Michael Ned Holte

  • Public Fiction’s storefront sign, Los Angeles, 2014.


    THIS STORY BEGINS somewhere other than the beginning.

    It’s a hot summer night in Los Angeles, and the artist D’Ette Nogle is onstage accompanied by two big, restless dogs. Nogle is recounting the plot of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a hardly obscure movie that has been playing in theaters all over the world for the past month. Her narration, or “shaggy-dog story” (as she describes it), is exacting—almost brutally so, with the blow-by-blow continuing for some forty minutes. Nogle’s abundant energy never wanes, but the audience crammed into the stuffy storefront space starts to get visibly

  • Kathryn Andrews, Coming to America (Filet-O-Fish), 2013, stainless steel, paint, found object, film props, 104 1/4 × 54 × 43".

    “Kathryn Andrews: Run for President”

    While Chicago is the birthplace of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the adopted hometown of POTUS no. 44 Barack Obama, the title of LA-based Kathryn Andrews’s first solo museum show in the US refers to a presidential campaign by—surprise!—Bozo the Clown. Fifteen seductive yet chilling sculptures, made since 2011, many of which amend certified movie props (among other political footballs thrown from the collective unconscious), will be appointed to a wild exhibition narrative for which Bozo’s largely forgotten 1984 bid serves as a

  • Stan Douglas, Hors-champs, 1992, two-channel digital video projection, black-and-white, sound, 13 minutes 40 seconds. Installation view. From “Blues for Smoke.” Photo: Brian Forrest.

    Michael Ned Holte

    1 “BLUES FOR SMOKE” (THE GEFFEN CONTEMPORARY AT MoCA, LOS ANGELES; CURATED BY BENNETT SIMPSON) By all accounts, LA MoCA had a truly woeful year, so it’s fitting that Simpson (one of the institution’s two remaining curators) would lay his stake on the blues. An essay as much as an exhibition, “Blues for Smoke” was noisy (the warehouse space of the Geffen Contemporary was haunted by an Albert Ayler–inspired squall in Stan Douglas’s terrific Hors-champs, 1992), mournful (a gallery of Mark Morrisroe’s photos), mordantly funny (Dave McKenzie’s Yesterday’s Newspaper, 2012–13; Glenn Ligon’s Richard

  • Jason Rhoades, The Creation Myth, 1998, mixed media. Installation view, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich.

    “Jason Rhoades, Four Roads”

    Curator and critic Daniel Birnbaum once described Jason Rhoades as “perhaps the most American of contemporary American artists.” So it is somewhat surprising that the Los Angeles–based master of sprawling sculptural surplus should only now receive his first major US museum exhibition, some seven years after his untimely death at the age of forty-one. The title of the show—a wink at Rhoades’s relentless punning—corresponds to four thematic “roads” (Americana, biography, systems, and taboo) to be manifested in the four huge installations set to fill the museum

  • Ry Rocklen, Painting Tile Floor (detail), 2011–12, found paintings, concrete, wood, spray paint, dimensions variable. Installation view, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall Art Park.

    Made in L.A. 2012

    HAVE YOU SEEN “The Californians,” the Saturday Night Live sketch in which Fred Armisen, Kristen Wiig, and Co. play bleached, surf-drawling dimwits whose soap-operatic interactions always lead to discussions about the best way through the traffic-clogged thoroughfares of Los Angeles? The acerbic parody makes Portlandia seem like a swooning love letter, but of course, as someone with his own deeply held opinions about how (not) to drive from Westwood to Hollywood to Culver City, I’m biased. At first glance, the regional purview of Made in L.A. 2012—on view this past summer at the Hammer Museum

  • Sharon Lockhart, Five Dances and Nine Wall Carpets by Noa Eshkol, 2011, color film in 35 mm transferred to HD video, five-channel installation, continuous loop. Noga Goral, Mor Bashan, Ruti Sela, Or Gal-Or.


    FOR NEARLY TWO DECADES, Sharon Lockhart’s films (and, more recently, HD videos) have maintained a consistent approach to their varied subjects, whether laborers or children playing—so consistent, in fact, as to constitute a kind of signature. Employing a fixed frame and tending toward long takes in a highly structured (if not precisely structuralist) sequence of shots, Lockhart’s lens could be described as empirical in its apparently cool remove. In Goshogaoka, 1998, the camera, in a series of long takes, records a squad of adolescent Japanese girls practicing basketball drills in a gymnasium,

  • Asco, Instant Mural, 1974, color photograph. Gronk and Patssi Valdez.

