CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 38
C U LT U R A L PA R T N E R S
CIVIC PA R T N E R
MASTHEAD Publisher Chris Davies Editor Megan Abrahams Associate Editor Peter Frank Creative Director Chris Davies Art Direction & Design Chris Davies and Paul Soady Proofreader Leah Schlackman Contributing Writers Megan Abrahams Quinton Bemiller Shana Nys Dambrot Molly Enholm Peter Frank Lawrence Gipe Kio Griffith Simone Kussatz jill moniz David S. Rubin Phil Tarley Jody Zellen
Contact Editorial: email@example.com Advertising: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: thisisfabrik.com Mailing Address 269 S. Beverly Drive, #1234 Beverly Hills, CA 90212 Subscriptions To subscribe to Fabrik, please visit us online at www.thisisfabrik.com. 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 © 2018. All rights reserved. PRINTED IN LOS ANGELES
Emigdio Vasquez El Proletariado de Aztlán (detail), 1979 Orange, CA. Restored by Higgy Vasquez, 2013. Acrylic on Plaster, 8 x 40 Feet. Chapman University Art Collections © Emigdio Vasquez Art. Photograph by Jessica Bocinski. See page 40 for more.
CONTEMPORARY ART & DESIGN // ISSUE 38
ON THE COVER
INSIDE THIS ISSUE
FABRIK ISSUE 38 Riding the Wave of PST: LA/LA Into the Future In this Issue of Fabrik we’re riding the wave of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: Latin American & Latino Art in LA initiative into the New Year with a look at some of the exciting PST: LA/LA programs that have overflowed into 2018. Among these is a selection of commissioned and/or revitalized murals, which Genie Davis highlights in her Spotlight on LA murals. Happily, murals are enjoying a renaissance in Southern California. We at Fabrik celebrate this historic and cultural phenomenon, especially as a quintessentially LA art form. We also wanted to dig a little deeper into the nuances of PST: LA/LA, on a quest for art with unexpected layered cultural influences. In this issue we explore a fusion of Asian and Latin American/Caribbean culture in two Museum Views: Molly Enholm’s insights on Circles and Circuits I & II: Chinese Caribbean Art—a two-part exhibition at the California African American Museum (CAAM) and Chinese American Museum (CAM)—and David Rubin’s look at Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City and São Paulo at the Japanese American National Museum. Almost coincidentally, we have wandered down a parallel path, leading us on a serendipitous Asian theme: also in this issue we feature Rubin’s profile of LA artist Ben Sakoguchi, who started making art some 50 years ago, inspired by the colorful commercial labels on the orange crates in his father’s grocery store after his childhood experience living in the drab grey of an internment camp. In another PST: LA/LA adventure off the beaten path, jill moniz explores the deep metaphoric significance of Jose Dávila’s nomadic modular installation piece, Sense of Place. A project of Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), parts of this symbolic work can be seen at various sites around the city through May. Also inside this issue, Leah Schlackman takes us inside LA Artcore, the non-profit LA gallery space brought to life 40 years ago via the vision of LA icon Lydia Takeshita. Plus, Shana Nys Dambrot introduces us to the new Armory campus of the Wende Museum… and much more. This issue launches at the LA Art Show (January 10-14). We hope to see you at the fair, and around town! Megan Abrahams Editor 5
CONTRIBUTORS MEGAN ABRAHAMS is a Los Angeles based painter, writer, art critic and editor. The editor of Fabrik, she is also a contributing writer for WhiteHot Magazine of Contemporary Art and other publications. An artist member of the Los Angeles Art Association, Megan is currently working on a new series of paintings. QUINTON BEMILLER is a painter, educator and curator. He is the former director of the W. Keith and Janet Kellogg Gallery at Cal Poly Pomona University and currently directs the Art Gallery at Norco College, where he is Associate Professor of Art. He is based in Riverside, California. SHANA NYS DAMBROT is an art critic, curator and author based in Los Angeles. She is currently LA Editor for Whitehot Magazine, and a contributor to Artillery, 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. MOLLY ENHOLM is a writer, art historian and artist based in Los Angeles. She is the former managing editor of art ltd. magazine and contributor to several publications, including Art and Cake, ArtScene, Fabrik, Hi-Fructose and visualartsource.com. Molly also teaches Art History at CSU Northridge. 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. LAWRENCE GIPE is an artist, writer, curator and art educator. His most recent exhibition, which he also co-organized - One Year: The Art of Politics in Los Angeles - was on view at the Brand Library Art Center through January 16, 2018. KIO GRIFFITH is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, graphic designer and writer based in Los Angeles and Yokohama, Japan. Griffith is currently project director at Art Bridge Institute and TYPE (Tokyo), co-founder of Genzou photojournal and IMMI magazine. He has exhibited extensively internationally and is currently working on a project for the next Setouchi Triennial. SIMONE KUSSATZ is a German-born journalist and author. Published internationally and trained in the US and Berlin, she now shares her passion for the arts in multiple ways in Los Angeles. JILL MONIZ independent curator in Los Angeles. She serves as a community engagement advisor for the Getty, and sits on the CALTRANS Public Art Advisory Board. jill has a doctorate in cultural anthropology and serves as the academic curator at Pomona College Museum of Art. DAVID S. RUBIN is a Los Angeles-based curator, writer, art critic and artist. He has held key curatorial positions at museums and contemporary art venues in Southern California, San Francisco, Cleveland, Phoenix, New Orleans and San Antonio. 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 2018. JODY ZELLEN is a Los Angeles based artist and writer. In addition to writing art reviews, she also creates public art, interactive installations, animations, mobile apps, net art, artist books, drawings and paintings. Please visit www.jodyzellen.com to see her artworks and writings.
FEATURES & COLUMNS 8
Profile: The Veiled Portraits of Amir H. Fallah
Profile: Ben Sakoguchi: Labels For Our Times
Spotlight: Jose Dávila: Sense of Place
Spotlight: LA Artcore: An Ideal Realized
Spotlight: Los Angeles Murals: Painting a City
Spotlight: The Wende Museum
Spotlight: The Getty Center’s Photography in Argentina
Art About Town: Museum Views
Art About Town: Gallery Reviews
Fresh Faces in Art: Artists You Should Know
An Appreciation: William Dailey
DAVID S. RUBIN
JILL MONIZ LEAH SCHLACKMAN GENIE DAVIS
SHANA NYS DAMBROT
KIO GRIFFITH & LAWRENCE GIPE
Amir H. Fallah. A Path Set In Stone, 2017. Acrylic on canvas. 68 x 96 inches.
WORDS MEGAN ABRAHAMS IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST AND SHULAMIT NAZARIAN
THE VEILED PORTRAITS OF AMIR H. FALLAH
“I’m more interested in challenging what a portrait can be… so I can make a portrait of a person with no face.” — AMIR H. FALLAH
It is logical that the paintings of Los Angeles artist Amir H. Fallah contravene logic. They are surprisingly harmonious composites of numerous unrelated, even contradictory, parts. While his paintings involve complex layering and the deliberately distorted treatment of light—suggesting three-dimensional space—the subjects are flat. Whereas Fallah was academically trained, with an MFA in painting from UCLA, his work is infiltrated with lowbrow elements derived from the language of graffiti, rendered in a palette of electric, popping color. In his current, revolutionary series of portraits, Fallah deliberately obscures his subjects, subverting the very essence of conventional portraiture. 10
Amir H. Fallah Young Pioneers, 2017 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 48 inches
The artist, a self-identified hybrid of sources and ideas, attributes his comingling of contradictory approaches in part to his multi-cultural experience growing up. As a young boy in the 1980s, Fallah and his parents came to America after leaving Iran. While waiting for their U.S. visas they stayed in Turkey and Rome, where Fallah was captivated by the museums they visited. Arriving in America, he became a skateboarder. As a natural offshoot of skateboarding culture, street art entranced him when he later attended art school, but Fallah draws inspiration from various other influences besides 1980s skateboard graphics and graffiti. His array of references also includes Persian miniature painting, Golden Age Dutch and Flemish painting, Henry Rousseau and Francis Bacon. Fallah’s current focus on portraiture is a natural evolution of his varied interests. His latest body of work delves into the immigrant experience with a series of portraits that are both innovative and counter-intuitive. In them, the artist presents beguiling biographical details about the figures represented, while hiding their faces. “I cover the face with some sort of fabric, a blanket, a sheet, anything just lying around, as a way to conceal their age, their sex, their physical features, so you’re forced to focus on everything else. It’s this complicated coded language that tells you who the person is,” Fallah said during a private walk through of his recent exhibit, A Stranger in Your Home at Shulamit Nazarian gallery (September 23 - November 4, 2017). The genesis of the series is rooted in events from Fallah’s personal life. One day, when his wife was doing laundry, he playfully draped a piece of fabric over her head, covering her face. The moment was an epiphany, presenting a way to conceive a portrait in a less literal and formal way. “I’m not really interested in what people look like because I don’t think that tells you much about who they are as a person. It’s a very superficial read of someone. I’m more interested in people’s histories, their backgrounds… just based on seeing someone you jump to all these conclusions that are always wrong,” he said. The concept became more pertinent in January 2017 after Fallah travelled to Tel Aviv for an exhibit. When he arrived, he was interrogated for four hours, because even as a U.S. citizen, his passport shows he was born in Iran. On his departure from Israel, he was interrogated again. Eager to return home to friendly soil, he landed the day after President Trump decreed his first travel ban. Fallah was held in a room of “brown people” after border control officers noted he was born in Iran and had just returned from Israel. He was released
Amir H. Fallah Last Time Around The Sun Before The Birth Of Our Son, 2016 Acrylic, c-print, collage, and colored pencil on paper mounted to canvas 74 inches in diameter
Donn Delson. Training Ground.
