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A quick blast for calendaring

The Torrance Art Museum opens “Telephone” on May 28. Too many are the artists to list, or so I tell myself. Then I see some of the names and I am compelled to cut and paste….. hold your breath: Eric Yahnker, Ginny Cook, Chris Peters, Julie Orser, Vincent Ramos, Elana Mann, Adam Overton, Margaret Wappler, Andrew Choate, Jeanne Hoel, Madison Brookshire, Alexandra Cuesta, Ben Rodkin, Vera Brunner-Sung, Victor Hu, Tanya Rubbak, William Ransom, Oona Gardner, Christian Tedeschi, Julie Schustack, Thomas Muller, Margaret Griffith, Jamison Carter, Phung Huynh, David Yamamoto, Julia Paull, Shelby Roberts, Betsy Seder, Daniel Ingroff, Christine Frerichs, Asher Hartman, Haruko Tanaka, Patrick Strand, Marisa Sayler, James E Anderson, Ariane Vielmetter, Gregory Michael Hernandez , Melissa Manfull, Alexander Kroll, and Renee Petropoulos. Get on the 110 or the 405 or the 91 (the Richard Nixon Freeway of olde) and head to Torrance. Do not whine about distance. If you can drive to the west side (or the east side) to see shows then you can certainly drive to the South Bay. Cheers. Foolish me missed that Mark Hagen is having a show at China Art Objects. So cool! Here’s some text from iD / iSpy about Hagen’s participation in California Dreamin’ a recent international exhibition. Artist Curated Projects are having a flat file sale. A kind of late spring cleaning, if you will. May 29 from 2 to 8 pm at 5152 La Vista Court, LA 90004. Have I forgotten to remind you to see “The Rose Colored Room” at Overduin and Kite? If only I had images, I tell myself. Did any of you see architect Annie...

Intervening in the Picture Plane

Talks on Painting: Intervening in the Picture Plane Sunday, May 29 7pm Mandrake Bar 2692 South La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90034 In this panel discussion with Olivia Booth, Sarah Cain, Kim Fisher, and Rebecca Morris, moderator Corrina Peipon will lead a discussion on abstraction with a focus on the material and formal aspects of painting as subject matter. To varying degrees, the four painters included here make interventions into the picture plane in order to explore the tangible matter of painting, favoring physicality over illusion. A note from Corrina Peipon on Sunday’s talk: This panel discussion is the first of three discussions about painting that are being organized by Mari Eastman, Rebecca Morris, and Jill Newman. Mari invited me to moderate one of them, and then Rebecca and I started talking about contemporary trends in abstraction as a potential topic, and I chose the artists. In the past few years, I’ve been particularly attracted to abstraction that involves deep attention to the basic materials of painting, engaging in a kind of deconstruction. It’s a different kind than that of the 1960s-1970s (or maybe 1950s-1970s); it is not about taking painting apart, and there is not any hostility toward the medium in this new deconstruction. Rather, the painters making what I am calling “interventions in the picture plane” do so out of a deeply sensual connection to the materials of painting. By materials, I mean everything from the actual paint and canvas to composition and art history. In this way, painting almost becomes the subject of the painting. Friends out in the city reading and looking – I...

Jennifer West at Andy Perry’s house

Do you know? The photos I got for this Jennifer West post are just beautiful, and even the incidental ones are filled with electricity and excitement. Sad is the wordsmith.  (But happy are the lookers!) When we met, Jennifer talked about growing up in Topanga and being aware of surfers as a community. Note that is a community rather than a lifestyle – I understood from Jennifer that she saw them as a group of individual outsiders, opposed by the larger culture even while they stayed to themselves. As an example she offered a community of beach shacks in Lower Topanga Canyon that for years had been home to surfers, artists, musicians and other beach people that and was demolished make way for Topanga State Beach. “The misfits no longer fit in.” One story has it that the last ramshackle structure was burned to the ground in a final act of defiance. We all know that the California beaches are littered with millionaires now and free spirits must find a way to adapt to remain. Jennifer also talked of being inspired by such early surf film-makers as Bud Browne, John Severson’s THE ANGRY SEA, and films by George Greenough. Great images of Lower Topanga from the 1960s courtesy Brass Tacks Press, also some from the 1970s. Great! Original first six minutes of LOCKED IN – Bud Browne’s famous (legendary) 1964 film. Really cool deconstruction of surf action plus a sweet echo echo echo chamber effect on the first mention of the film’s title “Locked In.” Hmm. To help us understand just what heaven might be like and why it...

