January-February 2018

Tulsa portrait rough EDITORS LETTERDear Reader,

The new year is a time to look forward, but in this issue we also take stock. Staff writer Ezrha Jean Black does so with her popular (and for obvious reasons, not so popular) Top Ten LA shows of 2017. Ezrha works hard to be fair-minded yet critical, with careful focus on what really impressed her over the past 12 months.

As editor and writer are wont to do, we often discuss past shows—that is, the ones we can remember! I always find that to be a useful barometer: if you remember it. But Ezrha is of her own mind; she can be surprising and sometimes judgmental, but is definitely not influenced by trend or fad. Take a look. I think you’ll agree she tapped in on some outstanding moments in the Los Angeles art world last year.

She, like I, takes special note of how today’s tumultuous world has an effect on the art scene, and really, how can it not? I’ve talked about it on this very page before; it would simply be atrocious if every artist only produced art with socioeconomic, politically correct content. That’s like having to watch only documentaries, or reading only nonfiction.

I don’t want that at all. And I don’t want it with the art world. But for the moment, topical art is the work that I respond to. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop reveling in a James Turrell neon pink room, or tripping out in a Yayoi Kusama installation, or gazing intently, almost jealously, at a van Gogh or Pollock.

Fortunately, here in Los Angeles we have the best of both worlds. The copious, Getty museum-sponsored Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions, which started last September, have certainly been timely, and we have always covered these shows of Latin American and Latino art.

Here we present three remarkable features on the remaining PST shows. Maximilíano Durón, based in New York—and sometimes LA—surveys the Queer shows included in PST: LA/LA. Murals play a big part in the Latino arts community, as they come and go, covered by Leanna Robinson. And down at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Caribbean art captivates contributor Liz Goldner. Several of our regularly featured reviews include PST coverage as well.

The common thread in the PST LA/LA work is more message than medium. Sometimes that approach can get to be a bit much if you’re not in the mood but since most of it was new to our eyes—many works were shown in the U.S. for the first time—the political nature of the art didn’t feel predictable or tiresome.

But while PST presented work from far away, it feels like the latest round of political strife is centered right here at home. Which brings me to Code Orange, a new feature we are debuting in this issue. Los Angeles-based artist Laura London will be curating upcoming issues from photographs submitted by friends and readers that highlight political points or depict aspects of the current malaise. Code Orange will make up our centerfold for the time being, replacing Guest Lecture. We just felt that now was the time. We still like pretty pictures, but sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad. Yes, Happy New Year indeed.