Notes on Looking, July 15, 2010

Christopher Miles, Noggin #7 and #8 installation shot at Keramik exhibition at Pacific Design Center, photo by Josh White. Image found in Art Lurker review of May 2010,
Notes on Looking, July 15, 2010
Posted on July 15, 2010, by Geoff Tuck


Chris Miles threw a great party at Acme on Saturday. Miles
showed many ceramic sculptures titled ”Noggins,” which are large
head-shaped fired and glazed things mounted on stainless steel
poles. These Noggins are installed en masse in the small rear
gallery at Acme. Twenty of them, or more. (It feels like more.)
At the opening I had the distinct impression that two parties were
happening at once but in different times: all us human cheerful
gallery-goers were chattering to each other, congratulating Chris
Miles, variously talking about our latest projects or querying
about someone else’s. And we did this while bobbing and weaving

among these other, frozen party goers who glared over our heads.
These heads (the ones who glared) are ceramic glazed in oranges
and umbers, a nice tone of yellow ochre and one I recall in a lovely
mottle of cloud blue and terra cotta. They’re snarling, shouting,
laughing, and selfishly vying for attention and posed on their
stands well, just like well, people at a party.
Indeed it was a vivid affair. (And how like life, too!)
When I look at Caitlin Lonegan’s abstract paintings (in the front
spaces at Acme) a story starts in my mind about how she might
have made them. I imagine the paint being applied to the canvas,
I see how the paints react to each other when they meet –
sometimes bubbling and cracking on the canvas – I imagine I can
see how Lonegan reacted to some of the painting’s own moves.
Basically I’m aware that a conversation is going on here among an
artist and a painting and of course a history and tradition of such
painting. And an audience. We look and if we’re lucky we become
interested and continue to look and wonder and think. This is
Lonegan’s first show since graduating from UCLA. Abstract
painting – painting qua painting – takes time and practice for an
artist and for an audience.

Acme, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., LA 90048
By the way. Harumph. I understand (from guests at that barbecue
I attended on Sunday) that UC Irvine is dismantling or has
dismantled their giant sized ceramics kiln. A rumour is also
making the rounds that UCLA is on a similar track as concerns
ceramic art. (I honestly doubt that Cal Arts even acknowledges the
existence of ceramics except as some well designed thing out of
which one eats one’s lack-of-object-hood.)
WTF?! (To use the common parlance.) It’s been a long time since
ceramics moved from being strictly functional and decorative to…

art objects worthy of respect as vessels of conceptual exploration.
(to turn a phrase) Furthermore, if an artist doesn’t learn to use a
tool how in the hell are they going to be able to misuse it to their
and our benefit? And I’ll go one step farther: You can’t pretend
something doesn’t exist and thereby master the thing! Trust me, I
know. I find I have to study harder work I totally don’t respect or
else it will trip me up and make me look and feel stupid when I
then choose to dismiss or mock it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of ceramic art per se. I do
see work that includes ceramics that completely grabs my
attention and I’m a big fan of an open art that maintains a
necessarily critical mind yet considers everything in it’s path.
“Cheeses rice,” as a student commented at a particularly alarming
turn during a talk I gave recently to Christopher Russell’s first
year art class at Rio Hondo College. I treated the twenty-five
students to a images of work by the recent Cal Arts and Irvine
grads and another large group of images I pulled from past Notes
and and talked (a little meanderingly) about my own interest in
art and how they can approach art and why they should want to. I
used particular images to make clear why I look – sometimes the
reasons I shared were very personal and sometimes they came
from my interest in art history. Sometimes the work I showed was
something I liked and sometimes not but the reasons for being
interested stayed the same. Human endeavor is worthy of

Onward to more Notes!

