Our Favorite Shows and Artifacts
Doug HarveyTim Hawkinsons Überorgan at the Getty
The Reverend Ethan Acres, Sacred Heart 350 (2007) at Patricia Faure (Click to enlarge)
Liz Craft, Deathrider, in Edens 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: LAutre Cap (K Records)
My new favorite band, replacing TVOTR. Japanese exnoise 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 LifeThis 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.
Elvis Studio: Elvis Road (Buenaventura Press)
A minutely detailed 25-foot-long neo-Boschian cartoon scroll by Swiss collaborators Xavier Robel and Helge Reumann nauseating, terrifying, beautiful. Awesome nursery mural.
Museum of Jurassic Technology: Russian Eclipse
The third installment in Mr. Wilsons 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. Cant wait for the time-travel section to be finished.
Sublime Frequencies ReleasesI havent 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)
Cmon an action figure of Gary Panters 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 Andersons 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 hes 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 Faures, and heads back south for the holidays. Comeback of the year!
Holly MyersGordon 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, 14921820 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.
Edens 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 thats an inaccurate sample). El Anatsui, like Matta-Clark, is the real thing, making art from whats there, about whats there, with stunning concision.
Charles Ray at Regen ProjectsIts 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 ProjectsIm not sure its possible for an artist to be genuinely transgressive anymore, but Eisenmann comes awfully close, in part because shes 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.
Vija Celmins at the HammerWork so focused, concentrated and devoid of nonsense that it was almost unnerving to look upon.
Im Not There
Lynda Benglis, Female Sensibility (1973), in WACK! at MOCA (Click to enlarge)
Lari Pittman, Untitled (2007), at Regen Projects (Click to enlarge)
El Anatsui Gawu, Crumbling Wall (2000), at the Fowler (Click to enlarge)
Im stepping outside my jurisdiction here, but I loved this film so much I have to throw it in: a dazzlingly ambitious, thrillingly agile, marvelously intelligent ode to one of the richest creative minds of our time.
Christopher MilesHolly WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution at MOCA
More a re-revolution than an exhibition, this survey revealed, among other things, its incompleteness and the need for more exhibitions and scholarship to continue the revelation of how the feminist movement turned out to be the last and most influential mega-movement in art of the late 20th century.
Bill Jensen and Tomory Dodge, both at ACME
Two different shows, different artists, different generations, very different approaches, but both testimonies as to why painting still seduces and matters.
Karen Carson at Rosamund Felsen
An artist who has always been guts and glamour, she continues to surprise. Nothing short of afternoon delight looking at these paintings of skyrockets in flight through skies stampeded by wild winged horses.
Charles Ray and Lari Pittman, both at Regen Projects
Ray, who often uses formal and technical maneuvers to get at a treasure-trove of anxiety and neurosis, took a quieter, more majestic turn, re-creating a giant fallen log, hand-hewn by Japanese woodcarvers, that hushes and awes, while still churning worries about excess and mortality. Pittman took his paintings to a level of hot, bothered and irritable so high it seemed you could fry eggs on them, and the compositions seemed as if they might start itching and throwing elbows (if they hadnt been populated by amputees). You could almost call Pittman an expressionist, if the paintings didnt still manage to seem cool and collected.
Brenna Youngblood at Margo Leavin
Full disclosure: She was my student a long while back, but I dont think anyone ever much taught her anything. She was already too smart and talented, and able to bridge worlds that dont bridge easily with photo-collaged paintings that succeed via a combination of rough-and-tumbleness and refinement, and an insistence that art can still speak to the world.
Carole Caroompas at Western Project
If there ever was an L.A. painter, its Caroompas, who isnt shy about reminding us how much redneck Americana repressed backwater really lurks beneath our blue-state internationalist hothouse tinseltown, in paintings that fit together like puzzles with pieces that cant stand one another but know they belong together.
