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Current Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Doug Simay’s Best Picks
Tom LaDuke at Michael Kohn (Hollywood closing).
I think LaDuke likes all manner of painting (abstraction and figuration).  He likes to control his tools and to
let them freely fly.  He does find a balance that allows the viewer to either seek understanding or to just
experience.
David Haxton at Gavlak (Hollywood through May 23).
Haxton taught at San Diego State University in the 60s and early 70s.  He works in film and photography.  
In the work pictured above he has created and installed a perforated screen lit either in the front or from
the rear that he then photographically documents.  He effectively frames illusion - “…exposing perception
as pliable and malleable…”
Phyllis Green at LAM (Hollywood through June 20).
Phyllis enters new territory with functional sculpture honoring metaphysical enlightenment.  Each of her
sculptures is meant to be “worn” as a garment.  In this piece, inspired by the Mundaka Upanishad, those
seeking enlightenment are to approach a learned teacher with wood on their head.  Green’s work is
performance, craft, feminism and conceptual art all rolled together.
Chris Ballantyne
Chris Ballantyne and Anna Carey at Pyo (Downtown through June 6).
Pyo’s exhibition is called “re/constructed” and features 11 artists.  This is an exhibition worth seeing.  My
favorite artists are Chris Ballantyne (NYC) and Anna Carey (Australian).  Chris Ballantyne presents familiar
architectural views as a skewed graphic abstraction.  Anna Carey carefully constructs architectural models
(including the landscaping) of real scenes.  She then photographs the models after which she destroys
them.  The work is simultaneously real and imagined.
Anna Carey
Kim MacConnel at Rosamund Felsen (Downtown Southwest closing).
Rosamund’s new space (same building as CB1) is really great – the best space she has occupied in a very
long career.  She is obviously gleeful to be here.  She deserves her happiness.  Kim MacConnel’s art is
instantly recognizable as his.  No other artist operating within this abstract, decorative genre is so
identifiable.  This exhibition presents work from the 80s and early 90s.  In parts these works have flocking
which offers visual texture at the opposite pole from his current high-gloss paintings.
Merion Estes at CB1 (Downtown Southwest through May 30).
Merion Estes was from San Diego.  I have been a fan of her work seemingly forever.  The new paintings in
this exhibition are made by collaging fabric and then overpainting with acrylic.  This may well be the finest
body of work I have seen this year.
Cammie Staros at Francois Ghebaly (Downtown Southwest through June 6).
I have just returned from the Middle East; this exhibition struck my funny bone.  As the press release states,
“…the investigation of abstract, mutant possibilities of antiquated forms.  …tropes of Modernism with the
ancient forms of Greece and Egypt…”  Not great stuff, just cheeky.
Ed Templeton at Roberts & Tilton (Culver City through May 30).
Templeton (born 1972) lives in and observes lifestyles in Huntington Beach.  He is a famous skate-culture
figure.  These deceptively simple works are perversely poignant.  He well captures life in a “…place as
strange as Huntington Beach.”  He is a social historian with a clever hook.
Edward Burtynsky at Von Lintel (Culver City through June 7).
I am a sucker for Burtynsky’s lavish, large format, grand-view perspectives on the world.  I like it best when
the work becomes abstract as in this photograph of dry-field farming in Spain.
Mineo Mizuno at Samuel Freeman (Culver City closing).
Mizuno crafts very thin walled, unglazed porcelain vessels.  The hand of their creator is in evidence and yet
they also seem to be of their own creation – organic, petrified life forms.  
Tomoo Gokita at Honor Fraser (Culver City closing).  
Gokita is Japanese; working in Tokyo.  His portraits are surreal; painted in a very flat, monochromatic
manner at large scale.  They possess what good painting should have – the artist’s viewpoint and an
invitation for the viewer to engage their interpretation.
Mark Grotjahn at Blum & Poe (Culver City through June 20).
Mark Grotjahn is not the standard for the state of LA abstraction (regardless of what “they” say).  His over-
wrought, palette knife scarred paintings continue to mine structural strategies he has used for the last ten
years.  One Grotjahn goes a long way.  As a series, the forest overcomes the trees.
