The first major 21st-century museum retrospective on this famed mid-century artist, Charles White: A Retrospective traces White’s career and impact in the cities he called home: Chicago, his birthplace; New York, where he joined social causes and gained acclaim; and Los Angeles, where he developed his mature art and became a civil rights activist. The exhibition includes approximately 100 drawings and prints along with lesser-known oil paintings. A superb draftsman, White focused on images of both historical and contemporary African Americans, depicted in ideal portraits and everyday scenes. He extolled their dignity, humanity, and heroism in the face of the country’s long history of racial injustice and encouraged his viewers and fellow artists of color to project their own self-worth. White created non-violent images despite escalating racial tensions; only in the mid-1960s did he become frustrated with the slow progress and begin to infuse his work with allusions to the continuing violence, poverty, and disparity of educational, housing, employment, and voting opportunities.
Two concurrent and complementary exhibitions will be on view in Los Angeles. Life Model: Charles White and His Students (February 16–September 14, 2019) will be on view at LACMA’s satellite gallery at Charles White Elementary School, formerly Otis Art Institute, where the artist taught for many years, and Plumb Line: Charles White and the Contemporary (March 6–August 25, 2019) will be presented at the California African American Museum, whose mission to showcase African American history, art, and culture was shared by White throughout his career.
There is so much variety in the materials, subjects, colors, and styles, that as you wander from section to section, it’s easy to notice new things the longer you look. Despite the differences among the different sections, they are bound together by a creative exuberance. LACMA recommends an hour to wander the 1/4 mile of work, but you may want to spend longer.
Things to do in Los Angeles this weekend (6/6-6/9/19)-
Film at LACMA is having a free screening of Empty Metal followed by a post-screening conversation with co-directors Bayley Sweitzer and Adam Khalil, an artist and filmmaker whose work is featured in the Whitney Biennial
Culture Abuse are playing at the Teragram Ballroom with Tony Molina, Entry, and Dare opeing
Lee Fields & The Expressions are playing at the El Rey Theatre with Holy Hive And Brainstory
Hear a discussion on earthquakes, check out DJs, have some drinks and snacks, and see musical performances by Claude Fontaine, Gavin Turek, and Brasstacks- all happening as part of Natural History Museum’s First Fridays monthly evening programming
LA!PRIDE Festival is taking place all weekend in West Hollywood starting with a free opening ceremony on Friday which includes a Vogue Ball & Drag Show, a film screening, and performances by Paula Abdul, Todrick Hall and DJ Goodboy. The concert on Saturday includes performances by The Drums, Cupcakke, and Meghan Trainor, and Sunday’s performers include Years and Years, Ashanti, Sateen, The Veronicas, and Miss Vanjie. There will be a parade on Santa Monica Blvd on Sunday from 11am-2pm
BoldPas: A Day of Art and Play in Old Pasadena is a free all day event where you can see art installations created by LA based artists with the artists on hand to present their work, instructor led art activities at various locations and more
Zebulon is having a free screening of Alain Resnais’ film My American Uncle and later Erik Davis will present- Welcome to the Weird, a free slideshow and talk “that riffs on the historical, conceptual, and aesthetic considerations of living in weird times”.
The 13th Floor Elevators- You’re Gonna Miss Me (1966)
Roky Erickson, musician and founding member of pioneering psychedelic rock band The 13th Floor Elevators, passed away today at the age of 71.
In 2005, You’re Gonna Miss Me, a documentary about Erickson’s life was released. It covers his music career, struggles with mental illness, and his eventual return to music after years of isolation. It was nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary.
George Condo’s current exhibition at Sprüth Magers, What’s The Point?, is asking the question many of us are asking more and more these days. There’s a controlled chaos to many of these compelling large paintings, much like the world we often find ourselves in.
Every time I put a brushstroke down on a canvas I ask myself, “What’s the Point?”
What’s the Point of each and every mark going onto the painting? It is important for an artist to ask themselves that question. I am intentional with every move I make as a painter. Even if it appears to be random or an accident, or just a part of a painting that seems less important than another, it is not and cannot ever be. The choice of color has a point. It may be to balance an area of a painting in coordination with another part or to equalize the fine line between perception and reality within the abstract perception of a formal set of guidelines (that never apply to anything other than the singular experience invested in each artwork). There is no guideline to the unknown. It is a path cut out in the wild with a machete looking for a clearing and hoping to arrive at a destination. That, I believe, is the point, in fact: to arrive at your destination. It may be on the other end of an illogical equation which finally makes sense only some number of years later, or finally does not make sense in the end but remains the ultimate ending: the finished painting.
One can see the entire world through this lens, to ask What’s the Point of meaningless intangibles and vacant thoughts, blank space or overpopulated ruminations. The degree to which the mind can play games with itself or the degree to which it can be misled with false, if not real, information. Real information can in fact be false today. We are living in a time when what is presented to us in the news cycle is real—there is no doubt that it is in fact what is being presented. However, What’s the Point in believing in the material content when it could be a truth constructed to make you believe something for the purpose of political manipulation?
