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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Michelle Carla Handel
Another Thing Coming.  New Sculpture in LA at Torrance Art Museum (Torrance through Oct. 18).
I think the Torrance Art Museum functions best when it presents survey exhibitions of Southland artists.  The
current exhibition showcases 14 sculptors.  The eclectic work in this exhibition is about fascination with
materials.  My favorites were Michelle Carla Handel (plaster, Styrofoam, epoxy clay, silicone rubber) and
Joshua Callaghan.
Joshua Callaghan
Pia Fries at Christopher Grimes (Santa Monica through Nov. 1).
German artist, Pia Fries incorporates collaged fragments of the Baroque artist Stefano della Bella
(1610-1664).  It is against these fragments of the sea and ships that Fries slathers on viscous paints in bold
technique that acknowledges the tumult of her Baroque inspiration.  Her mark making is Action Painting pure
and simple.
Roxanne Sexauer at Santa Monica College (Santa Monica through Oct. 11).
Sexauer is a printmaker’s printer.  She melds all the various ways of printmaking into her output.  What a joy
to see such skill and professional perseverance expressed in printmaking.  If there needs to be proof that
computer technology only partially can satisfy artistic intent, this show proves that point.  
This 35 year retrospective was curated by Gordon Fuglie (formerly of Loyola Marymount) and now directing
the Central California Museum of Art which is a museum without walls that mounts exhibitions to be hosted
and toured by other institutions.
Ken Price
Ken Price at Frank Lloyd (Bergamot through Nov. 1).
Of all the ceramic objects Ken Price produced, his cups speak most to his humanity.  Frank Lloyd, again,
gives us the opportunity to revisit this particular Price output.
In addition, the gallery is showing Japanese ceramics.  The playful work of Goro Suzuki is most splendid.  I
am reminded of Tom Hatton back in the old days when he was fabricating unique ceramic sculpture.
Goro Suzuki
Holly Roberts at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Oct. 11).
Holly Roberts’ career has been solidly recognized for three decades.  This is her first exhibition in LA.  She
is usually considered a photographer – though her work involves painting and collaging.  The pictorial plane
invokes narrative and dream-like interpretations of reality.  As compared to past work, the current works are
more colorful and more complexly collaged.  Rarely do I comment on “buying” art.  The prices for Holly’s
work are unbelievably reasonable (particularly considering her tenure and exhibition record).  This is a huge
opportunity to acquire true value.
Holly Roberts
Gronk at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Oct. 18).
I tend to remember Gronk from his work of 15 years ago when he helped define Chicano art.  He has
become a fascinating and very successful stage/set designer for performance art (like opera, ballet, and
theater). This exhibition acutely re-presents Gronk so that my memory of him is now expanded and quite in
awe.  The large painting above is a flat-out masterpiece.
Katrin Korfmann at Paul Kopeikin (Culver City through Oct. 18).
Korfmann’s photographs are aerial, panoramas of human behavior.  To quote the press release regarding
the nature of her work, it is “between social realism and euphoric utopianism…socially unifying rituals.”  The
work is at one and the same time about abstract patterns and documentary sociology.
George Stoll
Transmogrification of the Ordinary at Angles (Culver City through Nov. 1).
This is a curious show and the work in it aptly exemplifies “transmogrified.”  While I like George Stoll’s
Morandi-esque cups (of late seen frequently about town) - it is this sculpture by Sean Duffy that drives me
to share its image.
Sean Duffy
Patricia Chidlaw at George Billis (Culver City through Nov. 1).
When Patricia Chidlaw was showing with Terrence Rogers, her restrained (but still exuberant)
architectural-scapes always fascinated me.  Now with George Billis, this exhibition of most recent work
seems a bit too controlled and un-infectious.  So I await the next iteration by this talented painter.
KAWS at Honor Fraser (Culver City through Oct. 31).
Familiar with KAWS work and recognizing his particular style - I found his first two shows with Honor Fraser
to be mildly interesting.  Perhaps time has softened my brain.  While these colorific, Pop-inspired paintings
are physically flat they burst off the wall - perceptually appearing hyper-dimensional.
Frederick Hammersley at LA Louver (Venice through Oct. 18).
Frederick Hammersley (1919-2009) is considered one of the Los Angeles School painters (along with Karl
Benjamin, Lorser Feitelson, June Harwood, Helen Lundeberg, and John McLaughlin) – even though he
mostly lived and worked in New Mexico from the 1970s on.  The works in this exhibition were produced
between 1963 and 1965 and offer a chance to understand through these (organic, cut-ups) the basis for
his approach to Modernism.
Giuseppe Penone at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through Oct. 18).
