End of the year. Time for somber reflections, emotional breakdowns, gluttony, sobriety checkpoints and if we're lucky, warm, fuzzy feelings about the year that's passed. I've been lucky this year. I've assaulted my eyeballs with great art, and surrounded myself with amazing artists who inspire me everyday. You can miss so much by just slaving away in your cliche garret.
I usually post a simple, straightforward list of the five best exhibitions I saw in a given year. But 2014 was too complex, too multi-faceted to be pared down like that. So, I've decided to hand out awards this time; hypothetical, invisible, useless awards. Because it's fun! Besides, what's the point of having a blog, if not to spew your unsolicited opinions? These lists are of course completely subjective, eye of the beholder stuff, and mine is heavily Los Angeles-centric (although my artist of the year is in New York). L.A. is my home, and the art here is not to be ignored. I've intentionally avoided listing anything, no matter how worthy, from the hallowed halls of academic self-righteousness. You'll find no LACMA here, no MOCA, no Mike Kelley. There's plenty of other critics telling you where you should go, and what you should think. I want to respectfully nudge you elsewhere.
Artist of the Year: Tina Lugo
I came across Tina Lugo's art on some social media vehicle of some sort through Cotton Candy Machine. Holy fury, do I love this woman! Lugo's take on 16th century Japanese shunga is at once bitingly satirical, fearlessly profane, and beautifully violent. She manages to pay loving homage to an ancient form of erotica, and mock it's sexist predilections in the same brushstroke. Much of her work is painted on glass, which lends a sleek, fragile slant to her epic gender-bending scenarios. Working at a furious pace, Lugo has dazzled me week after week this year. Far and away my favorite artist of 2014!
|Tina Lugo (also see top photo)|
Best New Artist: Valerie Pobjoy
I'm not sure exactly how old Valerie is, but I do know she's pretty fresh out of art school, and too damn young to be able to paint like John Singer Sargent! I've been in a couple of shows with her this year, and her work has humbled the hell out of me.
Curator of the Year: Wendy Sherman for Hearsay at Begovich Gallery.
Wendy spent at least four years curating this, and it shows. She'd win this on sheer tenacity, but she really did murder this one. Standing O!
|Nicola Verlato from Hearsay|
Best Ninja with a Pencil: Abel Alejandre
What can you say about Abel? He should have a city block named after him.
Best Ninja with a Pen: Timothy Paul Doyle
Doyle has haters. I ain't one of them.
Best Ninja with a Needle: Ellen Schinderman
Don't play Words with her. She cheats! I kid. Her needlework amazes!
Best Agitprop Performance/Installation of the Year: "Trouble: The Disasters of War" by Alex Schaefer and Steven Thomas Higgins at Blackstone Gallery.
You didn't really think Alex would be silent about the Torture Report, did you?
Against All Odds Award: Lydia Emily and Arabella Proffer.
These two ladies look mortality in the face, and spit in it's eye. Plagued with horrible afflictions, and numerous hospital stays, I've watched Lydia and Arabella create, and create. Through it all, they create. I've never met either one of them, but they are shining beacons of inspiration to me. I never want to hear an artist whine about not having enough time to do their work. Time is all we have, and it's ticking away right now. Tick Tock!
Best Antidote for a glut of Hyperrealism: Martha Rich, always Martha Rich!
I've noticed a certain focus on Hyperrealism among a throng of galleries that used to be much more diverse in their aesthetic. While the hyperrealists are clearly talented magicians, the work is often just cold, masturbatory exercises in navel gazing. These folks tend not to say much in their work at all. It's all very antiseptic. They do achieve one powerful thing though. They deepen my love of Martha Rich immensely! All hail Martha!!!
Best Antidote for Koons-ian Kitsch: "An Ocean With No Shores" - Ryan McIntosh at The Brewery Artwalk.
Ryan is a cynical, sarcastic bastard. So, naturally he's one of my favorite artists. He's also the Printmaker of the Year!
Best Antidote for Bunny Art: *sigh* Sorry, there is no cure for bunny art. The bunny people will not be stopped. I tried though.
