FEAR: IN THE SKY
Group Show Curated By John Eden
West Los Angeles College Art Gallery
Review of FEAR: In the Sky
Group show at the West Los Angeles College Art Gallery
Curated by John Eden
September 5 to October 19, 2019
Walking into the West Los Angeles College Art Gallery, you are greeted by a life size reimagining of Fat Boy, the nuclear bomb dropped over Nagasaki. "The Bomb" by Robert Wilhite is meticulously crafted of wooden ribs, laquered black. It reminds us that sophisticated engineering, craft and imagination are too often used to express ourselves in phenomenally destructive ways. This is unsettling. From then on you unconsciously tread carefully around the other pieces in the show, accompanied by the sound of a dull droning from the hidden motor automating another bomb sculpture by John Eden, artist and the show's curator. The Show is titled "Fear: In The Sky" and includes strong work from twelve LA based artists.
One of two Eden pieces in the show, Utopian Gyre: Bird in Space is a scaled bomb that spins slowly on its nose over an "X" and "O" platform is also spectacularly crafted. Evocative of a slim zeppelin with subtle, scalloped panels it glistens lipstick red in a metal flake paint job that is part department store point-of-purchase fixture and part menacing instrument of death. We are also reminded how calloused we have become to being perpetually at threat from mass annihilation.
Materials accompanying the show written by Eden posit that the show also is "about the omnipresent "eye in the sky", big brother-like technologies that have irrevocably changed our world since the advent of aviation and its resulting race into space." It's his show, but I didn't get that as a primary take-away. Pieces in the show primarily reference military aviation, dominated both literally and figuratively by the Fat Boy in the middle of the room. (There was apparently a drone piece involving video recording of guests at the opening but I either missed its representation in the show or it wasn’t included after the event.) Several of the artists are veterans and their familiarity with war's indelible stain is palpable even through the preciousness of a "finish fetish" or "California Cool School" sensibility. It's about flight and technologies from a particular era, however seminal that specific aviation is to our understanding of our geo-political world order (or lack of it) today. You can stretch that to include how that technology has morphed into 24/7 geo-location surveillance for instance but such themes are not expressly explored in the work on view.
WWII and its space race progeny are also invoked by another Eden piece in the show titled "Sputnik, The Russians are coming, The Russians are coming". Despite the gravity of the show's subject matter, Eden can still crack a joke but aims it at people old enough to remember the 1966 farcical film of the same title. Life size, near replicas of the famous first satellites and the kick-off to the Cold War competition, the mirrored orbs with antennae float above the gallery, moving ever so gently in a soft ocean breeze afforded by the open gallery doors. Twins, the satellites reflect themselves and the gallery surroundings, bouncing light around the room and in a nice turn, look like anything but prophets of doom.
Four beautiful paintings from Sam Erenberg were inspired by the air raid search lights over Los Angeles that were activated when an errant weather balloon caused widespread panic in the streets. The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming! Indeed. Erenberg's paintings are a tonal black that my friend likened to the charcoal-ish painting technique found in some early Frank Stella. That modulated darkness is sliced by silvery streaks evoking both light beams and tracer bullets. It's a gorgeous bit of painting.
Several pieces lighten up what could otherwise be a ponderous show. Jane Bauman's offers a playful Sci-Fi/ Pop culture twist with her Mothra Series. Combined media photographs with painted vellum overlays, reference the fictional protector of the earth. Griffith's 2015-2018 "Coral Sea" presents a sort of blueprint for a war machine that is part Allied aircraft carrier, part Japanese submarine and part locomotive. Griffith refers to this drawing as "an impossible ship" reflecting the fact that family members served on opposite sides of the WWII conflict. Eric Johnsons "Saucer" is a clever fiberglass approximation of a classic comic book flying saucer. Similar to the other pieces in the show, "Saucer" is impeccably finished with the LA School's "Spectacle of Skill."
Most notable are the numerous but tiny pieces of insect-like flying craft from Bob Wilhite. All about the gallery and out of reach, the pieces alight like the butterflies and dragonflies whose wings have been incorporated in their construction. They are pinned to the wall, like specimens in a natural history museum but arranged almost in aerial attack formation. Once inspired to just join such naturally winged brethren and be free in the sky, we are now caged and threatened by our own technology.
Thoughtfully curated, impeccably installed and inclusive of some exceptional work, the show runs until October 19, 2019. For more information and directions to the campus and gallery call Molly Barnes, Director 310-553-7626.
GIFT IDEAS FOR THE 5 TOUGHEST PEOPLE ON YOUR HOLIDAY LIST
#5 THE GONE GIRL
You've stopped tearing up at Jared commercials but you still get a pang in your gut when you pass her place of work or spot her smiling in her insta feed. You want to be forgiven, never mind you know she believes you were giving your level best. Well, maybe. Except for those times with her friends when you thought you were just being charming.
You need her to hear "I want to be together again" without the sound of your knees scraping against the floor. You want to be hopeful and loving without being pathetic. Nothing is a bigger turn off than pathos.
Normally I'd suggest Nan Goldin's Ballad of Sexual Dependency, in which her photographs describe a lifestyle that was visceral, charged and seething with a raw appetite for living. But I'm out of stock and am waiting for the reprint.
An equally appropriate title would be "Live or Die", The Collectors Choice Volume 10 on Bruce Nauman. While you hope the title alone kind of sums up how you currently view the situation - not to sound suicidal or threatening of course- you hope she will appreciate the more poetic gesture in the photos of Nauman's sculptural castings of negative space or the inter-media mash-ups of language, video and noise that might suggest the highs and lows of a vivid life lived together. It may also not be lost on her that Nauman's current retrospective at MOMA (until February 19) is titled "Disappearing Acts."