Phyllis Green Infanta Margarita from her upcoming exhibition Splendid Entities in
January 2011 at Otis Ben Maltz Gallery, link to Green’s website

Micro-financing. What an inspiring and empowering invention!
The thought that my several dollars will help a person change
their life is pretty great. Shift gears to our own art community.
Kickstarter is a new way for artists to reach out to friends and also
a broader community to finance a project. An email with a link
goes out; individuals see an artist they know speaking
passionately and intelligently about their planned exhibition
catalog, or view clips from a film project; terms are set in the
announcement for a defined period of time in which to raise the
desired funds; results are shown and updated instantly on the
Kickstarter website. No money goes anywhere unless the goal is
reached! One knows how important one’s decision will be! One
still may choose not to support but the comfort level is there to
make it wonderfully easy to give! I offer you two opportunities
that recently came my way: Damelo Todo (Give Me Everything)
by artist Wu Tsang and the Silver Platter / Wildness community
and also Splendid Entities by artist Phyllis Green. You’ll see two
different and equally powerful examples of outreach when you
click on these links: Green makes a matter-of-fact personal appeal
– almost as though she’s talking to friends; Tsang offers a moving
and compelling clip from his upcoming film Damelo Todo. Each
artist has a different goal, a different hoped-for outcome and
differing time constraints. I won’t twist your arm – I won’t need

Tsang’s film is about Wildness, a weekly nightclub that attracts a
young, immigrant trans gendered crowd for drag shows, dances,
contemporary art events, political action and legal aid. Essentially
Wildness exists as a maker of community for people who can’t
have one at home because of fear, anger and rejection on the part
of family and context. In this country their dream becomes a
possibility (through an awesome force of will). Thinking about it,

that people find the challenges our country arrays against them in
the form of anti-immigrant campaigns, legal persecution and
plain old meanness easy to deal with (or at least easier than any
alternative) makes me feel absolutely… humble. And grateful to be
human. If people who are like you and me can be so great-hearted
and strong then it’s all gonna be ok.
The Silver Platter (the bar where Wildness is hosted) is itself a
bastion for the immigrant queer community and has been for
forty years. All of this makes for a compelling story with gorgeous
images. Who doesn’t like a crazy drag show?!

Unidentified production still from Damelo Todo (Give Me Everything) link to

Wu Tsang in production still from Damelo Todo (Give Me Everything) link to home

page of Tsang’s blog

Unidentified production still from Damelo Todo (Give Me Everything) I imagine this to
be the actual Silver Platter bar. Link to Tsang’s blog and a post titled “Richer” that
includes an interview with “Tanya” a twenty year old Honduran transgender club

goer. Absolutely read this interview.

Yet another unidentified production still from Damelo Todo (Give Me Everything) Cool
image. Link to Imprenta, which is a storefront non-profit near MacArthur Park that
hosts art projects and offers legal services to the local transgender community
They Have Not the Art to Argue With Pictures is closing this
weekend!!! Good Lord if you haven’t been to Cherry and Martin to
see work by Robert Heinecken, Erik Frydenborg, Nicolas
Guagnini, Wade Guyton, Leigh Ledare, Amanda Ross-Ho and

Collier Shore you are missing the single chance you will ever have
to see examples of each of Heinecken’s altered periodicals as one
glorious, unsettling, awe-inspiring, pornographic thing. (Settle
down in the back row there! I see what you’re doing!) Here’s a
review by David Pagel in the LA Times. I recommend you ignore
everything Pagel writes in this review about any artist who is NOT
Robert Heinecken. I think Pagel’s crabby about something, and I
refer him to my above sentiment that you can’t reject an entire
way of making art (as Pagel does with some conceptual art) just
because you want to. Or you can but readers stop paying

Cherry and Martin, 2712 S. La Cienega Blvd., LA, 90034
The Alchemy of Things Unknown is not closing this weekend. It’s
not closing on July 31. BUT GO THIS SATURDAY ANYWAY! Do
you want to be the last person in LA to see the amazing Aleister
Crowley painting that Leila got her hands on? Or the gorgeous
William Blake engravings that exist quite happily beside two Jim
Shaw drawings? Scoli Acosta’s Tambourine Man-esque relics
titled Red Pentagonal Monochrome and Yellow Pentagonal
Monochrome? (Clever is the artist who can make monochrome
paintings interesting again.)
I am told that Jim Shaw will be performing in the gallery on July
24. Where would you like to be on that night? Call the gallery for
details 323-472-6498
Khastoo, 7556 Sunset Blvd., LA 90046
My friends once again my obsessive checking of various websites

