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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Larry Cohen at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Aug. 23).
I have diligently followed Larry Cohen’s painting practice for close to his 40 years as one of LA’s peripatetic
plein air landscape painters.  This new body of work is heads-and-tails my favorite.  This new work shows
bravado in allowing color to speak for form and “viewpoint”.  This is Larry Cohen showing abstract-leaning
chops.  He done good.
Julian Wasser of Joan Didion 1970
Driving LA at Craig Krull (Bergamot through Aug. 23).
This is a brilliantly curated exhibition.  Craig Krull has pulled photographs from his inventory to present a
view of LA through its car culture.  His “tale” evolves nicely (and not obscurely) to offer a view of LA that is
one-and-the-same-time voyeuristic and self-reflective.  Who needs words when ‘ya got fine pictures.
The more I think of it, Jeff Brouws is the heir apparent to William Eggleston.
Jeff Brouws 1994
Sophia Dixon Dillo at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through Aug. 2).
Why a Buddhist would come out of the natural-scape of Colorado to court the city’s audience - seems
incongruous.  Lucky for us.  Dillo uses a very sharp razor blade to precisely incise paper - creating visual
texture.  This image is a detail of her work.  Imagine this image as a field of white paper that only offers its
internal cosmos upon calm, close inspection.
Ralph Bacerra
Ralph Bacerra & Jim Shaw at Frank Lloyd (Bergamot through Aug. 16).
Frank Lloyd continues to bring us the best works by the best ceramic artists.
I grew up on Jim Shaw’s trompe-l’oeil ceramic constructions.  His first exhibition was in 1967.
Ralph Bacerra’s (1938-2008) highly ornate work melds the best of Asian ceramic techniques and idioms
with the audacity of LA’s melting pot aesthetic.  The New York Times critic , Ken Johnson, states “To look at
Ralph Bacerra’s gorgeous ceramic vessels is to wallow in visual hedonism.”
Richard Shaw
Martin Lubner at FIG (Bergamot through July 26).
I admired and called out Lubner’s last show at FIG.  This 85 year old artist has certainly been loyal to FIG.  
His “devil may care” attitude in painting the way he wants to paint is evident.  I am not saying his work is of
the same quality as Charles Garabedian, Vija Celmins, or Phillip Guston.  But it is cut from the same
spiritual cloth.
Bruria Finkel at Arena 1 (Santa Monica Airport through July 26).
Bruria Finkel is to be admired for her dedication to the community and its artists (particularly Santa
Monica).  In addition, I admire her for her dedication to self recovery after a potentially lethal auto accident
left her to reconstruct her life.  This exhibition visually documents the last four years in that pursuit.  I
admire her attitude and her suggestion that “re-birth” is possible and enlightening.  Her optimism is
constructively contagious.
Shannon Finley at Suzanne Vielmetter (Culver City through Aug. 23).
Berlin-based, Canadian artist Finley uses several techniques to manufacture his polychromic fantasias.  In
his hands paint takes on aspects of metal, glass and plastic projecting radiance.  The work is seductive,
uncanny even.
Peter Zokosky at Koplin del Rio (Culver City through July 26).
There is nobody who paints like nor about the same themes as Peter Zokosky.  His output is prodigious.  
For this series of paintings he carved/constructed the dolls (dressed and used as painting models),
executed the oil paintings, and then manufactured the unique frames for each work.  Zokosky’s Romantic
Realism is filled with spiritual wonder.  He is a thinking man who is all heart.   I particularly note that his
excitement and great effort in creating this exhibition must signal his fundamental happiness and vitality.  
Good.  He, we all, deserve that.
Kenichi Yokono at Mark Moore (Culver City through Aug. 9).
Kenichi Yokono’s work has Japanese features - like woodblock carving, exquisite craftsmanship, the
Japanese landscape with Rising Sun.  It also has dark aspects of American skate culture.  The artist blends
the beauty of execution with the ominous paranoid horrors of contemporary life.
Pia Camil at Blum & Poe (Culver City through Aug. 23).
Camil is a Mexico City-based artist.  Her paintings are constructed by hand-dyeing and then stitching
together canvas.  That gives her art a “domestic” sensibility.  The press release delves into other issues
considered “relevant”.  But in the final analysis, the work is well crafted, attractive, and leads to a second
look.
Augusto Sandroni at Maloney (Culver City through Aug. 16).
