Monday, November 29, 2010

"What Does Being Born Mean?"

New for-listening-to-only soundcloud single assembled from bits of the new 2-CD set This is Really Happening Volume 2 is up at Pleonasm Music.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chloe in Pomonie

Chloe strikes a pose in front of one of M.A.'s new whippet paintings during installation at the Pomona College Museum of Art. The exhibit continues through Dec 19th. Check out Lily Simonson's insightful appraisal on the art21 blog.

Friday, November 26, 2010

BiennialBiennialBiennialBiennial... Duffy

The California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art is a tradition dating back to 1984, when the venue was known as the Newport Harbor Art Museum and its chief curator was Paul Schimmel, now at L.A.'s Museum of Contemporary Art. The Orange County museum was renamed OCMA in the mid-'90s, and the venue's importance to the L.A. art scene has waxed and waned over the intervening decades, but the series of biennials in the new millennium — unrivaled except for L.A. Weekly's Annual Biennial — have afforded it a new centrality, at least for a few months every couple of years.

The art boom of the last decade was reflected in the increasing ambitions of the Cali Bi, culminating in 2008's extravaganza, which featured more than 50 artists and multiple venues including outposts in Tijuana and Northern California, guest-curated by LAXART founder and director Lauri Firstenberg. Well, the boom's gone bust and Firstenberg is scheming with Annie Philbin at the Hammer Museum to steal OCMA's thunder with the Hammer's recently announced 2012 Los Angeles Biennial.

In the meantime, OCMA has scaled back its Biennial (I'm really starting to hate that word) to a more manageable 45 artists selected by in-house curator Sarah Bancroft. The show returns the focus to lesser-known up-and-comers, while retaining the expansive regionalism that allows for substantial contributions from Bay Area and San Diego art communities. As with any of these omnibus extravaganzas, the work on view is a hit-and-miss grab-bag, and the surprise quotient is crucial. Thus the most impressive paintings in the show — one-half of Alexandra Grant's expansive, seething six-part "Portal" series of her trademark backward word clusters on enormous sheets of paper — lose considerable punch for having been exhibited at her L.A. gallery two years ago. In contrast, John Zurier — a Berkeley-based midcareer monochromatic abstract painter — materializes out of left field with a series of luminous pale-blue oils on linen that quietly steal the show...

...Although retaining a foot at all times in the pop-cultural swamp, Sean Duffy's work has steadily grown more formally and conceptually challenging since then, while simultaneously becoming more autobiographical and tinged with social commentary. Searcher extends and amplifies the artist's recent multivalent explorations of automotive culture, pop ephemera and domestic furnishing design while collecting several important earlier pieces that haven't been seen locally before.

Most prominent among these prodigal artifacts is Car 23 (2008-2010), Duffy's re-creation of his father's customized, zebra-striped 1964 Toyota Land Cruiser, which sits incongruously abandoned in the LAM lobby. Two of a 2008 series of silk-screened "paintings" on stained drop cloths — their lower thirds cluttered with a landscape of superimposed automotive logos — team with a new pair of his better-known modular grids of silk-screened plywood units (these ones depicting variations of contemporary outdoor sport magazines instead of vintage LP covers) that reiterate Duffy's almost incidental position as one of the most interesting and challenging painters currently working in L.A.

Read the rest of Orange you glad I didn't say Biennial? here

Images: Alexandra Grant First Portal (mind) 2008; John Zurier Muuratsalo 3 2009; Sean Duffy Die Hard (detail) 2008; untitled (yellow) (detail) 2010; dark wood lights (detail) 2010; Duffy in studio with untitled (red) 2010 - Duffy photos by DH.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coming Soon! Hide! Hide!

Details not available at this time.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Chinatown Swastika Rehab!

As it's my birthday I am taking the day off, but I urge all who are concerned with the destigmatization of one of the oldest and most spiritually potent iconographic symbols of our species to visit two events today in LA's Chinatown district: Painter, Mothman Kindred spirit, and Beck FANatic Lily Simonson in collaboration with Independent Researcher Yong Ha Jeong presents Session 2 of their course in Practicing Shamanism: Korean and Siberian Shamanism at The Public School at TELIC (951 Chung King Road, 4 PM, continues through Dec 21).