Ed Johnson at Kristi Engle and more

My friends, my friends, my friends, There’s a painting show you should see. This is going to mean visiting the near east side but I promise that you’ll be glad you did. Ed Johnson’s show at Kristi Engle did a bunch of things to my eyes and my brain. First off, I walked in expecting to see five paintings hanging pretty simply  on the walls. I’ve been looking at Johnson’s paintings since around 2003 – at Peter Bartlett’s old Hayworth Gallery and around town. He’s pretty consistent. In the past I had seen a small image field – 4″ x 6″ or so, in a larger white field of gessoed plexiglass. His imagery would be adapted from ‘hillbilly’ movies and from photographs. The clarity of these modest Smokey Mountain dramas would be diffused by several incidences of mediation – the original mediation of reality to picture, a ‘Hollywood’ sort of filter, and then Ed’s own screwing with the image by photographing several times using different low-fi technologies. Hmm. Ed can really render – the screwing that he does with his images I think for him provides some distance from craft and technical perfection. It all just fascinates me – I throw any distancing away and dive into  pleasure at  seeing such unsettled perfection. The labor it takes him to depict his images disappears in the flatness of his rendering. Back to the five paintings on the walls right now. Johnson’s working methods haven’t altered, but his strategy for exhibiting the paintings has advanced and gotten riskier. And very satisfying. While I was talking with Johnson at the gallery he...

Untitled, May 2011

Lockwood de Forest David Park Frederick S. Wight I’m having problems with abstraction. For a decade and more I only made abstract drawings, then in 2007 and 8 this changed. I made a drawing for a friend (this is my usual way of making work – for someone or about a friend) and this friend seemed not to be an ‘abstract kind of guy’ to me, so I pushed myself. This all gets complicated, I’ll explain: Another friend, an abstract painter, does an image and text blog. On this blog I found reproduced an antique photograph of a man sitting with a guitar in his lap. Something struck me about it – I mean something more than simply being on my friend’s blog. Not being sure why, I free-handed a drawing of the man and separately, of the guitar. I used Seated Gentleman and Guitar as templates, and tracings from them served as the basis for many drawings. the first of these was a small drawing for the first friend, non-abstract guy. I really loved these. Two months later, for the new daughter of friends, I returned to a (for me) much older way of working –  on 9″ x 12″ paper I drew pages for a book. Illustrating these pages with bright, crazy characters, and nonsensical stories, I glued and taped found bits to the pages and made a funny cover. The drawings were satisfying representationally and formally. Doing the book and then giving it away –  this giving is another essential part of my work – began a cavalcade of production, by my standards anyway. I made...

Around and about, mid-May 2011

How many, my friends, are the things that I have missed in recent weeks? And how many more shall I miss this weekend by being in Santa Barbara and then off to Ohio later next week? Let us together enumerate the many. Perhaps you can benefit from our recital by finding events that you want to visit. Hmm. Thanks to C-monster I now know that the Vincent Price Art Museum is re-opening this Friday, May 20. (That would be C-monster.net Where High Gets Low. Any non-initiates out there may enjoy friendly C-monster’s About page. Go to town on San Suzie, Art Nurse.) Yes indeed my friends, if you’ve lived in LA long enough you know that Vincent Price donated his art collection and founded an art museum in East Los Angeles. I can tell you that I’ve lived in LA long enough that I remember my parents buying original art at a Sears, Roebuck and Co. store in Pomona, from the “Collection Selected Personally by Vincent Price.” This was a service provided by Sears and Mr. Price to the burgeoning middle class of the 1960s – and to the artists who made the work. Curiously enough, while looking online for VPAM stuff I came across former Angelena, former Chicagoan, former Londoner, graduate of Goldsmith’s, and (apparently) current Brooklynite Caryn Coleman blogging on contemporary art and horror films (and the VPAM) on The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College, 1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez, Monterey Park, CA 91754 Another Friday event in yet another set of hills: Ryan McGinnes opening Country Club’s new...

