Sunday, November 7, 2010

Airom Inc.

Congrats to Airom Bleicher on his new gallery (Caporale/Bleicher) located on LaBrea Ave. next to Jack Rutberg. So glad he has added a new eastern wing to his growing art conglomerate which started (and continues) with the Bleicher/Golightly location on Ocean Ave. Santa Monica is essentially Siberia as far as I'm  concerned and traveling there from Los Feliz was always a schlep for me. I'm happy that I'll be able to attend more of the many art & music events Airom puts on.

At Bleicher/GoLightly he is renting a partition of an existing gallery so his space there is severely limited. This new joint is gigantic in comparison and actually big enough to hold more than 5 people. And there were definitely more than five here at the "Worlds Within" grand opening. See the pictures for proof. The place was filled with important artists and art luminaries, a large foresty installation, a Bleicher brother, and at least one person named Calethia.

Airom has been doing the gallery & artist representation thing for a few years now. He has been tireless in his effort while at the same time living on the ultra cheap. The man doesn't even own a car for Chissakes! Couldn't happen to a nicer guy and I'm really happy for him. Yes, Airom is a great lad and I hope he is able to remember and appreciate all the fine work he has done even after he goes broke. Just kidding! Congrats Airom!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Greene Sculpture Park

So, I drove downtown to see a couple Chung King Road openings the other night. I had a good time and liked some of what I saw. But, as I was mysteriously disappearing (it's my way) I noticed a fine group show at a temporary space called the Greene Park Gallery. It's just up another few days so you might not catch it in time. But, I thought I'd throw a few words around about some great sculptures by Peter Wu.

This is the new TTINLA so no deep analysis here, just snippets of appreciation for the nuggets I come into contact with. These sculptures feature all sorts of common objects like crappy figurines and cheapo coffee table gifts that would end up at a garage sale. This stuff is arranged and worked in such a way as to sublimate (I love that word) the original meaning of the objects. It's very obviously lovingly done.

There was other great work in the gallery but, I thought I'd focus on my favs. Keep your eyes peeled for Peter Wu in the future.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Lowbrow Quickie

So, all I basically had to do was to get up from my early evening nap and walk up the hill across the street to see Beyond Eden Art Fair at the Barnsdall. I couldn't really pass this up, it would be shamefully sloth-like. The Barnsdall is a great place to see an art show but, whenever I go I keep thinking how horrified Frank Lloyd Wright would've been to see his beautiful gallery filled up with contemporary art pieces. He's been turning over in his grave for almost 50 years now and this Lowbrow show will for sure keep him spinning.

I'm not really a lowbrow guy but, there were a few really excellent artists who's work I really dug. One was Christopher Ulrich. I first heard of this guy from the Youtube show Artist Unusual. This is a really well done little series of art interviews by Randy Wall in his Andy Warhol wig. Check it out: Artist Unusual There's some crazy energy that Christopher is focusing in his work. Very detailed, bold and powerful stuff.

There were tons of people at this show including local art scene regular and idea man Aaron Landy feeding his video hoarding addiction. I think there needs to be an intervention. Don't tease us Aaron we need to see this shit before we die! Later, I asked a guy who I thought was Seth Carmichael if he wanted to buy a donut. It wasn't him and he didn't want to buy one. Guess it's been awhile since I've talked to Seth. Here's some info about the event:

Oh No! Google just took over Blogger and they're screwing everything up. My settings are toast! I have to go in to the HTML and delete all the new crappy stylesheets they forced on me! Fuckers. Ever heard of Scroogle? Makes me feel better using it. Check it:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've been Resnick-ized!

I've been a busy bee. All sorts of performance art projects have kept me away from blogging. Frightfully busy have I been. Take a look at my site if you're interested to see what's been taking up my time. But, also, I've realized I've become too much a journalist. Instead of just riffing on the crazy night I had I'm starting to do actual research! Damn my perfectionism! If'n I'm to keep this blog going I've just got to wing it. So, wing it I shall. Expect less details and more immediacy here on TTINLA.

