|"Images of Police Brutality #4" by Steven Thomas Higgins|
This is gonna be short and sweet. I didn't even want to do it all. Just 10 days into this year, I woke up to the news that David Bowie had died. I was completely unprepared for the degree to which that would hurt me. The shit snowball just gained velocity after that. Merle, Prince, Leonard. Then, in November, because of an arcane electoral system (that was put in place to exploit slaves), my country elected a megalomaniac racist, peeping tom, pussy grabber to the most powerful position on the planet. But even that wasn't enough for 2016. No, it had to take Carrie Fisher and her Mom away too. Fuck you 2016!
I'm forced to write this one because the best art of 2016 was so damn great, and I worry that you didn't notice. I've been kind of selfishly busy with my own career and haven't been writing about others as much as usual. I'm sorry. I owe you this much.
ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Steven Thomas Higgins
The one single shining, glorious bright spot of this horrible year, has been watching Steven Thomas Higgins work. He hasn't been loud about it. His name doesn't turn up in every group show around town. He's just been quietly, diligently, slaving away in his studio, exploring color, tonal duality, textures, and themes.He has dedicated himself to his craft, and doesn't seem to care if you're paying attention. I am. I know a few gallerists who might read this. I'm writing this for you. You need to be watching this guy. You need to be showing this guy. We need his art. Pay attention!
|"In Groups" by Steven Thomas Higgins|
|"Lines in Blue and Red" by Steven Thomas Higgins|
BEST SOLO SHOW OF THE YEAR: Public Secrets - Abel Alejandre at Coagula Curatorial
You've heard me fawn about Abel before. He has a way with line that just wrecks me. "Public Secrets" was a show that delved into myth, conspiracy theory, and family that may have been the most honest exhibit of the year.
|"Ebola" by Abel Alejandre|
BEST GROUP SHOW OF THE YEAR: "Sticks and Stones" curated by Douglas Alvarez at Cactus Gallery.
The theme seemed simple enough, create something that reflects childhood lessons/experiences. Who knew that that this would take every artist in the show out of their comfort zone (and signature styles) to create deeply personal, and touching work? Who knew that Alex Schaefer and Jennifer Korsen had shared memories of prismatic fascination? I spent a good chunk of the opening sitting on a forklift and being fittingly delinquent with good friends before we had to chase zombies (long story). Also, this show had my single, favorite work of art of the year in it, by Snow Mack.
|"Jackson Browne Goes Downtown in his Jacks on Brown gown" by Snow Mack|
NINTH WONDER OF THE ART WORLD: Leigh Salgado's laugh.
If you've never felt the healing powers of this woman's laugh, I feel sorry for you. It makes everything okay.
MOST TEARS SHED: Tfail (aka Tina St. Claire).
Although we had many mutual friends, and rubbed artwork elbows a few times, I never got to meet Tina. But her art always grabbed me by the throat, and made Los Angeles an insanely beautiful place to live. For all the heroes that fell this year, I cried the most about losing Tina. Please remember her!
...and while I'm at it...
WORST ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Milo Moire
Yep. Her again. This year Milo actually invited strangers to grope her through a mirrored box. For fucks sake! You can talk to me until you're blue in the face about how this was a profound statement regarding consent. I'll quietly listen as you tell me that the mirrors reflect our inner perversions. I might even nod as you talk. But after you finish explaining art to me, I'm gonna walk far, far away from you and hope to never see you again.
Fuck off, 2016!