has been increasingly drawn back to analog forms of expression as an antidote to the ever-more-dominant digital and mediated online experience. “Perhaps it’s a reminiscence from my past as a painter, wanting everything to be handmade and to have a physical presence. I want to stay clear of making art in a digital way.” Besides what the picture shows, the print itself has inherent value for Burgess as art. The same goes for the practice of showing his Narratives series in ‘groupings’ of images: grids of nine that add a narrative dimension to the work. He refers to it as, “A beatnik journey into the American psyche and a poetry of light and shadow.” Burgess acknowledges that his images by themselves are quiet and humble, not focused on major events or dramatic landscapes. Therefore, the images from his latest series are not groundbreaking, but the cinematic narrative that emerges from putting them together tells a story about feelings. and about light. Burgess likes to describe it as “looking at the overlooked,” just as the renowned art critic Norman Bryson famously described still life painting. “I try to avoid the more obvious subjects and seek poetry in the mundane, the ordinary and the discarded. I’m fascinated by the remnants of the past found in the peeling paint and street signs of our downtowns, the melancholy of the broken and abandoned.” It’s what Burgess’ eye — and at the same time, psyche — is drawn to when stepping outside to photograph. Looking for the beauty of imperfections, he feels connected to the aged, the discarded, the beaten and the ugly. “All objects possess personalities and histories that imbue them with spiritual value,” Burgess said. Burgess’ photography is a study in the melancholic, snapping lost moments because they’re gone the moment you’re done. “Taking a black and white photograph of a hand painted sign that’s dilapidated is a throwback, a double signification of things that have passed.” It’s no wonder that presence and absence are other recurring themes in his work. Burgess always appears to be looking for the soul in objects and surfaces that rarely reveal their full meaning. When darkroom queen Terese Engle came across his work, she was duly impressed. Engle has printed some of the great photographers of the 20th Century, including Robert and Cornell Capa, Lucien Clergue, Dorothy Norman and Bruce Davidson. A chance meeting between Engles and Burgess has resulted in a collaboration —to be shown at Photo Independent in Los Angeles—combining Engle’s lofty printing aesthetic with Burgess’ distinctive visual preoccupations and camera eye.
Andy Burgess. Front Yard
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EXPO CONTEMPORARY APRIL 21-23, 2017
ARTIST CORNER GALLERY MAY 20 - JUNE 3, 2017
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Installation view of Kerry James Marshall: Mastry, March 12â€“July 3, 2017 at MOCA Grand Avenue, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Brian Forrest.
WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS IMAGES COURTESY MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MOCA)
Museum of Contemporary Art/MOCA Grand Avenue
(MAR. 12-JULY 3, 2017)
KERRY JAMES MARSHALL: MASTRY
Kerry James Marshall, The Academy, 2012. Acrylic on PVC, 72 3/4 x 61 in., collection of Dr. Daniel S. Berger. Â© Kerry James Marshall, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
The one thing missing from the art of Kerry James Marshall is even a scintilla of compromise. There was no compromise in the decision he made as a young man to paint black subjects exclusively, deliberately shifting the trajectory of Western art history, the portrayal of American life, and, ultimately, the visual narrative that will be viewed in museums by future generations. No compromise in his early disregard for genres like abstraction, which were in vogue when he came of age as an artist, choosing instead to create grand-scale figurative and representational works embedded with meaning. No compromise in the use of color, and in rendering figures whose everyday lives, loves, hopes, dreams and deaths he commemorates with utmost sensitivity, in an unrelenting ebony black. No compromise in creating works that radiate a stunning sense of dignity and beauty. 73
Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir 1, 1997. Acrylic and glitter on canvas banner, 108 x 157 in., collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, photo by Joe Ziolkowski, ÂŠ MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Painter), 2009. Acrylic on PVC, 44 5/8 x 43 1/8 x 3 7/8 in., collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Katherine S. Schamberg by exchange, photo by Nathan Keay, Â© MCA Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Portrait of a Curator (In Memory of Beryl Wright), 2009. Acrylic on PVC, 30 7/8 x 24 7/8 x 1 7/8 in., Penny Pritzker and Bryan Traubert Collection, Â© Kerry James Marshall, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.
