This is the 9th Autumn that has seen major league gallery exhibitions in Culver City. Actually the Gallery district is at the border of Los Angeles and Culver City, with the Los Angeles galleries on La Cienega, North of Washington, enjoying a far less restrictive city code apparatus than their fine art brethren stuck under the microscope on Washington Boulevard.
The neighborhood was baptized by Blum and Poe Gallery's September, 2003 opening and has subsequently seen a never-ending parade of dealers and galleries getting into the game or taking their exhibition schedule to the big time.
Building on a decade, countless artist reps and dreamers continue to sign leases and go about modifying this conglomeration of warehousy spaces that were previously cabinet-makers, muffler shops and other cinderblock hovels of commerce that hold the charm of dental offices in their architecture and the pain therein with some of the art they exhibit. Some not all of the time and all of them not always.
Like it or not, though, Culver City is the epicenter of the Los Angeles art scene. On Saturday, September 10, the galleries kicked off the new art "season," traditionally the big new show of the year. Checking out everything midweek the following week, here are the top 10 shows that my four eyes could spot.
#1 Group Show PHOTOGRAPHY INTO SCULPTURE at Cherry and Martin
#2 Solo Show GOOD BARBECUE by Patrick Wilson at Vielmetter Gallery
#3 Daniel Desure at Carmichael Gallery
#4 Solo Show DESTROYED by Moby at Kopeikin Gallery
They are crowds seeing the world's most famous DJ, Moby, and he takes a shot of them at their most frenzied celebratory pose for the camera. The uniformity of each picture is not dulled as the exalted joy being expressed is an all-too-rare mounted, framed and exhibited sentiment. And to be able to experience the pure happiness of these moments without any of that darn racket those kids are dancing to was an added plus! (say that last line in a cranky "Get Off My Lawn" old man voice)
#5 Solo Show RED TIME by Betye Saar at Roberts And Tilton Gallery
This show is an installation that functions as a mini-retrospective of a living legend who has always combined the overtly hand-made personal with the political. A closer glance at the Negrobilia clock that was this fabulous installation's centerpiece reminds us why the installation room is painted red: There Will Be Blood.
#6 Tandem Solo Shows by Chad Robertson and Ali Kheradyar at Western Project
The photographs of Ali Kheradyar are simple exercises in the dying of one's pubic hair. Presented as a whole, the sameness of it all, of everyone trying to be different by conforming, is a brilliant meditation on the biological reductivism and subsequent loss of individuality of removing one's pants.
#7 Solo Show THE RAG FACTORY by John Outterbridge at LAXART Gallery
The brutalist lines of Outterbridge's monuments are deconstructed with hand-knotted improvisational passages that skew the dehumanized championing of formal emptiness that is the karmic bane of modernism. Such a tribute to the working man and woman is oddly out-of-place in a gallery world that is as far from the 9 to 5 world as it gets, but that doesn't mean the beautiful gesture is not unwelcome.
#8 Solo Show HOLD THE LINE by Kaws at Honor Fraser Gallery
But then I realized that this show signifies that three generations of graduate level art school lectures about the evils of the art market have amounted to a toilet flush in the scheme of things. Kaws is hardly the cause, he is the symptom, the art world has a cold sore named Capitalism that flares up now and again and is incurable.
#9 Solo Show by DJ Hall at Koplin Del Rio
A sprawling collection of photorealistic paintings by the LA staple of getting it right on canvas, DJ Hall, mines the infinitely fertile territory that is America in the 1950s. From Mouseketeers to the poetry of an idyllic gardening scene emblazoned with the phrase When Women Wore Gloves, these pictures are familiar and yet fresh. A sketch of a young girl entitled Self Portrait at 8 years and 56 sums up the continuing hold that mid-century America has on the population: We change, it stays beautifully the same.
#10 Solo Show by Joel Kyack at François Ghebaly Gallery
For those of you that are tired of seeing yet another sculpture of two gorillas interacting with the father of evolutionary theory in this classical pose done innumerable times in the past century, look yet again, as Kyack really moves this genre forward, despite so many in the art audience who thought that it was all played out.
So that is my top 10... tell me in the comments what your favorite art shows of the new season are...
All Photos by the author.
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Want to see the art that Mat Gleason thinks is the best? See Top Ten Now, Mat's survey of the 10 most interesting unrepresented artists in Los Angeles at Avant-LA. The show is at 1835 S. Main St, LA 90015 - located across the street (North) from the Art Platform art fair. Avant-LA runs concurrently with Art Platform: September 30 thru October 3.
Follow Mat Gleason on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CoagulaMagazine