Category Archives: Art In Los Angeles

Modern Master Ed Moses: Discusses Art With The Hollywood Sentinel

Ed Moses is a remarkable figure in contemporary art who keeps getting better and better. His recent show “Ed Moses: Now and Then” closed August 29 at the William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California, and included new works from 2015 which had never been seen by the public before.

Although I attempted to record our interview on my iPhone, the recording inextricably stopped several seconds after it started. Mindful of the art groupies, friends, patrons and others who were waiting to get a piece of Ed’s attention, I stopped trying to erase videos and manage my storage settings and decided to keep talking, and do my best later on to remember what we’d said to each other.

“I like your shoes.”

That was the first thing Ed said to me, as crowds were filtering in, getting cocktails or organic hot dogs from the patio. The rest of the conversation, though I recall with some accuracy what was said, I could not place in chronological order.

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“Hot pink shoes for a hot day,” added his friend, an art consultant who lives in Beijing and Los Angeles. I’d gotten dressed for a workout and didn’t have time to change into something more upscale, but no one was dressed to impress; rather for comfort and freedom. “I know it’s too hot for long sleeves,” said one man, dressed a bit like Marcel Marceau in black pants and a black and white horizontally striped cotton top, “but we rode bicycles.” Another woman introduced herself to me as “the world’s most prolific collector of dog art.” My sweatpants and hot pink Nikes? No problem.

Although the atmosphere was decidedly laid back, there was an implicit understanding everyone pretended not to think about that something serious was nonetheless happening. After all, these paintings sell for upwards of $60,000. Ed Moses is considered by more than a few people the best and/or most important painter living in Los Angeles today. He is, however, far from pompous. “Yes, sit down,” he invited me, “and I’ll tell you all the lies you want.”

“Your recent work has gotten less pretty,” I postulated, “And more brutal, so it’s more compelling.”

“I like that,” he said.

We talked about the backs of the paintings. I said they tell a story a hundred years from now when the painting has traveled to various museums or through a chain of ownership, and he agreed that they can reveal more than the front of a painting. To a person who loves painting with a passion the back of a painting represents the “inner life” of the painting; it could be the fetishistic attachment of the artist to that which is not on display or for exhibit turned outward in a display of introspection, defiance, or vulnerability; it could be what separates the mere art aficionado from the fanatic, just as a weekend tourist in Napa Valley might conspicuously smell and swill the wine in the glass, but a sommelier will know how far to fill the glass, when to decant, and when the bouquet is open. “You can say I said whatever you want.” he told me, when I told him I was going to have to rely on a mental recording of the conversation. But the things he actually said were delightful.

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He talked about Kauffman and Reinhardt; Paris in 1958; UCLA; and (if I understood correctly) an image of a woman or cat exhaling flames. He talked about soaking his canvases with water before applying brushstrokes and using ground glass. He talked about the white with black piping patent leather wedge sandals of a woman in the crowd, and the reflections of the paintings on the high gloss gallery floor.

A way of seeing tantamount to a way of being: the antithesis of what Reinhardt would call the disreputable practices of artists-as-artists. He complimented an observation that the paintings were about painting rather than meaning after the phrase no meaning came out of his mouth and I’d chimed in, excitedly. He had just finished telling me that there were no mutations in his paintings, but futations, and I’d asked what a futation was. “It doesn’t mean anything.” “It has no meaning.”

Fire? No. Pounding nails? Yes.

“You can make it about whatever you want. Whatever it is to you, it’s right,” he said.

I see two closely related themes in Moses’ work; the (concrete, absolute, sui generis yet organic) brushstroke, and the (abstract, man-made, egoic and ephemeral) cycle of creation and destruction. There were references to Japanese screens and printmaking and its historical influence in 20th century; European painting; patterns of lace; assemblage and deconstructivism; slick use of color and quasi-Scientific symbols of protons. There were dual impulses to allow and shape the flow of paint and a merging of liquidity and time.

