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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Mequitta Ahuja
Engender at Kohn Gallery (Hollywood closing).
This well-received and intelligently reviewed exhibition was curated by Joshua Friedman.  Works by
seventeen contemporary artists (three reproduced here) are assembled to look at identity and responses
to conventional depictions of gender.  Gender politics aside – the works in this show are super-duper.  
The artists demonstrate sensitivity with brains and beauty.  The skills and talent of each of them
demonstrate that painting is alive and rich.
Jansson Stegner
Nathaniel Mary Quinn
Rafael Rozendaal at Steve Turner (Hollywood closing Feb. 10).
Rozendaal uses a computer algorithm to convert web pages into colored abstract compositions.  He
selects those compositions that appeal to him – reproducing them as Jacquard weavings.  The dramatic
visual impact of woven color is undeniable.  Where is the art here?  Rozendaal acts as curator and has a
budget that allows for woven reproduction.  When can a taste-maker be called “artist.”
Nan Goldin at Matthew Marks (West Hollywood closing).
Goldin is one of three photographers in the exhibition (Diane Arbus, Peter Hujar, and Goldin).  Twenty
two prints spanning sixty years ostensibly allow one to compare and contrast how each artist “saw” the
world.  Certainly this “side-by-side” exhibition is apt and insightful.  But the resultant experience elevates
cynicism.  
Helen Rebekah Garber at DENK (DTLA closing).
Garber’s thickly impastoed paintings are exuberant and embrace the metaphysical.  I am reminded of
the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944).  Quoting the gallery’s press release, “Formally lush,
sensual, ornate and vibrant, these deliberately seductive images present women as guardians and
sentinels…” Going from seeing the Existential show at Matthew Marks (above) to this exhibition…
hallelujah.!
Robert Walker at Jason Vass (DTLA through Feb. 17).
This exhibition presents work from the last fifteen years.  Robert Walker received his MFA from UC Irvine.  
He has been a long-time California arts educator and community arts activist.  His art making is meditative
– informed by Buddhism.  The amount of time he spends making a painting is evident - poured and carved
acrylic pigments, the multi-layered segments of fused paint that become mandalas.
Georganne Deen at CB1 (DTLA through Feb. 17).
Ms. Deen’s paintings are rooted in real-life characters – the “gurus of evil” -the men and women who have
brought “Psychic Violence in America” (the exhibition’s title).  Mirroring and updating her idols of social
commentary (George Grosz, Otto Dix, James Ensor) her work is not ambiguous.  I cannot look away from
the convincing power of her portrayal of evil.
Kelly Vivanco at thinkspace (Culver City through Jan. 27).
I respect art making that uses the means that art-making has used for centuries.  I find many of the Post-
Conceptual practices that seem to dominate contemporary art-making to be facile – works that owe more
to the language of ideas rather than their vision.  Think – Lawrence Weiner.
Not believing that painting is dead, how does the act of painting resurrect itself in post-Baldessari times?  
Watching the explosion of the New Surrealism/New Figurative Art/ Pop Surrealism/Neo Pop/Graffiti and
Street Art/Post-Graffiti championed by thinkspace and the Corey Helford galleries I see young artists
developing remarkable skills using classic techniques.  Their skills with materials is undeniable.  Yet, the
content that these skills reflect is shallow and anti-intellectual.  It is beauty without brains.
Sarah Joncas at thinkspace (Culver City through Jan. 27).
So I make a point to look and stay abreast of the New… artists (like Escondido’s Kelly Vivanco and

Toronto’s Sarah Joncas.  I hope that these New… artists and their audience will help lead us back to the
richness that visual art-making has classically delivered.  Lawrence Weiner is a poet and his contemporary
practice is literature. Literature is an art.  But it is not visual art.  One hundred years ago when Schwitters
et al (exhausted and “defeated” by the horrors of WWI) met at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Dada was
born.  Over the last 100 years Dada has evolved into Post-Conceptualism.  I hope the lineage of artistic
expression can be re-invigorated.  Painting is not dead.  Painters still search for relevance.  Seeing ideas
presented visually is still rich territory.
Josh Jefferson at Zevitas Marcus (Culver City through Feb. 24).
Jefferson’s collaged paintings build off each other exploring visual tangents.
Miriam Schapiro at Honor Fraser (Culver City closing).
Miriam Schapiro (1923-2015) was a vanguard feminist artist.  She pioneered the use of computers in her
painting design.  Married to Paul Brach, they lived and worked at UCSD when he became the head of the
newly formed art department in 1967 (in 1968 I entered UCSD and began taking art classes then).  It was
at UCSD that Schapiro collaborated with the physicist David Nabilof – learning early computer-aided
design that produced Keyhole (1971) (seen above).  Advancing his career, Brach became the dean of the
new CalArts Valencia in 1969.  There Schapiro joined forces with Judy Chicago to form the Feminist Art
Program in 1971.
