Tag Archives: Contemporary Art

2019 LA Art Show: In Review

 


Photo Credit, Moira Cue, 2019, LA Art Show, 2019.
VIP GALA

I am one of the few people who has attended the VIP Gala of the LA Art Show every year since it was first held in the LA Convention Center in DTLA instead of the Santa Monica Barker Hangar. In one sense, it’s the most important night of the show. Celebrities are sighted, including hosts of the annual St. Jude Children’s Hospital Research Center Benefit—This year’s hosts were Gavin Rossdale and Kate Beckinsale. And, as the Bruce Lurie Gallery’s Instagram page reminds me, sales are made.

I wonder every year if the Gala seems different because I am not the same person I was 365 days ago. The way I dress changes, what I eat, drink, or don’t eat and drink changes. This year,  no alcohol, and no animal products. Ironically, Pink’s Hotdogs served one of the better vegan options with a full sized vegan hotdog. There was also an all-vegan bruschetta station by Vespaio, a lovely restaurant on Grand Ave, right next to The Broad.

Opening night—which certain years has had all the theatricality of an Elton John concert circa 1973—felt calm, subdued even. They say when you buy a blue Volvo, suddenly the streets are full of blue Volvos.  A normally functioning brain filters out so much superfluous information every day. But I only saw a handful of women draped in sequins, glamourous feathered headgear, and stilettos; and this year no one was wearing the equivalent of a human scale plushy onesie or full-body latex appendage.

What stood out to me was the number of attendees, male and female, wearing the same thing that I settled on: a neutral tone business suit paired with high-end, funky lifestyle sneakers. Silver sneakers, striped sneakers, neon sneakers; even a little girl in a velvet party dress with blinking lights on her sneakers. Of course, some men just wore men’s suits with regular dress shoes. Some guys never change.

There were roughly 220 galleries from 18 countries participating this year, according to the cheerful lady who introduced herself as Kim (Martindale’s) “other sister.” She lives in Alaska, and therefor rarely attends the show. Kim Martindale has been the LA Art Show owner for 23 years, and is a major figure in the exhibition of tribal art nationally.

CATEGORIES

This year’s exhibit space defines galleries as members of several different sections: Core, Modern + Contemporary, DIVERSEartLA, Featured Programming, Roots, Ink Painting, Littletopia, Dialogs LA (a slate of talks and panels), Project Space, Works on Paper, Ethnographic Art, and LUXURY pbsg. Whew. Each of these sections has its own vibe and criteria and some galleries fit more than one category. To learn more about the groups, click https://www.laartshow.com/about-the-show/.

For the purpose of this review, we’re going to talk about things I like. That may mean that great work in some categories isn’t covered because I just didn’t see it.  Some sections are more prominent than others, and sometimes great work is missed because it’s hung in an interior corner with a lot of other work, or because of traffic patterns. To make sure you don’t miss out, you really need to go more than once, ideally at different times of day, and different days of the week.

BLACK AND WHITE CALLIGRAPHY:                                                     JAPANESE ARTISTS AT KAMIYA ART

The Kamiya Art booth is the first place I was drawn to. My recent influences include calligraphic as well as black and white work, and I have always found the balance between a minimalist palette and expressionistic brushwork in more contemporary Japanese calligraphy to be very appealing.

Kamiya Art; Photo Credit, ©2019, Moira Cue; LA Art Show, 2019.

I discussed the quintessentially Japanese ideas of kanji (vertical lettering derived from Chinese character) and koan (sometimes explained as a nonsensical riddle that can expand the mind) with Kei Takahashi, while exploring the work of Morihiro Hosokawa, who also happens to be a former prime minister of Japan. During Hosokawa’s tenure as prime minister, from 1993 to 1994, he is known for statements acknowledging Japan’s role as an aggressor during WWII. According to Wikipedia, “Hosokawa’s acts toward China and Korea inspired Russian president Boris Yeltsin to apologize to Hosokawa for the Soviet detention of Japanese prisoners of war in Siberia.”

