Galleries

A Form of Currency: UCLA Graduate Open Studios

dscn1970-e1276139717586It’s all too easy—especially in a city permeated by the entertainment industry and material gain in general—to forget that there are still many artists out there committing their lives to their craft without the slightest hope of a monetary reward, and that there are a vast amount of studios in operation that have absolutely nothing to do with film or television. In fact, at the UCLA Graduate Open Studios in Culver City this past Saturday, I found that there were at least 30 dedicated artists at work who were not only putting their pieces up without price tags, they were most likely taking out student loans to do it.

This is not to say these young practitioners were exercising pure artistic selflessness; the hope, I gathered, as I traversed through the maze of sectioned-off galleries amidst packs of the hippest and most attractive art crowd I’ve seen in some time, was that people would notice the stand-out work, that they would pay attention (as opposed to money).

And attention can be a form of currency in itself. My colleague Helen, who I attended the event with discovered this fact in the most literal sense. We were vocally admiring the work of Max Rain (a stand-out artist, for sure)—in particular, a photograph of his that shows a piled arrangement of 20 or more dead and deformed rodents he collected as an employee of an animal shelter, the result of which amounts to a kind of macabre yet beautiful collage—when Max himself approached in the most amiable, non-egotistical manner possible in that situation. Helen told Max that if she had money, she would put the piece above her bed, to which he replied, “Really? If you promise to put it above your bed, I’ll give you a print for free.” He wasn’t lying. The mere idea of someone posting his work in their bedroom was, to him, compensation in itself.

I did, however, get a hint from another one of the artists, Sarah Dougherty—an incredibly talented painter who pieces together large LA-set landscapes with found objects, tapestry, and other pop-up book-esque features—as to who the real target audience might be. “We had our professor critiques this week,” she sighed in exasperation to me, going on to explain how most of the reviews were positive, but one in particular had her completely devastated.

Being in the “real world,” or at least the world outside of collegiate critique, it may seem difficult to relate to Sarah’s (or even Max’s) point of view. Who cares what a professor thinks? They’re not making any money either. But when you think about it, our art world—at least the part of it I’m interested in—is not so different from that Culver City rat maze I danced around on Saturday night, snatching up complimentary cheese and wine where I could find it. All artists, for the most part, are not looking to feed their wallets or even their ego. That’s not why they spend hours upon hours, day after day, inside tiny white rooms, experimenting with pigments or tweaking the electrical feeds on video installations. Why do they do it then? The truth is I don’t know. I’m tempted to say sex, but it probably has more to do with communication, putting something out there that’s you, says you—and how can something not be you when you spend that much time and energy on it?—then having someone else come up, take a look, and say, you know, I’d like to post you above my bed. Maybe it does have to do with sex.

- By Joshua Morrison

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Posted in Art, Bring Your Flask, Conceptual, Contemporary Art, Culver City, Film, Food & Drink, Galleries, Installation, Mixed media, Neighborhoods, Painting, Performance, Personalities, Photography, Video Art No Comments »

Graciela Iturbide’s Private Universe

6a00d8341c630a53ef013485f186c2970c-500wiAn ostrich stares indignantly at me, hip jutting out as though I had ditched its Thanksgiving dinner. “What are you doing in this gallery staring at me?” it seems to say. “Why didn’t you bring the cranberry sauce?” Like an exaggerated cartoon version of an image in National Geographic, the ostrich is one of the more vivid subjects in Graciela Iturbide’s most recent exhibition, Graciela Iturbide: asor, ending this week in the Rose Gallery at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Iturbide once said, “While using my camera I am, above all, an actress participating in the scene taking place at the moment, and the other actors know what role I play.” In “asor,” taken straight from her personal archive, Iturbide creates a fantasy world that explores the terror and joy of childhood solitude. Inspired by her grandchildren and Alice in Wonderland, Iturbide photographed the Southern United States, Italy, India and Mexico, using snippets from each location but nothing identifiable from any of them. Instead, she crafted a new narrative that makes the fantastic pedestrian and the pedestrian fantastic. Clocks and abandoned buildings take on the significance of mythical creatures. In one pair of photographs, two blank eyeholes carved out of rocks peer out at the viewer, observing and saying nothing. Birds gather ominously in the sky like locusts, and in one arresting image, sunflowers are backlit and shot from below, drooping and spiky as Venus Fly Traps. Iturbide plays with perspective: A giant plaster head sits next to a parked car, disorienting any sense of scale. A bell-shaped flower is photographed from the side, grossly distorted, its surface as smooth and shiny as porcelain.

