Notes on Looking, May 27, 2010

Slowly and calmly he climbed the tower’s many steps, disturbing the dust of centuries on each tread. Upon reaching the top he paused to gather strength for the tremendous deed he knew he must undertake. He walked to the window and opened it surveying the city below him and the distant mountains on the horizon. Drawing a deep breath, steadying himself against the windowsill he shouted out to the waiting world:


Pinned to the rock as Prometheus shall you be if you miss this exhibition, with the eagle of your own bitter dismay pecking at your liver.

“Um, sure Geoff we’ll go. Can you tell us why you think this is so great?” “Thanks for calling me on that friends, let me see if I can back up my bluster.”

Michael Ned Holte’s press release is a great place to start. I won’t quote it entirely here (since all you have to do is click on the link to read) but here’s a part that jumps out at me: “In recent exhibitions Gerber has modified the exhibition site, and has stated his interest in the confusion of art object and context, ‘heighten[ing] awareness of visual perception in a way that questions how we differentiate what we are looking at from what surrounds it.’… “This play between foreground and background, and object(s) and context(s), is central to the premise of ‘Support Group,’ …”

Each of the artists in the show makes me wonder how what I see is dependent on the surroundings and context. The first time I saw Gaylen Gerber’s work years ago at Dan Hug’s space what was in the gallery seemed to be greyish walls hung with paintings and wall sculptures by artists I was familiar with and I searched and searched for the “Gaylen Gerber” piece. Fruitlessly. Using deductive reasoning and luck David and I finally understood that Gerber’s work was what we saw as walls hung with art. Painted constructions that look just like walls.

At Kathryn Andrew’s last show in town, a group show at David Kordansky, her work included rented props, highly finished stainless steel sculptures and store bought balloons that required blowing up. What wasn’t on display were sets of instructions to the new owners of the sculptures as well as a documentary photograph and certificate as proof that the sculpture with rented props was still art after the props were returned. One friend from Germany named this strategy “Finish Fetish Appropriation and Conceptualism” and proposed to me that “…it’s so California.” For another recent exhibition at Sea and Space Explorations Andrews appropriated a sculpture of Scott Benzel’s. (A seated storm trooper dressed in black and grey with plastic flowers for a head.) Andrews addition was to borrow the sculpture then strew real flowers on the floor. When I looked at this sculpture I wanted to know more about Benzel, I wanted to pin Kathryn’s ideas down, I considered the dying flowers and how the trooper seemed to be looking at them between his feet. Everything led outward. Outward intellectually, outward in time and outward in terms of ownership and making. My own participation in making the sculpture was also implied – without a presence to behold it and to consider the ideas and complications it would have only been things in a room. Without ideas art is simply objects. And ideas exist in our minds, not in rooms or on walls.

Tannatt has also devoted part of his practice to showing the work of other artists. At his apartment gallery space Pauline, (which/who is listed as collaborator with Tannatt in Support Group) Tannatt had several exhibitions during 2009. Holte found inspiriatin for this current show at a sort of biennial Tannatt held with work by, among others, Kathryn Andrews. Some time ago when I asked Tannatt about Pauline he informed me that “Pauline is living in the Hollywood Hills, dressed in furs and contemplating her next move.” The great game of chess that is the life of a fascinating and mysterious woman begins anew!

Where does a work of art stop? Where’s the boundary between the space and the work? Between one work and another? If art is the experience we have while looking and thinking then anything we experience during that time is… well, you get the idea.

I don’t claim to understand all the ramifications of what these artists are doing. With each experience of their work I catch another beguiling glimpse and understand better the need to loosen my grasp on understanding. I’m hopeful that with Holte’s Support Group I’ll make another advance on losing ground in my foolish fight to know absolutely.

Furthermore, and importantly when one is considering visual art, Andrews, Gerber and Tannatt each make beautiful and interesting objects. Elegant ideas, intriguing objects – Holte’s show will seduce you into loving rigorous conceptual art!

I’ll say no more, the press release having been linked and images not being available. Join me and everyone you know on Saturday, May 29 at 410 Cottage Home St. in the evening from 5 to 9.

Ooh. Unsettled weather. Ranging from June Gloom with its attendant harsh reflected light to the clarity of November with the mountains seeming as close as our breath. Wind that didn’t come from inland but came from everywhere at once and was both cool and hot. The lioness that is May demands attention.

What a great weekend for looking, too! We spent time in Tom Solomon’s Bernard St. gallery on Saturday, looking again at Bart Exposito’s Bends exhibition. What I noticed (and what I notice in the presence of all paintings I’ve seen, then held as images in my mind to revisit) is how very person-made these paintings are. I don’t want to descend into art-speak and talk about “evidence of the hand of the artist;” instead I want to assure you that while looking I was able to imagine a person – in fact only one person, Bart – painting these works.

