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Month: March 2011

Opening Day

Opening Day

Unfortunately our whale watching expedition was cancelled on Saturday, so Sam and I ate fried fish and then worked out.  Saturday was a big night for the Los Angeles art scene. Several key galleries had major openings and all around the same time.  The first up was GR2.  GR2 stands for Giant Robot 2, as the original (?) Giant Robot store is in San Francisco.  The gallery/store had a slew of items on sale for donations to Japan.

Sam bought two of the limited edition glass bottles with prints.  These were by David Horvath and were the last two available:

When we returned home she informed me that she had bought two because one was for me.

The entire GR2 show is on Flickr here, but I’ll re post a few of my favorite pieces below:

Next we were off to Culver City to visit the Corey Helford gallery for the Henry Lewis show.  I was largely unfamiliar with his work. The gallery was packed.

There were elements I liked, but overall – I liked the “unsold from past shows” gallery upstairs more.

Amy Sol – “Zoe”

Eric Joyner – Dark Clouds

This was the best painting in the entire gallery – but I could not find it on Corey Helford’s past shows web page so I’ve uploaded my own photo.  No idea who the artist is, but I wish I could check out their other work.

After weaving through the crowd we walked a few blocks south to view the Anime themed LeBasse Projects‘ SugiPOP show, which was largely empty.

I don’t know who the top artist is since LeBasse doesn’t see fit to update their “current” shows page with … anything (it is blank).  I know the bottom image (orange) is Audrey Kawasaki.

We walked down the block and checked out the current show at Thinkspace.  Nothing was very interesting except for the originals and prints in the back room by Audrey Kawasaky, Tran Nguyen, etc. that are always back there.

Our last destination for the night was the Copro gallery for the Dystopia show.  I had been excited about this show since I heard about it because there was supposed to be a painting by Zdzislaw Beksinski.  I thought this turned out to be false, I couldn’t find a Beksinski piece anywhere, but I later learned that the big piece above the show title (which was the only piece without a tag, coincidentally) was his.  It doesn’t look like most of his other work, so I didn’t recognize it.  It looks like a bearded pilgrim zombie woman.  Beksinski usually does atmospheric landscapes and/or boney multi appendaged figures.

However, the Copro was the last place we visited in the Bergamot complex.  Saturday night was actually the most packed we’d ever seen Bergamot station.  People were blocking egress and parking where no parking existed.  We visited several galleries.  One large gallery had a full size train car in one room and a full size (but fake) tank in another.

The William Turner Gallery, which is usually filled with crap so obviously bad (usually “pop” art) that we don’t even enter the building, had some really interesting paintings by Suzan Woodruff.  It is rare that I see abstract art that I actually like – but a lot of her paintings have a fascinating quality – the show was called Luminous for two reasons: #1 the works display a contrast of rich colors (full saturation) which makes them “glow” and #2 she mixes metal flakes in all the paints so they glitter up close and shine/glow from far away.

When we finally got to the Copro around 8:30 the place was packed and there was a line for the Grilled Cheese truck out front.  Yes, that’s right… I wanted to try it so bad (they even have sides of tomato soup!), but it was already too late in the evening to eat a bunch of bread and cheese.

The guy in the middle there was doing his best Andy Warhol impression (not sure if that hair is a wig or not).  I think a lot of the artists were in attendance, but the only ones that I know by appearance are the father and son team of Chet and James Zar, who were outside by the ramp by the time we arrived.

The show at the Copro was great, even without the Beksinski piece/s.  Here are some of the pieces I liked:

David Bowers – Genesis

Two paintings by Peter Gric.

Cam De Leon

Dariusz Zawadzki

The Copro’s other room was taken by a show for Candice Tripp, Annie Owens and Matt Martin.  The first two I wasn’t impressed with, but Matt Martin‘s work is great dark realism.

This last Martin piece looked more Beksinki-like than Beksinski’s own piece in the show:

On Sunday we had planned to go to the Getty with Sam’s college friends S and K.  (I’m not going to state their real names since I’m not sure she would appreciate me doing so) Since it rained literally all day on Sunday we went to eat at Mitsuwa marketplace instead.  S and K live in Thailand and are here for a few weeks while K is here on business.  Sam had told me that K was an actress in Thailand, but I later learned that she isn’t only an actress but a quite famous actress and Thai musician selling over a million records.  I learned this from her own wikipedia page which I visited out of curiosity arising from the story I’ll tell next.

