All notes from Archives | Notes on Looking

Karen Liebowitz at Rosamund Felsen

Sometimes when we set up straw dogs to knock them down it is okay, because the rhetorical example needs to be made. I looked at Karen Liebowitz’s new painting with a mix of emotions and with conflicting intellectual responses to the work, which is a 16 x 30′ mural of the skinning and de-fleshing of a sea monster by beautiful, strong, industrially-outfitted women. How do I think about the folkloric tale this artist tells (and it is one that she has been exploring for several years) and how do I fit it into what I think of as the ‘current conversation on contemporary painting,’? Aah – and here is my straw dog. Here is my opportunity to rail against the narrow-mindedness of critics and academics who craft the narrative that we in the art world are all living. Here is my chance to hold up Ms. Liebowitz as “a braver artist, one who challenges the received wisdom about what painting can be.” Except that she doesn’t (for what exactly is this received wisdom, and what would be her challenge? and why would she want this responsibility?), and she isn’t especially brave (anyone who makes art is brave, or foolish) and critics, curators and academics, when they agree at all, do not agree on a pat narrative of contemporary painting. (They might agree on lunch.) So there goes my idea for a self-aggrandizing rant. Instead, I’ll simply share with you the pleasure I found in looking at Karen Liebowitz’ work and listening to her talk. Liebowitz draws upon many elder myths for her paintings, and she approaches them as a...

Radio Free (your name here): Guan Rong at Elephant and for sale

I find these objects that Guan Rong makes so very compelling that I think they require no textual suasion. (Ooh, is it cool to phrase things that way, or does it only turn people off?) “A piece of art is a flower I offer to the world, and at the same time, it is a “bell of mindfulness” for myself to remember the presence of beauty in my daily life.” “Copyright-Free, Bonnie, is a collection of self-selected notes, writings, short stories, homework, and letters from 1997 to 2008 by Guan Rong. It contains writings in both English and Chinese without translation.” “Am I Not Here? is an autobiographical documentary film about my life in the U.S. as an artist and as a person in general.” “Giving myself an image as a wild-child, the books and film shows my love for everyday life in general.” “The books and movie are a total party!” “There are only 300 edition of the books and DVDs; only the first 100 edition have these unique packages.” “I am selling them for $100 U.S. dollar per set. if you want to purchase one, please go to my Etsy Shop Page.” Etsy Shop Page: http://www.etsy.com/shop/aminothere Thus far I have not thrown any languages that Guan Rong did not put already into...

The Sheridan Brown Files

Dear Sheridan, Thanks for these photos! I love them. I mixed them with several of my own. You may think me crazy, but do you mind if I imagine you dressed like a spy, in a belted overcoat and a low brimmed hat, surreptitiously snagging pictures of your prey and dashing off emailed dispatches to homebase from the trenches? You see, I am stuck inside here behind my computer, and I need some fantasy to liven my days. This is a great way to start, please send more as you get them. And if you get any naughty ones, we’ll do a special “News of the World” memorial issue of Notes! We’ll make them gasp, and stretch their eyes. (Laughing) All my best, Geoff (someone) Interviewing Lauri Firstenberg at Art Los Angeles Contemporary A (normal-ish looking) couple looking at Tony, a tattooed wonder in a photograph by Zack Balber. Fredric Snitzer Gallery A Kenneth Tam video installation at ltd Los Angeles A sculpture by Cristina Lei Rodriguez. At the Brand New Gallery, Art Los Angeles Contemporary A sparkly Mel Bochner A video piece by Gabriel Stellbaum, set in a deserted parking space “a Dantean underworld”. At the bar at Art Los Angeles Contemporary on Thursday afternoon Bunny Jurriaans and Isha Welsh at VSF for Fiona’s opening Connor configuring one of her walls. Performance? Sculpture? A performative space occupied by charismatic objects? Go see for yourself, open through Feb 12 at VSF with curated performances on weekends. detail of a Kori Newkirk piece at LM Projects, Newkirk has an upcoming artist book project with Lorraine Molina. Keep you eyes open!...

Tiffany K. Smith “Let’s talk about who didn’t come.”

