MacCracken and Innerst at Michael Kohn

The thing about group shows, especially in the long dog days of summer, is that they can drive you to distraction. While the art world in general has become a 365 days a year affair, many galleries still work on a “cultural season” of September through May. Summer group shows might not be the best venue to introduce a new artist. But if a show leaves you underwhelmed, it provides ample opportunity to ferret out something nonetheless.

Such was the experience at Michael Kohn Gallery last week when I scanned the offering which I admit to having  left me cold. But two little aesthetic wonders offered themselves almost in a whisper.

John MacCracken, OH-NANA, 1978

In the far back room, reserved usually for often excellent secondary market material, was a signature sculpture by John MacCracken. I say signature only in the sense that I recognized the scale, gestalt and lean of the plank on display. But rather than the high gloss and sheen of a surface of polished fiberglass airbrushed to reflective perfection, here was a piece covered by lively brush strokes of pleasing colors. Layered Blues, Mauves, and Yellows danced a boogie woogie of all-over rhythm. The effect was like seeing a macro detail of a Monet Water Lily painting The sides and back of the Painting/sculpture were equally graced with this brushstroke beat. What to make of this? Then in a flash I thought of a recent visit to Ace Gallery Los Angeles where, in a gallery room that resembled a transformed closet, I saw a watercolor of similar rhythm that too was MacCraken. I was as bemused then as I was standing in front of the Kohn sculpture. Here was this scion of  Minimal sculpture cutting loose but still well within the confines of his rigorous sculptural paradigms.

Mark Innerst, Rust Proof, 1982, Oil and Enamel on Board, 10.5 inches square (detail view)

The other whisper occurred at the front desk cubical occupied by a graceful assistant who did in fact confirm the assumption that it was indeed a MacCracken in the back. Behind the desk, in low light and hung almost as an afterthought was a calm yet vibrant painting of an oil ship, maybe tanker in bright orange and red. Floating as it was in a sea of blue and green water the monochrome glow of the silhouetted ship was made even more vibrant. The scale and execution made me guess Mark Innerst. Correct again she confirmed and I moved in closer for a more thorough inspection. Innerst has mad painting skills. I’ve always thought so from the first time I stumbled upon his work at Curt Markus Gallery in the late Eighties or early Nineties. The subjects are often urban, mostly with a nostalgic veneer that never spills over into saccharine. The frames are also part of the piece and they compound an antiquarian flavor to the presentation.

I left warmed by the the fact that even in the art world, a single can be better than an album. I can extol the virtues of the title song on Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy but I will readily admit that the rest of the album is less than memorable. Great work can sometimes be better in small doses.

-Mario M. Muller, August 12th, 2012, Los Angeles

Michael Kohn Gallery is located at 8071 Beverly Blvd., LA, CA 90048

The current group Exhibition titled Inter Ruption is on display through August 25th, 2012

Tuesday to Friday 10 am – 6 pm
Saturday 11 am – 6 pm

also by Mario M. Muller

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