July 13, 2015, 3:50pm

Grounding the City of Angels: Erin Morrison and Tomory Dodge at James Harris Gallery

One Foot on the Ground is not a themed exhibition.” When I read this on the wall of Seattle’s James Harris Gallery, my impulse was to immediately look for a theme. After scouring the works of the six painters featured in the group show guest-curated by Los Angeles artist Alexander Kroll, I conceded that the claim held true. However, as I stood among Erin Morrison’s (NAP #97) palm tree leaves and the graffiti-like palettes of Tomory Dodge, I was drawn to their ties to the City of Angels. I might have been breaking the rules by clinging to the concrete in a show that insisted it was about abstraction. Or, maybe the show was designed so I would unearth my own themes. Maybe I had fallen into a trap that had been there all along.—Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

Erin Morrison, Black Palm (no. 1), 2015, Ink and wax on hydrocal in maple frame, 35.5” x 37.5” 

Listed under: Review

June 19, 2015, 8:55am

Art Paul: Kill The Rabbit

Good God!, did it ever fucking multiply; springing forth from the singular mind of the cartilage-crushingly on-the-nose-named Art Paul, who needed a mascot-cum-logo for this eccentric's girly mag, a product, like Paul himself, of the Hog Butcher of the World—when that Lake Michigan wind blows, it blows, baby!—and ended up with an icon, an honest-to-goodness American deity, a long-eared, bow tied rabbit, a lapin a la mode who kept cocked ear bent towards what is comme il faut for the jet age gentleman, who is to sex and a certain cigar-smoke cured, bourbon-splashed, wood-paneled, velvet-touched kind of groomed wolf masculinity what the spider or coyote or raven is to chicanery, arguably the most famous bunny in the world—and here his hare straitens its bow tie, takes a pull off the tumbler, and exhales, in a cloud of fine, fine tobacco smoke, “Not much, doc; what's up with you?”—and an image that would have to be included in any kind of even semi-holistic and honest pastiche of American popular culture, the Playboy bunny!

It has been manifested in a million different inks and mediums, from gloss magazine stock to newsprint to flesh, rendered in rhinestones and sequins and neon tubes, in white and black and pink and a veritable zoo of animal print, looking dapper both soft-core and hard-core, on hats, shirts, sweaters, swizzle sticks, and thongs, across an entire sea foaming with licensing and corporate fornication, hopping—if one can excuse the turn—from one bedfellow to the next like, like … like a goddamn rabbit, one supposes, achieving that absolutely most rare and august of atmospheres wherein a piece of visual art can be both of the commercial sphere—bathing, in filthy lucre and public adoration, for immortality like Báthory—and above it; that bowtied cottontail created a cuniculus to very empyrean itself, and the bunny's enormous brood is both Paul's lasting impact—unfair or not—and lasting curse. – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Art Paul | Cheers, 1987, colored pencil on paper, 8 x 11.5 inches. Photo courtesy of UIMA

Listed under: Review

June 08, 2015, 9:32am

Vegas Rising: Satellite Contemporary’s New Space

Opened this past year late in 2014, Satellite Contemporary is a newcomer on the Vegas art scene. Nestled in the Emergency Arts building on Fremont Street in downtown Vegas, the gallery is a small, cozy space pushing the limits and expanding the local programming.

Installation view at Satellite Contemporary | Left to right: Erik den Breejen, “ELLIOTT SMITH (HAPPINESS)” | Christopher Kane Taylor, “Flying V”  | Joe Wardwell, “Maybe Just Happy” | Erik den Breejen, “JONI MITCHELL (CALIFORNIA)” | Erik den Breejen, “ABUQUERQUE AT THE BEACH (ALONE AT THE MICROPHONE)” | Courtesy of Satellite Contemporary.