In one remarkable shot, a leopard lunges towards the camera, eyes shut, front legs crumpled in an awkward gait. The leopard looks as clumsy as a cartoon, with a viciously contorted face, like a living stuffed animal about to be killed. Iturbide photographs things with a childlike wonder and innocence, only distorted through a morbid prism. Her minutely crafted universe reveals her fascination with the coexistence of life and death, and the exquisite beauty of violence.

Iturbide came late to photography, influenced by the surrealism and mysticism of Luis Buñuel and the indigenous people photographed by Manuel Alvarez Bravo. The last time I saw Iturbide’s photography was three years ago in a retrospective at the J. Paul Getty Musuem, and the images were grisly: dead pigs, strung-up birds, a woman clutching a knife in her mouth preparing a goat for slaughter. Iturbide is best known for her ethnographic images of the Zapotec people in Oaxaca, including her famed “Mujer Ángel,” in which an indigenous woman faces a fertile valley, casually holding a boombox.

Despite the intrigue of Iturbide’s newest exhibition, I was drawn to much of her other work on display in the gallery. In 2006, Iturbide was allowed to photograph inside the estate of Frida Kahlo, and in one image, a pair of tiny, deformed-looking feet rest on the siding of a porcelain bathtub. The bathtub is Kahlo’s and the feet are Iturbide’s, appearing corpse-like. Several other images are more immediately arresting than her newer work, which is more quiet and restrained. But Iturbide’s willingness to explore new artistic territory demonstrates her continued relevance. Perhaps Iturbide deserves more recognition, which is difficult when her newer images are so private. Upon discovering her for the first time, the viewer is free to create a new reality, in which ostriches talk, flowers are monstruous, death is imminent, and life is more vivid than ever.

- By Cassandra McGrath

Graciela Iturbide’s asor ended its run this past weekend at the Rose Gallery in the Santa Monica Museum of Art. For more information on upcoming exhibitions, please visit www.rosegallery.net.

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deFineArtsLA Exclusive: POET

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMusic—if not the industry—has triumphed through electronic, digital, and online revolutions. Photographers can shoot a thousand frames in a matter of minutes. Painting has outgrown the traditional borders of the canvas, now readily available on street corners and highway signs. Cinema is viewed less in the cinema than on Youtube or Netflix streaming. Words are no longer inscribed in ink, and many popular novels are now written as 140-character-long serials.

But poetry is dead.

Or at least that’s what it seems like. Even as a devoted follower of some incredible living and working poets, I find it hard to list more than five off the top of my head. And maybe this is due to the general assumption that while every other art-form may gracefully surf the never-ending tides of technology, poetry is to remain dormant—to hole up in its cage of antiquated rhyme schemes and meter. Even “free-form poetry” collects dust these days.

Then I hear about someone like Mathew Timmons—and I’ve been hearing a lot about him recently (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions just wrapped up a month-long installation based on his 800-page book/collection/poem/collage entitled Credit.) Timmons is immediately difficult to pin down into a label. He’s a poet, a blogger, a curator, a critic, a performer, a collaborator, and a creator of chapbooks. But I suppose all could be condensed into a single description: Mathew Timmons is one of many young, Los Angeles-based artists insistent on keeping poetry alive

His latest project, as a part of his ongoing series of projects entitled “General Projects,” opens at 323 Projects on Monday, September 6th. Never heard of the gallery? That may be because it exists solely by phone, offering “visitors” a rotating sample of sound poems from Timmons’s upcoming album, The Archanoids, meant to explore the evolving relationship between noise, language, collaboration, and context.