4. The Sort of Father In Law
You're not married, married, but common law is 7 years and you've been living with his son for 10. He lives on the west side. You guys live downtown. Unlike you, he is a traditionalist and has been vocal to his son about a ceremony and grandchildren, your thoughts on the issues be damned. Still he is loving in his way and supportive when the car breaks down or you talk about maybe getting that MFA.
Get him "Both Sides of Sunset". Los Angeles is a city of dualities—sunshine and noir, coastline beaches and urban grit, natural beauty and suburban sprawl, the obvious and the hidden. Both Sides of Sunset: Photographing Los Angeles reveals these dualities and more, in images captured by master photographers such as Bruce Davidson, Lee Friedlander, Daido Moriyama, Julius Shulman and Garry Winogrand.
You may not always agree but the book shows there is plenty of beauty to be found in a world shared.
Both Sides of Sunset Normally $100 on Sale $80
#3 The Prodigal Son
It's the holidays: time for good cheer and the suppression of ill will, damaged feelings and debt collection efforts. Never one to hold your tongue however, you must make a special effort when you hear that your estranged son will be joining you for Hanukkah. The fruit of your loins that everyone recognizes in both an undeniable resemblance as well as your stubborn streaks will no longer be a satellite, but the sun in this year's holiday universe. He who hath refused speaking to you years ago for reasons neither of you can fully articulate -although like the biblical tale, there is that financial mess. What to do?
Present him with Jim Goldberg's Rich and Poor, a gorgeous book that captures people from both ends of the economic spectrum, juxtaposing the different lifestyles of those entombed by poverty and those who are free to live in luxury. As you welcome home "he who has been lost but is now found", the book is a reminder that our lot by birth is not of our choosing and that life is not about the material things with which we surround ourselves.
#2. The Boss
I'll never forget when my widowed mother-in-law - determined to only date C-level executives - was taken aback when a prospective beau, an accomplished attorney paused to make a call and "check in with the boss". Aghast, she exclaimed, "You have a BOSS?" Hello! Most of us do have bosses and now in an era rightfully informed by the #metoo era its difficult to navigate the workplace gift-giving maze. I'm here to help.
It mustn't be extravagant or hint at sex or a power-play. Nay, it must be innocuous but thoughtful.
Get them Sympathetic Seeing, Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modern Architecture. The title suggests camaraderie, but the content is all about the history of California modernism by the woman who became intimately involved with the preservationist politics of the city and was ultimately recognized as the pre-eminent architectural historian of west coast architecture
It might seem bland; but like you, it has so much more interesting and meaningful things to offer outside the workplace. What's more intellectually seductive than California Modernism whose clean lines and bare facades are aching to be entered?
Sympathetic Seeing, Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modern Architecture. Normally $30 on Sale $20
1. The Significant Other
This is it. A defining moment. Have you REALLY been listening? Do you know what's expected? Are you able to still genuinely positively surprise them?
Fraught with exceptions too many to mention, this bit of advice comes from the heart. (Recommendation # 5, not withstanding.) Honestly I had to scour the shelves in search of the perfect gift in this situation.
Give them Mike Bouchet and Paul McCarthy: Powered A Hole Spanish Donkey Sport Drink Donkey Dong Dongs Sunscreen Model. Seriously.
One of my favorite artists, McCarthy (see review of his latest movie by scrolling down) McCarthy joined up with the only other guy to have turned the Guggenheim NY into a toilet and was lauded for it. This catalog of their provocative genius is a rare bit of art publishing obscura that they would appreciate you uncovering. I'm not exactly sure why this book is perfect for that special person in your life other than it sends a message that you won't be fucked with. What else is there on which to build a relationship?
Mike Bouchet & Paul McCarthy: Powered A-Hole Spanish Donkey Sport Dick Drink Donkey Dong Dongs Sunscreen Model. Normally $45 on sale $39
TANNER GOLDBECK AT CASTELLI AND LA ART ASSOC.
I took Tanner Goldbeck and Sandy Shimooka to Regen Projects recently to view the new work from Lari Pittman.
Tanner Goldbeck is maybe best known for his graphic work which has adorned Powell Skateboards since you can remember. If you owned (or now own) a Powell Bones Brigade or Powell/ Peralta anything, you were grinding Goldbeck's "skull" art work on the pool coping, curb or handrail. Later he did choppers - as in Jesse James/ West Coast. He now has been commissioned for very expensive motorcycle helmets that are equally dope.
Goldbeck who deserves serious consideration from the fine art world has been quietly making fine art all along and recently had a show at Castelli Art Space. He has an upcoming show at LA Art Association (October 20, 7pm). Sharing technical capabilities as well as narrative structures to rival Pittman, I thought he'd enjoy discovering the decorative master. (I use decorative here in a good way).
Both Pittman and Goldbeck use tightly wound graphic/ decorative strategies to construct their vivid compositions. Both beg you to look closely, stand back, be absorbed, be repelled. What I found fascinating was the different lexicon each has used within the layered, meticulously, (or meticulously messy) manner of painting in service of different stories. "Manner of painting" is a good term since it puts one in mind of mannerist and rococco painters. These boys are nothing if not baroque. Again, I say this as a good thing, a great thing. Their large scale paintings vibrate with an energetic obsession to leave no space untouched, no place to breath. Not to say the pieces are suffocating, I mean they can be breathtaking.
