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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
When I make my art rounds in LA, I go to about 60 or 70 galleries (60 for this latest trip).  My “Best Picks” are
those exhibitions that I find most interesting – or, for a few exhibitions, that I feel insult aesthetic possibilities.  
I take quick photographs to document the shows – so the images are technically fraught and frequently
reflect me in the art frame’s glazing.
Annie Leibovitz “Grace Slick and Paul Kantner”
Annie Leibovitz at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA through April 14).
This is a wonderful exhibition.  With over 5,000 of Annie Leibovitz’s photographs taken in her early years
(1970-1983) – experiencing the images is a walk down memory lane.  She started her career as a
photographer for the Rolling Stone – which was also in its infancy.  Both Leibovitz and the Rolling Stone
captured the dramatic shifts happening in American culture and politics.  I marvel at how Annie Leibovitz
seemed to be “everywhere” – both recording the scene and interpreting the humanity.  Don’t miss this
exhibition and allow plenty of time (like a couple hours).
Annie Leibovitz “Billy Carter and Margaux Hemingway”
Christoph von Weyhe at The Box (DTLA through March 30).
Christoph von Weyhe (b. 1937) has been painting the Port of Hamburg for over forty years.  Born in
Germany, he lives and works in Paris.  His visual experience of Hamburg is captured in gouache on
paper – he then uses these gouaches back in Paris to produce large-scale paintings.  It is his decades
of constant attention that offer the audience a chance to “feel” the ambiance of the port and to also
observe the artist’s stylistic evolution.   His intention and practice mirror that of his German
contemporary, Peter Dreher.
Christoph von Weyhe
Helen Rae at The Good Luck Gallery (Chinatown closing).
Helen Rae was born in 1938.  In 1990, she learned artistic practice at a progressive art studio for the
developmentally disabled located in Upland, CA.  Starting with fashion advertisements, she re-constructs
images using graphite and colored pencil.  The resulting drawings are fractured with intensified color and
action.  Her work offers insight into an artistic spirit unsullied by commercial intent.
Lee Quinones at Charlie James (Chinatown through March 2).
Lee Quinones has been a NYC graffiti artist for 40 years (operating under the moniker “LEE”).  Charlie
James has brought elements from his studio (adorned wallboard cut from the studio walls) to the gallery.  
The exhibition offers insights into process.  While I am only mildly impressed with what I saw – listening to
Charlie talk about Lee Quinones is a rich experience indeed.
Ruben Ochoa
Susanne Vielmetter (DTLA through March 23).
Susanne Vielmetter has expanded - adding a new 11,000 sq ft space at 1700 South Santa Fe.  She will
continue to actively use her Culver City gallery.  The new space is huge, nicely divided, white and has
some parking at the north side of the building.  As galleries in the DTLA come and go – I wonder if the
DTLA scene is coalescing with international and New York galleries leading the way.  Smaller galleries
are squeezed by the politics of Boyle Heights and the gargantuan re-development being driven by
residential and dot-com businesses.  As my nose tells me – a lot of industrial space is now marijuana
grow houses.  Parking is nigh impossible and the traffic aggressive.  
Amoako Boafo at Roberts Projects (Culver City closing).
Ghanaian painter Boafo paints Black diaspora with loving attention; imbuing his subjects with an upfront
presence that is at the same time vulnerable and strong.  He currently resides in Vienna and continues
his training with Viennese professors.  Perhaps that contributes to the distinct echoes of Egon Schiele
found in Boafo’s painting.
Kiel Johnson at Kopeikin (Culver City through March 9).
I was introduced to Kiel Johnson seeing his ceramic sculptures at DENK in September 2018.  This
exhibition at Kopeikin is watercolors.  What most fascinates me about Johnson is his relentless pursuit of
aesthetic and creative output.  It would appear that his fertile mind finds expression with a tireless
Alejandro Cartagena at Kopeikin (Culver City through March 9).        
Cartagena (b. 1977) lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico.  I am most familiar with his “Carpoolers”
photographs (a series significantly seen in 2016).  In this series of images called “Dismembered” he
strips/cuts away the details of the human subject to disclose the secondary specifics of setting and
circumstance.  I am reminded of the photographic work of San Diego’s John Brinton-Hogan.
Dana Weiser at Walter Maciel (Culver City closing).
Dana Weiser is a Korean-adoptee of an American family.  Her artistic expression is driven by a curiosity
for materials and modes of expression.  She is an iconoclast.  For this exhibition Weiser has
embroidered images of her real American life juxtaposed with images from Korean folk paintings.  The
embroidery is done on traditional Korean fabrics that the artist brought back from Korea. The skill of her
craft, the beauty of the materials, and the integrity of her purpose make for a fine exhibition.
Yukinori Yanagi 1987/2019
Blum & Poe (Culver City through March 23).
Curator Mika Yoshitake presents a selection of Japanese art from the 1980s and 90s.  This exhibition
carries the viewer further along the development of Japanese contemporary art – the gallery having
introduced us to the 1970’s Mono-ha.  Tim Blum was an art dealer and curator in Tokyo in the 1990s.  
