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Current Los Angeles Contemporary
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Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Tony Bevan at LA Louver (Venice closing).
I have become an unreserved fan of Tony Bevan.  His schooled, European manner of using
materials while causing thick drawing to look like painting is fresh and also loaded with Old
Master-like gestures.  These are expressive paintings.
Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz at LA Louver.
This art work is in the inventory of the gallery. What a treat to see a “new” Kienholz that has
been in storage since its manufacture in 1988.  It is to experience Kienholz for the first time
because it has no evident history or familiarity other than the hand of its creators.  No
museum wall tags or curatorial statement stands between the work and experiencing it.  This
is the alternative view that seeing art in a gallery offers.
Jenny Holzer at L&M (Venice through Oct. 27).
I am getting more and more bored with Jenny Holzer.  Her work seems to advertise “Holzer”
more than provoke thought.  She updates the technology of her message boards (as in her
installation at the Guggenheim Bilbao and in the above piece seen in this show) but that is as
dimensional as it gets. Perhaps feeling closed in, Holzer has returned to painting (which is
seen in this show).  Unfortunately, I find her series “Redaction Paintings” are of little interest.
Rinus Van de Velde at Patrick Painter (Bergamot through Oct. 27).
The giant charcoal drawings by Van de Velde are to be admired.  That he chooses to
contextualize them with a complex, circular narrative paradox is superfluous.  Look at the
work and pass on the story.  This Pays-Bas trained artist loves to draw and he is very good
at it.
Jacci Den Hartog at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot closing).
I find Den Hartog’s work wonderfully audacious.  She re-interprets geologic landscape
formations as color band topographies.  Then she presents them on improbable tables.  
Mesas on mesas.  Like Navajo weavings, these paintings/sculptures symbolically, warmly recall
life in the Southwest.  
Ken Price at Frank Lloyd (Bergamot through Nov. 10).
That the art world now celebrates the iconoclastic work of Ken Price is poignant given his
death this year.  Having just experienced Price’s Death Shrine (1971-77) in Taos (at the
Harwood Museum), work of the same early period (the Seventies) is the subject of this Frank
Lloyd exhibition.  It was a time when Price was still operating with ceramic arts’ classic forms,
the cup and the bowl.  Price celebrated color and design.  In his hands “design” is not an anti-
critical art form.
Chris McCaw at Duncan Miller (Bergamot through Nov. 3).
This photographer has perfected his camera lens and film technology so that he can produce
long exposure images in which the sun actually burns a line through the photographic paper.  
This makes for very dramatic, ethereal, unique images.  McCaw is the Lucio Fontana of the
photo world.
Toshio Shibata at Gallery Luisotti (Bergamot through Nov. 3).
Shibata’s sensitive landscape photography is a perennial favorite.  He focuses on the quietude
of mammoth constructions that control the forces of nature. If there is a Japanese aesthetic,
Shibata’s photography is exactly that. Two decades of work are chronicled in this exhibition.
Raymond Saunders at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Oct. 27).
Raymond Saunders has been actively creating art since his first exhibition in 1952 (born
1934).  Undoubtedly he is one of America’s premier Black artists.  His collages/assemblages
are sublime and most sensitive. It is rare that an artist can empathetically connect with the
viewer as substantively as Saunders does.
Eric Johnson at William Turner (Bergamot through Oct. 27).
Eric continues to find new ways to express his love for cast resin and its coloring and
manipulation.  In particular the very large “Maize Project” looks vastly better in this gallery
than it did installed in the white Torrance Art Museum (2008).  It is wonderful to observe the
increasing attention being paid to Eric’s work.
Ryan Heshka at Copro (Bergamot closing).
I well accept that the new-surrealism (the big-eyed-girl) form of contemporary painting is
real.  I attend shows at Copro and Corey Helford (in Culver City and now expanded with
another nearby space) regularly - if only to stay abreast of an art form that sells very well.  
The Blab Show at Copro is finely curated by Monte Beauchamp and features 25 artists.  There
is cream to be found in a genre totally awash with new “talent”.
Thomas Lawson at David Kordansky (Culver City through Oct. 20).
Lawson has a thirty year career.  His figurative paintings evoke some sort of emotional
narrative - an allegory.  They are well done and look really smashing in the day-light suffusing
the gallery.  It is true that looking at his work had me reflecting on Charles Garabedian.
Dimitri Kozyrev at Mark Moore (Culver City through Oct. 20).
Russian born, UC Santa Barbara trained Kozyrev has a very complex way of imaging the real
world. Accurately, the gallery’s press release states that Kozyrev’s work is “at once gestural
and structured, organic and geometric, expressed and composed.”  I like the figuration
blended by his abstract way of imaging multiple, simultaneous viewpoints.  It is a very
Constructivist way of projecting the world.  Terrific show.  Best of the best.
Daniel Joseph Martinez at Roberts & Tilton (Culver City through Oct. 20).
Martinez is a seminal LA artist.  In installation photographs, the artist has juxtaposed
Christianity and Muslim faiths by grotesquely transforming his body into a cancerous chimera
with Jewish tattoos, a Catholic bishop’s mitre, supplicating on a Islamic prayer rug.  Not a
healthy prognostication of the future.
William Eggleston at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through Nov. 10).
I was not prepared to be so affected by this Eggleston show.  These large digital prints (44 x
60 inches) (way larger than the originally produced dye-transfer prints) present Eggleston’s
fine sense of composition and color.  I find myself constantly thinking back to this show as I
analyze work by other artists in other mediums.  It was these images (as dye transfers) when
presented at MOMA NYC in 1976 that introduced, for the first time, color photography as fine
art.
Jen Stark at Martha Otero (West Hollywood through Nov. 10).
