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Notes on Looking, February 25, 2010

Dear friends and Fellows, Mock orange trees are starting to bloom all over the  city and the air is scented with fragrance. Spring is here (or close enough). What a wonderful world we live in! I confess. I’m way too busy sorting and filing or shredding and recycling all of 2009’s accumulation of paper to see as much as I’d like, so forgive me if I miss a few shows. On the other hand: Thursday night we spent at a French fry fest in the alley behind Gagosian. Tom Sachs provided the McDonald’s Fry Master and three Gagosian staff (decked out in form-fitting white lab coats for the fry fest) curated the attendant exhibition, Meet Me Inside, in the upstairs gallery. (The curators quote from a Gary Numan song in works list.) Remember the Monica Majoli diptych I told you about a few weeks ago in a preview of a show at Phil? (Phil news later!) You still have the chance to see it! Majoli hasn’t shown, or worked, in oil in a decade, so if you’re a fan of her work you’ll rightly be champing at the bit to see this small portrait doubled/rhymed/counterpointed by a slightly larger abstract work on paper. I don’t think Majoli’s done abstract work before. Doubly exciting! You probably saw work by Rob Reynolds last year at Leila Khastoo’s Hollywood space. (Khastoo news coming up, too!) New, different paintings here in BH. I like hyperbole, so I want to say there’s a life-size painting of a ship wreck, but we all know that’s not true. It’s a painting of part of a photograph...

Notes on Looking, February 18, 2010

Hello friends and Fellows, One of downtown Los Angeles’ most beloved art supply stores, Roark, has recently hit some bad times and is at risk of going out of business after thirty years. The USC School of Architecture has generously extended their hand by donating the use of the Verle Annis Gallery for an auction this weekend to help keep Roark afloat. An auction preview on Saturday, February 20 will be followed by a live and silent auction and raffle on Sunday, February 21 from 1–5pm. Follow link for details. Come out and show your support! The Piano Spheres concert we saw on Tuesday the 9th was wonderful. While a storm swept past downtown and hurled itself at the foothills, inside Zipper Hall we were inspired by Susan Svrcek’s playing. Bill Douglas taught music at Cal Arts from 1970 to 1977 when Svrcek was also there, and she played two selections from his “Celebration for Piano” to start, telling us she remembers Douglas “playing this piece at Cal Arts (and) finally I’ve got the music!” She followed with pieces by Messiaen (each preceded by recordings of pertinent birdsong), Schoenberg, Rihm and Xenakis. I don’t know Iannis Xenakis’ Mists well enough to be certain, but I think it may have challenged Svrcek with more than half an hour of pretty intense clustered chords repeating and varying. This was all bewitching to hear and see, but it seemed to end suddenly, then Svrcek thumped her forehead, turned to the audience, accepted our enthusiastic applause and quickly left the stage. She returned a moment later and held up her hand saying, “I...

Notes on Looking, February 11, 2010

Hello friends and Fellows! I had the good fortune Saturday evening to hear an eyewitness report on the George Baker LACMA talk, Joseph Beuys and Paul Thek: Glamour and a Woman’s Touch. Good Lord, I’m even sadder I missed it now that I’ve heard about Baker’s fascinating presentation! Baker showed a powerpoint of images and, in the words of artist and thinker John Pearson, “…riffed on these images – taking us in many directions freely, as though unrehearsed. And he drew easily from an obviously deep store of knowledge.” (OK. No-one talks like this. My notes are cryptic at best. John is smart and he used clever and fun words to state what I manage only partially to convey.) Pearson characterized Bakers initial comments on Beuys as “tactfully declining to admire” the artist. Baker told a story of Thek having seen a survey of Beuys work while visiting Germany and calling it “ponderous and didactic” and famously in a letter to Susan Sontag decaring that the work “needs a womans’ touch.” Baker spent considerable time researching this story to determine exactly which Beuys show it is that Thek may have seen and what work was included. Scholarship is cool. Try googling stuff like that! It seems Baker rather pointedly did not discuss the Beuys multiples currently on view at LACMA and used Beuys as a kind of overblown counterpoint to the more interesting and honestly mysterious artist, Paul Thek. Hmm. Do I also recall Pearson saying that Baker proposed Tom Burr as an artistic descendant of Paul Thek who somehow bridges the gap between Thek and Beuys? Not sure....

Notes on Looking, February 4, 2010 (still updating)

Hello friends and Fellows! Oh happy day! The ringing tones of the Worship in Truth Mass Choir at Circus Gallery this Sunday evening resonated with celebration, joy and probably a few tears. Artist Dawn Kasper gave a heartfelt goodbye to Circus by organizing a performace of this Rancho Cucamonga gospel choir to honor three years of great exhibitions given by gallerist John Knuth. The joy part of Kasper’s dedication comes later this month when Knuth ushers in a new tenure at Country Club, with an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by James Krone. Possibly you remember that last week I teased you with news of the Iannis Xenakis drawing show at New York’s Drawing Center. WELL, YOUR PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED! THE SHOW COMETH TO THEE! November 7, 2010 at MOCA Pacific Design Center. Link is to MOCA future exhibition list, check it out – along with Xenakis show are some more pretty spectacular shows. Aandrea Stang, MOCA’s Education Program Manager and another insatiable fan in pursuit of mad, mind-altering art experiences, gave me this good news at a concert of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King and Globokar Corporel for Solo Percussion. (Yes, the concert was mad and mind altering. The partially nude solo percussionist played his own body with slaps and taps and thuds. Cool!) Let’s review: Our first assignment is to attend Piano Spheres concert this coming Tuesday, Feb 9 to hear Susan Svrcek play piano music of Iannis Xenakis, among pieces by other great composers. Second assignment – hold our breath until November 7 at MOCA PDC for the amazing drawings!!...