Saturday, March 20, 2010
Signs of LA
Oliver Michaels Museum Postcards, Shoshana Wayne Gallery, March 6 - April 3, 2010. All pictures are by the author.
I was in LA last weekend for some architecture business and had the chance to drive around the city and see some sights.
Oliver Michaels's show at Shoshana Wayne made me and deep peep Laura Esposito laugh out loud (how often does that happen in a gallery in a good way?) Michaels animates postcards of classic objects from museums around the globe, and creates situation comedies that are ominous or ruinous, political or sentimental. He plays off of the political contexts of these sculptures and replaces them with mostly specious pop culture overtones. What a great critique of our formal fetishization of historical objects.
Laura E. inside Bengston's recreation (although that furniture is new).
Bill Al Bengston's show A Re-Creation of the Ferus Space (Not Exactly but Close to Scale) and other work at Samuel Freeman Gallery (the old Patty Faure space in Bergamot station) brought back my years spent at the Newport Harbor Art Museum [NHAM]. Bengston's iconic chevrons and hearts, and a surprising graphic painting of an i, were a great surprise. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Bengston's work, that he is re-placing himself within the Ferus canon is interesting, and that the gallery allowed him to burn candles under those works is astonishing. Is this reification or R.I.P? Given how LA's art world is so well-known now, who can blame Bengston for wanting a bigger slice of the historical pie?
Noted LA-based video artist Diana Thater had a beautiful installation Between Science and Magic at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. Thater films magician Greg Wilson pulling a rabbit out of a hat, over and over again and from many different angles. The film you see here was then screened at the Los Angeles Theatre, a lavish memorial to the importance film has had for the arts and for Los Angeles. Film, and now video, truly pull tricks out of nowhere (I'm thinking Rocky and Bullwinkle though!) A lovely work.
Then off to Redondo Beach and a Sunday morning walk in Palos Verdes where we saw the "other" LA freeway in action!
I spent four years at the NHAM thinking about the history of the visual arts in California. What was always clear to me--having moved to LA from NY--was that the many great schools, artists who stayed and plenty of intellectual room has given rise to one of the best artist communities on earth. LA has a unique combination of factors that mostly have nothing to do with the cliches of sand, swim and surf.
Every smaller city in America needs to find their own unique combination--what will ours in STL be?