Category: Los Angeles

Calendar. 02.12.14.

Marnie Weber, The Birthday Pig, 2007, at Patrick Painter Gallery
The Birthday Pig, 2007, a collage on light jet print, by Marnie Weber. Part of the exhibition Larry Johnson and Marnie Weber at Patrick Painter Gallery. Through March 15, at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. (Image courtesy of the artist and Patrick Painter.)

  • L.A.: Hammer Lectures: The Future of Institutional Critique, with Judith Barry, Dara Birnbaum, and Mary Kelly, at the Hammer Museum. Today at 7:30pm, in Westwood.
  • L.A.: Katie Herzog, Altered State Library, at Monte Vista Projects. Opens Saturday at 7pm, in Northeast L.A.
  • Aspen: Amy Sillman, One Lump or Two, at the Aspen Art Museum. Opens Friday.
  • Baton Rouge, La.: Rooted Communities: The Art of Nari Ward, at the Louisiana State University Museum of Art. Through April 10.
  • Cambridge: Jorge Otero-Pailos, Space-Time, at the Keller Gallery. Through February 23, at MIT’s Building 7.
  • Waltham, Mass.: Mika Rottenberg: Bowls Balls Souls Halls, Chris Burden: The Master Builder, and The Matter That Surrounds Us: Wols and Charline von Heyl, at the Rose Art Museum. Opens Thursday at 5pm.
  • Philadelphia: Ruffneck Constructivists, curated by Kara Walker, at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Opens today, at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • NYC: A Collective Invention: Photographs at Play, at the Morgan Museum and Library. Opens Friday, in Midtown.
  • NYC: Pawel Althamer: The Neighbors, at the New Museum of Contemporary Art. Opens today, on the Lower East Side.
  • NYC: Diana Al-Hadid: Regarding Medardo Rosso, at Marianne Boesky. Through March 19, on the Upper East Side.
  • NYC: Simon Evans, Edible Landscape, at James Cohan Gallery. Opens Thursday at 6pm, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Julian Crouch, Mark Stewar, Ragna Freidank and Christophe Laudamiel, Armchair Parade, at Dillon Gallery. Opens Thursday, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Henry Chalfant, at Steven Kasher Gallery. Through March 8, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Edward Clark, Big Bang, at Tilton Gallery. Through February 22. (Via Weisslink.)
  • NYC: Karlheinz Weinberger, at Maccarone. Opens Saturday at 6pm, in the West Village.
  • NYC: Richard Hart and Tom Kotik, at Field Projects. Opens Thursday, on the Lower East Side.
  • NYC: Idiom II, at Pierogi. Opens Friday at 7pm, in Williamsburg.
  • NYC: Tip Top, at Greenpoint Terminal Gallery. Opens Saturday, in Greenpoint.
  • NYC: David Henderson, Patricia Satterlee and Jude Tallichet, at Valentine. Opens Friday at 6pm, in Ridgewood/Bushwick.
  • Savannah: Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Rivers, at the SCAD Museum of Art. Through June 8, at the Savannah College of Art and Design.
  • Montreal: Rick Prelinger, No More Road Trips?, a screening, at Concordia University. This Friday at 6pm, at the J.A. de Seve Cinema.
  • London: La Fine de Dio: Maurizio Cattelan and Lucio Fontana, at Gagosian Gallery. Through April 5, in London.
  • Bilbao: Ernesto Neto: The Body That Carries Me, at the Guggenheim Museum. Opens Friday.
  • Sittard: Brandon Ballengée, Seasons in Hell, at Museum Het Domein. Opens Sunday.
  • Doha: Mona Hatoum: Turbulence, at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. Through May 18.
  • Online: Guerilla Girls, Feminist Street Posters: 1985-91, at Gallery98.
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Calendar. 02.05.14.

David Wojnarowicz, The Death of American Spirituality, 1987, at the Hammer Museum's
The Death of American Spirituality, 1987, by David Wojnarowicz. Part of the exhibition Take it or Leave It: Institution, Image, Idealogy, at the Hammer Museum. Opens Sunday, in Westwood. (Collection of John Carlin and Renee Dossick. Courtesy of the Hammer.)

