Time for Pacific Standard Observations
James Turrell is not god. Dim, lozenge shaped rooms with corners that glow lavender are not interesting. Passing through total darkness will keep me out of anything. Claustrophobia is never fun – even in a museum. Fireworks are good at the 4th of July, not so good as art, unless you have the resources of the Chinese Communists. (A corollary to this rule: Keep ones orgasms to oneself, include maybe one other person. A sports stadium is not appropriate and the power of the experience will diminish substantially.) Charles and Ray Eames should work for Target. (Oh, you mean Charles and Ray are dead? Huh.) California Design belongs at the Rose Bowl. John Altoon and Mark de Suvero are not African-American artists. Civic virtue is not contained within nor is it the goal of or a by-product of art. Paying obeisance to art that was current just before our births, or in the first blush of our youth is nostalgia, not scholarship. Even when scholars do it. 125 artists working in a wide array of mediums and styles who typify the exceptional diversity and fertility of art practice in California – don’t. As individual voices they get lost in the chorus plus they sound like the curator. Beatnik art can be great, but Wallace Berman’s work had to look more interesting in the moment than it does now.
“Important scholarly works are being written,” means someone is killing something.
Performance should always be new. Let me emphasize that: I will never see another boring representation of an old performance piece. Unless I’m interested from an academic point of view or have a friend in the performance – and even then it’ll be 50/50.
Using a Tesla coil in your work is neat. Doing it when you’re twenty and it’s 1967 is great. Filling a room with water, clustering balloons around the lights and hanging chains from the ceiling always works. Someone should have bought the Golden State Mutual Insurance collection of African-American art and loaned it to the Hammer for their exhibition. (That observation is off the subject, but damn, damn, damn the patrons and museum people in our city are consistently stupid.) Seeing the identity-based, emotional and deeply personal work of Charles White, John Outterbridge, Suzanne Jackson, John Riddle, Dale Brockman Davis and Betye Saar was great. Nobody makes this stuff anymore! When was the last time you saw a fetishy looking statue in a gallery? I mean, when was the last time you saw one and took it seriously? I feel like we blush and become nervous if we see an artist showing their heart.
Museums should focus on stuff that isn’t cool now – like teenagers, we know what’s cool. Our entire culture and much of our art is predicated upon this knowledge. It’s the weird stuff we need to know about. (If, that is, we “need” any art.)
On that note – there is a ton of new stuff to see all the time. Go.
Because in a modest way I nerd out about it: Golden State Mutual Art Collection auction results http://catalogue.swanngalleries.com/asp/searchresults.asp?st=U&view1=View&sale_value=2122&rf_lot_range_from=1&rf_lot_range_to=End