I can't believe I've never been a member of LACMA. I love the place. But, I go there not often enough. So last Saturday I just decided to walk in and sign up. Lo, and behold they had built a whole new exhibition space called the Resnick Pavilion. It was full of mostly interesting objects. I'm a big fan of history especially ancient American history.

Did you know 95% of the people who originally lived in the Americas died of European delivered diseases? Often entire communities and populations were wiped out even before they had peered onto a white face! This isn't propaganda it's the real truth! Check out this fantastically detailed book called 1491 by Charles C. Mann.

Anyway, a lot was happening back in the good ol' Mesoamerican days, like the Olmec. You know those big heads? Well, the Resnick has a few of them along with some other grand Olmec items. They also had a couple other fine shows, one was a really fascinating assortment of high fashion clothing from 1700-1915. Hey Adele, you need to go!

The other an assortment of 18th century paintings & sculpture from the Resnick collection. I must admit I'm a sucker for these romantic sculptures featuring all the Greek gods and such. I know it's cheezy but I just can't help myself.

It reminded me of my trip to Copenhagen a few years ago when I happened upon the Glyptotek. I spent most of the day there admiring Greek & Roman period sculptures along with reproductions and works in the same style from the 19th century. They also do this crazy thing in their museums of putting contemporary items along with the old stuff. Mind blowing. Go to Denmark!

Anyway, go to the Resnick too. It's good. Nice new building. You will like it. Don't worry, they still have the life-sized Michael Jackson and Bubbles ceramic sculpture next door.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Daytime Culver Crawl

My day job has been frustrating of late. The economy sucks and there isn't enough staff to do what needs to be done. Everybody is stressed out. I needed a couple days off before I acted on the fantasy of putting my foot through the CPU. So, I chilled out and did mostly nothing for a couple days except take a fun trip to the Culver City galleries. I had missed all the current show's openings due to intense busyness in my life so, some of what I'm going to write about won't be available to view much longer but, I thought it worthwhile to highlight the outstanding work I saw.

At Walter Maciel there was a fine group show called Valley of the Dolls. A diverse assortment to be sure. My favorite was Andy Diaz Hope's strange and meticulous works which were sort of photographic mosaics using dark and moody subject matter. What started as a large photographic print was cut up into hundreds of tiny pieces. Each piece was then put into clear gelcaps which were glued onto a perfect grid in correct order, reconstructing the picture. Talk about yer OCD! Beautiful stuff. There was actually another artist who did a similar piece in the show, Beverly Rayner, who used gelcaps but put a photograph behind them instead of inside (far right).

At Angles Gallery was a fascinating kinetic piece by Joseph Kohnke called launch. As you entered the installtion room a motion detector activated a series of antique lunch boxes to come alive. The boxes slowly open at different intervals creating a creaking, whirring din. Each box had inside a thermos that would rise and aim, then descend back into it's silo. The artist was inspired by North Korea's bleak reality of not being able to feed it's populace but at the same time building a massive army.

I was pretty tired and ready to split the scene until I walked into Honor Fraser and saw Israeli artist Shiri Mordechay's bizarro mixed media installation. This totally took my breath away. It's just one of those indescribable explosions of expression. A sculptural collage-maze set before me. A vomit of grotesque bodies painted on paper and shaped into some crazy floating and creepy world. Contorted erotica and mythological creatures caught in a spider's nest of string and scraps. A Bosch-esque parade of fuck-sexy vagina-cock corpses. All of it painted on paper, cardboard, and fabric. Glued, wired and sewn together hanging from the ceiling, and standing on the floor. I don't even want to read the press release, I'd rather go back to see if I could figure out what's going on. A must see. Go see it before it's gone. Quick!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Perform Now! in Chinatown!

I caught some groovy Performance Art at the Chinatown Galleries Perform Now! event last week. I'm glad they are holding this event yearly now. Also, last year I believe it was just one day but this time it was a three and a half days, Thursday night through Sunday. I didn't see as much as I wanted as I was all over the place during the weekend. But, I did catch a few interesting gems.