Just down the walk-only sidestreet, USC grad and recent Jancar Galley (961 Chung King Road, 6 -9 PM) co-conspirator Maya Lujan's recent multi-media abstractions headline that venue's new trifecta of typically consummate offerings which also includes "Some Paintings" alumnus Tyler Stallings' Deinstalled Paintings and Alice Clements "In the Basement." See if you can score a copy of the catalog from Lujan's 2008 MFA Thesis documenting one of the most interesting painting-based installations in recent memory. Continues through Dec 18.

Images: Some olde swastika; Maya Lujan's Untitled (Mimosa) 2010; Tyler Stalling's (unidentified painting) 2010?

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. Lynch!

As in David, not Lee. Though Portfolio would be happy to do a cameo in L. Lynch's next feature. His people should call Portfolio's people. Thanks to Mr. Homegrown for dramatic lighting concept. Shot in Claremont after last night's panel discussion. More to come.

Monday, November 15, 2010

M.A. Peers in Pomona Thursday Night

Opening Reception for Pomona College Museum of Art's
Project Series 42: M.A. Peers
Thursday Nov 18 from 7 PM - 10 PM
Panel Discussion featuring M.A. Peers and Steve Roden with Doug Harvey moderating 7 PM - 8 PM

For close to two decades, M.A. Peers has created paintings and drawings that passionately engage issues surrounding painting, the history of painting, popular culture, and formalist strategies of portraiture. Combining delicately rendered figures and forms, within an enigmatic, but brilliantly colored field, Peers selects subject matter that ranges from portraits of generic dogs, to portraits of the 1950s Soviet space dogs, to portraits of corporate and political figures. In her most recent work, the grounds have gradually engulfed the figures, crossing into pure abstraction. For Project Series 42, M.A. Peers will present new paintings.

The Project Series is the Museum’s program of focused exhibitions of work by Southern California artists. Its purpose is to bring to the Pomona College community art that is experimental and that introduces new forms, techniques, and concepts. Organized by Rebecca McGrew, this series is supported in part by the Pasadena Art Alliance. A catalogue accompanies each exhibition.

Pomona College Museum of Art
333 N. College Way
Claremont, CA

Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday 12-5 p.m.
Thursdays Art After Hours 5-11 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday 1-5 p.m.
Closed Monday

For more info including directions, visit

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who's Really to Blame for 'Avatar'?

"The very idea of Experimental Cinema in Los Angeles is almost an oxymoron. In the heart of Hollywood, why would anyone with any marketable moviemaking chops bother with such celluloid navel-gazing — and who would ever see it? The truth is that although other cities have more high-profile avant-garde film ghettos, L.A.'s hothouse moviemaking environment and access to technical resources have supported a thriving underground almost from the birth of the industry. As for seeing it? For better or worse, the very structure and visual language of contemporary mainstream moviemaking — special effects–riddled, CGI-saturated, 3-D gee-whiz-addicted eye-candy store that it is — can arguably be traced to the wide-scale absorption of L.A.-based abstract animators by the Industry, particularly George Lucas, in the 1970s. There is a direct line from the visual music of expatriate German abstract geometric painter Oskar Fischinger's 1947 Motion Painting No. 1 to the immersive, uncanny virtual reality of James Cameron's Avatar.

This secret history is one of many to be explored as part of "Alternative Projections: Experimental Film in Los Angeles 1945-1980," a three-day symposium, film festival and exhibition presented by Los Angeles Filmforum this weekend at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. The Industrial Light & Magical gutting of L.A.'s finest psychedelic optical-printing noodlers is specifically addressed in "Not Just a Day Job: Experimental Filmmakers and the Special Effects Industry in the 1970s," a paper presented by media scholar Julie Turnock on Saturday at 4 p.m. as part of the panel titled "Blurred Boundaries: Outsider/Insider Filmmaking and Group Identities." And that's just one of 17 presentations, scheduled over four Saturday and Sunday panel discussions, disparate in topic (ranging from "International Identities and Local Influence: The Development of Visual Communications" to "Taylor Mead, a Faggot in Venice Beach in 1961") but uniformly shedding light on some of the more obscure byways of local film history..."

