Notes on Looking, May 6, 2010 (this early post is getting attention, plus I like it: May 2010 for you)
Dear friends and Fellows,
If you’re a painter, if you love painting, if you have a soul at all then you must, must, must see this show. Really.
Alice Neel: Paintings, May 13 through June 26, LA Louver Gallery. Including works spanning a 43 year period from 1935 to 1978. My heart is racing.
I mean Good Lord, Alice Neel! Somehow she feels to me like the Giorgio Morandi of American portraiture, at least in terms of rarity of showing. Jeremy Lewison, representative of the Neel estate, has built a wonderful website dedicated to Neel’s work on which one finds news of a current US museum exhibition. Alice Neel: Painted Truths opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on March 21 and stays there through June 13. (When it departs our shores for the Whitechapel Gallery, London and the Moderna Museet in Malmö – there will be no further US stops)
Meaning my only hope is to visit LA Louver several times over the next 5 or so weeks. Join me at our dependable museum by the sea.
In Moyra Davey’s book Long Life Cool White she relates a story of seeing photographer Zoe Leonard speak about Agnes Martin at the Dia. Rather than show images of Martin’s paintings Leonard screened an abstract film by Martin. Davey left the presentation with the distinct feeling of having seen images of Agnes Martin’s iconic pencil-lined paintings.
In much the same way last Thursday at LACMA Davey showed a few images of her photographs and screened a short part of her film My Necropolis. (Honestly not nearly enough of either! I think all of us in the audience would have gladly devoted our evening to looking at Davey’s work.) In her talk Davey eloquently described aspects of her work and shared her ideas with great care. In the reading I’ve done Davey also seems to reveal herself with intense and un-shielded passages from her interior monologue and while I’ve never seen her work “in real life” I feel sure that should I ever get the chance there’s a place in my brain ready for the experience.
Two limited edition books that may still available from Murray Guy Gallery are The Problem of Reading, which title is pretty self explanatory, and Copperheads, a catalogue of Davey’s super close-up photos (made during a previous economic crash) of worn and beaten pennies. Given that everything old is new again – at least in terms of crashing economies – Copperheads feels terribly current. (On the Murray Guy website you’ll need to click on “Publications” then “Moyra Davey”)
When I think about it the pennies Davey photographed certainly had personal (to them) histories of various disasters and bull markets in the macro sense and in the micro sense of the people who carried these pennies. The photos docoment in detail all the marks from times when a coin was dropped, run over or otherwise abused.
And here’s where I get to connect Davey’s work with that of Alice Neel: photographs don’t necessarily show or imply the psychology and history of the thing imaged, just as a portrait “shows” only the face and body of a sitter with attendant marks of life. What makes Davey and Neel magic as artists is that with their photographs and paintings they are each able to reveal to us the souls of the objects which with and the people with whom they are working. And, by extrapolation, our own.
Um, yes I went all mystical on you.
Dennis Koch’s exhibition, Downy Head is up at Kantor Gallery through May 18. We were able to visit this past Saturday. Thanks to the wonder of Google Books I’m able to link directly to the passage from David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men where Koch found his beautiful title (from the chapter titled Forever Overhead which begins “Happy Birthday. Your thirteenth is important. Maybe your first really public day.”) Continuing to quote and linking to the pertinent page:
“Around the deck of this old public school on the western edge of Tucson is a cyclone fence the color of pewter, decorated with a bright tangle of locked bicycles. Beyond this is a hot black parking lot full of white lines and glittering cars. A dull field of dry grass and hard weeds, old dandelions’ downy heads exploding and snowing up in a rising wind. And past all this reddened by a round slow September sun, are mountains, jagged, their tops’ sharp angles darkening into definition against a deep red tired light. Against the red their sharp connected tops form a spiked line, an EKG of the dying day.”
If I had a ton of space and a million minutes I’d retype the entire chapter. And I’d have chills down my spine all the way, just as I do now. You ought to click and remind yourself how good Wallace was.
Once you’ve read these passages on a boy turning thirteen from Wallace’s book, take what you read with you when you visit Koch’s show and keep Wallace’s tender, meticulous descriptions of landscape and occurrence in your mind as you look at these drawings, each each of which is made up of hundreds of individual marks, persistent and contemplative. Each mark denotes a choice, and these choices build ultimately to make, in Koch’s case a drawing and in Wallace’s case a life. Also keep in mind Wallace’s description of the swimming pool and the light in the water when you’re in the skylit room where Koch has clipped hundreds of individual diamonds of silver vinyl and covered the walls, so the light catches and sparkles and you and the drawings reflect around and out of the chamber.
A break in my narrative to mention some openings in Chinatown on Saturday.
Patrick Lakey, Everything We Love is Going to Die is opening at the Happy Lion in Chinatown on Saturday. Fortunately for our uses Lakey has a website where he shows several bodies of work.
The Happy Lion, 963 Chung King Road, Chinatown, 90012
Stroll along Chung King Road a bit to The Box for another in their series of Mini Film Festivals. Saturday evening’s films, beginning at 7:30, are curated by Rika Iezumi Hiro-May, Phd. student at USC. Many of you will recall the Getty’s Art, Anti-Art, Non-Art: Experimentations in the Public Sphere in Postwar Japan, 1950 – 1970 this (truly wonderful and memorable) 2007 exhibition was curated by Hiro-May and Charles Merewether. (At least I think they curated the show. The Getty link lists them as authors of the catalogue.) (Catalogue still available for purchase, at least on E-bay!) (You do remember the show don’t you? Good Lord the Research Institute shows are one of the main reasons to ascend the hill!)
