Saturday, December 12, 2009

Boombox Army invade Party Walk

I was part of Unsilent Night, an annual sound event which is performed during the holiday season in many different cities. This performance had been performed at Pan Pacific Park the last few years. This year Downtown Art Walk was the new venue Thursday, December 10th.

The deal is, you sign up and bring a boombox or other portable amplifier to the event. On it is played a sort of modern classical experimental piece which was either on CD, MP3, or the beloved cassette tape (remember those?). I figure there must've been 40 or so people with boomboxes who participated. There was one person on rollerblades with a groovy retro backpack boombox. Sweet!

I had organized a sound performance a month earlier for Art Walk and so had available a loud, homemade-ish, portable amplifier ready to go for some more fun. I met a few friends there also participating, Tommy, Jud & Jodi. We started on Spring street at the Arcade Building. We walked up and down Spring and Main street in between 4th and 9th roughly for around 45 minutes. The song had a lot of dynamics going from crinkling, tinkling bell sounds to loud clangings and tonal washes.

It was pretty fun. Our sound army got lots of curious stares as we rumbled into the bustle of the downtown crowd. The walk also gave me the opportunity to see all the new stores that have opened up downtown and some of the new ones about to come in. It's changing so quickly now. The stores are getting more expensive, corporate, and grandiose. Is an ominous "fratscape" a'blooming in downtown? Maybe a corner is being turned from artsy and up and coming to Mallville? Still I guess it's better than Crackton. Anyway, next year be sure to be part of this fun and interesting event.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

No Beauty at the Geffen

I enjoy a lot of conceptual art. But, in order for it to be worthy of my attention it must have beauty. I'm not talking about pretty flowers here. I'm talking about some sort of perceptual experience of satisfaction beyond the idea (thanks wikipedia). Over the years the curators at MOCA have evidently declined to pay any heed to beauty as evidenced in their current show: MOCA'S First Thirty Years.

I haven't seen the entire show though, only the 1980-NOW section down at the Geffen which has mostly sculpture and installation. So, who knows, maybe there's some beauty hanging out down at Grand Ave. though I'm certainly not inspired to see it after wandering through this maze of horrors. I have been in LA for over ten years (making me officially from here) and I've seen many shows at MOCA that have had stand out, jaw dropping, exceptional work. The curators apparently neglected to purchase any of that for their permanent collection.

Is it just me or is this stuff intensely ugly? Seriously, some of this looks like rubbish left by the assembly crew. I mean some of this crap is not even good enough for LACE. Whoops, did I say that? I think I know why MOCA has had it's recent money woes. It's not mismanagement, it's because their collection has not aged well. It is the equivalent of sub-prime mortgage backed securities or junk bonds traded into worthlessness. It doesn't even look antique, just out of date.

Even the things that are supposed to be ugly are ugly. Just in time for xmas is Paul McCarthy's horrifying Tokyo Santa, installation. Don't get me wrong, I hate xmas as much as the next guy and I appreciate the punch below the belt to the season. But, this gratuitously retched half-naked santa montage is just so predictable.

But, it wasn't all bad. As I exited I saw a man taking some photos of the most compelling scene at the Geffen, the tinted late afternoon sunlight shining through the windows at the front door. Too bad it wasn't part of the show.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ARTRA Feeling Lofty

I shouldn't have given them my email. Now TLofts will be spamming me with ads for Real Estate till the cows come home. I thought it was the curator list. How naive I was. But, it was worth it. I saw some fantastic work at Here and Now, ARTRA at TLofts last weekend.

A fantastic concept, really. Art patrons, prospective renters/buyers, and other interested folks get to check out art from all over Los Angeles at a new loft building during an open house. Reminds me a little of the Phantom Galleries concept as the curators capitalized on this temporary space, though the focus here is more comercial. ARTRA is a curatorial group formed "in answer to the restrictions in exhibiting opportunities for artists following the economic meltdown". Hopefully the economy will continue to be crap so ARTRA can set up more fun events like this. It's a little less stuffy than a gallery show and more fun to explore.

As far as TLofts go, it's nice I suppose. If you're looking for a 2 level concrete box with 3 toilets (is that really necessary?) TLofts in west LA is the place for you. Features fantastic industrial views and geometric artificial turf in the courtyard. 3 toilets, really? Do people really pee that much?

There were dozens of artists represented here featuring a lot of interesting 2D and 3D work, all different styles and techniques. My favorites were Macha Suzuki's flowery conceptual self portrait, Jaime Scholnick's styrofoam monoliths, and Justin Bower's bold oil paintings. It wasn't all top notch though. There were a few units that were really sparse where the work really didn't fill the space. The 1st floor seemed to have the stronger work for the most part.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

East Energy

I started out in Culver City last Saturday hoping to find something to write about but was disappointed in the galleries new selections. George Billis had some interesting work but, it didn't really kick me in the solar plexus so I headed east.

