Into Los Angeles, city of angels, land of cool breeze and palm trees; I hit your ground running. Fresh out of LAX, I point the midsize rental vehicle toward the city and accelerate north on La Cienega.
Through the foothills and into Culver City, a made-for-film town and now a burgeoning artist and gallery zone. Just before Venice Boulevard, in a block occupied by Lizabeth Oliviera, Blum and Poe, and nearby Blkmrkt, sits Q.E.D., the new West Coast venture of gallerists David Quadrini (Dallas) and Elizabeth Dee (New York).
Tucked between a brake shop and a non-descript Hindu temple, the mod, buff, vertically-stacked brick and concrete grisaille exterior of Q.E.D. beckons. A wide hallway with an earthtone ceramic block wall leads into the main gallery space. Once inside, Erick Swenson‘s untitled room-size installation of a snow and slush-encrusted fallen deer dominates the space. It’s plinth expands across most of the floor space, and it exudes a bold and confident first gesture by the new gallery.
Rounding the corner reveals a sparsely-populated back space as large as the front, hinting at future plans. An electronic installation by the Houston collaborative team Jeff Shore and Jon Fisher, and Kevin Landers” duct tape simulations of office gear and electronics traverse one large room in the back. This space looks ready for some big-time action.
Just past the Hindu temple, Lizabeth Oliviera mounts accessible, yet edgy work out of her garage studio space. At the opening for the Zurich-based collective Mickry 3, large-scale painted and papier mache cardboard sculptures morph from one pop icon to another. In one five-part wall relief, SpongeBob Squarepants mutates into a collagen-enhanced lip goddess. At first viewing these pieces induce shock and awe, but then, a little morph action goes a long way.
Unfortunately Blum and Poe and Blkmrkt were both closed for installations, so I headed downtown…at the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall, the CalArts project space Redcat featured a Margaret Kilgallen retrospective. A tiny cactus clinging to life in a tin can provided a poignant counterpoint to the melange of super old-school sign painter graphics, landscape and portrait fragments. Kilgallen’s work dodges the nostalgia bullet even as it rings true to life. She”ll truly be missed.
Not much action on Saturday afternoon in Chinatown, that is unless you’re the owner of one of the curio shops on Chung King Road. In the alleyway, low moving kids played with their new jump ropes and threw firework snaps against the concrete. At Black Dragon Society, a textbook-bad painting/drawing show was going up, as turntables sat out front waiting for the evening’s workout. The group film installation Visual Noise played at The Happy Lion. It didn’t really matter that only one film was playing, as the physicality of the film reels stretched to the ceiling, and loose film piling up on the gallery floor outweighed any intended projection schemes.
Late afternoon I pushed on to West Hollywood before closing time, to visit two veteran spaces: DiRT and New Image Art. Nestled at the top of a flight of stairs and sprawling across multiple rooms of an old flophouse-style hotel, DiRT is a gem of artwork presented in a real world context. Each room housed inspired groupings of eclectic work. One wall of delightfully naive Dog Portraits by Eric Ginsburgwas punctuated by a view out the burglar barred-window onto a tiny mushroom cloud painting by Jeff Gillette, propped against a wall on the hidden patio. Fresh air blowing in through the open windows seemed to buffet DiRT director Rhonda Saboff and her idiosyncratic vision.
And then downstairs to New Image Art, and a solo show by Providence, Rhode Island artist Rotgut. Marsea Goldberg’s delightfully trashy new space proves a perfect fit for Rotgut’s assembled concoctions of gears, an old basketball, a beat-up gas can and wooden map constructions. A tiny homage to Texas proclaims “no more prisons…..just one big electric chair” in pseudo-voltage type. This piece, coupled with the black shamrock-faced used Rawlings basketball, point to the regional low-brow consistency in Rotgut’s work.
Well, the cool wind’s back in my face, and Redondo Beach is calling. It’s time to put the mid-size rental into park, hit the sand and view some of L.A.’s other attractions. This guy’s through gallery surfing for now…
Randall Garrett is an artist and the director of Plush Gallery in Dallas.
Images courtesy Randall Garrett