Saturday, May 31, 2008

Mother Load Tonight

Tonight (Saturday May 31) Lee Lynch of the Coalition for Cinematic Conservation and Preservation - Southern California Chapter will be presenting the feature length opera film "The Mother Load" with the filmmaker Peter Yates. This is a surreally beautiful and funny lo-fi cinema treasure, with a haunting musical score. Yates is best known as half of the avant-garde Elgart-Yates Guitar Duo and has previously composed an opera based on the lives and works of folk artists Simon Rodia and "Grandma" Tressa Prisbrey.

Lee says: The story is based on historical events of a hard-rock mining town in Nevada City and told through the manipulation of various black and white xeroxed historical photo collage puppets, I quote the artist verbatim: "Part of a series of works using new media to empower the individual artist, it follows to the nth degree a do-it-yourself, low-budget aesthetic, with text, music, voices, instrumental performances, recording, sets, puppetry, masks, camera, and editing done almost entirely by the lonely filmmaker. Simple arithmetic dictates that, compared with this $2,000 work, a 100-million-dollar Hollywood film will provide 50,000 times as much life-changing content and aesthetic satisfaction."

8pm, 5 bucks at the Echo Park Film Center, 1200 North. Alvarado st (at Sunset Blvd)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kaprow! Kaprow! Buddhabuddhabuddha!

Above: Happeners in the Mist: Steve Roden and his intrepid troupe recreate Kaprow's '18 Happenings in 6 Parts' at LACE in late April. Photo by Sari Roden (I think).

"Forging a unified field theory out of his seemingly disparate Hans Hoffman apprenticeship, American Povera assemblages and participation in the formative social nexus of the Fluxus movement — John Cage’s legendary late-’50s class in music composition at the New School for Social Research — Allen Kaprow operated as the postmodern missing link, personifying the historically bowdlerized continuity between Abstract Expressionist painting and the farthest reaches of the subsequent avant-garde, leaving behind not only recognizable imagery but the very notion of a tangible art object.

Taking to its logical extremes critic Harold Rosenberg’s seminal “painting as an arena of action” concept (where the term Action Painting came from), Kaprow systematically expanded and refined the “arena” to include virtually all intimate human social phenomena, while recognizing the subjective experiences of the actual physical participants — mere memories — as the most meaningful leftovers of the creative process.

Along the path, though, Kaprow left behind a wealth of more-substantial and potential-soaked evidence — including paintings, assemblages, environments, photo/video/audio records of performances, scripts for his trademark Happenings and later relational art, as well as correspondence and a goodly amount of incisive critical writing. Otherwise he would never have been able to have a museum retrospective such as the German-initiated “Allan Kaprow: Art as Life” tribute now on view at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary."

Read the rest of '"This is really happening: The Branding of Allan Kaprow: Anti-Warhol, Anti-Star' in the Weekly, and go see the show, up thru Jun 30

"Oh yeah, beatnick ladies lick that jam off the hood of my car! That's CONCEPTUAL, Baby!" - A. Kaprow (attributed)

TV or Not TV

Above: Brian Bress wearing Hundley-flage ® homages Munch's Skrik in 'Undercover'

"The high humor quotient is the key. Taking their cue from Bruce Nauman’s absurdist exercise videos (his 1968 'Walk With Contrapposto', an hourlong art-historical sashay back and forth in a narrow plywood corridor, is among the earliest works in the show), California artists as diverse as Chris Burden, John Baldessari, Paul McCarthy, Eleanor Antin, The Kipper Kids and Tony Oursler permitted themselves to risk appearing foolish, embedding their often-profound philosophical observations in documentations of comedy-tinged performances.

This legacy continues today, with works like Martin Kersels’ genderific slapstick remake of Fred Astaire’s dancing-on-the-ceiling routine, 'Pink Constellation' (2001) and 'Undercover', L.A. Weekly Annual Biennial alum Brian Bress’ heady 2007 conflation of painting, collage, performance and the vernaculars of cable access and infomercials. To my knowledge, Bress is the only artist in the show who shares his oeuvre via YouTube (as well as his own Web site,, which brings us back to our clotted-irony elephant, which has put on a couple of tons in the light of the digital frontier.

