The Hammer Museum just made an announcement about the winner of the $100,000 Mohn Award for the Museum biennial Made in LA 2016: a, the, though, only. And the winner is not a painter, not a sculptor, but a dancer and choreographer – Adam Linder. I love dancing and I have to admit that I'm a little bit frustrated with missing his very few performances, the last of which was scheduled on July 10.
Installation view of Kenzi Shiokava's works, "Made in LA" biennial at Hammer Museum
Photo by Brian Forrest, courtesy of Hammer Museum
A public recognition award of $25,000 went to 78-year-old sculptor Kenzi Shiokava whose totemic carved wood sculptures I found particularly appealing. I never encountered his works before, perhaps because the artist has shied away from the art scene. It's intriguing to learn that he supported himself as a gardener and once worked for Marlon Brando. Now Shiokava is retired and lives in Compton.
Daniel R. Small, "Made in LA" biennial at Hammer Museum
The Hammer Biennial is scheduled to close on August 28 and you definitely don't want to miss the chance to see the works of other LA-based artists presented there. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the rather theatrical installation by Daniel R. Small inspired by Cecil B. DeMille's 1923 silent movie The Ten Commandments.
Installation view of "Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015"
on view at LACMA
Another museum exhibition that you definitely don't want to miss is the LACMA's Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015. This crowd pleaser is closing this coming Sunday, August 21. Instead of presenting the exhibition as a proper historical, academic-like lecture, it's done with a refreshing sense of humor, displaying hundreds year old costumes next to totally fabulous but slightly ridiculous fashion of recent decades. One thing this exhibition makes absolutely clear is that men have always been the peacocks and probably will remain so for centuries to come.
Gronk talks about his exhibition "Theater of Paint"
at the Craft and Folk Art Museum
With his exhibition Gronk's Theater of Paint at Craft & Folk Art Museum –– closing on September 4 –– the artist presents a few decades worth of projects showcasing his engagement with high-profile opera productions, as well as his "love for the low-brow aesthetic of B-movies.” For this exhibition, Gronk painted a series of murals on the museum walls, as well as covered the floor in one of the galleries with linoleum printed with his signature images. The moment you enter the exhibition, you swear you not only see, but also hear the monumental opera productions. It's completely over the top, and that's exactly the way the artist wants it.
Gronk, Tormenta at his exhibition "Theater of Paint"
at the Craft and Folk Art Museum
If one had to choose one particular image to embody the art and philosophy of Gronk's work, it would be his iconic “Tormenta,” an imposing female figure dressed elegantly in a formal black dress and gloves. But the intriguing thing is, she is walking away from us, and we can see her only from behind. It looks as if she's on her way to the opera and somehow we've been invited to follow.
(T): Jia and Luciana Lamonte, "Free Function" at Steve Turner Gallery
Photo courtesy of the gallery
And let us end with yet another not to be missed show –– this one not in a museum, but at the Steve Turner Gallery in Hollywood. The two-person exhibition by Beijing-born, Berlin-based painter Jia and Buenos Aires-based sculptor Luciana Lamothe is a stark juxtaposition of two quite different artistic sensibilities. Jia's minimalistic paintings from her ongoing series The Chinese Version refer to the Chinese government's ban –– during a cultural revolution –– on the use of traditional characters in written language and replacing them with simplified versions. Sculptural installations by Luciana Lemothe could be described as a controlled explosion inspired by her love for architecture. This smart, elegantly installed exhibition closes at the end of the month. So my friends, hurry up.