Pittman employs icons laden with metaphor to structure a narrative code we try to break while viewing - nooses, shovels, birds and more. He has even mismatched the diptych format to insinuate a dialogue with fantastic portraiture. It's as if Kara Walker's silhouettes were adrift without their black history anchor on a crazy quilt of vivid color. Goldbeck however doesn't invite you to decipher his world. His world is less art-cryptic and more streetwise. Goldbeck tangles up our pop culture imagination with little pony/ anime' unicorns, skulls (of course) and cartooned portraits, all bound under layers of devilishly tight, pinstriped graphics, and stencils as well as the angelic touch of softly diffused spray cans.
Both painters however deliver a sort of magical realism. We are served up style with a capital "S". Capital "S" style endows the just-damn-satisfying-to-look-at presentation with deeper meaning and offers up mysteries for us to ponder. Eventually, we shake ourselves out of the trance these paintings induce and we realize they are just dreams, something these guys made up and had to lay down on canvas in this, the "real world".
Tanner Goldbeck: Los Angeles Art Association From October 20 to November 30
Reception October 20 6-9pm
Lari Pittman: Regen Projects Through October 25th.
PAUL McCARTHY IN THE HOUSE
CISUM FO DNUOS/ SOUND OF MUSIC @ HAUSER & WIRTH
The one night only screening is another stroke of McCarthy's Warholian genius. I mean so is the film -if you can call it a film - of course.
To a packed house, in the steamy climes of a Hauser & Wirth gallery downtown last night, Mr. McCarthy (re)introduced the screening of cisuM fo dnuoS ehT / The Sound of Music. Upside down and backwards, the movie Sound of Music, that watermark on the brains of Americans of a certain age, ran its full length.
Full disclosure: I only watched about 15 minutes of it because like most of Mr. McCarthy's work the concept is much more interesting than the execution, or at least less excruciating - think of his early performance work with all its faux viscera. Hence one part of the Warhol mention. Did anybody really sit through "Empire".
I say "reintroduced" because the spectacle debuted in Austria in 2001 in response to the rise of Jörg Haider’s extreme right wing Freedom party. I never really think about Mr. McCarthy's work in political terms. It seems easy to politicize everything nowadays and when I learned this about the work, I almost struck him off my "Deserted Island" list of artists I could live with. Not that I could agree with Haider of course, but because politics and religion would make a deserted island that much more miserable. This does however raise an interesting element to the work-spectacle-film-thing. How can you make art that has Nazis in it and not avoid some sort of political POV. Added to the background of neo-numbskulls marching in Washington under the cover of the Idiot in Chief today and the piece has an added resonance in this regard.
In the cavernous, dark gallery, the characters upside down with soundtrack gibberish struck me as fruit bats, especially the brown shirted henchmen. This of course made me laugh and when I told Mr. McCarthy about this he seemed offended. He couldn't really find some of his absurdity funny? It made me reconsider the deserted island list again.
I remain a huge fan of his pornographic romp through the art world (see Christmas Tree sculpture) and I know he is a master, furthering Warhol's ability to pick apart our devotion to pop culture icons with dramatic and powerful effect.
If you missed the film-spectacle last night you can imagine it: cisuM fo dnuoS ehT. Yea. Like that.
JUNE 3, 2018
HIDDEN ROOMS, ART AT THE RENDON
June 3, 2018
I was pleasantly surprised by the show in the inaugural art weekend at Art at the Rendon space on 7th and Santa Fe. I expected an uneven display, within some 45 Individual rooms, each converted into individual pieces by artists, many well known street artists (read: accomplished graffitinistas). What I got was uneven to be sure, but was glued together by the energy of an art community that might just match the aggressive onslaught of development in the area.
The Rendon, once an early 20th century SRO of ill repute and even the scene of a murder, lately became a filming location -of course. After all, this is LA and the fate of history here is to be preserved only for the faking of some other history.
Imagine little rooms with space for a single bed, a built in armoire and no running water. That would be down the hall. Now picture that room reimagined as a canvas into which you can stumble.
Some pieces were more immersive than others, some more inviting, still others just confusing. Full disclosure: I don’t appreciate a lot of muralist/ street art guerillas as I probably should. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been tepid toward it, even when the subway cars of NYC were adorned with arguable masterpieces. The expropriation of private spaces and communal properties for one’s personal expression holds a certain anarchic allure as does the outsider “fuck you” to the museo-industrial complex, but, I don’t know. Maybe there is too much of it, so accessible to anyone with a spray can and an attitude.
That said several rooms stood out. If you are unfamiliar with the work of Abel Alejandro, you should look into it. Abel’s draftsmanship and technique can be breathtaking. Another piece by the underappreciated Tanner Goldbeck of West Coast Chopper and Powell Skateboard fame was well worth the price of admission. He is also a crack shot with a street camera. We have a soft spot for SEL whom we commissioned for the mural of Dorothy Malone on our storefront some three years ago, and his contribution to this show did not disappoint.
On the installation front, Stephen Seemayer’s something or the other video set-up was fascinating if not just creepy, Susan Feldman commanded her room with her shattered wood and string/rope stuffs that channeled the building’s chaotic history. Mark Dean Veca’s room was a masterful display of a man with just a brush and some black paint that could conjure the angst and heartbreak so palatable in the building’s vibe.
As a skateboard and surfing fanboy, I enjoyed the work of Jeff Ho, Juan Hosai, and @iamtorquato, but I especially dug the community effort and look forward to more from this amazing space.
May 28 Memorial Day, 2018
BRUCE NAUMAN'S LIVE OR DIE
Bruce Nauman's famous spiral of neon letters spelling out "The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths" at once summarized and opened to critique the perennial mystique of the artist. It might be applicable to those who voluntarily sent themselves into harm's way for god and/or country; the battlefield as canvas.
