“Distracted Mourning” – Guy Richards Smit’s Mountain of Skulls

These notes are for Marilyn.

                                                      “Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs….”

William Shakespeare, Richard II, III:2

I woke up this morning thinking about death – my own and others’ (including a friend who may be known to readers of...Read More »

Between Shadow and Illumination – Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Medium

Patti Smith (1975), gelatin silver print; courtesy The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation

Fresh (if that’s the word for it) from the carbon cycle conundrums posed by the FotoFest 2016 Biennial in Houston, I faced the ambivalence of ‘homecoming’ between LACMA and the Getty Museum, returning...Read More »

“Everything is connected….” – Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet –

AWOL is in Houston this evening – with official leave this time (at least in theory, still leaving no accounting for her invisibility the last two or three weeks in Los Angeles) – at the 2016 FotoFest Biennial. The theme of this year’s Biennial is Changing Circumstances: Looking at the...Read More »

James Welling: Choreograph – Regen Projects, through March 26th

It is impossible to do justice to a show of the scope, ambition and sheer beauty of James Welling’s current exhibition of recent work at Regen Projects in a single blog post. But it would be no less impossible and even irresponsible to let it go without some...Read More »

“Let them eat cake and charge it please and thank you very much.” - Break Bread at Think Tank Gallery

We don’t ordinarily think of pastel colors as carrying the power or intensity of the deepest, most vibrant primaries, especially red; or for that matter a dense black or sharp black-and-white contrast. But pastels can have great associative and mnemonic power, in many instances as distinct and intense as that...Read More »

Various Small Fairs – Art Los Angeles Contemporary, 2016

I think we can all agree that there are too many art fairs. We could almost stretch that to say there are too many fairs, period. We generate too many products – most of them of an astonishingly brief life-span, and worth still less of anyone’s attention; and consume far...Read More »

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Part 3 of 3)

“We like dancing and we look divine.”

David Bowie, “Rebel Rebel”

from Diamond Dogs, 1974

Finally – Bowie. Forever Bowie. “Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep….” I want to quote Mick Jagger (to be very specific about it) quoting Shelley (from Adonais –...Read More »

“Some Make You Sing….” (Part 2 of 3)

Something kind of hit me today

I looked at you and wondered if you saw things my way

. . .    

We’re taking it hard all the time

Why don’t we pass it by?


David Bowie, “We Are the Dead”

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“Fill Your Heart….” (Part 1 of 3)

“If we can sparkle, he may land tonight….”

David Bowie, “Starman”

(from The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972)

Sadie Barnette, Untitled (Pony ride, Compton, CA), 2015

Those readers who have followed...Read More »

Joy to the World: My Holiday Season in a Nutshell

Happy New Year, dear reader(s). I know I was living up to the blog title just a bit excessively in the last month of this just past year; but I wasn’t just staying at home. First of all, there was Norma – the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Bellini’s...Read More »

Trust the Momentum – Karen Finley: Love Field

If there was a central flaw or fracture to Karen Finley’s The Jackie Look, it had mostly to do with a lack of clarity of its dramatic objective and trajectory. Finley seemed to be trying to both deconstruct an icon (or more precisely its refractions and reflections in a morphing...Read More »

Karen Finley’s "The Jackie Look"

There are probably as many words written about the ‘Jackie look’ by now as there are actual images documenting it. A quick scan of just a few of these images taken over the roughly 40 years of her public life reveals quite a range: the young equestrienne,...Read More »

The Idea of North / The Disease of Humanity

The North is very much on our collective minds lately – especially in the wake of recent news that TransCanada has suspended its application procedure to build the 1200-mile Keystone-XL pipeline to transport tar sands-extracted oil across the U.S. Plains states to the Gulf of Mexico – at least temporarily...Read More »

Making the “Un-Private” Public – and Urban

In many ways, Monday evening’s “Un-Private Collection” panel/conversation at Disney Hall, featuring The Broad Museum’s principal architect, Elizabeth Diller, of the Diller, Scofidio + Renfro firm of architects, and moderated by the distinguished architecture critic, Paul Goldberger, was the capstone of the series – certainly to date, and possibly for...Read More »

Cut Paper, Consuming Plastic; Cold Steel, Colder Flesh (2) – Cast A Cold Eye

It is that most fundamental of human needs – our need to make sense of things, to report, describe and explain the world; which itself may be at the core of our social and cultural needs, perhaps the basis of society and culture – the need to bring order to...Read More »

Cut Paper, Consuming Plastic; Cold Steel, Colder Flesh (1)

The weather may be catastrophically portentous in Los Angeles; but, absent a 9 or 10 Richter scale earthquake or a tsunami that drags Santa Monica out into the Pacific, the show must go on (hey this used to be Hollywood). You may or may not be going out to see...Read More »

Mélancolie to Exhilaration from Studio to Street

There was astonishing buzz around Philippe Quesne’s La Mélancolie des Dragons at REDCAT last Wednesday night; and as a sucker for avant-garde theatre, I simply had to be there, heat or no heat. I felt cooler just looking at the stage set, which resembled a forest clearing under...Read More »

The Center of the World is Where Your Work Happens –

The L.A. art industry never rests (as if awol ever needed proof of that!); but tradition dies hard, and art galleries and museums break out the new season alongside other arts and cultural venues. Matthew Barney had already screened his not-so-new (2014 – and six hours long!)...Read More »

Ethereal Visions and Dangerous Liaisons: Adès and Cheng in concert at Zipper Hall

<p>For many of us in Los Angeles glued to a screen as a ferociously hot Tuesday afternoon faded with an exhausted sigh into a still intolerably warm Tuesday evening, possibly toggling between one task and another as <strong>Venus</strong> commandingly wrested a second set win from her dearest rival, <strong>Serena</strong>, the...Read More »

Exquisite Cadaver: Sundaram’s Couture of Surreal Salvage

The first encounter with the most strikingly original art (not unlike the most speculative scientific thinking) is always a bit strange – possibly configured, oriented or abstracted in a way toward which our minds and senses can only gradually accustom themselves. We become acclimated and reoriented, and then it starts...Read More »

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