The Box, 977 Chung King Road, Chinatown, 90012
Here’s the hard part: exit Chung King Road to the north crossing the parking lot to approach Hill St. (the former terminus of the Pasadena Fwy and still a major offramp), wait for a break in traffic and… RUN across the street. You’ll practically hit the windows of Sam Lee Gallery and Solway Jones. (Neither one is having an opening but if it’s daytime do stop in for the penultimate week of Channa Horwitz at Solway Jones and Macha Suzuki and Nathan Hayden at Sam Lee.)
Do you hear the sound of trumpet fanfare? Follow it to Bart Exposito’s new exhibition, Bends at Thomas Solomon Gallery. It seems to me a while since Bart has shown in our town. Sad us! You may have seen work occasionally at Tom’s in the last months so your appetite is whetted for more. Check out the images then check out the show on Saturday.
Tom Solomon Gallery, 427 Bernard St., Chinatown, 90012
Sort of like in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland how Alice finds a new world down every hole she falls in, you know each link will lead somewhere. Above you’ll find a link to The Freesound Project, a database of, among other sounds, about a hundred different trumpet choices. Pretty neat.
Now you’ll want to turn around and go all the way across to Yale Street because The Company is opening with Lisi Raskin, Mt. Disappointment and a performance Saturday night.
The Company, 946 Yale St., Chinatown, 90012
After Kantor, after Louver, we raced east on Venice Blvd (past both former homes of Elizabeta Betinski’s lamented Overtones Gallery) and stopped at Cardwell Jimmerson. We waved across the street to where we imagined Parker Jones hard at work on his soon to be new home. (I’m seeing you in something flagstone Mr. Jones.)
David Lamelas has a show of drawings and architectural sculptures showing at C-J through May 29th. I’ve mentioned before my abiding interest in Lamelas’s work. Every time I see another example of his films or sculptures or, good fortune permitting, an entire exhibition I am confirmed and renewed in my admiration. His work feels particulary topical right now as a younger generation of artists looks back and choose for themselves what defines the past and what foretold the present. The fact that Lamelas is working and living in LA has me shouting at all those ‘younger artists’ out there “Go see this show! Look Lamelas up and talk with him!” (To radically misquote and bizarrely recontextualize Helen Reddy, “I am Geoffrey, hear me roar!”) [Oh gee. Really? Does he mean that?! ed.]
Cardwell Jimmerson, 8568 Wahsington Blvd., Culver City, 90232
We tried to stop at Kinkead Contemporary but I was driving fast and… next week we’ll see Jim Lutes, Cancel the Band. This work is truly odd. Comprehensively weird. Look at the image below. Look at Kinkead’s website and Lutes’ own site. Wow. I love starting out calmly suggesting something I haven’t seen and becoming increasingly enthusiastic as I click around looking and reading. Wow!
Kinkead Contemporary, 6029 Washington Blvd., Culver City, 90232
Las Cienegas Projects has three shows, as is their manner. Alex Klein up front with Person to Person, Cannon Hudson mid-gallery with New Paintings and Sculpture and Vishal Jugdeo Violent Broadcast in the cinematically inclined back space.
Las Cienegas Projects, 2045 S. La Cienega Blvd., 90034 (north of the 10)
Later date addition of link to Michael Dopp Dilate at Kinkead Contemporary, May 8 to June 5, 2010.
LAXART is hosting a May Day event on… May 8. I think those long ago workers in Chicago would approve of the date change if they new all the exciting things packed into LAX’s La Cienega space: a levitation of the Pentagon, peddling of wares (including Jen Smith’s pickles and preserves – I can recommend the Bread and Butter Baby Radishes), vinyl records, homespun yarn, dog balloon art, poetry and manifestos, Scoli Acosta, Area Sneaks, Ara Shirinyan, Aaron Kunin, Pearl Hsiung and Scott Martin, Alexandro Segade, Anna Sew Hoy, Gabriela Jauregui, Brain Kim Stefans and DJ Jan Tumlir. Whew.
LAXART, 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd., 90034
Statler Waldorf in Echo Park opens a group show called Hidden Bodies on Friday evening. There’s nothing on the website yet, but I know from an email that Joshua Aster, Jesse Bercowetz, Jennifer Boysen, Joshua Callaghan, Jamie Chan, Michael Decker, Kiki Johnson, Molly Larkey, Josh Mannis, and ghosts and goblins from beyond will all have work at the space. Bring your Ouija Board. (And your checkbook. This is a gallery.)
Statler Waldorf Gallery, in a private apartment at 1098 West Kensington Road, 90026
The opening’s from 7 pm to 10 pm, don’t be late or you’ll miss a performance by Daniela Sea.
One more thing then I promise you’re free!!!
Tragic Dinner Theater comes to an American Legion Hall near you on May 23rd! Well, honestly it’ll be in Highland Park.
This $$ raiser for the resourceful and inspiring Workspace takes bits of ancient Greek theater, Commedia Dell’Arte, tableau vivant, magic lantern shows and Carnival to bring to life a modern interpretation of Ovid’s Tereus. Exploring the darkest pockets of human nature when the thread of three characters’ fates become brutally entangled by lechery, violence and revenge. (Who among us doesn’t love lechery, violence and revenge?)
The set will consist simply of fresh flowers, sheer fabric drapery, a throne and a boat. A few ground lights and paper lanterns will light the set sparingly. The actors will seem to move like statues come to life, creating a dream-like atmosphere that both lulls and allures the audience.
We who are in the audience will interact with this fun by partaking of a lavish banquet, set before the stage, offering wine, fruit, olives, cheeses, and pastries that could have been served at a party in ancient Greece. On the stage itself, the actors will be lounging on couches enjoying their own feast.
TDG, 227 N. Ave. 55, Los Angeles, 90042 (But not until the 23rd.)
Workspace, 2601 Pasadena Ave., Lincoln Heights, 90031
Thanks for indulging me with your attention, I always enjoy our time together!