Three artists and professors from Flagstaff, AZ, came together to start the gallery. Nicole Langille Jelsing, Christopher Kane Taylor (NAP #108), and Dennis K. McGinnis share the goal to bring established and emerging artists to their space, creating cohesive, yet unexpected group shows. – Ellen Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Review

June 01, 2015, 8:28am

Toxic Skies and Heavenly Light: Alexandra Wiesenfeld at Klowden Mann

Alexandra Wiesenfeld (NAP #61) paints massive landscapes suggestive of the California painting tradition of the past, but she reinvigorates these on a grand scale and reimagines them with bold colors, frantic lines, and bursts of energy.

Her recent show “When I When If When Lie When Life (Xavier Villaurrutia)” at Klowden Mann offered viewers a delightful experience of envelopment. Her grandiose oil paintings run six feet tall or wide and powerfully connect the walls of the gallery, enclosing viewers in with a warm, painted, and natural embrace.

Alexandra Wiesenfeld | Installation view of Desire, Slippage, Nocturne, and Blue Slip at Klowden Mann. Photo courtesy of Klowden Mann.

Working at times from more well-known images like those of Ansel Adams, Wiesenfeld also works from unique composite images she has disassembled and pieced back together. She creates a fantastical photo collage from which to paint and then enlarges them to a monumental scale on canvas. - Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor

Listed under: Review

May 07, 2015, 8:47am

We’ve got one question: Michaël Borremans

Michaël Borremans US premiere of his survey show As sweet as it gets brings together 50 paintings, 40 drawings and 5 films from the last fifteen years. The show opened at the Dallas Museum of Art and was organized by Jeffrey Grove, the Museum’s Senior Curator of Special Projects & Research, who worked closely with Borremans to showcase this impressive body of work. The films in the show function to establish their importance to Borremans process of culling frames from moving images but the films also maintain an independence all of their own. The most effective film piece, The German, showcases an enclosed diorama which houses miniature figures standing in front of a stories tall (in terms of scale to the miniatures) screen that features a man’s face speaking.

The work expertly showcases Borremans imagination and most importantly his acute sense of scale that is also present in his drawings which exploit scale to depict grandiose ideas and scenes in a restrictive size. 

Michaël Borremans | A Mae West Experience, 2002, Pencil, watercolor on paper, 6 13/32 x 8 in. (16.3 x 20.3 cm), Private Collection, Belgium, Courtesy Zeno X Gallery Antwerp © Photographer Felix Tirry ©Michaël Borremans

Listed under: Interview, Review

April 28, 2015, 8:41am

Caitlin G. McCollom: The Artist is Present

Caitlin G. McCollom lays it all out in Blood and White, her solo exhibition at Pump Project on Austin's east-side. These modest- and large-scale mixed-media paintings on synthetic paper — described by the artist as “indirect abstractions...represent[ing] the quiet panic of the disordered mind and the beautiful decay of the diseased body” — are the result of both six months of sheer studio work and a more complicated cocktail of interstate relocation and return, illness, temporary art-making hiatus, and a subsequent wellspring of creative energy. — Brian Fee, ever-traveling contributor

Caitlin G. McCollom |
Ovum, 2014-15, Acrylic and varnish on synthetic paper, 11 x 14 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Pump Project, Austin.

Listed under: Review

April 21, 2015, 8:59am

JD Banke’s Live Wire: Peasant Dreams at Glass Box Gallery

When I went to see JD Banke’s Peasant Dreams, the paintings were in the middle of a photo shoot. Lighting apparatuses and tripod stands loitered around Glass Box Gallery’s small, jigsawed-together spaces, the artwork’s real-life interrupting its day job of just hanging out. The photographers politely tried to move aside in a space with little room to move, but they didn’t need to; I liked it this way. The comingling of the utilitarian things with the art-things created the best possible space for hearing the most vocal part of Banke’s work—a persistent, self-assured pronouncement of being alive. — Erin Langner, Seattle contributor

JD Banke | Peasant Dreams, 2015, Glass Box Gallery. Photo credit: Tyler Coray.

