Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Art Notes from Culver City

When my landlords come over every so often to clean up the yard and look around the place, I make myself scarce and go see gallery shows if I’m not working at the museum (I guess I have a hard time getting studio work done when other folks are hanging around). Today was one of those days, so I lit out for Culver City.

I didn’t do my research very well ahead of time, as several galleries were closed for installation. But of the shows I did manage to see, it seemed like big, heavy-hitting dude art was an overarching theme—I’m especially thinking of Kehinde Wiley at Roberts & Tilton and Jedidiah Caesar at Susanne Vielmetter. I don’t mean this as a criticism. Sometimes hyper-real, towering paintings or hulking piles of trash and resin are just what you need to take you out of your own head and into another place, time, or existence. But a couple of group shows, that seemed to be involved with other concerns entirely, caught my attention more.

One was Keeper of Light at Sandroni Rey, an exhibition of smallish portraiture in diverse media. The one work in particular that I looked at for a long time I later learned is a daguerreotype made by Chuck Close; it is a small, mirrored surface imprinted with the image of a sunflower. A viewer can only clearly see the sunflower when she stands with her own reflection intersecting it. I felt myself to be part of this artwork in a very connected and intimate way, as I bobbed and weaved to see the whole image—maybe living with Dan Graham’s work for the past few months at MOCA has made me especially receptive to this line of thinking. (Keeper of Light up til May 23.)

I was also interested in the group photography show Mysterium at Kinkead Contemporary, around the corner on Washington Blvd. These were also small scale, and seemed to me when I was in front of them to be about the non-verbal, and unexplainable and ineffable beauty. Now that I am home and have read the online press release, I’m not sure I was in tune with the curatorial thread….however, still worth a look. (Mysterium up til June 13.)
I chose Culver City for my outing today because I had heard about a show of unmade bed paintings at Walter Maciel Gallery. However, I had to wait a while to see this one, as the doors did not open at 11 as promised by the sign on the door. So, I circled back and saw this show last.

Frank Ryan’s 20-odd paintings (all sizes, all surfaces, all times of day and night) of an unmade bed (his perhaps?) seemed to me to be meditations on the beauty of the mundane and the every day. The paintings are all of the same bed, in the same room, with the same linens; however, the objects, pets, and points of view change or move from painting to paintng. Taken together, they look like a choreographed dance of light (duvet) and dark (sheets) forms rolling, folding, and bunching around each other. Individually and up close, they are both fast studies of subtle and specific lighting situations and built-up abstractions of brushstrokes on brushstrokes.

I loved this show very much, but I am biased towards all things bed related. You should go see it for yourself (up through June 3).

(image is an installation shot from Frank Ryan's show at Walter Maciel Gallery, from the gallery's website.)

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