Notes on Looking, August 26, 2010 (additional postings)
Two years ago I had music on my mind, as well as art. I can sing a song to myself while looking at a painting, but it’s tough to hum a painting…
This afternoon I was at LACMA and saw in the permanent collection two neat things by Kurt Schwitters, a portrait by Giacometti (that looked like Bacon a little) and a really painting by Dubuffet called
Hi my friends,
In between days is a phrase that might describe this time we spend before the end of summer really hits us and we focus once again on… wherever it is we left off all those long daylight hours ago. This is also the title of a diverting thirty year old pop song by the Cure, which is here linked. (Is only my opinion that 10:15 Saturday Night is a better Cure song? Do wait for the guitar extravaganza.) It’s summer. (Minor Threat Salad Days) More specifically, we’re almost at the end of the season and I’m feeling a little melancholy about what’s past just as I’m getting excited by what I see coming. (Public Image Tie Me to the Length of That and Anna Lisa; New Order anything from Movement, e.g. Doubts Even Here)
For me these in between days have been marked by music as long as I can remember – back to 1965 when at the beach in Del Mar I watched my parents do their various things against the backdrop of Roger Miller singing England Swings, Archie Bleyer’s Hernando’s Hideaway, and Petula Clark singing Downtown. (This last is a song with which I serenaded my father in my child’s high, reedy voice… dreaming to go somewhere exciting.)
As I grew up languid summer days stretched into restless evenings spent driving around Los Angeles waiting for a song to come on the radio. Or sitting in the living room with my mom’s records listening, smoking, and dreaming. (A late bloomer, I didn’t purchase my own records until I was twenty.) Ten years after that summer at the beach I was as likely to crave Diana Ross’s Remember Me and David Essex causing me to sweat with Rock On as songs as apposite as Bette Midler singing John Prine’s Hello in there or Eleventh Hour’s funky hometown fave Hollywood Hot.
Bear with my remembering self for a minute: The Shangri-Las Remember Walking in the Sand; Marvin Gaye Got To Give It Up; Earth, Wind and Fire Shining Star (which had to be followed with That’s the Way of the World or life just wouldn’t be right); memories of a million little kids dancing round the pool singing along to Shirley Ellis’s The Name Game.
Late in the summer of 1983 I made the wonderful error of buying Millie Jackson’s XXX! Outrageous! Live! record when the title I was looking for – some forgotten Kate Bush recording – slipped my mind. Wow. For a taste check out album cuts I Had To Say It or Lovers and Girlfriends. And finally a song from childhood I rediscovered in the early 90s when I worked the midnight shift frying doughnuts in Phoenix and then shared with David when we met: the highly mannered vocal stylings of Al Hibbler interpreting Unchained Melody.
I know what you’re thinking and you’re right, this is self indulgent and I could go on and on – so could you.
Why am I rambling on with musical memories from summers past in a column meant for – and better suited to – contemporary (and preferably current) art experiences? Hmm. Let me try. The music I heard then was all around, as music is still. Listening to and loving music then was a good way to begin understanding the dual shared / singular nature of culture. The listening experience was universal in that the friends I was with as well as anyone else listening were all hearing the same songs. But the songs sank into each of us differently, depending on our individual life experience and the context in which we listened. It’s not the songs themselves that join us as human it’s that we share such markers at all. I may not know what you’re thinking when your eyes fill and you smile as a favorite old tune catches you off guard but I sure understand what you’re feeling.
Art is like this for me – I see the things many friends and strangers also see, this aspect of looking is universal. But there’s a particularity to each art work and to each experience of an art work – even when we all agree on, study and understand the terms we use for conversation any communication between art work and viewer is one-to-one. Blessedly so, I think.
Which does in fact bring me around to the several summer group shows I’ve spent time with lately.
The images interspersed throughout the above post are all from the inaugural exhibition of a promising and creatively open-minded multiple project at Pepin Moore, the recent addition to Chung King Road in Chinatown. This show offers many different resolutions of an artist’s impulse to make a work in more than one part. While many are unique they each also exist as an edition.
