Notes on Looking, March 11, 2010
Hello friends and Fellows,
Almost before I say a word I want to remind you about next Tuesday, March 16 Piano Spheres concert with Joanne Pierce Martin. A couple of years ago I read an LA Phil on Tour blog note by Martin recounting her October 31, 2007 trek through London with some Philharmonic mates to hear music by highly regarded Theremin player Pamelia Kurstin. Wow. A Theremin! Click through and read about her adventure! Martin mentioned in this post that she’d be taking lessons on the instrument her sweet husband bought for her, and I’ve been holding my breath for her to play something here. Buy your tickets now! Zipper Hall, 200 S. Grand Ave, 90012.
An email just strolled my way bringing news of Miller Updegraff’s opening tonight, Thursday at Michael Benevento on Sunset Blvd. I’m eager to see this show. The work of his I have seen – at the Eagle Rock Art Center’s Current Trends in Modern Painting show last month – piqued my interest but since I’ve only seen one painting that interest is informed mostly by reading and listening. Here’s a link to Updegraff’s own website and Benevento has some images on his. Thursday evening catch the bus for Michael Benevento at 7576 Sunset Blvd, 90046!
Across Sunset at Ltd., Shirley Morales is opening with Rachel Foullon. Remember to cross at the corner…
Friday night we were with the lucky ones at Redcat’s CEAIT Festival for the second night of electronic music performances. I emphasize lucky because we saw Steve Roden performing. Roden was trying a number of new strategies on stage that night, and his sound/music was accompanied with videos projected on a wide screen above and behind him. Fresh back home that morning from his residency at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, he started with a short looped film of “metal clicking” showing him from a distance in an empty hanger-looking building. Beautiful light filled the space and Steve stood against a wall clicking short lengths of steel pipe together.
That sound was captured and incorporated into an episodic instrumental performance and he moved from instrument to instrument and film to film. Next he brought up the menu screen and by his hesitant actions shared with us that he was improvising his film choices. The cursor moved from title to title and his slow considerations and changes of mind were as much process as performance. I wondered what each title might mean and I imagined the world outside where the films came from, and I thought Steve’s performance was a channel from me to that world.
I understood at that performance a little of why Steve captivates me as I watch him perform. he’s focused and even searching as he surveys his table of equipment, kind of in the way one might look through darkness as one walks a road at night. But he also seems to be looking beyond to something else. This may be a trick of his eyesight and expression but as performance, as presence, it’s commanding.
For the second film, “sagebrush” he placed his camera/microphone underneath some tumbleweeds and recorded while he reached down, seeming toward us, and moved the weeds with his hands. Steve had that same expression in his eyes, but this time we were in his field of vision with the dry sagebrush and were implicated in his performance as with his hands between us and him we looked into his eyes.
[Editorial note on July 28, 2010: You may not already know that Steve Roden has two shows opening on September 11, 2010: In Between: Steve Roden, A Twenty Year Survey at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, curated by Howard Fox and When Words Become Forms at the Pomona College Museum of Art, curated by Rebecca McGrew, which also has a collaborative project with Michael Ned Holte.
Catalogs are being published for both shows, as befits the most consistently thoughtful, searching, generous and respected artist in Los Angeles. Steve Roden is great.
Full disclosure – David and I are lucky to be able to loan work to the Armory show. You may say, “Well that explains your enthusiasm.” I’ll gently suggest to you that our enthusiasm explains our ability to loan the work. Cheers.]
On Saturday afternoon with a LACE member’s group we visited the studios of Kristen Calabrese and Joshua Aster. Standing in Calabrese’s large studio we looked at six large finished paintings and a few that were still in progress.
Using oils Calabrese creates butter soft surfaces, her facture is near perfect, her color choices tend toward the cool and her ability to render is… incredible. Imagine photo-realist painting if it had soul and was interesting. Calabrese talked of removing all the pentimenti from her brushstrokes. (A pentimento is the built-up bit at the end and sides of a brushstroke made by the action of the brush.) The horizon lines in her paintings are raised, skewing our perception and tricking our expectations and encouraging us to look openly because we’re unsettled. Our point of view becomes her point of view.
We came to realize that although only one of these paintings actually depicted Kristen herself, we were standing in a room full of probing, masterful self-portraits.
A finished painting showed the alley behind her studio with a small river of pee running down a well worn channel in the center and reflecting light. Discarded furniture that might be seen as a throne. A cast-off stuffed kitty against a wall. Abject in attitude, beautifully composed. An unfinished painting of Calabrese’s bedroom had three young men drawn in sitting on a shelf with stuffed animals. “All the toys I might want to play with lined up for me.” Calabrese told us laughing. The young men were a little smaller than life size. The stuffed animals were much larger than they should be. With their manhood thus denatured these young dudes were no match for Kristen’s fantasies seated among them. The top quarter of this 6’x9′ canvas showed the ceiling of her room, joists with foil backed insulation between. Calabrese told us she spent eight months on that ceiling. It was completely worth her time.
