Sunday, May 26, 2013

Dancer in the Dark/Light

Hanging lamps at Blackman Cruz

German Expressionism: dark and moody, something you'd expect from a northern European country, right? Then how did it happen that dark and moody film noir flourished in sunny swaying palms L.A.? I think if you live here you catch on pretty quickly. Angelinos are dancers in the dark and the light. After all you can't have strong shadows without strong light. Know what I mean?

Looking down on the design cognoscenti of L.A. @ Blackman Cruz

This past Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights each had openings and I went to them all. So let's go back together and see what's on the bleeding edge of L.A. culture.

The Blackman Cruz version of comfort: their spiked poof.
Capote was here? Anyway, it's a hand carved coffin.
Some of the adventuresome play with contrast and scale at Blackman Cruz.

Thursday was Blackman Cruz which is not a gallery but Adam Blackman and David Cruz elevate furniture and objects for interiors to the level of a work of art on display. It seems like a slight to call their place a showroom or a shop because the interior architecture is  so thoughtfully  articulated. There's a marvelous change of scale from the two story tall great room you enter to the low ceiling upper floor rooms reminiscent of the Soane Museum. There's also open air deck with a view to the Hollywood sign to remind you where you are.

The space was once a disco and the giant mirror ball remains
 scattering flecks of light from the setting sun.
Upstairs at Blackman Cruz there's a clubby feeling
and a fresh take on Sir John Soane.

Their carefully curated collection has a jesting, slightly sinister principle of taste: bats, griffins, skulls,  that sort of thing. And there's a marvelous play with scale to the furniture and objects that includes big and hulking as well as tiny and precious. The surfaces have the same sort of range of extremes from shiny and polished to matte pentimento.

Here, literally are the dancers in the dark, well mostly dark.

Same as above, lit: Laura Owens' Gavin Brown Enterprise's Sci Arc Adjacent Alternative Art Space
The following night: time to get back to the garden.

Kayne Griffin Corcoran's new location on La Brea.

Friday was a return to art school in the sense that the opening I went to was exactly like something I would have gone to as a student. No doubt there were a number of students or recent graduates there. The space is an enormous warehouse just over the L.A. river from SciArc. The space is said to be Laura Owens' studio. Her paintings are hung, though I didn't see any evidence that she actually works there. I guess it's more of an extension of Gavin Brown's Enterprise, Laura's gallery in NYC, as I hear he's footing a portion of the rent. Whatever it is, it's a nice alternative gallery space that's a welcome edition to L.A.'s art scene. The location is industrial รก la Charles Sheeler and the dance performance on Friday night mirrored that kind of stark stripped down esthetic. Following the live event:  a selection of videos which included the "By a Waterfall" number from Busby Berkeley's Footlight Parade (1933). And the crowd roared approval as it perfectly punctuated the evening's roster of high concept, art-world, in joke, navel gazing.

Detail of a James Turrell study for the crater.

This is the complete drawing, one of many on display showing the Roden Crater.

Last and by far the best was Saturday night at Kayne Griffin Corcoran. They could not have made a better choice to inaugurate their new location than the work of James Turrell who at age 70 is at the top of his game. Actually I guess James Turrell will be permanent fixture of the gallery as one of his sky spaces has been created in a room. There are specially designed reclining chairs to allow one to sit back and take in the sublime light bath but even standing and looking down at the polished stone floor you get a perfect reflection of the square apex. The changing palette of saturated color is intense and trippy like all of Turrells installations. 

James Turrell's room at Kayne Griffin Corcoran.
Looking up from one of the reclining chairs.
As I looked down the color's were already changing.
You start to imagine that the air itself inside the room is saturated with color.

The main gallery space was devoted to James Turrell's magnum opus, the Roden Crater. The drawings, maquettes, photographs, and associated material defining and describing Roden Crater have a Duchampian feel and yet there's no pun here just sublime artistry. I'm telling you this setting and this show on a gorgeous spring evening in Los Angeles, well, it's doesn't get any better.

James Turrell's supporting materials for the Roden Crater project.

Like a salesman sample or Duchamp's Box in a Valise.
The scale topography is more apparent in the side view.

Stay curious!
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