Read the rest of Hollywood's Soft Psychedelic Underbelly here

ALTERNATIVE PROJECTIONS: EXPERIMENTAL FILM IN LOS ANGELES 1945-1980 | Nov. 12-14 | USC School of Cinematic Arts | Free with online registration; more info here

Image: Still from the Single Wing Turquoise Bird Lightshow Reunion, 2009

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


This is the last week of Unsustainable, my solo show at Jancar Gallery in Chinatown - Weds through Saturday Nov 13, 12 Noon - 5 PM, then it's so long Unsustainability!

Jancar Gallery
961 Chung King Rd (in Chinatown)
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Image: The Eye of Horus 2010, Acrylic and dirt from the grave of Bobby Fischer on found home video projection screen.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thursday, November 4, 2010

!2 Cutting Edge Cinema Premieres! 2!

"Cinema is a strangely autistic medium, often offering aid and encouragement to obviously pathological misanthropes, which isn't really a problem when that translates primarily into the form and content of their work — look at Stan Brakhage. Unfortunately, what you get when it translates further — into the very socioeconomic infrastructure for the creation of filmic artworks itself — is that poisonously hierarchical, anticreative cesspool known as Hollywood. And I've never even written a screenplay!

There are exceptions, of course: Robert Altman and John Cassavetes were both legendary for their willingness to destabilize the pyramidal protocols of the Tinseltown factory and locate the creative heart of their cinematic art in the resultant chaos. But as often as not, their work wound up as meditations on the desperate impossibility of bridging the communication gap between humans; even the most egalitarian of team players ultimately are defeated by the inherent hermeticism of the medium.

Whether through avant-garde eliminations of plot, character, the camera, authorial decision-making or intelligible pictorial content; or conversely through Imax, 3-D, Scratch 'n' Sniff and similar William Castle-type attempts at virtuality, the filmmaker's efforts to reach out and establish contact with an audience comes up against a raised drawbridge that is as narrow as the 1/48-second gap between projected frames and as vast as the gulf between you and your ex.

An awareness of this structural and philosophical disconnect permeates LiTTLEROCK, a bittersweet, low-key but mesmerizing indie feature that's been picking up steam on the festival circuit over the last few months, and will have its L.A. premiere Nov. 8 as part of the "Young Americans" section of AFI Fest 2010.

The Young Americans category is devoted to contemporary regionalism — a good fit for LiTTLEROCK, which is set in the titular Palmdale-adjacent small town ("The Fruit Basket of the Antelope Valley"). Directed by newcomer Mike Ott, who grew up in Newhall, the film features a star-making, semi-autobiographical performance by locally grown (and current Palmdale resident) Cory Zacharia, and was realized by Small Form Films, a tight-knit gaggle of cinephiles who coalesced around Thom "Los Angeles Plays Itself" Andersen's classes at CalArts...

Curiously enough, Misters , Zacharia, Ott, Lynch (Lee, see below) and Thornton (Frederick Fulton Henry Thornton, fourth official member and only non-auteur in the S.F. company) appear in the credits of The Eternal Heart alongside LA visual artist/filmmaker Marnie Weber's usual company of collaborators — a result of her artist-in-residency gig at this year's California State Summer School for the Arts filmmaking program for high school students, where Small Form folk make up most of the faculty.

Weber's anarchist-tinged production strategies have much in common with the multiple auteurs of Small Form. "Meeting Marnie this summer was really inspiring for me," says Ott, "and I'm taking her advice and approach for my next project: If you have an idea, start on it, don't wait, start and see where it goes. If you want to be in a band, just pick up an instrument and play, teach yourself. ... If you want to show your film and no one will screen it, have a screening yourself in a backyard, or on the side of a building."

The debut of The Eternal Heart takes this philosophy to the next level: With the help of Emi Fontana's West of Rome Public Art, Weber will premiere the half-hour gothic melodrama as part of Eternity Forever, a multimedia extravaganza at one of the film's locations, Altadena's historic Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum. There will be interactive cemetery tours led by monsters from the film, the Spirit Girls will perform a live score as what is billed as the band's final performance, and the mausoleum's gallery will host a vernissage for Weber's latest collages."