Amir H. Fallah Genealogy, 2017 Acrylic on canvas 72 x 48 inches
Amir H. Fallah Winter Garden, 2015 Acrylic, colored pencil and collage on paper mounted to canvas 60 x 36 inches
Amir H. Fallah Embracing The World, 2017 Stained Glass, Fused Glass, custom LED light panel, walnut frame 42 x 32.2 inches Produced in collaboration with Judson Studios, Los Angeles
after a couple of hours with no explanation, missing his connecting flight. “So I started thinking about my place in the world, what home means, where is home?” Fallah said. The portraits explore these questions with indirect eloquence. Rather than tying identity to a face, Fallah visits the homes of his subjects and looks for things that reveal details about their lives. “I might pick up a couch cushion and say, ‘Where’d you get this from?’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, my mom did that needlepoint pillow and I’ve had it for 20 years.’ So this inanimate object becomes a vessel for this long story… It’s almost like an archaeological dig of people’s lives.” Like the needlepoint pillow, the objects are narrative clues, intended to portray the person under the veil. A Nike shoe in the foreground of In Transit (2017), denotes the subject’s love of basketball. The objects—things like decorative vases and family heirlooms—all have significance to their owners. Photographs and jewelry appear in many of the paintings, “constants of the immigrant experience,” said Fallah. “Even if they left in the middle of the night in a hurry, they grabbed some jewelry, and they brought some photos, reminders of their old home… I wanted those objects woven into this kind of chaotic motif.” The compositions are also filled with dramatic and profuse foliage, which for Fallah is symbolic and often stands in for figures. “In all the backgrounds of the figurative works, I wanted an element that was alive and chaotic, to reference the chaotic nature of life,” he said. “Dropping everything and moving somewhere else, there’s a lot of chaos involved.” Fallah’s mellifluously orchestrated chaos, combined with elements from his seamless and sophisticated mash-up of influences, manifest a cohesive and stunning vernacular all his own.
Ben Sakoguchi. Words.
WORDS DAVID S. RUBIN IMAGES COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
BEN SAKOGUCHI: LABELS FOR OUR TIMES
For five decades, Ben Sakoguchi has maintained a clear and consistent artistic vision, addressing a variety of heated topics, including war, racism, bigotry, politics, slavery, AIDS, human folly and art-world economics. Rather than approach such potentially controversial issues in an obtuse or confrontational manner, Sakoguchi prefers an accessible and enticing visual language. Since the 1970s, much of his oeuvre has consisted of colorfully vibrant, small-scale paintings based on the graphic style of vintage orange crate labels, a format he uses as a compositional template much the way that Josef Albers employed concentric squares. For Sakoguchi, such labels hold particular significance because, as a child, he would observe them on crates stored behind his fatherâ€™s grocery store. 20
Ben Sakoguchi Alternative Facts Brand
Born in San Bernardino, Sakoguchi was incarcerated from ages five through seven in a Japanese internment camp in Preston, Arizona. Upon returning home, he found his father’s store to be full of life. As he explained in an email interview, “The colors of the store…commercial design…packaging…bright and colorful compared to the world at large, and especially compared to Camp. I developed a love of that look of commercial labels. Calligraphy...even Pepsi, or Coca Cola, were part of my art world. Camp itself was gray, black and brown.” During his childhood, Sakoguchi drew constantly on butcher paper from his father’s store. By 1964, having earned BFA and MFA degrees from UCLA, he was familiar with Pop Art, and turned to media sources for his imagery, finding a wealth of material in books, newspapers, magazines, comic books and Japanese playing cards and erotic prints. (Today he also relies on the Internet). Never doubting that his subject matter should be socially relevant, he responded through art to events that dominated late-1960s media such as the Vietnam War and police brutality at the 1968 Democratic Convention. In a detail from Big Painting, a multi-canvas work begun that year, Sakoguchi created a dense and forceful composition, reminiscent to some extent of Mexican murals, including images of poppy fields symbolizing fallen soldiers from World War I, a World War II fighter plane, U.S. propaganda posters attacking Germany and Japan and a host of contemporary women wearing bell-bottom fashions of the day and armed with machine guns. A political time capsule of 1968, the painting is something of a cautionary tale. Yet by his own admission, Sakoguchi sees himself as a history painter and not simply a political commentator. In his email he noted, “I’ve always been an observer, because you were forced to if you were the only Asian kid in school. You don’t have a tribe there, you don’t have a gang there…you’re looking…you’re not part of any group.” In the early 1970s, Sakoguchi came across some vintage orange crate labels at a swap meet. He soon began collecting them and, in turn, created his first label compositions on canvases the size of the actual labels. The artist worked steadily in this format through 1984, broke away from it for a time to pursue other directions (including a number of large-scale installations), returned to it in the mid-1990s and continues to employ it to this day. When exhibiting the label paintings, Sakoguchi often organizes them into modular grids, a practice common among 1960s Minimalist and Conceptual artists
Ben Sakoguchi Bank of Frank Brand
Ben Sakoguchi. Detail Image.
Ben Sakoguchi Color Blind Brand
Ben Sakoguchi Jim Crow Brand
Ben Sakoguchi Napalm Brand
which also brings to mind the symbol-filled modules of Wallace Berman’s Verifax collages and Andy Warhol’s groupings of Campbell’s Soup Can paintings. In Sakoguchi’s case, the grid organization perfectly personifies the ubiquity of visual media-blasting, which has been a cultural staple since the 1960s. Sakoguchi’s self-imposed rules for the label paintings are to include a brand name, at least one orange and the name of a real city, all of which relate conceptually to a subject. In Napalm Brand, based on the iconic Life Magazine photo of children fleeing a napalm attack, the brand logo is shown in flames, the orange is wrapped to simulate the shape of a grenade and there is a reference to the California town of Firebaugh. In Bank on Frank Brand, large blocky letters and ready-to-pick oranges accompany an image of a Frank Stella painting hanging in a corporate setting, with the location of the produce company identified as Commerce, Calif. Although these works were painted in the late 1970s, their subjects—bombings and art tied to Wall Street—remain relevant today, perhaps even more so. In his more recent orange crate label paintings, Sakoguchi has documented the histories of baseball, where race is a prominent issue, and of slavery itself. His latest label group can be seen at the Brand Library Art Center Gallery in the exhibition ONE YEAR: The Art and Politics of Los Angeles, on view through January 12. In the new series, Sakoguchi calls attention to words and phrases that have only recently become English jargon, including ‘Obamacare,’ ‘Brexit,’ ‘Nasty Woman’ and ‘Alternative Facts.’ “I started with Brexit and Stuxnet,” he said. “Now those are neat words, you gotta admit, they’re interesting words...Words matter, but they’re meaningless, too, because the viewer puts the meaning into the word. It always has been that way—just like the art…I stick it out, but the viewer completes the act.”
LAND / VARIOUS LOCATIONS JOSE DÁVILA: SENSE OF PLACE September 16, 2017–May 2018 — WORDS JILL MONIZ IMAGES COURTESY OF LOS ANGELES NOMADIC DIVISION (LAND)
Jose Dávila’s SENSE OF PLACE is a public installation supported by Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) curator and director Shamim Momin, in conjunction with the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time-LALA. The concrete artwork was unveiled in West Hollywood, then disassembled, and will be situated in site-specific installations to be continued in five self-contained “movements” reflecting an orchestrated migration around Los Angeles. 30
Jose Dรกvila Sense of Place, Concrete, 2017 Installed at Santa Monica Pier, A LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Exhibition Shamim M. Momin, Director / Curator, LAND
These movements are also improvisational, in that Dávila and Momin have not prescribed how audiences should interact with the works. “How the pieces function in those spaces is up to the people who encounter them,” Momin said. People may use the work as benches, or tag it, or treat it with reverence like the concrete memorials in Mexico, Dávila’s home. Home and identity play critical roles in Sense of Place. The 40-piece cube is a visual translation of multiple languages and narratives of the city, one that explores the fluidity between aesthetic composition and these languages of representation. As a participant-observer in LA’s fracture and complexity, Dávila plays with notions of insider and outsider, interpreting the social, cultural, architectural and geographic modalities that inform the city. He has become an artist in Mexico and yet he is engaging in the politics of subjectivity by activating a work that inserts itself into the continuum of migration stories in LA, even though he is not actually a U.S. immigrant. Through this installation, Davila is appropriating material, narrative, form and identity to act as a mirror for the city. At one layer of discursivity, Sense of Place highlights the elemental building blocks of modern architecture, as well as the concept of location as a symbol of communal awareness and identity. Dávila conceives his multipart concrete cube as an examination of minimalist architecture that, Momin notes, “is an ongoing injury to so many working-class Latin American neighborhoods.” However, Dávila’s interest lies in discovering the potential of the object, through its material and its form, to be more than its particular history. Momin and Dávila began this exploration by provocatively anchoring Sense of Place on a platform in West Hollywood Park. Here it takes on a majestic air, ennobling the quotidian and thereby rewriting its history from humble material to revered object, riffing on LAND’s mission to elevate the transformative power of art. Dávila unpacks the contradictions of place and expression by assessing the locus of the modest and flawed material with the social implications of situating elements of the object in neighborhoods whose locations represent specific cultural narratives. The viewer is forced to reexamine the moments where truths, fiction, stereotype and mythology intersect. This is not a white cube with a canonical cosmology. Sense of Place is an art object with its own narrative, and these public spaces provide opportunities to expose the paradoxes between language and visual subjectivity. Through this practice, Dávila creates a new, more useful episteme for understanding the aesthetic and conceptual considerations of his project. 32
(Top) Jose Dávila Sense of Place, Concrete, 2017 Installed at MAK Center’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House, A LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Exhibition Shamim M. Momin, Director / Curator, LAND
(Bottom) Jose Dávila Sense of Place, Concrete, 2017 Installed at Plummer Park, A LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Exhibition Shamim M. Momin, Director / Curator, LAND
Jose Dรกvila Sense of Place, Concrete, 2017 Installed at Inner-City Arts, A LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) Exhibition Shamim M. Momin, Director / Curator, LAND
Sense of Place is richly embedded in another layer of the language of materiality, specifically the connection of the movements of the piece—components of the cube will travel to multiple locations in five sets of movements—to historically important Latin American kinetic artists. Jesus Rafael Soto and others employed the visualization of three-dimensionality in order to dissolve the boundaries between art, architecture and design. In these works from the postwar period, as in Sense of Place, the viewer is engaged to grasp the meaning of the work beyond what is there. Dávila furthers this invitation with the expectation that viewers will join his ethnography, becoming participant observers themselves and intervening in the piece with their own uses and signifiers. The evolution of the work through audience interpretation and intercession expands its narrative resonance. Dávila’s considerations of motion also replicate the individual body and the body politic, whereby the elements are greater than the sum of their parts. This metanarrative challenges viewers to contemplate the performative and functional aspects of identity and the significance of intention. Los Angeles is composed of multiple stories and ways of seeing, reflecting the larger supposition of American consciousness, one from many, even while social stratification grows so disparate that many communities will fall apart, perhaps to be reconstituted elsewhere. Sense of Place suggests this cycle of building and reimagining is inherent in social agency, and Dávila’s project offers a succinct and sophisticated visualization of this archetype. Clearly, Dávila is a polyglot, excavating multiple social, historical and aesthetic allegories for public consumption. Sense of Place is a travelogue with which to educate participants, both engaged and encountered, about art and social agency. This discursive practice is readily accessible because Dávila is quite comfortable with the improvisational quality of his object’s call and response with multiple communities. Accepting both the tension and the temporality of the experience, Dávila welcomes the appropriation into the cultural narratives of the spaces Sense of Place will occupy, in whatever manifestation it occurs, as part of the life of the object. It is this concept of building that makes it such a powerful metaphor, and such a powerful artwork.