Pepin Moore, 933 Chung King Road, Chinatown, 20012
Also ongoing is Beaten Off at Control Room. I tell you this as though I speak from a place of knowledge. (Only sometimes, really.) I’ve seen images on Try Harder Part 1 and Part 2, I’ve seen announcements fly by on FB, and David and I are going to check it out on Saturday. Email [email protected] to make your very own appointment.
Control Room, 2006 E. 7th St., 90021Instant LA Summer at Carmichael Gallery curated by Esteban Schimpf and presented by Stefan Simchowicz. (“There’s a whole lotta presentin’ and curatin’ goin’ on in this place” to paraphrase Big Daddy from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.) Carmichael is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 pm to 7 pm at 5795 Washington Blvd., 90232.
Emily Mast has work in Instant LA Summer and you may recall seeing the great installation Mast did at Steve Turner last season – It will never be known how this has to be told. I believe Mast has performance as a large part of her practice, in the work at Turner (which related the story pretty horrific story of a man accused of murdering by fire his children) Mast brought me into the piece not through performance but by building a stage scene and playing recordings of a boy telling the story. It was a very effective moment for me. I mention performance because the entire setting at Turner so very much implied performance(s) – by Mast, by the young boy actor reading, the poor wrongly prosecuted father, and so on. For Instant LA Summer Mast again teases performance by offering a loaf of bread, shellaced I think, on a pedestal. The promise here is that a collector pay $xxx and Mast delivers one loaf of bread each month for a year. This seems to me an opening to communicate with the artist in a way not usually offered. There’s a lot here besides wheat flour, water, yeast and shellac.
Angles Gallery at 2754 S. La Cienega Blvd., 90034 is showing Late Launch, work by Ori Gersht, Tommy Hilding, and Joseph Kohnke. Photos by Gersht, paintings by Hilding and really cool motion-sensored, creaking open like trap doors, unsettlingly actively offering… (what?!) lunch-box sculptures by Kohnke. Brought to my mind work by George Stone when Carole Ann Klonarides curated his show for FOCA back a few years.
Getting ready to close so we all better get a move on:
Caitlin Lonegan, Acme – 6150 Wilshire Blvd. 90048
Chris Miles, Noggins also at Acme
Tuesday Afternoon in a Cage – Ltd. Los Angeles, 7561 Sunset Blvd., 90046
Outside the Box at the UCLA Hammer Museum – 10899 Wilshire Blvd., 90024
Summer Group Show at Susanne Vielmetter (although the website announces a closing date of August 30 I’m guessing Saturday, August 28 is the effective closing date for the show)
Stille Post: 7 Curators – 7 Artists at Kinkead Contemporary, 6029 Washington Blvd. 90232
Musee Los Angeles – at 1451 E. 4th St., 90033. I promise you want to see this show. I swear on a stack of Art Forums. Sunday afternoon Musee will host a special super-secret highly cool factor desirable sculptural performance to celebrate and close the show. Noise will be made. Parts will move. Fun will be had. Go see.
Joshua Nathanson has work in the Musee show and recently in Steve Turner’s (again with Turner! sorry…) Wet Paint II – which closed last week. Nathanson seems to be mining the recent pasts of Art History (to pretty good effect) in his almost sculptural acrylic paintings on panel. Quick grabs from Ernst Kirchner, Basquiat, Penck, Twombly and more are applied like cake frosting or terrazzo then sanded to lovely satin finishes. These surfaces, and the images caught in them, seem to both invite my eyes to sink into the softness and also to push back – the artist has his own purposes here with which I must negotiate.
Another artist in the just passed Wet Paint II is Brendan Threadgill. I’ve seen Threadgill’s sculptures at 533 in Opera, and at a some time ago Cal Arts MFA show. What I recall are plaster casts of car-bombed car doors and some drawings. I’m not sure what I thought on first seeing these works, and I don’t really know where in his practice they fit. But I remember them well and have wondered more than once in the past few years about Threadgill. In Wet Paint he showed light boxes – they look hand made out of nice white wood – containing photographs made by burying 4″ x 5″ transparency’s and printing them to 30″ x 40.” Again, I haven’t talked with Threadgill and didn’t make his talk at Turner. To me these feel like stop action Jennifer West’s without the weight of Structuralist Film on top. Possibly showing how much I don’t know about photographic history…
Right now it’s Thursday, August 26 at 1 pm. I’ll be back with more later.