Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions:
Doug Simay's Best Picks
September is the inaugural month for the “new season” in the contemporary art world. On the whole this important seasonal reaffirmation of commitment finds the galleries still proud champions of the creative leading edge. This year look to see even more galleries moving to Culver City. Chinatown continues to refocus and have difficulties holding onto what could be its leading position in the scene. It seems that money is perceived to shop on the Westside.
Michael McMillan at LA Louver (Venice through October 30).
Nobody in the fine art world seems to do what McMillan does. Of course, artisans in the Hollywood movie industry do what McMillan does daily. Evocative, nostalgic, model making is the bread-and-butter offering here. In this exhibition McMillan has included a video billboard on one of his sculptures. His video pastiche gives insight into the images that must play in the artist’s head and thus give insight into his art’s “meaning.”
Holly Boruck, Lisa Adams, Erika Lizee at Angels Gate (San Pedro through October 24). When Angels Gate mounts a thematic exhibition it frequently turns out well. The theme of this show is landscape, loosely focused on gardens. There are 18 artists. Lisa Adams (now represented by CB1) continues to be a current LA darling. Erika Lizee’s work reminds me of Darren Waterston.
Ester Partegas at Christopher Grimes (Santa Monica through October 30). Barcelona born and educated Partegas collages torn advertising pages, then photographs and inkjet prints them. Her work causes me to think of contemporary Spanish art I have seen in Madrid where the cross between collaged advertising and street art seems popular. I think the work attempts to update Mimmo Rotella (Italian) and Juan Gris (Spanish, but worked in France).
Ron Rizk at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through October 16).
Rizk is an elder statesman of trompe l’oeil painting. I prefer some of these newest paintings where the “trompe” is flatter, more stylized, and coolly reductive.
David Trulli at Robert Bergman (Bergamot through October 9).
I have enjoyed Trulli’s work for years, watching him move up the prestige-ladder of gallerists. His skillfully wrought scratchboard drawings are 50’s style, film-noir views of unpeopled architectural spaces. They are sharply incised drawings that intimate the sinister and are presented from a viewpoint that is either Brobdinagian from the ceiling or Lilliputian from the floor.
Heather Gwen Martin at Luis De Jesus (Bergamot through October 16). These works are not purely abstract. They are abstractions composed out of a pastiche of assembled forms that suggest a scenario of form and action. The intense color is of the computer age. The painting’s solid, cut vinyl-like opacity recalls the work of Monique Prieto from 10 years ago. I think her work resonates with contemporary Japanese anime design. Strong, very likeable work Martin is included in the La Jolla Museum’s current show of San Diego artists.
George Herms at Craig Krull (Bergamot through October 9).
Thinking of collage/assemblage in LA one must remember Wallace Berman, HC Westermann, and Ed Kienholz. Importantly George Herms must be included on this list. In this group of collages of old correspondence I was affected by the beauty of the result and the cognitive flags buried within. I remember when Dorothy Goldeen was a gallery sitter in San Francisco, became a dealer there in partnership with Fuller and then Hansen, moved her gallery to Santa Monica, became the president of the art dealers association in LA, had Randy Sommer (now of ACME fame) as her gallery associate, retired to private dealing -- and when postage was 22 cents. After 30 years of being an intensive art scene witness it is nice to have historical neurons tickled.
Woods Davy at Craig Krull (Bergamot through October 9). Woods Davy has been balancing rocks for decades. These sculptures are his most effective to date. They are as eccentric and wacky as Llyn Foulkes and as naturalistic is Isamu Noguchi.
Ross Bleckner at Patrick Painter (Bergamot through October 9).
Bleckner got his MFA at Cal Arts. The four paintings here are from the 1980’s. They’re nice.
Nancy Jackson at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot through October 9).
I admire artists who are able to find creative outlet with whatever materials are at hand. Most artists have an idea that they then go out and procure the materials to express. Artists like Nancy Jackson find a material and then allow it to drive aesthetic decisions. Jackson is a terrific multi-medium artist. Her sculptures, drawings and paintings are both smart and beautiful. The unencumbered use of materials always shows intricate craft.
Colin Roberts at Mark Moore (Bergamot through October 16).
The gallery’s Ultrasonic V exhibition of seven emerging LA artists doesn’t offer much hope. Thankfully the viewpoint of this exhibition seems facile compared to the emergent talent there is in LA. Colin Roberts’ delicate plexiglass sculptures are the bright spot here.