LA ARTCORE: AN IDEAL REALIZED — WORDS LEAH SCHLACKMAN IMAGES COURTESY OF LA ARTCORE
“This is my 40th year. It’s something that surprises me too,” said Lydia Takeshita, founder and administrative executive of LA Artcore. Now 91-years-old with no set plans to retire, Takeshita started the non-profit organization-cum-gallery space in the late ‘70s. Then a professor of Fine Art at California State University Los Angeles (a period of her life she refers to as “ancient history!”), she was spurred on by the eagerness of her students and her own everlasting and infectious rise-to-the-challenge attitude—a quality she describes as “impractical.” “It was the kids that wanted to have a continuing context with professionals in the art world. And I said ‘okay!’” 36
Lydia Takeshita, Founder & Executive Director of LA Artcore
The space was originally located in South Pasadena, near Cal State LA. Once the artwork began to sell, LA Artcore established its own 501(c)(3) status and moved to 652 South Mateo Street, in what was then the first stirrings of the Arts District. At the time, the neighborhood consisted of hollowed-out warehouse spaces and industrial buildings slowly filling with artists fleeing the high cost of living in Venice and Santa Monica. In 1981, the City of Los Angeles passed the Artists-in-Residence ordinance, a regulation that allowed for residential occupation of former industrial and commercially-zoned buildings. The ordinance made legal what was already 37
Installation at LA Artcore
being done illegally, and the area quickly exploded with performance venues and exhibition spaces. Takeshita said she remembers hundreds of people coming from all over to walk from gallery to gallery for openings of exhibition back then. “It was just amazing. At that time, in the ‘80s, in a one-block area, we had over 20 galleries. We’d rent buses and bring people in. The city was overjoyed, they’d help us with transportation and publicize openings and events. We’d have people from all over the United States come to see an event sometimes. We were just beginning [as a gallery space] and we just joined in. Then, all of a sudden, it just stopped,” she said in an interview with Fabrik. The influx of drugs in the area during the late ‘80s propelled the deterioration of the neighborhood, and LA Artcore moved to Union Center for the Arts, a de-sanctified church in Little Tokyo. The exhibition space is imbued with same ideas that propelled and sustained Takeshita’s discussions with her students years earlier. LA Artcore was intended as a venue to provide exposure for emerging as well as mid-career artists, regardless of age or background. “It is just a space for the artists to come and use whenever they’re ready to show,” she said. “I don’t go out and find the artists, it’s the other way around. So, for me, it’s an opportunity to meet the artists and help them in any way I can.” 38
A few artists, such as Bryan Ida, whose work was exhibited last November at the Union Center space, are also represented by commercial galleries. The work Ida shows at George Billis Gallery in Culver City is abstract, while his LA Artcore exhibit featured figurative paintings that flirt with abstraction: portraits of local artists and friends, made of tiny dots. In some of these portraits, the facial plane is fragmented by a series of thin, exact lines that echo in a precise pattern across the surface. The effect is holographic. The vertical lines produce a psychedelic sense of motion; imagine viewing the Mona Lisa on acid. LA Artcore’s second location, at the Brewery Annex, always has two or more concurrent shows, such as the paintings by Carla Viparelli and Lore Eckleberry shown in November 2017. Most of the funding for LA Artcore comes from Takeshita herself, “I was totally, naturally impractical. I did what I wanted to do and didn’t question how I was going to survive,” she laughed, “I just did it. I think that it’s been hard to keep this space alive… In the late ‘70s and ‘80s we were able to sell work and that sustained the space. But now, people don’t buy art like they used to… It’s an extraordinary event that people would buy art. They don’t have to buy art. They can just take their phones and make a copy if they like something.” LA Artcore’s downtown space programs 12 shows annually, often featuring two or more artists at once, making it a gallery that gives voice and visibility to approximately 48 artists each year. “We have shows booked through 2020,” Takeshita said. In an exceedingly competitive industry, the notion of unrepresented artists having an established venue where they can show their work is somewhat of a real-life fantasy. Takeshita explained that she rarely turns anyone down. The experience artists gain from this exposure is invaluable: it allows for a necessary questioning of the material, the sometimes-harsh discernment of the public gaze. The shift from studio to gallery is a catalyst for artistic development and for Takeshita’s satisfaction with her still-quixotic project. “It’s just wonderful to have young people with some hope to even try to make it as an artist. For them to come and put up work…it’s a real joy for me.”
LOS ANGELES MURALS: PAINTING A CITY â€” WORDS GENIE DAVIS
Perhaps more than any other American city, Los Angeles creates, shapes and reshapes itself. We tell our own tales, often visually, a natural way to express ourselves in a town known for making movies. Cinema aside, another way we tell our stories visually, is through murals. From downtown core to suburban sprawl, even 50 years ago, Los Angeles was considered a city of murals. An eleven-year moratorium on the art form temporarily chilled that designation, but today, mural making has returned to weave an artistic quilt throughout the city. 40
Emigdio Vasquez John the Prophet, 1985 Oil on canvas. From the collection of Rosemary Vasquez Tuthill. Â© Emigdio Vasquez Art. Photograph by Garret Hill.
Surface Tension: Murals, Signs, and Mark-Making in LA, Ken GonzalesDay’s exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center (through February 25, 2018) documents more than 140 LA street artworks, both current and historic. Visitors stand on a floor map with numbers that correspond to photographs of mural art throughout the region. Both literally and figuratively, we’re stepping into a world that does more than merely decorate the city; it documents its history, its residents, its diversity. Each of Gonzales-Day’s photographs can be matched to a location and, in many cases, to the name of the artist who created the work. Moving from East Los Angeles to Venice, we witness an understanding of both community and history; local artists tell their own stories in their own ways. Surface Tension is artistic photographic journalism that depicts a more raw and intense form of street art. Large-scale narrative imagery devoted to the life of the city, the artists who create it and the neighborhoods in which it takes place is a satisfying way to “spread the news.” Public art is both a human impulse and imperative. It does not need a museum to contain it or gallery walls to adorn. Like the ancient cave art of Lascaux, France and South Sulawesi, Indonesia—the latter believed to be created 35,000 years ago —Los Angeles murals are a passionate form of self-expression. Many of these works are created by Chicano artists. One such artist’s mural work is on display south of LA. My Barrio: Emigdio Vasquez and Chicana/o Identity in Orange County, at Chapman University, documents the work of Emigidio Vasquez—considered the godfather of Orange-based Chicano art—who painted more than 30 murals. Vasquez’s El Proletariado de Azátlan, celebrating the Chicano cultural movement, is being restored and completed on the Chapman campus by his son, Emigdio “Higgy” Vasquez, who was present when his father created the original work in 1979. Located on the side of an apartment building garage, the mural depicts the famous figure of Cesar Chavez, but also documents the Chicano presence throughout California—citrus farmers, rail workers, miners— in a powerful tribute to Vasquez’ community, identity and heritage. A crumbling wall and faded paint had endangered the mural, but it has now been fully restored by Higgy Vasquez under the auspices of Chapman. The university is also offering a gallery exhibition of Vasquez’s oil paintings alongside mural artifacts and other contemporary works by LA artists. A mapping of all 30 of the artist’s murals in Orange County is available through an iPhone app. Following in his father’s footsteps, Higgy Vasquez is also creating his own mural,
Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in LA (For the Pride of Your Hometown, the Way of the Elders and in the Memory of the Forgotten). Photo: Jeff McLane
Dario Canul of artist collective Tlacolulokos. Photo: Gary Leonard
Visions of Chapman: Education, Diversity and Community, portraying the history of the university itself. This work has been painted on portable, durable cloth-like material, one way for future muralists to preserve their work and make it portable. Also portable are the temporary murals commissioned by Downtown LA’s Central Library. Painted by the Oaxacan artist collective Tlacolulokos, eight panels in Visualizing Language: Oaxaca in LA (For the Pride of Your Hometown, the Way of the Elders and in the Memory of the Forgotten) portray the indigenous migrant point of view from a contemporary perspective. Bold yet dreamlike, they tell the story of a young boy with a tattooed teardrop on one cheek, a sharpie and other pens in his hand. His image appears in all panels, serving as a potent look to the future as well as the past. The murals are mounted below the permanent panoramic 1933-era narrative murals about California history painted by Dean Cornwell. In their portrayal of Native Americans subjugated to European conquerors, these historic works use a muted palette, as if to downplay the subjugation taking place. In contrast, the Oaxacan muralists use saturated hues that command attention, drawing the viewer’s eyes directly to the 13-foot-tall panels and providing a revised perspective on California history and its indigenous inhabitants. The work is especially poignant and relevant today, with DACA on the chopping block and ethnic division laid flat out on the political table. Each of these mural projects is a part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. Like the cave walls of our ancestors, murals represent our collective cultural legacy. They’re the perfect canvas for the elegant sprawl of our city, its history, its diversity and its dreams.