I've always liked Tiffany Trenda's work. It's well planned, thoughtful and compelling. She employs video projections, video cameras, bizarre costumes, and usually an interactive element. She was performing her piece Terrarium which included all of the above. Trenda was wearing a white body suit with an LCD and camera headdress. She crept around in slow motion on lucite heels reaching out to audience members behind a rope barrier mimicking their slow movements but never touching. All the while various futuristic city and environmental scenes were projected on top.

I've always liked Lucas Murgida's work as well. In his piece The Oracle he cuts out the wise sage middle man who is normally called upon to form riddles for you to figure out and thus find your path. In this version you are your own sage. The viewer is invited to enter a phone booth-sized box with two way mirrors. Inside, all your questions are answered. Lucas stands outside like a barker, the truth is his con to entice people inside.

Perform Now! is really a fun event. The Chinatown Gallery area is perfect for it as it has a nice inner courtyard and a large secluded cul de sac. Be sure to take the time to check it out next year.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

NYC Exploits Part 2

After the Chelsea death march on Friday what I really needed and was hoping for was a crazy night at some bar in Williamsburg. Luckily, Justin was spinning at a bar down the street from where I was staying. He used to have 80+ Prince singles but, I don't remember hearing him play any during his set. Actually, I didn't remember much after the 4 1/2 margavesas and a whiskey shot. But, I checked my Facebook status in the morning and apparently I had a lousy milkshake at Kellogg's diner for a nightcap.

After a hazy morning my mates and I went down to the Whitney. There was a Charles Burchfield painting show there. I totally loved this stuff. It reminded me a lot of William Blake's work for some reason. My favorite works were the watercolors in which he seemed to render energy emanating from trees and other flora. He portrayed nature's invisible biorhythms in a sort of spiritual way with glowing yellow and white light. Very psychedelic and visionary. I'd have more pics but... No Bigture No Bigture! I had to pull these from the interwebs.

Later, it was a distressing afternoon for the members of Violent Bullshit. We missed the set but not the aftermath. Apparently, a string had broken, and their 11 minute set was lacking in focus and energy. I tried to console the bassist but I just made it worse. The guitarist was surprisingly upbeat though, ready to get on with his new life without his girlfriend who just dumped him and without his band who he was dumping. Only a crazyman named Sam Tobin could resuscitate this gloomy ex-pool supply store.

On Sunday Scotty RV and I took a ferry to historic Governor's Island. It was free except for the 2 bills we lost playing blackjack in the casino on the lower deck. On this barren outpost the lonely soldiers stationed here would put on elaborate shows to liven their dreary and desperate lives. Some times it was dinner theater featuring saucy vignettes while other times it was a musical with costumes. They would often fight each other to play the female rolls. One of the goals of my trip was to visit a bar in Manhattan called Max Fish where we used to hang out during the band years. Never got there but, I did get to see the t-shirt at the Meatopia festival on Governor's.

After meeting Justin & Stacy later in the afternoon for the end of the World Cup match at a bar in Greenpoint I went to a local recording studio to see what Turing Machine was putting together. Gerry Fuchs, their drummer had passed away late last year and Scott and Justin were trying to cobble something together from various demo recordings to put out a third album. Andrew, their producer played me a couple of things, one of which was a fantastic improvised jam recorded at Scott's upstate NY home. Very exciting driving Turing Machine style stuff. Can't wait to hear what they come up with. But, it will take some time.