Using cut colored paper, Jen Stark fashions extravagant kaleidoscopic mandalas, three
dimensional prisms, and topographic maps.  There is great visual joy in these art works.
Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay
10/1/2012
doug@simayspace.com
Joshua Aster at den (PDC through Oct. 19).
Painting on Edge II is curated by Grant Vetter and includes 23 artists who formally are hard-
edge painters.  That said, there is a lot of leeway in what might be considered “hard-edge”.  It
is for precisely this reason that this exhibition is so engaging.
Retna at Michael Kohn (West Hollywood through Oct. 27).
What can $80,000 buy?  The stratospheric hype that leads to these fashionable prices for an
“artist” of “street typographics” is perhaps the real art form in action.
Lari Pittman at Regen Projects (Hollywood through Oct. 27).
Lari Pittman has only one painting in the inaugural exhibition featuring 32 works by 32 gallery
artists.  This is an unusual painting for Pittman.  The new 20,000 square foot Regen Projects
space in Hollywood is a huge statement of optimism in the art market.  Just a few blocks away
on Highland, Perry Rubenstein’s grand new space also reflects confidence in both the art
market and the market in LA.  It may be that this area of warehouses in Hollywood (near
Santa Monica Blvd and Highland) will be LA’s next art district (as it was 25 years ago with
Newspace, Space, and  Burnett Miller).
Antonio Muniz at Couturier (La Brea through Oct. 20).
Muniz patterns his painting surfaces with the soot of flames (fumage).  He then studies the
patterns, using them to fashion abstractions in overlying oil.  This is very much in the spirit of
Bretonian surrealism.
Tomory Dodge at ACME (mid Wilshire closing).
For the last couple years I have been touting Tomory Dodge as one of LA’s great new talents.
I eagerly looked forward to this exhibition of new work.  Hats off to Mr. Dodge for exploring
different territory.  In this series he seems to be removing paint and exploring the “ghosts” of
gesture.  These are purely abstractions with no sense of figurative roots.  My preference is
the interface between abstraction and realism, a territory that previous work investigated.  So
I even more look forward to the artist’s next series.
Angela Kallus at Peter Mendenhall (mid Wilshire through Oct. 20).
A graduate of University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Ms. Kallus continues deftly drawing thick
masses of paint in one highly controlled stroke.  Her work seems luscious enough to eat. And,
I marvel at a technique that gives little clue as to how it works.  These same sort of paintings
were seen here two years ago.  Reviewing her website, I am impressed that she has more
dimensions than just these paintings.  I look forward to someday seeing her drawing and
sculptures.
Penelope Gottlieb at Edward Cella (mid Wilshire through Oct. 27).
Gottlieb’s paintings offer plenty to consider.  The warm and exuberant flowers explode
psychedelically.  They are painted with brush and drawn with line.  There is science in
depictions charting extinction; invasive environmental agents of change.  Beauty with brains,
too.
Masami Teraoka at Samuel Freeman (Culver City through Oct. 13).
Samuel Freeman is really proud of his grand, new space in Culver City. The commitment of this
gallerist matches Regen Projects, Perry Rubenstein, Blum & Poe, and Suzanne Vielmetter.  
Exhibiting a cross section of Masami’s work is a fittingly significant inauguration of this new art
temple.  That Teraoka’s contemporary paintings take the Catholic Church to task, juxtaposed
with Federico Solmi’s anti-Pope films, means any Catholic who art views along the western
edge of this block of South La Cienega will need to go to confession.
Federico Solmi at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through Oct. 20).
Solmi’s video/movie productions are heroic.  He sets grand production goals that are certainly
met.  His riotously colorful stories freely insult the powerful and profane the self-righteous.  
Carlos Almaraz (1941-1989) at Vincent Price Museum (east LA through Dec. 8).
I liked Carlos Almaraz’ work a lot more before seeing this show.  I remember wanting to buy
one of his car crash paintings back in the 80s.  His drawings and paintings are distinctive
enough to be recognizable across a room.  This exhibition left me feeling that I already knew
everything before coming to this show.  Perhaps, because this show is sourced from the  
artist’s family, the exhibition’s lack of electricity comes from the lack of superlative artworks
that reside in grander collections both public and private.
Jaime Scholnick at CB1 (Downtown closing).
Jaime Scholnick’s polychromic fantasias take Styrofoam packaging materials to riotous second
purpose.  Experiencing the breadth of her exhibition, it is apparent that the artist likes color
and pattern.  So do I.  This is an exuberant and joyful exhibition.
Joshua Aster at Sam Lee (Chinatown closing).
Having first seen Aster’s larger painting at den in the PDC, it was my luck to make his show
with Sam Lee in Chinatown.  The paintings in this exhibition are smaller and generally square
in format.  The work is a wonderful joining of geometric abstraction with evidence of the   
artist’s hand.  Constrained free-form volumes cause Aster’s paintings to be both intellectual
and spiritual.
And in San Diego...
Jim Skalman at SDSU Downtown (San Diego downtown through Feb.18).
I do not normally write about San Diego art viewing opportunities.  But, the ongoing, evolving
installation of desert vista, called “Las Vistas”, is presented as a diorama in which the
Modernist “stage setting” is as much in evolution as the “subject” it encases.  This installation
is about studio as artist’s laboratory which transforms itself into a final project.  So it bears
repeat visits to observe process and progress through its completion in February.  While
SDSU has trained many super artists and its faculty currently boasts super artists, I am quite
impressed with the visual arts faculty at Point Loma Nazarene University.  PLNU has employed
some of the best of SDSU’s graduates as faculty allowing us to benefit from maintaining this
hometown talent. It is a richly talented department.
Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay  10/8/2012
doug@simayspace.com