An innovator and visionary, Marshall is a painter with conviction. He paints with eloquence and compassion about life and love from the point of view of the vibrant black part of American society which conventional art has largely treated as invisible. Mastry, Marshall’s breathtaking 35-year retrospective organized under the leadership of MOCA curator Helen Molesworth, features nearly 80 paintings. The works are presented chronologically, from the artist’s early self-portraits beginning in 1980, to two recent abstract works from 2015 that leap outside the artist’s customary figurative / representational purview. If it was Marshall’s destiny to become an artist, however, it came about in a serendipitous way. His family left Alabama after the Birmingham riot of 1963, only to relocate to Los Angeles not long before the Watts Rebellion erupted in 1965. Marshall grew up in South Central Los Angeles near the headquarters of the Black Panthers. As a young child, one of his favorite pastimes was looking at the teacher’s scrapbook, offered as a reward for good behavior. “Kerry behaved well in order to sit with this scrapbook. He was a person, at a very young age, [who was] really, really drawn to pictures,” said Molesworth in a preview of the exhibition. Visiting LACMA was his first museum experience. Throughout his school years, teachers encouraged his interest in art. He eventually learned about Charles White, the African-American social realist artist who became Marshall’s teacher at Otis College of Art and Design. That’s where Mastry began. One gallery features a series of paintings portraying artists in the act of painting their own self-portraits — paintings within paintings — as in Untitled (2009). In this work, an elegant, seated female figure with an elaborate headdress holds a large palette. She faces the viewer, her gaze almost confrontational. In the background, her work-in-progress is an unfinished paint-by-numbers painting, by which Marshall intends to symbolize the conventions of the art world to which he chose not to conform. While he made a calculated point not to let the prevailing system define him or his work, Marshall armed himself with the knowledge and technique to become a superlative painter, attaining mastery — hence the satirized title of the exhibit, Mastry. Marshall wields this “mastery” to chronicle quotidian scenes as well as events of historic importance in the lives of African Americans, emphasizing the importance of those events to the society at large. His range of themes includes
Kerry James Marshall, Slow Dance, 1992-1993. Mixed media and acrylic on canvas, unframed: 75-1/4 x 74-1/4 in., lent by the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago; Purchase, Smart Family Foundation Fund for Contemporary Art, and Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, photograph ÂŠ 2015 courtesy of The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago.
Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Mirror Girl), 2014. acrylic on PVC panel, 83 ¾ x 59 ¾ in., collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, gift of Marshall Field’s by exchange, photo by Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago.
tender depictions of romantic love, as in the painting Could This Be Love, (1992), in which a black couple undresses in a bedroom. In his Garden Series, Marshall documents the disillusioning ruins of the once-utopian dream of public housing projects like Nickerson Gardens, where he grew up. He also memorializes the lives of African American youths killed by violence, as in The Lost Boys (1993). In Souvenir 1, (1997) a female figure with golden wings arranges a vase of flowers on a table. Above, the inscription, “In Memory Of” appears along with commemorative portraits of leaders from the civil rights and black power movements, as well as of the four elementary school girls killed in the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Alabama. Mini-portraits of the assassinated heroes Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy appear on the right. The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel about an African American man whose color renders him invisible, was a profound influence on Marshall. The artist explored the idea of invisibility in his early work, and has focused ever since on making his subjects enduringly visible in a dramatic and compelling way. Great art may be made as an act of compassion, a gesture of humanity, or a declaration of love. Marshall appropriated the tools and techniques passed down by the European masters, adapting them to declare his singular vision. In his graceful and sensitive portrayal of the people that inhabit these paintings, he draws the viewer into their worlds, making a profound and indelible impression.
Presents paintings by
GRID 2016 John Kingerlee - Oil on Board 16x24 inches
The Reef 1933 S. Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90007
April 21-23 2017
“John Kingerlee’s art is based on an imagination sustained by enchantment, observed reality and superlative talent” William Zimmer
New York Times Art Critic - 25yrs
“John Kingerlee may be to the 21st century what Turner was to the 19th and Cezanne at the begining of the modern era was to the 20th” Dr. Ted Pillsbury
Former Director Kimbell Musem
“John Kingerlee’s world class paintings grace the walls of my homes in Hollywood and San Juan Islands” Morten Lauridsen
Composer - Recipient 2007 National Medal of Arts from US President
California Pottery & Tile Works (CPTW) was established in 1994, continuing the rich tradition of California tile making and decoration perfected by the Malibu and Catalina Potteries in the early decades of the 20th Century. In addition to historic restoration, CPTW creates custom contemporary designs to fulfull the visions of designers, architects and builders of commercial, hospitality, residential and public works projects.
Property above features Decorative Tiles, Risers, Pavers, Ceramic Art, Pottery and Planters. El Jardin, Santa Barbara. Architect Jeff Shelton.