Cosijoesa Cernas (L) and Dario Canul (R) of artist collective Tlacolulokos. Photo: Jeff McLane
THE WENDE MUSEUM â€” WORDS SHANA NYS DAMBROT
When in 1992 Justin Jampol founded the Wende Museum, dedicated to preserving cultural artifacts of the Cold War (1945-1991), few could have foreseen the bittersweet circumstances of todayâ€™s geopolitics, circumstances that have conspired to make the institution and its archive of more than 100,000 objects more relevant than ever. As it celebrates its 15th birthday, the Wende has now moved into a new permanent home in what had housed the historic Culver City Armory. 48
Gerd Ludwig Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, 2011 Ukraine, Collection of Gerd Ludwig
With the guidance of publisher Benedikt Taschen, designer Michael Boyd and architect Christian Kienapfel/PARAVANT transformed what was once an operational military intelligence site into a breezy and regal exhibition and public scholarship facility. As adaptive reuse projects go, this one is profoundly poignant, architecturally embodying the poetic symmetry of converting a space once dedicated to perpetrating the actual Cold War into a place where its cultural symbols are now housed and interpreted. This narrative is not lost on the Wende’s curatorial staff. This resonance between the Cold War era and the present day animates the campus. It is amplified in the building’s open-display storage and conservation areas, and also in the debut exhibition, organized around the motif of locations. Cold War Spaces comprises interrelated thematic vignettes examining aspects of private, work, border, secret, utopian, changing and outer spaces within Soviet society. The Wende specializes in mixing historical and contemporary content with pop culture, design, documentary and fine art objects. With this in mind, each successive room in the open floor plan unpacks its topic with gravity and wit, charm and surprise. Electrifying correlations are generated across sightlines, expressing how the subthemes mingle to create a holistic view that engages, entertains and educates. Chief Curator Joes Segal is understandably hard-pressed to choose a favorite among the magnitude of the Wende’s exotic treasures. Posters, movies, endless busts of Lenin and underground documentary projects are all impossibly endearing; and so much more is somber, moving and rare. But Segal acknowledges that everyone loves the spy toys—surveillance equipment that is sleek and hefty, mysterious and Cyrillic and often in fine working order. A palette of these nosy devils is featured in Cold War Spaces, along with powerful painting, activist cartography and majestic, tragic architectural photography. Nearby the gear hangs a selection of maps showing wrong information—a classic Russian strategy to confuse invaders. In fact, there is a mapping motif in both historical and interpretive works. (Coincidentally, in 1949, the Culver City Armory itself was left off maps to protect its active military status.) “Seeing this idea grow up is so gratifying” said Jampol during a private preview of the Wende facility. “Finding its own life, its own home. And it is so exciting to be embraced by Culver City—a place known both as a center of arts and design, and also cinema, which plays such a huge part in this conversation.”
Nathan Farb Boy with Trench Coat and Sunglasses, 1977
Maurizio Camagna Binz – Strandpromenade, “Müther-Turm”, 2016 Germany
Installation View. Photo: Michael Underwood
It’s a bit easier for Jampol than for Segal to pick a favorite. “Those banners!” he said, beaming and pointing toward the ceiling where rows of luxurious handstitched flags offer slogans, crests and messages of the cause. “These textiles are where the whole collection started! They were the first things we owned, and they’ve never been shown before! They are of course political objects, but they are also things of beauty and skilled craftsmanship. But like so much of what we collect, they are orphaned objects. Where do they live? In what category? I love items that are a bit confusing.” The reality of “private space” in the Soviet state is that nothing was truly private. Domestic scenes were often staged to give the appearance of political orthodoxy, even as quirky and stylish design objects expressed an almost Palm Springs-esque sensibility. By contrast, public spaces were for scripted behavior, political messaging, heavy-handed symbolism and strident architecture. This tense arena, however, was also the site of an increasingly visible punk-inflected counterculture that emerged in the late 1980s—exemplified in photographs by Harald Hauswald. Work, Changing and Utopian Spaces are linked by the recurring iconography of monuments, towers, farmlands and able-bodied figures, tinged 56
Installation View. Photo: Michael Underwood
with the fog of retrospection. Outer Space, with its jaunty pride in the first cosmonaut and images from the 1950s film “Voyage to Mars,” offers a retro-futurist freshness. Border Space is the most emphatic and familiar, with fragments of the Berlin Wall as well as images of it, such as Farrah Karapetian’s map-based piece and a stylish, luminous painting showing a crop of TV antennas on the other side, emblems of ironic proximity. These are juxtaposed with immigration documents and other reminders of the restrictions on human freedoms that caused so much pain and unrest—and has so much unlooked-for resonance today. Finally, a singular video work was commissioned for the occasion. Vessel of Change is a multimedia installation by artists David Hartwell and Bill Ferehawk, based on the real event dubbed by historians as the Seasick Summit, when Mikhail Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush met on a ship off Malta in 1989, in stormy weather, thus symbolically ending the Cold War – and punctuating the end of the Cold War Spaces show with a flourish. Cold War Spaces is on view at the Wende Museum through April 29, 2018. More information can be found at wendemuseum.org.
MAGIC, MYTH AND METAPHOR PHOTOGRAPHY IN ARGENTINA, CONTRADICTION AND CONTINUITY
September 16, 2017–January 28, 2018 — WORDS PHIL TARLEY IMAGES COURTESY OF THE GETTY CENTER
To declare that the Getty’s Photography in Argentina exhibition is entrancing would be to slight it. Mastering the curation of Argentina’s vast photographic history, Judith Keller and Idurre Alonso offer numinous and luminous insights into that diverse and layered cultural landscape. This presentation is an encyclopedic pictorial and conceptual survey: from Argentina’s scant indigenous peoples to its turbulent political history, the display culminates in effervescent contemporary iconography via an epic journey. 58
Marcos Lรณpez Gaucho Gil Photography in Argentina, Contradiction and Continuity 1850-2010 at The Getty Center
The exhibit includes photographers from other countries who shot in Argentina and Argentine photographers who shot in other countries, resulting in a massive, wild and worldly showcase. From glamour shots of legendary Eva Peron to photographs of the mothers protesting the disappearance of their children executed by a caustic fascist government, there is much to ponder and peruse. Part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA at the Getty Center, the exhibition features almost 300 works by 60 artists in four thematic sections that the curators have titled Civilization and Barbarism, National Myths, Aesthetic and Political Gestures and New Democracy to Present Day. An early chronicle in sepias and ancient emulsion-based printing processes presents the historic peoples who settled the land. This kaleidoscopic vision slides back and forth across a 160-year photographic slipstream. It temporally, metaphorically and symbolically imprints a bold Argentine ethos on our psyches as it swirls alternating images of colorful metafictions and harsh black and white realties. Documental, ethnographic, landscape, conceptual, cinematic, whimsical; it’s all here. Modern Argentina is portrayed with numerous subcultures representing both city and country peoples. An immense photographic array, this curation is filled with gaucho cowboys wrangling herds of cattle for the abattoir, images of fascist dictatorship, portraits of a fecund people and the land within. All are rounded up and presented in resplendent, cacophonous diversity. This bounty of images, times and cultures simultaneously informs and overwhelms. Yes, there is discord, but there is also delight. There are many portraits of gauchos in the collection, but Gaucho Gil by Marcos López is both the biggest and most dramatic photograph in the show, made cool and campy by its gigantic ornate frame. Like cowboys loitering in North American mythology, Argentine gauchos retain a special place in the heroic mythology of the Southern cone country. There are many haunting images that linger in the mind’s eye. Nicola Costantino’s Winged Nicola, Inspired by Bacon and Inspired by Rembrandt seems the perfect photograph to brand the show. The large-format image is a heart-stopping evocation of the Apollonian smashed up against the grotesque. Thrust into the center of a massive, splayed-out, butchered carcass, a shy winsome woman stands Botticelli-demure on a stool, hair and hand modestly covering her breasts. Her gaze is a languid, sensual aside. Soft muted tones enhance the bashful beauty of the shot. Beef is a national passion of Argentina, as are all things sexy and alluring. The meaty carnality of Costantino’s portrait epitomizes the contrasts of the country and its preoccupations. 60
An outstanding 332-page hardcover catalog with more than 50 pages of critical essays accompanies the exhibition. The widest-ranging collection of Argentine photography ever displayed in the United States, Photography in Argentina evokes the countryâ€™s visual gestalt in bold, striking, imaginative ways.