Tuesday Afternoon in a Cage opens at Shirley Morales’s Ltd. Los
Angeles this Saturday, July 17. (I like this title Shirley!! Good

work.) Paintings by Van Hanos, James Hayward, Scott Reeder,
Jan Van Imschoot, Michael Williams. Ltd is another reason to hit
Sunset Blvd on Saturday. If you time things right you can see the
show at Khastoo, Benevento’s excellent new show (make sure you
give yourself at least 35 minutes to view Spartacus Chetwynd’s
film and Pipilotti Rist’s video), and then cross Sunset to Ltd.
Ltd. Los Angeles, 7561 Sunset Blvd. #103, LA 90046
Benevento, 7578 sunset Blvd., LA 90046

Image from Kori Newkirk exhibition at Country Club, link to Country Club
Spend an hour with Shirley at Ltd then you’ll want to jump in your
roadster and motor down either La Brea or Fairfax, turning left on
Wilshire (if you take Fairfax) then right on Ogden (at the glare of
Chris Burden’s City Lights) left on Genesee and park anywhere
you can. If you’re going La Brea I guess you’ll turn right on
Wilshire and left on Spaulding ( btwn the old LACMA parking lot
and the tall white building).
“Why are we doing this Geoff?” Well my friends because you don’t
want to be the silly willy who misses the opening of Kori
Newkirk’s solo show at Country Club.
Imagine if you will this famous sculptor, poet, glitter-tongued art
master and general nice guy taking over Schindler’s modernist
utopian crisp white hard-edged stunning space and (I’m told)
colonizing it with a decade’s evidence of physical (and artistic)
exertion in the form of Newkirk’s sweat-stained T-shirts worn in
the studio then used as cleaning towels. Yes, you got that right!
The stain of the artists existence mars the purity of the modern
Country Club, 805 S. Genesee Ave., LA 90036
Among the very new: Latned Atsar an artists space at 3222 W.
Jefferson Blvd., LA, 90018. Offering as their inaugural exhibition
“Larval Stages” the aptly titled presentation of thirteen
artists ”sketches, mock-ups, maquettes and drafts”
recontextualized as artworks. This sounds like work we aren’t
often invited to see, and given the artists involved I’m intrigued.
Spencer Lewis, Julie Orser, Luke Whitlatch, Anna Skarbek,
Joshua Callaghan, Hannah Greely, Frank Ryan, Patrick Jackson,
Annie Lapin, Nick Kramer, Nathan Danilowicz, Rob Doran, Jani

Latned Atsar, 3222 W. Jefferson Blvd., LA 90018
Eve Fowler’s exhibition Hustlers & Books from “The One

Institute” at Apartment 2 has had me thinking and re-
appreciating my experience since I saw it in mid-June.

installation shot of Eve Fowler’s Hustler’s at Apartment 2

Fowler took these photos with her 4 x 5 camera after she left Yale,
while she was making friends and hanging out with these boys
and men in the West Village. Some she posed like school pictures
against a blue background and others, among which are the 28
she installed in the living room at Apartment 2, Fowler invited
these friends to pose as they wished to in the setting of their
choice. Many of these photos were taken in the very streets the
hustlers walked. (Can you imagine setting up a large format 4 x 5

camera and capturing moments that disappear quickly on a street
that is completely sketchy?) Others were taken in the living room
of a client, at the beach, or in a car.

