Catherine Taft’s top 10 shows In Los Angeles: December 2010

Koki Tanaka & Naotaka Hiro/ Kaz Oshiro/ John Tottenham
Las Cienegas Projects
Through December 11

Las Cienegas Projects, Amy Thoner and Steven Hull’s noteworthy artist-run space, presents the work of four very different, but not entirely unrelated male artists. In the main space, Tanaka and Hiro’s new video and sculptural installations both seem to reflect on the body (even when it’s physically absent). In the project space, Oshiro once again defies the spatial limitations of canvas (or sculpture?) while in the back gallery, Tottenham exhibits three series of figurative paintings in his first show in a traditional gallery. Connecting these four artists is a common allure that is both the stuff of fantasy and the everyday.

You’ve Got Problems? We’ve Got Solutions
323 Projects
Through December 16

This ephemeral exhibition exists only as a telephone line that, each day, offers a motivational (and often cliché) sound clip aimed at self-help and raising consciousness. While 323 gallery is the brainchild of artist Tucker Neel, You’ve Got Problems? We’ve Got Solutions is organized by [name], a new curatorial effort comprised of L.A. and Seattle-based artists and writers. The sparky young group includes artists Spencer Douglass, Paul Pescador Matthew Timmons, Matt Wardell and writers Holly Myers, Kate Wolf, and (FULL DISCLOSURE) Catherine Taft.

Kelly Barrie: Negative Capability
Through December 18, 2010

In this series of hybrid photo-drawings, Berrie explores the (un)adulterated space of childhood: the playground. At the root of this show is a phrase from the 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child that states, “The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education…” As Barrie’s work strikes a somewhat serious (if sinister) tone, we are left to wonder if this declaration has yet to be achieved.

Brian Sharp
Through December 18

It seems fitting that this careful, understated exhibition is hanging just across the street from LACMA’s Blinky Palermo retrospective. Although Sharp’s work bears a surface relationship to the senior artist’s minimal geometric canvases, his kind of hard-edge abstraction departs from the master, letting gesture and contrived imperfection slip subtly into every line.

Everything is Political: Andrea Bowers and Daniel Joseph Martinez
Through December 20
Fellows of Contemporary Art

FOCA has long supported contemporary art in L.A. and across the state, and Bowers and Martinez are the most recent recipients of their annual fellowship award. A recent exhibition in FOCA’s Chinatown space reveals precisely what makes these artists stand out; provocative, radical, and always politically relevant, these artists prove that aesthetic form is fundamentally rooted in humanist (and democratic) meaning and can continue to serve as an instrument of progress.

Venice From Then to Now
Here is Elsewhere Gallery
Through January 15

Yann Perreau’s Here is Elsewhere Gallery is a new undertaking that resides inside the Pacific Design Center alongside a throng of other satellite or experimental galleries. Here, the gallery rides the recent wave of adoration for L.A.’s cool school in a show that includes older heroes Larry Bell, Laddie John Dill, and Elsa Rady alongside younger artists like Kim Schoenstadt, Samantha Thomas and James Mathers. The show cleverly builds upon the image of Venice, that constantly vital art center, bringing it up to date and out of the mainstream.

Jonas Woods:  Prints
Cirrus Gallery
Through January 1

Much like the stronghold studio-scape of Venice, Cirrus Gallery has been an important and vital center for contemporary L.A. art, in this case, printmaking and editions. Since early in 1970s (January to be exact), Jean Milant has been working with leading California artists, providing workshop and gallery space; this month, Jonas Woods presents his second edition with Cirrus—stylized Greek pots filled with plants—as well as a curated selection of the many notable prints that have helped build Cirrus’ reputation.

Tariq Alvi: XX
Michael Benevento
Through January 15

My club days live as a delicious fin-de-siecle memory- blissful, idealistic, hedonistic. This show captures some of that sentiment, particularly in a brilliant installation Disco Twig, a fourteen foot long mirrored wall punctuated by sticks bound by torn up club fliers. Makes me reflect on the totems that can remain from youth…

William Eggleston
Through January 16

This exhibition, fittingly titled Democratic Camera, reveals Eggleston as a master at picturing the ordinary with a steady hand and quick eye. In over 200 photographs—from black and white works from the 1960s that give way to stark color shots from the seventies—this show lets us taste mid-century America in all its canned and candied flavors.

Hanne Darboven
Regen Projects II
Through January 29, 2011

During her life, Hanne Darboven was neatlt skilled at rendering time and its fleeting systems. Regen Projects again presents the complex and (at times) maddening artist and a look at her indexical of traces of immateriality.

About the author

Catherine Taft is a Los Angeles based critic and curator. Her essays on contemporary art and culture appear regularly in publications including Artforum, Modern Painters, ArtReview, Metropolis-M, Kaleidoscope, and in exhibition catalogs in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to her writing, Taft is Curatorial Associate in the department of Architecture and Contemporary Art the Getty Research Institute, where she helped organize the 2008 exhibition, California Video and is currently working on Pacific Standard Time: Art in Los Angeles 1945-1980 (Fall 2011).


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