If the underlying point of video art was to create a more democratic, nonhierarchical, parallel model for the production and dissemination of information in the form of moving images, well, digital camcorders, Final Cut and the interweb done whupped video art’s ass. (Also conspicuous in its absence, especially considering the inclusion of such nonartsy material like the S.F. punk archives of Target Video, is the wealth of material generated over the past quarter century via the soon-to-be-shit-canned public-access cable stations. Where the hell is Francine Dancer?) We are right now in the midst of a radical renegotiation of the nature of authorship and the very concept of “intellectual property,” on which most professional artists stake their livelihood. But you wouldn’t know it from this show..."

Read the rest in the LA Weekly, and see the Getty's California Video show in person (thru Jun 8) or online.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

By the way, Nigel's fine...

His biopsy was negative, his stitches are out. His nosework prowess is progressing in leaps and bounds. Here he is at that Huntington dog beach, shaking the seawater out of his ears. Mark Dutcher and David Ross' waterlogged "Miniature Australian Shepherd" Arbus & an unidentified other dog in background.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Weird Scenes Inside the Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee

While braver souls were wandering the 110 degree wilderness of Santa Fe Springs or Norwalk or wherever the hell REN, a new performance by Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler, was unfolding, I was obliged to honor a previous commitment by attending the air-conditioned nightmare known as the Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee. Did I say nightmare? Wet dream is more like it, with lamé clad master of ceremonies Charles Phoenix doing his William-Conrad-frying-the-Turing-Test showbiz glossolalia to an audience that seemed to be 90% roller community regulars - a community as insular as dog show competitors and comic book geeks.

Phoenix's informative and entertaining "slide" presentation was surreally compelling, with a couple hundred audience members seated in a grid of folding chairs on the rink floor hypnotized by vintage images of roller derby queens and weddings on wheels as our host intoned his concentrated camp commentary to a warm but slightly puzzled reception.

The following hour and a half was a revelation, though. The heck with Matthew Barney. The heck with "Day is Done." Today's cutting edge performance art is being created by the Junior and Senior "In Sync" crews and their Gold Skate Classic champion cohorts. Their knowing vernacular references - a tribute to "Roller Boogie", "Xanadu", and Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Starlight Express" closed the night with a BANG! - were sincere, and informed with a deep kinaesthetic authority.

We were actually bumped from the floor by overbooking roller rink jubilee profiteers, but wound up with prime box seats in the concession area - toward which much of the choreography seemed directed, and through which the performers had to come and go between the green room and the arena. All in all a spectacular Pop-mythological triumph. One-word hint though: Solarbabies. Nuff said.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Exhibit A: Boo-boo; Tootsie Roll

It's Nigel's butt! Ha ha ha! As if we needed more stress, while we were installing M.A.'s show last Weds, Nigel sprouted a thumb-sized lump on his upper chest. By Thursday it was as big as an egg, so we called Doc Martin and Nige was in and out of surgery 4 hours later, one mystery lump (biopsy pending) lighter.

The incision is healing nicely into a macho scar, but is slightly garish in the meantime, so we dug out Reyna's old bandana and Nigel got a new nickname.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Dark Past of Glenn Bray

Bray has several peculiar claims to pop-culture fame — his rediscovery and patronage of Basil Wolverton in the early ’70s initiated a revival of interest in the artist’s work and a flurry of high-profile gigs. Bray brought forth into the world the entirely new genre of Wrestling Music by recording and releasing Fred Blassie’s 1976 Pencil Neck Geek single, which became one of the iconic records of Outsider Music after Dr. Demento put it into heavy rotation. Bray also sought out Carl Barks, the then-still-anonymous Uncle Scrooge comics auteur, and convinced him to get Disney’s permission to create an oil painting based on one of his classic cover illustrations. One painting, 'A Tall Ship and a Star To Steer Her By' (1971), begat hundreds — and a welcome income stream in Bark’s later years.

Read the rest in the PEOPLE issue of LA WEEKLY

Above: Barks painting 'A Tall Ship and a Star To Steer Her By'

The Dark Past of Josh White

The son of Willie Nelson’s longtime road manager Vernon, White’s first job at the tender age of 12 was as a guitar roadie and substance gopher to Kris Kristofferson’s tour band. Over the next four years, he traveled across America and Europe on Kris’ bus, hanging with heavyweights like Nelson, Kurt Vonnegut, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Miles Davis. “It didn’t faze me,” recalls the spry, ex–punk rocker. “I was into Black Flag.”
Read the rest in the PEOPLE issue of LA WEEKLY

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Panter Era

"As time goes by, Panter still makes occasional conscious displays of virtuoso near-abstraction. His recent tablecloth color grid grounds, for example, wipe the floor with most of the current crop of Mary Heilmann-esque wonky geometric abstractionists. The year 1988 was probably the high point (so far) of this conspicuous incorporation of high-art vocabulary in works like Bon Bon [above], Mini Fishing, and Garden, all of which deploy black-line renderings of cartoon figurative imagery and commercial design over bravura abstract grounds that only occasionally correspond with the conventionally “readable” surface content.

