Inartful

Images and words about art and books and magic.

This is the last week to catch the current shows at the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) — especially the absolutely unexpected and majestic work HOMESTEAD by Flora Kao. Everyone one who has driven through the desert knows about the photogenic appeal of these rundown jackrabbit shacks; the combination of human ambition, time and decay is irresistible to pro photographers and day-tripping Instagrammers alike. So Kao could have just taken intriguing pictures and that would have been that. But instead what she did was make a life-size contact drawing, like a grave-rubbing, and in a sense re-built the thing in the gallery out of canvas instead of clapboard. It’s breathtaking and haunting and weird and wonderful and deserves to be seen in person, at scale, with tactility and gesture you can get right up on. Go!

gregorysiff:

Putting in the last minute work so you can feel what it’s like to live in the visible spectrum. Photo @jwawro #gregorysiff #coorslight #shatterla #breaktheice @riskrock hat by @hoorsenbuhs

See you tomorrow, friend.

gregorysiff:

Putting in the last minute work so you can feel what it’s like to live in the visible spectrum. Photo @jwawro #gregorysiff #coorslight #shatterla #breaktheice @riskrock hat by @hoorsenbuhs

See you tomorrow, friend.

A message from Shepard Fairey! “Moby and I have become friends over the last few years and I was honored that he invited me to join in him in a discussion about art and music at the Project Gallery where his “Innocents” photography is showcased. Our mutual friend, writer Shana Nys Dambrot moderated our discussion and asked great questions about the cross-pollination of art and music, inspiration, punk,  process, etc… Check out Moby’s show before it closes if you are in LA.”

Thanks for having me, it was an amazing and enlightening conversation. Those guys are wicked smart, And Shepard’s right it’s a gorgeous show and you should see it. If you didn’t catch it, here’s the interview about the work I did with Moby for Whitehot last month:

http://whitehotmagazine.com/articles/conversation-with-shana-nys-dambrot/2921

I’m at the intersection of luxury lofts, not quite gentrified, drugs, and gangs with scattered artists. There’s no place like home!

I’m at the intersection of luxury lofts, not quite gentrified, drugs, and gangs with scattered artists. There’s no place like home!

The Stitch is Back: Stitch Fetish 2 closes March 1st at the Hive Gallery in DTLA.  NB: that’s the end of this week; gallery hours Wednesday through Saturday. A powerful sequel to last year’s instant classic, SF2 is once again curated by Ellen Schinderman, herself quite the mistress of naughty needlepoint, and brings together some 30 artists from around the country showing stitched, knitted, felted, embroidered, woven, and sewn erotic works that combine the most wholesome of handicraft with topical imagery that is cheeky, pun-laden, wry, witty, raw, adorable, sexy, flirty, satirical, stylish, intellectual, conceptual, and sometimes just plain gorgeous. Some artists work primarily in the radical-craft idiom, some are talented outsiders, and some are working all outside their comfort zone — and the eclectic range of voices and styles that result is an absolute joy to experience. The cognitive dissonance between the traditional materials and irreverent sensibility is more than engaging; the impulse to deploy such patient craftsmanship in the service of fairly transgressive content is inspiring and strangely satisfying. Unlike a great deal of inscrutable contemporary art, the Stitch Fetish joke is one everyone can be in on. Plus as any of these artists can attest, stitching is an intimate obsession and something of a fetish in itself.

Rebecca Cox and Kevin Hollingsworth Save Valentine’s Day

If you are like me, when it comes to Valentine’s Day and indeed all things conventionally “romantic” in American culture, you vacillate at random between extremes of swooning indulgence in storybook love and cheeky dismissal of kitsch and commerce. For one thing, there’s already plenty of chocolate in my house; and for another, cut flowers break my heart. Why kill something so pretty as a token of love? I’d much rather have something like a plant, still living, that can continue to grow.

I love poetry, but my favorite Shakespeare Sonnet is #130 — “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…” because it seems to me that it is a realistic appreciation of his beloved’s actual charms, hyperbolic metaphors be damned. My favorite novel is probably Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being, for essentially the same reason, with a little touch of magical thinking and geopolitics thrown in.

That’s why it has been my pleasure this Valentine’s season to be reading a pair of books — one essentially prose-poems, and one short narrative prose — that each in their way strike a balance of earnest feeling, self-awareness, pragmatism, and flights of desire, all without recourse to the cliched or the cloying or the cynical. Kevin Hollingsworth’s “Romance with a Touch of Love” (a self-published collection of new writings) and Rebecca Cox’s “A Quiver for Lapsed Romantics” (a special publication selected from her ongoing minutelovestories project) offer some sanity amid the swirl of red-velvet sentimentality, and for that, this anti-Valentine fool for love is grateful indeed.

