Art & Development, Travelogue

Art Highlights: Los Angeles

Santa Monica • Chinatown • Culver City • Fairfax

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Two days, 50+ galleries, 4 museums. Here’s what stood out:

Won Ju Lim at Patrick Painter
Maximum effect with minimum trickery: digital projectors, colored plexi vitrines, poured paint sculptures, and some fake plants with gooseneck clamp lamps. The effect is truly astounding, and somehow very pertinent after the Southland fires. Lim may be my new favorite artist.

Lauren Bonn at Ace
Bonn’s Not a Cornfield cornfield was massive in scope and social programming, and she fills Ace with massive and terrifying psychic spaces which are somehow related to the cornfield and her study of bees. The scale is stupefying. I don’t know how Bonn orchestrates it, or Ace sustains it. But it’s amazing.
A side note: Bonn is also exhibiting the residue of a conceptual drawing piece involving an object recording the marks of a cross-Pacific passage. Sounds very similar to my Regalos project, doesn’t it?

Glenn Ligon at Regen Projects
A perfect example of why object-based conceptual practice is great: there’s so little mass in Ligon’s show, but there’s so much to think about. Thirty-six near-identical gold and black text paintings and one black-out neon text sculpture. Joke paintings invoke Richard Prince, but the racial content begs more conflicted social terrain. The neon text sculpture, of course, resonates with other (White) Conceptualists’ work, but again, Ligon’s content diverges into a realm of his own determination. My next stop was to look up Ligon’s article, “Black Light: David Hammons and The Poetics of Emptiness” (Artforum, Sept. 2004), a really beautiful artist’s writing/critical essay/statement about making art, resistance, the artist’s refusal, the “emptying out the self as a critical strategy,” and light as a material.

Kim Rugg at Mark Moore
Twenty-six re-assembled newspaper covers comprise Rugg’s “Don’t Mention the War,” in which she’s sliced and diced single letters and alphabetized them. I think she’s set a record; she’s broken an OCD-Art barrier. I’m impressed with the artist’s commitment to this massive project in an non-archival, unstable material. Furthermore, the craftsmanship is amazing, with hardly any relief in the collage.
Also at Mark Moore was Kenichi Yokono. I’m including this because I would have liked to explore this medium about ten years ago, when I was really into carving woodcuts, but not only interested in making prints. Yokono carves wood as if for printing, then displays the blocks as paintings, screens or skateboard decks. The content is punk-skate-pop culture, and the cut-out forms seem a little all over the place to me, veering towards hand-carved souvenir shop variety.

Group show at Marc Foxx
Lots of text-based work floated my boat here, including Jim Hodges‘ gold-leaf “Mother” on vellum. Francis Stark exhibited more good-bad-ugly work, which was awkward but intriguing nonetheless with its Alhambra delivery truck sized hanging sequins. While some artists cultivate the artistic persona of a naif through the use of odd materials, you get the sense that she isn’t faking her intuitive process.

Wild Women group show at Kontainer
This quietly installed group show was very smart. Tessa Farmer has assigned herself the dreadful task of creating minature (think: convert to microns) skeletons and attaching them to insects, and then hanging the dead bugs from monofilament. It’s a mind-blowing artistic practice. Tami Ichino‘s ceramic faux geodes are beautiful objects that manifested her paintings’ spacey psychedelia into three dimensions.

Eric Beltz’ “HISTROY!” at Acuna-Hansen
I resisted these drawings. They’re too slick: the gothic calligraphy and cursive script is too cool, the dead presidents theme seems so trendy, the literary references are very pop-goth. But these drawings have to be seen in the flesh, and I have to admit, Beltz’ self-described “high definition drawing” provides a truly enjoyable, memorable experience. Bonus: the title is wickedly funny, yet fitting.

A Great Delicacy group show at Taylor de Cordoba
Clearly I don’t connect often with paintings these days, but Greg Parma Smith‘s painting of a Swiss Army knife with a fabric pattern that escapes the still-life’s margins surprised me. It didn’t seem to take itself so seriously, which is hard to find among photo realist works. Rebecca Veit‘s and Kathryn Hillier‘s tense food-porn photos were convincingly reminiscent of Sunset Magazine, and Danica Phelp‘s charts were pleasingly ‘drawing-ly,’ if one could make up a graphite corollary to ‘painterly.’ McKendree Key‘s color photocopy stop-motion animation had a nice storm-at-sea rhythm while man-made garbage tumbled by as if on a watery freeway.

I had the pleasure of crossing paths with some Halloween- and Thanksgiving-themed sponge painting on the tinted windows of a dim sum shop in Chinatown. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen sio mai rendered in florescent sponge paint.

No photos, just strong impressions:

Slater Bradley‘s CGI rain cloud and singin’ in the rain dandy at Blum and Poe.

William Pope.L‘s show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, “Art After White People.” Think about it.

Jamie Isenstein‘s deliciously restrained and curious “Welcome to the Egress” at Hammer Projects.

Francis Alÿs‘ “When Faith Moves Mountains,” also at the Hammer (whose exhibition title, “Politics of Rehearsal” could also be “Poetics of Reversals”).