For the most part, though, Panter has embedded his painterly chops in the camouflage of commercial printing vernacular – bright, saturated, off-register colors floating under repeated stock graphic signifiers, including an encyclopedic array of borrowed, mutated and invented cartoon figures, props, landscape elements, textural patterns, scientific diagrams, text fragments (in English, Spanish, Japanese, etc.), and occasional events.

I locate the narrative singularity of Panter’s work largely within this relationship between these discrete narrative layers of abstract composition and figurative cartoon scenarios, whose oscillating degree of correspondence is a tertiary narrative system in itself - deriving, moiré-like (or Third Mind-like) from the superimposition of related but disconnected patterns of information. The story is even further complicated by the fact that Panter’s polyglot visual vocabulary also encompasses the semiotic resonance of his pictographic content (and of his high art references, many of which are quotations of established stylistic motifs).

This semiotic resonance includes all the individual symbolic associations emphasized by the relative absence of sequential contexts in the paintings – scenes are either lifted whole from a sequential context (as in Rage For Men 1995 [above]) or cobbled together from a variety of narrative tableaux that don’t quite jibe (Workings 2003) or entirely isolated entities, landscape elements, and props distributed more-or-less randomly across a visual field (Plastic Hopes 2006). Where in a coherent encompassing linear narrative the image of a girl with a machine gun or a dinosaur collapses to its role in the story (and its function to propel the forward motion of that story), the same image stripped of its linearity shifts its significance to an entire spectrum of more immediately comprehensible, metaphorical, and often verbally unmediated associations."

Read the rest of 'Pictures from the Psychedelic Swamp: Gary Panter, Narrative, and the Politics of Idiosyncrasy' in Picturebox's amazing new 2-volume extravaganza entitled, strangely enough, Gary Panter

Friday, May 9, 2008

Partner and Co-Founder, Peers-Harvey Biscuit Company

M. A. Peers
May 10 — June 7

Rosamund Felsen Gallery
Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Ave B-4
Santa Monica 90404

Reception: May 10th, 5-7pm

Rosamund Felsen Gallery is pleased to present a new solo show of paintings and works on paper by M.A. Peers. Just as Peers’ outsized dog portraits on scavenged upholstery were derived from the kind of generic idealized breed profiles found on dog food bags, the artist’s ongoing series of uncommissioned corporate and political portraits (this time including members of the Chalabi family and former Enron exective Lou Pai) and her recent hallucinatory “found yuppie” series are studies in failed translation and taxonomy. These new works reflect her increasing engagement with painterly concerns, stretching from current international trends to 18th century portraiture and genre paintings, while continuing to draw from overlooked aspects of the contemporary visual environment, with influences ranging from motivational business posters and trickle-down modernist design to cable access television and Skymall catalogs, and a desire to explore and expose invisible templates of masculinity in modern American society.

Please join us for the artist’s reception on Saturday, May 10, 2008 from 5 – 7 pm.
Gallery hours are 10-5:30, Tuesday-Saturday.
For more information please contact Lucrecia Roa at 310.828.8488

Top: 'Valentina' 1996 Oil on found vinyl upholstery fabric, foam stuffing, 123 x 74"
Bottom: 'Found Yuppie #1' 2008 Oil & acrylic on found masonite 48 x 48"

Monday, May 5, 2008

Colorado in Review

Two posts in April, that's the least ever. But I'll try and compensate. Mi esposa's solo show vernisages next Saturday, so I'll plug that shortly, but first a few more shots from my Colorado expedition: Above is a metal Disney-themed picnic table covered in snow - I probably hadn't touched snow in 5 years, so it was pretty exciting. The rest are from Casa Bonita - the Menudo air freshener or whatever it is from a bleak little fake market stall that hasn't been dusted since the 80s; a television monitor above the waiting shute asks and answers the question on everyone's mind; the view from behind the cliff-divers' waterfall. More soon!