The gallerist explained to me that the stark black and white folding screens, very nicely installed and displayed, did not make “sense.” The word “hell” was next to the word “Buddha.” “Oh, but that’s the life. That’s the human condition,” I said. We smiled, and laughed when I mentioned that George Bush has also turned to painting, but it’s not as good. (Though to be fair, the paintings of George Bush Jr. have a certain “Howard Finster reincarnated as trust fund kid who went to art school and learned a few sloppy shortcuts” naïve-ish charm. However, I don’t expect to see them selling for six figures at an international art fair any time soon. You can, however, see them online here. https://www.designboom.com/art/george-w-bush-exhibit-painted-portraits-04-07-2014/

Kimaya Art also displayed the calligraphic art of Yu-ichi Inoue (1916-1985), who is said to be the father or liberator of modern Japanese calligraphy. For Western audiences familiar with Cy Twombly, his work would be the closest analogous example: sensitivity, great emotion, vulnerability and transcendence are concentrated into the expressive form of text. Inoue is said to have “liberated” calligraphy in the modern Japanese art world from a formal, stylized expression to a human expression of great feeling.

Kamiya Art, Photo Credit ©2019, Moira Cue.

 

 

While Hosokawa, born into one of Japans’ noble families, has an almost militant energy—Yu-ichi, who was without the financial means to pursue his art full time until his retirement from teaching at the age of 60—shows in his lines a poignant longing that only those who have endured deprivation and worked, patiently, diligently, quietly, toward their own liberation, can fully understand.

Yu-ichi Inoue was born into an impoverished family. At 19 he became an elementary school teacher, and was eventually assigned to teach an advanced calligraphy class, which inspired him to take calligraphy seriously. When attacks on the Japanese mainland began in 1944, Yu-ichi was sent to the country with 35 6th grade boys. The children were ordered to return to Tokyo with their instructor after they graduated March 3rd, despite Yu-ichi’s pleas to keep the students out of Tokyo. When they returned, Yu-ichi found his parents’ house had been destroyed, so he volunteered to serve as a night watch at the school.

On March 10, 1945, the Great Tokyo Air Raid took place, and there were around 1,000 casualties at the school, including most of his students. Yu-ichi himself fell unconscious from heat and smoke, and barely escaped death after several hours of artificial respiration. Decades later, he would create multiple-character works inspired by this memory. His single character works include, notably, letters of the name of a female teacher, 28 years his junior, with whom he developed an intense infatuation that he would later confess, with shame, to his wife.

Yu-ichi Inoue is known as a founding member of the group Bokunjinkai, who published a magazine called Bokujin, with the intention of liberating calligraphy from binding tradition to embrace the naked human spirit. Calligraphy, in East Asian culture, is said to be the highest of all art forms. But it is poorly understood in the West.

The life of Yu-ichi Inoue is filled with poignant anecdotes. In his thirties, he was evicted from an apartment for staining the floors and walls with paint. He spent his life’s savings to purchase a house, but after buying a lot, nothing was left for construction. In his forties, he garnered critical acclaim, for example, being selected for the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1957 and subsequently included by critic Herbert Read in his book, A Concise History of Modern Painting. But Yu-ichi was not able to concentrate fully on calligraphy until 1976, when he retired from teaching at the age of 60.

I have asked myself many times if, in painting, victory deferred is sweeter. I admire artists who bend the world to their will; artists who succeed; artists who are compensated for what they do. It is not an easy task. Yet the artist who faces obstacles, who is delayed acclaim, who collects energy for his art rather than expending it on a public persona, is sometimes the one who creates work that endures, work that will nourish the viewer again and again, over a long journey.

PART TWO, CRITIC’S CHOICE: LA ART SHOW 2019

CHINESE ARTISTS AT MICHAEL GOEDHUIS

I was delighted to meet Michael Goedhuis himself and his assistant from London. They were, of course, charming people. The pamphlet provided by the gallery, “Chinese Contemporary Ink Art: Why Buy Now?” is an exemplary piece of cogent marketing, and makes most of the arguments I would make in favor of purchasing calligraphic work in general and from this gallery specifically.