While in the studio I took a couple hours out to meet an NYC performance artist, Shaun El C. Leoardo at a bar called the Pencil Factory down the street. I had seen one of Shaun's performances that he did at LACMA in LA awhile back called Bull in the Ring. My cinematographer friend Brad Cooper was filming it for him. It featured Shaun leading football drills and then being pummeled by 10 burly linebackers. It was pretty intense. Shaun's performance work involves personifying masculine role models in order to "truly experience the psychology and pain involved with representing the hero figure". In another performance called Battle Royal he got in a cage match with several blindfolded professional wrestlers for 3 hours! I had a great conversation with him and his artist friend. Hopefully I'll catch one of his upcoming projects when I visit NYC again. Go to his website to read about his interesting work.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Turing Machine

Shaun El C. Leoardo

Bull in the Ring

Battle Royal

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Endless Arts in Chelsea

Being "based" in LA (whatever the hell that means) I write about LA arts here at TTINLA blog. But, last weekend I had a bit of an NYC art trip so I thought I'd write about it. I was mainly out east to see my mates who I was in a band with in the 90s (pitchblende). But, I had enough time to go arting too.

I had never visited the Chelsea gallery area in Manhattan's lower west side so I took an afternoon to peruse it. Vast! I had no idea. In about an 8 square block area it seemed like almost every building was a gallery, or a building full of galleries. It took me 4 hours and I was passing up probably two thirds of the spaces. My head was spinning and my feet were aching. 100 degree temperatures accompanied me.

I can't begin to start writing a review of this, it's just too much. So, I just picked some things out that seemed interesting to me. At the Carolina Nitsch Project Room was a fantastic show of strange artworks. Richard Dupont had some bizarre and compelling figurative sculptures. Honestly, this shit just kind of freaks me out. Little naked and bald men on a table all contorted in slightly different ways. I would assume in a 3D program and then somehow cast in polyurethane resin. Want to try some DMT? No need, just check this stuff out.

My favorite show in Chelsea ironically, featured an LA "based" (there it is again) artist, Tim Hawkinson. I've always loved his inventive and complicated work. He's a true mad scientist. The Pace Gallery was displaying Tim's "One Man Band" series. These are works that are musical in nature and have scores sort of like old player pianos. But, the scores are on plastic film, a row of beads, or screws in an old thermos. When the pieces are activated by a motion detector they spring to life and start making "music". It's mostly dissonant patters as far as I could tell. Fantastic!

At Slag gallery were some bold and slaggish busts by Kristian Kozul. They were sort of emulating classical busts of Roman generals and politicians but they had a modern twist looking like they were dripping in crude oil and featuring contemporary clothing. One called Guardian of Prosperity appeared to be a cop in riot gear including a gas mask. I thought these were brilliant.

Ok, I think I got a couple more episodes for this trip so stay tuned for parts 2 & 3.

Slag Gallery

The Pace Gallery

Carolina Nitsch Project Space
534 W. 22nd St. New York, NY 10011

Monday, July 5, 2010

Walk west, Drive north

I had a nice walk through Beverly Hills last Saturday. No, I didn't stop at Dior for a $5000 black satin leather jacket. A super lady (Micol Hebron) was talking a super walk in her silver superstar outfit all the way to the ocean from downtown via Wilshire. Friends were driving and biking by to give their farewells on her journey. One cohort was walking the entire 16 miles with beachball in hand. This was Micol's final "act" in Los Angeles as she is off to...Paris? No, Utah to pursue other artistic endeavors such as being the Senior Curator at the Salt Lake Art Center. I hope she doesn't forget about us here in LaLa Land. Once she realizes she has to join a private club to drink a Coca Cola maybe she'll spend her weekends here.

Later that day I went to a great photography show at Cella Gallery in North Hollywood. Disambiguations featured the work of Sinan Revell. There were actually 3 separate bodies of work being shown all from the last few years. In the doppelgANGER series Sinan plays chameleon by posing as every character in her photo montages. Sinan appears as glamourous LA trophy wife and gardener, busy business woman and homeless person, police brutality victim and policeman, as well as many other pairings that represent social and class opposites.

All the work was of the highest quality in execution. The various characters are seamlessly composed in the environments. All the characters looked surprisingly natural and legitimate especially considering that they are all the same person. Very fine work indeed!