Eric Beltz at Koplin Del Rio (Culver City through May 23).
Beltz uses graphite drawing on Bristol board to skillfully create either illusions or delusions.  His pattern
drawings are neo-Americana.  His figurative drawings are hallucinogenic, shamanistic reveries.  Unique.
Enrique Martinez Celaya at LA Louver (Venice closing).
Celaya’s name seems to inspire people to go “Ahh.!”  His work has a spirituality that causes the paintings
to be more than they are.  He is one of Cuba’s best recognized contemporary painters.  I hear his name
and I go to see – left to wonder what was just seen?
Oliver Michaels at Shoshana Wayne (Bergamot through June 19).
Michaels is a photographer who digitally composites his images into flawless, seemingly real
representations.  There are three series of work in this exhibition – all of which deal with laborious
constructions and reconfigurations of reality.
Connie Jenkins at Craig Krull (Bergamot through May 23).
It must take Connie a year of labor to complete one of her intensely detailed and lovingly observed littoral
seascapes.  While the paintings are rigorously accurate in recording reality, the color amplitude and chaos
of forms combine to form rich abstractions.  This terrific body of work demonstrates the value of a
professional lifetime of rigorous attention and practice.
Robert Ginder at Lora Schlesinger (Bergamot through May 23).
Former San Diegan, Robert Ginder has for the last couple decades painted SoCal Spanish Colonial
Revival houses on gold foil.  This results in luminously luscious works.  I am most happy to see in this
exhibition Ginder applying his talents in other veins.  The work above is flat and trompe l’oeil except for the
blue doorway.  The Revivalist houses are luminous and shiny.  The new paintings are flat and absorb light.  
Ginder shows his expertise in managing perception through fine painterly skills.
Dennis Doheny (view of Torrey Pines State Beach)
William Karges now at Bergamot.
With all the change-ups at Bergamot Station (gallery closures and move-outs) along with the stresses of
construction and diminishing parking, I had worried that Bergamot Station, as we have known it for the last
decades, was dying.  Not so.  Consolidation has caused strong gallerists to be more functional neighbors
(Lora Schlesinger is now in prime viewing territory).  That William Karges has moved his gallery specializing
in California Impressionism to the former Schlesinger space, brings integrity and quality with new
perspectives.  Couple Karges with Latin America Masters gallery, strong photography dealers, and the
wealth of offerings makes Bergamot a place to find quality and breadth.  The educational possibilities have
never been better.
Anthony Caro at Gagosian (Beverly Hills through May 30).
Caro (1924-2013) got interested in sculpture while working as an assistant to Henry Moore in the 1950s.  
Caro is a titan of British sculpture and his 60 year career is filled with integrity to his visions.  The thirteen
early works in this exhibition are from the 1960s.  They are boldly colorful and appear fresh enough to
have been fabricated yesterday.
Angela Kallus at Peter Mendenhall (mid Wilshire through June 6).
Rich, pulled-pigment targets are so precise that they leave much to wonder about.  What is real dimension
and what is illusion?  How did she do that?!
Bernar Venet at ACE (mid Wilshire).
Accustomed to seeing Venet’s sizable work out in the “environment”, it is a pleasure to see his work within
the heroic spaces of ACE-LA.  I am not a fan of Natalie Arnoldi’s paintings (currently on view).  But her
paintings installed on the walls surrounding Venet’s sculptures makes for a strong environment of aesthetic
joy.
Maritta Tapanainen at Couturier (La Brea through May 30).
Tapanainen is a collagist extraordinaire.  In this body of work she has created near duplicate, juxtaposed
collages culled from arcane printed matter.  One forgets the manner of her meticulous work while
experiencing worlds within worlds.
Peter Saul at David Kordansky (lower La Brea through June 20).
I don’t even like Peter Saul’s work.  But it causes me to chuckle recognizing it and understanding that he
has been doing “this” for 50 years.  His work seems to me like campy political cartoon.

Get out, look at art; have fun.
Doug Simay           5/18/2015
doug@simayspace.com