Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sublime Remains

I'm posting these notes unedited -- because there's really no point at this late date. As readers may guess, I've been up against some pretty impossible deadlines lately. So bear with me -- there will be artillery copy soon enough to make it all worthwhile.

20 May 2007

There’s no time to post because I’m flying past my deadline – and if my editor hates one thing MORE than a late blog-posting, it’s a blown deadline. She will not tolerate it – and neither will I. I’m already this[]far away from a breakdown. But yeah – you know I’m going to try to get around to look at the stuff I simply MUST look at (OR listen to, or – the only thing that really gets slighted is my reading – which just keeps piling up bedside; my bed is starting to look like a cubicle with walls of books. Blame it on Proust and my poor French).

Before a bit of Hammer reconnaissance, I headed downtown. I was running too late to cover Chinatown, but I did manage to make it to Bank for Veronica Bailey’s intriguing show of photographs. Maybe a bit too much intrigue and not enough … uh, text?? Or, in this instance, the SUBSTANCE??? The photographs purport to show letters and various communications between Lee Miller and, among others (mostly) Roland Penrose. There poised in what look like cubbyholes or vertical mail slots so that all we see is the letters’ or cards’ or mailgrammes’ edges – with a few corners turned back to reveal handwriting that may or may not be Lee Miller’s. (I will say that, by comparison with some photos and facsimiles I’ve seen, one of the fragments did look something like Lee Miller’s hand.) But so what? It’s just a bloody tease. You don’t show something like that without displaying at least some portions of the text. It’s a total cheat that I REALLY don’t have time for.

But maybe the tease was deliberate – a lead-up to the REAL thing – which was Susan Silton’s installation in the next gallery. In a way it was perfect: the text-based wall piece perfectly encapsulated what the Bailey photographs were about (which I’m guessing is why they were paired up). (Does this mean I’ve changed my mind? Well …. if it works for Susan …. I still want to see the text.) Set high on one wall – literally fading into the wall – as if alternately sinking or floating away from the wall – was the word R-E-M-A-I-N-S. It makes me shake a little bit just to think about it – though I’m especially vulnerable right now in my editorially-challenged state. Silton has a way of touching the NERVE. (Hey Susan, can you spare an editor?)

I was dying of hunger, so I stopped for pizza at The Rocket, this adorable 40s-ish Deco pizzeria right across 4th Street (half a block up from Pete’s – I just LOVE this particular block of L.A.) before moving on to Bert Green and Pharmaka. And then I flew over to Westwood for less than an hour which was simply cheating myself. The show’s depths (I’m looking mostly at the Morales, Monahan and Anna Sew Hoy spaces) do not necessarily present themselves immediately. (But maybe that’s the way I feel about art in general. You almost have to live with certain pieces.) So on to Margo Leavin who, speaking of the Hammer, is showing another Hammer alum, Brenna Youngblood, who was one of the stars of last summer – with a project room at the Hammer, among the most striking works in group shows at both Margo Leavin and Carl Berg – showing some of the strongest and most original mixed media work in painting and photography – a truly original hybridization of painting and photography. The work here seems to be moving in two parallel directions – towards both painterly abstraction on a grid, and slightly more surreal, photography-referenced work – most of it on a fairly generous scale. As if set off from work that marks her forays into new territory, there are two paintings on the far wall (just inside the doorway – at the end of the reception area and office entry) that are simply amazing. It’s a terrific show overall.

I strolled over to the Scott McFarland show at Regen (oh yeah – I still haven’t posted those Pierson notes – sorry about that) – beautiful large scale (40x30 – more or less on that scale) inkjet prints of photographs, taken mostly in or near Berlin. There’s a wonderful photograph of the porcupines in their stunning, snow-dusted rocky enclosure at the Zoologischer Garten in Berlin. Makes me long for winter on this perfect spring evening in Los Angeles. On to Lightbox (I always enjoy seeing Kim Light) for a kind of reunion of New Yorkers around Robert Hawkins (gee, from walls of fire to Ball of Fire all in the same week ….but the copy, the copy). I run into opera buddy (I guess that figures) wearing shocking pink; which reminds me I’m already falling down on my resolution to wear more fashion in honor of Isabella Blow. Onward and up La Cienega to Marc Selwyn for Tom Knechtel. And – well, I could stop here. It’s simply beautiful – no that doesn’t quite do it justice. For those of us who’ve known Tom for a long time, it’s a promise fulfilled. There’s something new here – a new coherence and cogency – and the same time a charm coming through that in no way diminishes its import. I (like everyone apparently) stop at a drawing of a horse on an antique cream paper and almost gasp. It’s sublime. It may be the best work he’s ever shown; it’s the best show I’ve ever seen of his work (that drawing should be in the Met), and I hope a lot of people get to see it.

You know – I have to stop. I’m blowing off the LACE auction – but there’s just no way. I’m tied up tomorrow … and then – well I have something Monday, too. I’ll have to see if I can collect some intelligence on the auction between drafts.


1 comment:

Julie Zemel said...

This is a belated comment for your entry from the 29 of May. I just wanted to thank you for your kind comments about my installation of Thingscape in Fette's gallery as part of Second Nature.

-Julie Zemel