Nauman's work is an indispensable part of recent American art's narrative. This volume, published in DuMont's fantastic "Collector's Choice" series treats this and other recurring themes of Nauman's oeuvre such as sound, language, corporeality and dance.
May 26 Marlowe the shop dog picks:
LACE The Living Archive
LACE turns 40 this year and I'm stoked the guy at the end of his leash has a few copies in our collection. Featuring seminal texts from TV Generations curated by John Baldessari and Yonemoto (1986) and a catalog from 2002 that is - like LACE itself- incredibly relevant today: Democracy When?! Activist Strategizing in LA curated by Tone O. Nelson. AND GET TICKETS ALREADY! LACE benefit art auction is THIS WEDNESDAY MAY 30 at Redbird/ Vibiana. MORE INFO HERE.
Rocky & Bullwinkle Animator Dies at 92
Almost three years ago I was invited by longtime LA artist and raconteur Stuart Rappaport who's work we carry in the store, to join a life drawing workshop.
Being skeptical of LA’s live drawing scene -usually short on talent and long on bar promotion - Stuart’s pitch was intriguing: “Its LA’s longest running workshop and it’s populated by these legacy animators from Jay Ward Productions.
Jay Ward studios as you may know, brought us Rocky and Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman, Hoppity Hooper, Fractured Fairy Tales, Super Chicken, Tom Slick and all the characters that I would watch in my pajamas on Saturday morning. Stuart had me at “legacy animators”. Since then , I became excited to drop a ten spot each Tuesday night into Sam’s coffee can. It sported a picture of a crazed cat- the proverbial “kitty”.
Sam was the best layout and background artist in the production company at a time when they were pioneering faster, more economical methods of traditional animation, then dominated by Disney’s gouache based techniques.
Sam told they found using house paints on acetate instead of the water based gouache was not only more resilient – "Goddammit!, you touch that gouache background with your finger and you’ve got to do the whole thing over!” – it dried more quickly and had a new feel. It “Had these flat but vibrating colors”.
The modern look of the backgrounds set off the volatile caricatures that bounced across them in their spare renderings. The Jay Ward writers were equally economic in their storytelling as they peppered jokes in a gunfire staccato appealing to kids in pajamas as well as their Saturday-morning-hangover parents
Sam was a fantastic host, encouraging newbies while ribbing the regulars. Someone always brought something to nibble with his wine and the models were always professional. The thing about life drawing in Sam’s studio was like Jay Ward animation- at once a throw-back to tradition while at the same time being thoroughly of its own time.
Sam’s approach to life and his art were similarly connected: “Being an artist is a joyous endeavor. Starting with a model, landscape or internal idea that moves me, I take the artwork far enough to collect the visual information I need. Alone in the studio, I expand the image beyond the visual facts. Simplification, mood color, exaggeration, non-literal color and intensity are the devices I use in the search for that elusive moment when the painting and my heart says, "Yeah, that's it."
Hey Sam, thank you for re-introducing me to the discipline of live figure drawing and especially for the hours of joy you gave me as laughing, I spilled Captain Crunch cereal all over my pajamas.
Perfect Gifts for the 10 Ten Most Impossible People:
DADS & GRADS DESERVE THESE THOUGHTFUL GIFTS:
Fathers hold us in a special headlock whether or not they are in our lives much. What’s better? A vacant photo on the shelf or the stinging memory of a heavy backhand? There are of course fathers who are dear for their guidance and support. I for one thankfully fall into the offspring of the latter category. Oh, he was human, but in ways I didn’t understand until I too had the responsibility of reconciling personal wants with a “do the right thing” Pater Noster.
An art book would be a welcome twist for the guy used to getting ties, barbecue implements, power tools, car gadgets, beard grooming accouterments, or at least the promise of being left to his own devices for one day.
The beauty of the following suggestions for three types of dad is that they also work perfectly for the grad in your life too! Let me explain:
Type 1: The Surfer
Your arrival interrupted his beach party in the 80’s and while he was glad to have you in his life, there is nothing like the surf for him. Alone, awash in a roiling sea from whence he primordially emerged; then weightless, he swallows his heart and drops into a thundering cascade where the razors of a reef await the slightest misstep. But you in swaddling clothes represented the beginning of a great adventure and it’s this point that you share with the ocean: you are that great expanse with unlimited potential to which he is inextricably linked.
Give him Jeff Divine’s Surf 80’s. In addition to your debut in his life, the 80’s were a tumultuous time in surf history. Fragmented into pros, punks and rebels, the feel good vibrations of the 70’s crashed on the rocks of a giant neon wetsuit. Divine captures the era in vivid color. Dad will look back with a fond memory of the day he had to skip the surf session at the river-mouth so he could watch you wash up onto his shore.
This is also the perfect gift for those grads graced with the sections of strand stretching in front of UCSB, UCSD, USD, UCI, CSULB, CSUCI, UCSC, USF, etc. They will be reminded that time catches up to even the world's best surfers and that the days of skipping class when the surf was up were precious days indeed.
Type 2: The God
Your dad has always been there for you. He can do no wrong – well almost; the indiscretions against your mother for example. Still, he has done his best to keep up appearances and weather financial and emotional burdens such that you were minimally compromised. The sun is eclipsed but shines again.
Get him “Geometry of Light” about the “Skyspaces" of James Turrell, undoubtedly the most influential light artist. “Skyspaces” is a group of works that Turrell developed into an art form in its own right and were precursors to the amazing Roden Crater project. The book explains with both insightful essays and sumptuous photography how Turrell’s work revolves around a static, constant and omnipresent core via the controlled use of light.
