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Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Karla Klarin 1981
Karla Klarin at California State University Northridge (closed).
Back in 1987 when she won the LA County Museum Young Talent Award, Karla Klarin’s name was on
everybody’s lips.  I lost touch with her work 20 years ago – but have never forgotten her very particular
aesthetic.  She has not lapsed in painting and her landscape view from the “Valley” is as LA as it gets.  It is
so reaffirming that an artist I once thought strong and real has not waivered or lost her insight or ability to
communicate it.
Karla Klarin 2014
Kurt Schwitters at Hauser Wirth Schimmel (DTLA through Jan. 8, 2017).
The gallery mounts an impressive, scholarly grouping of Schwitters, Miro, and Arp.  I have seen and
learned a lot about Schwitters this season.  The last half of September I was in Switzerland.  It is now the
100th year anniversary of the Dada art movement which was “birthed” at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in
February 1916. Dada was birthed as a response to the horrors of WWI and Schwitters (1887-1948) was
one of its earliest participants.
In Zurich, the Gmurzynska Gallerie on the Bahnhofstrasse at Paradeplatz was the best contemporary
exhibition I saw while making my art rounds (there are 67 contemporary galleries in Zurich). Before she
died Zaha Hadid designed the retro-futuristic interior for the gallery which is showing Kurt Schwitters.  
Hauser Wirth and Schimmel do not allow photography.  Below is a view of the Gmrzynska installation.
Maria Lassnig at Hauser Wirth Schimmel (DTLA through Dec. 31).
The first half of October I spent in Austria.  I saw work by Maria Lassnig in Salzburg, Graz, and Vienna.  
Lassnig (1919-2014) was an influential teacher and highly regarded Austrian artist who lived and worked
in Vienna.  The Hauser Wirth Schimmel exhibition is comprehensive and a terrific way to get up to speed
with this important Germanic contemporary artist.  I am not a big fan – but she is solidly in the history
books.
Maria Lassnig Self-Portrait
John Altoon at Michael Kohn (Hollywood closing).
Kohn Gallery now represents the estate of Altoon (1925-1969).  Altoon was a provocative and influential
artist in LA during the 50s and 60s.  His meld of the figural with abstraction was unique amongst the Ferus
Gallery group of artists.
Deborah Remington at parrasch heijnen (DTLA through Nov. 26).
Deborah Remington (1930-2010) learned from Clyfford Still, David Park and Elmer Bischoff.  She was front
and center present for San Francisco’s Beat scene of the 50s.  The 30 drawings in this show were culled
from 56 years of her work.
Brian Robertson at CES (DTLA through Dec. 11).
The press release for this two person show (Robertson and Orr Herz) is fairly unintelligible.  I don’t have
any intellectual insight as to why Robertson paints as he does.  But the work is seductive and causes me
to unceasingly look for meaning.
Karon Davis at Wilding Cran (DTLA through Nov. 12).
I first heard of Karon Davis attending an exhibition of Noah Davis’ work at the Frye Museum in Seattle this
last May.  Seattle-born but Los Angeles-based Noah Davis died in 2015 at the age of 32 of cancer (it was
a painful life-exit for all involved).  He was quite an artist.  Karon is his wife and this exhibition is about the
physical and emotional experience of pain and loss.  She has constructed remarkably animated plaster
figures that call to mind George Segal (though with hugely more vitality).  The whole installation effectively
presents, as the press release states, “a realm that hangs capriciously between hallucination and reality:
that space between life and death.”
Rocky Schenck at Fahey/Klein (La Brea through Dec. 3).
Schenck’s dark, brooding, dusky style is uniquely his.  Continuing in that vein, his new work has been
hand tinted and painted.  That is a nice evolution that brings new life to his work.
Gertrud & Otto Natzler at Couturier (La Brea closing).
The thin-walled mid-century ceramics of the Natzlers help define Modernism in Southern California.
Sally Deng at KP Projects (La Brea closing).
Sally Deng has just finished a BFA at Art Center.  This exhibition called “Women Work” is quite quirky.  
There is an illustrator’s bent to the paintings while the quirkiness comes from a Roger Brown sort of
voyeurism
Travis Louie at KP Projects (La Brea closing).