A long time ago, when I was still crawling around in the loamy mud of my ignorance I had the good fortune to visit Italy and see paintings by Mantegna on the walls of a fabulous castle. I stopped, captivated by the pictures I was seeing and (while I held my breath and gazed in wonder at the colors and the immediacy of the translation from 16th Century time to my time) I felt the breath of a whisper in my mind: from Mantegna to the wall he painted and from the pictures on the wall to me. It changed my life.

The clear, transparent colors in Mantegna’s frescoes remind me in sensation of the way Bart uses color in these new paintings, flat in texture yet not so flat that you focus on the fact; clear yet rich in tone, the colors look held in place rather than applied in a wash or with a brush. The curves in Exposito’s drawing remind me quite clearly of the curved limbs and hindquarters of the Great Danes animating Mantegna’s paintings.

If you stay for a while and quiet your mind this sort of moment is available to you with Bart’s paintings – not the same moment since each is different – but art is generous and there’s a moment for each of us each time we visit.

Then go in back and encourage Tom to show you more. There are wonderful drawings in the flat files.

As you go in back look to your immediate left. Tell me if you aren’t struck by what you see. The sculpture pictured above is installed as you see it, on the wall just by your elbow as you pass. Vishal Jugdeo has a film, Violent Broadcast, up at Las Cienegas Projects through Saturday.

Mario Correa, Mas o Menos at Redling Fine Art. Paintings and wood-block prints. About 10 years ago I saw paintings of Mario’s at what was then Acuña Hansen Gallery on Bernard St. The first work I recall seeing had 3 dimensional representations of surfaces as the ground for his representational paintings of skateboarding and tilted sidewalks. The surfaces seemed to be the footprints from skaters shoes, extended across the canvas or panel. In later paintings Correa showed, shifting perspective and evidence of motion continued to be concerns. Recently he seems to have left representation behind to focus instead on making marks that document his movements while painting and that suggest to us the wear that our motions make on the world around us.

At Redling for his current show along with paintings he’s made woodblock prints and installed the printing blocks in the floor so that we walk on the images we see. It’s an elegant way to remind us that we do mark the world as we pass.

(At this point I diverge from art.) Parked at the end of West Chung King Road was an enormous suicide door Rolls-Royce (which is weird and rare in this part of town) and along Hill St. and Bernard were dozens of Secret-Service-appearing four door Mercurys. A Maybach was parked in front of the jewelry store on Hill and police squad cars also lined the streets. One friend reports having seen snipers at strategic locations along rooftops. Strategic to what I wonder? Who on earth was in town? Inquiring minds want to know!

In my heart I hope some superstar or president visited Cottage Home to watch Charles Irvin’s performance Breakin’ Boundaries. (After the link is Julian Hoeber’s review of this event, Irvin’s recreation of his legendary 2002 Breakdancing on Viagra performance.) Hoeber follows up with interesting thoughts on the closing of Carlson & Company (the most respected fabricators in the art world) and completes his wonderful report with clandestine video of a Jeff Koons sculpture spinning sadly on the 210 Fwy, evidently lost or cast away by its maker or owner or driver. How much better does life get?

Parker Jones Gallery has a new home! 8545 Washington Blvd in Culver City. Yay Parker! Parker’s website doesn’t reflect this change at the time of this writing. Joe Deutch: Native American will be showing. (When you congratulate Mr. Deutch make sure to pronounce his name “deetch”) Several are the shows Deutch has been part of: in 2006 Quiver at Cirrus along with Elaine Bradford, Nathan Danilowicz, and Patrick Jackson; more recently Bromenclature at 533 in 2010 and Parker Jones at the Malibu Annual in 2009. If the Bromenclature link fails click here then on 2010 then the title. (Great images on both links and too many to list but there’s great artists on the Bro link!)
Parker Jones, 8545 Washintgon Blvd. Culver City, 90232 Friday, May 28 from 7 to 10 pm

Shirley Morales’s Ltd. Los Angeles doesn’t have a new home but they will open a new exibition on Friday: Ginger Wolfe-Suarez Memory Objects. I don’t know more than what I just wrote about this show, possibly less than you if you’re well informed. I do find that Wolfe-Suarez has her own website with reference to InterReview, a journal to which Wolfe-Suarez has contributed and of which she has served as editor. Might want to check said journal out, especially you Fellows who are looking for context on our FOCAFellowship grantees Andrea Bowers and Daniel Joseph Martinez. The most recent issue, InterReview 08 seems to feature tons of stuff on and by Daniel Joseph Martinez! (To make this prospect even more compelling Fellows, InterReview 06 has an interview with Andrea Bowers by Cara Baldwin. Go for it!)
Ltd. Los Angeles, 7561 Sunset Blvd. #103, LA, 90046 Friday, May 28 from 6 to 8 pm

Justin Gainan and Jason Underhill are in a two-person show at Dan Graham at 506 Bernard St. ([email protected] 323-600-5731) Dan Graham produced a neat poster for this event but alas, the images of this poster that I can find online are 200 x 200 and I need more like 600 x 600 (if only to make the relatively small image of Charles Irvin really stand out in contrast) However, I am able to find on Gainan’s and Underhill’s own sites the images they used in the poster, so think of this as my homage to their projects!
Dan Graham Gallery, 506 Bernard St. Chinatown, 90012 Friday, May 28 from 7 to 10 pm.