Ed Moses was born in 1926 and will be 90 years old next April. I feel very privileged to have had the opportunity to meet and speak with Ed in person along with seeing the new work, and would like to express my special thanks to Ed for his generous kindness, as well as William Turner for hosting the exhibit and Stephen Volenec for his encouragement to do the interview.

This story is copyright 2015, The Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved. The offices of The Hollywood Sentinel do not endorse any advertising or links that may be found on or in connection with this story.

Moira Cue art and literature editor of The Hollywood Sentinel and President of Moira Cue Multimedia. A fine artist, writer, actor, and singer, Moira Cue has appeared on stage at the Viper Room, Key Club, and The Mint among more. Contact Moira at www.TheHollywoodSentinel.com.

LA Art Show 2015

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A short conversation this year with the amicable Peter Falk of Rediscovered Masters brought to the forefront of my mind a series of questions: How do we as critics and as a society judge—assuming, against the conventional wisdom, that such cases fly under the radar far more frequently than we realize—extraordinary talent that has been more successful in the creation of artistic works of genius than in demanding the world recognize their accomplishment? Whose “responsibility” is it to promote an artist? Is art removed from commercial demands more “pure” than art that “panders” to an audience? As audiences and critics, do we have the right, and do we have the obligation, to look to marginalized communities before we make our lists of greats?

Moreover, are arbitrary or biologically-predicated divisions in gnostic classification of knowledge and field development (i.e. gnostic etiology) responsible for “blind spots” within our culture which are antithetical to, at best, the survival of uncompromising artists (look at the number of “greats” whose lives have ended in suicide), and at worst (eg. the tragedy of Tesla, free energy, and ecocide) the long-term survival of the species?

Are the characteristics required to succeed in the humanities antithetical to those that make us most humane? According to a study publicized by NPR in 2013, if you graduate with a degree in engineering the average starting salary is $120,000. If you graduate with a degree in any of the arts, including the “caring” professions, the average starting salary is about $40,000. With the basic monetary reward system so off-balance, only precious few who aspire to paint or sing (for the sake of two of my articles for this issue of The Hollywood Sentinel) ever achieve the level of success of making their living off of their art or having the financial freedom to pursue these activities in a way that enables them to develop a personal style or contribute to the field as a whole.

Assuming an artist is not born into privilege, she must rely on an exterior source of financial support when getting started; be it the state, such as artists on student loans or in formerly Communist countries; or a personal relationship, which is stereotypically though not necessarily predatory and/or sexual in nature. These often compromised positions produce a form of self-censorship: Soviet artists during the heyday of Communism were expected to follow certain style rules, just as submission and lack of personal criticism would be expected in a young protegé of a music industry executive.

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The economic machine driving art and music creates further boundaries to the natural expression of art for art’s sake in differing manners. In the post-Communist, post-modern visual arts world today, the work is supported by few wealthy patrons; the ability to comply with social norms particular to that class or social inclusion into a sub-class of academicians deemed worthy of institutional support is paramount. In commercial music, the art must appeal to the masses; youth, beauty, the ability to make a visual spectacle, a certain persona, all affect what we hear, though in reality music has nothing to do with looks or posturing. In both cases, introversion and the ability to soul-search, moral considerations in the face of demoralizing systemic injustices, and a primary commitment to art can all hinder commercial opportunity for an artist, in the small percentage of cases where the artist’s failure to achieve recognition cannot be blamed on a level of talent, originality, or mastery that simply falls short. (I would furthermore argue that some biases, such as the geographic, are sacrosanct, while others, such as gender bias in painting, are beginning to erode. But while women may exhibit more frequently, as recently as 2009 prominent critic Jerry Salz accused the venerable Museum of Modern Art of “a form of gender-based apartheid.” Only four percent of its permanent collection on display consists of works by women, according to the Rediscovered Masters website.)