Here’s the kicker, though. The “gallery” has a voicemail, available 24-hours a day, in which people are invited to call in and leave messages that will eventually be edited down by Timmons into a single, multi-layered sound poem by the end of the exhibition on October 11th. The show is open all day and all night, and the number to call is (323) 843-4652 or (323) TIE-IN-LA.

It all reminds me of a story, or an image rather, I was once told by a poet friend of mine in New York City. He said he knew of a fellow poet, more published than he, yet still relatively anonymous, who decided to hang a glowing, neon fixture—like the ones in old-school dive bars—facing outward on her window. It just had one word on it, in all caps: “POET.”

- By Joshua Morrison

For more information on Mathew Timmons and 323 Projects, please visit www.generalprojects.blogspot.com.

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Instant LA Summer

Bizarro-PicassoI met artist, curator, and all-around art enthusiast Esteban Schimpf when he came out to the FineArtsLA: Panel of the Muses event we hosted back in June. He was there to support his friend, panelist, and co-board member of the Chinatown gallery, Actual Size LA, Lee Rachel Foley. Schimpf made himself known as the first—and most voluable—volunteer of the after-panel Q&A session. His passion for supporting art and artists was intense, genuine, and immediately recognizable (he railed against the idea that the physical limitations of Los Angeles—traffic, isolation, etc.—should in any way prevent an artist from doing their job). Following the discussion, he was quick to introduce himself, revealing a chummier, more casual side of his personality, yet still brimming with that same passion.

On Thursday, August 19th, at 7:00 PM, Esteban opens his (to my knowledge) first personal exhibition in Los Angeles at the Carmichael Gallery in Culver City, and not surprisingly, his own work is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Schimpf, with the help of Stefan Simchowitz, has chosen to spotlight the work of fifteen other young, up-and-coming artists in an ambitious group show he has titled “Instant LA Summer.” Upon names only, I was admittedly unfamiliar with the artists on view, but after some instant LA research, the show looks to be extremely diverse in mediums and theme, but cohesive in pure enthusiasm. Essentially, it’s Esteban without Esteban. Here’s a quick, flip-through preview of what’s in store, but don’t hold me to it:

Los Super Elegantes: this musical duo, one male and one female, present three of their own videos, which are as much a part of their overall presentation as are their costumes, their on-stage theatrics, their public demeanor, sexual chemistry, and of course, their music—a Latino-influenced type of pop that owes a lot to show-tunes. Their videos, too, remind me of low-rent movie musical numbers (in one, a romantic, garbage-man Romeo belts out his love to a passing, balcony-perched Juliet).

Eric Yhanker: his piece, “Bizarro Picasso,” is a charcoal and graphite depiction of an old, wide-eyed bald man who looks kind of like the titular painter, but, in its tactility, more like something Jan Svankmajer would mold from clay. Photographic in its Chuck Close detail and sense of perception, the close-up portrait briskly departs from realism with its over-sized, features, namely the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears—the portals to our senses.

Josh Mannis: works in a variety of mediums, but his series of HD videos are the most striking. Like Yhanker, they concentrate on the frozen exaggeration of facial features, but in the style of a Japanese advertisement. Bright pastel colors, fleshy and freaky masks, limited body movement, and intense repetition characterize such works as “If You Don’t Know Anything, You Don’t Know This.”

Charles Irvin: a multi-instrumentalist as they say in the music world. He draws, paints, performs, makes videos, and simply exists. His works tends to be cartoonish, extremely colorful, and detailed, but in a soft way. It’s dream-like, psychedelic, and in-your-face. No subtleties here, save the man behind the man.