We also suggest that this is perfect for the Theology, Physics, Engineering, Geology and Archeology majors. (Do not give this to a BFA or MFA. In the wrong hands, such inspiration can be dangerous!)
Type 3: The Dreamer
As an entrepreneur, your dad has had his financial ups and downs measured by your numerous moves around the country and neighborhoods that range from posh to impovershed. Some of his ideas were genius before their time and others were practical but held no allure for him. Nonetheless you were foremost in his mind. Meanwhile, Mom not only supported the experimentation by her own hard work but also seemed to actually enjoy the roller coaster. Her faith that a sudden drop would be followed by a steady chugging up the hill was unshakeable.
Get him Never Built New York. The companion to Never Built Los Angeles. NBNY lays out the startling imagination of some of the world’s top architects for spectacular projects. With commentary from Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell, NBNY documents nearly 200 ambitious projects spanning 200 years that encompasses bridges, skyscrapers, mass transit plans, parks, streets and highways, amusements, airports, schemes to fill in rivers to extend Manhattan and much more! He will appreciate that you recognize that he is not alone in thinking big and that you will once again be the first to contribute to his next Kickstarter campaign…
Obviously, this one is also great for an Architecture, Engineering or Urban Planning grad.
HAPPY FATHERS DAY AND CONGRATS TO THE GRADS!
We're offering 10% off in store purchases for the month of July. Just mention you saw this offer!
(This article originally appeared here in June of 2017 but we have since reordered the books suggested herein and hope you enjoy this entry again or for the first time)
Carl Andre Makes Nice With the Geffen
Finally, a show where they let you actually walk on the Andre. Although my surfer friend got reprimanded and had his name taken for kicking off his flip-flops to try the sculpture “a natural”. A seriously funny moment. I easily can image Carl laughing at the piety his pieces command now. It’s important to walk on the Andre grids and as well as to wander amidst the neatly organized chaos of wood blocks. Without doing so, the mathematics take over and while that is intellectually stimulating; actually being “in” the piece is what you are meant to experience. The colors, the creaking, the slight shifting under foot make feeling what it means to be human in a de-humanizing-grid-mathematic hit home.
The Geffen MOCA is the perfect space for an Andre retro and its showcase of Andre poetry because it is that spare open space with notes of post-war industrial warehouse-architecture. Different levels allow you to peer down at some of the pieces with a perspective that brings into focus several of the more powerful aspects of the seemingly simple work. For example overlooking the grid of small gray concrete plinths puts you in mind of Arlington cemetery.
Some of the more lyrical pieces are my favorites. There is a string of mangled, rusting tubing stretched at the foot of a blank wall that feels simultaneously like a casual line drawing and gutted viscera. Silver-ish ingots likewise press the baseboard of a blank wall and we conjure the pain of industry for the factory worker, the expedience we enjoy at the cost of someone else’s laboring. All from a line of wedge shaped castings.
Another simple strip of bent metal ranged in a spiral seems as if a stone were thrown into a metallic pond, creating infinite ripples.
Definitely worth a go. 4 out of 5 on the A.G.Geiger Counter.
MOTHER'S DAY GIFT IDEAS FOR FIVE TYPES OF MOM
FOR THE MASTER OF GUILT
Your Mom still reminds you that you forgot to call her in 1978. You were nine and in a military academy in another state, nursing a black eye delivered by the school bully; but no matter. Show her that the years of therapy have paid off and you hold no grudges. We suggest Bruce Nauman’s “Live or Die”, an excellent survey of the influential artist’s multifaceted oeuvre from the collection of Frederick Christian Flick. Nauman posits that his work comes out of his “frustration with the human condition.” Need we say more?
FOR THE ABSENTEE
Others may try to console you and say you were lucky that your mother was too busy with her career and left you with a much more caring nanny. But you beg to differ. There is a hole in your heart and she doesn’t see it. Give her Burtynsky’s Water. A spectacular photographic treatise that explores humanity’s increasingly stressed relationship with the world’s most precious resource. She won’t see the tragic poetry in your gift but then she will at least have to put it on her coffee table when you visit for your belated birthday party.
FOR THE DOTING
Trophies of even the slightest athletic or scholastic accomplishment still adorn your shrine that is the kitchen fridge. The awkward pictures of you in varied sporty uniforms and graduation robes have faded but the admiration of your unique place in the universe has not. Give her Phaidon’s “Paul McCarthy”; a compendium of the artist’s mock Grand Guignol performances and installations figuring animal/vegetable/human hybrids in a weird evocation of a national subconscious. The psycho-sexual desires and anxieties that inflect contemporary America emerge in collisions of plastic prosthetics and processed foods masquerading as body fluids. Now that you are 40, dare her to finally treat you like an adult.
FOR THE MOTHER GODDESS
You are named Orion Paisley after the constellation on that night and the shirt your father – whoever he was- happened to be wearing. She still calls you “My lil’ Opie”. Get her Sasha Eisenman’s “California Girls”, a photography book project from 2008-2014 from the California native. Eisenman captures the unique personalities, style and beauty of a varied group of girls that embody the “California Dream Girl”. She will appreciate that the free love spirit is alive and well and that you really don’t mind being called “Lil’ Opie”; even though you nearly vomit anytime you see a paisley anything.
FOR THE "FRIEND"
As a teenager, it was hard being the adult in the relationship. Holding back her hair while she deposited a night of too much wine in the toilet or letting you come home at dawn in other people’s clothes because you “didn’t need boundaries like she had” might take its toll. But now that you are a mom too, you understand; even though you have vowed not to have anymore children. Your mom has always wanted to be a friend and not a parent and you really can’t fault that sentiment. We suggest giving her Gusmano Cesaretti’s Fragments of Los Angeles. His striking portraiture of LA street gangs and Lowrider club members will remind her that “family” is not always a straight genetic line and that it might even include spotty upbringings.