One of the best things about the LA Art Show (for me this year) was Rediscovered Master’s exhibit of the Gil Cuatrecasas Torino Collection (1970-1976). Curator Peter Falk states that “Cuatrecasas was a genius of single-minded pursuit who created his own unique style. Then he suddenly slipped from sight. Now his collection presents a new and compelling chapter in art history, shared by America and Spain.” The gallery’s artist catalog tells the entire story of the Torino Collection discovery, and an excerpt thereof follows:

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“Unfortunately, parallel with Cuatrecasa’s early success, he suffered some depressing experiences. First, the promise of marriage to a woman with whom he had fallen in love while at Harvard fell apart. Next, his dealings with art galleries, and the related financial issues left him deeply disenchanted.

…Understanding the wellspring of any artist’s creativity is often a difficult task. And Cuatrecasas compounded this task because he was purposely discreet, refusing to speak about his sources of inspiration or the messages he wished his paintings to impart. His role as a colorist began at Yale with Albers and continued to develop in Mexico and Washington. However, it is clear that the shapes he imbued with color reveal that their fountainhead was his exposure to and fascination with his father’s lifelong obsession with discovering and documenting what came to be 126 species of a rare plant form that only exists at an altitude of about 15,000 feet in the northern end of the Andes mountain range—the Espeletia, commonly known as the Frailejón. This bizarre plant produces daisy-like flowers that are protected by a central cluster of long broad leaves radiating like a crown sitting atop a thick cactus-like column nearly 12 feet tall—the whole appearing as a fantastic surreal sculpture. José’s pioneering work on this rare plant earned him accolades as one of the world’s great botanists. His magnum opus, A Systematic Study of Subtribe Espeletinae, took a lifetime and was so massive that it was published 17 years posthumously in 2013.

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It is not surprising, then, that his boys found great pleasure examining various life forms with the microscope given to them by their father. Gil was particularly fascinated by his father’s botanical drawings of the plant’s parts, especially its distinctive broad leaves.”

If you are fortunate enough to have the wherewithal to invest in world-class paintings, a Cuatrecasas canvas is a wise investment. The canvases themselves invite multiple looks, being richly textured through innovative formal techniques employing printing techniques and decalcomania. Cuatrecasas covered his tracks; it is difficult to figure out exactly how the pieces were made. Current prices do not adequately reflect the artist’s stature, which I predict will one day rise on par with his contemporaries such as friend Morris Louis. A Morris Louis may currently sell for three-quarters of a million dollars or higher. A Cuatrecasas can be had for 35-200k. I know that dealers will tell buyers to buy what they love, but I think it is perfectly reasonable to buy art as an investment vehicle in cases like this. The ROI is a good bet.

The mission at Rediscovered Masters is to find artists like Cuatrecasas whose work reflects the highest level of talent and development but who, for reasons of personality or other external barriers to recognition (such as living in a small town; being a female, especially in an earlier era, having enough personal wealth to afford to work in isolation and lack any incentive to sell; etc.) did not “play the game” well. Long before I knew about this gallery, who represent many fascinating artists you may want to discover, I thought that someone should do what they’re doing: go out and look for artists and be willing to question established presuppositions about value. Rediscovered Masters works with gallerists and museum collectors to match an artist or artist’s estate to the best opportunity.

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There were many other fine and exciting works at the LA Art Show, far more than I have time to do justice to here, but I will attempt a short list. At PYO Gallery, the carefully delineated drawings of Cha Young Seok have a childlike innocence and whimsy that is as appealing as it is addictive.

Historicana, specializing in Arthur Szyk, an early 20th century Polish-American illustrator, was another fabulous discovery. Szyk’s work directly attacked Fascism and the Nazi regime, so it’s entertaining from a social perspective, but it’s also exciting for the amazing level of detail Szyk brings as a draftsman. His intricately rendered figures are all the more compelling because of their miniature scale.

