Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions:
Doug Simay's Best Picks
Diane Gamboa 2003
East Los Angeles College (Monterey Park through August 19).
Visiting the Vincent Price Museum in Monterey Park takes a bit of perseverance (mostly because of parking).
This is a formal art museum. It is an art museum on a community college campus. It was inaugurated by the donation of 90 art objects by Vincent (scary movie) Price in 1957. It has 9,000 objects spanning Meso-American ceramics to the most recent contemporary (dominantly Latino) art. The campus primarily serves the Chicano/Latino communities.
I should write long tracts about why this place is so appropriate and why we all should have so much pride in it. You, the reader, owe it to yourself to investigate.
Kent Twitchell pencil portrait of Diane Gamboa 2011
For the inaugural show, 8 ELAC graduates (who by the way are stars of Chicano LA art of the last 20 years) are in exhibition (naming just some: Gronk, Diane Gamboa, Willie Herron, Kent Twitchell, John Valadez).
Lizette Perez-Rivera (student)
The ELAC student show juried by Phyllis Green is really phenomenal - the artists demonstrate overt competence. This campus and its instructors and its heritage are to be lauded and enjoyed by any who think that fine creativity is honorable and to be honored.
Carol Selter at Charlie James (Chinatown closing).
Ms. Selter’s work presents the predicaments arising from the crush of humans in the natural environment. Her protagonists are taxidermied animals which she either uses in staged photographs or as characters in poignantly funny animated videos. All the environmental warnings are well understood and recognized - but she does have an interesting aesthetic way of presenting them again.
Adam Thorman at Sam Lee (Chinatown through August 4).
Thorman shoots straight photos. There are no tricks. He waits out the natural elements and takes the image when everything is right. His images are luscious abstractions made in the plein air landscape.
Rosha Yaghmai at Thomas Solomon (Chinatown through July 30).
Yaghmai finds the soul in every thing she makes. For example, she honors materials used to make a mold by making the mold a final work that can sit in visual “dialogue” with that which was cast from it. She is a thinker with a fascination with materials.
George Condo at Jack Rutberg (West Hollywood through Sept. 3).
Condo is at the top of his game and the world recognizes that. ‘Tis nice to see his work on this coast. Rutberg has brought together etchings from 1991 that offer first hand insight into the references of the artist. Condo can appropriate Picasso, Dali, and Velazquez and still be operating in his own style.
Olga Seem at Couturier (West Hollywood through July 30).
I have admired the art of Olga Seem (born 1927) since first seeing it 30 years ago at Ed Lau’s Space Gallery. The drawings in this exhibition are clear and tightly focused. She continues her interest in organic forms (much like Terry Winters) but these works are crisp as compared to paintings from the past that at times become obfuscated by their own layering.
Carlos Estevez at Couturier (West Hollywood through July 30).
Estevez is Cuban, living in Miami. His work reflects Latin flavored themes. It also reflects a structural/mathematical/numerological view of design that causes me to think of Alfred Jensen.
Tomory Dodge et al at ACME (mid Wilshire through August 6).
The current show at ACME is a work-on-paper exhibition with 42 artists. I just have to show this exquisite Dodge painting/collage. At any scale Tomory Dodge is a formidable painter.
Robert Doran at Western Project (Culver City through July 23).
Doran is a recent Chicago transplant. His paintings and sculpture are unassuming but seduce with their effective gestural economy. This is a nice “back room” introduction.
Patrick Lee at Western Project (Culver City through July 23).
There are plenty of skilled portraitists. Lee is absolutely so skilled. That he is able to convince his “brotherhood” models to be human as his subjects - been done many times by others. Still Lee’s drawings are inescapably curious. It is not as if I learn new stuff - I just get a chance to see my fellow men as fellow men. Ain’t art grand? We can always see something we think we know as if it is new.
Marianela de la Hoz at Koplin del Rio (Culver City closing).
San Diegans are familiar with Marianela’s work - she is popularly received here. The artist has pulled out all the stops and presents a dense, meaningful, and (of course) assiduously executed body of new work. This is indeed her best exhibition seen to date.
Fred Stonehouse at Koplin del Rio (Culver City closing).
Stonehouse’s paintings are always recognizable. Though I think this new series looks more neo-Gothic. I used to confuse myself distinguishing Manuel Ocampo from Stonehouse. Stonehouse is more comic and contemporary (with nods to current neo-surrealism) while Ocampo is Baroque.
Mark Leonard at Louis Stern (West Hollywood through August 6).
Mark Leonard paintings are vibrant - visually pulsating abstractions. Leonard reminds me of Kristin Leachman particularly as they both use the illusion of weaving.
Mel Kendrick at Margo Leavin (West Hollywood through August 20).
The small, intimate tabletop sculptures are juxtapositions of positive and negative space.
Yayoi Kusama at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through July 22).
I become more a fan of Kusama with each advancing year. Gagosian is showing two large paintings in addition to this sculpture. All of her work is an optical delight. She brings a sense of craft-like play to her work that mirrors Niki de Saint Phalle. Her large survey exhibition at the Tate Modern (Feb.8 through May 20, 2012) is a siren’s call to me.
