All notes from Archives | Notes on Looking

Screw Spring Break: It’s Officially Wintergarten, Ltd. Day at NoL

CHINESE BONDAGE IN PERU – FOR YOU! In anticipation of a meeting later today with Parker Davis, to discuss Chinese Bondage in Peru (the new publication which I have had for a week now) I offer you a page from the Wintergarten, Ltd. website. I ENCOURAGE YOU TO GO CRAZY WITH YOUR PAYPAL ACCOUNT. NO ONE ELSE CAN.   WORK EXHIBITIONS PUBLICATIONS CONTACT   CHINESE BONDAGE IN PERU Text by Ed Steck   CHINESE BONDAGE IN PERU, Volumes I, II, & III.  Softcover, 5.5 x 8.5″. Black & white laserjet on newsprint.  108p.  Open edition.  $25-     < Back to Publications I leave you with my typically non-rational associative song. You’ll note that I hate videos and so post usually to lyrics or spinning discs. Leave images and moving pictures to artists, people on YouTube. And remember that it’s true: only you, every moment – no one else can take action....

Some of B. Wurtz & Co.

I can understand the title “untitled (wire/green wire/purple light)” because each of these things is present in the small sculpture, but I also note light reflected off the blue plastic numeral tag (numbered 453) and a white color from the top of a plastic utensil. A crystal teardrop at the bottom is a quiet, simple grace note and as such resembles the extended wire loop reaching out from the neighboring “untitled (newspaper).” The aluminum can in “untitled (aluminum and straw)” has the dull sheen of rare Tiffany glass, like perfumers that I used to find at swap meets – women carried these and wore them on ribbons at their neck, to sniff when dangerous scents filled the air. I wonder for a moment whether there is some organizing principle at work based upon the familiarity of use by the maker. A pen, part of a newspaper, a ticket book, a plastic fork, all these speak both of being found and of being tools. (I almost phrased that sentence: “and of being used,” but ‘used’ has a negative connotation and does not allow for the collaborative relationship that a person might have with a tool, especially a found tool that in a sense saves one’s life.) Indeed, these materials have the presence of things held often and for long periods of time; they have been enrobed in whorls of wire and as sculptures they look as though they were made to be made, rather than observed, as though the act of making were the point, rather than the object. Looking, I can imagine a person finding these bits in the...

Magick: Talking with and thinking about Brian Butler

Our conversation about the occult quickly delved into the arcane (and forbidden) knowledge of this art-based science of the unknown – I think Brian Butler saw me flailing and trying to keep up and took pity on me, “…widdershins refers to a counter-clockwise motion, and in the context of Aleister Crowley’s Mark of the Beast Ritual, use of this reverse motion enforces the upside-down nature of Crowley’s Heliocentric practice. Changing one’s perspective like this can have the effect of making everything new and allows us to suspend disbelief for a time.” Butler performed a version of Crowley’s Ritual of the Mark of the Beast at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) fair, and his interpretation he titled Union of Opposites. Butler spoke of this performance as a multi-sensual union of two and three dimensional experiences, with time and an additional dimension of magick thrown in. The audience experienced first a film, then two performers entered the stage through nondescript onstage doorways. Butler and and Anna Kim wove their spell to the accompaniment of music and low, nearly sub-audible sound waves that shook the chairs and were felt more than they were heard. Thus magick is made and a spell is cast. Butler’s wish is that his audience will leave the theater with feelings similar to having had achieved a deep meditative or hypnotic state – peaceful perhaps, with less ego and a more intense awareness of the universe. Butler’s presentation of his new work at ALAC was fortuitously timed, as it became a complement  and counterpoint to the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival programing that bookmarked...