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I always enjoy experiencing new Chinese developments, and enjoyed the selections presented by the China Cultural Media Group, a large state-owned enterprise under the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China. This year I participated as an audience member in a lecture by Li Gang, whose work explores traditional Chinese cosmologies in a contemporary manner. It was as much fun to hear him talk about his relationship to the work and evolving process as it was to see his work in person. I admire very much his personal discipline and eager, competitive nature. The question I asked during the Q&A session was in regard to the virtue in the speed in which many Chinese works of art are created. The artist answered that the execution may be rapid, but much time and contemplation is part of the preparation. In my opinion, the speed techniques have much in common with dance or martial arts and “not thinking.” When we say “thinking” we mean “mental chatter,” and when we say perceiving, we mean “not thinking.” I think that art and thinking are separate processes. Art is not language. It is pictures. Despite all the claims about thinking in pictures, most of our communication is done with words, and when we create pictures, I hope, we can transcend some of the weaknesses and cultural boundaries of language.

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The estate of Bert Stern presented rare last photographs of Marilyn Monroe and other iconic works of limited availability. Bruce Lurie again presented pop art sensation Dan Monteavaro. La Luz De Jesus presented Hudson Marquez (and others). Galleries such as Quidley & Company and Rehs Galleries, Inc. catered to more conservative taste. The digital and installation artist Pascual Sisto exhibited kaleidoscopic images of cars in transit and a gold dust dracena on carpet inspired by the plant’s foliage. Frida Kahlo appeared in an homage by Alexi Torres at Evan Lurie Gallery. Artists John Brophy (Copro Gallery) and Bruce Richards (Jack Rutberg) paid homage to the Venus of Willendorf. The Columns Gallery presented minimalist near monochrome, distinctly Korean palettes from a group of 1970’s artists whose work reflected the color of daily life. And, refreshingly, the United Arab Emirate​s honored their Bedouin ancestors by feeding us all dates in low white tents set up in an oasis of calm in the middle of all this excitement.

This content is ©2015, The Hollywood Sentinel / Moira Cue, all rights reserved. The Hollywood Sentinel does not necessarily endorse any advertisements or links that may be found on this page or videos herein.

LA Art Show: Andy Warhol & More

Kim Jong Ill By Bruce Edwin

The Los Angeles Art Show was as usual once again, an amazing event. Held once a year in downtown Los Angeles at the Convention Center, this years 2015 show ran for four days, with 120 art galleries from 22 countries around the world, and thousands of pieces of some of the best art work in the world. Master works here were amazing including original paintings by Andy Warhol, van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Renoir, LaTrec, and more, as well as modern contemporary and emerging artists, illustrators, and sculptors. The VIP Patron Reception was held before the general public attended, which we were at, hosted by the lovely and talented Amy Adams, who I had the pleasure to meet and was as kind, professional, and gracious as could be. The Patron Reception benefited St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  Quality food, wine and other beverages were served to all attending patrons, who could buy their choice of many different ethnic options of food and drink, with plenty of seating area to dine during the attendance of the massive show.

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The Fine Art Prints and Art Poster Collection was again held within the art show, and directly connected to the show itself, admittable with the same ticket through a massive hallway resided the Los Angeles Jewelry, Antique, and Design show, housing nearly a hundred booths of fine jewelry, furniture, art, fashion, and antiques on display, and all—like the art adjacent, for sale.

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Galleries of note here included ACE Gallery, Arcadia, Axiom Contemporary, Bruce Lurie Gallery, Gallery Now, Masterworks Fine Art Gallery, Unix Gallery, The Estate of Bert Stern, Brisset Art Gallery, Daphne Alazraki Fine Art, Spoken Art, Barclay Samson Ltd, Steve Stein Gallery, and many, more.