Briefly summing up our plans: on Friday we begin at Dan Graham at 506 Bernard St. in Chinatown, head down Hill St. to the Cesar Chavez cut off by the C-town Library. Just after we turn right on Chavez gaze regretfully to our right where the construction of a large apartment building killed a giant century old tree and replaced it with a… small red plum (that will never be 80 feet tall nor have a span of almost that wide), turn left on Grand and catch the 101 going west (in point of fact it’s labeled north). Exit at Sunset and drive drive drive to Ltd. at 7561 Sunset Blvd. depart Shirley’s reception, find La Cienega and head South. Far South. Turn right on Washington Blvd. and pretty much there you are. Parker’s on the right somewhere up ahead at 8545. Then go to any after parties to which you’ve been invited! Quickly on to Saturday.

Julie Orser at Steve Turner. Must see this show. Note that also opening is Darkness, work by Mitsuko Ikeno.

Seeing R.J. Messineo’s name on Turner’s roster reminds me to remind you to see Ryan Inouye’s excellent curatorial project Never Very Far Apart at Redcat. It’s up through June 27 but the longer you wait the less time you’ll have to visit again and again, which you will want to do. Go this weekend!

In fact go to Redcat on Wednesday or Thursday, June 2 or 3 – see the show and stay around to experience the remarkable John Schneider and friends perform music by Harry Partch in Even Wild Horses. Yes, Harry Partch. There’s more on the program so check it out.

Hello. Hello, audience? It’s Tantalus calling. Can you stand any more temptation?!

Monte Vista also has an opening on Saturday, work by Akina Cox and Joseph Imhauser.

Young Art opened last week with Bad Sculpture with work by Paul Cowan, Hugh Scott-Douglas and Maxwell Simmer.
1. I don’t know why they call it “Bad Sculpture,” it looks pretty good online.
2. Cowan has nice fiction on his site in addition to art work.
3. Scott-Douglas is a trickster. I swear. Google him and doubt what you find. Then pick what you know must be his site, note the image of Young Art announcement, click on “Home” or anything else and again begin to doubt you know what’s going on. Website hijinks! Yay!
4. Simmer’s site is chock full of neat stuff including a link to Larrys. I can’t describe Larrys. You need to see it. A journal of some sort. Projects by Simmer, Asher Penn, interviews, fiction, exhibitions, trust me and look.
Young Art 1727 N. Spring St., LA 90012

Fourteen30 is a place you must take into account when you’re thinking about contemporary art and how ideas get distributed. Small spaces, different places – ideas happen where people take them my friends. Read on!

Conceived in  September 2008 with an awareness of the false nature of the terms we use: artist, author, curator, dealer, museum, collector, etc. Fourteen30 exists as all of these things. Trained as an artist herself, Gallery Director and founder Jeanine Jablonski initially felt challenged to separate her studio practice from her curating, later I imagine she found the effort at separation ludicrous. She spoke to me of an identity crisis after trying for years to work within our system of labels. When asked “Who are you?” and “What are you doing?” her most common response is “Ask me in 15 years!”

To clarify, Fourteen30 is a commercial gallery in Portland. Jablonski has a small roster and asks that artists challenge themselves and us with work that bridges (and sometimes ignores) the gap between art as idea and art as something for sale. Maintaining integrity toward ideas: I call that respect for one’s audience! For instance a recent show with Sayre Gomez had the space painted and lighted, one room in bright yellow and the second in a bloody red. The work depended on the context of color Gomez provided as much as rejected it.

Additionally, for the past year and continuing through September Fourteen30 has worked with writer John Motley to document each gallery exhibition with an essay printed on a limited edition poster. At the close of the September show they’ll host a book release party to present a bound volume of these essays. How rockin’ is that kind of support? Everyone involved benefits, especially we who ask for copies of the posters and eventually buy the book. The ideas of artists first displayed as exhibitions then documented in thoughtful essays by one of our up and coming writers. I’m excited.

It’s our good fortune that Jablonski works with some great LA artists – in fact I found her space while looking up people local artists I admire and on finding it I’ve discovered even more to admire. The current show, Natascha Snellman, Face Facade, features an LA artist you should know about. Other local favorites I see on the exhibiton list include Sayre Gomez, Devon Oder, Bobbi Woods, and John Sisley.

I think I’ve worn you out, I know I’m tired. Thanks for spending your time in Notes on Looking land and come back next week!

Geoff Tuck

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