Christopher Miles

  • Terri Friedman

    In her second solo show at Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Terri Friedman continued her exploration of fluidity as subject matter, subtext, and material property in a group of new paintings in transparent or translucent acrylic poured onto Plexiglas surfaces. Friedman’s paintings descend from unusual precursors: Janet Sobel and Knud Merrild, who, in 1940s New York and Los Angeles, respectively, prefigured action-oriented uses of liquid paint media with more delicate experiments in mingling and controlling the movement of the material.

    Like Merrild’s “flux” paintings, Friedman’s pictures deal in swirling

  • Mark Grotjahn, Untitled (Red Orange Brown Black Butterfly 581), 2005, colored pencil on paper, 58 3/4“ x 48”.

    Mark Grotjahn

    Offering some thirty-five works—even a few drawings by the artist’s psychoanalyst grandfather, Martin—Grotjahn’s first European museum exhibition will present a selection of his output from 2001 to 2007, with a focus, hopefully not too narrow, on the indeed rich butterfly pieces.

    Though his practice could be described as one of multiple emersions, ranging from quasi abstraction to cartoonish appropriation to a kind of neo–Art Brut, Los Angeles–based artist Mark Grotjahn has become known primarily for his “butterfly” suite—paintings and drawings of converging lines that give the conventional illusion of land diminishing toward the horizon. Under Grotjahn’s employ, these wrangled bands of color suggest slices of space squeezed between planes, luring the viewer in to explore the striped canyons or to contemplate the microcosmic void between the

  • Marnie Weber

    Marnie Weber’s work of the past ten years has relied increasingly on her ability to live in the realm of the speculative and fantastic. She entertains narratives without feeling the need to resolve them in unifying conclusions or morals, imaging a parallel “what if” universe without submitting to an “if-then” logic. Recently, this predilection met her interest in the progressive, populist, and protofeminist mid- nineteenth-century American Spiritualist movement, which undermined both social hierarchies and established religious models by proposing equal access to an afterlife, with women often

  • Thomas Lawson

    As an artist and critic, Thomas Lawson (now dean of the School of Art at CalArts) was central to debates about the viability of painting at the turn of the 1980s. Yet his work has seldom been shown on the West Coast, making this recent exhibition of paintings, most of which were produced over the past two years, a rare opportunity to see how his practice and its politics have held up.

    Lawson’s new canvases are characterized by deadpan mottled surfaces and muted, at times grating, color combinations. Often based on maps, they render seas and continents as abstract patches of texture and tone.

  • Miguel Rio Branco

    You’d be hard-pressed to conjure a phrase at once more earthy and more theatrical than “I won’t take anything with me when I die, those who owe me something will pay me in hell.” Miguel Rio Branco found the line scrawled on a wall in the Brazilian city of Salvador and employed it as the title of a nineteen-minute thirty-eight-second film he made between 1979 and 1981 and also as the title of this exhibition, which presented the film alongside photographs shot in Salvador in ’79. The textual lift is just one example of the artist’s penchant for finding baroque theater in the grittiest elements

  • Rob Fischer

    Whether grafting a house onto an airplane (as he did in Cargo Plane with Crate House, 1996), constructing stacks of domestic-style couches, or, in what has become a signature move, gutting, upturning, and slicing and dicing Dumpsters, Rob Fischer has developed a practice that links two established sculptural traditions: the found object and the post-Minimalist environment. For his recent exhibition, Fischer filled the space with a single work that fits nicely within his oeuvre, which habitually pits clunkiness against elegance, movement against stasis, and whim against rigor. This work, however,

  • Ivan Morley

    While Ivan Morley has often included hand-lettered “anecdotes”—textual cocktails of oddball California lore and fantasies dreamed up by the artist—as nebulous primers and legends to his disparate work, no such guides were present in his recent show, leaving viewers to fend for themselves. But four works here, made in 2005 and 2006, all titled Tehachepi (sic) (a folksy misspelling of the name of the mountains that separate the Los Angeles basin from California’s Central Valley), make Morley’s modus operandi clear.

    One Tehachepi (sic), in oil on canvas, is an allover composition packed with

  • Katie Grinnan

    Katie Grinnan’s recent exhibition was called “Cheerleaders and Bandwagons.” Her choice of a title with such a distinctly American ring to it made perfect sense, given that the sculptural gymnastics that define her latest works not only resonate with the country’s current antics on the global geopolitical stage but also engage in the near-universal tradition that Americans have managed to turn into a national fetish: honoring one’s forefathers.

    The forefathers (and mothers) in question are an odd lot—some hail from the mists of history, others from the generation whose work was in play when

  • Ryan Taber

    Within the fluidly baroque form of one small sculpture, a cast-plastic jellyfish inspired by the illustrations of nineteenth-century naturalist Ernst Haeckel appears to arise from or descend onto a miniature, hand-hewn wooden replica of a 1901 Art Nouveau music stand by Alexander-Louis-Marie Charpentier. Snarled among the invertebrate’s tentacles is the wreckage of a biplane, which turns out to be that of the Italian literary figure Gabriele D’Annunzio, a World War I hero and a protofascist. One of three sculptures accompanied by a collection of works on paper in graphite and watercolor (all

  • Steve Hurd

    In his first solo exhibition in seven years and his debut at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Steve Hurd showed eighteen paintings spanning three years of work. Most familiar were those based on advertising circulars for art supply and frame stores, which faithfully reproduce layouts, wording, and images ranging from the generic prints included in new picture frames to Amedeo Modigliani reproductions. Rendered in a loosely naturalistic style with thin, drippy oil paint, these are reminiscent of Hurd’s previous riffs on the art world, which have included hand-painted reproductions of art magazine covers

  • Beverly Semmes

    Beverly Semmes’s second solo exhibition at Shoshana Wayne Gallery was billed as an homage to Annie Oakley. A photo of the markswoman staring down a barrel graced the show’s announcement, three of Semmes’s trademark dresses-as-sculpture sported exaggerated right arms, possibly alluding to Oakley’s trigger hand (though she was actually an ambidextrous shooter), and twelve crystal vessels subtly referenced the glass balls that Oakley was known for shooting as part of her act. But the muse who guided Semmes in the studio was still not too overweening a presence in the gallery, and this was all for

  • Daniel Joseph Martinez

    In new nonprofit gallery LAXART’s inaugural show, Daniel Joseph Martinez revisited the straightforward presentation of text and image that defined his early practice, one which often addressed the subject of polarization but was itself polarizing. The artist’s I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER WANTING TO BE WHITE badges, distributed to visitors at the 1993 Whitney Biennial, remain iconic of late-’80s/early-’90s work around the politics of racial identity. Yet while this selection of new works was characterized by a high-contrast mix of black and white, the result felt oddly indeterminate.

    Words were everywhere