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ANDY WARHOL: Shadows
Moca’s legendary show of Andy Warhol’s rare show here ran from September 20th, 2014 to February 2nd, 2015. Andy created these incredible works in 1978 and 1979, based on photographs he took at The Factory. This show included the full collection of paintings from Dia Art Foundation, installed edge to edge, as Andy wanted. Stunning, dreamlike work, Shadows explored the element of light, dark, shadow, and beyond light, darkness, and color, creating flowing ethereal movements of mood, emotion, vibration, and tone with harmonic clarity. Singularly one painting may connote a bell ringing back and forth, or a ghostly form floating off in to the distance, haunting the viewer and its hanging landscape. Together, the forms may suggest a continual movement of light, color and form, flickering through time and space like the shuttering of a film stock winding its way through a camera from nothing to image, to nothing and back again. Vibrant, pop, neon colors washed abruptly against solid blackness, each painting taking on a form of their own and together creating a whole rhythmic movement not unlike an abstract film stopped and blown up for one to see singularly, frame by frame, picture by picture. Shadows was a massive success, and a true honor and pleasure to see. Thank you to MOCA for this wonderful show. What follows below is a clip of Velvet Underground legend Lou Reed discussing the icon.

MCA Chicago

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As one of the most important museums in the world, in one of the greatest cities in the world, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago brings local, national, and international exhibitions to Chicago in the realm of modern art, performance art, dance, theatre, and music. MCA
has always been one of my favorite spots in my hometown, and has always treated me well. My visit back to Chicago recently was no exception, where I got to see the sold out show of DAVID BOWIE IS. David Bowis is presented the first international exhibition of the career of David Bowie, one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time.

New Digital Technology Debuts for Audio Guide Tour
Typically, I don’t like acoustic guided headphone tours at museums, as I like to to quietly take in the art and walk away from any crowd, however this exhibition was an exception. The audio tour here, which I played at full blast, was a great, unique, soaring collection of known and rare Bowie tracks that went along with each work, synchronized wherever one walked to each video installation or display. The great success of this utilized the new Sennheiser GuidePORT technology, which mapped trigger unit “identifiers” to play each corresponding, appropriate audio track in full 3D stereo, wherever one would walk near every Bowie ‘display zone.’ This created an intense, trippy, brilliant and rocking atmosphere unique to each viewer depending on where they walked, and always queued to the correct beats and images.

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Mods, rockers, new wavers, hippies, art folks, and more crowded this packed show like a rock concert, and while it wasn’t nearly as chaotic and clustered as the King Tut exhibition I saw, it was still crowded. The show here was filled with rare costumes Bowie wore on stage, rare videos, handwritten lyrics by Bowie, hand drawn sketches of his concepts for stage performances, concerts, videos, album covers, and more, and numerous rare works of black and white, color drawings, and paintings by Bowie which were very well executed and crafted. Also was included a rotating hour or so long film loop of many of Bowie’s film clips that he has been in, reminding us that he is also an actor who has had some significant and strong performances. Influenced by Japanese Kabuki theatre, German Expressionism, West End Musicals, Brechtian theatre, Surrealism, New Wave, Punk, and more, Bowie is a visionary​, genius masterful artist o​f​ multiple disciplines. I have grown up always loving his music, and this great show proved to myself and other fans alike, why his relevance is even beyond what we already know and love. The following is a video of David Bowie’s legendary song “Andy Warhol” about the artist.

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Bryan Ferry (Roxy Music) appeared later to discuss fame, music, and creative inspiration here at MCA.

Also at MCA this year and next, Artist Faheem Majeed runs from March 10 through July 7, 2015, MCA Screen: Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys from August 8 to January 17, 2016, MCA DNA: Rafael Ferrer, May 27-January 10 2016, Anne Collier runs until March 8, 2015, Doris Salcedo from February 21 to May 24, 2015, and Kerry James Marshall runs from April 23 to September 4, 2016.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA) is located at 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60611, U.S.
Visit: mcachicago.org

This content is ©2015, The Hollywood Sentinel / Bruce Edwin, all rights reserved. The Hollywood Sentinel does not necessarily endorse any advertisements or links that may be found on this page or videos herein.