What’s the Point of being consistent? In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” —George Condo
Monika Sprüth and Philomene Magers are pleased to present What’s the Point?, an exhibition of new paintings by George Condo at Sprüth Magers, Los Angeles. One of the most significant artists of the last several decades, Condo creates works that dramatically bridge an array of painterly approaches, moods, and influences from diverse fields such as art history, music, philosophy, and popular culture. The artist’s compositions often begin with the human figure, rendered variously in fluid networks of black lines and interlacing planes of bold color that move seamlessly between controlled precision and unabashed exuberance. His canvases tap into the extremes of human emotion and, at a moment of crisis in American and global politics, a sense of mania and disorder that nonetheless holds out hope for progress and resolution. The paintings in What’s the Point? demonstrate the breadth of Condo’s artistic references, for example, from seventeenth-century portraiture of beggars and thieves found in the work of Dutch and Italian masters, to his own compendium of painterly gestures, which together form a trenchant picture of contemporary human consciousness.
Upstairs the gallery is showing the work of Thea Djordjadze which “combines a variety of artistic, industrial, and unconventional materials to produce works full of contrasts and complexity, which she puts into conversation with the architecture and atmosphere of her exhibition spaces through intimate, considered arrangements.”
Things to do in Los Angeles this weekend (5/30-6/2/19)-
Artists Shinique Smith and Rirkrit Tiravanija will be discussing their history of transforming museum spaces with journalist Jori Finkel at The Hammer
Holy Wave are playing with Triptides and Gold Cage at The Factory
Apex Manor are playing with Coastal Clouds and Near Beer at the Bootleg Theater
Bennett Simpson and Rebecca Lowery will be giving an exhibition walk through of The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA (both MOCA locations are free on Thursday evenings)
LACMA is having a free screening of Halston with a post screening conversation with director Frédéric Tcheng and producer Roland Ballester
Xiu Xiu are bringing their unique sound to Lodge Room with composer Gregg Kowalsky opeing
Performance art duo Princess (Alexis Gideon and Michael O’Neill) will be performing Out There, a live music and video album, at Zebulon. CRICKETS, a new performance and recording project with Roddy Bottum (Faith No More), JD Samson (Le Tigre/MEN), and Michael O’Neill (Princess, MEN), will also be performing.
Death Bells and Hit Bargain are opening for Odonis Odonis at Zebulon
Dodger Stadium is hosting LGBT Night with Dodger owners Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss throwing out ceremonial first pitches, Nicki Blonsky singing the national anthem, the Dodgers playing the Phillies, fireworks after the game, and more
FEMMEBIT is a “platform and triennial festival uniting an all-female roster of Los Angeles based artists working in video and new media”. There will be screenings, panel discussions, live performances and more taking place at Civic Center Studios
The free Lummis Days Festival celebrates the arts, history and ethnic diversity of Northeast Los Angeles with programming that includes a screening of Con Safos:Reflections of Life in the Barrio by Emmy Award winner Jimmy Velarde at Occidental College on Friday, plus live music, exhibitions, workshops, dance performances and more at various locations on Saturday and Sunday
Venice Pride kicks off LGBTQ+ Pride Month with an illumination of the Venice Pride Sign and Block Party (free)
Outpost Los Angeles City Market is a free cultural festival taking place at Rolling Greens in the Arts District with workshops, panels, and more- plus performances by Porches, Kirin J Callinan, Negative Gemini, Ana Roxanne and a DJ set by Neon Indian
Plastic Cactus are playing at The Hi Hat with Easy Love, Chelsea Rose, and The Sob Sonnets
NY Night Train Soul Clap & Dance Off w/ Jonathan Toubin is a night of soul music on vinyl at Zebulon with a live performance by LA band Los Blancos
MOCA Community Day is taking place at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and is centered around the homelessness crisis in LA, specifically “the youth population affected by the crisis, and how creative experiences can spark change”. The day will feature performances, information booths, workshops, and activities over the course of the day. (free)
The Aero Theatre is hosting a Jim Jarmusch double feature- Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law
Zebulon is hosting a free screening of Alain Resnais’ film Providence and later Weirdo Night returns with performances by Dynasty Handbag, Malik Gaines, Amelia Bande, Kate Berlant, Dance-Y-Oke and more
Wendy White’s exhibition Racetrack Playa, at Shulamit Nazarian, is a very American show. Her collages of old car ads ,and their often blatant sexism, combined with the use of denim as a sculptural medium, play with the iconography of America’s past to force us to think about America today. How do you reconcile a love of the open road and exploring natural landscapes with the environmental destruction caused by using cars fueled with oil to get there? How much of the past perception of women as objects still informs thinking today? Will America get out of its wood paneled basement to move into a better place- or will its longing for the past continue to slow its progress?
From the press release-
Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to announce representation of New York-based artist Wendy White. The artist’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, Racetrack Playa, will feature new paintings, sculptures, pigment prints, and a site-specific installation.
The exhibition takes its name from a three-mile dry lakebed in Death Valley National Park where sliding rocks or “sailing stones” have inscribed mysterious linear imprints on the landscape. Using this scarred landscape as a metaphor for our current times, the works in Racetrack Playa explore power, entitlement, and imperialism via the aesthetics and evolution of American car culture.