  • L.A.: A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography, and Hiroshi Sugimoto: Past Tense, at the Getty Museum. Through June 8, in West L.A.
  • L.A.: Fútbol: The Beautiful Game, at the L.A. County Museum of Art. Through July 20, in Mid-City.
  • L.A.: Love is in the Air, at 2A Gallery. Opens Saturday, with an opening reception this Sunday at 7pm, in Downtown.
  • Hartford: Allison Schulnik, Matrix 168, at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Opens Thursday.
  • NYC: Doug Wheeler, at David Zwirner. Opens Thursday, at the 20th Street location, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Julije Knifer, at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Opens Thursday, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Deborah Brown, Outer Limits, and Misrepresentation, a group exhibition, at Lesley Heller Workspace. Opens Thursday at 6pm, on the Lower East Side.
  • NYC: Intimate Science, at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design. Opens Thursday, in the Village.
  • NYC: Cassius Fouler, Painting is the Curse of the Drinking Class, at Pandemic Gallery. Opens Saturday at 7pm, near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
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A few words about the Dave Hickey talk.

Dave Hickey prepares to present at the Grand Central Market in L.A.
A crowd gathers for Dave Hickey’s talk at the Grand Central Market on Wednesday evening.

Sometimes, an argument needs way more than 140 characters. And in this case, that argument has to do with critic Dave Hickey’s talk in downtown Los Angeles last night. Hickey, the author of essay collections such as Air Guitar, was in town to promote his latest book, Pirates and Farmers, under the auspices of the Museum of Contemporary Art. I was in the audience and Tweeted Hickey’s rant-talk about the state of the art world. Already, there’s been some media kerfuffle about these Tweets, and they’ve been well covered in Modern Art Notes, followed by the L.A. Times. But I want to take the time to make a more nuanced point, one that goes beyond a few isolated Tweets.

Let’s be clear: I was at the talk because I do have some healthy respect for Hickey as a writer. He stays away from the word salad gobbledygook that is my art world nightmare, and for that I am grateful. I’m also a proud owner of Air Guitar. And as someone who regularly writes about travel, I find his essay on Las Vegas to be poetic and insightful — one that addresses, yet goes beyond all the Sin City tropes. That said, last night’s talk was a disappointment.

Now, before I continue, I just want to say that I wasn’t expecting to write about this talk in an official capacity, so I didn’t take notes and I didn’t record it. But I did want to address some of the general ideas. So please bear with…

Hickey said there are no critics.
First he went after the idea that there are no critics who are there to say “no” to artists. Certainly, that declaration avoids any mention of the fact that the  act of criticism is in a crisis at a time when media is atomizing — and it’s a problem that certainly isn’t unique to the art world. What film critic today has the pull of a James Agee or Pauline Kael or even a Siskel and Ebert?

He said there are no critics who can explain difficult art.
This one was especially rich given that L.A. Times critic Christopher Knight was sitting right in the audience. But I also wonder if he perhaps has never heard of writers like Ben Davis and Amy Taubin and Roberta Smith (even if I disagreed with her mightily about that nightmarish Chris Burden show). Hell, turn to blogs like Hyperallergic, where writer Jillian Steinhauer dissected the context of Bjarne Melgaard’s S&M chair just nine days ago, providing some needed insight into a story that was little more than a headline in most feeds. There are lots of writers out there doing their damnedest to explain difficult to art at a time when the media industry is doing as little as possible to support them. I try to be among them. And like many of them, I can’t claim to always succeed, but I sure as shit try. But I guess in Hickey’s eyes, this doesn’t count, because none of these writers are him.

He is no fan of art schools.
Look, I’m no defender of art schools. I think they often churn out tons of boring copy-cat artists bent on hyper-conceptualizing the hyper-conceptual, producing art that has little connection to real life. The Whitney Biennial (which is kind of like a fair of art school artists) often makes me want to claw my eyes out and I think that some artists would be better served working in a Bolivian tin mine than they would in the average MFA program. But Hickey’s criticisms — that most art teachers are “big fucking failures” who want to crush the aspirations of their students — felt like nothing more than totally excellent soundbites that didn’t go beyond Twitter levels of profundity. And all of it seems downright silly given that Mr. Hickey is the proud owner of a Ph.D. and a professor of English. Ultimately, what I’d love to know is why he thinks art school doesn’t work and what the alternative should be.