Charles Arnoldi at Greenfield Sacks (Bergamot through October 30).
The veteran LA artist Arnoldi continues to produce relevant and personally evolutionary work. His oil on aluminum, shaped paintings are relaxed and playful -- mature in their simplicity.
Micaela Amateau Amato at Angles Gallery (Culver City through October 23)Amato got her MFA at the University of Colorado and currently teaches at Penn State. In this exhibition she fashions figures in glazed ceramic that are expressively effective.
Russell Baldwin at Cardwell Jimmerson (Culver City through September 25)CardwellJimmerson again presents a superb historical exhibition - language-based art from the 60’s and 70’s. The stand out in this show is Russell Baldwin (a San Diego artist). When I look at Baldwin and then think about Baldessari I am reminded of the movie “Sliding Doors”. Baldwin could have been the Baldessari. Wrong time, wrong place, lost in space.
Thank you to the galleries CardwellJimmerson, Jancar, Louis Stern for championing history and insight. History and insight are the only antidote to fashion.
Botero at Tasende (West Hollywood through October 30).
We all recognize this 75 year old Colombian artist’s work. Slowly I am coming to appreciate his integrity. His vision is conditioned by a love of Piero della Francesca. This painting is available for $1.25 million.
Massimo Vitali at M+B (West Hollywood through October 16).
Vitali’s work is instantly recognizable. His populated, washed out landscapes are voyeuristically seductive. The work is immensely popular and since 1994 has been seen regularly. I wonder if this popular theme is a gilded “prison” outside of which the artist would have trouble being recognized.
Joan Mitchell at Manny Silverman (West Hollywood through October 16). On view here are classic Mitchell abstracts from 1956-1976. I never liked this series of paintings but it is historically important. Look at history - its good for you.
Frederick Wight at Louis Stern (West Hollywood closing).
For two weeks only the gallery hung a broad show of modernist, mid century Los Angeles abstract painters - artists like Karl Benjamin, Frederick Hammersley and Frederick Wight . Wight was a major force as faculty member, gallery director, as well as painter at UCLA. Over the last couple decades my appreciation for this artist, who seems to reflect shared interests with Arthur Dove and Georgia O’Keefe, has expanded.
at Regen Projects (West Hollywood through October 23). Pittman is a Los Angeles star. His reputation and commercial success are deserved and this pair of exhibitions is over-the-top wonderful. The salon style installation at Regen I (called Orangerie) is a survey of work on paper done between 1980 and 2010. At Regen II there is a selection of recent large paintings. This is truly a “painting show“ of heroic measure.
Ebony G. Patterson at See Line (PDC through November 11).
A young Jamaican artist, Patterson creates scenes by dressing friends and family in garish hip/hop fashion, photographing them, producing tapestries based on the photographs, and finally embellishing the tapestries with applique. Her work is worth comparing to Kehinde Wiley.
at d.e.n. (PDC through October 29).
The PDC has coalesced the galleries there into a “neighborhood” on the second floor that is easy to find and very accessible. Good move. d.e.n.’s new space is elegant. Vruwink’s sculpture is made of crocheted audiocassette tape. With the play of light the sculptures command interest.
at Marc Selwyn (mid Wilshire through October 23).
A 2010 UCI MFA graduate, Lauter’s abstractions confidently meld drawing (oil stick) and painting. The work is good and has sold well at $9500 a pop. The market isn’t totally dead.
Carlee Fernandez at ACME (mid Wilshire through October 9).
Like a classical painting Fernandez’ sculptures proclaim themselves to be fact. Her taxidermy sculptures combine the organic and the man-made to create monsters. It is the craft and audaciousness that make this work shine. I found myself remembering the monsters of David Mach.
at CB1 (Downtown through October 10).
It is good to see Daniel’s work again. I showed him in the mid 90’s at Simayspace. His work continues to be highly finished. Layer upon layer of pigment is fused creating geometrically structured abstractions. Looking at the work from various angles discloses otherwise hidden reflections and textures. It is as if Aksten has hyper-acute vision that I can experience too by fastidiously studying the layers within his paintings.
Brad Eberhard at Thomas Solomon @ Cottage Home (Chinatown through October 9). Eberhard’s paintings start as a figurative object that he deconstructs and then rebuilds letting his intuition drive the layered abstraction. The result is clear and unequivocal. Now in the early 21st century these works resonate with European abstraction from a century earlier.