Art Adventures To Put You In A Festive Mood

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There’ve been plenty of reasons, recently, to complain about the weather in LA.  Day after day it has been cold, dark, and rainy, which made us, Angelenos, uncharacteristically moody. But in one corner of our universe, there is still plenty of sunshine.  You wonder where? In the museums and galleries, silly!
This autumn season started strong – I’ve already talked about the very interesting and challenging shows at MOCA and the Chinatown galleries. And what about the excellent photography and video exhibitions I urged you to see in Culver City and Santa Monica? I also reported on the happy invasion of saints and angels at the Getty and at LACMA.
With all these exhibitions up during the holiday season, I like to think of LA as a sort of sprawling Christmas tree with the art as its bright sparkling ornaments. Today, I want to add to this tree a few more colorful and quirky decorations.
At Ernie Wolfe Gallery, specializing in African art and located at the heart of the small Japanese community in West LA, there is an exhibition of hand-painted images of Michael Jackson done by a number of self-taught contemporary African artists.  God knows we’ve seen enough glossy photos and videos of the King of Pop; here comes a series of wild and punchy portraits that are so crazy, so over the top, and so, ultimately, Michael Jackson. You really don’t want to miss this one.

“Michael Jackson: In the After-Life,” installation view, 2012, Ernie Wolfe Gallery

“Michael Jackson: In the After-Life,” installation view, 2012, Ernie Wolfe Gallery

For many years I’ve been a big fan of Roger Herman’s paintings, with their explosions of color and expressive dance of brushstrokes. In recent years, he fell in love with the art of ceramics and has produced hundreds of small clay pots, which are so strange, so irresistibly ugly, that you cannot help but love them.  Until now, his ceramics came across to me as a fun and charming hobby, but his current show of wildly glazed vessels at Richard Telles Gallery

truly turns a corner. Now Herman’s abstract paintings and earthy ceramics are equally strong partners and we are witnessing the love affair between these two.


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Roger Herman, installation view, 2012, Richard Telles Gallery, image courtesy Richard Telles Gallery

Almost a year ago, Blum & Poe organized an eye-opening museum-quality exhibition of Mono-Ha, the radical Japanese conceptual art movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  For this holiday season, the gallery has staged a fifty-year survey

of one of the movement’s leaders, Kishio Suga. There are monumental installations on the ground floor presenting industrial materials – concrete, glass, rope and plastic sheeting – in various states of tension and suspension. But the best part of the show is in the large upstairs gallery. There, you’ll find dozens of small, wood assemblages, dancing and climbing, with particularly engaging rhythm and spirit, all over the gallery walls.



Kishio Suga, installation view, 2012, Blum & Poe, Photocredit: Sam Kahn, images courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe


And let me finish by introducing you to a beautiful and mysterious Christmas tree

hidden on Main Street in the heart of Santa Monica. I joke you not, it’s made out of dozens of shopping carts filled with colorful bulbs and bright Christmas lights. For the last fifteen years this tree mysteriously appears in the courtyard of Frank Gehry’s Edgemar Center, one of the architectural landmarks of our city. The best time to visit it is in the early evening, when banal, prosaic shopping carts, with their twinkling lights, are miraculously transformed into a unique and artful Christmas tree.

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Anthony Schmitt, Belonging Tree, detail, Edgemar Plaza, Santa Monica