I think of Augusto as a San Diegan.  He spent many years here before going to graduate school in
Claremont.  He just (like minutes ago) received his MFA.  So I was able to suggest to Michael Maloney that
this exhibition signaled that the gallerist was at Augusto’s MFA show and instantly responded by offering a
show.  Michael Maloney has good taste.  I showed Augusto back in the Java/Simayspace days.  He still
retains an Arte Povera, freewheeling sort of creativity.  The appropriate title for this exhibition is “Electro
Wonky Funkadelic.”
Alec Egan at Western Project (Culver City closing).
One of my favorite sensory experiences is the smell of oil paint when I am looking at a painting.  Alec Egan’s
heavily impastoed paintings on a hot Culver City afternoon - that is its own sort of cologne. The gallery’s
press release calls Egan’s work “aggressive and visceral” “muscular”.  Yup, it screams off the walls.
He appropriates images from and easily out impastoes Vincent van Gogh.
Dana Weiser at Walter Maciel (Culver City through Aug. 16).
One of six artists in a group show of women artists, Dana Weiser’s works stand out.  Her contemporary take
on Indian miniature painting is respectful of tradition while adding contemporary Western content.
Kenneth Noland 1962
Kenneth Noland at Honor Fraser (Culver City through Aug. 2).
This terrific show offers Color Field masterworks from the 1960s and 70s.  How these came to be
assembled in this commercial gallery with nary a security guard on site is beyond my knowledge.  But for
those who love looking at Albers, Frankenthaler, Louis, Olitsky, Stella, Motherwell and Noland up close and
personal - this is the opportunity.
Matthew Carter at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through Aug. 23).
Carter’s “paintings” consist of gauzy cloth loosely stretched over broken (then haphazardly repaired)
recycled stretcher bars.  That makes the final works irregularly rectangular.  The “hand” is evident in these
works as in Pia Camil’s work.  Various densities of painted geometries cause the painting’s surface to
appear to have depth.  Like a crow, I respond to the glitter which enlivens the viewing experience.
David Hockney at LA Louver (Venice through Aug. 29).
Has Hockney ever done anything I don’t like?  He has a prodigious output.  I am amazed by his facility and
sense of adventure in picking up new technologies.  The works in this exhibition are prints executed from
drawings that Hockney did on his I-Pad.  The fact that I find them a bit one dimensional and hard to
remember is an indictment of the I-Pad drawing technology rather than a Hockney stumble.  Artistic
intention gets mediated as it flows from the brain out through tools.  But the flatness and lack of visual
dimension to computer-aided creativity just doesn’t square with the gesture that a loaded brush can
impart.  In brush painting the artist and their tool function out of respect for each other.  With the I-Pad, the
artist doesn’t necessarily have to be on the same continent as their tool.
Albert Oehlen at Gagosian (Beverly Hills closing).
Retired Dusseldorf professor, Albert Oehlen’s work is sort of the opposite of Hockney’s I-Pad drawings.  
These huge paintings with their billboard like geometric abstraction are “tagged” with spray painted
symbols of trees.  In these works the artist’s hand is very evident and elevates the act of painting.  Of
course, at this scale it all looks exciting.
Helen Pashgian at ACE Beverly Hills (Beverly Hills through August).
This exhibition is a survey of Pashgian’s (under-recognized) long career in the realm of Light and Space.  
At 80 years old she is still actively working.  Her facility using resins (many of them toxic) underscores the
mastery in her craft.  She is one of the greats.
Jeffry Mitchell at Ambach and Rice (mid Wilshire closing).
Rice is an eclectic artist working in several different modalities.  I know I have seen his ceramic work before.  
This exhibition consists of manufactured, seeming architectural, fragments that are grouped and thinly
whitewashed.  Like Eric Beltz (at CB1 below), Mitchell appears to respond to Americana.  He skews it in a
Deconstructivist way.
Danny Scheible
Susan Sironi, Fausto Fernandez, Danny Scheible at Couturier (La Brea through August 23).
Cou
turier present a group show of 20 artists.  The exhibition’s title “Kaleidoscope” is apt.  There is a lot of
wonderful work by excellent artists.  I show three here that most piqued my interest.
Danny Scheible constructs his wall and table sculptures out of various tapes.  He wants his work to be
examined and touched (to “feel the art” is both figurative and literal).  
Fausto Fernandez layers lots of appropriated content to form fascinating, fundamentally indecipherable,
collages.  The results strike me as if being Charles Christopher Hill with narrative.
Susan Sironi has cut away pages in a book so that her artwork can be experienced like a puzzle.  There is a
resonance between her and Paul Klee.
