(courtesy of L.A. Louver)David Hockney at L.A. Louver One of the most dazzling painting shows of recent memory reminds us that as far as contemporary painting goes, Hockney is able to orbit in the same stratosphere as Gerhard Richter and Sigmar Polke.

Ed Ruscha at Gagosian Plagued as we are with ever shorter cultural memory, it takes a show like this one to remind us that, like Hockney, Ruscha is a giant in our midst.

Tim Hawkinson at ACE Beck put him on his new album cover, but why hasn't anybody else made a fuss over this major local artist?

Charles Ray at MOCA As he slowly doles out his profundities year after year, Ray has built a body of work that seems to grow exponentially more complex and meaningful.

Michael Gonzalez at Christopher Grimes Gonzalez has for years honed his craft of cobbling together industrial jetsam to form ultratimely objects, this time engineering an entire phylum of bubble-bodied organisms out of different-colored plastic bags.

Ero Pop Tokyo at George's This sampling of some of the most bracingly contemporary cultural products seen to date was curated by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami (who himself had an outstanding show this year at Blum & Poe). Manga for the millennium.

Dave Muller at Blum & Poe In his first true gallery solo show in L.A., the peripatetic impresario of “Three Day Weekend” put together a razor-sharp and disarmingly beautiful show of hand-drawn posters, showing that he can promote his own work as well as he presents others.

Laura Owens at ACME Much hyped but without much to show for it up until now, Owens finally lived up to her billing with a witty, complex and endearing group of paintings that indicate an artist with promise.

Adam Ross at Shoshana Wayne Like Hawkinson, Gonzalez and the artists in Ero Pop Tokyo, Ross is an artist with his mind on the Zeitgeist, tapping into the thrills and chills of our technological age. His futuristic landscapes give compelling visual form to prognostications about the urbanism to come.

Very Honorable Mentions for the year include Richard Serra and Robert Gober at MOCA, Andrea Bowers at Santa Monica Museum of Art, Chaim Soutine and Yayoi Kusama at LACMA, Penelope Krebs at Kiyo Higashi, Russell Crotty at Dan Bernier, Larry Johnson and Gary Simmons at Margo Leavin, Sam Taylor-Wood at Regen Projects, and John Souza at LACE.

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