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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Allison Saar at LA Louver (Venice closing).
Seen a year ago at Otis, Allison Saar is indeed my favorite Saar-family artist (her mom, Betye, has an
installation currently at Roberts-Tilton in Culver City).  Allison's work – s
hown in the, though large, intimate
space of LA Louver’s street-level gallery is powerfully poetic.
Tom Wudl at LA Louver (Venice closing).
Wudl is one of our region’s finest artists. The paintings in this current show are exquisite.  Based on floral
motifs the work reminds me of intricate 18th century Indian miniature Pahari paintings .  Wudl’s work is
precise, painstaking, and fastidious. The work melds mysticism with beauty.
Jeffrey Gibson at Shoshana Wayne (Bergamot through Oct. 19).
This body of work is difficult to get my brain around. I am easily seduced by the acknowledged influences
of Frank Stella and Ellsworth Kelly. The paintings are executed on stretched elk rawhide so they also nod
to non-Western art forms of Native Americans. Is it smart – or I am being manipulated?
Don Bachardy at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Oct. 12).
There is no doubt that I think portraiture is amongst the highest art practices. If portraits offer me a
glimpse of cultural heros –  I am doubly happy.  Krull’s exhibition of three artists (Bachardy, Aldrich, and
Ned Evans) gives us a chance to view images of literature from a visual arts perspective – literature is a
passion of Craig Krull. Don Bachardy’s breezy portraits are so skilled in their gesture and so familiar with
their subjects that I feel as if I too understand the sitters. The 1974 image above is of Ray Bradbury.
Stephen Aldrich at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Oct. 12).
Aldrich is a master of collage. His source material – 19th century engravings culled from books – are
precisely cut-out and collaged to make seamless “new” images.  Because the work is so highly crafted, the
viewer is free to believe that what is being portrayed is real.
Craig Kauffman at Frank Lloyd (Bergamot through Oct. 19).
Frank Lloyd’s shows continue to dazzle and educate – reminding us of our region’s formidable
importance. This exhibition which explores transparency and translucence offers work by Larry Bell,
Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman (seen above (1969)), Helen Pashigan, and DeWain Valentine.
Maya Hayuk at UCLA-Hammer (Westwood through Jan. 26).
Hayuk has painted bright, color-saturated abstract murals that are not only seen within the museum – but
also from the street outside.  Her work responds to the set and setting.  With bravado and audacity the
murals at the same time acknowledge the purpose of the museum while operating in celebration of the
rest of the daily world.
Forrest Bess at UCLA-Hammer (Westwood through Jan. 5).
Bess (1911-1977) had lots of dreams.  He recorded those dreams in a bedside notebook on awakening.  
Those records helped him make paintings that he felt recorded “universals” to the human condition.  
Bess lived in relative isolation along the Texas coast.  He was obsessed thinking that male and female
attributes were to be found in each being.  On himself he practiced “transgender surgery”.  This exhibition
is made serious by the considerable curatorial excellence of Robert Gober’s additions to the Menil
Collection (Texas) produced show.  Bess was a nut.  Studying him is to learn about reality from an outlier
perspective.  It is an obtuse view. Bess makes Hans Bellmer seem benignly normal.
HK Zamani at CB1 (downtown through Oct. 13).
Habib is normal as compared with Forrest Bess.  Their work does overlap in that it reflects the
subconscious and seems to have a lot of “automatic” (as in the Surrealist notion) aspects to it.  The
largest painting in this exhibition is shown above.  The black squares emanating from the Guston-like
head form are thickly sculptural.  The paintings are both physical and metaphysical.
Erik Frydenborg at Night Gallery (Downtown closing).
There are 27 artists in this weird, eclectic and provoking exhibition called CULM.  Erik Frydenborg’s wall
sculptures made of pigmented polyurethane plastic on fabric are seductive.  I will keep my eyes open for
opportunities to see future work by him.
Francois Ghebaly (Downtown).
Francois is adding a new gallery space on East Washington Blvd (in addition to his Culver City gallery).  
This former warehouse is on the other side of the fence from Night Gallery’s building on 16th Street.  At
12,000 square feet, there is lots of space to entrain the creative energies of other projects.  When this
exhibition building reopens (after a remodel) in January, look to see this raw area of lower Downtown
become hot.
Maureen Gallace at Overduin and Kite (Hollywood through Oct. 26).
Gallace’s quiet New England-scapes are reminiscent of Edward Hopper.  As compared with the last
time I saw her work (at Michael Kohn), the surfaces are more impastoed and her palette is more
saturated.  While the subject of her painting is the landscape under northeastern light, her work is
really about the act of painting.
