Coming up with his own take on the idea of the Sunday painter, John Humble carted his 4 x 5 camera out to photograph L.A.’s industrial suburbs — pockets of the city that are completely abandoned on weekends. This is the last week to see these eight large-scale color photos that show the other side of our mysterious overpopulated city, giving rise to feelings of complete emptiness and desolation that are in constant tension with our famed rush-hour traffic. Humble captures ghost towns of concrete and steel, the only evidence of human contact being some garbage or occasional graffiti. In addition to this recent work, there are equally compelling photos from the mid-1980s on view, including some from his well-known L.A. River series, which followed the course of the river from Canoga Park to Long Beach.
London-based artist Donald Urquhart shows 12 new works on paper, a painting, and a collage that functions as a sort of shrine or memorial to his personal past. Some of the ink drawings explore Urquhart’s relationship to his mother’s death and a friend’s recent murder; others depict images of idealized femininity. The drawings often look like graphics taken from old lobby cards — and pushing that Hollywood theme, Urquhart appropriates some images from The Little Rascals and Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The shrine takes on a yellow tone as a sign of age and history, functioning as a sort of visual memoir. Don’t miss the opening reception on January 5, 6-8pm.
945 Sun Mun Way, Chinatown | (213) 626-0403 | www.jackhanley.com | Wed.-Sat. noon-6 p.m. | Through Feb. 12
Robert Olsen and Adam Ross both explore the meaning of utopia in their paintings — the concept of utopia itself being an imagined ideal that is ultimately unattainable. Olsen’s paintings focus on desolate urban spaces: the iconic 76 gas-station ball against a pitch-black sky, an empty bench on a train platform. The subjects, painted from different angles, feel stark and cold, as if lit with fluorescent lights in complete darkness. Ross deals with a more sci-fi depiction of what also feels like an abstracted urban space. His paintings are fragmented, creating a kind of anxiety inherent in his vision.
5795 W. Washington Blvd., L.A. | (323) 933-2117 | www.vielmetter.com | Tues.-Sat. 11 a.m.-?6 p.m. | Through Jan. 26