And so, there is little left for me to say. A critic should not simply parrot the gallery; she should add something of her own, she should not pass on inferior ideas unworthy of the art they are linked to or regurgitate specious but stylized and prolix arguments that only serve to foist off an inferior product with fireworks and trendy mental gymnastics.

But there is an exception to every rule, and this is it. Mr. Goedhuis a rare man who is as good at writing about art as he is at curating, displaying, and selling it. Just read this pamphlet.

https://www.michaelgoedhuis.com/media/GoedhuisMedia/publications/publicationsDocuments/20151022143250_8whybuynow.pdf

Goedhuis makes a clear and compelling argument in favor of buying work by a handful of contemporary Chinese calligraphic artists. These arguments include the direction of the market, the annihilation of traditional Chinese architecture, the rise of China’s investor class, and culturally-specific value that is hidden only because of the distractibility and attraction to bright shiny objects that afflicts certain minds in the West.

Many people are frightened to buy art, because they don’t want to be taken advantage of or look like a fool or risk being seen as having bad taste. (Those who have truly awful taste are immune to this fear.) Art is expensive, art is personal, and there is a strange code that says we should tell inexperienced people that art is never to be purchased as an investment. But if you give no thought to the trajectory of the art’s value before you purchase it, you are failing to benefit from the mind-enhancing powers of art; just as Goedhuis asks the reader to  “… understand that art for the Chinese is part and parcel of their concept of morality and how to live one’s life and how to order society” I would further add, and ask, the buyer to understand that buying art is a cognitive development tool which requires deep thinking (get your mental workouts in) about the direction of human society. It is like placing your paper boat on a current.

–Moira Cue

An internationally recognized multi-media artist, Moira Cue attended the Master’s Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  A prolific artist, she resides in Los Angeles, with works in collections world-wide.

This content is (c). 2019, Moira Cue Multimedia, Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.

L.A. Art Show Lifts Up the Spirit of 2017

Top row, left to right: Mother of Brooke, Kim Martindale (Producer/Partner: L.A. Art Show), Emma Roberts, Scott Diament (President/CEO) Palm Beach Show Group, Brooke (St. Jude), and VIP guests.

The now legendary L.A. Art Show is back.  After a strongly divided country emerges in to the new year after one of the most heated Presidential races in American history, The L.A. Art Show launched last night into 2017 with perhaps just what this great city of Los Angeles, and the entertainment capitol of the world–needs; Art.

Art–The Universal Language

Art is after all, the great communicator. A universal language that began with the dawn of time and birth of humanity, art is divided by no race, creed, color or ethnic line. Whether rich or poor, an artist can grab some ink and paper, or forage for some canvas and paints, and in hope– release a part of their spirit in that art, for at least some of the world to glimpse and see.  Art can heal, or it can incite. It is the eternal voice of the artist that out-lives its’ creator.

The L.A. Art show, now in its stunning 22nd year, is with us again to welcome in an emotional 2017, when part of the nation is still in shock and mourning, and another part is in either secret or fearless public celebration of its new President.

Scott Diament and Kim Martindale Soar

Like this great city of Los Angeles itself, the L.A. Art Show is liberal, political, brave, and magnificent. The brainchild of Palm Beach Show Group President and CEO Scott Diament and Producer and Partner Kim Martindale, the rainy, gray skies of a winter Los Angeles literally parted this special day, and shone forth L.A’s famous sunshine, giving guests, patrons, participants, and the stars a reminder that yes–L.A. does have the best weather in the world, of any famous city.

Emma Roberts Shines Bright

Stars glided in this exiting night for the VIP Opening Night Gala, including the lovely and talented Emma Roberts, who hosted the Patron Level Opening Night Premiere Party Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Emma Roberts proved to be a sweet, genuine actor, discussing her support for St. Jude, which pays the entire bill for special needs patients at this hospital who have what could be a life threatening illness.

