Tuesday, February 28, 2012

California Dreamin'

It's always nice to escape from New York, particularly in February and head for warmer climes.  Southern California, always the other alternative, is in the midst of the gigantic mult/multi-venue Pacific Standard Time survey of California art. I was able to see one of its exhibitions at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (1951-1969) where Diebenkorn, Benjamin, Irwin, Lundeberg and Foulkes all looked very good.  It was my first time in Santa Barbara since the 1970s where I went as a pre-teen to Elgin Baylor/Gail Goodrich Lakers basketball camp. I was there the week Nixon resigned.  

In Los Angeles, the Culver City Galleries are where most of the action is these days and there was one work in particular which caught my eye from the Brian Bress solo show at Cherry and Martin.  It was a video piece but instead of a dark room asking for 15 minutes of your time with little promise of a payoff, it was instead a video in a framed box leaning on the wall. 
A one-minute loop of a beaded man spinning around in slow motion played.  It was amusing and smart without the agony that is most video art.  Over at Nye+Wright an exhibition of early Judy Chicago was up but I was too late to see the exhibition that had closed a week earlier Brian Will's excellent new mixed media abstractions that deploy thread in new ways. The gallery still had a few works of hiis hanging in the office and I hope to see more in person in the future. 
In Los Angeles proper and close to the edge of West Hollywood is Matthew Marks first expansion out of Chelsea.  It is the house that Ellsworth built--literally and figuratively.  It is a beautiful spare cube of a building built from scratch and placed in a residential neighborhood on North Grove Street.  
As I got out of my car I noticed John Waters leaving the gallery and going into his car--probably in town for the Academy Awards. I don't think he's a big Kelly fan. The installation of new paintings inside looked impressive but upon closer inspection these new two panel reliefs are not great Kelly's but better than most stuff out there.  In a couple of instances he introduces some new colors--a light, electric blue and a fluorescent orange. 
The next major event on my art agenda was the Richard Diebenkorn exhibition of his Ocean Park Series at the Orange County Museum of Art opening on February 26.  I went to the press preview on Saturday night and saw one of the most exciting museum shows in years.  I will have that review up by tomorrow afternoon.

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