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
After O’Brien’s own selection, my favorite among the subexhibitions is Miniatures and Giants, co-curated by Jamison Carter, Margaret Griffith and Thomas Muller. The work ranges from Carter’s soft, organic formalism (a spinning wire-and-paint sculpture and biological illustration-inspired wall hanging identified as a “unique print on Tyvek”), to Kristen Morgin’s dopplegänger arrays of slightly and extremely decayed magazines and assorted paper ephemera, to Aaron Noble’s enormous collaborative wall mural with the Armory’s art-class kiddies. Noble’s defigurized abstract collages deconstruct classic Jack Kirby comic semiotics into a naggingly familiar formal shorthand that refuses to resolve into representational forms. Noble is taking a single page from the oeuvre of late Swedish Pop maestro Öyvind Fahlström and running with it, but he has his own chops, and still has a few miles to go before he hits a wall.
As last hurrahs go, “AtBP: The Finale” succeeds both as a précis of the strategies that carried the L.A. art community through the last drought (and filled the gaps in official curatorial vision when things were flush) and in giving heart to anyone looking forward with trepidation. But the lessons in DIY self-sufficiency only go so far. Bottom line, the success of At the Brewery Project depended on the patronage of the Brewery’s wealthy owners, Richard Carlson and the late Kathy Reges, whose vision and largesse made the world’s largest live/work art colony a reality. With all the recent fuss over MOCA, I can’t help but think how much more L.A.’s cultural health would benefit if its well-heeled art lovers funded a half-dozen more such sites instead of pumping massive fiscal transfusions into a hemorrhaging so-last-millennium euro-trash Kunst palace.
Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be discussing these issues at all if the Armory wasn’t such a model of relatively benign institutional praxis — a modestly scaled cutting-edge community-oriented art space that can juggle the sang-froid of a site-specific installation by French conceptualist Daniel Buren with the compassionate social responsibility of free art classes for homeless children. “AtBP: The Finale” is, ultimately, about the potential paths forward for our city’s larger cultural institutions, as it is a primer in home brewing.
At Armory Center for the Arts, 145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena,
www.armoryarts.org. Through March 1