I eventually ended up downtown at the Hive Gallery on Spring st. I have a long association with the Hive having been a resident artist there for it's first 2 years. I usually go to their openings but have been so busy I haven't been able to in the last few months. I was pleasantly reminded of what an alive place it is.

The Hive's selection of Lo Brow, Visionary, Illustration, Pop Surrealism, and Outsider work may or may not be your thing. But, what the Hive has that no other gallery in Los Angeles can compete with is ENERGY. It bursts from every saturated cranny in that long and narrow space. There is always lots to see and hear. A swirling din of performers, live painting, working resident artists, costumed freaks, and young hipsters greets you as you step inside for a first Saturday of the month opening. This month was a rare sculpture show for the Hive which usually features painting. Insanely meticulous work is a constant for the Hive and this show was no exception.

One of the highlights for me was Randy Horton's bizarre miniature conceptual pieces. They feature landscapes and pastoral scenes set next to proportionally gigantic fast food. I'm not even sure how to describe this but, they are fantastic. With titles like "The Tragedy of Latin American Monoculture" you can tell there is something going on here. I'm not sure what but, I want to know more.

Another of my favorites was Akihito. The sculptures feature flowing, ornamental shapes and are semi figurative. There are lots of metallics and embellishments. Victorian Futurism? Who knows. Just look at the pictures!

"MASTER BLASTERS OF SCULPTURE" show up through the end of the month.
The Hive Gallery
729 S. Spring st.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Heavy Spraypainter

While crawling last week Deryke and I came upon some great artwork down at Whole 9 gallery in Culver City. Greg Boudreau's spray paintings of industrial cityscapes are bold and complex. The artist has a really unique way of using stencils.

We met the artist and had a very nice time discussing technique. Greg uses dozens of colors in his pieces starting with the lightest shades. All of them on wooden slats arranged together. And they are heavy! If you buy one of these make sure you find the stud or expect your new acquisition to bounce off your couch and smash your glass coffee table into little bits. There are several more of Greg's pieces currently at Peter Schulberg's Eco-Logical art gallery in Culver City.

He wouldn't give me his business card apparently fearing a reprisal from the character actor guarding the door. Is it a cult? Maybe it's a Scientology thing. I didn't notice any unusual handshakes but you never know. Anyway, check out Greg's work. The show runs until November 21st.

Unique Techniques
The Whole 9 Gallery
6101 Washington Blvd.
Culver City 90232

Eco-Logical Art Gallery
4829 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Monday, October 26, 2009

Too much hairspray - westside

A gallery full of photographs of toddlers dressed as adults. Sounds simple but the reality is complex and disturbing. Susan Anderson's collection of oversized portraits of child beauty pageant contestants at Paul Kopeikin gallery is a thought-provoking spectacle. See children in tiny cowboy hats, caked-on makeup and hair extensions wearing forced smiles. See ribbons for "best smile" and "best eyes" along with elaborate rhinestone crowns for a few of the lucky future debutants. French style nails, fishnet stockings, these Mothers are NOT kidding around.

The question arises, are Mothers setting up their children for disappointment as they guide them to strive for unattainable perfection? Is the sky blue? My friend Deryke had some other great insights and I would've remembered some of them if he just didn't talk so fast. But, what is the difference between these Moms and other ambitious parents pushing soccer, piano, and ballet on their children tall Veronica asks? Some sort of grasp on reality perhaps?

The photographs themselves are very matter of fact with the girls posed with a set background and professional lighting. They could easily hold a prideful place above the mantle at any of the participating Mother's living rooms. The same photos here at Paul Kopeikin are looked upon mostly with horror and revulsion or at least with amazement. The issue of child pagents is here brought to light while at the same time seems to subvert the artist. The only clue we get of the artist's point of view is when we see a photo of one of the girls with a morose look next to a photo of her with a practiced smile.

Go see this show. Then talk about it. It's fun.

Kopeikin Gallery
8810 Melrose Avenue

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Chinatown Wonderment Part 1

What a beautiful day to take in some exciting contemporary art in LA's quaint Chinatown. Here's a weird little place, one half sculpture gallery the other half full of vending machines and a large picnic table. Very avant garde! Oh wait, Devita tells me KMLA (Katherine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects of Toronto) is sharing space with an automat. Those crazy Canadians!

In a five foot long glass case a weird little world is displayed. A button camera on a screw conveyor slowly passes in front of miniature flora and fauna. There's a jungle scene complete with little plastic trees and mirror as water reflection, a cotton cloud scape, an oily rag as foothills, and a rotating dead cat. An old Phonograph plays a droney soundtrack which is kept repeating by a tiny helicopter. On a TV close by the environment is realized. It appears amazingly lifelike (and kinda scary during the dead cat closeup). I stood and stared at this thing for several minutes, for three full cycles. Artist John Dickson's "Redux" is an impressionistic reworking of Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness themes in sculptural form. Follow the link for some of his other works.

So, come on down to Chinatown and have a Jarritos Mandarin or an Oolong Tea and a Twix bar while you discuss art concepts or important issues of the day.

936 Chung King Road
LA, 90012