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COMING SOON: THE MARCIANO ART FOUNDATION LA’S NEWEST ART MUSEUM UNPACKED — WORDS LEAH SCHLACKMAN
This spring, the latest addition to the expanding Los Angeles art scene will open its doors to the public. The Marciano Art Foundation, founded by Guess? co-founders Paul and Maurice Marciano, boasts in excess of 1,500 artworks by more than 200 artists dating from the 1990s to the present. Housed within a Scottish Rite Temple, the museum will exhibit painting, sculpture, film, performance, mixed-media works and site-specific installations by established, mid-career and emerging artists. The Foundation will offer free admission, but visitors will have to make reservations online for specific admission slots. The Marciano Brothers want to offer visitors the opportunity to “engage with the enriching and transformative power of contemporary art.” 86
The Art Foundation’s mission is intimately braided into the physical fabric of the building itself. Originally designed by artist, designer and educator Millard Sheets, and renovated by California-based architectural firm wHY Architecture, the Scottish Rite Masonic temple, located on Wilshire Boulevard just west of Crenshaw, is an imposing marble structure with few windows, evoking a sense of impenetrable secrecy common in the design of Masonic temples across the country. Built in 1960, it has sat largely vacant since 1994. (In 2002, a Masonic heritage museum occupied the second floor of the building, but its public use was limited.) The Marciano brothers purchased the space in 2013. Of all the aspects of the Foundation’s mission, its focus on site-specific commissions most distinguishes it from that of other LA public art spaces. By creating an art space and works intended for the building and a Los Angeles audience, the museum sets itself apart as one that is woven into the historic design context and culture of the City of Los Angeles. “The Marciano Collection is eclectic in a very positive sense. It mirrors Los Angeles,” explained Curator Phillip Kaiser. The Museum opens its doors on May 25 with two concurrent inaugural exhibitions: Unpacking: The Marciano Collection, a focused presentation of the Collection’s holdings, and Jim Shaw: The Wig Museum, the artist’s first major solo exhibition on the West Coast. Designating half of the Foundation’s inaugural program to an artist long established within the cultural and artistic fabric of LA, recognizes Shaw as an important figure within the community’s artistic canon, while clearly representing the significance of the city itself within contemporary art history. Kaiser — former senior curator at MoCA LA —explained his choice of Shaw for the museum opening: “Jim’s interest in conspiracy theory, subcultures, and the masonic world made him the right artist to me, to work with for the first exhibit.” Shaw, known for his use of mixed media, pop culture iconography and larger-than-life installations, will present all new work for the exhibition. His installation will be site-specific and self-aware, incorporating many found objects and relics from the Masons who occupied the building for more than 30 years prior to its renovation, again articulating the significance of the building in its new role as contemporary art space. “His show acts as an exhibit within an exhibit, and highlights the commitment and willingness of the Marciano Foundation to commission new works for this fantastic new site,” said Kaiser. Unpacking will feature a select sample of the Collection’s holdings, including works by artists including Paul McCarthy, Louise Lawler, David 88
Hammons, Sterling Ruby, Mike Kelley, Adrián Villar Rojas, Analia Saban, Cyprien Gaillard and Latifa Echakhch The concept of the exhibit is taken from the essay, Unpacking My Library: A Talk about Book Collecting, by cultural critic and philosopher Walter Benjamin, which focused on the author’s passion for book-collecting. Benjamin wrote, “… what I am really concerned with is giving you some insight into the relationship of a book collector to his possessions, into collecting rather than a collection.” The exhibit will address notions of what it means literally to unpack and reorder the possessions within one’s personal canon, re-contextualizing them in the company of others. The exhibit, like the essay, will “ … look at the relationship between objects that may upon first glance seem unrelated but through the vision of a collector make perfect sense,” Kaiser said, “Unpacking creates loose connections and threads that feature the notion of process, but also focuses on an archaeological impulse that has been influential for many young contemporary artists.” The exhibition is intended to provide insight about the artworks themselves, as well as what it means for a work to be part of a collection. “Collectors are people with a tactical instinct,” wrote Benjamin. Unpacking promises to be a quintessential inaugural show, and may serve to re-introduce the Marciano Brothers to the public, just as much as it will introduce the artwork that comprises their collection. Benjamin went on to write, “…the most distinguished trait of a collection will always be its transmissibility.” Here, he refers to a collection’s potential to be inherited. But in art, as in literature, a work’s didactic transmission is not merely contained in the art object alone. The museum, like any cultural institution, has always been a symbol of knowledge — a place where opinions and perspectives are explored and discovered. The Marciano Foundation proposes to be an arbiter of this same ideological exchange.
BERGAMOT STATION IN FLUX â€” WORDS STEVEN IRVIN
For nearly a quarter century, Bergamot Station remained the pre-eminent contemporary art center in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California and beyond. A model of combined civic and private commerce, Bergamot Arts Center, which opened in 1994, was an innovative concept, a meeting place embraced by the contemporary art world. It all hit a wall of reality, coming to a halt during the holidays of 2016. 90
