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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin at LA Louver (Venice through March 28).
The painting pictured above measures 5 ½ x 10 inches (oil on polyester).  Known as a “from life” landscape
painter, in these works Mendelsohn Rubin paints from digital photographs - many shot from a drone.  The
paintings are exquisite.  She knows just where to make an exacting mark.  She also knows where a loose
brush gesture is best
placed.  Mendelsohn Rubin, David Ligare and John Nava are of similar tenure - titans
of realism for the last decades.
Ben Jackel at LA Louver (Venice through March 28).
Ben Jackel is a fabricator of particular skill.  This object is constructed from stoneware, hardware, ebony
and beeswax.  While Jackel seems adept with any material, stoneware seems one of his favorites.  He
studied with Adrian Saxe while pursuing a MFA at UCLA.  Jackel’s work is as idiosyncratic as it can be.  His
unrelenting craft elevates his materials into art.
Jacci den Hartog at Rosamund Felsen (Bergamot closing).
Den Hartog fashions art that is both sculpture and painting.  She is eclectic like many of the artists that
Rosamund Felsen represents.  The works in this exhibition take water and mountain forms from classical
Japanese art to be remade into the artist’s Western zen.  She is true to her experience and impulse.
News: Rosamund Felsen is moving her gallery to south Santa Fe Ave. – a space she will share with Clyde
Beswick and CB1.  It is a match made in cultural heaven.  Southwestern downtown LA is ramping up the
downtown’s cultural rebirth.
Astrid Preston at Craig Krull (Bergamot through April 11).
As many Preston exhibitions as I have witnessed, I continue to respond to the most recent as
transcendent.  Certainly this broad and deep exhibition is Preston at her usual – prodigiously energetic and
confident.  The works range from figurative landscape to landscape abstraction.  The newest heroic
paintings (as above) combine the two.  It is Monet-like when it is not being Oriental.
Some Memories
Several paintings (like “Some Memories”) pay homage to earlier works.  And, as seen in this painting, there
are now organic forms that float across the surface as if seeds or spores.  They remind me of Terry
Winters.  
A painting like “White Waves” is Japanese style abstraction.
There is a beautiful exhibition catalog with essay by Robert Pincus.  One of these days a museum will
perceive why Astrid is ready for prime time.  
Thomas Burke at Western Project (Culver City through March 28).
Walking into Burke’s exhibition is an “oh wow” moment.  His large, geometric illusions remind me of Op-Art
and Hard-Edge abstractions from earlier times.  The surface of the paintings is meticulously flat - comprised
of many layers of sprayed paint on metal surfaces.  
Dennis Koch at Luis de Jesus (Culver City through March 28).
Thickly and heavily applied colored pencil melds with the paper to become a “trans-material”.  It is this
magic that makes Koch’s work - work.
Kenny Scharf at Honor Fraser (Culver City through April 4).
Kenny Scharf is without imitator.  His wacky work announces the artist with complete clarity.  At first, I felt
guilty succumbing to the visual puns and Decorative visual cavorting.  But it doesn’t take long to get lost in
a gallery hung salon style with Scharf‘s re-purposed thrift shop paintings.  Rococo in the 21st century.
Hung Liu at Walter Maciel (Culver City through April 11).
Hung Liu earned her MFA at UCSD.  She has had many important exhibitions and her capabilities are
widely recognized.  An 80 painting retrospective is currently at the Palm Springs Museum of Art having
earlier been presented at the Oakland Museum and the Kemper in Kansas City.  Walter Maciel has been
her LA dealer for a long time and her show is magnificent in his new, expanded gallery in Culver City.
Erin Morrison at Samuel Freeman (Culver City through April 4).
Ms. Morrison’s work is a mix of features each of which has its allure.  She constructs quilts of cloth that not
only has form but bleeds its color when pressed into wet plaster.  She presses the quilts into wet plaster
which creates a relief of the patterns in the cloth.  She then finishes the work with brush and pigment
painting.  There is plenty to contemplate here – though I find myself thinking more of her processes than
the experience of the work’s totality.
Brad Eberhard at Susanne Vielmetter (Culver City through April 4).
Observing Brad Eberhard’s painting evolution over the years (successive shows with Thomas Solomon)
demonstrates Eberhard’s evolution into complete abstraction.  Twenty small works in this show are
exquisite.  They have been meticulously over-worked until the abstraction is pure and “meaning” is about
the spiritual.
Jeffery Laudenslager at Century City
Century City has mounted its second public art exhibition presenting work by 10 contemporary abstract
sculptors.  It is an ambitious and successful undertaking given the logistics of installing monumental works.  
