Shouldn’t Art have a Platform?


Last night, I was fortunate enough to be joined by my friend and colleague, Susan Bush, for the vernissage for ArtPlatform.  It was held at the historic, somewhat funky Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport.  Parking remains problematic, but the organizers put together the best art fair I’ve seen in Los Angeles. Period. The wall height, the quality of lighting, the layout of the booths, the vetting of dealers for quality all left an unmistakably positive impression.

Were there any collectors there? There were. I knew a number of very substantial people there.  Will it work? Will LA finally become a national collecting hub? Tune in next time…

In the meantime, check out this image that Susan took of me in the booth for Bitforms Gallery in New York. The software fixed on my gaze and made my eyes smoke. (Insert “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” reference here.) It rated very highly on what I call “the neato factor.”  My colleague Nathan Vonk really responds to “the neato factor,” where I don’t so much.  Nonetheless, “the neato factor” (read: some gimmicky idea in material, process, or technology) is an important draw in the contemporary art world, where it creates both product differentiation AND some facsimile of inspiration for people’s imaginations. What do you think? If seeing an art work makes you say, “Wow, cool,” does the feeling last?  Is it worth chasing? Check out the new fair and see how much work strikes you as “neato.”


Art in the Adobes


It was a joyously busy week. The last post concerned the Ken Price opening. This one concerns Art in the Adobes - a festival in Monterey (town motto: We Have a Two Festival per Weekend Minimum).  Sullivan Goss had two shows up for the festival, “Collecting Moonlight: the Night Paintings of Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932)” at the Museum of Monterey and “Moods of Monterey: Rediscovered Artist Lockwood de Forest” in the Casa Guitierrez.

I thought that you might enjoy these two pictures. One is of a trés swanky bathroom at La Mirada (the second facility of the Monterey Museum of Art) and the other is an installation shot of the de Forest exhibition at the Casa Guitierrez. Enjoy!



Kenny, and Gehry, and Fox, Oh My!

On Wednesday night of last week, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the memorial and opening of the retrospective for LA ceramic sculptor, Ken Price. “Kenny,” to his friends, was a beloved figure of the early Ferus Gallery scene whose work has reached an international audience in the last few years. (Our gallery last exhibited his work in 2004.)

The turnout was amazing. Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, Vija Celmins, and Tony Berlant spoke at his memorial.  Ilene Fort, Howard Fox, Lynn Kienholz, Ed Moses, Edward Goldman, (and Robert Irwin? Was that you?) were all in attendance. Following a quick shot of mescal and a few hastily consumed tortilla chips, I waited twenty minutes  in line to get in.  Let me tell you: it was worth the wait.

Gehry is a controversial figure in architecture, but he delivered the best experience I’ve had to date in the new Resnick Pavillion. Check out the precision of the lighting here and the beautiful floating shelves. (Please sir! No pictures! Sir!!!)


I was completely seduced. There were a few maladroit choices*, but the lasting impression was unambiguously positive.  (*One wood and glass display case referring to Price’s old practice of building cases for his ceramic “eggs” was clever. Two was smug and gratuitous. Everyone I talked to wanted get closer to the works.)

kenpricewannalickForgive the length of the post, but I have a few more revelations to share. First, I was startled to find out how important the Surrealist impulse was in his work. Said the artist, “That is the highway to the unconscious.” The whole exhibition seemed populated by candy-colored aliens with a decidedly sexual appetite and physiognomy.  The anatomical references, the persistent interest in the orifice, and the hyper-color all screamed “Touch me! Then, lick me baby!”

I was also startled to find how psychadelic these were. Ruscha mentioned that Price was a potter in more than one sense of the word. You could see that the fetishistic quality so often invoked for the whole early 60s LA school (as in, “finish fetish”) was, in fact, partly informed by artists interested in making objects that you could really STARE at for a good length of time. In the interest of probity, I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

I’ll just wind this up with a final thought about Ken Price’s extraordinary range as an artist. He is often talked about as a both a sculptor and a painter - what with his obsessive glazing and sanding. To that, I might add that he was also a great drawer. Check out this geometric ceramic tea cup with its white lines, and tell me if it doesn’t remind you of the white line woodblocks of early Provincetown modernist, Blanche Lazzell? Is it just me?



A Pixar Look to a Grid-System Product

Full confession: I was really into Legos until long past when it could be considered charming, cute, or even normal. I still think that I should have been the chief designer for the corporation in spaceship design. I would have had a business card that said, “Jeremy Tessmer Chief of Spaceship Design.” Well, yeah. What did you want to be when you grew up?

So, I actually loved watching this propagandistic cartoon. (It’s only propaganda if you don’t share the one-world view you’re getting from a media source.) I remembered, too, that my interest in visual design comes from a toy that I dearly loved. I remembered that I went to Legoland because I had Danish family to visit in Copenhagen. So, there is a backstory to my unalloyed love of models made of plastic bricks.


Digesting the Big Apple

hollandinbitformsI just got back from New York, where I was able to enjoy a delightfully warm and humid nine days in the City That’s Never Cheap with my sweetheart. The Met. The Neue Gallery. The New York Public Library. The New York Historical Society. The Brooklyn Museum. The Brooklyn Historical Society.

And Chelsea. The photograph above was taken at Bitforms - a gallery I’ve tracked for about five years that carries nothing but digital art.  This piece was exquisite and was not hurt by the image of my lovely Holland standing before it.

We also saw a few other interesting things within the same building. (See the images below.)  We followed that experience up with a visit to Raines’ Law Room - a speakeasy with cocktails that were also exquisite.