Helen Lundeberg 1958
Contemporary Modernists at Tobey C. Moss (West Hollywood through December).
In her 80s, Tobey Moss has been an art dealer for 35 years.  I believe Tobey Moss is the most senior
LA arts figure still active in the market today.  She is bright-eyed and eager to engage in
conversation.  Her tales of the artists she represents – many now dead – are as close as we can get to
living history of mid 20th century Southern California modernism.  She has installed an exhibition she
calls “Contemporary Modernists, 1930 -2000.”  Modernism in the early 20th century represented a
rejection of Romantic idealism in favor of the empiricism of the scientific age.  That the Modernists that
Tobey Moss represents still profoundly affect the current generation of artists is why she also calls
them Contemporary.

Lee Mullican 1958
John Mason at David Kordansky (Culver City through Oct. 26).
Mason’s sculptures are fabricated clay.  They are simultaneously mechanically precise (like fabricated
steel would be) and hand wrought (as we expect clay to be).  Considered alongside Peter Voulkos and
Ken Price, Mason (born 1927) helped bring clay into the fine art realm.
Steve Roden at Suzanne Vielmetter (Culver City through Oct. 19).
Roden’s paintings are nervous in their overpainting, scratchy lines, and changing focus.  He certainly
is prolific as this exhibition is large and ranging.  I like the work since it is about mark making using
color.  He is not as accomplished an abstract painter as Iva Gueorguleva (see below).  He is
energetically engaged and relentless in his process.
Hadley Holliday at Taylor de Cordoba (Culver City through Oct. 26).
In moving “around the corner” from her South La Cienega gallery to this Washington Blvd. space, de
Cordoba has displayed renewed energy and opportunity for us viewers. Hadley Holliday’s paintings are
striking – recalling Fernand Leger (1881-1955).
Of note is that de Cordoba’s former space on South La Cienega is now occupied by Anat Ebgi.  She
has added a high ceiling exhibition area (annexing the next door building) and this gallery space is now
quite beautiful.
Robert Pruitt at Koplin del Rio (Culver City through Oct. 18).
Pruitt is a skilled artist and presents caricatures of Afrofuturism.  Residing in Texas, Pruitt follows the lead
of Kerry James Marshall (20 years his senior) in contextualizing the Black experience in America.
Heather Gwen Martin at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through Oct. 12).
Ms. Martin’s work is heroic and seemingly biomorphic.  Her paintings can be read as abstracted biology
or as form distilling from primordial sap.  In any case, they are smart and very engrossingly accessible. In
the case of this body of paintings, I appreciate new work with a cooler palette.
George Herms at Louis Stern (West Hollywood through Nov. 2).
Curiously, Southern California is really important to the evolution of American assemblage art.  Wallace
Berman is referred to as the “father of American assemblage”.  It was his influence that led George
Herms to adopt assemblage and become one of a group of artists who we should remember were
seminal to the Beat Generation and legitimacy of found object sculpture (think also Kienholz and
Westerman). For further study read about the loose-leaf journal, Semina, published as nine issues
between 1955-1964.
Iva Gueorguleva at ACME (mid Wilshire through Oct. 12).
Iva Gueorguleva (born in 1974) paints complex, dense and frenetic abstractions.  There are few clues as
to the sources or organization that signal how her paintings might be read.  Like a metaphorical swim in
the ocean – the cosmology of her painting is too enormous to master.  That said I find great satisfaction
in being engulfed in her fanciful visual pleasure.
Eric Yahnker at Ambach & Rice (mid Wilshire through Oct. 12).
Yahnker is a skilled painter and draftsman and sculptor.  He has a very sharp wit which when expressed
with the hand of his technical skills makes for an enjoyable experience.  His work is thought provoking
while being wrapped in an approachable aesthetic.  The pastel and colored pencil work illustrated above
is called “Kings of the World” (portraying DiCaprio and Heston).
Albert Contreras at Peter Mendenhall (mid Wilshire through Nov. 2).
Contreras is 81 years old.  He was a recognized painter in the 1960s in LA.  He gave up being an artist in
the 1970s and worked as a heavy equipment operator for the City of Los Angeles until retiring 20 years
later.  Psychotherapy helped him return to painting in 1997.  His art is gaudy, glittering, easy, and
breezy.  If it was edible – it would very high calorie. There is an undeniable attraction to his gestural
exuberance.
Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay    October 2013
doug@simayspace.com