For almost two years, the swirling prospect of redevelopment had been sweeping Bergamot and its gallery owners and employees into flux, dividing them into factions, unearthing caution and distrust that became as palpable as the ocean breezes wafting daily through the enclave. This past December, the Bergamot buildings siding Michigan Avenue were sold by Bergamot co-founder Wayne Blank, co-owner of Shoshana Wayne Gallery, for $35 million. The new owners imposed steep rent hikes, coinciding with a 70 percent increase in property taxes. This prospect was foreshadowed by the original 1994 lease, a cursory agreement by which the City of Santa Monica established that the galleries would have to leave whenever the City was ready to proceed with major rail projects, principally along the Exposition Line. With the Expo Line completed earlier in 2016, ending near the original (1875) terminus of the Los Angeles & Independent Railroad along Colorado Avenue, the City could then leverage Bergamot Station in its future commercial plans. The Bergamot Station of today, therefore, is a result of a tumultuous history, a history of public commerce, private business and railroad industry, its array of structures a testament to changing times when trucks took over from where railroad lines ended and eventually disappeared. By 2000, industrial Santa Monica had regrouped into a hotbed of creative ventures, like the Water Garden, Rhino Records and Santa Monica College of Design Art & Architecture which precipitated the arrival of offices for Sony, Universal and MGM. In the late 1980s and early â€˜90s Robert Berman, Ruth Bloom and Fred Hoffman, among others, located their galleries in the neighborhood of the old Bergamot rail yard, establishing a de facto art district in Santa Monicaâ€™s industrial corner. In its first decade or so, Bergamot saw a steady stream of activity supporting the arts. There were bi-annual international shows hosted by most major galleries, regular season-opening events and robust programs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art (the second largest vendor at Bergamot after the Track 16 Gallery). SMMOA relocated from its Main Street Santa Monica location, becoming a harbinger of what was to come. After a lengthy rent dispute, the Museum left in 2015. Meanwhile, Track 16, owned by Bergamot co-founder Tom Patchett, was swallowed up by eminent domain and razed to accommodate the train station. Substantially reorganized, SMMOA will reopen in downtown Los Angeles in September of this year as The Institute of Contemporary Art LA 92
(ICA-LA). Track 16 re-emerged in Culver City soon after shuttering at Bergamot (and may end up in DTLA as well). Down two major components of the Bergamot Station identity, the landscape of the complex was indelibly reshaped. “After years of public meetings, development proposals and a yearlong advisory committee study, galleries are still in the dark about how Bergamot will be developed,” said William Turner, owner of William Turner Gallery, one of several Bergamot gallery owners interviewed for this article. “We remain concerned that the city’s development goals are out of scale with the site and will threaten the preservation of galleries and Bergamot’s identity.” Gallerist Robert Berman agrees. “So we are asking for leases,” he said. “You can’t have a business without a lease; a lease protects the city
and protects us. Give us direct leases, keep us independent, don’t censor us. There is no place like Bergamot in America; we function as a collective of art and education.” Building Bridges Art Exchange, Bergamot’s only remaining non-profit contemporary art organization, also wants to stay. With creative partners worldwide, as well as traveling, exchange and educational programs, BBAX benefits students and artists from all over the region. Founding Director Marisa Caichiolo explained, “With the diversity issues, and the forces against them we see in this country right now, the opportunity to be here with 30 other approaches in one community is very important to understanding culture.” Ruth Bachofner Gallery and bG Gallery are two dealers in one of the newly bought buildings with two different approaches to the issue. “I have had the gallery since 1984,” Bachofner told Fabrik. “With the public side of the lease ending, you don’t know what’s going to happen.” Bachofner closed her gallery in March and is not looking back. “Why drag it out?” she added. A relatively new Bergamot tenant, Om Navon Bleicher, owner of bG Gallery, said he hopes the new owners “…will see the importance of maintaining galleries and businesses compatible with the Center integral with their need to make back their considerable investment.” Expressing his desire to stay, he added, “Whether we make long-time roots will depend on how the station will come together as a whole.” The exodus of galleries also leaves exhibiting artists up in the air. One bG artist, Gay Summer Rick, commented, “People in search of art have made Bergamot a destination. The uncertainty around [the] development has been unsettling and planning is a challenge. I’ll have a solo exhibition this fall, but there are a lot of unknowns. Where do we tell people to show up in the fall? I don’t have the answer.” Also challenging is Bergamot’s current unsettled situation with its potential developers and the City. All existing and future projects can potentially take advantage of the Expo Line stop now in operation at 26th Street/ Bergamot Station. Whether they will, and what those projects are, remains unclear. Bergamot Station was a good answer to questions posed by the circumstances of a decentralized art world in the post-Reagan, post-‘80s economies. Gallery districts proliferated around the country, as did art fairs, e-art commerce and the secondary market. Now, however, with the threat to the Art Center’s existence and even legacy, it remains to be seen if Bergamot will
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MUSEUM VIEWS ORANGE COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART, NEWPORT BEACH Pop Art Design (January 7-April 2, 2017) Words Peter Frank