Dancing Barefoot

Emma Roberts later walked quickly around the L.A. Art Show–after removing her heels to comfortably go barefoot in the sprawling Los Angeles Convention Center, and appeared to be purchasing at least one print of a famous master work.  Master Work prints, for those not in the business of art–can run between several thousand to around one hundred thousand dollars for a limited edition, which is well worth it for a master.

Up in Smoke

Host Committee members Natasha and Cheech Marin were back–Cheech Marin is that Cheech from the seventies iconic Cheech and Chong comic fame.

Like a Rolling Stone

Musical guests Whitney Myer Trio rocked the VIP stage with some songs including a commendable cover of the Rolling Stones.  Even more commendable, considering a female was doing Mick’s voice, making it all the more interesting.

Eat, Drink and be Merry

Endless gourmet food from Chef Jeffrey Nimer of Haute Chefs LA was offered, as was endless glasses of red and white wine and other beverages, at a myriad of open bars.  More endless food from a bevy of top local diners and restaurants served guests all from ice cream, chocolates, coffee, donuts, tacos, and more.  White table clothed tables filled up hundreds of VIP guests seated; enjoying dinner, deserts, and socializing with other patrons.

Art–A Man’s Name

The evening began with an exclusive collectors’ preview followed by the opening party, which also featured performance works by Carlos Martiel, Eugenia Vargas Pereira, Raphael Montañez Ortiz, Melanie Pullen, and Narcissister.

Back on the main floor, rows and rows of gallerists’ booths treated hundreds and later thousands of patrons and guests to fine art from some of the top galleries around the world.  Denis Block Gallery (Beverly Hills) is back, and shows a nice Lichtenstein litho, Eckert Fine Art (CT) is back with those fabulous parrots (Lories) by Hunt Slonem, artist Ryuma Imai (Japan) shows some very nice work including Giraffes and Bats at Yuji Fukuda, Robert Adelman (Oakland, CA) shows some nice Picasso ceramics, and Jerry Suqi is back from Chicago with some great Klimpt prints (collotype).

The Antique and Jewelry show with the LA Art Show, which was scaled back last year, is now gone, save for a select few booths. The classical side further too seems to be scaled back this year.

Naked as a Jaybird

Continuing the trend of last year which started showing live nudity with performance artists, this year has one or more partially body-painted, topless young women walking around in a near trance,  another group thong clad topless, body painted male and female artists doing dancerly moves and poses, and an African American performance artist Carlos Martiel lying totally naked on a few inch platform on the ground.  (Parents, keep this in mind when bringing children). Yes–art has nudity. Remember the Romans and Greeks from Art History?

Tony Song –the Selling Machine

Artist Tony Song (originally from China–now in L.A) is back, who had already sold a large painting when I spoke with him, and Angel Ricardo Rios is featured with a striking work called “The Garden of Excesses.”  MFA returns with their usual great prints of Master Works including Warhol, Picasso, and Chagall, as well as some nice Picasso ceramics.

There is much more to tell and see at this exciting show, which I will cover in the next installment of this review series. The L.A. Art Show runs daily through Saturday, January 14th from 11am to 7pm, and on its final day–Sunday, from 11am to 5pm.

General Admission Ticket Prices – per person (well worth it)

One Day Pass: $30 – Receive $5 discount if purchased online in advance

Four-Day Pass: $60 – Received $5 discount if purchased online in advance

Location: Los Angeles Convention Center: West Hall, at 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, California, 90015.

Visit the official website at: www.LAARTSHOW.com

This content is copyright, 2017, Bruce Edwin, Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.

