Carl Cheng and Eleanor Antin

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Galleries in LA are increasingly acting like mini-museums in presenting art of historical interest. Blum and Poe has done a lot this year with their survey shows of Cobra artists and Julian Schnable while Kohn Gallery has a survey of work by Wallace Berman. Now two more galleries are presenting little known work from the 1960's by well-known artists.

Carl Cheng, "Erosion Machine," 1969
Plexiglas, metal racks and fittings, plastic, water pump, LED lights, black light, pebbles
15 x 25 x 9 inches
Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles
Photo: Jeff Mclane, Los Angeles

Carl Cheng: Nature is Everything-Everything is Nature presents a series of sculptures that seem very much a part of today's dialog though he made them in the late 1960's. After graduate studies at UCLA with Robert Heinecken and Pat O'Neill, he was one of a group of artists who were both interested in and critical of the escalating obsession with technology. He incorporated photography, the fabrication of plastics and in 1967 established his own John Doe Co. to critique corporate culture. Prepare to be amazed by his pseudo-scientific models addressing the dangers of erosion, the analysis of specimens and cellular structure. The specimen viewers of molded multi-colored acrylic in blue Plexiglas cases toggle between the appeal of their advanced analog aesthetic to a revulsion at their political messaging.

Carl Cheng, "Supply & Demand," 1972
Venus flytrap, insects, plastic case, humidifier, wiring, grass, wood pedestal, grow lamps
47 x 24 x 18.6 inches
Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles
Photo: Jeff Mclane, Los Angeles

The most disturbing piece is undoubtedly the 1972 "Supply & Demand," a terrarium of budding Venus fly traps that are fed by the contained release of newly hatched flies. It is on view through July 30.

Carl Cheng, "Specimen Viewer," 1970
Plexiglas, vacuum formed Plexi, plastic cases, 4 specimen cases in each viewer, LED lights, wiring, metal latch and hinges
11 x 12 x 19 inches
Courtesy Cherry and Martin, Los Angeles
Photo: Jeff Mclane, Los Angeles

Performance art, related photographs and books are central to the parallel development of Conceptual and Feminist art in Southern California. One of most important practitioners is Eleanor Antin. Her work is well-known internationally but despite a 1999 retrospective at LACMA, some of her earliest pieces have never been presented together here.

What Time Is It? is the title of Antin's second solo exhibition at Diane Rosenstein Gallery and brings together two series of assembled tableaux. It is on view through June 18.

Eleanor Antin, "Yvonne Rainer," 1970
Exercycle, basket, flowers, sweatshirt
Courtesy the artist and Diane Rosenstein, Los Angeles

"Portraits of Eight New York Women" combines everyday objects that capture some aspect of a personality. The driven dancer Yvonne Rainer is portrayed as a stationary bike with a basket full of flowers on the front and a sweatshirt tied around its seat. Such everyday objects are combined with Antin's quirky typed narratives and they riff on identities of women as varied as anthropologist Margaret Mead and performance artist Carolee Schneemann. The series was originally presented in 1970 in a rented room at the Chelsea Hotel.

Eleanor Antin, "Molly Barnes," 1969
Bath mat, electric razor, pills, powder, powder puff
Courtesy the artist and Diane Rosenstein, Los Angeles

Antin was a dedicated New Yorker when she moved to San Diego with her poet/critic husband David Antin to teach at UCSD. She has remained ever since but her first impressions of the area still resonate in the 1969 series California Lives. LA art dealer Molly Barnes is represented by a pink bathmat, electric razor, a powder puff and some white pills. Other sculptures are fictional, at times political allegories of the impact of the Vietnam War. When shown in 1969 at the New York alternative space Gain Ground, the late great critic Amy Goldin wrote aptly that Antin "petrifies the sociological moment as the snapshot immobilizes the physical one…" This Saturday, there is a conversation between Antin and Museum of Modern Art curator Emily Liebert at 4pm. Free but reserve your seat at .