Pop Art raised the vernacular to the level of fine art – and the vernacular returned the favor. Seeing their language and their thinking recapitulated in new stuff the art world was all agog about, the commercial and utilitarian arts reabsorbed the lessons they already knew, or thought they knew, about image and meaning. Irony, metamorphosis and recontextualization were employed as much for their wit as for their ability to disorient. To the casual grace of mid-century design, the Pop soupçon added the element of fun. What Pop Art Design teaches us is not simply that the high and low arts locked themselves in an unyielding embrace as the modern era wound down, but that this embrace had as profound an effect on the low arts as they did on the high. The exhibition documents, among other things, how the lessons of Pop Art prompted designers in widely disparate fields – architecture, advertising, furniture, books, clothing – to look over one another’s shoulders, and to borrow ideas and icons laterally, as well as from Pop Art itself. Pop Art Design originated at Germany’s Vitra Design Museum and traveled mostly in Europe. Thus it is not only free of American bias – we forget so easily that Pop was an international movement birthed in England – but puts emphasis on phenomena such as the Italian design explosion of the 1960s and ’70s, a Pop-fueled efflorescence if ever there were one. Some of the funniest and most daring and surprising items in the show – a couch with an embedded American flag motif, a light the shape of its own power cord – come out of the free-wheeling studios cranking away in places like Turin and Milan. Some French and Swiss design experiments also figure in the mix; Scandinavian work, surprisingly less so. (South America and the Far East are given short shrift, betraying bias of the curators’ own.) The home team was represented, of course, by the bulk of the “actual” art in the show. After all, it was American Pop, with its loud and lucid simplicity (and concomitant pretense at simple-mindedness), that most inspired European design. After Oldenburg, after Lichtenstein, everyone knew what to do. But proper homage is paid two of America’s most important architecture-and-design couples, Charles and Ray Eames and Robert and Denise Scott Venturi; both their concepts and their 96
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Milton Glaser (American, b. 1929). Dylan, 1966. Poster insert, Bob Dylan,”Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits“; Offset print; 83.3 x 56 cm; Columbia Records; Gerrit Terstiege © Milton Glaser. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin
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achievements in the postwar years made Pop itself not simply possible, but necessary. By the same token, however, Alison and Peter Smithson, the London couple at the conceptual heart of the proto-Pop Independent Group, are thrown in with all the other “merely” visionary architects, from Buckminster Fuller on down. Clearly, the emphasis of the survey was more on things and less on ideas – appropriately enough, given the nature of Pop and its impact on vernacular culture, but leaving the show itself to seem a bit vacuous. In fact, it was one of those surveys that makes more sense in a book than it does on the wall, no matter how many striking images and objects might be arrayed. Indeed, the practical as well as conceptual connections between the things in the galleries are best elucidated in the catalog. The catalog also reveals that not everything in the original show made it across the pond; even as it filled OCMA’s copious space, the exhibit, grouped logically enough according to various rubrics, was uncomfortably designed, jumping from expansive and entertaining displays of lamps and chairs to semi-contained darkrooms in which vintage slides and film projections opened up the documentary projects of pioneers like the Venturis. By time it hit these shores, Pop Art Design had lost some of its fizz. It left you more curious than when you came in, a Mad Men campaign compromised by European circumspection. But that only made you want to buy the catalog more – a successful subliminal pitch. PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM Women of Abstract Expressionism (February 18-May 28 2017) Words Peter Frank
Of all the latter-day modern movements, American Abstract Expressionism has the most imposing reputation as a macho endeavor, a romantic, Nietzschean exploration of “male-hood” which gains strength from authenticity and vice versa. Historically, though, there were women, many women, active as Abstract Expressionists, and in the circles that supported the artistic ideology, both in New York and in the San Francisco Bay Area (the two prime loci of Ab Ex activity). They suffered twice as women, from the sexist biases of society in general, and from the male chauvinism of the majority of their peers. Given that both these notions were long ago discredited, it’s something of a surprise that Women of Abstract Expressionism didn’t come along two decades earlier. But with all the remaining – and, worse, reviving – anti-female bias, the survey’s appearance now makes a newly pointed argument. Everything the boys could do the girls could do just as well. And occasionally better. The exhibition has been chosen with such care that it flatters almost all its participants, finding them at the tops of their games and 98
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Elaine DeKooning. Bullfight, 1959. Oil Paint on Canvas, Denver Art Museum: Vance H. Kirkland Acquisition Fund, 2012.300. © Estate of Elaine de Kooning.
making them look, however fairly, as good as Guston or Pollock. Thus, Mary Abbott, whom I’d known only from passable smaller works here and there, shows to great advantage with at least two masterful large canvases; and Sonia Gechtoff’s forceful paintings, done with a minimized but glowing palette, make the case I always suspected was there to make for a really distinctive talent. Better-known painters such as Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell are also represented by some of their best work, including an early pre-stain canvas by the former and an exquisite study in Turneresque gray by the latter. Women of Abstract Expressionism gives some deference to its better-known participants: Lee Krasner seems to have (deservedly) a big chunk of real estate (at least in the Palm Springs installation), and Mitchell, Frankenthaler and the more recondite Grace Hartigan are everything they’re cracked up to be. Only Elaine de Kooning seems oddly short-changed, her formal and subjective range reduced to her signature moves (full-length portraits, an abstract bullfight). There’s more to “E de K” than that. On the other hand, the survey argues for some truly gifted, and important, ladies who deserve recognition, such as Perle Fine, Jay de Feo and Deborah Remington – artists whose later careers were as forceful and fruitful as their Ab Ex years, and who gave hints of what was to come in their eccentric, poetic ventures into the gestural that look as fresh here as they did the day they left their respective studios. 99