Linn Meyers detail view
Linn Meyers at Hammer Museum (UCLA through November 6).
The wall painting that Meyers has executed in the entrance staircase of the Hammer is sublimely powerful. Each line is a brushstroke that evolves from a loaded to a dry brush; gets re-loaded with paint and the line then continued. The summation of all these individual acts produces a calm plan of focus and perseverance.
Also on exhibit is a retrospective of Paul Thek. It is a good show. My biggest insight from this show is to better understand Neil Jenny, who I much prefer aesthetically, through his relationship with Thek.
Cake and Eat It at Otis (LAX through Sept. 1).
Cake and Eat It has several pieces in a group show at Otis called “This Little Piggy”. In this work the plexi-faced box serves as a dispenser for recycled clothes. Clothes can be additively placed on the top of the pile. This work reminds me of an ant farm with layers of social organization viewed from outside a vitrine. It seems an effective, functional, aesthetic way of reflecting and responding to human need.
Marco Brambilla at Christopher Grimes
Super 8 at Christopher Grimes (Santa Monica through Sept. 3).
Christopher Grimes wanted to host a large international video exhibition. In order to give each video its primacy he is presenting each as a one day run. There are 8 international cities represented with 5 artists per city (the guest curators are recognized video artists in their respective cities (LA is curated by Marco Brambilla)). If one were to go to the gallery every day for the 8 week run - they would see 40 different video artists from around the world. On this first week the curator is Julian Sarmento from Lisbon and the video I saw is by Joao Onofre. If I lived in LA I would do my darndest to get by Grimes daily. This is the good stuff.
Marco Brambilla at Santa Monica Museum of Art (Bergamot through August 20).
The installation referenced in the above image is composed of three screens. The center screen has 4 images of gamers, gaming. They are flanked by a screen on each side that projects the bloody mayhem games they are playing. While all hell is breaking loose in the game, the gamers are quietly, seemingly dispassionate. War by wire.
Brambilla’s two recent 3-D videos are beyond belief. They are cinematic Hieronymous Bosch (read his set-up for “Evolution“). This is the DO NOT MISS exhibition if what is being sought is video Art with a capital “A”.
Tony Orrico at Shoshana Wayne (Bergamot closing).
Orrico is a formally trained dancer/performer. His drawings are executed with drawing tools in both hands. His simultaneous rendering results in symmetric, mirror-image conjoined forms. It is hard to understand the “how” of ambidextrous drawing. Orrico demonstrates that it is the brain, connected through a body, through arms, and out through hands that constitutes the artist’s “tool”. As a dancer he has an uncanny mastery of how each part of his body moves and relates to itself.
Phranc at Craig Krull (Bergamot through July 23).
Just now learning about Phranc (a woman artist most recognized in the music world), I come away with the impression that Phranc, herself, is the work of art. She seems driven by her own need to expressively create rather than to fashionably succeed. She paints yards of craft paper, cuts the paper and fashions common objects, particularly clothes. Her assembly skills are high seamstress. The net experience is to chuckle in wonder at marvelous objects that recall Claes Oldenburg and work by Jean Lowe (see Best Picks” May 2011).
Grant Mudford and Lavi Daniel at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot through August 13).
The painter, Daniel, and the photographer, Mudford, are good friends. Daniel’s work is about color. His paintings nod to the Synchromists. It is his sculptures that I find most arresting. Accreting globs of waste paint he builds amorphous, color dense blobs. The exuberance of frozen color is totally in the spirit of July’s fireworks
Mudford has photographed Daniel’s domestic garden. His straight landscape color shots are unadulterated. The work is just beautiful. No political argument or theoretical intimations are suggested in these quiet and very present works. A beautifully composed and produced image is a reward to be shared.
John Okulick at Leslie Sacks (Bergamot closing).
I have liked Okulick’s trompe l’oeil sculptures since I was a baby gallery-goer. I still enjoy seeing them - but they are the same trick 30 years later.
Laerke Lauta at Luis de Jesus (Bergamot closing).
Lauta presents her video work on three screens - one screen each for the two protagonists (presenting their viewpoint) and the third, intervening screen that pulls back and shows a documentary, objective view. This was the third video exhibition I attended this day. Three home runs. The big screen is absolutely fertile artistic territory and it will be curious to see how the economics that supports video artists develops.
Ray Turner at Long Beach Museum of Art (Long Beach through Sept. 11).
Having appreciated Ray Turner’s work at the Pasadena Museum of California Art in the Fall of 2010 - I looked forward to this Long Beach show. Turner is very adept in swirling oil onto glass and gesturally capturing portraits. This exhibition doesn’t distinguish itself from the Pasadena show.
The Long Beach Museum is a charming place to visit and its views of harbor and coastline here are inviting. The museum is also showing works donated from the Wilma and Roland Duquette Collection and the Jason Wong Estate. The works from these collections demonstrate the power and joy of fine art works sized at the scale of a personal, domestic collection.