The boys’ poses and the resulting photographs combine rawness
with play-acting. A person posing for the camera usually looks
hidden within the pose. Or so affected as to reveal nothing. Not so
these boys – they look raw and open in the pictures, unable to
cover themselves. I wonder if they’re nostalgic for the life that cast
them off onto the streets? I wonder about the sense of nostalgia I
feel for these photos and the loss I recognize in those faces. I
imagine Eve with her large camera and tripod walking these
streets, making short-term connections, making
photographs, embracing the drama. The image of her in this act
has the same outlandish quality and a similar poignancy to the
playing of the boys.
For this show she printed the photos 3-1/2′′ x 4-1/2′′ essentially
the size of the film used. She installed them a bit below eye level in
a horizontal band around all the walls, far enough apart that each
photo occupied its own space. Doing this Fowler invites us to
consider the posed men just as she saw them through her lens.
(This size of the photos matches contact prints, which a
photographer will print to make her final selection of images and
it seems to me another generous invitation to intimacy with the
artist.) The pictures, while exhibiting the bold and dashing
personalities of the boys also seemed evanescent and precious,
like relics or icons from a time that’s gone away; which the time
pictured is. Gone personally for Fowler these 15 years later as well
as for the hustlers. (It seems like it was disappearing even as she
took the photos. The contingency of the hustlers life: coming from
another place, with few connections, soon to be gone; I imagine
this is partly what drew Eve Fowler to these boys as subjects.)
Also that scene is gone culturally – hustlers don’t now populate
the dark corners of Manhattan anymore than they do Santa
Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood and Selma Avenue in

Hollywood. It’s bittersweet, this new morality. As is the attendant
assimilation of otherwise queer culture.
In the bedroom Fowler installed her sculptural piece 43 Books,
which are forty-three examples of lesbian literature collected from
sale racks at The One Institute. (The One Institute is a USC
affiliated archive of queer history) (as an aside I’ve been told by a
scholar friend that this same One Institute archive has in the past
discarded many of the hard core examples from donated
literature in an attempt to cleanse the history they preserve)

Eve Fowler 43 Books installation shot at Apartment 2, photo by Arely Villegas, link to
the home page of Treasures From A Lesbian Library with excellent images of the

books in the work

I believe this is the original entire cover of A Lesbian Estate by Lynn Lonidier (one of
the books in Fowler’s collection) I found this image on a page devoted to the artist
Jess on the Queer Cultural Center website. This Jess collage is in the collection of

MOMA. Link to QCC site

Fowler wrapped these collected novels and narratives of lesbian

life in paper from her own editioned zines and placed them grid-
like on the surface of a high table. Not being able to read the titles

or leaf through the books was a frustrating experience. Nahr – the
past was really gone and locked away from me! These thoughts of
lesbians were hidden not only from me, a man, but from all
potential readers. This reminded me of the past that was also

documented as disappearing in the living room hustler photos.
But with the books Fowler offered me a way in. She typed a list of
the titles, for example: 43 Books: The Sophie Horowitz Story,
Sarah Schulman, 1984, the Naiad Press Inc. “We all knew Laura
Wolfe. She was part of a group known as Women Against Bad
Things…” and later on Fowler offers her own thoughts on the
titles – Retreat: As it was! A fantasy by Diana J, Young,
Naiad Press, Inc., 1979. cover by Tee A. Corinne. Retreat-A world
of women beyond your imagination? What it was like before the
men came. The cover is the best part of this curious gay sci fi
work of fiction. My favorite part of this story and also of the
wonder of the Internet is that here and now I can offer you a link
to this document on Fowler’s blog Treasures From A Lesbian
Library. Life continues to be good!
Here’s an interview of Eve Fowler by Gil Blank (originally
published in Influence magazine) that will help you understand
how nostalgia and loss fit into Fowler’s (self) portraiture. Highly
recommended reading.
Apropos nothing but a desire to spread the good word I offer you
a link to the QCC homepage where featured is an article by
Jonathan D. Katz titled Allen Ginsberg, Herbert Marcuse and the
Politics of Eros. Enjoy.
Thank you very much for spending your time with me. Come
again next week!
Geoff Tuck