This perhaps explains why the gallery has taken the lead detailing Japanese aesthetic development.
Representing both Mono-ha and the Neo-Pop of Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara – Blum & Poe
continues to inform us of Japan’s artistic evolution.
Noboru Tsubaki 1989
Tomas Saraceno at Tanya Bonakdar (Hollywood through March 2).
Argentine-born, Saraceno lives and works in Berlin.  His works are about processes and systems.  To
illustrate his theses, he constructs imaginative art production “machines”.  The most fascinating are
glass boxes in which spiders have spun their webs and are then strongly illuminated from below.  For
the box pictured above 3 different species of spiders inhabited and left the tracing of their movement
(their web strings) within the box.  From the press release: “…the glowing sculptures become real-life
maps of suspended cities inhabited by the spider…appearing in its own unique galaxy…”.
People at Jeffrey Deitch (Hollywood through April 6).
Jeffrey Deitch has not left Los Angeles.  His new, grand, Hollywood gallery is terrific.  In an exhibition called
“People” the gallery space is populated by over fifty sculptures of people executed by an equal number of
artists.  ‘Tis a wonderful experience to wander through the “throng”, marveling at all the ways that
contemporary artists interpret the sculptural figure.
Karon Davis at Jeffrey Deitch
Werner Buttner at Nino Mier (Hollywood through March 2).
Buttner (b. 1954) is a contemporary of Albert Oehlen (b. 1954) and Martin Kippenberger (1953-
1997).  Their defiant approach to painting was called “Bad Painting” and embraced anti-avantgarde
materials and narrative.  Neo-Expressionist in nature the Junge Wilde (Wild Youth) was in
opposition to the concepts of Minimalism and Conceptualism.  The works in this exhibition represent
10 years of output starting in 1980.  It is the carved figures that most attract me. These
Expressionistic figures carry on the lineage of Paul Gauguin.
Mark Seliger at Fahey/Klein (La Brea closing).
Mark Seliger (b. 1959) was chief photographer for the Rolling Stone from 1992-2002 (having started
working for the magazine in 1987).  It is, I am sure, no coincidence that both Seliger and Leibovitz are
seen in significant exhibition just across town from each other.  Crudely interpreted – Seliger’s work is
polished, staged, and theatrically presented.  Leibovitz has more the air of cinema-verite.  They are
complementary and both offer views of the performer’s world that have helped direct our engagement.
Mark Seliger
Beverly Pepper at Kayne Griffin Corcoran (lower La Brea through March 9).
Beverly Pepper is 96 years old and she is still working (based in Italy).  The small sculptures in this
exhibition were executed between 1958-1967.  In her formative years she worked alongside Lynn
Chadwick, Alexander Calder, and David Smith.  She was and is pioneering and a titan of Western
Fred Eversley at David Kordansky (lower La Brea through March 2).
For 50 years Fred Eversley has been fabricating these parabolic lens sculptures.  There is a lot of
technical expertise that Eversley has evolved and perfected to produce these complex-surfaced
volumes.  While practice makes perfect – any perfection that comes with a 21st century iteration of his
sculpture is lost on me.  Late 20th century examples seem to define his output quite completely.
Sterling Ruby at Spruth Magers (mid Wilshire through March 23).
Los Angeles-based Ruby has been focusing on prison systems.  The video debuted for this
exhibition is called “State”.  Its point can certainly be taken for its sociological implications – but is
it “art”?  Ruby’s creative output is expressed in many different formats and technologies.  Unlike
Fred Eversley he is not a one trick pony.  But much of his output seems in search of a message
with a desire to experiment with various technologies and materials.  While working for his MFA at
Art Center he was a teaching assistant for Mike Kelley.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Helen Lundeberg at Louis Stern (West Hollywood through March 2).
Helen Lundeberg (1908-1999) first showed her painting at the Fine Arts Museum in San Diego in
1931 (the same year she married Lorser Feitelson).  Together, Lundeberg and Feitelson, were
immensely important in the development of SoCal Modernism.  Genres labeled as Subjective
Classicism, Post-Surrealism, and Hard-Edge painting all owe their definition to the work of Feitelson
and Lundeberg.  In this exhibition, Louis Stern focuses on Lundeberg’s interiors.  These hard-edge
paintings functioned as mystical and ambiguous spaces.  The work is totally gorgeous and razor
Helen Lundeberg
Eric Croes at Richard Heller (Bergamot through March 9).
This Belgian artist gave members of his family disposable cameras – instructing them to shoot whatever
images they cared to document.  He then selected components of the photographs, collaging them into
new “totems” to be used as subjects for ceramic sculpture.  From the press release:  “Like it or not, our
families have a great influence on our lives. The concept for this body of work was to find a way to have
family shape not only the artist’s life but also to influence the shapes of his sculptures.”  The resultant
sculptures are masterfully formed and humorously rigorous.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay  February 2019     
Alejandro Cartagena
Art for Sale