And there’s the whole bit about identity politics.
This one was confusing because his talk was all over the place and he paused on several occasions to re-organize his thoughts and refer to his notes. But my takeaway on what he said was that identity politics, coupled with art school bureaucratization, had done away with the “art underground,” a term he used to describe the rabble of avant-garde artists who didn’t give a crap what the mainstream thought of their work or ideas. Hickey told the L.A. Times that identity politics

“tribalized and broke up the art underground…it turned it into a tribe of women, a tribe of Black people, a tribe of gay people. It used to be all of us, together, just down in the dirt.”

Um, really? Is this really the underground as it existed? Towards the end of the talk, Hickey was waxing nostalgic about the Max’s Kansas City days, when everyone knew everyone and you could just show up at some random artist’s studio for the hell of it. It’s hard not to be nostalgic for the days when the art world was small. All I’ve ever known is the bloated universe we inhabit now. But I also am wary about being hostage to a false nostalgia. Let’s make no mistake: the Abstract Expressionists drinking it up at the Cedar Tavern, Andy Warhol and the Max’s Kansas City crew, the cool kids at L.A.’s Ferus Gallery were a pretty monolithic crowd: overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. Black artists, Latino artists, women artists were often simply not part of the equation — and, in fact, often built their own institutions apart from the rest of the art world, simply because they had no access to it. (Want examples, see the catalogues from various Pacific Standard Time Shows: Now Dig This!, Asco: Elite of the Obscure, Doin’ it in Public.)

Part of the reason Hickey’s statements in this area really rankled me is because recent years have seen various critics dismiss the idea that identity may be something important in art. (See Ken Johnson in the NYT and Philip Kennicott in the Washington Post.) To see yet another critic do the same was discouraging. Why identity (of the non-white male kind) is not taken seriously by some critics is simply mystifying to me. The effects of prejudice — call it clubbiness if you will — are very real. As Deborah Vankin notes in her piece in the Times, artist Micol Hebron has challenged the poor representation of women in the L.A. commercial gallery scene in her work. Entire biennials go by without the presence of a Latino artist. Important works by Black artists languish in museum collections, rarely put on view.

That said, like some of these critics, I *am* wary of theme shows that trivialize the notion of identity to gain social currency. (See my reference to “Cinco de Mayo” shows in my story about Chicano art in ARTnews.) But that doesn’t mean that the issue of identity should be banished. And it’s certainly no art world-wrecker. The art world is doing that all on its own, largely through money and totally un-transparent backroom dealing. But these issues — money, professionalization, institutionalization and academia, and identity — they’re all tricky, complicated topics that merit some degree of scrupulousness and nuance. Hickey’s talk did everything but. It was a slew of generalities meant to titillate and induce reaction: jokes about a period when Black artists could get accepted to anything and Hannah Wilke’s chest.

I’m no prude. I swear like a sailor and have the sense of humor of a teen boy. But the fact is that from a self-professed explainer of difficult art, I simply expected more.

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Calendar. 01.19.13.

1250 South Broadway, Pico Boulevard, 2013 by John Humble
1250 South Broadway, Pico Boulevard, 2013, by John Humble. Part of the artist’s solo show, Pico Boulevard, at Craig Krull Gallery. Through February 22, at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.

