Friday, July 20, 2007

Shlep and scrimmage; fashion and ceremony

18 July 2007

There was still more that week-end and, although I realize I’m already seriously behind in my postings (I was out of commission part of last week-end), I feel almost obligated to tie up the loose ends I left visibly dangling in the first of this series of posts with, at the very least, the wrap on this particular evening and the rest of that week-end (I’m still talking about 30 June and 1 July).

I didn’t mention Rachel Lachowicz’s play on Richard Serra’s “House of Cards” – which actually goes back to 1991 (I had a chance to look at this again last Friday) – which really requires a bit of space ‘far from the madding crowd,’ as far removed from the typical ‘Serra-scale’ as it is – a game table for two set with 52 cast plaster penises, marked as a card deck, and set to as if a game of chess or War had descended into a football scrimmage pile-up. I’m not sure if the dimensions of the piece (with the game table) approximately duplicate the dimensions of the Serra; but the point is made, both about Serra – or certainly his work of that particular late 1960s-early 1970s period – and the meta-follies of masculine scrums and scrimmages. It was great to see both Rachel and Sharon Ryan in the crowd that evening – both looking absolutely fantastic. My remarks about le ‘SoftCore’ cirque at Lightbox may also have obscured the overall fact that the show is beautifully installed.

From Lightbox, I walked up a short way to a three-artist show at Taylor de Cordoba, featuring the fast-becoming-ubiquitous Joshua Aster. I didn’t spend enough time at the show to really give it justice (I have no idea why I didn’t hit the gallery again last Friday, but I had many other stops to make that particular afternoon and L.A. traffic doesn’t exactly sweep us along); but Aster’s work here hewed closer to its UCLA Wight profile, and the work I was most immediately drawn to was by Melissa Manfull (Jill Newman was the third artist on the bill). I’ll have to have another look before I decide whether the Manfull pieces are merely a fleeting fascination.

Speaking of the logistical challenges of L.A. traffic, my last stop that evening was – of all places – the Brentwood Country Mart. What can I say? That’s where the Simon Watson group show of recent local art school grads – yes, the second Simon Watson-curated show of that evening. I don’t know how most people in L.A. feel about it – my body has apparently never adjusted to geographic scale of the Los Angeles metropolitan region; my foot has absolutely no fetish for the accelerator (my shoes even less) – but from Culver City to Brentwood is a shlep and a half. I made it, though – as a sentimental journey of sorts. Once upon a time (for a short time), this was actually my neighborhood in L.A.; and my older brother and I both have an odd attachment to it.

Like everything else in L.A., the Mart, for better and worse, has undergone a certain upscaling. But the courtyard is essentially the same place where one might once have noshed on burgers and fries with one’s movie star and star lawyer and doctor neighbors and their children spilling out of the station wagons (remember those? in that slightly more civilized time before L.A. went to the SUVs) in the parking lot. There’s a fairly expansive, well-lit space for temporary installations adjacent to it, and this is where Watson installed his show. But – promises, promises – the show seemed pallid and watered-down compared with what was promised. Where were Joe Deutch, Chris Badger, and Jonathan Lee-Stevens? Joe Deutch was there – in person – at the show, but I didn’t see any work by him. There was one Jacob Stewart-Halevy (another UCLA grad) painting and another work in mixed media – and only the painting (“Concave Cinema”) had anything approaching the presence of the work I saw at the New Wight. Heather Rasmussen showed a beautiful series of lightjet prints taken mostly from photographs shot at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. Rasmussen clearly has a gift for finding the concrete expressions of metaphor in the physical, especially the man-made, world; and her adept reconfigurations/re-orientations of these photographs show her capable of weaving them into an austere but exuberant poetry.

Jim Rosenfield, who now owns the Mart, was on hand for the occasion and seemed eager to show off the place. The Mart seems to have upscaled (not that it was ever exactly ‘down-market’) along vaguely English lines (there are a couple of shops with vaguely English lineage – one, Jigsaw, out of London) – the Chelsea flower market come to Clerkenwell and Richmond – and he took some pride in pointing out its new pleasures – or perhaps it was simply painfully obvious that I was seriously challenged in the shmatte department. I didn’t have the heart to tell him there was about as much chance of my dropping any loot (as if I had any) there as in London itself. He’s a smart businessman, though. He knows how to sell real estate; but he also knows how to buy art. He’s already collecting Joe Deutch. What does that tell you?

MORE TK -- it doesn't stop there -- but I'll have to post in a few, uh, ... well -- check back in a few hours.


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1springday said...
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