Also present were Homeland Security Blankets featuring some of the crime-orented photographic images made into tapestries, and Sinan's Color Blind series. A really amazing display of work which I've seen parts of in past shows but having it all together was really very impactful. Brad Cooper was at the opening as well, Sinan's collaborator.

So, take a trip up to North Hollywood's Cella Gallery and view this fantastic show up through July 26th. It's actually the only art gallery in North Hollywood's "Art District" according to the young and attractive interns.

Cella Gallery
5229 Lankershim Blvd.
North Hollwood

Sinan Revell

Friday, June 18, 2010

Avant-Garde Music Night delayed by Lakers Game Result

Now that's a headline I thought I would never write. Yes, even some members of the commie-pinko alternative music community in LA cannot help but show their local pride in mass-market athletics. As the final game of the NBA championship was winding down the ResBox show was pushed back, until curator Hans stepped in and restored order and sanity.

ResBox is "A monthly event featuring the world's best experimental music, curated by musician and filmmaker Hans Fjellestad." It happens the 3rd Thursday of every month at the Steve Allen Theater at Center For Inquiry West (CFI) in Los Feliz. I've been to ResBox a couple times now and it's a great night if you love avant-garde music, Musique concrète, improvisational jazz, performance art, or live electronics. The musicianship is really pretty impressive and tonight was no exception.

The lineup included the SCOTT HEUSTIS GROUP featuring Breeze Smith + Jeff Schwartz + Robert Leng + Scott Heustis, a quartet of sorts including ANNA HOMLER + TED BYRNES + JORGE MARTIN + STEUART LIEBIG, and the FPR TRIO featuring Frank Gratkowski + Phillip Greenlief + Jon Raskin. I know, a lot of names and if you're not into this scene it wouldn't mean much to you probably. But, it was good stuff I tells you. There were three very distinct sets.

First a lively set from a quartet of electric guitar, drums, saxophone and standup bass featuring dynamic, improvised jazz in front of clips from old silent films. It was out there but still probably the most standard and identifiable music of the night.

Next was a free form weirdness. Anna Homler was in da house with a table full of noise-making toys. Robot rayguns, pull string dolls, and various other beeping, crying, and clicking plastic devices were held up to the microphone and then further manipulated with an array of pedals and effects. This set also featured the first 6 string bass sighting of the night, and somebody torturing a drum kit while crumbling up aluminum cans. Pretty nutty.

The 3rd set featured a fantastic saxophone trio. Apparently deciding their music was not quite bizarre enough, they all decided to play separate compositions simultaneously overlapping them. But, somehow it worked, though I probably wouldn't have known if it didn't.


at the Center For Inquiry
4773 Hollywood Blvd

ResBox Facebook Page

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Relentless Ride On The Zebra

Going to clubs that usually have a velvet rope outside the door is not high on my list of priorities but, I was assured from the invite that Robert Vargas' Red Zebra at the Crocker Club (Kojak reference?) would be FREE to the public. Why th' hell not? And that indeed was the case, I wasn't even padded down at the door.

Inside were beautiful people of all sorts dressing to impress for the most part. In the "Ghost Room" (legend has it that someone was shot and killed there) was a comedy show MCeed by Rick Izquieta. There was some really funny stuff! Some of the comics had actual jokes too. The hilarity could not even be dampened by the relentless heckling from the front row. The intrepid and scrawny comics held their ground during the onslaught. Also, kudos to the organizers for having the balls to combine a comedy show and avant-garde fashion show in the same event. A dangerous combination to be sure.

A little later, the Makers revved up their various jazzy instruments. They just kept playing and no one wanted them to stop. No one wanted the sexy dancers to stop writhing around on the table either and to capture the moment just about everything that resembled a camera in the joint was flashing away. Warning, epileptics need not apply! Probably best for you to stay at home the first Thursday of the month. Vargas even brought out his charcoal and started a portrait on stage during the set and still there was no pause in the sound. Relentless they were. Makers play 7th & Grand on Tuesday nights. Did I get that right? I'll see you there.