    Michael Ned Holte

    1 “Asco: Elite of the Obscure, a Retrospective, 1972–1987” (Los Angeles County Museum of Art; curated by C. Ondine Chavoya and Rita Gonzalez) Strangest art sighting of the past year? How about an image of Asco’s Patssi Valdez, glimpsed on a Bank of America ATM the same day Occupy Wall Street’s Los Angeles splinter mobilized in the downtown financial district? It turns out the corporate monster directed some trickle-down loot toward “Pacific Standard Time,” the Getty’s dizzyingly ambitious reconsideration of postwar and contemporary art in Southern California. Perhaps no show better summed up

  • Robert Watts, BLT, 1965, black-and-white photo transparency embedded in Lucite, 6 x 5 3/5 x 1 1/4". From “Photography into Sculpture.”

    “Photography into Sculpture”

    Among the most ambitious gallery shows coinciding with the J. Paul Getty Musuem–instigated “Pacific Standard Time” initiative—a sprawling self-study of Southern California’s emergence as a significant art hub—is a restaging of an exhibition that originated in New York: Peter Bunnell’s “Photography into Sculpture,” which first appeared the Museum of Modern Art in 1970 and traveled to seven other venues before eventually landing at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in 1972. (Most of the original objects or similar works by a given artist are included here; a few have been

  • Charles Gaines, Falling Rock (detail), 2000, wood, electronics, metal, acrylic, granite, glass, electronic motors, gears, pulleys, 120 x 38 x 38.


    IN CHARLES GAINES’S SCULPTURE FALLING ROCK, 2000, a sixty-five-pound chunk of granite suddenly and repeatedly drops onto—or just short of—a sheet of glass. We have no way of knowing which of these outcomes to expect; it is determined by a computerized mechanism. When I first encountered the piece roughly a decade ago, I had little idea what to make of its recurrent, timed brutality—the rationality of clockwork married to the irrationality of violence. Or, more accurately, I had no idea what the artist intended me to make of it. After being similarly confounded by later bodies of

  • Shannon Ebner, Agitate, 2010, four black-and-white photographs, each 63 x 48". LAXART.

    Shannon Ebner

    For nearly a decade, Shannon Ebner has developed a quickly recognizable approach—one at the unruly convergence of photography, sculpture, and language—that insistently frames the space around and (especially) between things. Most often, these voids or breaks occur between letters and other linguistic symbols that provide the ostensible subject matter. In an earlier series of defining black-and-white images, the artist photographed words, in all caps, constructed out of flimsy cardboard and placed in desolate settings that read as literally blank fields: In USA, 2003, for example, the

  • Marie Jager, Queen Alexandra Sanatorium (Davos), 2011, sun on architectural blueprint, 26 x 47".

    Marie Jager

    The passage of time is a major leitmotif of Thomas Mann’s 1924 novel The Magic Mountain. Indeed, one chapter of that bildungsroman, set in a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps, is even titled “Excursus on the Sense of Time.” Really an excursus on the procedure for properly wrapping oneself in a blanket, that section quickly develops into a dialogue about the relativity of time, as two characters grow ever more aware of it during their attempted recoveries from tuberculosis: “Emptiness and monotony,” writes Mann, “may stretch a moment or even an hour and make it ‘boring,’ but they can likewise abbreviate

  • View of “William E. Jones,” 2011. From left: Berlin Flash Frames, 2010; In Mathew Brady’s Studio, 2010.

    William E. Jones

    Three time-based works dominated William E. Jones’s third solo show at David Kordansky Gallery. Projected floor-to-ceiling on three contiguous walls, In Mathew Brady’s Studio, Berlin Flash Frames, and Spatial Disorientation—silent works (all 2010) that employ, respectively, zooms, flash frames, and aerial photography—felt aggressive, at times even dizzying in total. (Loosely recalling the enticing dare of Tony Conrad’s disclaimer at the outset of The Flicker, 1966, there was even a warning posted on Kordansky’s gallery door cautioning viewers about the potentially dangerous physiological