Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lada Adventures

Free admission, free parking space, free glass of wine. Now that's the way I like to roll.

I was lucky enough to get a last minute invitation to attend the Los Angeles Art Show opening Gala at the LA Convention Center last Wednesday. I slogged down there in the rain and parked and must've walked a mile though the cavernous and seemingly deserted convention building. I was beginning to think there had been a mistake. Did I get the wrong address? But, eventually I saw some signs of life, artsy-looking people in the distance.

Once I entered the gallery partition area though I realized I was going to have to throw out any notion I had of doing a review of this event. It was simply sensory overload. A maze of hundreds of galleries displaying their wares. I attempted to document some of my favorites but, things broke down very quickly.

So, I had a glass of wine and started to explore. Find below the highlights.

left - Artist Patrick Quinn standing in front of a Jackson Pollock inspired painting (not his). Don't worry Patrick I Photoshopped your double chin out.
center - The Pyo Gallery had some interesting pieces by Sung Tae Park made with metal screen mesh. Nan Chao had some bizarre concave relief sculptures. Very striking. Interesting technique.
right - A couple of wealthy patrons shelling out some dough for an abstract painting. So sophisticated they were. Vertical lines are making a comeback in 2010.

left - Look! A shark made out of old tires!
center - Hanging out with my friends L. Installácion, Deborah Martin Deborah, and a Glenna Jennings impersonator. How did these scruffs get in? Security!
right - Not photogenic? C'mon Kate, you are my Lucky Star!

left - Bert Green in da house in front of one of Peter Romberg's enigmatic portraits of identityless, handicapped children. Luckily, the Clippers were in better shape as they were taking it to a scrappy Bulls team next door at The Staples Center. "I love to see Derek Rose & Eric Gordon go at each other", Peter excitedly states. I concur! Take it 2 th' hole Kaman!

left - A giant chocolate kiss installation!
center - Look! A Ram made out of old tires!
center - Wow, how much do you think that giant glass lynx weighs? How the hell did they get it here?
right - The most inappropriate shot of the night. Kim and Jill with a furry pillow. Salacious!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Faces of Indusrty

So I sauntered down the 110 to the vast industrial park that is Torrance last Saturday to see a great portrait show at Torrance Art Museum (TAM). Many fine and diverse works did I see at "The Reflected Gaze - Self Portraiture Today" show. There was painting, sculpture, electronic media, even a massive Futurism inspired machined tapestry by Chuck Close.

Perhaps the most curious object was a volcanic self portrait by Emily Counts featuring multiple detailed ceramic pieces in the likeness of the artist as well as inset lighting. The piece was very bold and enigmatic. I endeavored to interview the artist (I can do that sort of thing now that I'm a "journalist") and it turned out that I had met her years earlier at a mutual friend's wedding. Yes, I know, the world, it is small, especially the "art world".

Other thoughtful works included Dane Picard's electronic portrait that included photographs morphing together in cronological order from childhood to present. Ariel Erestingcol's Add Me made with fusion beads features a recreation of Facebook spam reminding us that many of our portraits already exist in the cloud.

Other favorites include Julie Heffernan, KAW, Gavin Nolan, Jennifer Nehrbass, and Justin Bower. But, I though the entire show was very good as a whole. So, if you find yourself touring the Caterpillar Plant, or thinking about getting into the Petrochemical or Aerospace industry, keep in mind Torrance has some culture too.

...later that night

Cal Arts sure does throw a miserable desert party. Maybe they should send reconnaissance out to Moontribe for some tips. Up above the Grape Vine The rumor was that the Cal Arts music department was organizing an event. When we drove up and walked into the ravine we heard the Lady Gaga pumping through tiny speakers in a cramped underpass featuring a mosh pit! A little later, racist skinhead locals from Valencia were roaming around looking for trouble. Jaw-droppingly pathetic.

Later, Electric Cocoon at Area 33 saved the night. So good couldn't stop dancing. Greatest of vibes. "Tall puddle" on the mezzanine, a sight to behold! 417 Wall in da house!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Crawling in a Fresh New Decade

So glad the ghost town that is LA in the xmas season has repopulated. People have come back to sweep away the cobwebs and corral the tumbleweeds that have blown through the streets in their absence. It was nice being able to get across town in a half hour but, I'll take that inconvenience in exchange for boredom any day. So, I'm back and crawling anew in a fresh decade. I saw some good work at a few openings last Saturday.