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
We will be closed on Mother's Day so I can visit my own doting-mother goddess.
HOCKNEY: A.G. Geiger goes to London to review the master's 60 year survey
I’m siting a pub in London called the Swan quaffing a double vodka soda. I had to ask for more ice twice before it resembled my usual west coast cocktail. “You Americans are obsessed with ice!” Pretty sure the American Revolution was really about a lack of ice and not a Tea tax, but I’m still gathering evidence.
This is a block or two away from the Tate Britain where I have just seen the David Hockney exhibition and I’m thinking I may have gotten away without paying and been given the benefit of the doubt too. The Tates are generally free but special shows such as this are 20 pounds. When I got there without planning ahead, I found the show was sold out. The British know their own and were showing up in droves to see David.
A scrappy American always has an idea! I stand at the exit, back to the door and slowly walk backwards into the “exit-through-the-gift-store” door. I call out to those on the other side “ You gotta see this show! Its amazing” Brilliant! It worked! But now I am going suspiciously counter clockwise against the gallery mob.
Somehow going counterclockwise in this exhibition seems appropriate as I start with his breezy iPhone and iPad dalliances. A master whips out clever sketches for the millennial attention span. The digital images are animated with each stroke of his thumb or stylus and he makes quick work of expressive cacti, and other flora and fauna. It’s fun and a bit whimsical. We’ll allow that for now.
Thankfully in the next room are his video pieces “Four Seasons” which are elegant, stately, maybe even wistful. In 2010 Hockney started making video works that fix a number of cameras to a single vehicle that strolls down a canopied country lane in Yorkshire – his home away from LA home. Another reference to cubism (a recurring theme throughout the show) and fragmented aspects of the same scene, the videos are immersive in a way no Picasso painting, even Guenrnica can be. It is also strangely British. The country lane, shattered yet intact seemed to resonate with the region’s war torn history.
Time as a centerpiece in this installation might reflect the elder statesman status of David (whom it must be noted declined a knighthood). Is it a fin de seicle acknowledgment of technology overwhelming the natural order or hope springing eternal for the 21st? ,
In 2006 he returned home to Yorkshire and set up a studio in Bridington that saw him focus on light, space and landscape of the Wolds. His ability to masterfully capture light, evidenced by his well known depictions ofHollwood poolsides is on full display in these large scale works. Hockney’s seemingly casual approach to a brushstroke belies his mastery the medium. The Wolds come alive with colors that vibrate to produce a romantic view of landscape as a literal grounding for one’s soul.
Landscape is accomplished though an illusion of depth and Hockney took on no less a challenge than the Grand Canyon. In one painting of the area, Hockney’s own shoes are depicted as if we are standing at the precipice next to him. Yet the painting is undeniably flat. In the tension between a perceived perspective and the reality of the paint globs , you can feel the desert heat and hear the wind in his large scale interpretations of the perspective bending natural wonder. Again, his mastery of the medium is manifest.
But single point perspective landscapes could not communicate the experience of living in the world. From the visitor pamphlet: “(Hockney) described conventional photography as akin to ‘looking at the world from the point of view of a paralyzed Cyclops – for a split second’. In contrast he sought to create a photography that could accommodate different view points as well as time and movement”
Sound familiar, Picasso? That Hockney was enamored of Picasso is no secret and these jumbled assemblages of Polaroids as well as borderless photographs seem an homage to the modern icon. Hockney however makes the cubist approach his own by appropriating photography instead of rejecting it. The result comes across as clever if not beautiful.
In the 1960’s Hockney began using acrylic paints that dry quickly and therefore require a more meticulous planning process. His double portraiture of such figures as the English novelist Christopher Isherwood and painter Don Bachardy are carefully designed although he painted from life. Subjects taken from a clutch of his friends and family occupy sun drenched spaces and are posed to intimate the complex relationships between the two figures.
His iconic SoCal based paintings were a joy for this Angeleno to see together in one gallery. The Splash, Sunbather, Man in the Shower and other domestic scenes made me feel right at home even though I was halfway across the world in a place with no such sunshine. His earliest works in the show include abstractions and a quotation of artistic styles that would continue throughout his career. In his ability to steal the styles of modern masters such as Matisse and Picasso while making wholly original paintings, Hockney was consciously setting himself in the pantheon of the world’s greatest artists. It’s a bold assertion but one that this comprehensive survey of his enormous talent can back up.
On display at the Tate Britain until May 29th.
SPECIAL EVENT: January 21, 7pm in the A.G. Geiger Main Room
GUSMANO CESARETTI IN CONVERSATION WITH NAHEED SIMJEE AND HENRY HOPPER
On Saturday January 21 at 7pm, international photographer Gusmano Cesaretti and Senior Editor, Naheed Simjee will discuss their unique photography project titled Fotofolio.la in the main room of the A.G. Geiger’s Fine Art Books and Press. It is also the launch of Fotofoli.la Issue #10, A Tribute to the Photography of Dennis Hopper.
