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
Doug HarveyTim Hawkinson’s Überorgan at the Getty
Liz Craft, Deathrider, in Eden’s Edge at the Hammer (Click to enlarge)
Lorser Feitelson, Dichrotomic Organization (1959), in Birth of the Cool at OCMA. (Click to enlarge)
After several years of scandal and shakeup, a transcendent display of intestinal fortitude. Too bad it ever had to come down.
Maher Shalal Hash Baz: L’Autre Cap (K Records)
My new favorite band, replacing TVOTR. Japanese ex–noise musicians with a euphonium player found on a construction site or something, singing rickety pop songs in Japanese and fractured English, mostly derived from the Old Testament. Helped me survive the death of my greyhounds.
TV on the Radio at the Fonda Music BoxMet and exceeded my expectations. My ears and heart were ringing for a week.
Outsider Music TrilogyProcess Media books scored a hat trick with long-overdue biographical studies of institutionalized 13th-floor elevator operator Roky Erikson, blind street-Viking composer Moondog and L.A.’s own Father Yod, the Source Family and YaHoWha 13.
“Mark Dutcher: Shelf Life”This knockout midcareer survey should have been at some place like the Santa Monica Museum (instead of Huntington Beach) because it was the most formally dazzling and uplifting museum-painting show in L.A. this year — and hardly anyone saw it.
The third installment in Mr. Wilson’s series of Russophiliac sort-of documentaries, this as-yet-unfinished gem details the heartbreaking collapse of the early Soviet astrophysics community through supersaturated heart-putting-back-together slo-mo landscape footage and voice-over. Can’t wait for the time-travel section to be finished.
Sublime Frequencies ReleasesI haven’t heard all the ’07 releases from this avant-punk ethnomusicological label, but I will. Weird Latin American psych, vintage Thai pop, minimalist Brazilian outlaw funk, spirit-possession pop from Myanmar, Syrian Jihadi techno — so much great stuff out there for us to protect!
Jimbo Doll (Yoe! Studio)
C’mon — an action figure of Gary Panter’s kilted punk Candide? Perfect post-apocalyptic training toy for the wee ones. Assuming they already have handguns.
O Lucky Man (Warner Home Video)Speaking of Candide . The middle installment of Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) trilogy is a sprawling Bildungsroman for the blown minds and crushed blossoms of 1973, featuring a great, brilliantlyintegrated soundtrack by Alan Price and a remarkable balance of dreamlike mythic recursivity and incisive (and sadly still relevant) political satire. Sometimes self-indulgence is just the ticket. Finally out on bargain-priced double DVD!
The Reverend Ethan Acres: Sacred Heart 350Rev. Acres bailed on the art world for Alabama over a year ago, where he’s been fixing up an old church and preaching the Word. Out of the blue he shows up two weeks ago with this exquisite actual-size replica of a V-8 engine constructed from stained glass, dumps it at Patricia Faure’s, and heads back south for the holidays. Comeback of the year!
Holly Myers“Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure” at MOCA
Every once in a while, you come across a show that seems to reset some internal gauge, that sweeps away the trivial and reminds you of what art can — and should — really do. This was that sort of show for me.
“WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution” at MOCAThis one goes without saying: a long-due tribute to the generation that made so much possible, as important for the talk it generated and the host of complementary exhibitions it inspired as for the work it actually showcased.
“The Arts in Latin America, 1492–1820” at LACMASurely one of the heaviest exhibitions to come through town this year, and worth every pound: a big show about a big (and terribly bloody) subject, admirably orchestrated and dazzling to behold.
“Eden’s Edge: Fifteen L.A. Artists” at the HammerIf anyone needed another reason to esteem the Hammer, here it is: a thoughtful, sensitive, sensual group show celebrating 15 of L.A.’s best and brightest.
“El Anatsui: Gawu” at the Fowler
The best show this year that no one I know seemed to actually see (though I hope that’s an inaccurate sample). El Anatsui, like Matta-Clark, is the real thing, making art from what’s there, about what’s there, with stunning concision.
Charles Ray at Regen ProjectsIt’s hard to say what could make a show that consists of nothing but a life-size, knothole-for-knothole, carved reproduction of a tree stump so thoroughly enchanting, but this one surely was.
Lari Pittman at Regen ProjectsWhat Lari Pittman achieves within the space of a single canvas puts 95 percent of his dilettantish, post-object, media-hopping young counterparts to shame.
“Nicole Eisenmann: A Show Born of Fear” at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles ProjectsI’m not sure it’s possible for an artist to be genuinely “transgressive” anymore, but Eisenmann comes awfully close, in part because she’s so damned earnest — not to mention really funny.
“Birth of the Cool: California Art, Culture, and Design” at Midcentury (Orange County Museum of Art)One of the most tightly conceived, handsomely executed exhibitions of recent memory — a show that comes to more than the sum of its parts, with an excellent catalog to boot.