Summer group shows and Mark Gash

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An article in a recent New York Times reported that the gallery scene in Manhattan, usually pretty dead in the summer, has benefited from some of its riskier group shows. LA's summer scene has never been lackluster in the summer but this month offers some oddball but interesting group shows.

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Lee Mullican, "Untitled," 1958
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of Telles Fine Art

On the subject of Southern California art history, there is the small but impressive Tinseltown in the Rain: The Surrealist Diaspora in Los Angeles, 1935-1969. Organized by artist Max Maslansky for the Richard Telles Gallery in Hollywood, it offers a salon-style hanging of the abstract surrealism that has surged as an undercurrent here, influenced by the European emigres from World War II and the mystic impulses of alternative culture. Lee Mullican, Knud Merrill, Ynez Johnston and Peter Krasnow were stalwarts of that scene. On view through August 13, the show is a companion of sorts to the Krasnow retrospective now on view at the Laguna Art Museum.

Other group shows are in the Downtown Arts District.

The Mistake Room, a non-profit space on 20th Street, hosts artists from the Guadalajara-based gallery Páramo. A multi-generational collective of artists called Gabinete Homo-Extraterrestre (Gabinete H-E) presents the show Destroy All Your Humanity. According to the press release, they are exploring a "revisionism of primitive gnostic thought and its parallel references to phenomena like UFOs, ghosts, and religious sects from the end of the century."

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Gabinete Homo-Extraterrestre, 2016
Installation from "Destroy All Your Humanity" at The Mistake Room 
Courtesy of The Mistake Room

Fair enough. Most of the work in the show melds aspects of traditional Meso-American culture with a more contemporary socio-political edge. A circular hanging neon states "Destroy All Your Humanity" as a text in a mandala arrangement very similar to the logo for Alcoholics Anonymous. Accident or intention? Yo no sé. There are videos and photographs of wild, masked performances and a contemporary two-headed version of the chacmool, the sculpture of a reclining figure associated with relations between deities and earthly beings. The artists, Jose Luis Sánchez Rull, Esteban Aldrete, Cristian Franco, Baylor Jiménez, Edgar Cobián, Emanuel Rovar, Enrique Nuño, and Daniel Guzman have authored each work collectively and the creative energy of the group is much in evidence. On view through September 3.

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JP Munro, "Christ Enters the Praetorium," 2016
Oil on panel
Courtesy of Grice Bench

Grice Bench on Mateo hosts Don't call me when you are rich or famous. Call me only if you are in the gutter, an opportunity to show a wide array material including a couple of small, dense paintings by JP Munro, an odd pedestal bound sculpture of a single die by Elizabeth Ferry and a still life that looks like a Morandi staged in the bathroom by Roger White. On view through August 27.

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Daniel Green, "Little Richard Tina Turner," 2015
Mixed media on wood, 11.5x15x5"
Photo courtesy of Creativity Explored

Over in Chinatown, the Good Luck Gallery was established by Paige Wery, the former publisher of Artillery art magazine to show self-taught art of all sorts including the developmentally disabled. Mapping Fictions, curated by Andreana Donahue and Tim Ortiz of the website Disparate Minds, features four artists with autism. Daniel Green of San Francisco draws and paints on flats of raw wood documenting when well-known public figures, current, historic or fictional, appear on TV or radio. What year, what time, what station, all are catalogued in careful grids along with exaggerated portraits of the people. Other artists included are William Scott, Joe Zaldivar, Roger Swike. On view through August 27.

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Umar Rashid, "For colonial attaches of color when the Newport and Tecate palate wasn’t enough.
Remixed advertisement for the Toucouleur Army of Frengland in Northern New Spain, 1794. Or, morisco y mestizo," 2016
Acrylic, ink, on paper mounted to canvas panel, shells
Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery
Photo: Michael Underwood

Charles James Gallery features Southland. Organized by artist Patrick Martinez, it is a loose proposition, as it should be. From the turquoise monochrome canvas bent into a corner by Kaz Oshiro to the boxy elk hide artifact representing indigenous Indians and colonial soldiers by Umar Rashid, it emphasizes that art made here refuses to be confined. On view through August 27.

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Mark Gash, "Tex"
Acrylic on paper, 38 x 50 inches
Courtesy of Coagula Curatorial

Not a group show but also on Chung King Road, at Coagula Curatorial, there is a showing of rough and bright paintings by the late Mark Gash, known for his presence in the early 80's punk scene. Despite being confined to a wheelchair due to a genetic condition, in constant pain and with little use of his hands, Gash managed to get his MFA in 1979 from Cal Arts and then show up nightly at Zero One, Al's Bar and countless art openings and parties. He was embraced by the edgy art and punk rock communities until his death in 2000 at the age of 45. Organized by performance artist Johanna Went, with Robert Wilson, Karen Finley and others remembering him in the catalog, the show wryly titled Intimate Strokes includes many nudes that Gash painted of his women friends. He is best known for his simple, funny drawings and copies of those are pinned to window of gallery. On view through August 21.