 

MOCA Board Names Lifetime Trustees

The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA), announced today that its Board of Trustees has designated Maria Arena Bell and David G. Johnson as Life Trustees, acknowledging their significant commitment and service to the institution. Life Trustees are current or previous trustees elected by MOCA’s Board of Directors in recognition of especially meritorious service rendered to the museum. MOCA Life Trustees include Eli Broad, Betye Monell Burton, Blake Byrne, Lenore S. Greenberg, Audrey Irmas, Frederick M. Nicholas, and Thomas E. Unterman.

Bell joined the MOCA Board in 2008 and served as co-chair with Johnson from 2009 until her departure from the board in 2014. Johnson joined MOCA’s Board in 2005. He served as co-chair from 2008 to 2013, first with Unterman, then with Bell, and continues to serve as chair emeritus. As co-chairs, Bell and Johnson revitalized MOCA, initiating and leading a campaign that raised over $120 million for MOCA’s endowment.

“Maria and David have been strong and significant members of the Board, and they were at the helm during a very challenging moment. They led MOCA through the storm and into a healthier, more prosperous time. The Museum and the entire Board are very grateful for their dedication, leadership, and hard work. I am happy that the Board acknowledged Maria and David by making them Life Trustees of MOCA,” remarks MOCA co-chair Maurice Marciano.

Maria Arena Bell

Maria Arena Bell is a television writer and producer who founded Vitameatavegamin Productions to develop projects for film, television, and new media. She is the Emmy Award-winning former head writer and executive producer of The Young and The Restless, the number-one daytime drama, where she had unprecedented success and led her team to two Writers Guild of America Awards. She has also written essays for T: The New York Times Style Magazine, C Magazine, Aspen Magazine, and many others.

Bell chaired five artist galas for MOCA, working closely with artists Takashi Murakami, Francesco Vezzoli, Doug Aitken, Marina Abramovic, and Rob Pruitt on events that were both financial successes and complete, immersive artworks. She co-chaired the endowment campaign and two director searches at MOCA. She chaired the Americans for the Arts National Arts Awards for over a decade, as vice chair of the board, and received the Legacy Award in 2015 for her extensive work in arts education. Bell also chaired P.S. Arts, an organization that provides art in Title 1 public elementary schools in the Los Angeles area, for five years, then served as president (then president at large) and chaired their signature fundraisers for over a decade.

Bell was appointed to the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission in 2013 by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and is a former California State Commissioner on the Commission for the Status of Women and Girls. She recently received the 25th Annual Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award for her work in education and was inducted into the Newport Harbor High School Hall of Fame in 2015. She is also the recipient of a Women’s Image Network Award for Women in Entertainment and Philanthropy. Bell currently serves on the board of MoMA PS 1 and is on the board of advisors for the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University.

David G. Johnson

David G. Johnson is the founder of Act 4 Entertainment, a Los Angeles–based filmed entertainment and new media content company created to motivate and inspire audiences towards social action. Johnson most recently produced the live stage musical American Psycho in London and New York. He executive produced The People Speak, a feature-length documentary based on Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States, and Angels in Exile, a feature-length documentary about street kids of Durban, South Africa. Johnson also produced The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby, a feature-length documentary about the career and family life of controversial CIA director Colby, and Company Town, the upcoming feature-length documentary about environmental injustice in Crossett, Arkansas.

Johnson was a cofounder of Agility Capital, LLC, a venture fund for early-stage companies. He was formerly a senior executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM) and a partner of the international law firm White & Case.

Johnson co-chaired (with Bell) two director searches at MOCA and led the endowment campaign. He also led a 2008 initiative to raise nearly $57 million and stabilize MOCA’s finances.

Johnson is a board member and former chair of Public Counsel Law Center, the nation’s largest public interest pro bono law firm. He founded the Center’s Opportunity Under Law Project to address economic injustice through large-scale impact litigation. In 2012, Congressional Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) presented Johnson with Public Counsel Law Center Founders Award for his commitment to the organization.

Prior to his Life Trustee designation, Johnson served as chair emeritus on the MOCA Board of Trustees. Johnson is also a trustee of California Institute of the Arts, a member of the board of directors of Children Now and KCETLink, and a member of the board of advisors of the Yale School of Drama.

