Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions:
Doug Simay's Best Picks
Philip Argent and Christian Cummings at Shoshana Wayne (Bergamot through July 3). Argent’s work is pleasant to look at. It seems to mean something and to have a perceptual framework to its execution. On this trip to LA there was a preponderance of abstract art on view – and quite a bit of sculpture too (of the abstract variety). Christian Cummings' very small assemblage sculptures are joyful. Another feature of this visit to LA was the availability of low priced artworks in many galleries. Galleries still in business seem to have figured out that adaptation is the new order.
John Newsom at Patrick Painter (Bergamot through July 11). Newsom is an educated man. His paintings are scientifically taxonomic and instructive. But mostly they are heroically in love with the act of painting.
Joann Callis at Craig Krull (Bergamot through June 27). I always think of Callis as a photographer. In this exhibition the juxtaposition of paintings with photographs is at first confusing – then comforting. Her paintings in this exhibition have helped me to experience her photographs with expanded insight.
Lavi Daniel at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot closed). Daniel’s abstract paintings don’t take long to insinuate themselves into consideration. He is an accomplished abstract painter because of his ability to engage the viewer long enough to capture interest in his non-linearity.
Derek Albeck and 6 others at Richard Heller (Bergamot through July 3). Richard Heller has been showing terrific art by terrific young artists for at least the last year. I have come to expect that I will be enthralled by something when I walk into his gallery. The current exhibition with seven artists is no exception. Albeck is an accomplished draftsman and his politicized art is cleverly well done.
Ed Moses at Frank Lloyd and Greenfield Sacks (Bergamot closing). At 83 Moses is neither short on ideas nor energy. The newest paintings are conundrums of layers – hard to figure out but joyful to experience. Moses is one of LA’s greats.
Blue McRight at Samuel Freeman (Bergamot through June 27). This woman has taken her fascination with the travel trailer to a complex and full development. Her rebuilt, modified, diminuitivized trailer is perceptually successful sculpturally. Her very small oil on paper paintings have a marvelous quirky spiritualism to them. She has sculpture entitled "Sprout" in front of the new North University City Library in San Diego.
Julie Heffernan at Mark Moore (Bergamot through July 3). Heffernan is a painter. Her painting style is classical with neo-classical themes. Since she uses herself as the model for the central figure – the work takes on a hall of mirrors viewpoint that sucks in the viewer. This is lush, not self-conscious, grand painting.
Gavin Nolan at Mark Moore (Bergamot through July 3). Juxtaposed with Heffernan, Nolan’s work is self-conscious and self-confident.
Christopher Murphy, Hugo Crosthwaite and others at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through July 25). The gallery offers drawings by many artists. As expected the quality is very high. I am familiar with Christopher Murphy through his large oil paintings. His drawings have the same level of fastidious expertise with a sublime “quirk” to them. Also the three drawings by Hugo Crosthwaite are from a side of his brain I have not seen before. They have a huge degree of cartoonism (a la Crumb) to them.
Steve Galloway at Rose Gallery (Bergamot through June 27). I like Steve Galloway and seeing his work next to photographer Todd Hido’s winterscapes is effective. I just wonder why I only see Galloway now and again and never in full exhibition.
Barkley Hendricks at Santa Monica Museum of Art (Bergamot through August 22)
This is a wonderful show of paintings of Black people by a Black artist (work since 1964). For all the raves I have shared about Kehinde Wiley – I now wonder if Wiley appropriated Hendricks.
Michelle Muldrow and others at Koplin del Rio (Culver City through July 3). There are 24 artists in an exhibition called “Memory of the LA Billboard.” Seeing a billboard drawing by James Doolin or a cityscape by Barrie Mottishaw is always a treat. I am particularly interested to see the work of Michelle Muldrow included. Her landscape paintings are gestural in a painterly way. I am happy she is to be represented by Koplin del Rio.
Antonio Adriano Puleo at Cherry & Martin (Culver City through June 27).
The paintings in this show and the elaborate way they have been installed is Baroquely colorful.
Frank Ryan at Walter Maciel (Culver City through July 3).
Paintings of the artist’s bedroom offer a figurative starting point for the joyful wielding of an active brush. I always stop to look at painting executed by an artist who energetically jumps to their task.
Peter Macapia at Angstrom (Culver City through June 27). The effect of a cloud of laser-cut fiberboard volumes suspended in mid-space is mesmerizing. It is a different dream than the particle-physics, mathematical diatribe that the gallery and artist have written about the work.
George Bolster at Chung King Projects (Chinatown through July 19). George Bolster was trained in London and this multifaceted exhibition displays the excellence of that training. Thematically the work is about the crisis of religion and “new society”. The work is effective in contemporizing religious allegories. I guess today’s artist needs a “hook” to capture the attention of a rigorous critical audience. For me, just seeing his skills as an artist is more than sufficient.
Monique van Genderen at Happy Lion (Chinatown through July 11). Van Genderen continues to exhibit confident and decent abstract paintings.
Daniel Ruanova at Couturier (La Brea through August 1). Tijuana’s Ruanova, seen most recently in San Diego at Seminal Projects, offers a rich and full showing at his first LA exhibition. Seen in this exhibition are smaller, more intimate sculptures that are as successful as his room-busting variety.
Pontus Willfors at David Desanctis (West Hollywood through July 11). Trees, fire, natural destruction, and re-integration by the artist is what this exhibition is all about. ‘Tis a sculpturally wonderful show by an artist who uses “process” to full advantage.
Hiroshi Watanabe at Kopeikin (West Hollywood through July 11). Watanabe seems to shoot straight photographs – which always deliver an emotionally laden subtext. The images in this exhibition were mostly shot in Pyongyang, North Korea. They image the human side of life under the “Axis of Evil” in Watanabe’s very perceptive and sensitive manner.
Lisa Jack at M+B (West Hollywood through July 18). Lisa Jack is not a professional artist. When she was an undergraduate at Occidental College she shot a bunch of pictures of Barak Obama when he was a 20 year old freshman. Resurrected, these images offer a terrific insight into the “manner” of the young Obama who has matured into the confident portrait we now see in our daily lives.
Knopp Ferro at Louis Stern (West Hollywood through July 18). These sculptures seem to defy gravity as effortlessly as sculpture by George Rickey with the same transparency of construction as Alexander Calder.
Mauricio Espinosa at Steve Turner (mid-Wilshire through July 2). Espinosa’s economical sculptures simply command their space. No new tricks here – but they work.
Pae White at 1301PE (mid-Wilshire through July 3). Pae White is accomplished at making things out of merely minor stuff. For these stupendous Belgian-produced tapestries she has captured drifting smoke. Rendered in the textural motif of tapestry – they are beautiful.
Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay 6/22/2009