Nicola Costantino. Winged Nicola, Inspired by Bacon and Inspired by Rembrandt. Photography in Argentina, Contradiction and Continuity 1850-2010 at The Getty Center
ART ABOUT TOWN
MUSEUM VIEWS THE BROAD, LOS ANGELES Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors (October 21, 2017–January 1, 2018) Words Peter Frank
Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors manifest the best and the worst of the Japanese artist’s impulses. In these reflective chambers, dependent on the “Versailles effect” of facing mirrors endlessly reflecting one another, space becomes omni-directional and the visitor (or, in several cases, peephole viewer) loses—well, begins to lose—orientation. In a sense, this immersion in endlessness, underscored by the rhythmic repetition of details within the chambers (including the mirrors’ edges as well as extraneous objects the artist has introduced), recapitulates a primary characteristic of all Kusama’s art: obsessive recurrence. Almost from the beginning of her career she has assembled her paintings and sculptures out of single units repeated indefinitely. Looped lines, air mail stickers, phallic pillow shapes and, in particular, dots have all comprised the singular forms out of which she has conjured everything from giddily colored abstract paintings to almost-monstrous sexual assemblages. There is an edge to everything Kusama makes, no matter how charming. Infinity Mirrors provides enough of a retrospective context to allow an understanding of Kusama’s precarious psychology, but only just enough. What promises here and there to break out into a full-fledged survey of the artist’s career keeps getting interrupted by the show’s real raison-d’être, the half-dozen mirror rooms she has realized since 1965. You go into one gallery and look at some fascinating things Kusama did—the actual objects or documentation of performance or publications—and your appetite is whetted for more. Instead, you encounter a line of people waiting to pass through a door supervised by museum attendants. You shed your shoes, or your purse, or whatever, while waiting for the visitors ahead of you to finish. You enter the mirrored cube, or maybe rest your eyes at an aperture in some sort of vast globe, and there’s no top, no bottom, no here, no there. Cool. At least the first couple of times. But the hall-of-mirrors effect gets old sooner or later, as does the constant queuing and herding and 32-second turn62
Yayoi Kusama, Aftermath of Obliteration of Eternity, 2009, at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Wood, mirror, plastic, acrylic, LED, black glass, and aluminum. Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore; Victoria Miro, London; David Zwirner, New York. © Yayoi Kusama Photo by Cathy Carver.
arounds, especially as it keeps disrupting your engagement with Kusama’s other achievements, and keeps reminding you of your last experience at an airport. The show culminates in a (mirror-free) dot-room where you can take the colored dot stickers rationed out to you and place them wherever someone hasn’t already (which at this point is the ceiling). To be fair, it’s wrong to go looking for, much less expect, a true Kusama retrospective here. Infinity Mirrors isn’t advertised as such. The historical material is designed not just to put Kusama, but specifically her mirror rooms, into perspective. But the show is designed to advance the Infinity Mirrors as Kusama’s ultimate form of expression, an evaluation she seems to support. They’re not. They fit in conceptually and stylistically with what she has always done, and (especially given the hype) they certainly maintain the sense of the spectacle she has cultivated at various times in her career. For all their wow factor, however, they lack the hands-on warmth (or at least erotic frisson) of, well, most of Kusama’s other work. They also lack the fervid imagination that sends a thrill through most of her art. Mirror rooms are a ‘60s gimmick; Kusama wasn’t the only artist to make and show one back then, and perhaps wasn’t even the first. Her interventions in the format do almost nothing to relieve it of its technical inertness. The mirrors swallow Kusama more than they swallow us.
ART ABOUT TOWN
Up one flight, in The Broad’s projection room, several recent short videos by Kusama accompanied a lyrical Jud Yalkut art-doc about her from the ‘60s. These have nothing to do with mirrors, but everything to do with the artist, her spirit and her significance. There was plenty more to reflect on here than there was downstairs. Infinity Mirrors travels next to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (March 3-May 27, 2018), Cleveland Museum of Art (July 9-September 30, 2018) and The High Museum, Atlanta (November 18, 2018-February 17, 2019). CALIFORNIA AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM (September 15, 2017–February 25, 2018) CHINESE AMERICAN MUSEUM (September 15, 2017–March 11, 2018) Circles and Circuits I & II: Chinese Caribbean Art Words Molly Enholm
The Caribbean is a complex and vibrant region overlaid with multiple histories. Part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA initiative, Circles and Circuits I & II: Chinese Caribbean Art is a two-part exhibition on view at the California African American Museum (CAAM) and Chinese American Museum (CAM) that explores this specific and much overlooked component of the region’s collective identity. As such, there are myriad connections between the two locations, as notions of place, time and memory pervade each, layered with the inherent complexities of the diaspora. Although the exhibition thematically begins with the modernist explorations of Chinese Caribbean artists of the early 20th century, the legacy of the region’s multiple diasporas reach far deeper. The main gallery of Circles and Circuits I at CAAM, focuses on didactics which provide the historic context of a region largely shaped by the African presence, as millions of slaves were brought to the region over the course of three centuries. Chinese immigration to the Caribbean islands came in the post-Emancipation period, first as indentured laborers in the early 1800s, later followed by waves of immigration prompted by economic difficulties in China after the Opium War (1839-1842) and the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 in the United States. Against this troubled backdrop, the story of the artistic legacy of the Chinese diaspora unfolds. In the main body of the exhibition at CAAM, sim64
Flora Fong (b. 1949) Virgen de la Caridad, 2014 Oil on canvas Courtesy of the artist
ART ABOUT TOWN
plified, geometrically rendered figures delineated with bold outlines and richly saturated colors broadcast the influences of early 20th-century European modernism. The exhibition provides an avenue to explore the impact of historic influences within the Society of Trinidad Independents (1929-38), the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago (1943-today) and the later influx of Surrealism found in the writings of André Breton and the Afro-Cuban-influenced abstractions of Wifredo Lam—whose father was a Chinese immigrant to Cuba. A striking series by Flora Fong, who adopts the palm tree as a key motif, embodies her diverse heritage. For Fong, also of paternal Chinese descent, the palm might be seen to replace the emblematic pine, a symbol of endurance in Chinese art, while her bold use of color seemingly opposes such influence. Additionally, Fong shapes her trees based on the Chinese character for “person,” as she casts the motif into multiple roles: a protective arch around a golden-clad Virgen de la Caridad (2014), energetic figures framing an iconic coffee percolator (perhaps wound up by the caffeine of the region’s major export), withstanding hurricane winds in La Vida en al Campo es Dura (Noche) (2015) before succumbing to similar forces in Temporada Ciclónica (2009), rendered in a circular fashion to evoke the cyclical nature of life. The story of the diaspora is multi-generational. Traveling to Circles and Circuits II: Contemporary Chinese American Art at CAM, the view is more intimate in scale and varied in artistic medium, moving from the modern into the pluralistic contemporary epoch. The air of experimentation is palpable, divided thematically with mixed-media and found-object installations, digital photography and video supplementing the more traditional mediums. Yet despite the broadening of media, parallel quests in subject persist. The power of memories, both personal and communal, shapes the first grouping of works, focused on the subject of the body. A series of paintings by Liang Domínguez Fong, daughter of Flora Fong, dominate the room with their portrayal of the female body alternately as a life-giving vehicle, a protective force and as a divine presence in the celestial Protector de la travesía (2012). Nearby, Margaret Chen’s Ovoid/O void (2003) suggests the complexities of familial legacies through the tangled web of a womb–like installation. The exhibition concludes with “Engaged Landscape,” connecting the past and present with a subject prevalent in Chinese art for over a millennium. Following the Literati ideal of “landscape as self-portrait,” the natural world acts as symbols for human qualities that speak more for the artist than the objects they 66
ART ABOUT TOWN
represent. These are not specific places, but imaginary worlds, vivid in the artists’ minds. In two photographs from a larger series titled The Five Earth Touchings, Yoland Skeete superimposes self-portraits in which she dons the facial markings or attire of her ancestors over images of the landscape, a field of sugarcane signifying the brutal history of slavery. Yet Skeete also provides the touchstone, referencing Buddha’s own call for help at his moment of enlightenment, in the artist’s search for connection, peace and transcendence. JAPANESE AMERICAN NATIONAL MUSEUM Transpacific Borderlands: The Art of Japanese Diaspora in Lima, Los Angeles, Mexico City, and São Paulo (September 17, 2017–February 25, 2018) Words David S. Rubin
Part of PST: LA/LA, this eye-opening exhibition reveals the complexities of identity categorization in the 21st century, while also providing opportunities for exploring an intriguing commingling of aesthetic and socio-political themes. Organized collaboratively by six curators, the exhibition presents works in a wide range of media by 13 artists from four cities with sizeable Latin American or Latinx populations. The common bond among what is a genuinely diverse group is that all the artists are Nikkei, people of Japanese heritage living outside Japan. Installed on two floors, the works are loosely divided into four categories, with ground level sections devoted mostly to themes of homeland and mestizaje (racial mixing) and the upstairs galleries focused largely on hybridity and cosmopolitanism. At the exhibition entrance, informative wall text familiarizes viewers with region-specific terminology for ethnic identities of people of Japanese descent living outside Japan in predominately Latin American communities collectively referred to as “Japanese Latino.” As might be expected from grouping works by artists whose backgrounds and experiences reflect multiple cultural influences, no single emergent style or issue dominates the exhibition. Some thematic overlap can be found among artists concerned with immigration, displacement, and transience. Several are also influenced in one way or another by Japanese culture and traditions. Immigration is the focus of Mexican artist Taro Zorrilla’s video documentary and accompanying sculpture which recounts the stories of men who flee Mexico to the U.S. to earn enough money to build their dream houses back in their homeland. On a related theme, Sandra Nakamura’s site-specific
ART ABOUT TOWN
Transpacific Borderlands. Shizu Saldamando, La Sandra
installation uses vintage equipment to project a faint photographic image documenting the arrival of Japanese migrants in Peru in 1899. The installation was created in response to a poem by one of that country’s most acclaimed poets, José Watanabe, who is of both Japanese and Peruvian descent. One of the more captivating works in the exhibition is a video by Mexico’s Yuriko Rojas Moriyama presenting the story of a Japanese couple lured to Mexico for land. Reinforcing the cultural and linguistic overlays, the story unfolds in three languages simultaneously: in sign language by a narrator with a black bar over her eyes, in Spanish by a typewriter that operates continuously at the top of the screen, and in English via subtitles along the bottom. Although born in Brazil, Erica Kaminshi turns to the traditional Japanese subject of cherry blossoms, but presents them in clusters of suspended Petri dishes, objects commonly found in scientific laboratories. The overall effect is a soft interplay of light and shadow, an ephemeral sensation that has affinities to Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Rooms. A Zen-like experience is also attainable by engaging with the centers or interiors of Kiyoto Ota’s exquisite vessels that look