Rick Mendoza was in da house sporting some serious looking camera equipment. He wasn't kidding around and was snapping some impressive portraits. The event featured a good assortment of his photography work including some collage-esque pieces, a few portraits and some downtown alley scapes. Nice stuff.

The avant garde fashion show by Omega Collektiv (it's intentionally spelled that way you sap!) was bizarre and interesting. Flanked by a pair of fantastic hooded and laser-weilding gargoyle-men, out from the vault marched a parade of unisex spadex glam creations. Vargas would occasionally pull one of the models out for an impromptu portrait or some punk style body painting. The irony was absolutely not lost on the audience when a model holding a thought bubble sign that read "Boycott BP" walked out in a full spadex fish scales body suit and was sloshed with black latex paint. It was dramatic I tells ya.

Well, I know where I'm going to be the first Thursday of every month. Great event and $10 for a Jack & Coke isn't that expensive.

Red Zebra at the Crocker Club

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Walking Down to Love Street

Saw a great show at Charlie James Gallery last weekend. Orly Cogan's Love Street featured many elaborate embroidered pieces done on reused vintage quilts and fabrics.

My mom is a big quilt buff and I've bought her some antique quilts on various occasions. I wonder what her reaction would be to get one with naked women doing lines of coke embroidered on it. Abject horror, I would suspect. But, maybe she would appreciate the fine needlework and skillful use of colored thread. The technique is quite good. Still, I think I'll get her some flowers for her birthday instead.

A few of the pieces had the feel of Henry Darger's work with various naked men and women inhabiting a strange and fantastic nature realm complete with mythological creatures. There was one large and dense horizontal piece that seemed to be almost an homage to Darger. Most of the pieces depict nude women in contemporary settings, lounging about on lawn chairs, vacuuming, doing lines on a mirror, all very sexually charged.

There was also a large table full of sculptures resembling cakes and pastries. As far as I could tell these were made out of crocheted yarn. I can't even imagine the work that went into these.

This is the kind of stuff I really dig. It's edgy, unique, unusual, meticulous, thought provoking, and beautiful. There's so little beauty out there in contemporary art I really appreciate it when I see it.

This show is up until June 19th so there's plenty of time to catch it. Well worth the trip.

Charlie James Gallery
975 Chung King Road

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Standard Oblivion

I love living in oblivion. I never quite know what the hell is going on. It can give you the opportunity to see things in a different way. I also love it when I get the occasional call from Paige inviting me to an art related event. This time it was an invitation to view some video art at the Standard. Why? I don't know. I figured maybe I'll find out why eventually, maybe not. It's all good in the Land of Oblivion.

I show up on time as most midwesterners will to a hotel room on the 7th floor. I should've left details to my whereabouts with some friends. What if I were to get jumped and robbed or abducted into a cult? Well, I decide I'm still pretty spry for 42, so I took the chance and walked in. I meet some pretty ladies including the Art Director for the Standard and notice a gigantic black foot in the huge bathroom.

Eventually people start to filter in. We start to taste the strange h'orderves inspired by the videos we were to watch. Macaroni & Cheese Balls a la Marinara my favorite. David Stone starts handing out the Champagne and is heard regaling the young ladies in the room with his tales of meeting Warhol. It's a party! We sit down in front of a TV and start watching. I'm waiting for the pitch to buy the Timeshare but it never comes. No Amway products either. What we did see were some interesting video art pieces chosen to play at the Standard on their StandART channel. Ok, now I get it. Apparently some of this stuff is being projected somewhere in the building as well as through the room televisions. Pretty cool idea.

My favorite was Mika Rottenberg's Time + a Half, which deals with women making worthless consumer items in a sweat shop setting. Other notables were Martha Colburn's Triumph of the Wild, a fantastic stop motion animated opus of violence and weirdness. Also, Neistat Brothers' Yogurt VS.Gasoline, was a humorous documentary about a race in NYC in which a yogurt powered man is set against a motorcycle. Also also, Gonzalo LeBrija Asterion, features a businessman with briefcase riding a bucking bronco.

