Ben Carlson

  • 1000 WORDS: SCOTT REEDER

    MOON DUST, the first feature-length film by painter Scott Reeder, comes with no shortage of surprises. But the biggest surprise is that it is nearly done. Shot sporadically over the past eleven years, the project was slipped in between gallery exhibitions and a bevy of extracurricular events. Looking back on the process, Reeder gives the impression that the making of Moon Dust might well have stretched on indefinitely. Fortunately, an invitation to show at 356 S. Mission Rd. in Los Angeles this past winter prompted the artist to finish filming—and to make new paintings to display alongside

  • Jon Pestoni

    Although this first hometown solo show by artist Jon Pestoni was ostensibly an exhibition of formally motivated abstract compositions, the broad swaths of bold, often dry-brushed color that were characteristic of its seventeen medium- to large-scale paintings in fact served to physically frame a literal second layer of meaning beneath. For those who have followed Pestoni’s practice closely, these glimpses of figuration call to mind his earlier, rarely exhibited work—paintings that narratively address a rupture in Pestoni’s personal life, which, like the canvases, he chose to keep relatively

  • “Arctic Summer”

    The melancholic air of “Arctic Summer” was given added poignancy when, two weeks after the opening, dealer Margo Leavin announced that this show would be her gallery’s last. As Leavin partner Wendy Brandow told the Los Angeles Times, “People are approaching art differently today. They’re not seeking out the thoughtful, complete statement that artists make when they create gallery exhibitions. The exhibitions have been such an important part of what we do, and they are no longer valued as much by the public.” Though art viewing hasn’t declined per se, the proliferation of fairs and international

  • Patrick Staff

    Since the summer of 2007, Monte Vista Projects has operated as an artist-run cooperative space in Los Angeles’s Highland Park neighborhood. The venue’s commitment to communal programming made it an apt location for London-based artist Patrick Staff to bring together a selection of his collectively produced projects. Though the three works on view in this show, represented in as many videos, involved different participants and sites, the practice of “collective authorship” was central to all. For each piece, Staff had orchestrated a group encounter, which was then recorded on video in a workaday

  • Roger Hiorns

    Previously shown in London and New York, Roger Hiorns’s atomized jet engine, Untitled, 2008–, arrived at Marc Foxx in Los Angeles after a significant delay. To be preceded by its reputation was, however, perfectly appropriate for a sculpture that began as a hypothetical proposition—one of several ritualistic activities described but not performed in the monologue Benign, which Hiorns debuted at the Serpentine Gallery in 2006. In fact, the work’s very effect hinges on this gap between the seductiveness of its material presence (a small sea of swelling particulate matter filling the

  • Alex Hubbard

    In his 1975 book, Notes on the Cinematographer, Robert Bresson stated, “Nothing [is] more inelegant and ineffective than an art conceived in another art’s form.” However, attempting to account for film’s specificity, Bresson arrived at a set of stylistic guidelines that gave his approach to the medium a texture like no other. Specificity and its loss have similarly animated the course of Alex Hubbard’s work over the past few years, and his videos—which may at first glance seem to be paintings by other means—have come to occupy a more complex position between and across media. This

  • Los Angeles Free Music Society

    Legendary among connoisseurs of weird records and mutant sounds for their woozy, hypnotic tape manipulations and free-form freak-outs, the Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) may be obscure but it hasn’t been entirely overlooked. In fact, having attracted a frenzied cult following, this coterie of self-described “bands without musicians” is probably now as “popular” as it could ever hope to be—and these noise-icians have always seemed more at home on the fringes of pop music than anywhere in the institutionally sanctioned world of the “experimental.” After all, the group formed in the

  • James Hayward

    Mike Kelley, in a curatorial statement written to accompany a small retrospective he organized in 2005, described James Hayward as “one of the few truly important West Coast painters.” That show, however, was only Hayward’s fourth solo in New York, and he hasn’t exhibited in Manhattan since. Compare his situation with those of some of the most widely acclaimed LA artists (Kelley for one) who regularly exhibit in New York but sometimes leave their hometown feeling neglected. It could be said that Hayward’s West Coast–ness is part of what makes him great, but operating peripheral to the postwar

  • Jacob Kassay

    Mounted by a gallery better known for its specialization in works by blue-chip artists than for its fledgling LA-based contemporary program, Jacob Kassay’s first solo West Coast show seemed something of an anomaly. But L&M Arts’ interest in this young painter is no mystery: Regardless of their merit, Kassay’s silvery-reflective monochromes made a splash at auction last fall. Anticipating the cynics, the staff penned a press release that was quick to distance Kassay’s older output from the new work he made for this show. Calling attention to the differences in surface treatment, it announced that