Andy Campbell

  • Steven Arnold, Virgin of Paste, 1983, gelatin silver print, 13 7⁄8 × 13 7⁄8".

    Steven Arnold

    Theophany, a term that refers to the appearance of the divine in everyday human life, was at one point going to be the title for a monographic book of photographs by Steven Arnold (1943–1994). “Theophanies” was the name of Arnold’s exhibition at Fahey/Klein Gallery—apt for an artist who constantly saw gods and goddesses in the messy fabulous junk of the world. More should be unearthed about his role in the glittercrust innovations that drove the 1960s and ’70s counterculture of San Francisco, where he was based. Arnold was polymathic: a window decorator, a designer of psychedelic rock posters,

  • Blondell Cummings, Chicken Soup, 1981. Performance view, Bessie Schönberg Theatre, New York, 1983. Blondell Cummings. Video: Jefferson Bogursky. From the six-part suite Food for Thought, 1983.

    Blondell Cummings

    “It’s the beauty in things that we sometimes lose track of,” wrote choreographer, dancer, and video artist Blondell Cummings (1944–2015) almost thirty years ago. “When I’m at my worst, I don’t see it. When I’m at my best I see it all around me.” Enchanted with the rituals, spaces, and stuff of everyday life, Cummings took an empathic and (auto)ethnographic approach to her craft that suffused every part of this welcome retrospective of her work, jointly produced by Art + Practice and the Getty Research Institute—the first of what, one hopes, will be many exhibitions to come out of the latter

  • Soufiane Ababri, Bedwork, 2021, triptych, colored pencil and wax pastel on paper, each panel 55 1⁄2 × 39 1⁄2". From the series “Bedwork,” 2016–.

    Soufiane Ababri

    Queequeg is introduced early in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851) and is described, before the character ever utters a word, as a “dark complexioned chap” with a preference for rare steak. Ishmael, the novel’s famed narrator, encounters the harpooner while holing up at an inn whose proprietor has convinced him to share a large, uncomfortable bed with Queequeg, who is somewhere on the street attempting to sell his last “’balmed New Zealand head.” As night blackens, Queequeg returns to his room and there performs a quixotic ritual with a wooden statue before noticing that Ishmael is occupying

  • Mark McKnight, Voidpull, 2021, gelatin silver print, 16 × 20".

    Mark McKnight

    Sun pounds thirsty ground. Two guys—bearish, without inhibitions, brown—fuck across several photographs in Hunger for the Absolute,” Mark McKnight’s solo show here. Surveying these and the equal number of uninhabited “straight” landscapes (turned pervy through sheer adjacency), a discerning ’mo might have paused to reflect upon a pair of visionary American photographers, certainly McKnight’s forebears: Laura Aguilar (who is no longer alive) and Jack Fritscher (who is still up and kicking). Both contributed to the cultural and communal sensibilities underlying the unrepentantly queer expressions

  • Peggy Ahwesh, The Star Eaters, 2003, video, color, sound, 24 minutes.

    Peggy Ahwesh

    The underscore in the title of Peggy Ahwesh’s exhibition “Heart_Land” subtly but unequivocally highlighted the ever-expanding rift between middle America and the rest of the United States, exacerbated by Donald Trump’s malignant leadership. Each of the four video installations in this concise and generative show at Joan examined the vagaries and possibilities of place via remarkable, if often unfairly overlooked, parts of the country: Atlantic City, New Jersey; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; and Topeka, Kansas. Ahwesh and Linda Norden, the show’s curator, reframed this group of older pieces by placing

  • Carmen Argote, Digesting Scroll—Feb, March, April, 2020, protein-bar oil, chocolate, and crayon on paper,  22' × 4' 2".

    Carmen Argote

    In Carmen Argote’s twelve-minute film Last Light (all works 2020)—a montage of still and moving images documenting the artist’s peregrinations throughout Los Angeles—she confides to us in a voice-over: “I feel like I’m not made to last. I’m not the one who’s gonna make it. I’m very aware of this organic body, and the city. . . . it’s like, touching. . . . I want to touch the city . . . want to touch the city.” The desire to commune with one’s environment is ever-present throughout this work. Of course, the feeling is at odds with all our current pandemic guidelines, which demand that we remain

  • Shagha Ariannia, there is a room and a window and a window and a box, 2020, acrylic and Flashe paint on canvas, 48 × 72".