Kenneth Tam: another video-maker, but of the Dadaist ilk. His mundane, often single shot slices of life tend to take place in one setting, have a documentary feel to them, and are so direct and normal that they border the line on the absurd.

Maya Lujan: to look at pictures of her large-form, graphic patterns—architectural in nature—one would be quite surprised to hear that her installation in a 2008 UCLA exhibition was taken down due to the fact it included a simplified mandala that bore striking similarity to a swastika. In actuality, the piece was more akin to a kind of apocalyptic spacecraft, and it’s this exact questioning of shapes and patterns that shows up in most of her work.

Sarah Sieradzki: speaking of the architectural, her work presents mashups of varying shapes, materials, and textures—wooden frames, cement blocks, photographs—that look like models for massive monuments of future post-modernism (whatever that is). She seems to take joy in chaotic geometry, as well as the re-contextualizion of basic structures.

Pascual Sisto: also a multi-platform artist, he appears to specialize in playing with and subverting the viewer’s expectation. Much of his work starts off as a seemingly one-note image/idea—cursive neon lettering, a single-shot video of a motionless fruit tree—but will then either climax unexpectedly in a sudden spasm of movement (as with the fruit tree video) or double-back on its initial meaning (as with the phrase in neon: “Let us be Cruel”).

Daniel Desure: in his prints and photographs, there’s a cold, stillness that tends to break down time into single moments, whether its a car crash refracted into centrifugal prisms, or a can of paint in the midst of spilling. Desure seems to distill catastrophic moments into the way we often remember catastrophic moments: as single images.

Emily Mast: time is of the essence to this choreographic artist as well. She sets up complex, theatrical installations utilizing actors, props, lights, and costumes, which collide into a kind of Beckett-ian sense of nihilism. But within these dramatic interpretations is a clear sense of narrative, which is inherently married to time, and thereby, meaning.

Emily Steinfeld: a sort of found object artist who seems to enjoy the accidental/purposeful layering of solid things—how one thing can mold into another as if a chemical compound. Her series of structures entitled “Covert Cells” utilizes sheeting to cover objects like wine bottles and telephones so that they may be confused for a single entity.

Simon Haas: mainly primitive, muted browns and melancholy. As the title of his piece “A Brief Moment After a Bath” suggests, he finds subtle beauty in the skipped-over moments of life. The lead surface and the wide, gestural brush strokes of this oil painting have a wavy, watery feel to them. Like waking up from a dream and dealing with its immediate aftermath.

Mark Hagen: intricate, graphic designs made for specific technological uses. He designed a 360 wrap, for instance, to be hypothetically used on the antiquated bowling shoe so as to maximize arch support for the bowler. As a child, he helped his father part out and restore Post-War Studebakers, and he seems to have been elaborating on this work ever since.

Sean Kennedy: also works in design, but in a much more tactile sense. He builds layers of both abstract designs and found objects to create geometric patterns that are simple at first glance, yet wildly complex upon inspection.

Orlando Tirado: exotic, striking photographs and/or collages of imagery. The title of his piece, “ShamanColash or Land, Sea, and Air (Self Portrait)” speaks to the bizarre juxtapositions framed in the would-be tired genre of self-portraitry. To borrow a reaction once used to describe the first artist on this list (Los Super Elegantes), Tirado “[makes] the audience nervous. Nobody does that anymore.”

-By Joshua Morrison

Stefan Simchowitz presents “Instant LA Summer,” an exhibition by Esteban Schimpf, runs until September 10, 2010 at the Carmichael Gallery. The opening is  on Thursday, August 19th, at 7:00 PM. For more information, please visit www.carmichaelgallery.com, or call 323.939.0600.

 

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Painting With John

2010-07-08-InventionofAnimalsI first caught wind of John Lurie as the stubborn, stone-faced proto-hipster in Jim Jarmusch’s essential, second feature, Stranger Than Paradise. In this film, the life of his character, Willie, is rudely interrupted by a surprise visit from his Hungarian cousin, Eva. The magic of this oddly entrancing movie lies in Willie’s subtle—if unwilling—acceptance of his own blood.

