Other highlights in the show include the incredible three ring binders that cinematographer Arthur Jafa has compiled over many years, an archive of Fred Lonidier’s workers rights public access show Labor Link TV (1988), and the first episode of Martine Syms’s “She Mad,” in which a fictionalized version of Syms goes to a dentist and gets a dose of nitrous oxide, a reference to the Thomas Edison-produced 1907 silent film, Laughing Gas, in which a black woman cracks up all over town after a trip to the dentist.
I don’t usually heap such praise, but “a, the, though, only” is an excellent show, offering a look at a selection of the city’s artists that—for the most part—have operated somewhat on the margins, much like the words in Saroyan’s subtitle text. It’s wide-reaching and inclusive. It’s the kind of show Los Angeles needs right now. It offers up a reconsideration of the city as a place that contains a richly diverse array of artists—a city where age and medium aren’t prescribed for success. Whereas Michael Ned Holte and Connie Butler’s 2014 edition of “Made in L.A.” focused on scenes, clusters, and micro-ecosystems—often giving a scattered impression—Walker and Moshayedi have focused on the individual artists, giving them space and time. And aren’t those really L.A.’s greatest resources? It’s something to consider.