San Diego’s Jeffery Laudenslager has three pieces installed along Avenue of the Stars.  The day was
cloudy and the brilliance of Jeffery’s titanium and stainless steel sculptures suffered.  Their graceful,
choreographed movement in the wind offers vital animation set against the orthogonal grid of buildings.
Michael Todd at Century City
Touring the sculptures gives one a chance to see how expansive the Century City development is.  The
works at the 10100 Santa Monica Blvd. building are also particularly notable.  There are pieces by Mark
Lere, Peter Shelton, Michael Todd, and Matt Wedel.
Friday I met and shared lunch with Mike Todd at his studio in Frogtown.   Mike was my sculpture professor
at UCSD back when I was a junior and senior in college.   He was referred to one of my "Best Picks" writings
a few months ago, remembered my name from the Plioscene, and invited me to come by on one of my LA
trips.  He was a favorite prof and I spent several quarters doing independent studies with him.  Those were
the days when I was a dual major (biology and art), spent all of my time in the studio, and seriously thought
of becoming a sculptor.  Thank god my parents hopes and aspirations for me ran more deeply than my
spirit.
Anyway it was curious and enjoyable to bridge a time gap of 45 years.!!!  
Mike Todd in studio.
John Currin at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through April 11).
Finding Currin’s work to be uniquely successful in a contemporary world that isn’t “pro-figuration”, I am
disappointed in these, his current paintings.  There is little doubt that John Currin is at work here.  But, the
imagery seems gratuitously salacious (the image above is tame).  Trying to find a balance between beauty
and the grotesque, he overshot the limits.
Betty Woodman at Kordansky (lower La Brea through March 21).
Betty Woodman is 85 years old.  She is thought of as a ceramist.  This exhibition is magnificent.  She
creates isolated environments using glazed earthenware set against backdrops of epoxy resin, lacquer,
acrylic paint and canvas.  Her work is as if a meld of Matisse and Cezanne against a backdrop of Pattern
and Decoration.  The exhibition experience is pure joy
Fiona Connor at 1301PE (mid Wilshire closing).
One doesn’t see much “hyper-realist sculpture” - as in Ron Mueck or Duane Hanson.  Fiona Connor’s work
falls into this realm.  She constructs faithful recordings of social bulletin boards.  Except the papers pinned
to the board are screen-printed on thin, but rigid, aluminum sheets.  The effect is more immediate than
“right there”.  It becomes a 3-D trompe l’oeil.  The work is hyper-present.
Sandro Miller at Fahey/Klein (La Brea through March 21).
The black and white photos executed by Miller are clean and straight.  It is John Malkovich as subject who
makes these works a real joy to view.  Miller has chosen iconic photographic images by the masters, sets
were built to replicate the original images, and then John Malkovich was made up and acted the role of the
original model to produce the final image.  Malkovich becomes the beekeeper in Richard Avedon’s photo,
Truman Capote in Irving Penn’s image, or the migrant mother in Dorothea Lange’s Depression era photo.  
Accurate, uncanny - truly remarkable.
Brian Ransom at Couturier (La Brea through April 11).
Brian Ransom is a master in two art forms.  He is an accomplished musician and consummate ceramist.  
His constructed stoneware vessels contain a whistle so that as water moves between chambers (displacing
air) the artworks create resonant tones (as in Pre-Colombian designed jarros silvantes).  The outside
surfaces are adorned with playful, frankly erotic figures.  The skill of execution, the nod toward earlier
cultures, and the insightful blending of music and sculpture make these works stupendous.
Frank Stella at Michael Kohn (North Highland through March 28).
For this exhibition, Michael Kohn presents work by seven Minimalist artists.  Two sculptures by Frank
Stella (2008 & 2006) captured my attention.  They are minimal by Stella standards and pure poetry.
Craig Taylor at CB1 (southwest Downtown through April 11).
Taylor’s abstractions are built with seeming daubs of color paint.  The final results are abstract paintings
that have figurative inclinations.  I am reminded of Max Ernst and Dubuffet.
Jeff Irwin at RB Stevenson (La Jolla through May 2).
Ceramic based art seems broadly represented this month.  In San Diego, Ron Stevenson is showing Jeff
Irwin.  What I most appreciate about Jeff’s work is his transference, modeling earth (clay), to vegetal
(wood) forms, that represent animals, in order to portray human emotions and reality states.  He does so
with consummate skill.  

Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay           3/16/2015
doug@simayspace.com