Hot Summer Shows, from Silverlake to Venice
Severe drought warnings have been inescapable this summer but the cultural world of Los Angeles continues to hydrate. Recent laps I’ve made around sweltering L.A. have laid bare much to think about, digest, and work on; maybe more so now than ever. From Silverlake to Venice, from Downtown to Culver City, themes of cold war politics, gun violence, transformational meditation, and historicity run deep. Here are some suggestions on what not to miss before summer turns to fall.
A. “Competing Utopias” at Neutra VDL House | 2300 Silver Lake Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Located on Silverlake Boulevard, a stone’s throw from the belovedly serene Meadow at the Reservoir stands Richard Neutra’s home, where with his wife, Dione, he raised three sons. Built in 1932, the house includes glass and mirror components that extend onto patios, almost as an extension or complement to the lake itself. Don’t miss this brief opportunity to see the Neutra House’s collaboration with the research-based Cold War archive in Culver City, the Wende Museum, in an experimental installation titled “Competing Utopias.” Witness how curators mined the Wende Museum’s treasure trove of objects and placed them carefully within the renowned architect’s home, creating a rich narrative of material culture and abstract politics from here, there, then, and now for us to delight in.
B. “Korakrit Arunanondchai (In Collaboration with Boychild): Letters to Chantri #1: The lady at the door/The gift the keeps on giving” at The Mistake Room | 1811 E. 20th St., Los Angeles, CA 90058
Sometimes the wrong choices take us to the right places. But there is no mistaking The Mistake Room this time around; the massive non-profit exhibition space is located in the garment district downtown and functions like a European kunsthalle, without a permanent collection. The New York-based, Bangkok-born Korakrit Arunanondchai transforms the space into a bold and impressive multimedia installation equipped with video, sound, sculpture, and painting. Without giving too much away, the viewer enters into a time-bound experience—recalling for me the way a group of visitors is held prior to entering the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland—and then proceeds into an existential narrative that could have taken the protagonist (performed by Boychild) minutes or years to carry out. It is hard to tell, but also does not matter. The only important part is choosing to embark and embrace—then figure out how to negotiate the purity of it all.
We need more artists like Cheryl Pope in our country—the ones with soul who seek out relevant issues in need of examination and bring them to our attention. Activists, really. That is why it is important to see this exhibition at Mark Moore Gallery, which deals with gun violence in Pope’s hometown of Chicago, though not a stranger to our neighborhoods of Los Angeles. For Chain Reaction, the performance work that gives the title its name, she collaborated with members of Street Poets, a nonprofit organization working with at-risk youth in the juvenile detention facilities, schools, and streets of L.A. to discover and develop their voices as writers, artists, and human beings. How inspired I am by Cheryl Pope and the ways in which her artistic practice serves to poetically address social, political, and global conversations!
D. “Openness and Clarity: Color Field works from the 1960s and 1970s” at Honor Fraser | 2622 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90034
The summer group show at Honor Fraser in Culver City, organized by New York curator Hayden Dunbar, ushers in the past with a breath of fresh air. “Openness and Clarity”—as the exhibition title aptly suggests, and as our fair West Coast mentality often boasts—brings together works that question the notion of one’s entire existence. Meditative and light, the exhibition showcases how with privileged line and soft, unmodulated colors, the Color Field painters became a righteous alternative to the ego-driven gestural bravado exemplified by their AbEx counterparts. The show is equally effective in laying out the conceptual groundwork for stylistic movements like Minimalism and Pop art. Don’t miss this historic visual dialogue of nearly a dozen museum-quality works, all at home in California.
David Hockney may have had to sit patiently and wait for the seasonal changes in order to fully capture The Arrival of Spring, but at least he was working on an iPad and did not have to wait for the paint to dry. On view at L.A. Louver, located in Venice where the mountains reach the ocean and there are miniscule seasonal changes, we catch a glimpse of his Woldgate, Yorkshire landscape. There are five separate views, in various states of dress and all executed entirely from the digital app Brushes. I particularly find it remarkable to see the hand of an artist we know so well working in this technological medium, and to consider how naturally recognizable his line, brushwork, and choice of color remain within such a cool, electronic, and dry canvas.