Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

  • “This Brush for Hire: Norm Laich and Many Other Artists”

    At the art-world Oscars, Norm Laich would be a perennial shoo-in for best supporting role. The Los Angeles–based artist, sign painter, and fabricator has been instrumental in producing the iconic works of a great number of big-name leads, including Kay Rosen, Stephen Prina, Mike Kelley, and Lawrence Weiner. This survey, organized by John Baldessari and Meg Cranston, both of whom have worked with Laich, brings together a selection of some twenty of these and other artists’ discrete canvases, wall paintings, sign works, and large-scale installations (


    What else can painting do? With wide-eyed curiosity, maverick humor, and infectious glee, Owens continues to pose this query, producing ambitious, technically rigorous, and surprising pieces unlike those of any other painter of her generation (or the next). Her works both rally and splinter the medium’s history of craft and illusionism: Haptic possibility drives her; democratic intelligence and sly pop subject matter ground her. For this LA master, painting is large-scale installation, embroidered silk-screened textile, ticking timepiece, site-specific manifesto, private

  • picks December 05, 2016

    Lena Daly

    Before the show comes into view, a nearly imperceptible sonic undercurrent of low drones, subtle swells, and clanging bells layers with the loud rush of street traffic on Highland Avenue. The spectral static of the gallery’s sound corridor clues us in to a ghostly alterity waiting within “Night Bell.” Lena Daly’s solo debut toys with the limits of sound and vision, opting for the hypo and the hyper, the ultra and the infra. She limns the vibratory thresholds of the extra-visual and subsonic realms, braiding their intersections into synesthetic contaminations.

    In contrast to the glaringly sunlit

  • Geoffrey Farmer

    Geoffrey Farmer succinctly noted, some months back, “My work appears to me as wreckage”—articulating the formal-pileup effect of his exploded-collage installations, the air of obsolescence emanating from the vintage print media he uses so pointedly, and even the way his hundreds of Frankensteined cutouts swarm like the undead and stand at attention. He captures that intoxicating Benjaminian sensation that we experience when faced, like the angel of history, with the quantities of accretion and devastation that constitute the stuff of the archive and “progress.” Monumental,

  • picks October 28, 2015

    Dianna Molzan

    Dianna Molzan’s paintings and painting sculptures are still defying my expectations with serious panache. Fine construction and head-turning Pop-formal ingenuity remain a hallmark, while her weirdly reserved flamboyance has a fresh edge in this new group of thirteen oddballs. No less quixotic than her swollen and sculpted canvas objects are the seemingly straight, quasi-genre paintings. How funny. Humor gathers around the soft and stuffed elements in many of Molzan’s paintings (all works untitled and 2015), such as the squishy white canvas tube hugging the perimeter of an exclamatory abstraction:


    IN AN ERA when creative economies are leading the hypermonetization of every aspect of life, from attention and identity to privacy and time, it’s not surprising that this country’s most progressive models of art education are under attack. In fact, the liberal arts and humanities are besieged across the board, increasingly expected to justify their funding, even their very existence, in universities and beyond. We are witnessing a massive cultural shift when we see the corporatization of higher education—with its top-down power structures, bloated bureaucracies, “synergistic” partnerships

  • interviews June 30, 2015

    Jesse Aron Green

    Jesse Aron Green’s 2008 multimedia installation Ärztliche Zimmergymnastik has been exhibited in parts at Tate Modern, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and ICA Boston, among other institutions. His current exhibition at the Harvard Art Museums, which runs through August 9, 2015, is the first time all sixty-five components—including photographs, prints, video, and sculpture—are being shown together.