Following many more memorable film roles, a successful music career (in addition to writing and performing for his band, The Lounge Lizards, he composed the theme for Late Night with Conan O’Brien, along with the scores to a bunch of excellent movies), and a cult TV-show—Lurie has had to deal with a much more serious life interruption. He has been  suffering the debilitating symptoms of what he believes to be advanced neurological Lyme disease. And starting about four years ago, it got to the point where he couldn’t even play music anymore.

Stuck in his room, bored and in tremendous pain, Lurie began to paint, at first to simply concentrate on something besides his symptoms. Eventually, though, he began to use paint to express his inner-self—something only music could fulfill for him before. And while the results of his efforts in no way relieved him of his physical ailments, they did attract a lot of attention, and help launch yet another artistic career.

On view until August 7th at Gallery Brown in west Los Angeles, John Lurie: The Invention of Animals shows off his latest works. With such reliably clever and stinging titles as “The Skeleton in My Closet Has Moved Back to the Garden” and “The Spirits Are Trying To Tell Me Something But It’s Really Fucking Vague,” Lurie’s paintings seem to be directly related to his condition, failed attempts at escape maybe. According to him, “I am sure having the outlet helps me in some way. I know that when I got really sick and had to stop playing music that it was an unbearable loss. I never thought that painting could come out of my soul in the same way. But I think that it does at this point.”

To me, I know I have a hard time looking at Lurie’s visual work without sensing that same stone-faced Willie somewhere in there, slowly coming to terms with the disturbing though beautiful facts of his blood.

- By Joshua Morrison

For more from John Lurie, also check out this great interview on the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tanja-m-laden/speaking-with-john_b_640096.html

John Lurie: The Invention of Animals is on view until August 7th at Gallery Brown, located at 140 S. Orlando Ave. For more information, please visit www.gallerybrown.com, or call 323-651-1956.

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Forced Rebellion

4642590394_3ce12defcc_oIn the early 1960’s, special operatives from the CIA secretly recruited and trained over a quarter of the Hmong people—a minority ethnic group who lived in the mountains of Laos and were known for their combat skills—to fight against the north Vietnamese Communists. They were dubbed the “Special Guerrilla Unit,” and by the time of the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, over 12,000 of them had died fighting in battle, many more injured. The remaining survivors were left to fend for themselves in Communist territory, and under constant threat of governmental persecution. Many were forced to flee to Thailand, and in the 1990’s-early 2000’s, were again forced to return to Laos. Fearing sustained persecution, thousands of Hmong  fled to the jungles to live a nomadic lifestyle, where they remain targets of attack.

For three weeks in early 2010, artist/photojournalist KC Ortiz willingly joined and lived with the last surviving members of the Hmong people in the jungles of Laos. The process of gaining access to this seclusive, nomadic, and persecuted group took Ortiz two years.

Ortiz’s images—all in black-and-white—which hang in the back room of the newly established Known Gallery on Fairfax under the title “Forced Rebellion,” reveal a stark, multi-generational, Flying Dutchman society. Constantly on the move, the Hmong cannot afford to plant crops, or build permanent shelters; the jungle, their only real home, serves as the background for almost every photograph. Most of the subjects hold AK-47’s in their arms, sometimes alongside a newborn baby. Their entire demeanor is one of defense. They stare into the lens of the camera solemnly, almost judging it—and by extension, the viewer.

Ortiz got his start documenting graffiti artists in the Chicago area (the work of his former subject, Pose, a major name in the street-art movement, is on view in the front room of Known Gallery), and his journey toward covering more remote, often subjugated cultures in the world is one of extreme courage. He has shot photographs of Vietnamese cancer patients, Burmese migrant workers, the Hong Kong lower class, and Delhi Tuberculosis victims. Word has it that his next mission is the Colombian drug trade.