ART ABOUT TOWN
like fine ceramics but are actually made from common materials such as wood, cardboard, and mirror. In the exhibition catalog, Ota comments, “The final purpose of all things is to be one with the universe, and at the same time, for all things to remain separate.” Some of the freshest works in the exhibition are by Los Angeles-based Ichiro Irie and Shizu Saldamando, who respond more to contemporary culture than to tradition. Irie, who was born in Japan but views his identity as distinctly Angelino, poignantly calls attention to the transient nature of the Los Angeles car culture in a large-scale canvas depicting smashed-up automobiles. With imagery painted in acrylic and details drawn in markers likely to fade over time, the medium itself functions as an expressive metaphor for impermanence. Saldamando’s exemplary drawings of typical Millennials, shown set against barren backgrounds accentuated with spray-painted smudges, effectively capture the ethos of an assimilated generation. A related series of drawings on wood panels, meticulously rendered images of lunch boxes covered with pop culture decals, is particularly intriguing as documentation of a generational fad. J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas (September 16, 2017–January 28, 2018) Words Simone Kussatz
Part—perhaps even the high point—of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, Golden Kingdoms: Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas, is a spectacular exhibition created by Metropolitan Museum curator Joanne Pillsbury, Getty Museum director Timothy Potts and Getty Center researcher Kim Richter. It’s almost impossible to be unaware of the exhibit, given the banners promoting it all over Los Angeles, and certainly once at the Museum, where the stairs leading up to the Getty’s pavilion are painted with the image of The Serpent Labret with Articulated Tongue. Yet the show, presenting more than 300 objects in a small space, can be challenging. Golden Kingdoms crowds in 2,800 years of Latin American history including various civilizations, such as the Aztec, Chimu, Inca, Olmec, Maya, Moche, Nazca and Wari. Furthermore, rather than following a chronological order, the exhibit is organized geographically. Nevertheless, the collection is enthralling—not so much because of the dazzling materials which comprise the artifacts (principally gold and jade, with
ART ABOUT TOWN
shells, textiles and feathers), but because of what they represented in ancient American cultures and how they were valued and passed on from one generation, or even civilization, to the next. For instance, gold was used more for mortuary rituals, as a symbol of connectedness to the supernatural world and as an indication of status and power, rather than for weapons or currency. The Olmecs and Mayans valued jade more than gold because it was laborious to carve. The Incas favored Spondylus shells because they were difficult to find and detach from rocks deep on the ocean floor. The exhibit’s appeal also derives from the rare opportunity to see such a huge collection of indigenous Latin American art all at once due to the collaboration of about 50 institutes from the Americas and Europe. Works were lent by the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, the British Museum in London, the Museo Kuntur Wasi in Peru, the Museo Nacional del Prado in Madrid, the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, Museo del Oro in Colombia, the Peabody Museum at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Institution, among others. The highlights are numerous: Golden Kingdoms opens with Stela, a more than 2000-year-old stone monument from the Pacopampa archeological site in the northern highlands of Peru. Displayed nearby is a golden mouth mask and crown that belonged to a 60-year old man whose remains were found in the tomb of the temple complex Kuntur Wasi in the Andean highlands of Peru. Both ornaments present panthera creatures, suggesting the characteristics of a powerful human being or his transformation into an animal or god. Also on view is a yellow tabard made of tropical bird feathers that belonged to an eminent person of the Nazca civilization with the motif of lizards in light blue and orange. Particularly intriguing are jewelry and personal objects that belonged to high-ranking females from various regions. Among them are the ear ornaments and necklaces of a middle-aged priestess, discovered at the Chotuna-Chornancap archeological site in Peru, and the funeral assemblage—a jadeite and limestone mask, a Spondylus shell with a limestone figure and a green-stoned collar—of Lady Tz’akbu Ajaw, or “the Red Queen,” a Mayan ruler. Many of these objects provide a glimpse into the intimate lives of the people who wore them, as with numerous objects recovered at the Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza, or in the headdress and nose ornaments of the Lady of Cao, a Moche ruler who died in her twenties due to childbirth complications. Leaping forward in history, the exhibit closes with a stunning 16th century oil painting by Andrés Sánchez Gallque, painted in Quito, Ecuador. The work
Mouth Mask with Feline Creature and Human Figures, 800 - 550 B.C. Culture: Cupisnique/Chavín Medium: Gold Object: H: 14.6 x W: 21.3 x D: 0.3 cm (5 3/4 x 8 3/8 x 1/8 in.) Museo Kuntur Wasi, Ministerio de Cultura del Perú Image © Kuntur Wasi Museum
portrays Don Francisco de Arobe, a political leader from the Esmeraldas coast and his sons Pedro and Domingo, dressed in fine Spanish attire with personal Andean ornaments. After its run at the Getty, the exhibition will travel to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, where it will be on view from February 27 through May 28, 2018.
ART ABOUT TOWN
GALLERY REVIEWS 18TH STREET ARTS CENTER ATRIUM GALLERY Helen Chung and Jennifer Celio: Planes and Structures (October 14–November 11, 2017) Words Shana Nys Dambrot
In blending motifs culled from architecture, design and nature, these two artists already make work that constitutes its own study in contrasts and hybridity; exhibited together, multiple crosscurrents bring out facets of each in the most enlightening manner. Taking full advantage of the mind’s instinct for commonalities, the pairing amplifies the most salient aspects in both, focusing attention on those elements which are so germane to each individual artist’s practice. Chung’s works evoke a Moebius Strip with a Modernist twist. They trace contours of an architectural but expressive geometry whose shapes also echo brushstrokes—and in fact they are paintings. They occupy sculptural space but straddle the line at all times, and from every angle. Chung’s Minimalist palette is akin to those of mid-century abstractionists like Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella or Donald Judd, but she hasn’t forgotten her Escher.
Helen Chung and Jennifer Celio: Planes and Structures. Installation View at 18th Street Arts Center.
ART ABOUT TOWN
For her part, Celio has been thinking about ways to expand and disrupt her picture planes, not only for reasons of optical and spatial curiosity, but as a way of furthering her narrative content. That content speaks to the tensions between the natural and built environments and the havoc wreaked by civilization upon nature. To these ends, she incorporates a range of materials and structural techniques as well as stylistic modes within single works. Celio’s pieces flirt with installation, with ropes, plexi, fasteners, paper and a translucent mylar-like material—all of which engages viewers’ space right in their sight lines and changes with their movements, creating literal and optical depth in shifting tectonics, so that each one tells a more complete story. Her landscape imagery—icebergs and forests, storms and seas—is occasionally coupled with references to buildings and dwellings, so as to create more dramatic economies of scale and reference the power of natural forces like wind and rain and the passage of time. Like a post-Pop Turner, Celio’s atmospheric renderings are moody excuses for broad passages of abstraction. Where Chung’s wall sculptures seem more intimate and painterly; they also bring out the sculptural qualities in Celio’s by physical proximity, so that the whole is more of a continuum than a juxtaposition. GAGOSIAN GALLERY, BEVERLY HILLS Walton Ford: Calafia (November 2–December 16, 2017) Words Shana Nys Dambrot
This exhibition of a small number of massive new paintings represents a return to form for this vital and beloved contemporary master. Technically, the depth, richness and precision of Ford’s fantastical realism represents the pinnacle for watercolor on paper—even more impressive at his trademark large scale, comfortably in the 5 x 10-foot range and beyond. The technique is so strong, it’s almost like he’s showing off. When he deploys his skills in the service of a sweeping, symbol-rich narrative such as the one which inspired Calafia—belonging to the past but particularly rife with allegorical references to the modern era—the total effect is epic. The storyline samples the civic and folkloric history of early colonialist incursions into the territories that would later become California. The compositions explore the emotional qualities of that mythological time and this real place, through the eyes of the region’s great beasts. Ford tells the story of each animal, its life and times, its political and family dramas, its desires,
ART ABOUT TOWN
Walton Ford. Ars Gratia Artis, 2017. Watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 60 1/4 x 119 1/4 at Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.
appetites, fears and battles fought—both against other creatures and increasingly against the incursions of men. From the animal’s point of view, much like native occupants and undisturbed lands, colonialism is not heroic, it’s a problem. By using the visual language of 19th-century naturalist illustrators such as John James Audubon and John Gould, Ford signals a pointedly ironic allegiance to a previous era of scientific inquiry and field research at its peak. Nowhere is this multi-level collision more intensely expressed than in La Madre (2017, watercolor, gouache and ink on paper, 108 x 144 inches). The bear, its binding ropes snapped, its anger awakened, emerges from a high-up cave to witness men hunting a bear in the distant valley below. Her oneness with the mountains, like her rest, is disturbed and her captivity is ending in the most explosive, tragic fashion. In two pieces, Grifo de California (60 x 83 inches) and Isla de California (108 x 144 inches) we see the fabled griffin, a half vulture/dragon, half mountain lion creature, once associated with the area and bearing a striking resemblance to a condor, attempting to negotiate anachronistic obstacles like electric wires strung through a canyon. In the most modern, the MGM lion nurses a poolside hangover as Ars Gratia Artis (60 x 120 inches) offers a cautionary peek into the “future” of these wild lands.
CHERRY AND MARTIN Adam Silverman: Ghosts (November 11, 2017–January 27, 2018) Words Molly Enholm
The installation of Adam Silverman’s current exhibition at Cherry and Martin is immediately striking. A circle cut through the gallery’s dividing wall, à la Gordon Matta-Clark, becomes a proscenium through which a promenade is constructed. This elevated pathway consists of darkly stained railroad ties supported by concrete-block posts upon which the ceramic cast of the artist’s current exhibition, Ghosts, resides. For those familiar with previous installations of the Los Angeles-based potter’s work, the architectural staging may not surprise (a reflection of his architecture background), but the evolution of his sculptural forms just might. The potter’s approach to throwing pottery might be considered rather traditional, and Silverman readily acknowledges that he purposely operates at the intersection of craft, fine art and design. Less traditional are the complex surfaces of his vessels, which he achieves through layered manipulations of glaze and ash in multiple kiln firings. The result is a spectacular array of finishes, ranging from thickly mottled cherry-blossom pinks to silky radiant cobalt blues to the roughly stained earth tones which dominate the current exhibition.
Adam Silverman: Ghosts. Installation View at Cherry and Martin.
