Christina Catherine Martinez

  • Gracie DeVito

    A long time ago, I saw a video of Gracie DeVito worming out of a hole in a wall. The act was simple, and even under the aegis of performance art (it was a gallery wall), it made the crossed-armed spectators break into smiles and giggles. I had yet to become a performer myself and failed at the time to fully appreciate how much of a feat simplicity can be.

    Paintings can be experienced as performances. Critics have an impulse to slow them down to dissect their operations, but if we’d just let them happen once in a while, we might better understand what they do. The art historian Michael Baxandall

  • diary June 10, 2020

    Signs Are Everywhere

    BEFORE ANYONE GOT STARVED ENOUGH to sneak out for a fuck or a socially distanced porch hang, we took drives. On a recent Saturday, I visited the Westside edition of “Drive-By-Art,” an outdoor exhibition billed as “public art in this moment of social distancing” and organized by Warren Neidich, Renee Petropoulos, Michael Slenske, and Anuradha Vikram. On the way, I passed through Silver Lake and Echo Park, where a number of Artemisa Clark’s replicas of posters from New York in 1987—when Carl Andre was on trial for second-degree murder of his wife, Ana Mendieta—remained stapled to telephone poles

  • picks April 15, 2020

    Anabel Juarez

    A few days before Governor Newsom locked down California, I pulled the top down on my little red coupe and drove to Santa Monica to visit Anabel Juarez’s larger-than-life ceramics. By then, proprietor Emma Gray was half-facetiously promoting the show by referencing the open-air setting of Five Car Garage, which is indeed housed in a roomy garage that welcomes rays from the sun-bleached alley.

    The outdoor-ish venue is particularly suited for Juarez’s exhibition “Xochitla,” whose title broadly translates as “place for flowers.” The show, a collaboration with Lefebvre & Fils in Paris, is populated

  • Liz Glynn

    On the heels of her sprawling, multisensory “sculptural experience” at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, “The Archaeology of Another Possible Future” (2017–19), Liz Glynn’s first exhibition at Vielmetter Los Angeles, intriguingly titled “Emotional Capital,” represented a shift in perspective: The earlier exhibition was populated with site-specific interactive sculptures in monumental materials, such as forklift pallets and shipping containers, that constituted a meditation on postindustrialization. Here, the twenty-two prints and sculptures dotting the gallery suggested less a coherent

  • diary February 19, 2020

    Friend Zona

    “IS SOMETHING SPECIAL HAPPENING in Mexico City this week?” Rachel Kushner asked. I introduced myself to her during Laura Owens’s opening at House of Gaga, a day before Material and Zona Maco began. Kushner, in town to support her friend, was somewhat surprised to be running into so many other Angelenos. Owens’s dreamy abstractions, atypically small, hung well in the modest gallery—paintings and watercolors the size you’d hang in a breakfast nook, set off by custom wallpapers bearing cartoonish lemons and stripes in rogue geometries. A tiny rat in a hat and coat was painted in the corner. “It’s

  • Erin Calla Watson and Haena Yoo

    A tiny sculpture, resembling both an amulet and a mini crucifix, contained an image of a dog’s mutilated body, laser-etched into a heart-shaped hunk of dark crystal—the kind you might find at a Mexican five-and-dime around Valentine’s Day. The stone was attached to a rough-hewn pewter cast of a tongue depressor. Similarly crafted objects nearby depicted a nude woman holding her hand out to a dog and a row of bikini-clad models waiting to jump off a diving board.

    These and other enigmatic works by Erin Calla Watson were on view in her two-person exhibition with Haena Yoo at As It Stands. Watson’s

  • Alma Allen

    Cast and carved from sober materials such as marble, wood, and bronze, the deceptively lissome sculptures of Alma Allen contain more than one crack at the idea of truth in materials. In press and press releases alike, Allen is insistently compared to Constantin Brancusi, who nudged modernism forward with his own quest to manifest the essence of natural forms through direct engagement with his materials. (It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s the essence of a bird, rendered from a single plane of bronze, don’t you see?) Allen, whose work has been shaped by the sun-bleached vistas of Joshua Tree,

  • Tom Allen

    There’s something about artifice that gets people so up the ass of their own virtue that even nature can be accused of looking fake—especially when it’s convenient for the hegemony. So it’s no surprise, then, that flowers, nature’s most tarted-up characters, are almost pathologically feminized. Baudelaire articulated the shitty double bind between flowers and women quite poetically in the section of his seminal 1863 essay “The Painter of Modern Life” titled “In Praise of Cosmetics”: “Woman is quite within her rights, indeed she is even accomplishing a kind of duty, when she devotes herself to

  • diary September 26, 2019

    Desperately Seeking Sublimation


    Sex, like going out, carries the risk of the anticipation being a more visceral experience than consummation. Art is supposed to save us from this sad gambit, but when you mix all three—as at the opening of the Pornhub-sponsored exhibition “The Pleasure Principle” at Maccarone in Boyle Heights—you may end up sitting in your car for twenty minutes, wearing a strapless top that smooshes your boobs, waiting for the place to fill up, trying to feel the vibe.

    I had a sexting appointment with Karen Finley, one of the original NEA Four, as part of her Sext Me If You Can performance,


    Curated by Alex Gartenfeld and Eva Respini

    This fall’s hottest collab is Sterling Ruby’s first comprehensive museum survey, co-organized by ICA Boston and ICA Miami. The exhibition—which includes more than fifty paintings, collages, ceramics, and large-scale sculptures spanning 2003 to the present—highlights the range of his material experimentation. In the accompanying catalogue, essays by curators Alex Gartenfeld and Eva Respini and, in particular, an interview with the artist by critic and Texte zur Kunst editor Isabelle Graw grapple with the implications of Ruby’s ever-expanding studio: from

  • Sterling Ruby

    Skateboarders are doomed to certain forms of ineffable material intelligence. Zipping on a wheeled plank through the cityscape—where any crack in the sidewalk or knob on a public bench can open your skull like an egg—imprints the texture of urbanism onto your bones. 

