Alex Grey at Orange Coast Community College (Costa Mesa through December 18). The visionary art of Alex Grey is just part of a complex, spiritually driven world that Alex and his wife are evolving in New York (the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors). Grey’s paintings are heavily based on his experiences in Harvard’s anatomy labs and with LSD. In 1999 he had a mid-career show at the MCA La Jolla.
John Millei at ACE Los Angeles (mid-Wilshire through February 2010). The ACE Los Angeles gallery is physically huge. Millei has filled this gargantuan space with 9 years worth of maritime influenced paintings. It is a phenomenal output. The abstract paintings are solid and easy to enjoy. He has abstracted ship’s rigging, masts, and superstructure into a “consciously cinematic” collection of works.
Bianca Kolonusz-Partee at Lawrence Asher (mid-Wilshire through Dec. 19). Kolonusz-Partee collages product packaging to fabricate large relief, industrial landscapes. The work is playful, constructivist, colorful and romantic.
Squeak Carnwath at Peter Mendenhall (mid-Wilshire through Jan. 9). Carnwath’s style has been constant and recognizable. The work is narrative and layered in content and mannerisms. I sometimes wonder if I like the work because it is so recognizable stylistically or because its narratives touch me in indecipherable ways.
Lee Mullican at Marc Selwyn (mid-Wilshire closed). Mullican, born in 1919, came to attention in the early 50’s in San Francisco as a founding member (along with Gordon Onslow Ford and Wolfgang Paalen) of the Dynaton Movement. He was an important art professor at UCLA for close to 30 years. His abstract work is heavily built on primitive, tribal, ethnic motifs.
John Sonsini at ACME (mid-Wilshire through Dec. 19). ACME has been doing business for 15 years (though Randy Sommer and Robert Gunderman have been collaborating gallerists since the Food House days in Santa Monica). I first met Randy when he worked for Dorothy Goldeen at her eponymous gallery on 9th Street in Santa Monica in the late 80‘s. I am glad for their success as they have worked very hard for it. The current exhibition is a survey of the artists they represent. Sonsini is my favorite.
John Millei & DeWain Valentine at ACE Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills through January 2010). The 9 ft. tall paintings that constitute Millei’s series, “Woman in a Chair,” are very consciously a redux of Picasso. I think he has pulled off “covering” Picasso with these colossal works that are every bit his own style.
In the gallery’s rear “bank vault” is this stupendous DeWain Valentine 1970’s resin disc. It is so glowing, it seems to levitate.
Martha Minter at Regen Projects I & II (West Hollywood closing). The viewer of this exhibition becomes a voyeur. Minter’s film, Green Pink Caviar, and the still images and paintings that accompany it represent a set of lips and tongue pushing, slurping/drooling colored beads as seen from the other side of glass against which the “mouth” does its foraging. It is like a macro view of a slug eating or an ultra closeup porno scene. There is fascination, repulsion, pleasure, disgust. The work is arresting in the same way as the fleshy paintings of Jenny Saville.
Jill Spector at Other Arrangements (PDC through December). Jill Spector’s work amalgamates photographs, found objects, and constructed objects. She pairs free standing sculpture with photo cutouts placed against the walls. I have no idea what she is up to - but ‘tis really curious art. Must be performance art as the sculptural part of her installations seems to be the audience.
Andy Kolar at Carl Berg (PDC through December). Kolar makes paintings and sculptures. They are conceived as installation motifs. The work is confident and very evocative of some of the giants of post WWII American art (like Morris Louis, Richard Serra, Claus Oldenburg). That evocation is a well balanced starting point for his own particular aesthetic contributions.
Denise Yaghmourian at d.e.n. (PDC through December). Yaghmourian fastidiously crafts bundles - wrapped bundles. The work is about the wrapping. Hers are the sculptural equivalent of an Agnes Martin painting. They are hand-built formalisms; constructed on a grid.
Bruce Connor at Michael Kohn (West Hollywood through Dec. 19). I continue to kick myself for never buying an ink-blot painting by the Bay Area artist Bruce Connor back when, with a bit of stretching, I could have afforded it. Connor was an artist’s artist. His resourcefulness and flowing creativity are unbeatable. The gallery is showing a selection of work from the 1970’s.
Dan Bayles at Francois Ghebaly (Chinatown through Dec. 23). I like Bayles’ painting. His work suggests that he likes the act of painting and the aesthetic possibilities. The printed exhibition narrative talks about Iraq, the US Consulate, etc. etc. I drives me nuts when exhibitions are “justified” with some all-embracing literature about social-political relevance. When can visual art just be visual art?
MOCA (downtown through 5/3/1010). Now 30 years old MOCA has hung a broad selection of works from its permanent collection. There are plenty of masterworks. For this photo, I could not get back far enough to include the whole aspect of Alfred Jensen’s 1960 painting. Lynda Benglis is represented by this 1971 wax on wood wall sculpture. She is the focus of a big career survey show now on view in Ireland. The “hanging” of this MOCA exhibition is flat and uninspiring. MOCA has made Minimalism appear lifeless. The museum seems lifeless.