Andy Campbell

  • Tanya Brodsky

    An inevitable pitfall of explaining a joke is that it is rendered unfunny, flat, and unbearable in the process. One doesn’t have to go back to Freud’s Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious (1905) to know that there’s more at play in comedic speech than is immediately apparent. That comedy has not only psychological but social dimensions isn’t a particularly fresh insight, but it’s one that drives cultural hermeneutics nonetheless. Or, as Lauren Berlant and Sianne Ngai put it in their recent essay “Comedy Has Issues” in Critical Inquiry, “the funny is always tripping over the not funny,

  • picks December 24, 2017

    Michael Queenland

    Spazzatura, the Italian word for “trash,” is more specific than the generic rifuiti (which can be translated as “refuse” or “waste”) and is certainly more fun to say. Sharing a root with the Latin verb spatior—meaning “to walk around”—the word suggests a connection between the detritus on the street and the activity of walking by it. One person who clearly doesn’t bypass trash, though, is Michael Queenland, whose solo exhibition “Roam” comprises a grouping of floor-bound tile sculptures ornamented with high-resolution scans of trash, refuse which the artist happened upon while walking

  • picks December 18, 2017

    Gala Porras-Kim

    The final chapter of Gala Porras-Kim’s three-part investigation focused on the Proctor Stafford Collection—from the permanent collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—of ceramic vessels dating from 200 BCE to 500 CE from Mexico’s Pacific coast, “An Index and Its Histories” expands the scope of the project rather than neatly tying it up, in a tacit admission that the work of undoing history’s pat narratives is never done. Many artists have pointed to the museological imperative to order—collections, people, and spaces—but, happily, rather than deconstructing current museum practices,

  • picks December 12, 2017

    ektor garcia

    A small, brown square of leather rests at the corner of el piso (all works 2017), a floor-based gathering of glazed-ceramic rose garlands and spinal forms, drawings on leather, and totems of plastic spools. A simple message is carved into this square, in letters decorated with six-pointed stars (a visual leitmotif of the exhibition): “SOBRE VIVIR.” Survive. Evidence of survival is everywhere in ektor garcia’s work here, taking the form of small, handworked sculptural objects—a pair of aviator sunglasses whose lenses have been replaced with latex and wax linen resembling animal hide, a crocheted

  • picks November 20, 2017

    Miriam Schapiro

    Miriam Schapiro’s early collaborations are well-trod ground; her cofounding with Judy Chicago of one of the first feminist-art programs, at the California Institute of the Arts, in 1971 is legendary, and her part in coining the term femmage broke open linguistics for a burgeoning field of feminist art. But a particular association, with physicist David Nabilof, is understudied. Schapiro met Nabilof while both were teaching at the University of California, San Diego, in 1967, and together they explored the possibilities of then-nascent computer-aided design technologies. For a painter who was

  • picks November 20, 2017

    “Mundos Alternos: Art and Science Fiction in the Americas”

    One of the most refreshing facets of “Mundos Alternos” is its inclusion of artists from states and territories outside the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA paradigm—Puerto Rico, Texas, New Mexico, and New York—introducing the work of dynamic artists such as Hector Hernandez to California audiences. Made with pieces of brightly colored fabric and natural gusts of wind, Hernandez’s photographs Bulca, 2015, and Sound of Winter, 2014, image what the artist terms “hyperbeasts,” inhuman creatures with no discernable gender. Costuming as worlding is a happy constant throughout the exhibition, apparent in

  • picks November 07, 2017

    Lynda Benglis

    Resembling a melting hillock, comically propped up with an array of bars cast in stainless steel, HILLS AND CLOUDS, 2014, is a wonder to behold, an enormous sculpture in which Lynda Benglis’s depth of material knowledge is matched by a sheer ambition of scale. Milky green clouds made of phosphorescent polyurethane float above the gray metallic land and hedonistically frost its ridges. Though initially exhibited outside, on the grounds of Storm King Art Center, the sculpture has lost none of its grandeur and has, thankfully, not been over-cleaned in the interim. Little white rings of calcium

  • picks October 31, 2017

    “Chingaderas Sofisticadas”

    There is a knowing wink in an exhibition titled “sophisticated shit.” Used by Spanish speakers when one has forgotten a particular word, the slang term chingadera inflects the practices on display here with jocularity, framing the work in a discourse of the not yet known. This reflects the show’s premise of bringing together the work of Guadalajara-based artists. Five of the nine were born elsewhere in Mexico or in the United States. Perhaps the collective efforts of these artists will change that ratio in the future.

    Although some of the work bears a marked relationship with the craft traditions

  • picks October 23, 2017

    Franklin Williams

    On the heels of a group exhibition of artists associated with the Northern California movement known as “Nut Art,” this gallery dives deep into the work of one of its progenitors, Franklin Williams. Focusing on the first decade of the artist’s career—from the time he was an undergraduate at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland to the early years of his teaching at the San Francisco Art Institute alongside Jay DeFeo and Bruce Conner—this focused show is, above all, an opportunity to see how an artist found his own way.

    One can track Williams emerging from the monochromatic-assemblage

  • picks October 12, 2017

    Los Super Elegantes

    Is now the right time to historicize the aughts? Milena Muzquiz and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet, who began releasing music together as Los Super Elegantes in 2001, were darlings of the art world then; they appeared numerous times in these pages (both on the Web and in print), usually in the context of extravagant parties. But their practice was weightier than all that might imply. Muzquiz, who is from Tijuana, and Lopez-Crozet, who was born in Buenos Aires, started their act in San Francisco, performing up and down the West Coast in a style that mixed improvisatory theater, performance art, and

  • picks October 11, 2017

    Mary Corse

    It is a wonder to step inside Mary Corse’s Cold Room, 1968/2017, an installation that took the artist nearly fifty years to realize. Once you’re past the sliding door and within the small, freestanding space, a distinct feeling of solitude descends. Immediately, skin responds: every exposed inch enlivened by the temperature-controlled room. A floating plane of light (argon and tubes) flickers with inconstancy, powered from a distance by a hidden Tesla coil. (The artist has been building high-frequency generators for similarly functioning works since she took a physics class in the late 1960s.)