You want to be there for several reasons. First is that Cesaretti is a fantastic photographer and makes rare appearances. Second, he’ll be joined by Fotofolio.laEditor and respected art consultant Naheed Simjee to present their vision for Fotofolio.la’s in 2017. They will also be joined by actor Henry Hopper who granted access to some of his father’s previously unpublished work for issue #10. Third, it’s a fundraising party in the very cool A.G. Geiger Book Store and Press with a bar hosted by Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
If you are not familiar with Cesaretti’s photography or his larger-than-5’-6”charisma, he is an internationally recognized photographer and a dynamic storyteller. This is because he has some amazing stories to tell! Part anthropologist – although he would never call himself that- Cesaretti has embedded himself with underworld cultures and consequently gained unparalleled access into the lives and the stories at the roots of their sub-cultures. From notorious Black motorcycle gangs in New York, to Lowriders in East Los Angeles, to the world famous Latin American Shaman, Maria Sabina (She refused to see the Beatles), to Columbian Prostitutes pimped by deadly drug dealers, Cesaretti has made incredibly powerful and beautiful photographs and has lived to tell the tale.
His methodology and interest in street cultures as well as Simjee’s long time expertise in street art (she was artist liason for MOCA’s 2011 Art in the Streets exhibit) compliment one another in their mission to bring photography to the homeless, the imprisoned and underprivileged. Fotofolio.la is an underground publication presenting the work of both well-established and emerging photographers. Printed in a folio format on newsprint, the magazine proves that photography is a universal language. Consequently, the printed photographs do not carry any explanation or narrative, other than a photo credit. The photos speak for themselves. It is distributed throughout Los Angeles to the homeless projects, prisoners and families in low income housing. Now 10 issues in, the event seeks to raise funds for new issues as well as raise awareness for the project.
Cesaretti and Simjee have been able to secure the rights to images from such luminary photographers as Larry Clark and Dennis Hopper but have also showcased the work of emerging talents as well. Cesaretti explains the odd appeal of his proposition to big name artists who otherwise hold their rights closely like this: “ I tell them, look, your pictures will be looked at by people who bring no art historical baggage with them. It may be revelatory, inspirational or they may just use the magazine to wipe their ass. They love that part.”
What does he hope will happen when such art is taken directly to the street like this? “Look. A lot of what we publish is a sort of portraiture of people like them, in tough situations, forgotten. You can see (in the photos) the beauty of a tagged wall in a rough neighborhood, the vulnerability in the eyes of a hardened prostitute. We don’t romanticize their plight and I honestly hope that they will wipe their ass with it if they get absolutely nothing else from it.”
Given that view, Dennis Hopper’s photography which comprises all of issue #10, is a perfect fit. That the discarded – in this case people- can be worthy of high art dovetails neatly into Hopper’s view of himself as an “abstract expressionist and action painter by nature, and a Duchampian finger pointer by choice,” subscribing wholeheartedly to the idea that “the artist of the future will merely point his finger and say it’s art--and it will be art.” Working during the ascendance of Warhol’s cult of celebrity, Hoppers photographs journal a personal ride across the cultural landscape of its time and might bring a particular resonance to an overlooked population.
Please join us in the store at 7pm on Saturday, January 21st. you will be glad you did.
(certain fees may apply to insure packages arrive before December 25th)
# 10. THE MOTHER-IN-LAW
Whether or not you have a good relationship with her, In-Laws represent a particular challenge. You need to be thoughtful without being sycophantic; generous without seeming like a spendthrift.
We suggest the elegant candle holders (w/ candles and felt containers) by artist Jean Pelle. Made of exotic hardwoods, the beautiful holders demonstrate your contemporary sophistication while at the same time giving a nod to the traditional idea of the Mother In Law as the keeper of the family flame. Whether her idea of home and hearth is a candlelit Christmas dinner or a flamethrower evening of acerbic “zingers”, she’ll appreciate these lovely functional art objects.
Candle Holders by Jean Pelle
7. DAD UNDER $75
You want to show the old man you still care even though you haven’t called recently and you don’t like the new woman he is dating (she makes him dress younger than you.) You could just go with that and pick out some board shorts and flip flops for their upcoming trip to Hawaii, but even Quicksilver on sale will set you back $80 and that’s over your budget.
We suggest the new release of Dennis Stock photographs titled American Cool from Reel Art Press. The first anthology dedicated to one of the greatest American photographers of the 20th century, during his most celebrated period of the 1950s–1970s, American Cool will send your dad on a nostalgic joy ride while subtly reminding him that clothes do in fact make the man.
Dennis Stock: American Cool
4. YOUR 'FRIEND-WITH-BENEFITS" WHOM YOU DON'T WANT TO GET THE WRONG IDEA
You’re perfectly content in the current situation. Its fun, carefree and sometimes oddly comforting but you don’t want to send a “Lets escalate this!” signal. We completely understand, although you may want to review your aversion to commitments.
We suggest: Sasha Eisenman’s California Girls.
For American photographer Sasha Eisenman, California connotes a state of mind and a way of life, but also one particular image: the California Girl. A reminder of the days of free love, California Girls shows us the updated lifestyle in this first bound collection of Eisenman’s photography. You can present it as an affirmation of your commitment to non-commitment.
Sara Eisenman: California Girls
# 9. THE 28yr OLD GOD SON WHO STILL LIVES WITH YOUR BROTHER
The God Son to Father/ Mother relationship has shadowed the decline of religion as a guiding paradigm in which to structure relationships. For 28 years you have been remembering his birthday and the holidays with gifts. From that Playstation your brother forbade in the house to a computer for his 6th year in community college, you have been generous. But lately you’ve been viewing the relationship as a two way street that hasn’t seen any meaningful traffic coming from his direction.
We say he needs some inspiration to finally head out on his own. We suggest two titles that should inspire a vision quest of sorts. (including one by the "Easy Rider" himself!) Even if he is simply moved to wanderlust, he’ll be out of the house and your brother might forgive you for that Playstation in 1998.
