A day in the company of Poetics of the Handmade, Richard Tuttle, Alexandra Grant, New Acquisitions, and then MOCA Night Vision with the DJ's Part Time Punks and the Documentary - "Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea" - narrated by John Waters
all at MOCA,
Grand Avenue Los Angeles
Wow! There's a great deal of action at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles this summer and you shouldn't miss a moment of it. Four concurrent shows and the on Saturday evenings, the Night Vision DJ sets with live bands and museum tours. Truly, it's so light... so slight... so much fun... You know that feeling when you throw down the picnic blanket, on a sunny day? The wine's cool and your friends are as beautiful as they can be and there's that sweet richness of anticipation about what you're gonna pull out of the picnic basket...
That's a Saturday afternoon and evening at MOCA this summer.
Poetics of the Handmade
First of all, Silver Surfboard! It's the Poetics of the Handmade. Eight great Latin American artists provide the most refreshing and witty panacea for all of our midsummer woes of which we have plenty. Featuring Eduardo Abaroa, Magdalena Atria, Monica Bengoa, Fernando Bryce, Dario Escobar, Maximo Gonzalez, Marco Maggi and Livia Marin. That's a limoload of talent. The thread that pulls all together... their reuse and recycling of everyday objects into a delightfully eye popping melange, each underscoring an obsessive intent. The devil here is in the grandly minuscule detail and a compulsive devotion to the craft.
If you will, it begins with, if we take an egg box, an old sponge and a holly leaf, and ends in... Well you don't need me to tell you that. Unless you've never been a particularly creative lonely masochistic man.
It's tough to single anyone out, but perhaps Magdalena Atria's plasticine and toothpicks are immediately entertaining as is Dario Escobar's silver surfboard or silver skateboards, which so fuse the ornate with the everyday, neither of which I admittedly have any use for, but enjoyed looking at and had me daydreaming of surfing up the road and into ola.
There's a lot to be hopeful for for sure when you take a look at some of MOCA's audacious new acquisitions. Most of all, wistfully, William Leavitt's, 'Untitled' which was provided to the museum by John Baldessari. When I take people to see it, skirting past the full-size suspension bridge, to the small painting in the corner, of what looks like an alsation (I don't know my dogs either), I just don't know why they're non-plussed. I'd like a signed print - but Wife-X probably wouldn't have it in the house. A quick word too about the 'Aftermath of an Incident' (oh I think it was called) the massive lightjet print. Concrete has rarely looked so grisly good. So good, they should wrap a bus in it. Yeah. A better use of a bus.
MOCA Focus: Alexandra Grant's work, too, drew gasps of joy. It's true. Wordsmith inspired, wires whirring around; Iconic landscapes. The items in the show are all re- inventions of the work of author Michael Joyce... Alexandra transforms his texts into patterns of color and shape, giving them new life and possibility. Communicating their message anew. What a treat to chance upon her work. Check out her website http://www.alexandragrant.com/
The Art of Richard Tuttle
There's not much to not love about Richard Tuttle's life work. What is drawing? What is painting and what the hell even is art? That seems to be what Richard Tuttle has spent his life asking and answering from the effrontery of his provocative, postminimalist position. Damn he has big balls and he has made a career of putting them out there. Paintings in relief, fabrications that ask us to search for something we know isn't there. His first major exhibition was in 1965 when he was 24. His, is not the kind of work that would make him a lot of friends. Way too perverse for that I'd say. It doesn't matter though. Making friends is not a priority. And the people, we the people loved it all, all forty years of it well enough while we wandered by.
Part Time Punks
It's one thing when DJ's have your vinyl collection, or at least the one you had before your then gf took storage matters into her own hands while you were traveling in the 80s. I mean, that can be a pleasant enough stroll back to somewhere or other when things certainly weren't the same as they are now. Just as bad, only different. Only 30 years have elapsed somewhere in between. I can only imagine the Part Time Punks' pops took better care of their record collections than my girlfriend ever did. Cheap Thrills from the DJ booth.
Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea
a documentary narrated by John Waters (on tour - http://www.saltonseadoc.com/ for locations)
Plagues & Pleasures is a laugh riot documentary about a the world class ecological disaster that is Southern California's saline, Salton Sea - could there ever have been a more apt name. This great land locked sea, (well more of a lake but more about that later), is located somewhere south of Palm Springs. The Salton Sea was slated to be, and nearly was, coulda been, the California Riviera. Typically 15 miles by 35 miles, although its size varies with the vagaries of the Imperial Valley agricultural run off. Which may in turn be drying up...
Film makers Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer pitch perfectly document the downside of one gigantic american dream as they trace the Salton's Sea's inauspicious inception, the product of an engineering error in 1905, through it's 1950s heyday as a super premium resort for the rich and famous - the Cali Riviera period, through to today, where, as they say, it has been reduced to a "fetid, stagnant, salty lake, coughing up dead fish and birds by the thousands..." Still, so teeming with Talipia is the sea, that some estimate a one day cull of the fish once reached 7.5 million. Even then there'd be another 90 million more to look out for.
As interesting as the sea are the cavalcade of n'er-do-wells, economic prisoners, shut-outs and various other eccentrics - actually there must be a better word than that to describe the redoubtable cast that crowd the inhabitable parts of the seas' shores. Perhaps best summed up by the movie makers' themselves, "Part history lesson, part cautionary tale and part portrait of one of the strangest communities you've ever seen, this is the American Dream gone as stinky as a dead carp."
Oh and did I mention, it's narrated by the incomparable John Waters.
Much more info at MOCA.org