Here in LA, it’s often too easy to dismiss socially conscious photojournalism, as if it were simply some type of clever “hook.” But seeing Ortiz’s work, and reading about what went into it, one can see it is just as personal as any other form of photography—or artwork, for that matter. He, much like the Hmong soldier posing center-frame with his rifle, stands for rebellion: a conscious, slow, determined, little-seen, and worthwhile rebellion.

Known Gallery is located at 441 North Fairfax Avenue. KC  Ortiz’s “Forced Rebellion” is on view until June 12th. For more information, please call (310) 860-6263, or visit www.knowngallery.com.

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Art Unites, But Not United

Gallery800_openingFor those not lucky enough to have someone who works in art department as a personal acquaintance, let me let you in on a little secret: they are some of the most talented and diversely knowledgeable people you will ever meet. They are the ones responsible for the physical “look” of any film or television show you see. Give an average person a ream of paper and they can load a printer for you; give someone in the art department a ream of paper and they are likely to produce a mind blowing installation of a thousand origami cranes.

And that was the main reason I was so excited to check out the “Art Unites” exhibition at Gallery 800 in the NoHo Arts District. Gallery 800 showcases the work of members of the Art Directors Guild, IATSE Local 800. With nearly 2,000 members who work in film, television and theatre as Production Designers, Art Directors, and Assistant Art Directors; Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists; Illustrators and Matte Artists; and Set Designers and Model Makers, Local 800 is most certainly chock-full of creativity and talent, so I was expecting an inspiring afternoon.

I couldn’t imagine what the work of these artists would be like when left to their own devices without the constraints of a crazy production schedule, some pretentious director’s vision, or a caffeine addled brain (okay, so maybe the caffeine stays). I obviously made the rookie mistake of expecting too much, however, because even though it pains me to say it, I was disappointed with what Local 800 had to offer. I expected the work to be prolific, and while it was technically skilled, very little of it was moving or innovative. The number of traditionally themed oil and acrylic portraits, landscapes and florals felt stale and ordinary. Where the heck were my paper cranes?

Also, while I think the idea behind Gallery 800 is an admirable one, having 30 artists featured together without a focus or theme left the show a bit disjointed. Putting an art exhibit together provides the curator an opportunity to make a commentary, but this seemed more like an overtly random collection—much like a student show. I found myself standing in the middle of the gallery trying to suss out a common thread and just when I thought I had finally found one – because what self respecting Art History major can’t over analyze an exhibit to find the deeper meaning – nothing.

Issues of personal taste and lack of cohesion aside, I do believe in what Gallery 800 is trying to accomplish by giving the unsung heroes of  many of our favorite films and programs their own platform. While I didn’t enjoy the show as a whole, I don’t doubt that there is an abundance of talent in Local 800 as there were definitely some bright spots. So while I wouldn’t make a special trip to the 818, if you find yourself in the valley this summer (because it isn’t hot enough where you live), stop by Gallery 800. Just don’t expect to find any paper cranes.

Gallery 800 is located at 5108 Lankersheim Blvd. in North Hollywood. For more information, please call (818) 763-8052, or visit www.artdirectors.org/?art=gallery_800.

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Wish Fulfillment

1207582406_c456cce5d6On an overcast Tuesday afternoon, when the traffic from the nearby 10 and 405 freeways is just starting to pack in, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica looks and feels more like an industrial depot center than one of Los Angeles’s prime gallery  hubbubs, and local art-dealer hot-spot of international acclaim. The parking lot if half-empty. Lonesome employees rumble by with crates full of water-cooler jugs. Sporadic patrons drift in and out of massive gallery spaces. On the whole, the place seems cold, even uninviting.