Mitsuwa is notoriously hard to find a table in.  It is set up as a grocery store with a bookstore and a large cafeteria with 4 or 5 restaurants – like a small “food court” at a mall.  Supposedly the ramen restaurant inside has the best ramen in Los Angeles.  On a rainy day people want hot soup  – so the wait and line for the ramen was long on Sunday.   I actually prefer skinny thai noodles or pho to the fat noodles in Ramen, so I went and got something elsewhere.  When we all had our food we looked and looked and looked for a table.  Finally a party of four got up and waved us over.  It turned out they were going to give us the table because they were fans of K’s and agreed to give up their table if she would take pictures with them.   I can only imagine what it must be like for her and S to go anywhere to eat in Bangkok.

Next we took them to Costco, where you can buy 3-packs of wine cheaper and easier than one bottle of the same in Bangkok.  This held great appeal for S and K at first (stocking up on items to take back), but by the end I think S was as weary of the “Costco Experience” as I always am.  Hopefully we’ll get to take them to the Getty next weekend.



Art Walk, Plants, Cameras

Art Walk, Plants, Cameras

Last night, as usual, Sam and I went to the art walk.  I brought my camera, but didn’t feel like taking any pictures of the “Scene.”  Why?  Because I finally did it.  I finally bought a mirrorless SLR camera on Wednesday to replace the old Canon powershot.  I had been waiting for a long time for three reasons, #1 because I thought more of the mirrorless cameras would be released this year (there were rumors last fall, apparently completely false, that Canon was releasing a mirrorless SLR in Q2 of 2011) #2 I thought the price would drop on the older ones  #3 they’re expensive.

Well, they’re still expensive, but the first two reasons didn’t come true.  With a whale-watching tour next Saturday, Manhattan in May and likely Thailand in October – I figured I might as well get the financial pain over with and make the purchase.  After going and reviewing the Olympus PEN in person twice and the Sony NEX three times, I decided on the NEX.  It is smaller and (contrary to a lot of critics) I actually LIKED how the clickwheel operated, it seems smoother to me than the old punch punch punch punch button method of they Olympus (which is very similar to my Powershot’s manual operations mode).

So – knowing that the pictures to come out of the NEX would be 100% better than my lens-scarred weary Powershot, I couldn’t muster the energy to attempt a shot with the old Canon even though I still had it in my pocket.

Most of the art was crappy as usual on the walk.  However, Branch of Life had a bunch of great stuff at his/their booth in the Art Park.  Sam and I bought several plants and I “commissioned” a few custom pieces to pick up next time (more on that next month).

Sam bought three of these little guys for her dining room table and I bought one for my office desk (seen here from my cel phone camera…at my office desk…):

I also bought a large “bright light” piece for my dining room table.  I took some bad photos with the Canon (see – I used it after all!) in the dark when I finally got home:

I guess you can’t really tell the scale in the photo, but the “pot” (bowl?) is about a foot in diameter.  It was a really hard choice, there were several great pieces, but Sam convinced me that the dark bowl with the gold filaments was going to look best in my dining room (with the mid-90s theme).  I also liked how this one was already flowering.  After we first saw the booth at the art walk Sam and I did some investigating, looking for these plants/bowls/etc.  Although all these plants can be found at local nurseries, the quality of plants sold at Branch of Life are near perfect.  The nursery succulents, by comparison, look downright ugly.  Oh, and they really aren’t expensive either.  The big bowl was only $25, and the smaller office one (maybe 5 inches on each side) was only $8.  Although he didn’t say why, the proprietor even gave us a small discount on top of that (maybe because we were buying a larger quantity than most people?).

After that we went across the street to eat from the food trucks.  The mediterranean place I liked last time was gone.  I walked through two different parking lots before settling on a $5 slice (chunk?) of pizza.  However, this was a huge letdown as what looked like a pizza oozing with cheese and grease turned out to be a big hunk of dough with a thin layer of cheese painted on top and no more than “hint” of tomato sauce.  Blegh!  Costco Pizza ($9 for a large greasy cheesy great pizza) continues to amaze me.  Later we walked by another parking lot with food trucks farther away and – there was the Mediterranean truck.  Grumble…

Lastly we stopped by the Hive.  Unlike last month I failed to woo a buyer for my piece, but I admit the painting probably wasn’t as good as last month.  I actually don’t like these “theme” shows as much as the regular ones.  I feel the artists are constrained a little bit and we don’t see their best work, myself included.  Moreover this “theme” group show seems to be a fad in the art gallery industry right now.  Last year I remember a Stanley Kubrik themed show at the Copro.  A few weeks ago we saw the group show Tribute to John Hughes at Gallery1988 in Venice.  Tonight the Culver City Gallery1988 is opening a group show (curated by Craola Simkins no less) focusing on Watership Down.  Now, I understand why this is a good idea from the gallery owners’ perspective in the short run.  Take established selling artists with fans and put “added value” in their work by making the meaning obvious and immediately relevant to every viewer.  Clearly these pieces are easier to sell.  However, I believe their long-term worth will suffer since these are less original than the artist’s other work.  Think of it like cover songs.  When Piddly Pum Puffy Diddy Daddy remixed the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” it sold well.  It was all over Mtv and the radio.  In 2011 do you think anyone is still choosing the Puff Diddle version over the real version?