  • NYC: Eyebeam Presents: 2014 Annual Showcase, at Eyebeam. Through February 1, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Andisheh Avini, at Marianne Boesky Gallery. Through February 15, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: The Wayland Rudd Collection, a project organized by Yevgeniy Fiks, at Winkleman Gallery. Through February 15, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Grounded, at Pace Gallery. Through February 22, on 25th Street in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Duke Riley, See You At the Finish Line, at Magnan Metz Gallery. Extended through January 25, in Chelsea.
  • NYC: Con/Text, at Lync Tham. Through February 16, on the Lower East Side.
  • NYC: Outside In, at Life on Mars. Through March 1, in Bushwick.
  • NYC: Piero della Francesca, Personal Encounters, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Through March 30, on the Upper East Side.
  • Fort Lauderdale: The Movement: Bob Adelman and Civil Rights Era Photography, at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. Through May 17, in downtown.
  • Austin: Charles Long, at The Contemporary. Through April 20, at Laguna Gloria and the Jones Center.
  • Torrance, Calif.: Reverb: Music as Both Inspiration and Content in Contemporary Art, at the Torrance Art Museum. Through March 8.
  • Santa Ana, Calif.: Julianne Swartz and Ken Landauer, Miracle Report, at the Grand Central Art Center. Through May 11, in Downtown.
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The L.A. of the near-future and serial killer books.

Joaquin Phoenix in
Joaquin Phoenix in “Her.” Director Spike Jonze’s meeting with architects Diller Scofidio helped inspire the feel of the movie.

For my latest in ARCHITECT, I talk to Elizabeth Diller about future L.A., deconstructed operas and serial killers. Find the Q&A here.

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Calendar. 10.02.13.

The Micheels House, designed by Paul Rudolph, Westport, Connecticut, 1972-2007, by Chris Mottalini The Micheels House, designed by Paul Rudolph, Westport, Connecticut, 1972-2007, by Chris Mottalini. Part of an exhibition and book signing for Mottalini’s project After You Left/They Took It Apart (Demolished Paul Rudolph Homes), at The Landing at Reform, in Hollywood. Opens Thursday at 7pm. (Image courtesy of the artist.)

  • NYC: Chris Burden: Extreme Measures, at the New Museum. Opens today, on the Lower East Side.
  • NYC: Zoe Strauss: Ten Years, at the International Center of Photography. Opens Friday, in Midtown.
  • NYC: Tony Feher, at the Bronx Museum. Opens Sunday, in the Bronx.
  • NYC: Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul, at the Morgan Library & Museum. Opens Friday, in Midtown.
  • NYC: William Anastasi: Sound Works 1963-2013, at the Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery at Hunter College. Opens Thursday at 6pm, on the Upper East Side.
  • NYC: City of Abstractions: Brett Weston in New York, 1944-45, at the 1285 Avenue of the Americas Art Gallery. Through January 10, in Midtown.
  • Boston: Amy Sillman, one lump or two, at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Opens Thursday.
  • Pittsburgh: 2013 Carnegie International, at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Opens Saturday.
  • L.A.: Nathalie Pozzi and Eric Zimmerman,  Interference, at Track 16 (in collaboration with Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). Opens today at 8:30pm, in Culver City.
  • L.A.: Abelardo Morrell: The Universe Next Door, and At the Window: The Photographer’s View, at the Getty Museum. Through January 5, at the Getty Center in West L.A.
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A different way of thinking about L.A.’s sprawl.

Andres Jaque at REDCAT in Los Angeles (Photo by C-Monster)

L.A. may be derided for its sprawl, but Spanish architect Andrés Jaque says the city’s in-between spaces make for a unique brand of urbanism — not to mention, some highly creative informal architecture. He has created installations inspired by these spaces in his new show at REDCAT in downtown. You can read all about it in my story in ARCHITECT.

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Ed Ruscha and Los Angeles.

Ed Ruscha's documentation notes from

There are some insanely cool things about being a reporter. One of them is access — to people, to information, to old artist notebooks. As part of reporting a story about Ed Ruscha and his artist books for NPR, curator John Tain of the Getty Research Institute (GRI) took me into the Institute’s archive and showed me some of Ruscha’s materials. (The GRI holds all of Ruscha’s so-called ‘Streets of Los Angeles’ projects.) We poked around old notebooks and contact sheets. My favorite was the sketch above, which shows how Ruscha executed Every Building on the Sunset Strip. An image which I simply had to snap…

The Getty currently has a show devoted to Ruscha’s early photography. (You’ve got one more week before the show closes!) And my profile of Ruscha is now up at NPR. It includes 1933 Ford pick-ups and vintage audio of the Doors playing at the Whiskey A Go Go. Please tune in!

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