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THE GETTY CENTER / J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media (December 20, 2016-April 30, 2017) Words Shana Nys Dambrot
“Right now there is an entire generation that never knew anything that didn’t come out of this tube. This tube is the most awesome goddamn propaganda force in the whole godless world, and woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people.” —Howard Beale in “Network” (1976) With Breaking News: Turning the Lens on Mass Media, the Getty Center offers an insightful, incisive, intellectually rigorous engagement with the visual side of the Fourth Estate. The exhibition presents the works of 17 artists realized in the course of the last four decades in a meta-critique on how geopolitical events are packaged and presented for mass consumption. The news is not only the subject, but the literal raw material of these works. In order to create such effective critiques, these artists appropriate, deconstruct and reassemble specific physical elements of the mechanisms by which information is delivered, exposing the strategies behind the agenda-driven design of the news itself. Donald Blumberg photographed broadcasts of war news in 1968-69 to constitute his series of Television Political Mosaics. He lavished surrealist post-production on the images; his obvious manipulations pointed up the visual distortions inherent to the original. Works by Ron Jude, Sarah Charlesworth, and especially the wry, casual 14-minute John Baldessari video “The Meaning of Various News Photos to Ed Henderson” (1973) all deal explicitly with the ways an audience’s understanding of an image widely differs, with or without contextualizing information. Omer Fast’s “CNN Concatenated” (2002) constructs a patchwork speech from single words, spoken by dozens of newscasters, strung together to make a new narrative. Through such engaging artifice, Fast exposes the manipulation of ordinary stories and mocks the faux-frantic pace of the 24-hour news cycle. Antoni Muntadas’ “Cross-Cultural Television” (1987) is a dissonant and hypnotic 35-minute alt-broadcast, an all-graphics video bricolage of multilingual intros, voiceovers, music, news crawls, station breaks and off-air screen-test color-bar placards. Catherine Opie’s only Polaroid series, Close to Home (2004-05), concentrated on the TV set in her living room. Robert Heinecken’s TV Newswomen (Faith Daniels and Barbara Walters) (1986) concerns the mediation of information, the illusion of intimacy offered by the TV “in the living room” and the role of gender — the latter having a resonance that has only increased since these images were made. Heinecken termed his photographic process “videograms,” making them by
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directly contact-printing off the set and appropriating its contents (and its light source) as both message/subject and technical process. Alfredo Jaar also uses appropriation, citing the media itself for evidence of its own failings. In Untitled (Newsweek) (1994) he photographed every cover of the news magazine from the beginning of the Rwandan genocide until 17 weeks later — when Newsweek finally covered it. His captions contained war data, while the images contained none. Searching for Africa in LIFE (1996) contains in a single panel every one of the 2,128 LIFE magazine covers from 1936 to 1996. Five of these covers featured African subjects, all of these either animals or starving villagers. Otherwise entirely unmodified, Jaar’s content speaks for itself with just the simplest shift of context. Perhaps the most powerful and modern works in the exhibition are Martha Rosler’s photo-based collages comprising the House Beautiful: Robert Heinecken. American, 1931–2006 Bringing the War Home (1967/2011) TV Newswomen series. Like Opie and Heinecken, these (Faith Daniels and Barbara Walters), 1986 Silver-dye bleach prints works partly address the false intimacy Framed: 198.1 X 96.5 cm (78 X 38 in.) The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles of the beamed-in news anchor, as well © The Robert Heinecken Trust as the role of gender in the algorithms 2010.36 of trust and truthiness. These were contemporaneous collages about the hypocritical horrors of Vietnam, initially distributed as Xeroxes at anti-war demonstrations. Here as elsewhere, collage is not only an aesthetic strategy but contains its message in its own process. That is, the technique is germane to the meaning, itself being a matter of direct engagement. Rosler’s photomontages juxtapose luxury with suffering, making visible the problematic nature of the so-called “living room war,” in the spirit of Opie, Blumberg and Heinecken, and using the contents of the magazines 101
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as evidence against them, as did Jaar. Rosler revisited the series six years ago, and made new photographic prints, as they seemed, like so much in this gem of a show, more relevant than ever in the prevailing political climate. HAMMER MUSEUM Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World (January 29-May 7) Words Megan Abrahams
