By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
From the opposite end of the art-world spectrum, the triple show of Don Ed Hardy, David L. Forbes and Eric White at Track 16 is strangely satisfying. Outsiders of the post--Robert Williams school, the three artists have filled the gallery with what, for the La Luz de Jesus crowd, are quite large works. While some of the serial-killer content and gratuitous decoration remain discomfiting, the shift in scale and technical chops brings Pittman’s style to mind, and the work stands up.
Speaking of conceptually rooted painters riffing on early Modernist prose geniuses at Bergamot Station, Steve Roden‘s show in the Guard Shack presents a floorful of the artist’s usual exquisitely drafted diagrams, in this case deriving by some unseen jerry-rigged ideational system from James Joyce‘s Finnegans Wake. Roden, also an accomplished audio artist who recorded a mini-CD of improvisations on an Eames plywood leg splint, has provided the exhibition with a soundtrack. Playing on speakers mounted on the exterior of the shack, the sound is that of James Joyce reading his own book, but processed beyond intelligibility. Combined with the frustration of being unable to get close enough to examine the detailed drawings on the floor, this generates a quirky analogue for the legendary impenetrability of Joyce’s magnum opus.
One of the most improbable overnight success stories for a young L.A. painter has just unfolded at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills. Until recently, the gallery‘s presence in the Los Angeles art community has been an imperious one, with few surprises. Previously deigning to exhibit only the most blue-chip of local Daddy-o’s (Ed Ruscha, Chris Burden and Frank Gehry), Gagosian has abruptly shifted gears, playing host to a Dave Muller “Three Day Weekend” as part of Terry Myers‘ “Standing Still and Walking in Los Angeles” in August, and now to a solo debut from recent UCLA painting graduate Kristin Calabrese. Calabrese paints large (essentially to scale) images of empty urban domestic spaces, alternating between a bleak black-and-white palette and a fully saturated, almost operatic color scheme. The kitchens, rec rooms and hallways are utterly contemporary, but painted with a degree of tactile engagement absent from much of the slick work that is touted as topical. Calabrese’s work also displays a refreshing willingness to dabble in the impurities of narrative emotional content, evoking the sparse melancholy of Morandi on the one hand, and the white-trash desperation of those banned wood-panel-and-green-shag Calvin Klein ads on the other. With three of the large canvases pre-purchased by the Saatchi Collection, Calabrese‘s show is pretty much a guaranteed winner out of the gate. The truly surprising thing is that an artist whose work is so unlike both currently fashionable L.A. painting models and the generally icky tastes of the Saatchis (Currin, Peyton, Yuskavage) can be swept up and anointed as the next big thing, and actually merit it.
Finally, I can’t close without sending kudos to the public-art geniuses who live at the corner of Muirfield Road and Third Street. While I have often gazed in awe at the arc of Michelangelo Davids studding the lawn, the residents have outdone themselves with a Christmasmillennium upgrade that has to be seen to be believed.