  • William E. Jones

    William E. Jones first met the legendary Greek art dealer Alexander Iolas (1907–1987) in 1982, in the bedroom of the latter’s house in Athens, where the gallerist was readying himself for the day as his chauffeur lay in bed. He first spoke to Jones in French (a language the artist did not know) and followed up in English, asking the young Midwestern boy—fresh from his first year at Yale—whether he knew of the poetry of Constantine Cavafy, adding, “He is one of us.” This question, the large Harold Stevenson watercolor of a column/phallus (COLUMN, ca. 1965) hanging next to the dealer’s

  • picks September 25, 2017

    David Lamelas

    The paragraphs-long labels that accompany the many works in David Lamelas’s retrospective at California State University, Long Beach, some on display for the first time in the US, point to an artistic career of heady investigations into visual hermeneutics. Spurred on by the works of media theorists (Marshall McLuhan), structuralist thinkers (Roland Barthes, Claude Lévi-Strauss), and novelists (Marguerite Duras), Lamelas constructs pieces that unfold over time—requiring both patience and thought from a viewer. Slide projectors accompany a short film in Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning),

  • picks September 13, 2017

    Awol Erizku

    The appropriated images emblazoned on the multicolor wooden-pallet assemblages in Awol Erizku’s current exhibition, “Menace II Society,” are sourced from James Teemer’s rejected 1968 proposal for a Black Panthers coloring book. Teemer’s project had an interesting afterlife: Initially presented to the Panthers’ Sacramento chapter, party leadership deemed the book’s images inappropriate for children and had the first copies of it destroyed. Nevertheless, it eventually fell into the hands of the FBI, who used the volume as evidence in their ongoing campaign to discredit the party as an organized

  • picks August 20, 2017

    Peter Cain

    Because Peter Cain died so young—he began working in the late 1980s and died in 1997—he left a limited but conceptually concise oeuvre to make sense of. He is perhaps best known for his paintings of cars; whole, as in Satellite, 1988, or chopped and collaged, as in Glider, 1995. Similar to the look of the fold-ins at the back of MAD magazines, Cain would truncate advertising images of vehicles in ways that heightened and perverted the eroticism that has long undergirded automobile design. Then the artist painted these strange appropriations onto large canvases, some more than seven feet tall.

  • picks July 31, 2017

    “Hurts to Laugh”

    Walking along the narrow alleyway to get to this gallery’s main entrance, one hears the voice of comedian Maria Bamford. In her inimitable style, she addresses the social expectations that underscore, and perhaps produce, anxiety and depression, conditions which most of her family and friends would rather not deal with. When I arrived, she was poking a hole in the obnoxious positivity of her sister, who had just become a life coach.

    This is a fitting introduction for a group exhibition that teeters on the precipice between the pitiful and the absurdly funny. David Gilbert’s ink-jet prints of

  • picks July 26, 2017

    “HOME—So Different, So Appealing”

    And just like that, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is upon us. If this is the initiative’s opening salvo, then the portents are good. Organized by Chon A. Noriega, Mari Carmen Ramírez, and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, this exhibition represents the efforts of three giants within the field of Latin American and Chicanx/Latinx curatorial practice.

    The show excels in presenting intricate, and sometimes cumbersome, room-size installations. Luis Camnitzer’s Living Room, 1968, articulates a concrete poetry of domesticity, with vinyl stickers featuring words around the room where furniture and household objects

  • picks July 22, 2017

    Farah Atassi

    Digesting a history of modernist art and design—high points include Fernand Léger’s early twentieth-century paintings and Oskar Schlemmer’s truly bonkers Triadic Ballet, 1922—Farah Atassi attempts to continue that era’s experimental ethos with the trappings of her contemporary world. In Blue Guitar (all works 2017), bendy yoga practitioners curlicue around the musical instrument, its sound hole replaced by the narrow slots of an electrical outlet. Nearby, a clock (Still Life with Clock 2) marks the time—a constant companion in this exhibition of eight paintings.

    These works are in accord; each

  • picks July 09, 2017

    “Sunlight arrives only at its proper hour”

    The most provocative moments of this exhibition ask viewers to rethink their own canon(s) via a superb selection of works from artists mostly marginalized from the annals of art. Works rhyme across the vast space of this gallery—and some are nearly swallowed up by it. Two Cameron drawings (from the series “Pluto Transiting the Twelfth House,” 1978–86, and “Untitled (from the Lion Path series),” n.d.) find echoes in paintings on canvas by Magalie Comeau and a black Jay DeFeo painting on paper, the latter sadly confined to a dim cul-de-sac build-out. Bill Hayden’s carved Oryx horn sculpture, ohoui

  • picks June 30, 2017

    “Blue Danube”

    Vulgarian is an insult you don’t hear often anymore (Graydon Carter’s description of the “short-fingered vulgarian” who now occupies the White House notwithstanding). Emily Post famously defined the term in her 1922 guide Etiquette, as those who “never had an opportunity to acquire cultivation.” Stemming from the Latin word vulgaris, meaning common or ordinary, the vulgarian was a bogeyman of twentieth-century American class relations—bringing together poor taste in consumption and crude behavior to form a type. But this figuration of the commoner also has the potential to be recuperated in the