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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
I got up to LA in time to see all the shows that are closing.  For those who might use “Best Picks” as a
gallery guide…c’est dommage.  Best wishes for a temperate summer.
Larry Bell at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA through Sept. 23).
There are 30 glass cube pieces that span Larry Bell’s sculptural oeuvre from the early 1960s to the present.  
The installation pictured above is his most recent (photographs of the rest of the show is prohibited).  In one
room the viewer can review the whole trajectory of Bell’s glass cubes.
Roni Horn at Hauser & Wirth (DTLA).
Having just been in Stykkisholmujr, Iceland (where Roni Horn has an installation) I have been regularly
thinking of her.  What a surprise to walk into Hauser & Wirth to see her latest sculpture.  This sculpture is
solid cast glass with as-cast surfaces.  How they made the perfectly shaped and polished top surface with
no final glass polishing – mind-boggling.  The top glass surface perceptually seems to be water.  Wow,
what a piece.
Asad Faulwell at DENK (DTLA closing).
Faulwell (American-Iranian) lives in LA.  The collaged paintings are highly worked.  The decorative motifs
are based on Islamic textiles, mosaics, and illuminated manuscripts.  The subject of his paintings are the
travesties to which women are subjected when they are politically polarized.  But his manner of painting is
exuberant and riotously colorful.  These works draw from Pattern & Decoration, religious iconography,
Indian miniatures, Symbolism.  There is density at every level, perceptual and intellectual.
Shizu Saldamando at Charlie James (Chinatown through July 14).
The works by Saldamando (MFA CalArts) are convincing for her talents.  Her subjects, drawn from her
Latin community in LA, offer faces of an ethnic culture that is core and foundation to the Los Angeles
basin.  As Charlie writes in the press release, her portraits pay homage to “friends and peers in the vein of
Alex Katz and David Hockney.”  I appreciate the power of well-done portraits to share real social networks.
Jonathan Lyndon Chase at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through July 14).
Born in 1989 with a MFA from PAFA, this Philadelphia native’s paintings (done on stretched bed sheets)
are of black, gay men frolicking.  The gallery references his work with Egon Schiele.  I think of Charles
Garabedian.  The work is energetic, enigmatic, and unapologetic.
Alex Anderson at Gavlak (Hollywood through July 14).
This is Alex Anderson’s first exhibition after gaining his MFA in ceramics at UCLA. His baroque ceramic
sculptures mix Japanese Pop with Chinoiserie florals.  It is an amalgamation of all that isn’t usually found in
ceramic sculpture.  
Jordi Alcaraz at Jack Rutberg (La Brea through August 31).
This is a comprehensive exhibition of the Catalan artist, Jordi Alcaraz.  To quote the critic Peter Selz:
“Alcaraz’s pieces have magic without resorting to tricks. …with contradictions and enigmas…”  There is
nothing more “Spanish” than Catalan artists (think Julio Gonzalez, Joan Miro, Antoni Tapies).
Todd Carpenter at KP Projects (La Brea through July 28).
Having liked earlier paintings by Carpenter, I looked forward to this show.  What I liked formerly were his
grisaille paintings that seemed illuminated somewhere between night and noon (sharp image lines and
shadows- but totally done in grays).  The works in this show are totally competent.  But only the small (2 x
8 inch) painting above caught a second look.
James Turrell at Kayne Griffin Corcoran (lower La Brea through Aug. 25.
Four unique “Glass” works (light apertures where spatial depth is ambiguous) are installed.  He calls his
“Autonomous Structures” “containers for the light; the art is in the experience of the viewer.”  Having seen
these unadorned, plaster architectural maquettes several times over the years, I am beginning to
understand Turrell’s affinity for and shared sensibilities with the architect Irving Gill (1870-1936).
Turrell
Beverly Pepper at Kayne Griffin Corcoran (lower La Brea).
This solitary, huge Cor-ten sculpture by Beverly Pepper (born 1922) is installed in the forecourt of the
gallery.  This is a kick-ass giant by an artist now 96 years old.
Lauren Halsey
Made in LA 2018 at The Hammer (Westwood through Sept. 2).
The fourth iteration of the Hammer’s biennial includes 33 artists.  The exhibition does not excite me.  It is
akin to watching the current world’s evening news.  The work is polarized; acknowledges divisive attitudes;
is sober.  
Hands down my favorite artist is Lauren Halsey.  Her walk-in sculptural environment is built of plywood and
gypsum made to look like fine sandstone.  She has inscribed all the surfaces with images of the
community, South Central LA.  There are people, lowriders, tags, and landmarks.
Tom Wudl 1982
LA Louver (Venice through Aug. 17).
Over two months this summer, the gallery is rotating works on the walls to ultimately represent 60 artists by
100 artworks.  It is a constantly changing group show – a delicious mix in aesthetic motion.  In the current
iteration, these two works (Wudl and Morimura) knocked me out.
Yasumasa Morimura 1990
Dan McCleary at Craig Krull (Bergamot closing).