Well, unfortunately the mystery was solved but I did get a few free beers out of it. Next up, who will win the art debates? Porn? Yep, porn wins. Might be best to hold my tongue this time around.

StandART Video Series

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Permission to Fail in Chinatown

Hey, I saw a good sculpture show at Sam Lee Gallery on Hill street last Saturday. It was the opening of Macha Suzuki's Permission to Fail. I've known about Macha's work for awhile now as he was renting a work space in the same building I still rent in downtown. I love his work, it's easy on the eyes.

This new show is similar in style to the pieces I had seen previously. Macha continues with the use of the figure, an almost digital use of materials, clean and precise execution and a mostly inner narrative conceptual approach. Hey, I'm being to sound like I know what I'm talking about!

One of his works explores the idea of what if god designed life the same way people design consumer items. There's always a series of simple failed prototypes that don't quite make the mark and get thrown away. So, Macha's prototype for a sheep features an extruded octagon with cottonball fur and no head, an early iteration to be sure. On top of the sheep is a figure adapted from a childhood memory of himself and his friends incompetently trying to imitate cartoon characters . Hope I got that right.

Another large standing piece explores the idea of the birth of generosity. The intent is present but the actual form of the giving is undefined represented by a wireframe polygon waiting to be skinned with the gift once it is realized. Anyway, this is good stuff. I hope you catch the show down at Sam Lee before May 15th when the show closes.

Sam Lee Gallery
990 N. Hill Street #190
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Totems in the Forest

It was an Ace Gallery kinda Saturday. First day of spring, perfect LA weather. About time! I went first to the Eastern campus. This is such a beautiful and large space in The Wilshire Tower, an old Art Deco building on Miracle Mile built in 1928.

The current exhibition was a series of mostly gigantic paintings by John Millei from his Maritime series. There must've been more than a dozen rooms of various sizes all full of huge paintings, some of the rooms with great views of Wilshire Blvd. I kept thinking what a shame it was that the space was barely utilized. It's just begging for various functions including Avant-Garde art performances, yoga classes, lectures, parties, book signings.

Then it was off to the Western campus in Beverly Hills. Amazingly, there were even more paintings by Millei from a different series of gigantic Picasso studies. Some of the Maritime series were pretty but, I'm not sure they warrant 10,000 square feet. The only excuse would be if the artist were actually a 50 foot tall giant and even then it's a little excessive.

But, what I was really there to see was Herb Alpert's Black Totems and luckily I came on the perfect day. Later in the evening a Chamber Music recital would be performed in the large room where the totems were set up. So the floor space was filled with chairs and a stage. There was also large sound baffling foam on the walls and hanging from the ceiling. It created an environment reminiscent of a rain forest. Ok, maybe that's a stretch but I loved how the primal black trunks were seeming to grow out of the underbrush of chairs and up into the floral-like baffling. I kept expecting to hear water droplets or some exotic bird calls as I explored. The sunlight through the skylight was reflecting off of the metal chairs and the white walls infusing the room with a soft, full light. It was dim in places but no dark shadows.

This is not how the sculptures were supposed to be viewed of course but I was fascinated by this temporary accidental installation. I would've loved to see these powerful sculptures anyway but the added environment made me feel like I was seeing something special. I love the large abstract work, it sometimes almost approaching representational forms, like people's bodies or animal shapes. They do seem to be alive and growing or shifting. Very mysterious. Show is still up through May 25. It's free, be sure to see the totems before they disappear in the mist.

5514 Wilshire Blvd. (Mid-Wilshire)
9430 Wilshire Blvd. (Beverly Hills)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

One Trick Dragon?

There were a couple performance events last Saturday I wanted to attend. I have been experimenting a bit with performance lately so I was interested in seeing what others had put together. Unfortunately there were two events at the exact same time on the same night. One was "Live Sprawl" by Lucky Dragons at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary, the other was "Gutted" at LACE featuring a couple dozen performance artists. Having recently seen a few of their videos I went with Lucky Dragons, little did I know I probably could've seen both.