Zoopsia: New Works by Tim Hawkinson and Tim Hawkinsons Überorgan, Oudrys Painted Menagerie, and Manets Bar at the Folies-Bergère, all at the Getty
(1) Hawkinsons animal hallucinations haunted, while his Überorgan benevolently infected the Gettys stark rotunda with a dose of homespun baroque. (2) Whats not to love about life-size animal portraits fit for a king? (3) One of the greatest works in the history of art came to a city that has too few of them, and for a while you could walk back and forth between Manets bar scene and Ensors Christs Entry Into Brussels in 1889, one of the great historical works of art that does reside in Los Angeles, and feel like there was no better-suited place to view these 19th-century European paintings than here and now.
Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting (1975), at MOCARee Morton at Overduin and Kite
Because an artist whose short but prolific, profound and multifaceted career warrants a solo show of her work in Los Angeles, and because an upstart gallery was the first to do what any of the citys institutions should have done a long time ago.
Kim Jones: A Retrospective at the Luckman Gallery, Cal State L.A.
Because yet another small venue beat the museums to business they should have already taken care of in this case, co-organizing with the UB Gallery at the State University of New York Buffalo, a survey of another multifaceted artist, perhaps best known as his performance-art alter ego Mudman.
Don Suggs, David Hockney, Charles Garabedian and Richard Deacon, and Rogue Wave 07, all at L.A. LouverBecause the old guys were looking fresh this year, and because even at one of our most established galleries, the kids are alright.
Michael Hakimi, Jacob Dahl Jürgensen and Bernd RibbeckBecause a quiet little group show, slipped in at the end of the year to introduce us to three very interesting young artists, is worth remembering.
Joel Tauber at Susanne VielmetterBecause tree hugging and conceptual art can coexist as oddly harmoniously as sycamore and asphalt.
I could go on... Francis Alÿs and Vija Celmins at the Hammer, Sam Durant at Blum and Poe, Matthew Monahan at MOCA, Polly Apfelbaum at Angles, Peter Rogiers at Roberts & Tilton, Ginny Bishton at Richard Telles, Sue de Beer at Sandroni Rey, Tony Marsh at Frank Lloyd, Monique van Genderen at the Happy Lion, Kim Dingle at Kim Light/Lightbox, Won Ju Lim at Patrick Painter, Thomas Lawson at LAXART, and many more...
Amra BrooksB. Wurtz at Richard Telles Fine Art
Wurtz transforms trash into humble, calculated, stunning, minimalist sculptural meditations. Hes magic.
Jeni Spota, Giottos Dream at Sister Gallery
These thick little paintings are painted with the hand of a talented cake decorator, rich and dense, giving new life to iconic religious scenarios.
Rebecca Morris: Los Angeles at Karyn Lovegrove Gallery
A hodgepodge of technique and styles resulting in the most fantastic and grotesque abstractions.
Nicole Eisenmans A Show Born of Fear at Susanne Vielmetter Projects
Hilarious, smart, political, personal: Eisenmans paintings and drawings prove her to be consistent and one who is constantly investigating her role as an artist and now as a parent.
Videos by Stanya Kahn and Harry Dodge at the Hammer Museum as part of Edens Edge: Fifteen L.A. ArtistsThis dynamic duo showed four videos that were both gloriously funny and painfully sad, with Kahn as the main performer and improv virtuoso Dodge as the cameraman, and L.A. itself as a major character. Richard Aldrich at Marc Foxx Gallery
Jose de Paez, Sacred Heart of Jesus with Saint Ignatius of Loyola and Saint Louis Gonzaga. in The Arts in Latin America, 1492-1820 at LACMA (Click to enlarge)
Aldrichs paintings are in a constant dialogue about form, structure, pattern and color. They even seem to have a few inside jokes.
Sara Greenberger Raffertys De/Feat at Sandroni Rey
Raffertys 12-mintue video has the artist putting on and taking off a straitjacket, Houdini-style.
Bjorn Copeland at China Art Objects Galleries
Copelands psychedelic and hypnotic collages feel like secret coded language.
Ree Morton at Overduin and Kite
One focus of this new gallery is to show historical work that is not only extremely relevant today, but has rarely been shown in our city. Mortons show was simple and elegant, and extremely poignant.
Mary Heilmann: To Be Someone at the Orange County Museum of Art
Some of the best paintings ever, hands down. Check out Terry R. Myers recent study of her painting Save the Last Dance for Me (One Work) (Afterall Books).
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