Cox has been working on minutelovestories for a few years now, to date dropping about 100 of these small but salient shorts, about 200 words or half a page each. The book I have at home is a collaboration with her husband, the artist Ned Evans, pairing his collage works with selected of her stories, but the whole archive and other collections are all up at her site. And I suggest you persuse that archive — especially if you are feeling iffy about V-Day, because each one of these numbers is a unique experience — optimistic, surprising, subversive, hilarious, heartbreaking, infuriating, neurotic, inspired, and yes, romantic. She has a knack for presenting fragments that contain the whole, leaving much unsaid but nothing unexplained. The self-imposed shortness of her format creates a kind of efficiency and clarity in the stories; there is nothing extraneous, but nothing lacking either. They are called love stories, and they are about love, but as everyone living knows, love is never just one thing, it’s a million tiny things — and now, each tiny thing gets its own story. Here’s my favorite (today): 

Surprise [minutelovestory #54]

You so provocatively texted me “I have a surprise for you”, that my thoughts ran from the salacious to the sweet. I imagined naked photos of you, a tripod arranged in your bedroom, dim lighting, but that didn’t seem like something you would do. You could be, however, surprising. And so I thought you’d bought us Springsteen tickets, because I could easily imagine us singing Born to Run together, drunk on the tequila you’d snuck into the stadium, a slim metal flask tucked into the waistband of your dark denim AG jeans. Or maybe you’d purchased a silk geisha robe in the turquoise color I’d been wanting, but unable to find, snatched it up downtown for a steal and wrapped it in purple tissue with a tulle bow.

But none of this. No.

When I arrived at your house, on the Shaker-style dining table was a photo of us, arms slung over shoulders, heads tilted toward one another, a moment captured at a friend’s birthday party. I was wearing red and my skin seemed oily, a shining white swath on my forehead. You looked distant, wary, left eye smaller than the right. I’d never noticed this before. What a surprise.
****
Hollingsworth’s prose reads less like short stories and more like almost spiritual insights. That is, while his subject is love, mulled over, gained, lost, deep, and breezy, his tone puts me in mind of the writings of a Khalil Gibran, dipping in and out of wistfulness and wisdom. His writing blends a casual, intimately simple language with a slightly formal, stylized syntax — a lofty sensibility treating very earthbound emotions. It’s a slim volume, but full of gems. Here’s what I mean:

Hatred Has No Place Here

Love understands him and he understands love. Love is his desire. So rich as well as beautiful he finds love to be; she loves him although he has neither. Generous and golden he finds love’s heart, and she loves him, for his heart is also filled so warmly. His life without love is hatred’s romance. Hatred has no place here as long as love is close by. He revels in her delight, and her delight is love. He feels her warmth and happiness too. He wakes up every morning with no hope, but with promise instead. Love is his promise and hatred has no hate here.

Rebecca Cox and Kevin Hollingsworth Save Valentine’s Day

If you are like me, when it comes to Valentine’s Day and indeed all things conventionally “romantic” in American culture, you vacillate at random between extremes of swooning indulgence in storybook love and cheeky dismissal of kitsch and commerce. For one thing, there’s already plenty of chocolate in my house; and for another, cut flowers break my heart. Why kill something so pretty as a token of love? I’d much rather have something like a plant, still living, that can continue to grow.

I love poetry, but my favorite Shakespeare Sonnet is #130 — “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…” because it seems to me that it is a realistic appreciation of his beloved’s actual charms, hyperbolic metaphors be damned. My favorite novel is probably Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being, for essentially the same reason, with a little touch of magical thinking and geopolitics thrown in.

That’s why it has been my pleasure this Valentine’s season to be reading a pair of books — one essentially prose-poems, and one short narrative prose — that each in their way strike a balance of earnest feeling, self-awareness, pragmatism, and flights of desire, all without recourse to the cliched or the cloying or the cynical. Kevin Hollingsworth’s “Romance with a Touch of Love” (a self-published collection of new writings) and Rebecca Cox’s “A Quiver for Lapsed Romantics” (a special publication selected from her ongoing minutelovestories project) offer some sanity amid the swirl of red-velvet sentimentality, and for that, this anti-Valentine fool for love is grateful indeed.