Penone’s work engages “self” with nature.  He assiduously observes and studies nature and then responds
by modifying nature to express his own relationship to it.  The work circles in on itself through his
manipulations.  In the piece above he has taken a marble plinth, carved it to reveal its natural textures, and
colored the top portion to represent the mountain from which it might have been mined.
Karl Benjamin at Louis Stern (West Hollywood through Oct. 25).
The paintings in this exhibition were created between 1986 and 1995 and represent the mature output of
this important LA Modernist.  Benjamin (1925-2012) obviously enjoyed painting and color.  The work in this
show fairly leaps off the walls and its colorful exuberance is infectious.
Fabelo at Couturier (La Brea through Oct. 18).
This Cuban artist displays mastery of form and materials.  Finding influences of Velasquez and Goya in his
work is easy.  Classical skills training coupled with a fertile imagination offers the viewer an engaging
experience with substance.
Rashid Johnson at David Kordansky (lower La Brea through Oct. 29).
David Kordansky’s new space on the corner of La Brea and Edgewood Place is a knock-out (plus it is far
easier to get to and park than at Blackwelder).  Rashid Johnson’s work fills this new space with both the
venue and the work synergistically amplifying the concept of “heroic”.
ACME at Twenty (mid Wilshire through Oct. 4).
Randy Sommer and Robert Gunderman are celebrating 20 years as ACME.  I have known them both for a
good deal longer.  I met Randy when, as an artist, he was in an exhibition in San Diego.  After being Dorothy
Goldeen’s gallery assistant for her eponymous gallery in the heyday of the Colorado and 8th Street gallery
scene, he joined up with Robert (operating as Food House around the corner from Eric Johnson‘s studio
near 22nd and Olympic).  ACME followed that in the Santa Monica complex we referred to as “Baby
Bergamot”.  These gentlemen are just that.  They have been stalwart representatives for some of LA’s best
artists and have done so with integrity.  Happy Anniversary and many more to come.
Kelly Vivanco at thinkspace (Culver City through Oct. 4).
Not being a fan of Neo-Surrealism, I do not want to leave the impression that I am not paying attention.  Kelly
is an Escondido-based artist.  She has a fine show at thinkspace.  Congratulatiuons are in order as it is
tough for a San Diego artist to secure an exhibition in LA.
Kehinde Wiley at Roberts & Tilton (Culver City through Oct. 25).
Kehinde Wiley’s paintings never cease to capture attention - usually with an “oh-wow” reaction that belies
familiarity with his technique and subjects.  It is rare (this may be my first opportunity) to see one of his
paintings in which the background is landscape.
Margaret Nielson at Cirrus (Downtown through Oct. 25).
For some decades I have assiduously attended exhibitions of Margaret Nielson’s work. Her paintings are
small and thickly textured.  She paints metaphysical scenes of nature intersecting humanity - always with
more than a bit of wistful, failed détente.
Roberto Chavez at Vincent Price Museum (East LA through Dec. 6).
Roberto Chavez (now 81 years old) is considered by some as the “Spiritual Father of Chicano Art”.  As a
professor at East Los Angeles College, he was a role model for those who would become the titans of
Chicano art birthed in the 1960s and 70s.  Asco collective artists Willie Heron and Gronk as well as Carlos
Almaraz, Gilbert Lujan, and Los Four all were encouraged and derived inspiration from Chavez.
This 1966 painting is of Gilbert “Magu” Lujan (1940-2011) who had a career-long affinity and ties to
Chavez.  There are teachers in this world who profoundly affect and direct the evolution of the art world.  
Their genius is fostering and unlocking the genius of those who would be their students.  Such a titan is
Roberto Chavez.
Eske Kath at Charlie James (Cinatown through Oct. 18).
It is easy to read Kath’s paintings as disaster portraits – houses being caught up in a flood.  I enjoy them as
figurative abstractions in which movement and the composition of color blocks reads like a dancing Josef
Albers.
Eddie Martinez at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through Oct. 25).
Martinez’ work is clean and un-muddled considering the density of the abstraction.  He appropriates
mannerisms of earlier art movements and major artists while reinterpreting them to fit his own sense of
composition.  All-in-all Eddie Martinez successful builds on the best of historical abstraction.
Marsden Hartley at LACMA (mid Wilshire through Nov. 30).
The 25 paintings in this exhibition represent Marsden Hartley’s (1877-1943) output while living in Berlin at
the onset of World War I. The German paintings reflect Hartley’s interest in both military uniforms and
Native American motifs.  This exhibition is the first exhibition of Hartley’s work in Southern California in the
last 30 years.  Hartley continues to be one of my favorite artists.  I usually see his work when traveling in the
Midwest.  This is a world-class exhibition and a great opportunity to see one of America’s most important
artists.

Get out, look at art, have fun.
Doug Simay September 2014    doug@simayspace.com