It may not be until October that Kristen Calabrese has her show at Gagosian so you’ll have to wait a while to see these wonders for your self. Don’t worry – I’ll tell you about the show before it opens and believe me – the almost eight months you wait will be worth it!
OK. Here’s where things started to feel crazy. We traveled up La Brea to the 10 East where we fairly flew to downtown and the 110 North. Up the 110 through The Slot (and under what we still call The Four-Level as though it were the only one in the world rather than the first of many), catching the 5 at the last minute headed for Sacramento (counter-intuitively freeway signs tend to indicate the most distant destination) swooping onto the 2 North past Drew St., past the original Forest Lawn into the Verdugo Mountains and off at Mountain. Top of the hill. Did I mention that the rain started along this journey?
We made this trip to see Shells, Prisms at the Glendale College Art Gallery. More about it later.
By the way, that first link is to a fun LA Freeway Interchange site called Highway Page made by and for “Fwy Nrds.” You need to check this out – there are aerial pics of every interchange in So Cal, a cool driving video of interchange travel, maps from olden days before highway madness, and links to more amazement. I am in glory finding this! Thanks for giving me a reason.
I want to tell you about Sonja Gerdes again. She came to our fair city in June of last year and I have to imagine she came with a mission. In July she visited the FOCA office for an event at Elana Mann’s Performing Economies exhibition (take that as a plug for FOCA), by November she had made the acquaintance of many of the interesting young artists in LA. Last Saturday, less than eight months since she arrived, Gerdes opened an exhibition at Workspace of artists from Berlin, Munich, New York and Los Angeles. You ought to see this show. Necessities of shipping made each work modest in size but the ideas and varieties of practice represented are wonderful! Keep your eye on Gerdes. If she can make all this happen in such a short time in a place she doesn’t know I think it bodes well for the future.
Torrance came next on our list for an ambitious show by Ryan Taber at TAM. By now it was pouring and we did the basic 10 to 405 to Hawthorne Blvd trip. Taber’s work uses meticulously re-crafted historical artifacts from disparate seeming trains of thought that, when taken together as installations make visible and touchable the stuff of intellectual history. He’s that perfect scholar who’ll research the hell out of ideas in the old fashioned hard copy, library sitting, primary source I want to touch things and get dusty way. Then instead of writing what he finds he makes things. Go see them, these ideas made matter.
I will reiterate that you should go see Shells, Prisms at the Glendale College Art Gallery. I gave you the scoop last week, I saw the show Saturday and liked the work. Maya Lujan and Alice Clements are two young artists doing really good things and seeing their work along with Annetta Kapon and Elizabeth Bryant, two artist/professors who have been working successfully for years, is a nice treat.
Which brings me to Alice Clements and her curated show Mostly Sculpture at Sea and Space. Kathryn Andrews (presenting a “wholesale appropration of Scott Benzel’s 2007 work, The Flowering of Instrumental Reason” to quote an email from Scott), Alice Clements, Heather Cook, Patrick Hill, Alice Könitz and here, and Brett Lund. I guess you can tell I’m excited about this show. Alice Könitz I find to be truly enigmatic and has been a hero since the early 2000’s and each of these artists has an equally enigmatic while not necessarily similar way of thinking and making art. Sea and Space Explorations, 4755 York Blvd, 90042.
Channa Horwitz, Sequences & Systems at Solway Jones. I can’t find an image that’ll show well the amazing things Horwitz does so I’ll quote Andrew Berardini in Art Forum Critics Picks: “The grids, at first glance seemingly automated, reveal on closer inspection imperfections that bring a necessary human element to the work. Like Mary Heilmann and Agnes Martin, Horwitz infuses cool geometric abstraction with an unexpected warmth and humanity, so subtle as to be almost missed.” That from a 2007 review. Don’t you want to know what this magic looks like? Solway Jones 990 N. Hill St. 180, 90012 and 932 Chung King Rd. also 90012.
Hmm. Despite my vow to attend Miller Updegraff’s opening tonight check out this line up of films tonight at MOCA! Eileen Cowin Studio Visit; David Lamelas The Desert People; Alan Sekula A Short Film of Laos; Kerry Tribe Northern Lights!!! Favorites familiar and unfamiliar are among them. MOCA Grand Avenue.
After you park and before you go in MOCA, go to Redcat and see Brinkmanship, work by Park Chan-Kyong and Sean Snyder. It takes a moment or two to relax and let yourself pay attention and it really pays off when you do! I read a fascinating story of a young man who was an Army cartographer in the Korean War, then worked for an architect designing and building machine-stamped modernist churches all across America, then had crazy adventures all over the place and designed a utopian city to rebuild Skopje after a devastating earthquake. There’s more! An odd film of art galleries in the Soviet Union, a mysterious sacred valley in Korea – go see. There is a talk with the artists and Museum of Modern Art curator (and co-curator with Clara Kim of this show) Doryun Chong this Saturday the 13th. Redcat 631 W. 2nd St. 90012.
I’m whupped! Finding images is challenging me. There’s a lot going on this week and sweetness leaves tomorrow for a time in Ohio. (Be well angel! I love you.)
Thanks for reading. I hope our recent winds have blown your skirts up! : )