Read the rest of Across the Great Divide here.

Purchase $12 tickets to Marnie Weber's Eternity Forever here.

Click here to try and get free tickets for the Los Angeles AFI premiere screening of LiTTLEROCK Monday, Nov 8th.

Fleanette, Our New Hybrid Musical Hero

Ornette Coleman with Flea at Royce Hall. Ha ha ha! He held his own though; we're proud of you Flea. You too Ornette. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my audio thingy for the bootlegging. Can anyone help a brother out? I already have the cover.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chlogel, Our New Hybrid Pet

How is Chloe's ear poking out through Nigel's thigh? It's like in The Fly where Jeff Goldblum accidentally teleports himself with a fly and gets jumbled up. Only cuter. But still pretty effin' creepy.

Alberto Y Los Pieles Paranoide

"For most of us, one of the fundamental appeals of art is its exemplary capacity in the struggle against entropy — a cultural artifact is valued according to the degree of order it embodies — and the strength of its resistance to the ravages of time. The more intricately woven the tapestry or solidly constructed the pyramid, the more reassured we are that perhaps Kansas got it wrong with regard to all we are being dust in the wind.

Of course, this being the case, modernist and postmodernist artists have made it their business to challenge this preconception on a number of fronts — by ostentatiously reintegrating the already discarded detritus of culture into new arrangements, as in the collages of Kurt Schwitters and the Combines of Robert Rauschenberg; by emphasizing the spontaneous improvisational gesture in order to destabilize the balance between order and chaos, as in the abstract expressionist drip paintings of Jackson Pollock; by creating deliberately ephemeral performances, happenings and installations whose only record is whatever documentation or relics happen to be left over, as in Chris Burden's often life-endangering actions of the early 1970s, whose collectible evidence consists of snapshots, Super-8 film, audiocassettes and a handful of used bullets.

One of the pivotal figures in the development of this broad-spectrum aesthetic of decay was Alberto Burri (1915-1995), an Italian painter who first gained attention with his abstract compositions stitched together from scraps of surplus burlap sacks, then proceeded to explore the surface possibilities of shredded and burned plastic, welded plates of scrap metal, eroded acoustic tile and other quotidian industrial materials. An innovative central protagonist in Tachism and Art Informel — the European equivalents of abstract expressionism — Burri prefigured and influenced later movements such as Arte Povera, pop, certain strains of minimalism, Land Art Conceptualists like the Boyle Family, and the whole Destruction in Art branch of Fluxus led by Gustav Metzger.

Although he remained largely devoted to the traditional painting convention of rectangular compositional framing, Burri was capable of much more unorthodox modes of expression: During the 1980s he encased the earthquake-shattered ruins of an entire Sicilian village in concrete slabs, creating a walk-through environmental enlargement of one of his later Cretti series, mimicking the craquelure of old frescoes and the parched crust of the desert in an elegiac archaeological theme park–cum–land art installation.

Like many of the European postwar avant-garde, Burri has been given short shrift in Manhattocentric accounts of contemporary art history, but his American legacy is unique in a number of ways. Trained as a surgeon, he actually began painting during World War II in a prisoner-of-war camp in Texas. He had an early and enthusiastic reception by the U.S. art community, with 72 solo and group shows between 1953 and 1963, including three at New York's Museum of Modern Art and four at the Guggenheim. And from 1963 until 1991, Burri spent his winters in near-anonymity at his house in the Hollywood Hills. The artworks created during these annual L.A. sojourns form the basis of "Combustione: Alberto Burri and America," at the Santa Monica Museum of Art through December 18."

Read the rest of "Burri My Art in the Hollywood Hills" here.

Images: Bianco Cretto C1 1973, Acrylic and glue on fiberboard; Martedì Grasso (Fat Tuesday) 1956, Collage, paint, and rags on canvas; Grande Bianco Plastica 1962, Plastic and combustion on aluminum frame; Google satellite image of Cretto mid-80's, built on the ruins of the Sicilian town of Gibellina