Art Insider Jan. 14: Irreverent crafts, colorful furniture, and MOCA goes free

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Ettore Sottsass, Vase no. 8, 2006. Glass and aluminum polished wire. 20.87 x 19.69 x 24.02 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

This week: Three galleries team up to honor an L.A.-based fiber artist; a downtown gallery features a Memphis Design legend; a group show celebrates modern surrealism; and the costs of MOCA going free. 

Miyoshi Barosh at Night Gallery, The Pit, and Luis De Jesus

Miyoshi Barosh: Love (installation view) (2020). Image courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

Throughout L.A., three galleries have teamed up to honor artist Miyoshi Barosh, who passed away last year. 

Barosh’s fiber-based work is exuberant and joyful. 

”LOVE!,” one proclaims, next to a giant oversized yarn tassel. 

At Night Gallery , a collection of pink oversized and fabric cartoon legs called “Large Legs” spew off the wall. 

At Luis De Jesus , “I Kitties” is a photograph of a cat’s head, embellished with embroidered patches. 

While this all might sound saccharine, Barosh’s work intentionally tugs our heartstrings to get at larger messages of consumerism, ecological failure, and social control. 

By using techniques associated with “woman’s work” and a cutesy aesthetic, Barosh slyly pokes at our associations with each, while uncovering a rawer, more unnerving element underneath. 

Miyoshi Barosh, "Soft Intervention," 2014. Image courtesy of Night Gallery.

Miyoshi Barosh’s work rides an uncanny line of sincerity and irony. Oversized cat heads and her densely plush surfaces feel over the top while deeply earnest. 

"The work of art created as a labor of love may sound cynical, yet it is made in good faith and contains a deep utopian wish for social change, no matter how naive and nostalgic that dream is," Barosh is quoted in the press release of the Luis De Jesus show.

Barosh believed that all artworks are cultural artifacts, and represent the time and place in which they were made. 

In an interview with “ The Dreaming Machine ,” she said, “To take the time to create something by hand is an ancient form of mindfulness and was part of religious ‘work’ where labor represented redemption and spiritual release. The handmade object could once again take on that spiritual resonance from concentrated effort made without contemporary technology or technological interruption (no text, voice, email, no pings or whistles from cell phones).” 

Elsewhere she declared, “The handmade can still find redemption in that peculiar space where labor isn’t necessarily linked to value.”

On view: Varying dates at each participating gallery.


Ettorre Sottsass at Over the Influence

Ettore Sottsass,
Cabinet no. 3 , 2003. Patinated aluminum, painted sycamore, Formica, 99 x 124 x 24 inches. Image courtesy of the artist. Photography by Daniel Kukla

The Memphis Design Group is known for furniture with irreverent bold colors, graphic lines, and playful compositions. Founded by Italian designer Ettorre Sottsass, the movement was an irreverent redux of Modernist design. 

In the Arts District downtown, Over the Influence has partnered with Friedman Benda to present a stunning array of objects from the seminal designer. 

Gorgeous cabinets house off-kilter shelving with an impeccable finish.  Vases made of stacked ceramic rectangles in unthinkable colorways give way to a room filled with wildly-colored glasswares. 

Even if you’re not a design buff, this exhibition insists on the gravitas of craft, form, color, and invention. 

On view: January 12–February 2, 2020


King Dogs Never Grow Old at Diane Rosenstein

Rose Nestler, “Deep Pockets,” 2019, Neoprene mesh, thread, steel hands, grommets, 78 x 68 x 6 inches, Courtesy Diane Rosenstein Gallery

The title of a group show at Diane Rosenstein, curated by Brooke Wise, is borrowed from a surrealist text. 

Per the press release, the collection of more than 20 artworks is meant to allude to a dreamlike unconscious. Certainly, some do, like Ginny Casey’s “Balancing Cat,” a bizarre painting of a preening cat-like creature balancing a plate and fruit atop its lumpy body. 

Others, like Scott Reeder’s “Band Names” — in which the artist lists fictional band names like Beer Experiment, The Noodles, and Kevin — feel more cooly self-aware. 

As a whole, the exhibition gels into an overall tenor of play. Rose Nestler’s oversized garments — one containing whistle pasties on a sports-bra-type ensemble — stand out in the exhibition, each striking the perfect surrealist balance of humor, pop, play, and perverse sexuality. 

On view: January 4–February 1, 2020


MOCA goes free, but there’s still a cost

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown Los Angeles, California. Photo credit: Elon Schoenholz.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) started nixing its admission fee last Saturday. It’s part of an effort to make the museum (and the art inside) more accessible, which will likely increase attendance. 

The new free entry is possible with a $10 million gift from board member Carloyn Clark Powers, but MOCA anticipates losing $2 million per year to go free. 

Listen to my interview with Steve Chiotakis