Of course there are exceptions to this rule, like when the original is lackluster and incomplete like the original Homogenic album version for Bjork’s All is Full of Love, which pales in comparison to the remix used for the music video.  Covers can also be better than originals.  For example, I consider the reworking of Tears for Fears’ Mad World by Gary Jules to be superior to the original for three reasons: #1 the original has an ambigous meaning, while Gary Jules’ version was intruduced to the world in the last scene of Donnie Darko – which was entirely fitting and puts the lyrics in better perspective.  #2 Gary Jules’ version is actually much quieter, focusing on the theme of sadness and his singing is in less of a monotone than the original.  #3 the original is knee deep in 80s techno music sound effects, which, while cool and new at the time, sound terribly dated and silly now.

Now, apply all that to art.  Of course, that isn’t really relevant is it?  These artists aren’t covering other artists (hey, wouldn’t THAT be an interesting show?), they’re covering other source material.  Perhaps a better example would be the movie industry fascination with regurgitating existing material.  What was a better movie, Transformers (any of them) or Inception?   Case closed.

Now, ironically, there is a fantastic group show opening in Seattle today (of course the only person I know in Seattle is getting wet from tsunamis in Hawaii this weekend) that consists entirely of original work.  And that work, mostly because it is original, is miles above what is on display at gallery1988 tonight in my opinion.

Anyway – there was my group show “theme” rant.  Perhaps it only perturbs me so much because the Alice in Wonderland theme gave me such a headache – having to quit and start over on a painting for the first time in a long time.

And here is how the painting in question turned out:

Here is a painting by the alway great Larkin, The Dodo:

The following piece by Frost Newton was amazing in the amount of detail.  He was able to put such teeny tiny lines in there with acrylic paint – I really wish I could crack that secret technique!

This piece by Sze Jones was masterfully drawn, but as a painting it honestly seemed incomplete, I could see more of the pencil sketches than the actual paint.


just relax, guy

just relax, guy

I have had trouble sleeping for many years.  It typically takes me between 30-60 minutes to fall asleep.  During the middle of the week this always got worse.  It used to be because my mind was still active from being in class until 10+pm.  Now I guess it is just the residual mid-week malaise carried over from two years of no sleep in the middle of the week. Concerned for my health, Sam aimed to change that.

When I moved to California I purchased a cheap mattress for a few hundred dollars and that is what I’ve been sleeping on ever since.  That mattress has seen better days, and it’s been a while since it’s seen them.  Sam informed me that for my birthday (and it’s a significant birthday …shudder…) she was getting me a new mattress.  So, two weeks ago we procured it and set it up.

I immediately got sick.  I’m sure it was just a coincidence (although those foam mattresses give off a terrible paint smell the first week), but it meant that judging my sleep pattern changes would be irrelevant for the time being.  In fact, that very first week I had the worst night in many years as my smoke alarm started chirping to replace the battery.  It took me hours to realize just what it was. At first I assumed it was the one high up on my bedroom wall and there was nothing I could do about it until I borrowed the really big extending ladder from the office.  Eventually I became so sick of the noise I went to the hall to get a ladder to possibly put on a card table (this was 3am and with no sleep, so I wasn’t making the smartest decisions).  When I wandered out I realized the noise was louder, and the alarm was the one in the hall.  This was great news, as I only had to climb on a kitchen chair get to the alarm. Unluckily this was one of the models that retains a charge to keep beeping after you take the battery out.  Which wouldn’t have mattered if I had a 9 volt battery. I did not.  So, still having received no sleep, at 4 in the morning I researched online and set out to the only 24 hour drug store which was about 6 miles away to get 9 volt batteries.  By 5:30 I was in bed, only to wake up in what seemed like mere seconds to the morning alarm.  The next morning I drank a coffee drink, which I nearly never do as my body is so sensitive to caffeine.  It didn’t really wake me up much, but when I went straight home and to bed (5pm)… I still couldn’t get to sleep till after 11pm.

Since then though I’ve been falling asleep faster and waking up less, undoubtedly due to the bed.


So, thank you, Sam, for a great birthday present.