Thursday, January 24, 2019

The 2019 L.A. Art Show - Massive!

One of my favorite parties of the year was held last night at the L.A. Convention Center, where the kickoff party for the L.A. Art Show opening went down. We took the train and got there late, as usual, so we had our work cut out for us if we wanted to see even a fraction of the huge amount of art that is on display this weekend. MASSIVE amounts of art. You belong here.

We've learned our lesson in years past, and skipped the long lines for drinks that gobble up all your art viewing time, and the food is always gone by the time we get there (we always end up getting street dogs after), so this night was all about the art. And the very excellent people watching that always happens during this opening party - SO good. This is L.A. after all, so there are all sorts of creative artist types walking around, and it's as fun to see as all of the art.

The massive hall is kind of split up into more contemporary/cool art on one side, and the more corporate/law office type of art on the other. There was so much art that when I split up from my brother in the interest of dividing and conquering and seeing the most art in our limited time, when we compared notes later we had almost no overlapping. I hadn't even seen several of his favorite works, and vice versa. It's a LOT to take in, and probably warrants a trip back downtown this weekend to see the things I missed.

The highlight for me (and everyone, I think) is always the Littletopia section, curated by my friends at the Red Truck Gallery from New Orleans.

My favorite art of the entire show is pretty much always pieces from Red Truck, and last night was no different. There were china dishes with irreverent messages ...

There was even a diorama of Jumbo's Clown Room!

I always enjoy catching up with Red Truck owner, Noah Antieau, who told me that they've also opened up a Red Truck Bar in the French Quarter, so now there's even more incentive to get back to the Crescent City and see all of their cool art in person at the source, and throw back a few cocktails with this great bunch of art lovers. Awesome.

There are always crowd pleasers at this show, that you can detect from the crowds of people gathering around to take photos. One of the big ones this year was a prism thing that created infinite angles when you looked inside of it, the Portal Icosahedron, by Anthony James. It was trippy and reminded of my brother Paul's paintings.

A lot of art these days is about its attractiveness for selfies, sadly, and I stopped to look at the great work by Adah Glenn, particularly a work that said "Trust The Process". Great message. On another wall of her booth, there was a piece that said, "Black Girl Magic", with a gorgeous, fancily dressed black girl taking her photo in front of it. Glenn was happy that her work is popular for that, but at the same time wondered if her real message gets lost in the quest for likes. Interesting to consider. Hey, trust the process, right?

There was plenty of performance art this year, and another crowd gathered around a purple painted woman rolling around on the floor with laundry, underneath hula-hoops also strewn with laundry. Sarah Trouche's You Should Wear Your Revolution was meant to symbolize women's emancipation in the tradition of the French movement of "Sans Culottes" - basically "without drawers". Word.

There was an interactive rainforest made from paper that involved all the senses, and even featured Smellavision. When you stuck your head in the little holes that featured butterfly vignettes and things, it smelled like Febreeze or something - or what I like to call "Eau de Lyft Ride". The message was to save nature though, and I'm all for that.

Also on that tip was the lovely (and one of my favorites) work by Cha, Yun Sook, her beautiful Homage To Nature. It was stunning, and it was a delight to meet the artist, who also made her matching outfit. Loved it.

Another favorite was The Lady Of Arlington, 2018 by Mike Stilkey. It was a portrait of a woman done completely on used books. Fantastic!

If you know me, you know I LOVED Prince, by Craig Alan. It was a portrait of Prince, made up of a whole bunch of tiny people.

If you zoomed in, you could see that all the tiny people were different ... like one in a wheelchair, one with a dog, etc. All combining to make the iconic face of our beloved Prince. Wow.

Another kind of performance art/art piece was by Kate Groobey, with her Places Unknown, 2017. It had a work of art on the wall, that the artist then brought to life by dressing in a costume like the piece ... pretty cool.

David Hockney was representing L.A. for the art show, and was showing a gorgeous screen in his classic style that we all wanted for our homes ... Caribbean Tea Time, 1987. The color and style are pure Los Angeles, and it was nice to see this more main stream artist there among all the rest of it.

Not remotely in the main stream was the performance piece by Dorian Wood, Nodrissx/Narcissx. This work won hands-down for the most out there situation of the evening. There was a dark room with a big Pan's Labyrinth meets Saw looking character wrapped in gauze with a hole for its nipple, intoning monk-like chants with a man-servant type guy sitting there. My friend said, "Why are there so many wet wipes scattered around?" Well, we soon found out why ...

The sign explaining the piece invited viewers to come forward and kneel to suckle at the breast protruding from the hole, and to "feed on the artist's breast for as long as they choose." What. The. Hell?! I guess the point was to challenge the artist/audience separation, but I was not down. We saw no takers for the suckling, but I heard later that artist Gary Baseman had a suck. No, gracias.

The past several years of the L.A. Art Show have always featured a hyper-realistic head sculpture by Kazuhiro Tsuji, and this year's marvel is Jimi Hendrix! It's too crazy how these things look so real, from every angle. Another highlight in a year full of highlights, too many to even see in one outing.

The loudspeaker guy was chiming in to kick everyone out while we still raced about trying to see more and find more friends before we got the boot. Near the front entrance where we were all meeting back up, there was a great neon sign, giving encouragement to all artists and those who love them ...

Everything you need is inside you (I believe a Burning Man installation, by Olivia Steele). I love that, and once again left the L.A. Art Show opening with a spring of inspiration and happiness in my step. I encourage one and all to get down to the L.A. Convention Center this weekend to take it all in. You will leave feeling better about the whole world, knowing that there is so much creativity and talent still in it. Art Saves, and we need it now more than ever.

L.A. Art Show 
L.A. Convention Center
January 23-27, 2019
11 am - 7 pm


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