Monday, June 28, 2010

Panel of The Muses at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions

At sixteen Cindy Sherman was my idol, like any sixteen year old. In my world, every sixteen year old girl idolizes Cindy Sherman. My AP Art History class competed with other AP classes for the best representation. Both in test scores and class pride. We managed to create a hand sign that was more like a code of honor. Taking inspiration from Botticelli’s Venus de Milo and every other commissioned work by the Medici Family.

However, that was my taste of the limited works on a textbook, and the book was literally heavier than all of my other class books combined; thick and heavy. It wasn’t long after this that I was introduced to Chinatown’s Chung King Road, and ever since, I have grown a following towards the place. Once in Chinatown I expanded my palette by reading reviews, then learning of more artists. The file is still growing. I’m not quite sure why or how a liking grew. However, I do remember my first art museum visit. I was in third grade, the museum was MOCA, and they still had the van shuttle that would take you to the Geffen location in Little Tokyo. I believe they no longer do that.

Arely in High School: The nostalgic years!

If it wasn't about impromptu photo sessions a la Sherman in the school aisles. It was all about museum visits with my AP Art History class.

So why am I going crazy about myself?! I promise there’s a good reason.

Some of you may be familiar with the Los Angeles based blog: Fine Arts L.A.. I will admit I wasn’t until I was introduced to the site by the very own Josh Morrison, the editor in chief of Fine Arts L.A, when Josh approached me with the offer of participating on a panel he was organizing later on that month.

Never before had I met an art blogger, and yes, and L.A. based art blogger not one of the many popular New York based blogs. I’m not quite sure about the demographics of blogs, but I sure know that if in Los Angles you will occasionally meet a blogger. And it seems as if most L.A based bloggers are in between the demographics of food or entertainment; entertainment not hosting an art feed. Meeting a fellow L.A. based art blogger was already a good sign to the process that was ahead.

LACE: It's Still a Blur

Our panel: "Panel of The Muses" took place in the colorful abyss of Hollywood. At Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, an artist run gallery on foot since the late seventies. Instantly when I found out our panel will take place at LACE my demeanor grew. Skip Arnold, Dawn Kasper, and many other artists that I look up to had participated or have/are involved one way or another with LACE. It couldn’t get any better, but it did get better.

Panel of The Muses: Josh Morrison, Freddi Cerasoli, Arely Villegas, Lee Foley, Paul Pescador, Daniel Ingroff

Panel of The Muses consisted of four diverse individuals of the Los Angles art community: Lee Foley director of Actual Size Gallery, Paul Pescador artist and co director of Workspace Gallery, Freddi Cerasoli of Cerasoli Gallery, and Daniel Ingroff artist and director of Workspace Gallery. Overall, the panel was a healthy diverse body of individuals with Los Angles art cred.

Paul Pescador has been on the top of my list:Los Angles Based Artist to Lookout For!!

Pescador’s performative work intrigues me, since the artist takes on the role of observer rather than performer. Observation also serves as a type of performance!.

Joshua Morrison served as moderator and asked questions surrounded in the on going problem of Los Angeles dispersed communities, that no sense of community seems to exist or survive. The raising question of the night explored if an arts community even existed in Los Angeles.

We were all quickly to agree that a community in Los Angeles might not fully exsist, but it does thrive. Since Los Angles has no actual central core as per say New York City. Art Galleries in Los Angeles are literally dispersed into different communities and neighborhoods-- from the west side to the east side. You're either apart of one or two, but as a creative community we do try to close this gap. As Freddi Cerasoli pointed out: " I have proposed several ideas to nearby galleries in Culver City and everyone looked at me like I was crazy" ... when trying to organize a more steady Culver City Art Walk. It's just that "do it alone" attitude of Los Angles that aides and damages any scene in our city.

Workspace Gallery in Lincoln Heights has set to fix the problem by choosing to move in to a space you normally wouldn't expect an art gallery to exist in Los Angeles. Blum and Poe are not next door, but rather a normal working class community surrounds the space. Not only that, but Workspace has conducted projects such as, Nice to Meet You: Over , which explore SPACE, community, and interaction.

Lee Foley and the rest of the Actual Size Gallery family, resided in the windy city of Chicago before moving to Los Angeles very own charming Chinatown neighborhood and establishing Actual Size, one of Chinatown's galleries run by young creative individuals-- Lee Foley herself is only twenty five. Actual Size program is by far top scale. Even participating in this years MFA Grad Cal Arts show -- Box Scheme. Foley, spoke about the importance of working as a business rather than going down the difficult road of a non profit. Not to mention the hard times for non profit spaces in our city as of lately.

As for myself, I try to not shy away from any situation. After all, I do not seek social status, but rather the pleasure of having the right to be surrounded by the sole proprietor of life: art!.

Many complain about our city's lack of awareness to the arts, and others venture every weekend into the labyrinth of the Los Angeles Art scene. Woody Allen was wrong when in Annie Hall he comments: "I don't want to move to a city where the only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on a red light" - .

Los Angles is a one of the world's leading hubs for Contemporary art, as Angelenos we have to learn how to navigate, and embrace the raw labyrinth of the city that we live in.