That is unless you accidentally stumble into the hallway of the Santa Monica Museum of Art—denoted only by a metallic sign that says “Museum”—and find yourself wondering what all the small, clay objects are doing strung up on the wall, as if hanging from massive, marker sketches of keys, backpacks, doorknobs, and necklaces. It’s this quaint collection of colorful figurines which, from first sight, breathes humanity into an otherwise blue atmosphere. For good reason too: every ornament on the wall is made by an artist below the age of 18—mainly ranging from 5-years-old to 10.

It’s called Wall Works: Project Icons and is the brainchild of clay and found-object artist Anna Sew Hoy. In collaboration with SMMA and six participating schools from around the Los Angeles area, Hoy asked children from kindergarten through 12th grade to describe their personal wishes, and transform them into pocket-sized “talismans” to help visualize their fulfillment. The wishes themselves, as written in the kids’ own handwriting, and paired with photographs of their corresponding talismans, can be viewed in conjunction with the exhibition. And all it takes is a quick glance at one or two of these wishes to get you digging through them like a treasure chest filled with jewels of innocent brilliance.

“I wish for a talking star to play with me,” writes Karina, who’s  yellow clay star sports sunglasses and a full rack of teeth.

“I had a limen tree so I can have limen juice,” says Megan. And no, this is not simply poor spelling, because Megan’s talisman is neither a lemon nor a lime. Not yellow nor green. It’s in between. It’s a limen. Why no sports drink has come up with this word combination before is beyond me.

It’s interesting: most of the younger kids’ wishes have to deal with fruit, or animals, mice in particular. And the pocket icons they create to represent these wishes are all courageously distorted versions of reality—imperfect, and yet lovely. Only when the children and their respective handwriting grow older, more refined, do the wishes become more realistic and abstract at the same time. Earnestness and anxiety replace playfulness.

“To be good at soccer,” one boy announces. “To be a better basketball player.” “To have a bigger garden.” “To be an architect.” Most all are sports and career related, with the occasional plea for world peace thrown in the mix. The older kids’ clay talismans also become more defined and mimetic, while losing some of the accidental whimsy of of their younger counterparts.

Extrapolating the results—or at least my observations—of Hoy’s project into the greater art-world, I can see how a place like Bergamot Station can seem so cold, the warm humor of its art lost in the jumble of warehouses and parking spaces. It’s the fulfillment of those older childens’ wishes for bigger and better things taking over the goofy vitality of those younger, fruit-and-mouse wishes.

And yet still, when you look at the wall of hanging talismans, they all pretty much look alike, old and young together. Each one the subject of natural distortion—due to the imperfect nature of clay-work—and each one something more than just a good luck charm. They are tactile. You can feel the wishes with your fingers. You can see it. It’s not just an airy idea. It’s a creation.

Anna Sew Hoy’s Wall Works: Project Icons can be viewed at the Santa Monica Museum of Art in Bergamot Station until May 31. For more information, please visit www.smmoa.org, or call (310) 586-6488.

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What’s What in the Art World at Large (And What To Do in LA)

yves_saint_laurentWe may be geographically far from, well, everywhere in the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep up with all the arts endeavors across every which pond.  So here’s a bit of news (for the very serious and elite readers) and a bonus round of what’s going on in LA that really deserves your attention (for those who care about little outside LA county).

First, a stop in Paris at the Petit Palais.  The Parisian museum brings to the fore the artistic achievements of none other than Yves Saint Laurent.  Curated by Florence Muller and Farid Chenoune, the exhibit, called Yves Saint Laurent Retrospective features gowns, menswear, some of the designer’s treasured personal items used in creative pursuits, and it highlight themes used throughout the many collections in Saint Laurent’s illustrious career.  One ticket to France, please! {Global Post}

Onto Italy.  In Milan, our very own Placido Domingo’s Operalia competition has commenced.  Founded in 1993, Domingo’s opera competition is meant to find the cream of the crop amongst new talent in opera.  The singers represent not only a range of vocal categories (from coloratura soprano to the lowest bass), but also an array of countries around the world.  The competition ends May 2 (this Saturday), so you’ll have a new vocalist’s career to follow starting Sunday, May 3rd.  We have a feeling it will be meteoric.  {Culture Monster}

