simayspace
 
Home
Past Exhibitions
Contact
 
"Best
Picks"
Archives
Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Forrest Bess at parrasch heijnen (Boyle Heights through June 24).
Forrest Bess (1911-1977) was a recluse in Bay City, Texas.  A self-taught artist his work’s subject matter
focused on his regular hallucinations.  The Modern world’s interest in psychoanalysis and Bess’ interest in
Carl Jung’s “universal unconscious” were convergent.  Bess’ study of his own visions and interest in
hermaphorditism led him to strange beliefs that reverberated with the “educated” world.  Bess accepted an
Australian aboriginal belief that hermaphroditism was the path to immortality.  He went so far as to have
two surgical procedures to attempt “conversion”.  The story is engrossingly bizarre.
Derek Boshier at Night Gallery (DTLA through June 17).
Boshier (born 1937) is a highly regarded British Pop artist.  His fame comes as much from his association
with British musicians like David Bowie and Joe Strummer of The Clash.  Since the 1990s he has lived in
LA (teaching at CalArts and then UCLA).  An interesting parallel – both Boshier and David Hockney trained
at London’s Royal College of Art in the early 60s.  They are both now substantively Los Angeles artists.
Denk Gallery (DTLA).
Denk is a new venue in the Downtown (East Temple St.).  I am interested to see how their gallery
programming evolves.  Carl Berg is acting as the gallery director and he is an excellent curator.  So now
on my radar…
Tucker Nichols at Charlie James (Chinatown through July 8).
This is a different exhibition for Charlie James.  I am used to seeing political, literary based narrative works
from his artist stable.  Tucker Nichols’ enamel paintings are about beauty and transience (they are floral
paintings).  Quoted from the artist: “At the same time, flowers, like art, aren’t very good at saying anything
specific—the exact same bouquet can mean anything from I’m sorry to Thank you to I can’t believe you’re
gone.”  “North Korea may have its missiles trained on downtown Los Angeles, but out in Santa Monica we
are still going to play beach volleyball.”  
Eleanor Swordy at Moskowitz Bayse (La Brea through June 17).
If one could “cross” Jasper Johns with Charles Garabedian – the result might be Eleanor Swordy.  Hers are
unique tableaux with a brilliant meld of folksy reality and radiant Futurism.
Lesley Vance at Kordansky (La Brea through July 1).
Lesley Vance does not premeditate her paintings.  An initial gesture, doodle if you will, evolves by layers of
painting into implied architecture and subject.  These abstractions have intimations of figurative elements.  
The figure gets abstracted as in Leger, the abstract develops figurative elements as in de Kooning, and
the synergy of the overall composition recalls Hilma af Klint.
Carroll Dunham at Blum & Poe (Culver City through June 17).
Dunham’s “muscular” paintings are glorious, raucous romps.  They bounce back and forth between
abstract and figurative modes.  David Pagel wrote in 2010 that Dunham’s paintings were “vulgar beyond
belief”.  No doubt.  Married to the artist, Laurie Simmons, with two daughters, the enigma of Dunham’s
subject matter is as undefinable as his yin-yang approach to realism, abstraction, cartoon, Pop, and
surrealism.
Sherie’ Franssen at Von Lintel (Culver City through June 10).
The press release for this exhibition speaks of “tumultuous paintings (of) lurid color… (and) cinematic
orchestrations”.  Layer upon layer of active gesture makes for a very Baroque viewing experience.
Tomory Dodge at ACME (Frogtown through June 10).
It has been a regularly shifting experience watching Tomory Dodge’s career evolution.  In the artist’s
words: “The exhibition of over 80 works selected from the last seven years offers a glimpse into the
development of my work and highlights the importance of works on paper to my process. Drawings,
watercolors, and collages have always been an important way for me to try out ideas and develop
imagery.”
This exhibition adds hugely to my appreciation and understanding of Dodge’s work.
Heather Rasmussen at ACME (Frogtown through June 10).

ACME (1994-2017) closure announced.

Randy and Robert honored me – sharing their imminent plans and reasons for closing ACME.  The public
closure announcement came two days later.  I have known them both since their days as Foodhouse in
Santa Monica (and Randy I have known for even longer as an artist who showed in San Diego and then as
Dorothy Goldeen’s “right-hand” back when Santa Monica’s art scene revolved around 8th Avenue).  ACME
has been one of Los Angeles’ important art venues – always displaying integrity and taste.  ‘Tis a very sad
announcement.
Dean Byington at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through June 30).
Byington’s oil paintings with their complex layers of appropriated images remind me of Mark Tansey – on
speed.  Given the use of digital and photomechanical processes they also remind me, in a way, of the
abstract work of Ryan McGinness (also represented by Michael Kohn).  Byington’s masterful landscapes
update Frederick Edwin Church with surreal and dystopic panoramas.
Bruce Conner at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through June 30).
Conner’s inkblot drawings have always fascinated me.  It is one of my great regrets not to have purchased
one back in the very early 1990s (they were expensive then).
Jonas Wood in the Marciano Collection
Marciano Art Foundation (Koreatown)
The Marciano brothers founded Guess Clothing and have been voracious collectors. They have
converted the former Scottish Rite Masonic Temple on Wilshire into a public home to display from their
1,500 artwork (200 artists) collection.  The building is huge and expressive – designed by Millard Sheets in
1961.  Sheets’ murals and glazed ceramic tile details are reason enough to visit.  The Marcianos collect an
artist comprehensively.  I like their holdings of Jonas Wood and Mark Grotjahn.  But – the inaugural
exhibition is fundamentally soul-less.
James Doolin 1993
COLA 20 at Barnsdall – Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (Los Feliz through July 2).
This exhibit is largely a documentation of the last 20 years of Individual Art Fellowships awarded to 271
artists (various disciplines).  There isn’t much real art to be seen – except for a handsome collection of
work by James Doolin (1932-2002).
Ashley Bickerton at Newport Street Gallery
For those of you who may be going to London:
Damian Hirst opened his 37,000 square foot Newport Street Gallery in 2015.  Its purpose is to display
work from his 3,000 piece art collection.  Located across the Thames in Vauxhall (just below Lambeth)
the architecture alone makes a visit memorable.  Currently on view are Hirst’s broad collection of Ashley
Bickerton.  What an incredible and exciting body of work.  Living in Bali his work is informed by exoticism
and language – its Gauguin-like romanticism tempered by intellect; melding sculpture, painting and
photography.  This man is smart and world connected despite living outside the mainstream.  Hirst has
been a dedicated Bickerton collector and this collection is superb.
My estimation of Hirst has now climbed a hundred-fold.  He has managed to be a mega-monied success
while demonstrating his commitment to his artist peers and a singular artistic vision based on creativity
and “can do” that all art should reflect. This honest spirit is increasingly lacking in the commercial gallery
world.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay   June 2017

doug@simayspace.com
How about adding to your own collection?  
On sale from the Doug Simay Collection…
Steven De Pinto
“Seek”  1997
32 x 40 inches
poly-resin, aluminum, gold leaf, lacquer paints, line film.

Asking price: $2,500

E-mail me > doug@simayspace.com

Last month I was in Europe.  Finally over jet-lag, I had a couple wonderful days of gallery engagement in
LA.  This last week was significantly one of transition in LA’s gallery scene.  Many exhibitions were just
closing or just about to open.  I will return in four weeks to tour my usual, more expansive list of venues.