Listed under: Review

April 17, 2015, 8:39am

Angel Otero: The Scarlet Self

There are entire worlds—entire existences—suspended within there, floating up to gazes which have been detached long enough—or ran down, heaving and glassy eyed, caned and fatigued—to pick up on such things, looming forms ascending like the prophetic pyramid out of the cuttlefish-ink abyssal  underbelly of an 8-ball, rising and falling and materializing out of the blood brume; there are entire continents, cream continents adrift in an angry sea of cadmium, a granular expanse—as if someone chunked up a block of anatomist's arterial wax, dumped it into a pneumatic cannon, and proceeded to broadside raw canvas—ripe for pareidolia. Their borders are fringed, cloudy, a particulate demarcation of crimson gnats, and that fuzz is really what the fuss is all about, an adroit—if blatant, once one sees it—analogue to the fungible nature of perception, memory, and self; there are images contained within the blood brumes, although it is only by the grace of Angel Otero's exposition that we are privy to this, as they have been translated, riven, reconstituted, and then pressed—like a witch!—into their current, beautifully abused form; these were photographs once, the ultimate form of mimesis, until a triturator has placed his hands upon them, riven them, splayed them…and look at the bloody, powdery mess made of ipseity now!  – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

Angel Otero | I am the place I come back to, 2015, silicone and cadmium pigment on canvas, 96 x 120 x 2 inches. Photo courtesy of Kavi Gupta.

Listed under: Review

April 06, 2015, 10:13am

John Sabraw: Pulchritude from Pollution

There's these streams, these, like … death streams, running all along the hollers and open wounds and scars and deep, dark hills of southeastern Ohio, like in Athens county or Crooksville, Sunday Creek country, these fucking chameleon streams, born crystal virgin pure—a hideous faux-virginity! pure fatality, no other kind of purity suspended in there!—and eventually, running along like Leiningen's ants or pyroclastic flows or Kali, in that dread, beautiful motion, which sweeps life away, they eventually begin blooming into this fabulous reddish-orange, the color of rafflesia petals, and running along with nothing but gravity and iron and sulfuric acid in it, no aquatic life at all. This ichor flows all along the hills, perfectly beautiful and perfectly deadly, a conflation of the earth and the vicious byproducts we left when we entered the earth, gross seeping wounds we didn't bother to cauterize or seal properly when they stopped sustaining us, when the black precious coal could no longer be found, when blood from a stone no longer made economic sense, and after we left the earth cut open, vivisected and scooped out, it sat still and decided to slowly poison us, poison the fish and crawdads and deer, in vengeful retribution. – B. David Zarley, Chicago Contributor

John Sabraw | Arco, 2015, oil on canvas, 96 x 62 inches, Photos courtesy of Thomas McCormick Gallery

Listed under: Review

March 30, 2015, 9:01am

Play, Shuffle, Repeat: Annelie McKenzie at CB1

Painting, perhaps more than any other medium, has existed as a site for reconciling the systemic biases of art history, of which a large percentage are encapsulated in painting's own history. Painting has historically referenced previous imagery – subjects of the Renaissance were aesthetic updates to earlier depictions of the myths of the Bible and ancient Greco-Roman cultures found in past sculpture, frescoes, mosaics, manuscripts, textiles, etc. Subsequent derivative idioms, such as the master's copy and homage, have lineages stretching back long before anything could have even been labeled pre-modern. Neoclassicism was an agenda-based, aesthetic do-over by definition; Modernism's brief, valiant attempt at creating a future caught its breath in the late 20th century and painting began, again, to eloquently engage in a conversation with itself about itself. Although in contemporary art this is not unique to any one medium, there is enough cultural resonance specific to painting that it justifies the reflexive nature of artists continuing to investigate its unique position in history. – Jason Ramos, Los Angeles Contributor

Annelie McKenzie, The Enthusiast. Exhibition installation images courtesy of CB1 Gallery, Los Angeles.

Listed under: Review