Paul Waddell’s studio

When I walked into the studio – which was pretty much a riot of color and shape, with four or five large canvases spread around and an equal number of smaller ones as well as paintings on paper – two painted figures caught my attention. In my mind I was saying, “What the fuck? Lord these are good.” The bodies of a woman and a man are leaning, knees slightly bent, with their upper torsos disappearing into… a colorful maelstrom of psychedelic abstraction. Charles Garabedian came to mind, as did the little I know about ancient Greek figure statues. (Did this guy train with Phidias?) In each of the slightly represented and almost cartoon like figures I was able to discern thigh muscles pushing, and the man’s legs were parted a bit and his glutes were active rather than simply existing as dabs of paint. I sensed that his arms, and the woman’s arms, although not available for my view, were reaching or lifting or doing something… up there. Seeing all this was both hot and profound. As I appreciated the depth of engagement in these bodies before me, my own body became engaged and even engorged – sex hung in the air like a promise with these paintings. Paul Waddell’s grandfather is a sculptor and began training him to draw when he was a child. To my delight, I discovered that Waddell is a kindred spirit – I won’t bore you with our hour of reaffirming each others belief in the power of the fundamentals in any successful practice. (We didn’t dispense entirely with theory-based practitioners, I think...

Zack Paul in SB; Abstraction at MOLAA: Lisa, Fernández and Maggi; Ryan Perez’s Arrival; Juan Martin del Campo Jr. in “Finds! The Unusual Object”

There is so much art making going on in Los Angeles that sometimes it’s easy to forget that our neighbors just next door are also making some very good art.  I recently attended two shows in Santa Barbara featuring the work by Argentine painter Zack Paul.  His first solo-show Inside Out is now on exhibit at Sullivan Goss in downtown SB.  Paul, who has been living in the US for ten years, has clearly been influenced by the Southern Californian sunshine.  As you enter the gallery space, the first thing you will notice is the rich vocabulary of color, lines and space in his abstract paintings.  His palette is inspired by the Pacific Ocean’s marine life; sand, ocean, kelp, rocks, moss, oxide, coral, stones, seaweed also appear in the paintings titles.  Paul explained how he mixes these colors with man made architectural objects, creating an interesting dialogue and relationship.   Within these hard-edged paintings, ideas are repeated, as are his colors, systems and forms. Paul explained that he takes photographs of complicated architectural shapes and forms, redraws them and then brings out the natural element using his carefully selected colors.  Then the magic begins: There is an illusion of depth as he plays with the ambiguity of three-dimensionality and then makes us begin to wonder if the constructions are sheltering or inhibiting.  The paintings are double edged and inside out.  In the series Commonplace Interior Shapes, Exterior Colors (No. 1-3) he has taken a photograph of the interior of his house and of a corner which he often looks at in his studio. In these paintings, routine and repetition are...

Tam Van Tran at Susanne Vielmetter

What a curious thing – to see ceramics on the wall. As recently as a month ago in Pomona (at AMOCA) and in Claremont (at the Scripps College Williamson Gallery) I saw, well, there was a lot (and I recommend the trip) but what I recall best is a modest wall sculpture of John Mason’s – this was a sort of openwork plaque depicting a trellis with (I recall) blue flowers (not Mason’s grander, larger wall pieces that are scattered around the campus) and it felt simple to me and like a beginning. Flowers often suggest delicacy, but Mason’s choice to render his (potentially) delicate flowers in clay which looks as if it was pulled from the earth whole and then shaped, simply and roughly as the material asks, into blossoms espaliered (splayed?) across a wall… um reminded me that there is nothing delicate about nature and that the act of depicting is powerful and needs commitment from an artist. This sculpture of John Mason’s had an impact on me, and my feelings and thoughts about it returned as I looked at Tam Van Tran’s wall sculptures. I want to stop for a moment and return to the first room of the gallery. There is a thread here, in this show, that leads back through much of Tam’s work. Small ceramic vessels placed on the floor in several grids remind me that often in the past Tam Van Tran’s work was made from food. In early paintings he used as a medium – as paint almost – broken egg shells in his now signature devotional/obsessive labor intensive manner (remember...