Top Ten for 2010…Bourbon, Wasabi, Bacon and Lollipops!
My cultural geekiness might have been etched in my early teens. I somehow always knew that between Christmas and New Year, the New York Times would come out with their Top Ten issue of the Art and Leisure Sunday section. I devoured it…as an ten and eleven year old! This may not be so surprising because I also read Pauline Kael weekly. Regardless, it is my pleasure to present my own version below:
1.) Roy Dowell A simply sensational exhibition at Margo Leavin Gallery in November (of 2009) introduced me to this remarkable artist and I have been thinking about the work ever since.. There’s something hauntingly retro about the images and craft on display. Dowell’s collages with accents of painting index everyone from Stuart Davis to Max Beckmann while remaining stridently original and contemporary. The scale of most of the work is intimate at an average of 11 x 16 inches. The compositions are complex without being busy. In an art world of screams and inside jokes, Dowell’s oeuvre acts like salient whispers that drown out the attention clamoring clutter. Dowell’s been around, serving as Chair of graduate programs at Art Center and professor at Otis.
2.) Carroll Dunham For years and years I have seen his work, mostly at Metro Pictures in New York in the mid 1990′s. I guess there was always this bemused admiration for his iconography of phallus, buttholes and guns and his often garish color pallet of pinks and bleeding blacks. If Bourbon is an acquired taste, then Dunham is the bourbon of the art world. And I fully acquired the taste this year at an ambitious exhibition at Blum and Poe. The compositions are confident and no less aggressive. For me, Dunham might be the proof that not only is painting alive and well but also doing something that is relevant and mature.
3.) Disney…The Mouse…Walt’s my guy! For all-encompassing experience there’s little that can compete with Disneyland. I’m pretty sure that a visit to Anaheim is not what Richard Wagner had in mind when he conceived the Gesamtkunstwerk, but Walt was on it. From the architecture, to the characters to the rides to the well spaced gift shoppes, Disneyland is truly awesome. Now, it must be stated that I’ve always been an omnivore when it comes to culture. Damn the High-Low divide. If you can’t appreciate Disneyland, then you’re missing a lot of what contemporary art might have to offer. Having a two-year old doesn’t hurt either.
4.) Paul McCarthy Can art shock anymore? Offend? Hard to tell. I guess it depends on who’s viewing but McCarthy is the real deal and he’s here to stay and if anyone can push your buttons, it’s him. This exhibition which inaugurated the new handsome L&M Gallery Los Angeles outpost was a marvel of discordant over-the-top sculpture. A broom handle stuck into Pinocchio’s eye socket (in bronze.) Decapitated dolls heads 12 feet tall (in Aluminum.) And two dyspeptic doppelgänger George W. Bush animatronic figures “Makin’ Bacon” as it were (in flesh-colored rubber.) Stunning! Absurd! And wholly authentic! McCarthy is the perfect palette cleanser, a jolt of aesthetic wasabi that once witnessed, changes the whole hierarchy of visual and intellectual appreciation.
5.) Will Cotton A guilty pleasure I must admit but a single painting at Michael Kohn‘s 25 anniversary exhibition made me swoon. I’ve seen and sheepishly admired his painterly confections over several exhibitions. Landscapes of cotton candy, lollipops and other insulin shock inducing visuals executed with unapologetic technique had me at hello. In a brilliant act of pop cultural collaboration, Cotton and pop music’s newest heir apparent Katy Perry have teamed up. It seems to me that Ms. Perry has taken a performance art approach to creating infectious pop music and lacing it with visually indelible iconography. Perfection! Cotton’s new one man exhibition opens January 14th, 2011 at Kohn on Beverly Boulevard. Oh Yes and here’s the Katy Perry Video which Cotton served as cheif Artistic Director for. Slurp!
Part Two, numbers 6 through 10, in less than a week, I Promise.
-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, Jan. 10th, 2011