    Shagha Ariannia

    On the cover of the first edition of Kathy Acker’s 1978 novel, Blood and Guts in High School, is an image by Sue Coe: a gleaming scene of nighttime danger wherein sentient, money-hungry tenements spit out ghostlike apparitions. They are in turn inhaled by the painting’s central figure, a lanky gang member whose chest tattoo indicates that he’s affiliated with the Scorpions. Sitting on his knee is a cat that opens its mouth in a furious and frightening yowl. Hard glints of light—like sparks struck off a dense flint—provide only the barest of illumination. It is not the kind of image one might

  • Alex Anderson, Stop Cooning, 2019, glazed earthenware, gold luster, 24 × 23 × 24".

    Alex Anderson

    The “splashing sweat” emoji (????) was initially intended to denote physical exertion. Since its debut in 2015, though, it has been collectively wrangled in that semipublic semiotic rodeo known as texting to signify orgasmic pleasure and, more recently, hip-hop styling (i.e., drip). Because the emoji invites conversation about social media, sexuality, and racialized forms of cultural expression, it could serve as a virtual pendant to Alex Anderson’s archly titled exhibition “Little Black Boy Makes Imperial Porcelains,” the artist’s second solo outing at Gavlak.

    The drip was literal: Nearly all

  • Catherine Opie, Untitled #2 (Swamps), 2019, ink-jet print, 40 x 60".
    picks June 01, 2020

    Catherine Opie

    Although it opened before the coronavirus-related shutdowns in the United States, Catherine Opie’s exhibition at Regen Projects, “Rhetorical Landscapes,” seems perfectly attuned to the mixture of political rage and cabin fever that so many feel under quarantine. Nine photographs of swamps in the American South hang on the walls and serve as a counterpoint to the animated collages playing on a loop on a circle of Brobdingnagian iPhones (all works 2019). The photographs read as meditations on ecological otherness. Architectural historian Vittoria Di Palma reminds us in her study of early modern

  • Michael Rey, Yavy-Yavy (detail), 2020, bass wood, graphite, wax, 12' 2'' x 2“ x 16”.
    picks May 14, 2020

    Michael Rey

    In a recent virtual talk with students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, artist Michael Rey spoke of his work ZOPTUN (Astrolopico) (all works 2020) as a personal breakthrough. Here he created a painting that is also an object (the four precisely punched holes in its corners call attention to its spatial facticity, which Donald Judd famously excoriated artists for ignoring), an image that is also an abstraction (the raised design of a spiderweb is purposefully shorn from any particular context), and a cipher that is still communicative (the upside-down, reversed text “ZOPTUN” is strictly

  • Raul Guerrero, A Desert Road, 2019, oil on linen, 80 × 108".

    Raul Guerrero

    In 1989, Raul Guerrero visited Canyon de Chelly, a site where Ancestral Puebloans built spectacular dwellings among sheer rock escarpments, and where, nearby, dozens of Diné families continue to live (the United States holds the land in trust for the Navajo Nation). It is a knee-buckling place. Guerrero encountered the striking rock formations and petroglyphs left by the canyon’s many inhabitants over thousands of years—Ancestral Puebloans, Hopi, then Diné. Canyon de Chelly’s natural and man-made features are instantly recognizable from commonly reproduced photographs by Ansel Adams and Edward

  • View of “Postcommodity,” 2020. Both works: untitled, 2019.


    For “Some Reach While Others Clap,” Postcommodity took LAX-ART’s structures, both physical and organizational, as its material. Near the entrance, two of the building’s load-bearing H beams had been painted (or, in the parlance of custom-car culture, “candied”) in glittering tones of interlocking shapes, one in teals and blues and the other in vibrant pinks and reds. To make this work, the collective (currently comprised of Cristóbal Martínez and Kade L. Twist) enlisted Edgar Hernandez, president of Starlite Rod & Kustom, an autobody shop in Los Angeles renowned in magazines such as the now-defunct