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Art review: 2010 Los Angeles Juried Exhibition @ Municipal Art Gallery

September 10, 2010 | 11:33 am

LAMAG Juried 005 a

The 2010 Los Angeles Juried Exhibition at the Municipal Art Gallery is a solid show, less adventurous than simply engaging. Jurors Ali Subotnick and Franklin Sirmans, curators at the UCLA Hammer Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, respectively, selected slightly more than 100 paintings, sculptures, drawings, mixed-media works and one video from submitted entries. Most of the artists are represented by at least two works.

A considerable number lean rather too heavily on familiar precedents by established artists as different from one another as Karl Benjamin (geometric abstraction), Jonathan Borofsky (dream imagery), Jeanne Dunning (erotic vegetables), David Hammons (altered flags), Mark Tansey (academic art-history painting) and, especially, the late Robert Rauschenberg (all-purpose media-mixing). But derivation is a funny thing: Contemporary art is a traditional discourse among artists; so, while it is expected that a compelling new work will contain within it visible seeds of what has come before, some degree of subversion, objection or refusal is likewise anticipated.

Take the big, carefully crafted sculptures by Isaac Resnikoff. He's been wood-working for several years, crafting geodes, maps and relief figures from carved, laminated and sometimes painted wood. The jurors chose -- rightly, I think -- his imposing, 20-foot modular sculpture of a concrete barrier as the exhibition's outstanding work. (Other lead prizes went to Desirae Hepp, Dao Nguyen and Catherine Bennaton.) Inevitably it recalls works like 1997's "Unpainted Sculpture" by Charles Ray, a fiberglass doppelganger of a smashed-up car, which led to Ray's 2007 tour de force, "Hinoki," a felled and rotting oak tree reproduced down to the last bare root in carved and laminated cypress by expert Japanese craftsmen.

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Ray's sculptures get their creepy frisson from ghostly surfaces whose otherworldly beauty yields impossibly perfect objects caught amid dissolution and decay. Resnikoff, by contrast, gives us something very different. His carved and laminated "Untitled (Jersey Barrier)" is a rough blockade, an obstruction meant to control access for blunt reasons of security. Art's do-not-touch status contributes to its force.

A second Resnikoff sculpture in a nearby room builds a concrete block wall from delicately carved wood panels. One work reproduces the old-fashioned look of steel-reinforced poured concrete, replicating chipped and weathered surfaces absent any sense of lost durability, while the other is as pristine as any traditional Minimalist form. Ray is a magnificent fabulist, but Resnikoff's "just the facts, ma'am" aesthetic insists on the power of physical limits.

LAMAG Juried 011 Among other notable works is Hepp's "Corazón," a closet-sized, walk-in environment bathed in red light, its perforated sheets of foam stretched overhead to create what look like storm clouds crossed with a bloodstream. Jeffrey Frisch's three "dream vessels" are fantasy schooners composed from household junk -- an iron, kitchen scale, chop sticks, measuring cup, etc. -- the trio's pinstripe fabric sails splitting the difference between business-like conformity and corporate buccaneering.

The unraveling warp-and-weft in the fabric support of Chuck Feesago's pair of paintings -- one loosely brushed with the arc of an earthly blue orb, the other of an orange sun -- are constructed from the pages of old art magazines. Bruised colors in Kristin duCharme's hand-knotted wool rug fit the forced perspective of its radically foreshortened subject -- a yearning, wide-eyed child with subtly clenched fists. And in a handsome painting, Christine Muraczewski caricatures the ostensibly moral rigor of modern design by juxtaposing the precision-painted back of a striped modern chair with Matissean floral wallpaper, establishing a Rorschach test of subjective perception.

Perhaps the most accomplished paintings are M. von Biesen's bright, sketchy oils of seated young men and women, alone and vaguely hapless in their style-conscious ennui. Several watch or are watched by painted portraits hanging on nearby walls, creating a private dialogue of introspection.

LAMAG Juried 013 a The show's sole video work -- that singularity itself something of a surprise -- is Marsia Alexander-Clark's fine "Lines Repeated," a desert landscape scanned through narrow horizontal and vertical strips. A rugged and apparently barren world, glimpsed as if through shifting vertical and Venetian blinds, becomes a meditation on nature as an alien construct. The installation could be better (light leaking from outside washes out the projected image), but the short work's melancholic strangeness comes through.