Cox has been working on minutelovestories for a few years now, to date dropping about 100 of these small but salient shorts, about 200 words or half a page each. The book I have at home is a collaboration with her husband, the artist Ned Evans, pairing his collage works with selected of her stories, but the whole archive and other collections are all up at her site. And I suggest you persuse that archive — especially if you are feeling iffy about V-Day, because each one of these numbers is a unique experience — optimistic, surprising, subversive, hilarious, heartbreaking, infuriating, neurotic, inspired, and yes, romantic. She has a knack for presenting fragments that contain the whole, leaving much unsaid but nothing unexplained. The self-imposed shortness of her format creates a kind of efficiency and clarity in the stories; there is nothing extraneous, but nothing lacking either. They are called love stories, and they are about love, but as everyone living knows, love is never just one thing, it’s a million tiny things — and now, each tiny thing gets its own story. Here’s my favorite (today):

Surprise [minutelovestory #54]

You so provocatively texted me “I have a surprise for you”, that my thoughts ran from the salacious to the sweet. I imagined naked photos of you, a tripod arranged in your bedroom, dim lighting, but that didn’t seem like something you would do. You could be, however, surprising. And so I thought you’d bought us Springsteen tickets, because I could easily imagine us singing Born to Run together, drunk on the tequila you’d snuck into the stadium, a slim metal flask tucked into the waistband of your dark denim AG jeans. Or maybe you’d purchased a silk geisha robe in the turquoise color I’d been wanting, but unable to find, snatched it up downtown for a steal and wrapped it in purple tissue with a tulle bow.

But none of this. No.

When I arrived at your house, on the Shaker-style dining table was a photo of us, arms slung over shoulders, heads tilted toward one another, a moment captured at a friend’s birthday party. I was wearing red and my skin seemed oily, a shining white swath on my forehead. You looked distant, wary, left eye smaller than the right. I’d never noticed this before. What a surprise.


****

Hollingsworth’s prose reads less like short stories and more like almost spiritual insights. That is, while his subject is love, mulled over, gained, lost, deep, and breezy, his tone puts me in mind of the writings of a Khalil Gibran, dipping in and out of wistfulness and wisdom. His writing blends a casual, intimately simple language with a slightly formal, stylized syntax — a lofty sensibility treating very earthbound emotions. It’s a slim volume, but full of gems. Here’s what I mean:

Hatred Has No Place Here

Love understands him and he understands love. Love is his desire. So rich as well as beautiful he finds love to be; she loves him although he has neither. Generous and golden he finds love’s heart, and she loves him, for his heart is also filled so warmly. His life without love is hatred’s romance. Hatred has no place here as long as love is close by. He revels in her delight, and her delight is love. He feels her warmth and happiness too. He wakes up every morning with no hope, but with promise instead. Love is his promise and hatred has no hate here.

George Mann (1905 - 1977) was best known as half of the comedic and acrobatic dance act Barto & Mann. From about 1926-27 when they signed with William Morris Agency, until the act broke up in 1943, the duo was constantly on the road, touring the US, Canada, and Europe. Along the way, they worked with stage legends like the Great Cardini, Olsen & Johnson, and the Three Stooges (who starred in a 1938 short film shot by George and featuring both Mann and his actress/model wife Barbara). George and Barbara had one son, Brad, born in February 1941 — and that son’s wife is the photographer Dianne Woods, into whose capable and empathetic purview has fallen the disposition of Mann’s vast archive of unique, emotional, historical, personal — and until now, unpublished — photography. The best of his work was made while he was on the road — portraits, landscapes, and street views that capture not only the facts and facets of his travels, but impart an aesthetic time-machine element via the fashion, architecture, car, design graphics, etc. Everyone smokes.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT THE ARTWEEK.LA WEBSITE.

David LaChapelle opening. We made a hot book together and here’s a choir. @victorwilde (at Paul Kasmin Gallery)