I am not a fan of Schapiro’s art.  Its “masculinity” seems clumsy – but important considering that women
were just beginning to push back against the male arts hegemony.
Ross Rudel at Baik Art (Culver City closing).
Rudel is quite a craftsman.  His sculptural fabrications range from geometric totems to sexualized “spores”
popping off the wall (as above).  Above all Rudel’s work demonstrates mastery of craft.  That he is a
thinking man (wickedly perverse) is also evident.
Andre Hemer at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through Feb. 10).
Over two years ago I met and had a long conversation with Andre Hemer in Paris (at the Galerie Fatiha
Selam).  I learned about his complex processes in image making.  I also learned how effective he was in
globe-trotting and finding audience for his work.  His “paintings,” or are they “photographs,” are
deconstructed, reconstructed amalgamations of metadata.  Trying to figure out what one is seeing is like
walking a visual Mobius strip.  There is no beginning.  There is no conclusion – just the visual conundrum
of in/out; on top/below.
Abelardo Morell at Rose Gallery (Bergamot through Jan. 27).
Abelardo Morell has resurrected my interest in his work.  He is still using the camera obscura to project
images (with all the attendant physics that plays into this imaging).  In addition to projecting the cityscape
onto the built environment – new work juxtaposes images of nature projected onto nature.  The resultant
visual textures are rich.  In this series he set up his tent-camera in the fields of London’s Hamstead Heath
to interpret the Romantic nineteenth century paintings of John Constable.  Luscious.
Francisco Toledo at Latin American Masters (Bergamot through Feb. 7).
Oaxaca native, Toledo only rarely is seen in solo show.  While I have been enjoying Toledo’s
individual pieces here at LAM over the last couple years – this exhibition is a sweeping extravaganza
of self-portraits (all executed in 2017).  Toledo is one of Mexico’s great artists.  He is as important as a
social activist as he is important as an artist.  Toledo’s style is varied – but also signature.  I can spot
a Toledo from way off.
Tom Krumpak at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Feb. 17).
I like Krumpak’s work.  When I try to learn about it – the information (largely from the artist’s statement) is a
collection of tangential thoughts.  I do know that in every painting in his large current series, no color is
repeated.  The artist writes: “The pictorial strategy that I employ is purposely rangy and magnetically
inclusive, employing visual contextual decision making and trusting intuition.”  There you have it.  These
riotously colored extravaganza paintings are a joy to perceive.  
Caroline Larsen at Craig Krull (Bergamot closing).
If Caroline Larsen’s paintings were made from cake icing – their calorie count would be astronomical.  She
weaves oil paint like it is textile and her paintings become like embroidery.  The resultant visual feast is
pure joy; pure color.  It is interesting to compare and contrast the work of Robert Walker at Jason Vass
with Ms. Larsen’s.  For both of them, pigment is primary and almost all that is needed.
Michael Todd at West Los Angeles College (Culver City through Jan. 29).
Mike Todd was my most significant professor as an undergrad student (dual major in art and biology) at
UCSD for the four years starting in 1968.  I spent most of my time doing independent studies with him in
the Pepper Canyon sculpture studio.  His recycled steel and Japanese-influenced sculptures were my
definition of beautiful, lyrical art.
His own art education (and MFA) was early on focused on printmaking.  The paintings seen in this
exhibition must surely reflect back on his earliest interests.  
Molly Barnes is the director of the art gallery at West Los Angeles College.  She has had a long and
distinguished career as a bicoastal arts impresario.
I remember when the LA gallery scene revolved around the La Cienega orb with Nick Wilder, Ulrike Kantor,
Molly Barnes, and (a bit east) Joni Gordon.
So it was a step back in time to be standing in the gallery surrounded by Mike Todd’s work, talking with
Molly Barnes, and sharing words with Kenneth Capps (he independently arrived at the gallery at the same
time) who I met back in the Pepper Canyon days when he too was under the tutelage of Mike Todd.
Take a look…
I have been collecting art for 40 years.
I have a very large library and an even larger collection of art produced over the last 40 years.
I want to start disseminating this collection piece by piece to a discerning next generation of
collectors.
I am slowly posting books and art objects for sale on this site.
There are two sale sections: photography monographs and paintings/sculpture.
Click on either of the following genre buttons to be taken to the appropriate sale page.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay       January 2018
doug@simayspace.com
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