-- Christopher Knight

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Park, 4800 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 644-6269, through Oct. 3. Closed Mon.-Wed. Free. www.lamag.org

Photos:  Isaac Resnikoff, "Untitled (Jersey barrier)," wood; Credit: Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times; Isaac Resnikoff, "Untitled (Jersey barrier)," detail; Credit: Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times; Desirae Hepp, "Corazón," mixed media; Credit: Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times; Kristin duCharme, "Floor Treatment," knotted wool; Credit: Christopher Knight / Los Angeles Times

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Comments () | Archives (7)

Why? i am serious, what is the purpose of all this cleverness and smartness?

?????

Why is Mr. Knight who clearly disdains art made in Los Angeles the art critic of the city's major paper?

To critique Mr Knights critique, it is plain as plain can be that this man detests art made in Los Angeles.

Get the man an acting role and off the art beat of the LA Times and employ an art critic who is receptive to locally made art.

Christopher Knight "detests art made in Los Angeles"? Where do you get that idea? Knight is a longtime champion of Los Angeles art; indeed, his early critical recognition has been an important contributing factor to the careers of many of the LA-based artists who have gone on to international prominence, such as Lari Pittman, Mike Kelley and Charles Ray, (whom he discusses in the above review). Whatever your problem is, Dian, it isn't that Knight ignores or trashes locally produced art--the opposite is true.

Have to agree with BT, CK as with most art "crtics" never gives constructive criticism or has high expectations, only looks to promote the local cocktail party. His stand somewhat against Broad has been his only signs of respnsible manhood, probably betting on a different horse.

LA is a pop town, it doesnt promote serious art, and has no expectation of it, so of course doesnt get any. Its artistes are all from out of town, how many of those ridiculous flexus fools were from here? Look to the Bay area from the 40s for the best Cali art, and of course music. Dexter Gordon, Billy Higgins, Eric Dolphy, Etta James, all world renowned musicians form here, but we dont have the bodies, minds or souls for true creative art, in this case jazz, only James gets some pub. And that sell out with mediocre talent Beyonce got to perform Her work at the White House.

Absurd, just like its mediocre art counterpart, its all about business. Art doesnt exist in a vacuum, and so.....

Save the Watts Towers, tear down the absurdist self absorbed Ivories(beigies in Broads case)

Donald Frazell may agree with me in some respect, but I must disagree with his interpretation of my comments. I did not imply, nor do I believe, that Knight "never gives constructive criticism or has high expectations." Indeed, he has been an extraordinary source of constructive criticism--including concrete suggestions--with regard to the management of local arts institutions including the Getty, LACMA and MOCA, as well as having a clearly articulated set of ideas about what counts in new art. Mr. Frazell may think that the artists that Knight admires (you can start with the three I mention in my prior post) lack artistic merit and are merely talented cocktail-party shmoozers... readers will draw their own conclusions.

Not many read anymore, because fine art is now irrelevant. Creative art is ignored, contempt is king. Read another word in an ex Eagles song. Again, what is the purpose of any of this besides cocktail party schmoozing, or in the case over at the Hammer, Pacifico sippin?

What more proof do you need? Truly?

art collegia delenda est

BT, you make my point, thank you very much. Mr Knight is a critic of arts administration.

You mention 3 artists. In all the years (or is it decades) Mr. Knight has been the art critic in the leading local paper - three artists is all that his internationally read critiques have helped spur onto fame? Three, of tens of thousands of local talent. Not that it is the job of an art critic to cause fame and prosperity for the artist he deigns to view work of, but surely critiques could do more than be dull lectures of whose art is like other artists the critic is knowledgeable about?

It is abjectly rude to view the work of an artist and tout the work of another whose art is not even in the exhibition.

I stand by what I first posted. Mr. Knight is no champion of local art, I don't think he likes local art or that he likes visual arts at all - the focus of his cliques is not even on art or the local artists. Please get Mr. Knight an acting job and get some fresh voices into local art critique.

I am surprised my comment even got published. Usually my comments critiquing the art(s administrator & arts benefactor) critic never show up in the publication. I do not count on this comment reaching publication either.


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