Not to shower the French with too much attention, though they don’t mind, Sotheby’s has made quite the announcement prior to the upcoming auction season.  The storied (and once thought lost) private collection of legendary Parisian art dealer Amrboise Vollard is set to meet the auction block.  His career was spent promoting such up-and-comers as Picasso, Cezanne, and Renoir and Vollard’s collection includes not only paintings, but such enticing items as prints, drawings, and artist books.  The sale will be held in London on June 22, so brush up on your British colloquialisms.  {ArtInfo}

Back at home, there is much to celebrate.  Dig into your pockets just a bit to buy yourself a ticket to the Architecture and Design Museum’s official Grand Opening!  For $75, you’ll mingle with a veritable who’s who of the architecture and design world in LA at the reception tomorrow night (April 27), (hint: you can also find them anywhere from Father’s Office to Tar Pit on weeknights), check out the first exhibit, and bid on things at the silent auction.  {A+D Museum}  Also, if you haven’t uploaded his schedule into your iCal already, Gustavo Dudamel has returned to the LA Phil – he’s conducting pretty regularly from now through May 8 on a number of concerts all worthy of splurging for tickets.  {LA Phil} This is your last chance to see LACMA’s exhibit Renoir in the 20th Century.  The exhibit closes May 9. {LACMA} Last, but certainly not least, turns out that parodies of Wagner and his Ring Cycle abound.  LA Times’ Culture Monster shows us the best of the best. {Culture Monster}

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La Vie En Rose: Jazz Legends at Fahey/Klein Gallery

various_ex_legends_01-216x300Capturing the magic of the jazz age can’t have been too hard.  From Duke Ellington at the piano to Frank Sinatra on stage, cigarette firmly in hand, it’s easy to see the je ne sais quoi that was ubiquitous in the days of bow ties and soul singers.  To read articles about jazz legends, to listen to their music, and to see photographs of their personal moments, we can catch a glimpse of the spirit of the music; the pain and the passion that made the jazz age so spectacular.

Not that you’ve ever needed a new reason to fall in love with Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday, but on view now at Fahey/Klein Gallery are two exhibits by legendary photographers who got a chance to capture musical icons from jazz greats like Miles Davis to rock stars like Mick Jagger.  In the big gallery space, you’ll find a plethora of black and white images that make you wish you’d worn your white gloves and perhaps a broach.  One image that stands out among the rest is the one above, of Frank Sinatra in silhouette on stage in a smoky room – the photo is large and the effect washes over you.

In the smaller room, find brightly colored, bold, and marshall_ex_trust_08-300x202fantastical images of Jimi Hendrix on his knees on stage, the Allman Brothers sitting with their equipment outside a venue, and a young Santana in his element.  The photos in this room look like stories in and of themselves; if they were taken during indifferent moments, they surely created stories after having been captured.  The represented jazz photographers are such household names as Herman Leonard, William Gottlieb, and William Claxton with rock and roll photographs hailing from the lens of Jim Marshall.

If you’ve ever wondered what getting someone under your skin Frank Sinatra - Classic Sinatra - His Great Performances, 1953-1960 - I've Got You Under My Skin or what Billie’s “Stormy Blues” actually looks like, this exhibit is for you.  Walking through the exhibit, you may spontaneously feel like you hear a saxophone playing faintly or Ella Fitzgerald’s sultry voice.  You may wish the room suddenly became darker or filled with smoke and whispered stories about the scene at Musso and Frank’s or the old Dominick’s.  Good thing this exhibit’s a little easier to get into.

“Legends of Jazz Photography” and Jim Marshall’s “Trust” are on view at Fahey/Klein Gallery now through May 15, 2010.  For more information, please call (323) 934-2250 or click here.

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