An important and engaging exhibition, Jimmie Durham: At the Center of the World, is something of a homecoming for the artist, who has been an expatriate for much of his life. Born in Washington, Arkansas, Durham attended art school in Switzerland. Although he returned to the U.S. and was involved in the downtown New York art scene of the 1980s, he moved to Mexico in 1987 and then relocated to Europe, where he has lived since 1994. While Durham’s work has been shown extensively elsewhere, this is his first North American retrospective, and first major North American exhibit since 1995. Deeply personal, the theme of the exhibit mirrors Durham’s decision to distance himself from the U.S., repositioning himself on the global stage. While his work is rooted in the trappings and mythology of the Native American experience, Durham is also very much a person of the world, maintaining an international point of view. As Hammer senior curator Anne Ellegood explained, Durham left the U.S. because he felt that, by staying here, his work would be narrowly perceived in the context of his Native American identity. Rather than allowing himself to be confined to a predetermined category, Durham chose to shift his own perspective, redefining himself and the scope of his work. A visual artist, performer, essayist and poet who seamlessly combines multiple disciplines and genres, Durham’s work springs off his extraordinary versatility. Often superimposing text on image or three-dimensional object, Durham delights in word play. His frequent use of double entendre, for instance, can be seen in his 1989 wall relief composed of 19 little wooden stick dolls, entitled, New Clear Family. His work is consistently dynamic, inventive and playful in this way, full of unexpected twists, turns and details and infused with refreshing wit. Playfulness aside, Durham’s oeuvre is also characterized by a somber sense of responsibility, revising as it does entrenched historical misconceptions about Native American history. He explores the Pocahontas story, for instance, in his haunting larger-than-life assemblage/sculpture, Malinche (1988-92). This is a portrayal of Pocahontas presented from a Native American vantage – or, perhaps more accurately, from an evolved and worldly point of view. Unlike the idealized white man’s ver102
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sion perpetuated in storybooks, this poignant seated figure embodies the sadness of a woman exploited and mischaracterized through history. The retrospective – and, indeed, the artist’s underlying vision – share a certain synergy with the concurrent exhibition, Kerry James Marshall: Mastry at MOCA Grand Avenue (see Spotlight on p.70). Both artists have made a point of chronicling and redressing the marginalized social segment of their respective heritages. Back at the Hammer, the exhibit, Dubuffet Drawings, (through April 30) also seems a fortunate bit of synchronicity, as the work of Durham and Dubuffet are both flavored with droll humor. It’s timely to note that American museumgoers might not Jimmie Durham Malinche, 1988-1992 have had the opportunity to see this Guava, pine branches, oak, snakeskin, , polyester bra in acrylic resin and painted gold, watercolor, exhibit were it not for a $55,000 soaked cactus leaf, canvas, cotton cloth, metal, rope, feathers, grant from the National Endowment plastic jewelry, glass eye. 70 × 23 ⅝ × 35 in. (177 × 60 × 89 cm). Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst for the Arts, now under threat by the (SMAK), Ghent, Belgium. Image © S.M.A.K. / Dirk Trump administration. In an email Pauwels. to Fabrik, Ellegood wrote, “Support from the NEA for the Hammer’s retrospective of Jimmie Durham[’s] work is much more valuable than simply providing funding that helps make the exhibition possible. It also carries great symbolic value, calling attention to Durham’s important work and encouraging the idea that it should be experienced by American audiences.” Thanks largely to Ellegood’s efforts, the retrospective is revelatory after the artist’s long absence from the national scene. It ensures Durham’s work will receive well-deserved recognition as a vital part of the contemporary American canon.
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FREDERICK R. WEISMAN MUSEUM AT PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY Larry Bell: Pacific Red (January 21-April 2, 2017) Words Megan Abrahams
If a single color captures the essence of the Pacific Ocean, it would have to be blue. The color of the daytime sea and its echoing counterpart sky, blue, has been central to iconic works on the theme by artists like Ed Ruscha and David Hockney, whose imagery is often rooted in a love affair with the classic leisure motifs of coastal Southern California. It’s surprising then, that the color red predominates in Larry Bell’s captivating recent series of multimedia works and sculpture at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum. Granted, Malibu is the setting for spectacular red-hued sunsets that blaze over the western horizon. Perhaps channeling those sunsets, Bell’s homage to Malibu is bathed in a red glow, starting with the large-scale immersive laminated glass sculpture Pacific Red II (2017, laminated glass 12 6 x 6 foot panels), from which the exhibit borrows its name. Created in the custom-built vacuum coating machine Bell calls “The Tank,” which applies thin films to the artist’s large-scale glass panels, the piece is one of the most recent iterations of his Standing Walls series. Poised at the entryway, the piece set the stage with its three connected rectangular shapes, a sort of walk-through maze exploring the optical and reflective properties of red glass. In a subtle way, the reflective shadows cast from his Light Knot sculptures (2013-2016) — curved metallic kinetic polyester forms suspended from the ceiling— and the resplendent Church Studies (2014-2015), a series of mixed-media works on red Hiromi paper, suggest something of the Pacific in their recurring sinuous lines, which undulate like waves. The flowing lines in the works on paper also suggest silhouettes of the female figure. In fact, these curvilinear shapes are derived from the outlines of guitars. The two-dimensional works on paper are actually collaged, although seamlessly so. Applying his trademark vacuum tank to a process the artist calls physical vapor deposition, Bell is able to meld various materials under low pressure to render a flat, smooth surface. In the mezzanine gallery, a mini-historical survey of the artist’s oeuvre, going back to 1959, places the newer work in the larger context of Bell’s evolution as a sculptor, painter and multimedia artist. His early paintings followed the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, as in Untitled (1959, Oil on canvas, 39.5 x 39.5 inches). In the 1960s, Bell experimented with new materials in his work, like pieces of glass from a Burbank frame shop where he worked part-time while studying at Chouinard Art Institute. His investigations into reflective, translucent and transparent media led to the shadow boxes or ghost boxes also represented in this exhibit, and eventually the more recent cube sculptures like Cube 12 (2006, Coated glass, 15 x 15 x 15 inches) and 104