“Good evening everyone, and welcome to Dave Gallery…” For the reception of her first solo show at Dave Gallery, Tiffany K. Smith made the quaint gesture of giving a speech. I supposed it to be a “welcome, hi, how are you, this is my work” speech. I was wrong. Smith’s apparently self-effacing presentation doubled back on itself, and my understanding of it went from indulgent awareness of this artist’s nervous first time out to a growing knowledge that I was being played, and then respect for the artist’s control over her work, its public face, and my understanding. “The only thing worse than missing something is wishing you did.” “My work is easy to make, it’s obviously self absorbed, cliche, and worst of all it takes time to look at.” “I’m happy to see most everyone I know here tonight, I did notice that some people didn’t make it. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, ‘Who are these people that aren’t here?’ I just wrote down a few names:...

Richard’s Warthog – Richard Jackson Accidents in Abstract Painting

Photos and commentary via telephone by Mike Tuck, additional blather by me. “Hey Geoff, there were 700 to 1,000 people at the site, it was quite a crowd. We just walked back up to Jim’s house, probably we’ll have dinner here. Richard’s plane took off for a bit, then landed on its belly and scooted along. They fixed it with tape and styrofoam and took it back and set it up. He got it aloft, the plane made two circuits – it looked pretty big! Then it headed straight for the target and, wham!! It crashed right where Richard wanted it. It was a hoot! Accidents in Abstract Painting is part of the Getty Research Institute’s Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival and was successful in being both public and performative. Now if only this gesture by the Getty would spark one of our local museums to commit to a Richard Jackson retrospective. Oh but right, our museums don’t really do that, celebrate local artists who have not already been thoroughly canonized by the marketplace… Not to say that Richard Jackson doesn’t sell work, but his art is not the youthful cutting edge pabulum that is so favored by collectors and trustees, and therefore is exhibited by institutional curators. I offer you our recent experience with Charles Garabedian. I exaggerate for effect, the truth...

Something is happening

I was startled twice by news that I read this week, startled and dismayed. In the LA Times I read the story “Two (UC Riverside Students) Arrested Outside UC Regents Meeting,” and my initial feeling went towards the arrested students. I speak with many students, many of the studio visits that I do are with UC students, and from these visits I hear many horror stories of high rates being payed for their education, and of problems paying off the accumulated debt. I got busy with other things, and the story faded from my mind. This evening I scrolled through Facebook and I found that I am acquainted with one of the arrested students. Not acquainted really, I could not point Ken Ehrlich out in a crowd, but we are connected by a conversation we had on Facebook. At one point during last year’s Occupy period I challenged something that Ehrlich had proposed in the group’s Timeline, this had to do with an action the group would take that sounded to me like poorly thought-out and reactionary anti-capitalism. What was important and enlightening for me was Ehrlich’s willingness to engage me in conversation. Instead of dismissing my input and having both of us go off thinking the other ill informed or poorly intentioned, we went back and forth over the subject for several days. I think eventually we continued to disagree, but we each had conceded points and I had learned much. Reading of Ken’s arrest upset me in the usual way of, “Oh dear, I know this person and something bad has happened to him;” but this story...

Not listening to Eighteen Musicians

My thoughts on Steve Reich’s music are on a roller-coaster after last night’s concert. Reich himself was one of two clappers in “Clapping Music” and I felt lucky to be in the presence of this legend performing his own music. The sounds are intricate and fun and the simple act of two people hand clapping in patterns leads my mind all over the place while I listen. My ears hear, and the effect inside my brain is to further complicate beats and rhythms. I love this – it’s like meditation and it’s like code too, and similar to both, the music builds imaginary spaces which I enter as I listen, and from which I sometimes am ejected when I momentarily lose my place, and my mind wanders, and I become filled with tedium. This is all ok, it is part of the experience. “Relax and bring your mind back to your breathing,” they say in yoga, and in Minimal music it might be, “…bring your mind back to the pulse.” I had an insight last night, and my on again/off again feelings about this music resolved themselves a bit. “2 x 5,” is an amplified guitar and drum piece from 2009 that was having its west coast premier at this concert, at the end of the first half. This type of music is incredibly difficult to play, and judging by the amazed and happy looks on the faces of the players it is also supremely satisfying to play. The counting involved must be exhausting, the sounds made by the musicians intersect and then diverge in very many patters, always...