Low-Brow is not my “thing”.  Travis Louie is a superb draftsman.  His weird creatures are humorous and
endearing.  
Tom Knechtel at Marc Selwyn and at CB1 (Beverly Hills and DTLA closing).
The two gallerist have offered up a chance to indulge in Knechtel.  The artist’s paintings are solid but
the real gems are his drawings.  He runs his pen over paper mirroring the manner in which the eyes run
over the subject of their gaze.  Drawing has an intimacy that Knechtel firmly embraces.
Helen Frankenthaler at Gagosian (Beverly Hills closing).
Eighteen paintings created over a span of 25 years constitute this exhibition.  Frankenthaler
(1928-2011) was a titan.
Gary Lang detail
Gary Lang at ACE Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills through Nov. 12).
ACE Beverly Hills will be closing this location at the end of this exhibition.  It is a magnificent exhibition
space and Gary Lang’s multiple series of works fill the ground floor galleries magnificently.  I marvel at
the strength and breadth of his output.  Considering the execution dates of these works, Gary must be
working long days to produce such a prodigious amount of eye and spirit “candy”.
Ruth Pastine at ACE Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills through Nov. 12).
Ruth, Gary Lang’s wife, is prodigiously productive too.  She continues her explorations of perception.  
She deserves the attention her work is increasingly receiving.  The seriousness of her technique and
the rigor of her painterly diligence is quite amazing.
Jun Kaneko at Edward Cella (Culver City closing).
Kaneko has been making art in Los Angeles for five decades.  His hallmark ceramics are unmistakably
his.  In this exhibition, in addition to ceramic vessels, he installed a 63 foot long painted color wall.  Just
considering how his work is fabricated is boggling.
Melia Jaarsma at Baik Art (Culver City through Nov. 30).
Dutch-Indonesian Melia Jaarsma designs and fabricates costumes that mine cultural identity and
authority.  The “traveler” costume above is the least political of her works.  Jaarsma’s work is the political
counterpoint to the recent work of Phyllis Green.
    Charles Gaines detail
Charles Gaines at Susanne Vielmetter (Culver City through Dec. 17th).
Cross Chuck Close with a scientist and Charles Gaines is the result.  
From the gallery press release: “Over the last four decades Charles Gaines has employed system-based
methodologies to critique the notion of artistic impulse in the creation process.  Gaines recognized how a
system can generate an image and an image generate its system.”  That pretty much covers it.  That this
series of work is the most aesthetic I have yet seen has to do with “floating” his system on plexiglass over
the image he dissects.
Betye Saar at Roberts & Tilton (Culver City through Dec.17).
No doubt this is the best Betty Saar exhibition I have ever seen.  Given her long tenure in the arts – that is
a significant statement.  Best known for her assemblage, her 2-dimensional paintings in this exhibition are
particularly entrancing.  Their resonance with the spirituality of Ernest Silva and the visual structure of
Manny Farber offer yet another set of connections with this 90 year old master.
Henry Taylor at Blum & Poe (Culver City closing).
I saw this exhibition twice (separated by my travels).  Taylor’s paintings are presented in an effective
installation that presents an African-American dichotomy of urban blight and despair against rich, Hip-Hop
suburban sybarite life.  His paintings are soulful and demonstrate what good portraiture painting can
deliver.
Tim Gratowski at Walter Maciel (Culver City closing).
Gratowski is fundamentally a collagist. That descriptor merely identifies that he works with layers of paper.  
“Why and what” he does with his collaged paper is multifaceted.  On one level they are political like Mimmo
Rotella (1918-2006).  At another level they are architectural sculpture.  The artist has lots of ideas, loves
paper, and moves back and forth within idioms that are not forced and flow naturally.
Antonio Ballester Moreno at Christopher Grimes (Santa Monica closing).
Taken at first glance, I almost turned on my heels and walked away.  Up to thirty layers of acrylic paint are
applied to jute to create these obviously hand-crafted paintings.  The work combines an interest in
multicultural motifs with craft and design.  Moreno lives and works in Madrid. He is considered a young
Spaniard worth watching.
Polly Apfelbaum at Otis Ben Maltz (Westminster through Dec. 4).