ART ABOUT TOWN
Erika Lizée. Eternally Searching (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13...), 2017. Installation View at Gallery 825. Acrylic on Duralar. 8’ x 69’ x 3’. Photo: Panic Studio LA.
The territory Silverman explores here represents a “tectonic shift” in his approach, from formal luxuriance to monochromatic austerity. The roughhewn forms of the vessels echo the explorations of midcentury pioneers Peter Voulkos and John Mason, fused with the Japanese aesthetic of mono no aware. Silverman’s process begins on the wheel, as did the ceramist’s previous incarnations, but here things might seem to go awry—at least from the pottery’s point of view. From careful shaping to aggressive pushing, punching and even taking up a baseball bat, the once smoothly-rounded vessels are now a bedraggled lot. In several instances, the sutured wounds are more pronounced than the initial damage. Both haunting and sublime, Silverman’s Ghosts are not peaceful spirits, but battle-scarred souls, akin to Jacob Marley or the hungry ghosts of Buddhist lore. Their present aesthetic provides evidence of a turbulent history. Paradoxically, what might initially read as imperfections—drips, cracks, bumps and scars—become symbols of perseverance. 76
ART ABOUT TOWN
LOS ANGELES ART ASSOCIATION / GALLERY 825 Erika Lizée: Eternally Searching (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13) (October 21–December 1, 2017) Words Jody Zellen
Erika Lizée’s installations are mathematically driven. She finds beauty in the complex patterns of geometry and uses phenomena like the Fibonacci sequence to create forms that follow the curves of the golden spiral. In her multi-layered works, Lizée assembles painted pieces of Duralar cut into biomorphic shapes to create enigmatic installations that extend off the wall into the gallery space. The works have a scientific as well as science fiction allure, and explore the relationship between the known and the unknown. Eternally Searching (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13) appears to emerge from behind the central wall of the gallery. It then literally extends diagonally onto the two adjoining walls. A drawn purple orb made from a spiraling organic chain 77
ART ABOUT TOWN
appears to hover in a black abyss beyond the wall and is seen through faux oval openings extracted from the wall’s surface. Organically shaped pieces of Duralar, painted in shades of blue and purple, are linked to the wall and flow across the room, continuing along the adjacent walls and out into the space. At the edges of this fabricated nebula, Lizée has suspended clear plastic pods, each containing an isolated floral shape. The result is a sculptural installation created by connecting many painted curvilinear forms that reference both the expansive sky and the deep sea. In Lizée’s fantastical installation, it is as if an entire other world floats behind the gallery walls and only a small fragment of this larger entity has been allowed in for viewing. Lizée uses given and constructed walls as barriers separating two and three-dimensional space to create illusionistic works that exist on a metaphysical plane. The trompe-l’oeil installation depicts the familiar and the impossible simultaneously. What sets Lizée’s work apart is the precise collaging of the disparate parts and the way each segment flows together. Light helps to maximize the sense of movement as the installation is carefully lit to cast evocative shadows. By following a sequence of numbers and creating an algorithm for compositing biomorphic shapes into an array, Lizée has fashioned an astonishing installation. The work is engrossing on multiple levels as she has created an artwork that makes the metaphoric and mathematical both seductive and tangible. PARKER GALLERY Franklin Williams: 1963-1973 (September 17–November 4, 2017) Words Peter Frank
Franklin Williams emerged in the early 1960s with the burgeoning Funk movement in northern California, exercising astounding technique on whatever materials and formats he essayed. The results are as beautiful, peculiar and even hilarious now as they were a half-century ago. There’s an intricate sensibility at work here, bolstered crucially by the craftsman’s hand but not dependent on it, manifesting a world of constant metamorphosis. Williams became a fixture on the Bay Area scene in the early-to-mid 1960s, but never a prominent (much less self-promoting) one. He exhibited often, but was almost bashful about doing so—one of the reasons he has remained an artist’s artist and a talent barely recognized beyond San Francisco
ART ABOUT TOWN
Installation view of Franklin Williams: 1963-73. Courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles. Courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles.
until today. Another reason, it seems, is that Funk travels well only in disguise; its rambunctious imagery sells itself abroad (as the success of Robert Arneson and William T. Wiley attests), but its gaudy maximalism and high production values don’t. Worse, Williams is an intimist, even a miniaturist, a still small voice in an age of stentorian clamor. The exhibition of Williams’ early work was divided into three parts: objects from the mid-late ‘60s, paintings from the early ‘70s and, upstairs, a clutch of drawings from 1965. All three groupings shared Williams’ hallmark exactitude and an abstract-organic formal vocabulary. The objects—small, eccentric assemblages indebted to surrealism without being surrealist—sat on their shelves and pedestals like old-fashioned stand-up comedians: witty, worried, forlorn, confident and unpredictable all at once. The drawings, all 12 x 9 inches, introduced linear and, indeed, pictorial complexity into the earlier objects’ gnarled contours and textures, and held the wall, terse and tender, like embodied haiku. The paintings revealed Williams as a lavish colorist and a master of patterning, symmetry and kinesis bordering on the psychedelic. In all these works shapes and presences seem in constant flux, almost impossible to describe even as Williams himself has limned them with masterful precision.
ART ABOUT TOWN
MT. SAN ANTONIO COLLEGE ART GALLERY John David O’Brien, Rebecca Ripple, Colleen Sterritt: Khôra (September 21, 2017–December 7, 2017) Words Quinton Bemiller
Jacques Derrida deconstructed Plato’s concept of khôra, stating, “One cannot even say of it that it is neither this nor that or that it is both this and that.” If that sounds perfectly unclear, that is the point. In ancient Greece, khôra was originally a geographic area outside the city center, an “other” place. The term implies a space between being and not being, a location where new ideas can emerge. As such, Khôra is appropriately titled. Curated by Fatemeh Burnes and featuring work by John David O’Brien, Rebecca Ripple and Colleen Sterritt, Khôra circumvents logic in delightful ways. It is an intellectually stimulating and conceptually grounded exhibition that occupies a quiet space, perfect for discovery. Rapunzel (2009) by Rebecca Ripple is a low-to-the-ground object composed of industrial metal awning with lustrous pink resin and shrink-wrapped gold cord macramé, trailing across the floor in fairytale fashion. A multitude of references come to mind, from Marcel Duchamp’s readymades to Eva Hesse’s Post-Minimal rope pieces, to Southern California Finish/Fetish. Absurdly, neither the awning nor the “hair” are in their expected lofty positions, but instead lie prone on the floor. Fid 2 (2013) is a mesmerizing wall-mounted fractal-like nest of galvanized wire and tabs of masking tape. Along with its cast shadows,
John David O’Brien, Rebecca Ripple, Colleen Sterritt: Khôra. Installation View at Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery.
ART ABOUT TOWN
this work makes a huge visual impact with very little, much like Arte Povera but glitzier. Dominating one entire wall is Ripple’s painted text, Absolutely (2008), which employs atmospheric and linear perspective. If one stands to the far left, the perspective is canceled out and each letter appears to be the same size. Although flat, Ripple has paradoxically managed to make Absolutely a three-dimensional experience, inviting viewers to approach it as sculpture. Colleen Sterritt’s Green Rondo à la Turk (2015) references the Dave Brubeck composition Blue Rondo à la Turk (1959), which merged American blues with Turkish rhythms. This hybridization manifests in Sterritt’s work by merging sculpture with painting aesthetics. It is wall-mounted at eye-level like a picture, with dangling parts that rest on the floor. Color, the domain of painting, is essential to this sculpture, whose palette of greens and browns is suggestive of landscape. The machine-made plastic and foam rubber materials are at odds with the natural wood and sea sponges, creating a contrast that supports the exhibition’s theme. Vixen (2013) is also green—a mossy green combined with recycled bentwood furniture pieces to evoke rhythmically organic tendrils or perhaps Medusa herself. Remnants of rattan, presumably from bentwood chair seats, twist around parts of the sculpture while upturned shelving units serve as receptacles for something unknown. The piece is whimsical, elegant but rustic, abstract yet suggestive. AO scultura-5 (koan) (no date) is a sophisticated black linear sculpture by John David O’Brien. Between four and five feet tall, its scale is modest but nearly human, inviting intimate encounter. In Zen Buddhism a koan is a type of story or riddle meant to puzzle the mind and disrupt logical thinking, hopefully leading to a state of enlightenment. As one views this sculpture from all angles, its appearance changes drastically, with no single vantage point offering a definitive view. Like the best minimalist sculptures, O’Brien’s work transcends the physical, becoming a temporal experience. A group of four framed mixed-media works entitled trame (2015) utilize mapping to create richly textured, tapestry-like compositions that invite viewers to decipher the embedded information. The artist was born in Japan, has spent a considerable amount of time living and working in Italy, has resided on the East Coast and is based in Los Angeles. These locations are not merely “plots” (“trame” in Italian) but rather personal memories and experiences. The layered combination of drawing, printing, cutting, painting, photography and laser-cut metal further suggest multiple meanings, making these works much more than the sum of their parts. 81
FRESH FACES IN ART
ARTISTS YOU SHOULD KNOW CAROLINA CAYCEDO
BY KIO GRIFFITH
The world’s nations’ continuous need to operate and survive through this exuberant Anthropocene period has drained every earthly resource, reaching now into our privacy and attempting to control the flow of the Internet, our virtual river. People and industry continue to struggle in conflicting cultures. One is a culture of progress with a price placed on anything essential to life: water, land, air, other natural resources. The other is a symbiosis with nature that is a spiritual inheritance. Through work that investigates relationships of movement, assimilation and resistance, representation and control, Carolina Caycedo addresses contexts, groups and communities that are affected by developmental projects like the constructions of dams, the privatization of water and their consequences on riverside communities. The human impact on rivers is extensive and pervasive. Perhaps nowhere is this better observed than in the case of land-use change and channeled water infrastructures. Dams dramatically transform rivers by altering the downstream flow of water, sediment and nutrients, modifying water temperatures and blocking species movement. In Indigenous cosmogonies of the Americas, all bodies of waters are connected. Rivers are the veins of the planet, their waters creating associations among communities and ecosystems. Caycedo’s evolving research-based project Be Dammed is an investigation of the socio-environmental impacts of dams, undertaken in frequent collaboration with local activists protesting their construction. Fishing nets are implemented as hanging sculptures, creating elegiac volumes in the exhibition space. Big Woman/Mujer grande is the most literal of these, depicting a female figure draped in net; it is talismanic in tone, but also pays tribute to Latin American female activists, two of whom were killed for their activism in 2016. The riparian communities Caycedo focuses on, self-sufficient and sustainable from their own work in the land and river, are independent and untaxable, and thus a threat to governmental forces languishing in a codependent sociopolitical-class food chain. More info at wwwcarolinacaycedo.com.