Home Show Revisited – Florian Morlat: A Monument For The Dovers

The wind is blowing as I write this; I was just walking my stations of the cross around the neighborhood and I witnessed palm fronds fluttering and whipping in the strong breeze like green plastic flames. Crystalline light from the late afternoon sun, low in the sky at this time of day and year, is shining underneath trees and near the ground beneath bushes – it seems like magic to see  sunlight from millions of miles away at such an angle that it skates across the surface of the planet, finally landing on a patch of grass where the grass is brushed with a hanging branch eucalyptyus. Jasmine and white sage project an unlikely and beautiful perfume. Los Angeles is in great beauty today. I imagine the surf is up and I picture older model cars with boards strapped on top, tanned surfers inside driving to the beach – silent and focused on their watery and rough destinations. This mention of the surf will act as a bridge to talk about Florian Morlat and his project for Home Show, Revisited which he titles “A Monument For The Dovers.” For much of Florian’s sculptural work the medium also serves as the support. Wood is screwed to canvas and the canvas is suspended from a wall by leather straps. Gravity acts, the wood hangs down and the canvas folds – showing tension in places and becoming loose in others. He has soaked cardboard in water and curved it, much as Charles and Ray Eames did with plywood for the screens and splints they made in the last century; with this curved...

The Home Show in general: 1988, 1996

In August, 1986 Betty Klausner, then Director of the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, read in the NY Times “…about an exhibition in Ghent, Belgium, titled ‘Chambres d’Amis.'” Klausner continues (in the 1988 catalog “Home Show”) “There, in an unprecedented way, art had been expanded into the home. I recognized the brilliance of the concept and the appropriateness of it for Santa Barbara.” From this ‘at a distance’ encounter with an idea was born that original exhibition “Home Show,” which offered ten artists “with an opportunity to create and show work in a related-to-life context different from the conventional circuit of gallery/museum/public place. The exhibition also stands as a provocative reaction and response to the increasing commodification of art. […] “Home Show offers us an opportunity to look at and think about art in a new way.” (Funny that in 1988 an increasing commodification of art was a concern. What on earth would Klausner think of the past decade in contemporary art?) The artists included in the 1988 Home Show: Kate Ericson and Mel Ziegler Ann Hamilton “…my choice to work at Jill’s [the home of Jill K. Barnitz] was motivated not in response to the specific architecture or site but to the tone that already existed in the home as a place. I found comfort and tranquility and chaos.” Lisa Hein David Ireland Jim Isermann “By blurring the distinctions btwn handmade and mass produced objects, and populist and elitest theory popular culture is elevated to the level of art, and art is revealed as interior decoration.” Joseph Kosuth “The pervasive influence of Freud continues to generate an effect...

Action Figures at SBCAF – Michele O’Marah: Video Portraits

Michele O’Marah: Video Portraits at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, opening this coming Saturday May 21. Basic deadpan presentation of information: Michele O’Marah drew inspiration for her “Video Portraits” from Andy Warhol’s “Film Portraits.” (At some not very well defined time in the mid 1960s Andy’s Film Portraits became known as “Screen Tests.”) O’Marah chooses to use video and color for the very same reasons Warhol gave for many of his artistic choices: ease and availability. Friends are O’Marah’s subjects for these portraits, these friends are filmed against colored or patterned backgrounds – one participant labeled the film-maker as a “giver of auras.” (My quote may not be quite spot on but the LA/CA vibe you pick up is pretty true to the moment.) Michele O’Marah has made 160 video portraits, give or take. “Home Show, Revisited” is a group exhibition in a number of homes around Santa Barbara. Many of the artists included in the Home Show are in Michele’s community of friends. Each of the artists in Home Show have done Video Portraits and those portraits will be included among the sixty in Michele O’Marah: Video Portraits. No, these will not be called out as “Here look! This is artist X.” Each portrait is discretely titled with the name of the individual, the groupings of videos in Michele’s presentation are based on color and pattern themes that suggested themselves to the artist as she compiled the videos she wanted to use. There are “pink people” and “pattern people” and so on. Some will be shown on monitors on stands, raised above the gallery floor. (These monitors...