I'm from the midwest and one of our habits is being on time or early for shows, parties, events, etc. I get burned by it every time in LA and Live Sprawl was no exception as I got there a little before 7. MOCA claimed Live Sprawl would "engage partygoers in a collaborative construction of their environment using sound, video, lighting, physical contact, conversation, and other surprise elements." Well at around 9:30 the only conversation I was hearing was "when the hell is the performance going to start?" The same 20 minute long video of various banal strobed imagery was playing all night long on a large screen in the main performance space. And the only "interactive element" was a few people aimlessly tooting on some recorders (those crappy flues they gave you in elementary school music class) that had been given out during the evening (for no clear reason). I had to entertain myself by going back to the scene of the crime in the main gallery and taking another look at their lackluster 30 years show.

Finally at 9:45 some languid boys and girls started to shuffle onto the stage. What ensued was a mostly improvisational, and somewhat rhythmic electronic sound collage. There was some acoustic drums, moaned vocals, electronics, all loaded with delay and effects and a few obligatory laptops. This sort of musical style has a long history. I was in the "cassette culture" back in the 80s & 90s and the label that I ran had a lot of similar sounding music. This was really a basement version of what was going on back in the 60s and 70s when experimental electronic music was first starting out. But, I have to say that what was going on back then was a little more exciting. Geek infused projects like the No Thing Ensemble, Randy Greif, New Carrollton, Thomas Dimuzio, Throbbing Gristle, Merzbow, Harrison & Chapelle, Smersh, all had charm and power. The Lucky Dragons set just seemed like an echo of an echo of an echo.

The one element that was fantastic and totally fascinating was when LD passed out some sort of electronic instrument to the crowd that was hooked into the sound system. This was the true interactive element I had been waiting for all night. There were half a dozen or so small devices that were on the ends of electric cords. When manipulated by the audience a bright, swirling, tonal, wash would rise and fall. It seemed like the intensity would shift and increase when people would touch each other or bring the cords closer together. This was truly compelling. But after a 3 hour wait and little else to keep my attention I left thinking are they a one trick dragon?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spelunking Nick Cave

Adele, Roger and I took a recent jaunt over to the Fowler at UCLA to see the Nick Cave show. I have been wanting to see this for some time. I'm glad Adele took the initiative to organize the trip. I had already missed a couple performances featuring the costumes (or Soundsuits) so it was mandatory I saw the show.

No photos and no touching. Are they serious? This is the modern age, there are tiny cameras in every pocket. How do museums expect to enforce this rule? Futile. Anyway, I was able to sneak a few shots in.

Nick Cave's elaborate Soundsuits are immaculate and refined. Their height is impressive and seems natural at about 8 feet. Steel welded armatures hold various assortments of consumer items like old toy tops or in a couple cases porcelain figurines. The suits display complicated designs done with sewed sequins, crochet, fun fur, buttons, lots and lots of buttons. They had a folk art feel to them. Fantastic. You gotta see this show.

Next door in an adjacent gallery was an exhibit called Intersections: World Arts, Local Lives. In it were folk items from all over the world, some contemporary, some ancient. The exhibit included masks and costumes used in various folk and religious ceremonies. The resemblance to some of the Nick Cave items was remarkable. There was even a video of a folk ceremony in New Caledonia I think that featured and outfit with long fringe similar to one of Nick's. The movements of the performer (shaman, priest, not sure) in that costume were almost identical to the video of the dancer in the Nick Cave suit. Pretty fascinating. What Nick Cave is doing here seems to be a contemporary version of these folk ceremonies.

Adele, Roger and I got to talking about the inspiration for the dances. We were wondering if the concept came first for the dance or did the costume design the dance itself. I leaned toward the idea that the suit designs the choreography. The materials and the sounds they make demand certain movements. Anyway, judge for yourself. The show is still up through May 30th.

Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth
January 10, 2010 to May 30, 2010