FRESH FACES IN ART
BY LAWRENCE GIPE
Roberta Gentry’s paintings are modestly-scaled gems that begin on a gridded ground and extrapolate outward into self-described “impossible structures.” Every composition is—obsessively—symmetrical. As an abstract practitioner, Gentry is on the Agnes Martin side: she doesn’t like disorder in any form. She gains great satisfaction from creating paintings with as little painterly incident as possible, accumulating crisply taped modules of color in a process that eschews, as she puts it, “messes or surprises.” Her latest series results from an abstract alphabet she invented in graduate school, a symbol system that referred to meaning but remained stubbornly alien and indecipherable. With titles like Anchor, Balloon and Chalice, this new work still refers tangentially to that alphabet. Visually, they seem to flirt with anthropomorphic forms that have a distinctively sci-fi vibe. Balloon (2017) resonates in particular, with its dark, matte voids simulating a robotic mask. It resides in a shadowy zone between analog and digital aesthetics. Gentry is also planning sculptures to accompany her paintings for her next exhibition, a series of articulated wooden beads, and long staffs that are installed floor-to-ceiling (think Brancusi meets a stripper pole.) She cuts these totems on her studio lathe—the ultimate tool for an artist fanatical about symmetry. More info at www.robertagentry.com.
Roberta Gentry Anchor, 2017 24”x18”, Acrylic on Canvas
FRESH FACES IN ART
BY LAWRENCE GIPE
Nick Taggart’s home is nestled on a verdant hillside in Glassell Park, and every window frames a magnificent view of the garden that surrounds it. His second floor studio looks south, but vegetation blocks out the sensation that the murky cauldron of Los Angeles exists beyond. The visual textures of this sanctuary have long fed the muse of Taggart, an artist who has exercised his prerogative to draw and draw only—a tough but resolute choice to make, especially in an art world that seems to reward scale, flashy installations and selfie-bait. Taggart’s personal practice of drawing (which he occasionally puts aside to collaborate with artist/spouse Laura Cooper) has lead to multiple series of diverse and intricate works, all of which tackle the gap between observation and representation. Taggart’s enormous technical facility initially led him into a dual life as a fine artist and an illustrator; now, he fearlessly intermingles these two disciplines to create a unique hybrid style. His latest drawings, Veronica Lake and Descanso, are breakout pieces, where the recognizable and the inchoate blur together. The startlingly original composition of Veronica Lake, which sprawls over two large sheets, is mimetic of the content: water, attenuated biological forms and clouds cascade in a melting tumble of forms that carves a path through the white emptiness of the paper. Eliminating the need for a template or formula, Taggart’s drawings grow rhizome-like, inspired and framed by the beauty just outside his door. More info at www.nicktaggart.com.
Nick Taggart Veronica Lake, 2017 48” x 36”, Graphite on Paper
FRESH FACES IN ART
BY KIO GRIFFITH
In order to support transcendent sources of truth and reality, we find strategies to dispose of the clutter of authoritarian ideological garbage that automatically collects in our normal, well-adjusted minds. Doing so allows us to experience and appreciate the myriad beings around us, rather than just use them as fuel for ill-fated egoistic cravings. That said, with the wisdom of absurdity, what behavior points at anarchy? Is it free of reactive rebellion and self-righteousness? In dropping all pretense, Meital Yaniv describes herself as an â€œexile.â€? Her brutal honesty is unsettling and unwelcome, even in her relatively progressive hometown of Tel Aviv. She allows all forbidden thoughts and emotions, suppressed for a lifetime, spill onto the page. Like a caged tiger walking in circles, Yaniv examines the physical manifestations that contain and separate us, divisive phenomena such as walls and languages. She creates an in-between vocabulary with which to define a nd build the courage to cross borders, seeking alternate ways to address human trauma through mirroring the other, and the many others beyond. Employing various media, the LA-based artist addresses the concerns of lives undermined by regimes and governments that represent nothing in which their constituents believe, a demographic the United States has largely joined. More info at www.meitalyaniv.com.
(Opposite Top) Meital Yaniv Monsters In Their Eyes, 12 hr durational performance with Ali Kheradyar, 2017, Visitor Welcome Center. Photo by Tasha Bjelic (Opposite Bottom) Meital Yaniv Untitled (Owl Experiment #101), mothertongues (Meital Yaniv + Kim Ye), video still, 2017
Photo Courtesy Nicole Panter.
THE DEATH OF WILLIAM DAILEY in an auto accident just before Christmas
robbed the Los Angeles art and literary worlds of a singular figure, one admired for his erudition, appreciated for his bibliophilic endeavors and adored for his close and nurturing relationships with others of restless creative intellect. Dailey, 72, had been active as a rare book dealer and publisher for almost half a century but he was ever youthful in his enthusiasms and his adventurousness: embodying a young manâ€™s energy and an old scholarâ€™s wisdom.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Southern Indiana, Dailey apprenticed with the legendary Los Angeles book dealer Jake Zeitlin, developing his own lifelong interest in rare books. In 1976 Dailey, and then-wife Victoria, opened their first shop, dealing in a broad list of subjects including literature, medicine, early printing, typography, bibliography and alchemy. The shop was a place to find very unusual publications – not least those they published and printed, including chapbooks by the likes of Jack Hirschman, Pablo Neruda, Dory Previn and Steve Martin, illustrated by such as William Blake, Wallace Berman and Don Bachardy. The Daileys employed the same high-quality, hand-crafted production in printing the quarterly journal Jay’s Journal of Anomalies, written by magician-scholar Ricky Jay. In 2007, he closed the shop after 30 years, moving to online antiquarian sites and continuing to exhibit at the California Antiquarian Book Fair. A multi-enthusiast, Dailey found a broad variety of subjects to collect, deal and study. These included mid-century dust jacket design, alchemy, psychoactive drug literature and the history of vegetarianism. He compiled one of the largest collections of the latter subject, comprising around a thousand books printed as far back as 1544. Dailey donated that astounding collection to Indiana University. In a similar expansive act, he acquired a noted mid-century house and spa located in Desert Hot Springs (the result, he claimed impishly, of a three-night poker game). This, of course, prompted him to collect rare books and ephemera about the Mojave desert, Salton Sea and Coachella Valley. Dailey spent the last dozen years between the so-called Hacienda Hot Springs; his West Hollywoodadjacent craftsman bungalow; and what he claimed was “just a cabin” – but in reality was another magnificent mid-century manse – in Snow Creek Canyon, across the highway from the Hacienda. “Amor librorum nos unit” – “The love of books unites us” – was Dailey’s motto, and his love of books proved infectious. He will be remembered for his deep commitment to his field, to related areas of study, to his milieu and to books about art and the art of the book in general – a commitment born of appetite, and an appetite born of love. We at Fabrik extend condolences to Dailey’s family and to writer Nicole Panter, his close companion of the last several years. Peter Frank
IT TAKES A VILLAGE Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice © JANE SZABO 2017 www.janeszabophotography.com
“As a conceptual artist, Szabo’s primary emphasis is always on ideas. She is a visual artist working with photographic materials, her images rooted in objects whose symbolism and literal, physical beauty are both rich and varied.” — GENIE DAVIS, Diversions LA
OPENING RECEPTION: SATURDAY, FEB. 10, 4-6PM EXHIBIT RUNS FROM FEB. 10–APRIL 22, 2018 MOAH – 665 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster, CA 93534 www.lancastermoah.org
NANCY R WISE
2 FOR DINNER • 20” X 24” • OIL ON LINEN
2 01 8 E XH I BI TI ON S C H E DUL E Solo Show: “SoCal Inside Out” Poway Center for the Performing Arts www.powaycenter.com January 2-31, 2018 Los Angeles Art Show January 10-14, 2018 Los Angeles Convention Center At the Fabrik Projects Gallery Booth Art Palm Springs February 15-19, 2018 Palm Springs Convention Center At the Fabrik Projects Gallery Booth To view works by Nancy R Wise, visit nancyrwise.com For all exhibition requests, press and sales related inquiries, please contact:
Reception - Saturday February 10, 4-6pm Exhibit on View - February 10 to April 22 665 West Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster, CA 93534 Fine art series Distant Memories at the North Gallery, MOAH
www.richardschow.com | FB @richardschowphotography | IG @richardschow
P HO T O: ANT HO NY C ALDW ELL. C O NT AC T : C ALDW ELL@ T KOART .C OM
Curating monthly at the Fine Arts Building Gallery 811 W. 7th Street, Los Angeles, California 90017 The Lobby of the Fine Arts Building is open to the public
21st Century Art Presented in Extraordinary Architectural Settings LOS ANGELES 849 S. BROADWAY LOFT 905 LOS ANGELES, CA 90014
CONTACT LISA AMES 805-217-2186 WWW.ARTMEETSARCHITECTURE.COM
FEBRUARY 8 –11, 2018 FORT MASON CENTER SAN FRAN CISCO, C A FEBRUARY 8 I OPENING NIGHT GALA F E AT U R E D C O U N T R Y: A U S T R A L I A
San Francisco Tribal Art Week I February 8 –18, 2018 The American Indian Art Show Marin I February 17–18 I Marin Center, San Rafael
In this Issue of Fabrik we’re riding the wave of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: Latin American & Latino Art in LA initiative into the Ne...