ART ABOUT TOWN
Larry Bell Pacific Red, Installation View Photo by Eric Minh Swenson
Early and Late (2008, Coated glass, 20 x 20 x 20 inches). These pieces are mounted on transparent pedestals so they can be looked at, and through, from numerous vantage points, presenting a constantly fluctuating range of visual effects depending on where the light hits. Although Bell has lived and worked part-time in Taos, New Mexico, since the 1960s, he still maintains a studio in Venice, California. Bell is an LA art world luminary. As such, this survey was something of a homecoming (and given the theme, it was fitting that Bell showed up for the well-attended opening decked out in a red jacket). Viewed in its entirety, Pacific Red is a cohesive and elegant orchestration of color, form and light. One of the founders of the California Light and Space Movement, Bell has continued to investigate, orchestrate and portray the intriguing, dynamic and infinite properties of light and its interplay with color, surface, form and the surrounding environment. 105
ART ABOUT TOWN
GALLERY REVIEWS SHOSHANA WAYNE GALLERY Rachel Lachowicz: Lay Back and Enjoy It (January 21-April 1, 2017) Words Shana Nys Dambrot
In Lay Back and Enjoy It, Rachel Lachowicz creates a feminist critique of inherent gender bias across tropes of cinema, architecture, modern art and the beauty-industrial complex, in three sculptures and a related suite of wall-mounted works. What makes this such a masterful showing — especially the large-scale centerpiece sculptures, as in several of her previous iterations of related ideas through painting and digital images — is the exceptional beauty of the objects: They are as inviting and elegant as they are intellectually rigorous and meticulously executed. With an aesthetic that could be dubbed “Deadwood modernism,” Lachowicz draws direct inspiration from stand-out moments in the 1973 Clint Eastwood film “High Plains Drifter,” in which a murderous anti-hero seeks outlaw justice while committing rape and psychological warfare. Lachowicz has rebuilt two main set pieces from the film; and, just as in the movie, has painted them red. That scarlet chromatic signature belongs to Lachowicz as much as any color can belong to an artist. But in Lachowicz’s studio, it is not just red, it’s red lipstick, and cosmetics have a smell. It is a waxy, acidic, wet-smoke kind of smell with hints of lamp oil and baby powder. A Proustian strategy, the olfactory sense opens new doors in the psyche; and one’s perception of the work — and maybe of the lipstick in their own pocket — is altered and expanded. In the sculptures, a modernist flair for simplicity in armature and adornment dovetails with the hardscrabble elementalism of pioneertown architecture. For example, there is a moment reminiscent of Tony Smith, in the squared-off hitching post in front of The Sheriff / Barbershop and the open skeleton of House Under Construction. The open-backed stage set of House of Worship is more emotionally complex. Its dissonances between faith and seduction, artifice and intimacy, majesty and pathos are among the show’s most salient features. Imbalances of gendered power are stridently encoded and enacted in a female-associated pigment and male-dominated forms, amid a choreography of aroma and angle, sparkle and sturdiness, the better to appreciate the endemic absurdity.
ART ABOUT TOWN
Rachel Lachowicz. House of Worship. Courtesy Shoshana Wayne Gallery.
ART ABOUT TOWN
Starman 1, Frida Kahlo Museum – Casa Azul Courtyard, Coyoaca, Mexico, 1997. © Fernando Aceves, 2007
Greeting Tonatiuh (Aztec God of the Sun) 2, Pyramid of the Sun, Teotihuacan, State of Mexico, 1997. © Fernando Aceves, 2007
ART ABOUT TOWN
FOREST LAWN MUSEUM Fernando Aceves: David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters (January 27-June 15, 2017) Words Eva Recinos
When you first enter the space where David Bowie: Among the Mexican Masters is installed at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale, the voice of the late, great musician echoes off the walls. The looped video shows shots of Bowie laying paint onto a canvas and later talking directly to the camera about his creativity. He talks about painting. He talks about the people who inspire him. He explains why he likes waking up early in the morning, no matter how late he fell asleep the night before. That pervasive Bowie mystique envelops the viewer throughout the exhibit, while viewing the photos Fernando Aceves shot of Bowie during his visit to Mexico City in 1997. During his Earthling album tour, Bowie took some time to take in the sights, such as the Frida Kahlo Museum and the Palacio de Bella Artes. In his color photographs, Aceves captures Bowie in his most pensive moments. In some photos, Aceves even catches Bowie looking in the same direction as the figures in the murals behind him. Near Diego Riveraâ€™s iconic Man, Controller of the Universe (1934), Bowie looks out past the camera, his face seeming to mimic that of the figure at the center of the composition. Even when the narrative of an outsider caught up in the exotic setting of a foreign land seems to interrupt the idyllic nature of the photographs, Bowieâ€™s pure joy at his surroundings is contagious. While visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum, he exhibits an almost childlike wonder and joy, distilled by Aceves as if photographing an old friend. In documenting the interactions between Bowie and Mexico City, Aceves also captures the beauty of the metropolis. The photographs chronicle the time Bowie spent in the area and the ways in which his personality transcended his music. In the wake of his death, Aceves gives us snapshots of Bowie that make us feel as if we were right next to him, watching him take it all in.
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