In addition to experiencing the quietly beautiful portraits and still-lifes of Dan McCleary, last Saturday
morning offered a chance to see and hear my good friends, Dan McCleary and John Sonsini, discuss their
respective outlooks on painting portraits.  These two artists are the best portraiture artists on this coast.  
McCleary’s portraits are luminist, acknowledging painting from the Italian Renaissance, while reflecting
modern contemplation (dare I say Existentialism).
Joakim Ojanen at Richard Heller (Bergamot through July 28).
The Stockholm-based artist spent the spring living and working in LA to produce this exhibition.  The
paintings and ceramic sculptures in this body of work
are nuts.  The artist must be nuts.  With
flamboyant exuberance, he neither courts low art nor high art.  His vision is iconoclastically indulgent in
the self. I found myself thinking of the Northern European CoBrA artists and the impulses they were
driven by.  Being in his exhibition leads to infectious smiling.
Lawrence Gipe at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through July 14).
The semiotics of propaganda, power and meaning in authoritarian visual language continue to be the
visual interest in Gipe’s latest paintings.  The meaning for which his beautiful, romantic cityscapes are
imbued takes on particular significance with the fascist rhetoric that increasingly drives our
contemporary world.
Bruce Cohen at Leslie Sacks (Bergamot through July 28).
Having seen years-worth of Bruce Cohen’s luscious interior-scapes, this exhibition of drawings
demonstrates how the artist selects and refines what he ultimately paints in oils.  These preparatory works
are beautiful and intimate in their own particular way.  Understanding the path a master takes, expands
the
the audience’s appreciation.
Olga de Amaral at Latin American Masters (Bergamot through Sept.).
Colombian de Amaral (born 1932) is a master whose artworks have raised the consciousness for Latin
American art.  Weaving fabric and silver and gold foils her works are both paintings and sculpture.  She
has been doing this work since the 60’s.  Thinking of the raging popularity of El Anatsui (Ghanaian
working in Nigeria) it is a mark of how difficult it has been for Latin artists to capture the spotlight.
Jay DeFeo at Marc Selwyn (Beverly Hills through Sept. 5).
We don’t often get to see DeFeo’s artwork.  Jay DeFeo 1928-1989 was a significant Bay-area Beat artist.  
The works in this exhibition come out of her estate.  I never cared for her work – it is dark and obscure.  
But for those who like seeing history up-close…
Wendell Dayton at Blum & Poe (Culver City through Aug. 18).
Dayton has been making sculptures and functioning as a true artist for over five decades.  During his
“youth” while in New York he rubbed shoulders with some of the greats – but the closest he got to being

seen
in an art venue was as a museum guard at the Whitney and maintenance painter at MOMA.  For the
last twenty years he has lived and worked in the rural San Fernando Valley.  Over all the decades he has
constantly made work without ever being a professional artist.  This exhibition is fantastic.  The work is not
refined; not academic.  He has been hidden in plain sight making honest work that is not manipulative; with
no sense of pretension. Just terrific.
Wendell Dayton
Wendell Dayton
Ed Ruscha at Honor Fraser (Culver City through Sept.).
I thought I knew Ed Ruscha.  This exhibition of prints, ephemera, and films sustained my attention for
nearly an hour.  I was particularly fascinated by his two films (in one Larry Bell plays the lead).  Ruscha’s
work has been about image and language.  This exhibition aptly conveys why Ruscha’s “signature” themes
are singularly his.  When I started collecting in 1977 I sought out Ruscha.  With regret, I was not able to
afford him even then.
Ethan Cook at Anat Ebgi (Culver City through Aug. 11).
Cook weaves his color rectangles on a four-harness floor loom.  The work has great presence.  I am out of
step with the conceptual directions in contemporary art.  I think of the visual arts as variations on line,
tone, color, shape and texture.  In many cases I am reminded that those in the visual arts attempt to
explain themselves through other disciplines (literature, science, psychology).  I am appalled when I read a
press release such as the one that accompanies this exhibition: “…understood as a deictic fact.  In
conversation with the mimetic qualities of appropriation…”  The art of bullshit doesn’t need to supplant the
art of experience.

Seen in San Diego:
Astrid Preston at RB Stevenson (La Jolla through July 14).
There are two reasons to celebrate this exhibition at Ron Stevenson’s gallery.  The new downstairs gallery
is just wonderful.  The gallery is intimate
- encouraging exploration of the wonders displayed within.  
Congratulations, Ron, on your best exhibition space yet.
Astrid Preston’s newest body of work is also to be celebrated.  As she continues her visual exploration of
the qualities that make gardens special, Robert Pincus (in his catalog essay) hits the nail on the head:
“Preston assembles the elements of her paintings into a poetic whole…a perception of how beauty,
physical and perhaps metaphysical, which manifests itself in gardens, assumes and even more inspiring
form in these new paintings.”  That is “press” that makes sense.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay           July 2018
Art for Sale