Visiting Artist: Terry Riley

Composer and performer Terry Riley is one of the founding fathers of the Minimalist Movement. His landmark composition In C (1964) established Minimalism as a vital force in contemporary music and his work continues to be a major influence today. His career, spanning five decades, far from being confined to the minimalist category, has always crossed boundaries and been marked by its effortless transformations and morphing from one strata of thought to another. Highly developed elements of Indian music, jazz, and African and Middle Eastern music can be heard in intricate melding in much of his work. Terry’s list of collaborators includes La Monte Young, Chet Baker, John Cale, Don Cherry, Krishna Bhatt, Gyan Riley, Stefano Scodanibbio, the Kronos Quartet, the Bang on a Can All Stars, artist Bruce Conner, and poet Michael McClure.

Terry Riley–Doug Aitken: Electric Earth

Minimalist composer Terry Riley’s revolutionary 1964 classic In C provided a new concept in musical form, changing the course of 20th-century music. His hypnotic, multilayered, brightly orchestrated improvisations and compositions based on interlocking repetitive patterns set the stage for the prevailing interest in a new tonality, making him one of the most important living composers. Riley has been cited as a major influence by composers Phillip Glass and John Adams, and rock band The Who. During the six-day residency at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, running from January 4–9, 2017, Riley improvises solo as part of a series of in-gallery programs focusing on core ideas in the exhibition Doug Aitken: Electric Earth.

Riley will create a series of improvisational performances in dialogue with the multiple moving image installations inside the exhibition Doug Aitken: Electric Earth. In each performance, Riley will use a combination of instruments to explore and respond to the different environments within the exhibition, including the multi-video-channel works migration (empire) (2008) and SONG 1 (2012/2015).

On Thursday, January 5, Riley will do a one-hour concert performance starting at 7pm, and again on Sunday, January 8 starting at 3pm. During the remainder of the residency dates Riley will be doing impromptu performances inside the exhibition. All performances are free with museum admission.

THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART, LOS ANGELES (MOCA)
About MOCA:

Founded in 1979, MOCA’s vision is to be the defining museum of contemporary art. In a relatively short period of time, MOCA has achieved astonishing growth with three Los Angeles locations of architectural renown; a world-class permanent collection of more than 6,800 objects, international in scope and among the finest in the world; hallmark education programs that are widely emulated; award-winning publications that present original scholarship; groundbreaking monographic, touring, and thematic exhibitions of international repute that survey the art of our time; and cutting-edge engagement with modes of new media production.

MOCA is a not-for-profit institution that relies on a variety of funding sources for its activities.

Hours:

MOCA Grand Avenue (located at 250 South Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles) is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 11am to 6pm; Thursday from 11am to 8pm; Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm; and closed on Tuesday.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (located at 152 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012) has the same hours as MOCA Grand Avenue during exhibitions. Please call ahead or go to moca.org  for the exhibition schedule for The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.

MOCA Pacific Design Center (located at 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069) is open Tuesday through Friday from 11am to 5pm; Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm; and closed on Monday.

The MOCA Store at MOCA Grand Avenue (located at 250 South Grand Avenue) is open Monday through Wednesday and Friday from 10:30am to 5:30pm; Thursday from 10:30am to 8:30pm; and Saturday and Sunday from 10:30am to 6:30pm.

Museum Admission: General admission is free for all MOCA members. General admission is also free for everyone at MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on Thursdays from 5pm to 8pm, courtesy of Wells Fargo.  General admission is always free at MOCA Pacific Design Center. General admission at MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA is $15 for adults; $8 for students with I.D.; $10 for seniors (65+); and free for children under 12.

More Information: For 24-hour information on current exhibitions, education programs, and special events, call 213-626-6222 or access MOCA online at moca.org.

This content is copyright, 2016, MOCA, Hollywood Sentinel, all rights reserved.