There were some fantastic large portraits painted on transparent drafting film at Koplin Del Rio Gallery done by Shay Bredimus that I saw. I'm a sucker for this sort of dramatic work if it's done well, and that is definitely the case here. Beautifully rendered pieces done in sort of a distressed, romantic style. Somewhat nostalgic and spooky. All in greys and blacks. Painted on both sides, very nice. Sorry for the sentence fragments but, it's a blog so deal.

Lenticulars are those double image thingys that go back and forth between 2 or more scenes when you change your point of view. It's the kind of thing you used to get in cracker jack boxes or would see simulate Jesus crying tears for all of our sins. Barbara Strasen has employed this method in her work to good effect. She seemed to choose images in her lenticulars that were unalike in content but similar in feel. Maybe I'm wrong here but, that's what I saw in them. On top of the lenticulars she painted elaborate line drawings. Certainly a very clever and fascinating effect. I love clever effects. Clever is good. But, don't get me wrong, I'm not a "Cleverist." The show was at George Billis in Culver City.

At Charlie James gallery in Chinatown was a bizarre show by conceptualist Lizabeth Eva Rossof. The gallery was filled with many works which had all been made by artisans in China through commissions by Lizabeth. The paintings depict various subject matter such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Falun Gong spiritual movement, and porn sites. This sort of subject matter is basically illegal in China and the paintings were smuggled out in a roll disguised by a Mona Lisa reproduction. In the center of the Gallery was a sculptural representation of China's famous Terra Cotta army in miniature, except the heads were famous pop culture icons from the US: Bart Simpson, Mickey Mouse, etc. Great show.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Morphine Miracle for Xmas

I have never been a fan of the xmas season. I'm so secular-minded that using the correct spelling of Christmas makes me feel a little uncomfortable. And I'm such an active person that having to wait around while the Holidays pass by is very frustrating for me. So, I'm predisposed to be cranky the last couple of weeks of December. It didn't help that I spent most of xmas eve writhing on a gurney at the Kaiser Health Village down the street from my apartment building. I had just gone to bed after preparing for my flight to the Chicago area to see my family. I was dreading the trip as I thought I'd be stuck at the airport while the various massive storms were swirling about the country. Then the slow realization came that I might not even be going.

Ever have kidney stones? Not much fun at all. Extremely sharp abdominal pain that builds up over hours, sometimes days. The kind of pain you can't ignore or escape effectively. Not really much you can do. I had to be sure that's what it was though, so I walked down the street to the hospital. Strangely enough I've walked to the hospital before while thus afflicted more than 20 years ago in Washington DC when I was going to art school at the Corcoran.

An IV of Morphine and Dilaudid later and I was singing a different tune. Heavy medicine is just so grooovy sometimes. It's an interesting sensation to be in serious pain but not able to feel it. I'm not sure exactly when the stone passed but, it really just didn't matter anymore. I had just enough time to walk home and get an hour of sleep before my flight.

And then the xmas miracle happened. Walking toward my gate at LAX an island of splendor filled my view. Truly a vision of crafty refulgence charmed me behind the pexiglass case. A little art show in the aisle, how quaint. Now I know how the three kings must of felt as they walked through the desert wilderness, guided by the light of a supernova toward a glowing Jewish baby in a manger.

Ok, maybe it was just the Morphine but I was fascinated and impressed by the whimsical display. All the art pieces were made from items bought at 99 cent stores. A clever idea. I like clever. The Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs put this show together that included assemblage, sculpture, and collage by Los Angeles area artists.

My favorite was a futuristic, Metropolis-esque cityscape made out of children's supperware, toy cars, and Spice Girls by Elena Siff. Other highlights were Bill Anderson's Bones and Roses made out of dog bones and plastic roses, Matthew DeHaven's Artemis Ephesus - Allegory of the Easter Eggs made of plastic Easter eggs, plastic flowers and basket. Also a favorite was Carolyn Mason's "Collection" made from various kitchenware items presented like a cache exhumed from an archeological dig.