Best Los Angeles Art Shows of 2009

January 16, 2010 at 7:32 PM Leave a comment

David Bowen Photographic Drawing Device

David Bowen, Photographic Drawing Device, solar-powered mini-robots, charcoal, paper

Data + Art: Science and Art in the Age of Information @ Pasadena Museum of California Art An apt show for the Over-Information Age.  Curated by Dan Goods and David Delgado, both from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the show included both aesthetically pleasing data visualizations that broadened awareness and understanding such as Jim Bumgardner’s “A Year of Sunsets,” and geeky gadgetry employed for artistic expression. The best mix of data and art was David Bowen’s “Photographic Drawing Device,” which used light-seeking, solar-powered mini-robots to draw charcoal circles on paper.

Gary Lang Ace Gallery

Gary Lang at Ace Gallery Beverly Hills

Gary Lang: Circles Lines Grids Paintings @ Ace Gallery Beverly Hills Standing up close to the surface of Lang’s paintings you could see the slight wiggle in each hand-painted line, and the color juxtapositions seemed a little odd, but when you stepped back these paintings hummed and glowed as if they were actually breathing with life.  They were stunning and magical.

Femke Hiemstra In Thought

Femke Hiemstra, In Thought, graphite on paper, 8 x 10 inches. Courtesy of Copro/Nason

Femke Hiemstra: The Herring’s Hairdo @ Copro/Nason Her paintings and drawings had this authentic old-fashioned feeling that you don’t find in most Magic Realism/Pop Surrealism, and they had just the right mix of childhood fairytale/storybook style and eerie/scary subtext.  I particularly liked the paintings on book covers and graphite drawings on paper.

Penelope Gottlieb at Kim Light/Lightbox

Penelope Gottlieb, No $ Down, installation view. Courtesy Kim Light/Lightbox

Penelope Gottlieb: No $ Down @ Kim Light/Lightbox Monochrome color-pencil drawings of idyllic suburban homes were matched with coordinating, brightly-painted vintage frames and arranged salon-style on the walls along with a fake fireplace and gray wainscoting to boot.  The cheerful display of real estate dreams juxtaposed with the phony architectural elements seemed particularly poignant as the mortgage industry was ominously imploding and foreclosures escalated.

Rebecca Campbell Do You Really Want to Hurt Me detail

Rebecca Campbell, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me, detail, avocado tree, velvet, glass, bronze, Windex

Rebecca Campbell: Poltergeist @ LA Louver Campbell expertly took on the subject of memory and nostalgia from a particular, personal perspective without sliding into over-sentimentalization.  The highlight of the show was an amazing velvet covered avocado tree populated with Windex-filled glass birds. Its haunting aura was counterbalanced by more quirky aspects in the show like the clock running backwards on the olive-colored wall oven stuffed full with childhood books.

Julie Blackmon, Family Portrait

Julie Blackmon, Family Portrait, 2007, archival pigment print, 22 x 22 inches, Edition of 25. Courtesy of Fahey/Klein Gallery.

Julie Blackmon: Domestic Vacations @ Fahey/Klein Gallery These wonderfully humorous fictional photos of family life paradoxically balanced relaxation with chaos and escape with everyday stresses.  I had fun deciphering what just went on in each image from the visual cues and ended up chuckling at every one.

Kaz Oshiro False Gestures

Kaz Oshiro, False Gestures, installation view. Courtesy of Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

Kaz Oshiro: False Gestures @ Rosamund Felsen Gallery Oshiro’s painting/sculpture facsimiles were illusion to perfection. The suitcases and shelves alluded to the disparity between simulation and reality, while the metallic blue panels with faithfully replicated duct tape made evident the tenuous line between realism and abstraction.

Lorser Feitelson Untitled 1971

Lorser Feitelson, Untitled, 1971, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 60 inches. Courtesy Louis Stern Fine Arts.

Lorser Feitelson: Late paintings @ Louis Stern Fine Arts In these paintings, Feitelson’s took his hard-edge, straight-line geometry to another level.  The sensuous curves, curls and undulating ribbons were so sexy.  It’s hard to believe they were painted in the late-60s, early-70s given their immaculate surfaces and contemporary feel.

William Powhida How to Destroy LA

William Powhida, How to Destroy LA, 2009, graphite, colored pencil, and watercolor on paper, 18 x 15 inches

William Powhida: No One Here Gets Out Alive @ Charlie James Gallery This dead-on skewering of art world insiderness and the bad-boy-artist mayhem of Powhida’s alter ego was effectively tongue-in-cheek but also achingly honest, openly admitting artists’ gripes and egoism as well as worries and self-doubt.  I absolutely loved the way he used the crossed-out word to convey humor.

Zadok Ben-David, Blackfield, 2009

Zadok Ben-David, Blackfield, 2009, painted stainless steel and sand. Photo: Elizabeth Gilson and Andrew G. Glennon, courtesy of Shoshana Wayne Gallery.

Zadok Ben-David: Blackfield @ Shoshana Wayne Gallery This installation was totally amazing. As you walked into the gallery you saw a sea of tiny, delicately-cut sheet steel botanical shapes coming up from a perfect rectangle of white sand.  They were black, as if charred or dead.  But then, as you walked around to the far side of the gallery you began to see that the back of each minute plant was painted with vibrant, bold colors.  Once you reached the back of the gallery you were faced with a glorious field of flowers, full of joy and life.  Visitors were audibly gasping as they circled around the installation.

Richard Wilson, Town to Town

Richard Wilson, Town to Town, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 60 inches. Courtesy of Carl Berg Gallery.

Richard Wilson: Rises @ Carl Berg Gallery The perfectly balanced, asymmetrically stacked, rectangular and square canvases had the most absolutely pristine surfaces. Wilson took Donald Judd’s dictum “one surface, one color,” and had some fun with it.  The spot-on color combinations in each grouping covered not only the front of each monochrome canvas, but also rectangular areas along the edges, allowing him to toy with the tropes of geometric Hard-edge painting as well.

Irving Penn, Deep Sea Diver

Irving Penn, Deep Sea Diver (B), New York, 1951, gelatin silver print, copyright 1951 (renewed 1979) by Conde Nast Publications Ltd., Partial Gift of Irving Penn, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA

Irving Penn: Small Trades @ Getty Museum Amazingly, Penn’s subjects were both individual and typical.  The attire, trappings and tools of each tradesperson at first seemed obvious and conventional against the plain studio backdrops.  But before you could pigeonhole the sitter, their stark surroundings allowed you to notice clothing details like the wrinkled suit of a harmonica player or the crisp apron and toque of a London chef.  Facial expressions and postures were also telling.  Some seemed like nothing but affectation like the upturned head of a proud undertaker or the contrapposto of a deep-sea diver in full gear.  Others revealed humility and honesty like the tired face of a New York groom clad in worn shoes or the slouching shoulders of a milkman with a heavy milk bottle carrier in hand.  The simple style and elegance of this series of photographs could easily have seemed antithetical to his chosen topic, but Penn’s talent made this tension work.

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Give it a Whirl – Thursday, January 14, 2010 Smackdown: David Pagel vs. Diana Thater

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