Corrie Greathouse is one of LA’s most promising independent writers. Despite rich emotional depth and almost ritualistic appreciation of melancholy, hers is actually quite a light touch; gossamer, as delicate, durable, and sticky as a spiderweb. Her most recent book is the slim but satisfying memoir/novella of love and loss, Another Name for Autumn (Black Hill Press). Sweet and sad, there is a poetic rhythm to the prose and its motifs that both describes and inhabits the stages of love, heartbreak, and hope through which its narrative arc moves. She has a talent for identifying the magic hiding in the plain sight of ordinary things (rain, screen doors, birds, books, sidewalk graffiti) and for using them to read the tea leaves of the world around her — and the world inside of her.
"In front of the cafe near my apartment in Los Angeles, "Michelle + Ryan = Love Forever" is carved into the sidewalk. Written when the cement was wet and now petrified by the sun and time. Every day hundreds of people pass by and I wonder if they think about Michelle and Ryan and long forever was for them. Sometimes, I walk by the cafe only to look at their names and hope that they are still in love somewhere. Sometimes, I wish I could travel the world following sidewalk cement love stories and finding the people who made them and asking them how they knew it was forever."
Greathouse’s particular magic is in how she interweaves external phenomena and the personal, existential insights they engender. Her description of the role of painting in her imagination and the life of her mind and body is especially captivating and evocative. It’s the sort of book that makes you want to underline passages and turn down the corners; it stays with you long after you’ve read it through.

Corrie Greathouse is one of LA’s most promising independent writers. Despite rich emotional depth and almost ritualistic appreciation of melancholy, hers is actually quite a light touch; gossamer, as delicate, durable, and sticky as a spiderweb. Her most recent book is the slim but satisfying memoir/novella of love and loss, Another Name for Autumn (Black Hill Press). Sweet and sad, there is a poetic rhythm to the prose and its motifs that both describes and inhabits the stages of love, heartbreak, and hope through which its narrative arc moves. She has a talent for identifying the magic hiding in the plain sight of ordinary things (rain, screen doors, birds, books, sidewalk graffiti) and for using them to read the tea leaves of the world around her — and the world inside of her.

"In front of the cafe near my apartment in Los Angeles, "Michelle + Ryan = Love Forever" is carved into the sidewalk. Written when the cement was wet and now petrified by the sun and time. Every day hundreds of people pass by and I wonder if they think about Michelle and Ryan and long forever was for them. Sometimes, I walk by the cafe only to look at their names and hope that they are still in love somewhere. Sometimes, I wish I could travel the world following sidewalk cement love stories and finding the people who made them and asking them how they knew it was forever."

Greathouse’s particular magic is in how she interweaves external phenomena and the personal, existential insights they engender. Her description of the role of painting in her imagination and the life of her mind and body is especially captivating and evocative. It’s the sort of book that makes you want to underline passages and turn down the corners; it stays with you long after you’ve read it through.

REPORT: Downtown Los Angelesby shana nys dambrot Art Ltd., January 2014
Downtown Los Angeles is many things to many people, and it’s in the process of becoming many more things every day. Rapid-fire development and a capricious program of urban renewal that’s not quite gentrification have lent DTLA an array of reputations from post-industrial wasteland to architectural treasure trove, bohemian enclave, real-life Blade Runner, party central, poverty central, and artistic muse. Old-timers and new arrivals can experience its dynamics very differently, as one might expect. Dedicated artists have famously called its cold-water lofts and mixed-used rabbit warrens home for generations, and a panoply of galleries and alternative spaces have come and gone. Street Art is as much a defining characteristic of the neighborhood as are quirky architectural settings, a proliferation of museums, and vast warehouses capable of housing the A-listiest of artists. And of course, the Convention Center lights up every January when the aesthetic whirlwind that is the LA Art Show rolls through. NB: photo LA moves downtown this year, to the LA Mart…
READ THE FULL REPORT ON THE ART LTD SITE AND IN THE NEW PRINT EDITION.

REPORT: Downtown Los Angeles
by shana nys dambrot
Art Ltd., January 2014

Downtown Los Angeles is many things to many people, and it’s in the process of becoming many more things every day. Rapid-fire development and a capricious program of urban renewal that’s not quite gentrification have lent DTLA an array of reputations from post-industrial wasteland to architectural treasure trove, bohemian enclave, real-life Blade Runner, party central, poverty central, and artistic muse. Old-timers and new arrivals can experience its dynamics very differently, as one might expect. Dedicated artists have famously called its cold-water lofts and mixed-used rabbit warrens home for generations, and a panoply of galleries and alternative spaces have come and gone. Street Art is as much a defining characteristic of the neighborhood as are quirky architectural settings, a proliferation of museums, and vast warehouses capable of housing the A-listiest of artists. And of course, the Convention Center lights up every January when the aesthetic whirlwind that is the LA Art Show rolls through. NB: photo LA moves downtown this year, to the LA Mart…

READ THE FULL REPORT ON THE ART LTD SITE AND IN THE NEW PRINT EDITION.