Best Installation That You Probably Never Saw: "Clothesline Lanes" by Leigh Salgado at LAX
Unless you flew into LAX from an international flight, you didn't see this. I was fortunate enough to visit Leigh while she was working on it. Trust me, it's phenomenal!
My Favorite Group Show of the Year: "Wish List" at Gabba Gallery.
Even if I hadn't been in this show, it would still be my favorite, and for many reasons, but mostly because I saw the work of Amy Smith, Sarah Stieber, and Phil Santos for the first time.
Best Collage "Redefiner": Jaime Becker
Jaime Becker is just a bundle of energy, creativity, sweetness and laughter. There will always be a place for her on this list. Always.
Most Bonkers (but completely charming) Group Show: "The Season of Spring" at Flower Pepper Gallery
Anthony Ausgang, Liz McGrath, Septerhed, Alex Schaefer, Mike Reynolds, JAW Cooper, and on, and on. This was huge! Yeah, I was in the show too. It's my list. I'll do what I want. Really fun night!
Best Abstract Exhibit: Jon Marc Edwards at Coagula Curatorial.
I spent a long time staring at the piece below. Then, I sat down and watched the throng trample over Edwards' pile of letters installed on the gallery floor. They were asking for it.
|Jon Marc Edwards (detail)|
Hardest Working Abstractionist: Mandy Lyn Perez
Betty Screams on Instagram. Tireless, this woman. Watch her work...then get to work!
|Mandy Lyn Perez|
My Favorite Place to chain smoke my way through opening night jitters: the beautiful, calming and ever changing mural exterior of Gabba Gallery.
|The Septerhed overlord|
Most Dangerous Couple: Haunted Euth x TFail
"Made Me Look" street art award: Thrashbird
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet Award: Jennifer Korsen.
It starts at the heart, but really, you don't even know what she's capable of yet. Keep hating though, she converts it into fuel.
Jewelry Maker of the Year: Jennifer Korsen
|Just a few of the rings Jennifer has made.|
My Most Embarrassing "I just don't have the words" Moment: Meeting Stacy Lande. How fortunate for me, that Lisa Derrick (knowing what a huge fan I am) was standing nearby with a camera to record the horror!
Weirdest, Most Inscrutable and Wonderful Instagram Account: Hollis Hart
Best New Gallery: Daniel Rolnik Gallery
The Daniel Rolnik Gallery opened on a ritzy stretch of Santa Monica a few months ago. But Daniel, being Daniel, has created a space that is warm, inviting, happy and anything but snobby. He's all about the art and the artists. New art everyday. New shows every week. Really cool things are happening there. Watch this space!
|Okay, so Daniel isn't a vampire! You can see his reflection!|
"Slackers" of the Year: Phobik
He says he "didn't do shit this year". But he did.
Septerhed "didn't do shit this year" either. Ha! He murdered some walls!!
Album on heavy rotation this year: "Benji" by Sun Kil Moon
Now, for the bad stuff...
Saddest Gallery Closing: WWA Gallery
I loved WWA. It was the first place I saw Arabella Proffer's work. I saw my first Nicole Bruckman there (that piece is in my living room now). I miss that gallery hard!
Least Subtle (and unfortunate) use of product placement: "A Subtlety" by Kara Walker
Way over-hyped, and inadvertently becoming a bleak commentary on selfie culture, Walker's mammoth shot at the slave trade, ultimately backfired. Domino wins...again.
Worst Artist of the Year (by far): Milo Moire
Milo Moire is delusional. She will tell you that she's a feminist artist who is fighting for gender equality. What she actually is, is a brain-dead exhibitionist whose "work" is definitely not feminist, nor is it art. She is merely an attention seeking narcissist, making it harder for brilliant female artists to be seen. With every stitch of clothing she removes, and every paint egg she plops, she makes it more difficult for every artist of substance, regardless of gender. I refuse to post a picture or hyperlink her name. Google her if you must, but I won't be a part of that bullshit. This may be the price we have to pay for Karen Finley, but it's still a swindle.
Thanks for indulging me.
"I'm like a curious child...just give me more, more, more, more..."
May you all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!