    By now, Sterling Ruby’s former stint as a professional skateboarder is barely a blip in his biography, but the efficacy of his catholic output, and of his ceramic work in particular, has more than a little to do with that embodied, kinetic relationship to the built environment—an antagonistic dance with civic architecture. Texture

  • picks March 05, 2019

    Misha Kahn

    A sure sign of one’s banana-slip into adulthood is the shift of applying personal style less to the body than to the home (this is why it’s so hard to guess a snail’s age). Furniture has to grow up sometime, but not if you ask the right questions. Designer Misha Kahn wants to know: If a starfish does a backbend, can you still put your coffee on it? Can a mirror give you the side eye?

    If Chairry, the chair from Pee-wee’s Playhouse, spoke in childish bromides, Kahn’s designs burble Dadaist poetry and sarcastic asides. “Just Around the Bend” is Kahn’s first exhibition in Los Angeles and the first

  • picks February 05, 2019

    Nikki Darling

    “As you can see, I have always been very artistic,” Nikki Darling says to the camera, flipping through one of her glittery teen journals. Such naked sincerity only lapses in humor when it’s chased by seriousness: Those collaged pages are part of the Nikki Darling Papers, archived in sober-looking filing boxes at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. Hers is the kind of sunny self-assurance all artists surely crave, but achieving it, especially in a sunny, self-assured place like Los Angeles, is surely what makes the rest of the country hate those who do. The video, Tattletale, 2018, is a

  • picks January 25, 2019

    Morgan Fisher

    A producer recently told me, over neo-noodles in a now closed, post-gentrification fusion hotspot, that commercial filmmakers despise adapting to the vertically oriented 9:16 aspect ratio that defines the mobile phone. I thought then of how much I’d love to see Morgan Fisher’s 2005 Scratched Aspect Ratio Pieces—a suite of nine mirrors, each sized according to different standard film screens (including Scratched Ultra Panavision 70, Scratched Todd-AO, Scratched American Standard Widescreen, and Scratched Academy)—rounded out with a flipped version. The vertically oriented screen is a novelty,

  • diary February 09, 2018

    Site Pacific

    FOUNDED BY ARTIST Keith Rocka Knittel, the Other Places Art Fair is, according to the press release for its inaugural edition, “a one-day showcase of alternative, hard to define, and experimental contemporary art venues, project spaces, and organizations.” I read this as an attempt to facilitate some cash flow for the myriad exhibition projects popping up in studios, backyards, automobiles, and living rooms across the city; DIY enterprises that receive gushing coverage in the kind of glossies that cheerily spotlight the idiosyncrasies of a vibrant and blossoming art scene over the precarity and

  • picks June 23, 2017

    An Te Liu

    On the cusp of Y2K—the calendar data bug that marked our inauspicious slump into the current millennium—satirical newspaper the Onion published an article describing the Vatican’s storage problems resulting from an aging, mentally compromised Pope John Paul II “just blessing everything in sight,” which required the construction of a giant reliquary to warehouse the arbitrarily holy trash. In his exhibition here, An Te Liu carves and casts elegant hunks of ceramic and bronze into modernist-looking abstractions whose enduring materials seem at odds with the disposability of the forms on which he

  • diary February 21, 2016

    Double Booked


    “I don’t know,” Kim Gordon replies, “it might have died last night.” It’s a joke, you think. But maybe she’s talking about the in-exile Saint Laurent fall 2016 fashion show that took place the night prior at the Palladium in Hollywood, an odd coupling even in Los Angeles.

    Visitors love to write off our peculiar cityscape with offhand references to Baudrillard’s hyperreality. But you were born here. Star Wagons and velvet ropes are as natural to you as aloe vera plants and buildings fringed with ice cream stucco. How does Los Angeles not play itself?

  • diary February 04, 2015

    Third Time’s a Charm

    “I LOVE THE CROWD,” said Frances Stark ahead of her keynote address at the third iteration of the LA Art Book Fair. “It’s so LA.” Indeed, the endless comments from attendees and exhibitors praising the energy and the vibe the book fair brings to an already packed Los Angeles art weekend that includes the stalwart Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) and newcomer Paramount Ranch had at least something to do with the ranks of beautiful freaks descending on MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary. The temptation to devote the weekend to documenting their plumage persisted, but the half-images remain: ponytails

  • picks November 23, 2013

    Azzedine Alaïa

    For Tunisian-born designer Azzedine Alaïa’s first Parisian retrospective, Musée Galliera director Olivier Saillard christened the museum’s newly renovated galleries with a strong yet subtle exhibition that reflects the return of the nearly 120-year-old institution’s once-campy interiors to their neoclassical roots. The nearly eighty pieces on view distill Alaïa’s oeuvre to a tight focus on his relentless interest in volume, form, and material, quietly highlighting the designer’s formal training as a sculptor at the École des Beaux-Arts without resorting to cloying fashion-as-art apologia. The

  • diary August 07, 2013

    Fresh and Refresh

    SHOWING UP TO A PARTY at all is in itself a gesture of deference in Los Angeles, where La Cienega Boulevard may as well be the International Date Line. The weekend before last saw a host of events, literally traversing one end of the city to the other, so many plot points on an itinerary of party-hopping endurance that gave us just enough to mull over for a few sleepy weeks in August before the art scene springs to life again amid back-to-school jitters.

    Saturday 5:20 PM: Chinatown. Chung King Road

    “It seems we have a question here in the front row. What is performance art?” Jamie McMurry, one of