This week a bevy of Southern California galleries are headed to Texas for the sixth Dallas Art Fair. The exhibitors include longtime visitors Thomas Solomon and Charlie James, as well as newcomers M+B, OHWOW, and Luis De Jesus, among others.
“Tom Solomon got the ball rolling, because he was out here first,” says Charlie James. “LA dealers see Dallas is deep with potential new collectors who are turned on by the passion of collecting, and they’re getting to know it now. And we see there’s wealth here, and it’s fun, and people want to come check it out.” James reports that the fair had “a significant positive impact on our 2012.”
The fair is generally acknowledged to have dramatically improved over the years, with this year’s exhibitor list being the strongest yet (although how many of those will be showing slick abstract paintings remains to be seen).
“We plan on coming back to Dallas every year,” says James. “It’s a lot more gusher than duster, to put it in Texas terms.”
John Baldessari, Camel Contemplating a Needle, 2013
In a post worthy of Fox News, Buzzfeed has worked itself into a lather about a John Baldessari sculpture of a camel contemplating a needle. The sculpture was purchased by the State Department for a cut rate of $400,000, and is earmarked for the US embassy in Islamabad, where, Buzzfeed righteously reports, the “average yearly income in impoverished Pakistan is about $1,250 per year.”
Ah yes: there are poor people in the world, therefore US embassies shouldn’t have any art. The Art Newspaper reports that the Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz called the camel “a questionable use of taxpayer resources” in a letter to the Secretary of State John Kerry on 1 April. Apparently Chaffetz, who chairs the Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, wants all documents related to embassy art purchases since 2010. Because it matters for National Security.
OK, whatever: it’s another fabricated uproar on a slow news day. Buried in all this is the charming fact that the STATE DEPARTMENT wants this sculpture, a wonderfully deadpan reference to the famous observation (found in both the New Testament and the Qur’an) about rich people getting into heaven. Forget all the noise about the art program for embassies (which comprises 0.5% of their construction budgets for new projects, the horror!) Let’s celebrate the fact that somewhere, deep in the bowels of State, there’s a functionary with an eye for great American art who wants to share it with the world.
Rendering of “Not a Whole Fence” (working title) by Ball-Nogues Studio
In addition to the upcoming show Citizen Culture at the UTEP Rubin Center (which will originate at the Santa Monica Museum of Art), the city of El Paso is also embarking on a major public art program, via a quality of life bond that passed in 2012. One of the key pieces in a new Triple-A baseball stadium (for the charmingly, albeit unferociously, named El Paso Chihuahuas) will be an installation by LA-based architectural Ball-Nogues Studio. The design, an elegant metal fence behind the outfield, will allow pedestrians to peer through round portholes and watch the Chihuahuas in action.
We reported on the Ball-Nogues selection last year, and a recent visit showed the city hustling to get the stadium finished in time for its opening day in one month (with no sign of any public art yet).
Architectural rendering by Teddy Cruz
One of the things people always say about El Paso is that it’s closer to Los Angeles than it is to the eastern part of Texas. Perhaps that proximity is driving the current flurry of activity by California artists. All over this city in the desert, El Paso curators are looking west for collaborations and talent to mine.
First off is the show Citizen Culture. The Santa Monica Museum of Art received a $121,500 grant from the Warhol Foundation for this show, which opens there this fall. Curated by Lucía Sanromán (who’s also doing this summer’s Site Santa Fe), the show will travel to the Rubin Center at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) in the spring of 2015. The show includes San Diego architect Teddy Cruz and will feature international artists and architects working to change public policy.
As reported in Artnet, artists John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, and Catherine Opie have rejoined the MOCA board after resigning in protest during the troubled tenure of former director Jeffrey Deitch. The artists left the board ultimately over Deitch’s firing of longtime MOCA curator Paul Schimmel.
While the return of well-known artists will arguably create goodwill for MOCA, they (along with three other non-artists who have also rejoined) were at the helm during the worst crisis in the history of the institution, and one wonders about the strength of leadership they will bring (back).
There is an argument to be made that, however much a disaster Jeffrey Deitch was (and he was certainly a disaster), he was hired to make changes, not keep things the same. Did the board members who resigned in protest never ask the hard questions of Deitch during the hiring process? Did nobody say, “What do you think about Paul?” Rather than running to fetch their smelling salts en masse, the departed board members should have looked in the mirror. The job of a board is to hire and fire the director, and Deitch’s tenure, and his decisions, lay at everyone’s feet — even the members who’s last names weren’t Broad.
Planet Money recently did a study of various professions, which revealed something that will surprise nobody who works as an artist or arts professional: of all career paths (if you want to call being an artist a career path), these have the worst downward mobility; i.e. artists, curators and other creative types will be the most poor relative to their parents than anybody else. Take note, aspiring MFAs!
Walead Beshty’s Selected Bodies of Work is on view at Regen Projects through April 5, 2014.
As reported in Artnet, more and more galleries are crossing the La Cienega divide and heading for Hollywood in pursuit of better spaces for cheaper rents. Led by Regen Projects, no fewer than five galleries are moving east, with more on the way.
Fear Of Missing Out should impel you to Emily Mast’s performance March 27-29 at LACMA. It’s titled The Least Important Things — and we’re fired up to be bored! . . . Oh wait: we’re taking the title at face value. Seems like it might actually be interesting:
For The Least Important Things, Mast selected a diverse range of works by Joan Brossa (1919–1998) that were written with the intention of being staged. Brossa was a Catalan poet, playwright, graphic designer, and visual artist who made work about the limitations of language and its material nature. His “stage poetry” embraced incoherence, the everyday, and popular forms of entertainment such as magic, cabaret, and comedy routines. – LACMA website
If vintage crime scene photographs are your thing, don’t miss Paris Photo LA, coming April 25. This year they’re featuring UNEDITED!, a selection of “carefully curated” photos from the LAPD archive. Billed as “the most famous police agency on earth” (which Interpol, Scotland Yard and NYPD would have nothing to say about, surely), LAPD has a juicy, cinematic trove of photographic goodies that document crime scenes straight out of Chinatown. Gosh.
In a new video about Metropolis II, Chris Burden’s mini-city toy car piece which has been on view at LACMA for a couple of years, the artist bemoans the stressful stop-and-go of LA traffic: “I love hearing that the cars are going 230 miles an hour,” he said. “That’s about the speed they should be running, not 23.4 miles an hour which is what my BMW says I average driving around LA.”
Metropolis II (The Movie) from Supermarché: Henry & Rel on Vimeo.