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
Here’s another room of “spiritual” art, including one of Bob Irwin‘s hypnotic disc paintings, a bitchen slab of candy-lacquered fiberglass by John McCracken, a surprisingly delicate tissue-paper work by Ed Moses and a series of small prints by John Cage. Moving along, there are two boffo works by Joe Goode -- an Untitled (Torn Sky) painting (1971--76) and 1963’s House Drawing. John Baldessari also checks in with a pair of winners: 1967‘s Looking East on 4th and C, one of his breakthrough series of national city photo-paintings, as well as documentation of a hilarious conceptual piece of reverse Korzybskian cartography. The rest of the good stuff is mostly painting: Llyn Foulkes’ Death Valley U.S.A. (1963), David Hockney‘s The Splash (1966) and Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park Series #49 (1972). Roger Minick‘s droll photograph Woman With Scarf at Inspiration Point, Yosemite (1980) seems perfect, but becomes even more so when cropped and juxtaposed (in the catalog) with Cathy Opie’s 1993 self-mutilation Self-Portrait (look for it in Section 5). This is what we mean by synergy, people!
SECTION 5, 1980--2000: “A DIFFERENT PLACE, IDENTITY POLITICS, BORDERS AND BEYOND”
Whether understood as a reflection of budgetary deficiencies or as a deeply cynical comment on the state of literacy in the last 20 years, the absence of cases of popular-culture ephemera makes Section 5 a distinctly intradisciplinary experience. Also, there is a haphazardness to the installations that renders important works like Jeffrey Vallance‘s Blinky the Friendly Hen better off unexhumed. Nevertheless, some of my favorite works in the exhibition are here. Let’s burn through the front section: Jessica Bronson‘s Lost Horizon video plays like outtakes from fellow genius Phil Tucker’s Robot Monster; D.L. Alvarez‘s paint-by-numbers drawing Redwood is lovely and good for a laugh; Ginny Bishton’s laboriously sampled landscape photo collage, though often on view, is worth another look, as is Hockney‘s photo-cubist rendering of the Merced River. Michael Gonzalez’s abstract collage is actually made from Wonder Bread bags; Elizabeth Paige Smith‘s marble coffee table is actually made from balsa wood; Mark Bennett’s architectural layouts are actually of fictional sitcom sets. Richard Misrach, Allan Sekula, Robbert Flick, Anthony a Hernandez and Judy Fiskin provide various powerful, elegiac takes on social-landscape photography. This doubles us back around the corner into a rather barren section that you can probably skip altogether, unless you want to sit through a long video for a few glimpses of actual L.A. River--style graffiti. Backtrack past the pretty piece of juvenilia from Manuel Ocampo. Lari Pittman‘s Spiritual and Needy (1991-92) exemplifies the peak of his exquisitely designed erotic horror vacuii period -- plug up them holes! Alan Rath’s Watcher (1998) is the one great piece Nam June Paik never made. Behind you is an array of various protuberances and concavities, including elegant small works by Phylis Green and Linda Stark. Even though Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy are in the next room, don‘t bother, except for the Tim HawkinsonIssey Miyake Pleats Please collaboration. Does that jump suit come in a 38 tall? Bummer. Move on.
Look waaay up to where Alison Saar’s Topsy Turvy dangles ominously from the ceiling. Dig Viola Frey‘s totally ’80s giant ceramic He Man (1983) and Charlie Ray‘s totally ’90s Male Mannequin (1990). There‘s that Cathy Opie photo, best thing she’s ever done. Pause to contemplate Anne Walsh‘s gently subversive two-channel video Two Men Making Gun Sounds (1996). Boot it down to the corner gallery, where there’s a great Martin Kersels piece I never even heard of, a sort of karaoke puppet aerobics automaton. Spend some time with it and familiarize yourself with its repertoire. Notice the little silver Snowman by Robert Therrien, the sexy Elvis pots by Adrian Saxe and the startling small painting of a deer on a raft by Ernest Silva, apparently one of a small handful of paintings made in the state over the last 20 years. Tired yet? We‘re entering the home stretch.
The almost too-simple poetry of the Yonemoto brothers’ Golden (1993) is curiously affecting, and Rachel “One Trick” Luchowicz‘s lipstick riff on Richard Serra stands up surprisingly well. If you must get your cryptic fortune from the slot machine, don’t trip over the Jason RhoadesJorge Pardo collaboration -- it‘s Art! This last, large room contains strong works on paper from Russell Crotty, Jim Shaw and Alexis Smith, as well as two ominous reconfigurations of Disney iconography by Todd Gray and Enrique Chagoya. Ruben Ortiz-Torres’ leaf-blower display Power Tools is a funnier and more coherent statement than the similar Alien Toy included elsewhere. On the way out, there‘s another authorless installation of looped media -- this time, of L.A. soundscapes. It’s okay, but there are several actual artists who have done works like this for real. And it‘s a curiously deflated end note for such a Sisyphean exhibit. Luckily for us, there are a few more must-see artworks!
Stagger to the basement and walk the gauntlet of Chris Burden’s still-timely, oversized 1993 L.A.P.D. Uniform series, and you‘re free to go. Exit toward the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Ogden Street, past the excellent garden-hose wave by Lynn Aldrich to the green area adjacent to the parking structure. Find Richard Jackson’s Who‘s Afraid of Red, Yellow, and Blue (2000), perhaps the most sarcastic conflation of modernist painting tropes and California’s automotive fetish imaginable. You‘ve made it. Go home.