The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip
Dennis Hopper: Drugstore Camera (not shown below)
6. THE CLUELESS, SOON TO BE "EX"
You’ve told yourself January will be a new start and that means losing a few pounds –like that 155 on your wispy boyfriend. He was so adorably sensitive at first but you’ve had it with the poetry readings and his fixation with French cinema.
How do you say: “Thanks, friend but here is a clue that I’m moving out next month”?
We suggest Nan Goldin: The Ballad of Sexual Dependency. Nan Goldin's The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary chronicling the struggles for intimacy and understanding among friends and lovers. Appropriate to your situation, this anniversary issue features all-new image separations produced using state-of-the-art technologies and specially prepared reproduction files, which offer a lush, immersive experience of this monograph/ bittersweet ending to your relationship.
Nan Goldin: Ballad of Sexual Dependency
3. THE BOSS YOU WANT TO IMPRESS WITHOUT APPEARING TO KISS ASS
The workplace is fraught with gift-giving pitfalls. That bouquet of flowers that showed up to a married colleague from a “secret admirer” on Valentines day fueled the rumor machine in ways that are still reverberating as the company Holiday party approaches. You have no such romantic designs on your boss of course – she is an ogre- but you do want to endear yourself without appearing sycophantic. Worst case, your career might hang in the balance of your gift selection. This is why the boss is number 3 on our list of most difficult.
We suggest the hand tooled leather pouch by Animal Handmade. Made with genuine leather, Animal Handmade has developed a special technique of imprinting that results in delicate and subtle imagery. Practical (it fits an iPad) but tasteful, itsthe perfect combination of business and pleasure (and perfect for priming them for that promotion.)
Hand Tooled Genuine Leather Pouch
1. THE SIGNIFICANT OTHER
We don’t know where you are in your current relationship so we will assume you are either 1. swimming in love, 2. treading water or 3. going down for the last time. Hope springing eternal, we will only suggest the perfect gift for the first case.
We suggest the platter made by Stanton Hunter. Hunter, a well known Los Angeles based artist whose work incorporates vessels, as well as autonomous sculptural forms, and site-specific installations.
The earthen platter will look fantastic on your table and be a reminder that love is circular as well as being a vessel, and is a perfect place on which to literally serve up the love!
Stanton Hunter, Earthen Platter
HAPPY HOLIDAYS! - A.G. Geiger
# 8. THE ARCHITECT
We don’t really see ALL architects as insufferable snobs – after all it’s the only profession that can provide a noble way to starve. Artists are expected to be financially challenged and selfish, if not just self-absorbed. Architects however hold the promise of building monuments to mankind and pocketing real change from it. Combining a mastery of engineering as well spatial wizardry, architects not only look how well designed your gift is, they will also comment on the wrapping paper selection and whether or not the bow is tastefully placed to compliment the sleek shape of the box.
We suggest the concrete and resign paperweights created by Los Angeles artist Erin Althea . While software rules the design day, construction documents are still produced for the hardhats and laid out on conference tables for the bankers. As objects in themselves, like a Scott Burton sculpture in miniature, they evoke marble plinths from which to carve an Acropolis.
Concrete & Resin Paperweight by artist Erin Althea (Only one left)
5. THE FRIEND FROM NEW YORK THAT WON'T STOP CONTRASTING ALL THINGS NY TO ALL THINGS"INFERIOR" IN LA
You find yourself in an inner monologue asking “Why did she move HERE then? She often has a point, and you do enjoy her friendship; but you can only hope the constant compare and contrast exercise will either burn itself out or she will return to her East Coast Camelot.
We suggest two titles: Silent Beaches, Untold Stories: New York City’s Forgotten Waterfront or Never Built, New York from Metropolis Books. Untold Stories transports the reader into the extraordinary past and present embedded in New York City’s more than 600 miles of coastline through a stunning selection of rare photographs, history, new fiction and contemporary art. Never Built, New York shows us that city as it might have been: 200 years of visionary architectural plans for unbuilt subways, bridges, parks, airports, stadiums, streets, train stations and, of course, skyscrapers. There is also a Never Built, Los Angeles so you could conveniently have one on your coffee table and move the rivalry to a whole new level of fantasy.
Silent Beaches/ Untold Stories
Never Built New York (not pictured below)
2. THE PERSON WHO HAS EVERYTHING (PWHE)- pronounced “Pee-Wee"
Like the architect (see number 8) PWHEs are discerning, but unlike the architect they are most likely very wealthy. The default gift for a PWHE is of course something related to a passion or hobby they have exhibited over the years. This is precisely the wrong thing to do. It’s why I amassed an unwieldy collection of small bovine nic-nacs from around the world. You start with a few pastoral paintings with cows in them and then friends assume you love cows. You can’t NOT display the gifts and the whole thing snowballs into a self-perpetuating nightmare. But I digress.
No, the PWHE needs a mental ESCAPE from their cushy quarters. They will never let on but they are trapped by their possessions. Give them a chance to wander the path less traveled.
We suggest two titles: Blight at the End of the Funnel or Surf’s Beat Generation.
Blight at the end of the Funnel is a comprehensive collection of Edward Colver’s captivating photographic works. For over 25 years, Colver has been one of the main documentarians of the Southern California punk rock scene. This book is a timeless coffee table album by one of the 20th century’s most important underground photographers.
Surf’s Beat Generation documents the post-World War II influence of Beatnik poetry, jazz and art interpretation around the California Coast that created a revolution in the Orange County surf world.
PWHEs will proudly put such books on their antique coffee tables.
Blight at the End of the Funnel: $29.95
Surf’s Beat Generation (not shown) $24.95
PLEASE CONTINUE SHOPPING!