Fausto Fernandez
 Susan Sironi
Edward Walton Wilcox
Todd Carpenter and Edward Walton Wilcox at Merry Kanjorski (La Brea closing).
Carpenter and Walton Wilcox are well paired in this exhibition and are equally able painters.  Walton Wilcox
presents many of his works as altarpieces (with elaborate frames).  All of his work is Gothic (in the
neo-surrealism vein) and smart witted.  I think of him as an intellectualized Mark Ryden.  
Todd Carpenter paints exquisite landscapes in black, white, and gray.  Trained as a scientist, Carpenter
has connection to San Diego (he teaches at the New School of Architecture) and was seen here extensively
when 4 Walls Gallery was in action.  It is his blend of photography, painting, and the neurosciences that
contributes to great success in rendering perceptual realities.
Todd Carpenter
Ricky Swallow
Made in L.A. 2014 at the Hammer (Westwood through Sept. 7).
After all the great work I have seen just this trip to LA; after the wonderful first “Made in LA” of two years
ago, this show is a big flop.  All the talented artists working in LA and this exhibition makes it seem that LA
art has no spectrum. If you believe the curators, LA art is about the fastest, least practiced, quick-pop
conceptualism.  Vacuous is a good word to describe work that offers no hope for aesthetic (or even
conceptual) excellence.
Sculptor Ricky Swallow deserves better company.  He sculpts objects using string, cardboard and wood
which are then cast in bronze and patinaed.
Joe Goode at Michael Kohn (Hollywood through Aug. 29).
Michael Kohn gave me the grand tour of his new gallery space.  He has every reason to be so proud - it is
a magnificent art space.  I missed the inaugural exhibition of Mark Ryden.  I think this magnificent show is
the best of Goode.  These current works plumb the best of all his preceding series executed over the last
50 years.  No photograph can capture the depth and subtle complexities of these paintings.  
Eric Beltz at CB1 (Downtown closing).
The image above is just a part of Eric Beltz’s drawing.  One needs to get in this close to see the
organizational details that go into creating his contemporized take on Americana.  Writing about work that
presents both the above sort of “quilted” field with tight drawings of the landscape the artist says his
“Americana” is “merged with the lost cultural backdrop represented by potent roadside weeds.”  
Psychedelic Americana.  Neo-Regionalism.
Lisa Adams at CB1 (Downtown closing).
I have always liked Lisa Adams work - because I like painting.  Her paintings are about painting; not about
the imputed subject that her realism invites.  These most tecent paintings are her best yet.  Paintings can
tell stories, suggest how we should feel, or just non-purposefully “be”.  I like the strong architectural
structures is this series of paintings.  They function as armatures on which to hang the components of her
painting practice.
Theo van Rysselberghe 1900
LACMA
After being saturated with Impressionism exhibitions for the last decades, it is refreshing to move on.  
LACMA’s show “Expressionism in Germany and France” takes us on a historical tour of the interchange
between Germany and France in the early 20th century. The focus is on the time when Impressionism
evolved to Post-Impressionism and then to Expressionism.  In Paris the proto-Expressionists were the
Fauves like Derain and Matisse.  In Germany the equivalent aritsts were of Die Brucke (Kirchner, Heckel,
and Schmidt-Rotluff) and the Blaue Reiter (Kandinsky, Macke, Jawlensky, and Gabriele Munter).
Theo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) was a Belgian Post-Impressionist who like Seurat was instrumental in
freeing image making from reality.  Having always admired van Rysselberghe it is satisfying to have him
contextualized by this exhibition.
Andre Derain (1885-1941) 1904
Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) 1911
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) 1948
There is a wonderfully installed exhibition with lots-o-Calders.  There is no scholastic content to this show.  
It is pure Calder - fun and whimsy.  This is Calder’s (1898-1976) first musuem show in LA (LACMA has long
been a Calder fan).  There are 50 works spanning 1931-1975.
Kimono 1950
In the Japanese Pavilion is a beautiful show of mid-Showa Period kimonos.  I particularly like the Post-War
design that is ushered in.
John Altoon 1965
Finally this scholarly show effectively presents the important presence Altoon (1925-1969) played in LA art
during the 50’s and 60’s.   His work combines figuration, biomorphism, and craziness that remind me
significantly of Roberto Matta (1911-2002).
It is time to take a breather from Doug-speak on art.  I am off to non-art travels and the next issue of Best
Picks may not be out until late September.

Get out, look at art, be happy.
Doug Simay July 2014    doug@simayspace.com