Apfelbaum has created a “secular chapel” in the gallery.  The gallery floor is dominated by four huge
carpets woven in Oaxaca; the walls are hung with glazed ceramic plaques.  At the end of the gallery six
abstract “heads” (as seen above) watch over the temple.  A photograph cannot communicate what
Christopher Knight calls “An enchanting place of eccentric celebration.”  
Mark Posey at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Nov. 26).
Posey’s work is fun to look at.  It has the deadpan perspective of Llyn Foulkes and the playful, childlike
exuberance of Joe Fay.  This work is indeed New Baroque.
Mark Swope at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Nov. 26).
Swope’s almost square, small photographs are beautiful.  The sharp contrasts almost fool me into thinking
I am seeing color.  That perception make them read like William Eggleston’s compositions.  They have
much more soul than Lewis Baltz’s New Topographic works while still surveying dead-pan urban realities.  
It would be curious to juxtapose Swope’s work with the early Alameda drawings of Robert Bechtle.
Lewis Baltz at gallery luisotti (Bergamot through Nov. 12).
Right after seeing Mark Swope, I walked into Lewis Baltz’s huge 1994 multi-panel, Cibachrome about man
and machine (in this case in a medical context).  The work reads well – but where is the art?
Armen Eloyan at Patrick Painter (Bergamot closing)
The Armenian painter Armen Eloyan divides his time between Amsterdam and Zurich.  He trained at the
Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.  There are only two of his paintings in this group show – but I think I have
seen his work either in Antwerp or Zurich.  The themes are darkly humorous; sardonic and Guston-like
with implied lurid vices.  What better Halloween fare?
Jennifer Faist at Ruth Bachofner (Bergamot through Nov. 26).
Jennifer Faist continues her fastidious, multilayered resin paintings.  I think perceptually magnifying the
patterned underpainting brings much added interest to the work.
Toba Khedoori at LACMA (mid Wilshire closing March 19, 2017).
Working in LA since 1990, her work is “enigmatic and acutely detailed”.  I prefer her monumental paintings
such as the one above.  Execute
d on huge pieces of paper that have been fastidiously coated with wax,
she then paints exacting subjects with oil.  The intersection of drawing and painting is harmonious.
Kristin Leachman at Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach through Jan. 15, 2017).
The exhibition is called “Xylem Rays”.  The xylem is the pith of a plant that channels water from the roots to
the leaves.  The paintings in this exhibition are based on the natural architecture.  But the execution has a
huge amount of abstract substance.  Ms. Leachman writes “Each painting describes for me the mythic
history and essence of the landscape”.  Up close one can observe how Kristen’s paint-loaded brush is
drawn across the painting’s surface.  The summation of gestures yields the image.  I find myself thinking of
Gary Lang and the essence of painting and color that both these artists share.
Dave Fobes at Point Loma Nazarene University (Point Loma, San Diego through Dec. 2).
Through 25 wall-works Dave Fobes interprets his take on Cain and Abel.  Dave presented, during an
exhibition walk-through, his interpretation of the show called “NOD: New pictures for an old story”.  “Tis a
credible insight of the meaning that drives an artist’s creative process.
Being a huge fan of Fobes – it is his creative evolution that I marvel at.  Starting with his MFA in furniture
he has evolved through colored duct-tape “paintings”, through collaged paper wall works (included as
early aspects of this exhibition’s body of work), to painting with acrylic on canvas.  A rolling stone
gathers no moss.  With passing time and each iteration of his creativity, Dave Fobes demonstrates
artistic excellence.  The image above is purely painting.  The one below amalgamates painting with
collage.  This another terrific body of work.  Art excellence in Southern California.
Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay    October 2016

doug@simayspace.com
It has been a long interval since my last Best Picks in August.  I was traveling most of September and
October – so Los Angeles and I have not been on the same continent.  Actually I saw most of what LA has
had to offer the last 45 days.  Wanting to see the Karla Klarin show (read below) before it closed October
8th, Steve Gibson offered to execute a one day drive to see Klarin’s show at Cal State University Northridge.  
That is a long way away and coupled with some Culver City galleries and the mid-Wilshire group – whew.
I have been, almost monthly, going to LA to make my art rounds for 37 years.  I have been writing these Best
Picks for 12 years.  This is the first time someone else has driven.  What a treat and gift from Steve.