June was one of the most memorable, and hectic months of 2010: Finals, meeting internationally known artists that have just arrived from their shows in Europe, hanging out with art collectors, artists, friends, gallery owners, participating panelist, art gossip... And I can only see greater and bigger months ahead in my constant relationship with the Los Angeles art community.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Alice Neel: LA Louver

After knowing that Eve Wood would teach an experimental art history course at my school, I knew I couldn’t pass by the opportunity. Any day is a good day to choose to take a class under the direction of a well known Los Angeles based artist, and I was in for a treat this Spring semester. Great lectures were ahead, based both within the context of art history and contemporary art news in Los Angeles. My expectations paid their dues, just in time.

On occasion my fellow students would make me laugh, but at the end of the course many quite impressed me. For example, the most memorable moment was when Wood tried to explain the difference from surrealism, conceptualism, and all the isms of the post war period. I recall a certain student demanding Wood to explain to him why Cy Twombly was in collections of major museums, pushing it to an extent of existential questioning of what makes an artist. However, hearing the sweet words from a student comparing Alice Neel to Egon Schiele’s work was truly sweet victory. I felt proud of Wood, and of the student. Perhaps, my true passion in life is teaching… Growth is difficult, but growth always proceeds in length.

Alice Neel from SeeThink on Vimeo.

Through out the ripples of an art theory course we were lucky to watch the famous Alice Neel documentary, directed by Neel’s grandson Andrew Neel. While over at LA Louver sixteen of Neel’s works were currently on show.

la louver
LA Louver: At First Glance

Alice Neel , celebrated as much as she has been ignored. With an artistic career span from the 1920’s in Philadelphia to her death in 1984 in New York City. Neel appreciated her role of historical collector, and she transcends this in her portraiture by depicting figures from different sectors of interests. Those including Andy Warhol, Horace Clayton, and human rights activist Ava Helen. Her departure from Greenwich Village and the art world in it’s entirety makes Neel a true self statement. With her relocation to Spanish Harlem Neel meets yet again another lover and the father of her oldest son Richard. In Spanish Harlem Neel documents her new neighbors, friends. Once again, Neel makes her new encounter with the artistic community of New York City in the sixties, when she relocates to the Upper West Side. Making for an eclectic set of works that quickly grew out of her apartment. Stacked canvas; books on a bookshelf. All ranging, but quickly picking up to what she’s best known for today: a historical recollection through painting.

Linus and Ava Helen Pauling
Linus and Ava Helen Pauling (1969): The joys of old age

Neel’s sixteen works are distributed on the first floor galleries of LA Louver. Three rooms bring together this tiny in scale retrospective of the artists work. In the furthest left room of the gallery, tucked away, is the exhibitions earliest work -- Sam Sea Biscuit (1940), a portrait of Neel’s lover, Sam Brody and father to her son Hartley. Sam Brody was a popular left wing leader, and a critical component to film making during the great depression era. Emphasizing on documenting the great depression.

sam sea biscuti (1940)
Sam Sea Biscuit (1940): Sam Brody

The feeble effects of the post war era in the United States were visible everywhere if not especially in the arts. However, modernism had not fully marked territory in the states. While in Europe theories had been in practice since the beginning of the impressionist movement. Nonetheless, there were some artists in the states practicing the avant garde styles of Europe. Alice Neel, considered a realist painter whose primary genre was portraiture. However, I feel that she was indeed a modernist artist. Perhaps, not so avant garde, but her style evolves…

Alice Neel Recognized for her vast collection of portraiture but in Sam Sea Biscuit (1940), we see traces of tangible play, if even as a minimal approach to abstraction. The background like most of Neel’s backgrounds is abstracted with different hues of dark blues, but with a more rigid attempt at abstraction. Traces of Rothko’s painterly ways set the mood in this particular work. While all of this is taking place, the subject sits firmly in profile. Brody’s rigidness delivers throughout the work, as well as his full forced approach which serves as an impression of his own personality-- a true intellectual, in all forms ( critic, photographer, left wing leader, and filmmaker). A feat not easy to accomplish, but quite natural of Neel’s work. Neel unmasks her subjects through her pieces, as it’s evident in Brody’s portrait. No wonder every critic since the seventies has coined Neel’s famous phrase-- “a collector of souls”.

Peggy (1960): Distressed

Neel’s portraiture is driven with emotion, but certain pieces like Peggy ( ) literally shout emotion. Peggy (1960), a friend of Neel who became victim of an abusive partner. The stillness of Peggy (1960) parallels with the stillness of a fruit bowl, on the far left foreground. If not one of the most important pieces in this show, it is the one who is most driven due to it’s subject matter.

My favorite piece in the show is the tentative first trial at Red Grooms and Mimi Gross portrait. The flurry of the connectionless mood in the piece won me over the instant I walked in the room. Alice captures the pseudo love Red Grooms shared with his then wife Mimi Gross. Red Grooms and Mimi Gross final painting is motionless in my opinion. Red Grooms and Mimi Gross No.1 (1967) is by far my favorite piece, compared to the original finished work. Quite interesting, Red Grooms and Mimi Gross separated just after the work was completed. Talk about great counseling or the slap of truth.

the fake lovers
Red Grooms and Mimi Gross No.1 (1967): The Fake Lovers

Alice Neel- Paintings
May 20 - June 26, 2010
LA Louver Gallery
45 North Venice Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291-4127

(310) 822-4955