In pieces that function as both homage and critique, White collapses signs of racing and car culture with references to 20th-century American painting. Multiple-canvas works such as Posi Track and Burnout (both 2019) take cues from James Rosenquist’s famous Vietnam War-era painting F-111 (1964–65). In White’s versions, images of mangled engines, worn tire treads, and damaged landscapes suggest a trampling of both philosophical ideals and the natural environment. In addition, the works make reference to Andy Warhol’s Death and Disasters series and Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings.
The exhibition also includes new works from the artist’s ongoing Jeans series. These pieces make use of worn denim, a quintessentially American fabric associated with labor and a sense of rugged individualism. Co-opting the material and its cultural connotations as a substrate for painting, White makes marks with dripped and splattered bleach before garnishing each piece with flat cut-out rainbows, beer bottles, and energy drinks.
A site-specific installation complete with wood paneled walls, carpet, and one of White’s signature denim sofas creates a quasi-automotive shop backdrop for a new suite of unique pigment prints. Carving directly into the paneling, White references the DIY aesthetic of the 70s muscle car era by way of hand-drawn symbols, slogans and logos.
Taken together, the works in Racetrack Playa riff on the visual cues of car culture, the resilient materiality of denim, and the sexiness of commercial graphics to examine a society long drawn to speed and dominance. Reexamining this typically male-dominated arena, White pushes back on advertising’s false promise that perhaps all of your desires are for the taking, if you just smoke the right cigarettes and drive the right car.
This is the last weekend (5/25/19) to see Vanessa German’s excellent sculpture exhibition, $LANG: Short Language in Soul, at Gavlak Los Angeles.
From the press release-
$LANG is German’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, the artist’s native city, and her first with Gavlak. The exhibition features a body of work created by German during her recent month long residency at Aguacate in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Though assembled in Mexico, many of the found objects incorporated in the sculptures were sourced from the artist’s current neighborhood of Homewood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – the historic black neighborhood whose residents are often faced with systemic, institutionalized racism, and violence in their daily lives.
A self-trained “citizen artist,” German explores the power of art and love as a transformative force in the dynamic cultural ecosystem of communities and neighborhoods. As the founder of the ARThouse, a community arts initiative in her own neighborhood ravaged by gun violence, German’s art extends to helping local children heal through art making. Recently recognized as the 2018 recipient of the Don Tyson Prize, the majority of German’s $200,000 grant is going toward opening a Museum of Resilience to honor the neighborhood’s large population of black single mothers. Her spoken-word performance art, influenced heavily by hip-hop, opera and the long tradition of Negro spirituals, calls attention to the epidemic of racially charged violence and advocates for compassion and empathy in daily life. Similarly, German’s sculptural work blends spirituality, beauty, and femininity to focus on empowering black women and girls. In a transformative way, the artist hopes that her work gives a space for positive and inclusive manifestations of love and awareness.
Born in Wisconsin, German moved to Mid-City Los Angeles at seven months old along with her five siblings and mother, Sandra German, a fiber artist and quilter. “We were makers as a way of life. We were raised by making something,” German explains about her formative years. The multi-media works assembled for $LANG explore her lived experience growing up black in Los Angeles and how the power of art kept her alive. German writes:
As a strange, dirty, round, nappy black girl in Los Angeles, never really smelling good, or looking hair-combed & pressed, i was always inventing things that i deeply, profoundly believed had power. People made fun of me for this. i wrote poems to cure cancer. i drew and drew and drew and drew and refused to pick my pencil up from the paper until i’d driven any thought of disbelief from my mind. i was furious with these thoughts of creativity and power; that i was alive and could make *things that had the power to do *something. i believed this like a deep, deep fire. It kept me alive.
On view in the gallery are a series of 15 mixed-media assemblage sculptures using vintage tennis rackets, titled from the specific branding text on each. German’s use of rackets stems from Intermediate axis theorem, or tennis racket theorem, an effect in classical mechanics defining the movement of a rigid body with three distinct principal moments of inertia. German explains: “Here in this work is the rigid body (black femaleness) reckoning with three distinct principal moments of inertia: Americanness; the aesthetics of femininity (body and sex and identity), Blackness and the value in the striations of the known and unknown, and Love & Creative Power.” German utilizes historically black found objects such as hair weave and cowrie shells to adorn her hand painted portraits of black women, creating majestic and empowered presentations of a community so commonly subjected to violence and oppression in American society.
Also on view are five of German’s signature sculptures of which she refers to as “power figures,” or “tar babies.” Created by sculpting and hand painting large figures, adding a wide range of materials from feathers, glitter, seashells, plastic toys, bottle caps, vintage products, and fabric found from both Homewood and her travels. These female figures are based on traditional Congolese Nkisi Power Figure sculptures, which create protection, fend off evil spirits, and punish wrongdoers. German’s rococo meets folk power figures confront the violence of white supremacy and racism. German describes her process of assembling these sculptures as wholly spiritual.