    ÄRZTLICHE ZIMMERGYMNASTIK is basically a workout video, so it’s no surprise that some people start to exercise in the gallery. Mirroring the thing in front of you—judging its scale and size against

  • picks March 27, 2015

    Mernet Larsen

    Encountering the paintings of Mernet Larsen for the first time can feel a bit like discovering a new exotic fruit or hearing an alien tongue: The worldview they picture is strange to the senses and thrillingly outlandish, like a surprise that is meticulously constructed and fully realized, exceedingly complex and fiercely independent. Larsen’s impact registers all at once with the force built up from a lifetime spent gradually developing, maturing, and testing her own eccentric visual language in representational painting. It’s a language that articulates figures through an abstract declension

  • diary December 29, 2014

    Purrfect Lovers

    “ART” CAN’T QUITE COMPETE with life incarnate, creatures in the alert, furry-limbed, tail-twitching flesh. Calico, tabby, tuxedo, tiger stripe, tortoise shell, monochrome: Felis catus are modern, effortlessly stylish, and lux in any situation. Pussies are the ultimate icons of elegant self-possession—excessively aesthetic. Of course, it’s neither fair nor necessary to pit art and animals against each other, and anyway, who would want them to be separate? (Certainly not Pierre Huyghe, whose LACMA retrospective across town is a buzzing menagerie of bees, crabs, fishes, a masked monkey, that

  • Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer

    1 356 S. MISSION RD., LOS ANGELES As soon as it opened, just under two years ago, 356 S. Mission Rd. made a major—and majorly uplifting—impact on LA’s local culture. The effect has only deepened with each exhibition, performance, screening, conversation, workshop, and culinary event presented there since. Combining commercial gallery, kunsthalle, bookstore (an outpost of the much-beloved LA institution Ooga Booga), and artists’ studios, the collective compound represents a new, fluid, seemingly self-sustaining institutional model that gives me great hope. (I pretend no distance: I’m

  • picks August 12, 2014

    Chuck Nanney

    Chuck Nanney’s first solo exhibition in over ten years is a spare tableau redolent with magical thinking. In “Body Parts & Oracles,” the wraparound whiteness of this new gallery’s single room is dotted and dashed at various heights by small colorful blocks, tall vertical sticks, and diminutive decorative wings that angle off the walls to toy with fantasies of architectural liftoff. But as much as the latter are wings, the oblong protrusions presented here are also pink tongues and purple thumbs, stiff schlongs and saggy sideways sacs, skin flaps and mottled scabs punctuating the space and

  • picks April 10, 2014

    John Tweddle

    Recent weeks have seen the art world’s temperature spike over the money in art (and politics) problem. Who knows how long such simmering ideological skirmishes will last and whether confrontation can bubble into anything progressively steam-worthy. Nevertheless, taking sides vis-à-vis the raging “free market” has become more explicit.

    Now, then, is an ideal and necessary time to encounter the ebullient and searing paintings that John Tweddle made in the late 1960s and early 1970s, before removing himself from the New York art scene. In addition to some drawings, eight large canvases are on view,

  • picks February 14, 2014

    Mark Roeder

    In this show of one hundred paintings, densely hung salon style for concentrated horror vacui effect, Mark Roeder proves his facility and feeling for the medium while planting a perverse and vital antagonism at its heart. Each work is dubbed an Antipainting: The artist is resisting something.

    The graphic Antipaintings are generally painted thinly and simply in discrete black strokes on white canvases stretched or unstretched at varying sizes. They are flat and inky, recalling pen drawings, and several are distinctly informed by the spare stylings of Charles Schulz (that other Californian whom

  • Patrick Jackson

    The best things tend to be hidden underground: The tiered, tripartite structure that Patrick Jackson created for his latest show (the last at the gallery’s Culver City location) prompted a Freudian read in which the upstairs hovered as the superego, the street level lined up with the ego, and the id lay repressed below in the cellar. Jackson’s layered space paralleled the stratified logic of his previous “Tchotchke Stacks,” 2009–10, insinuating an ornamental role for viewers to play in relation to the art.

    The solitary figure of a teenage boy, Black Statue (all works 2013), was stationed on the

  • interviews December 02, 2013

    Bruce Hainley

    Bruce Hainley’s book on the artist Sturtevant is published this month by Semiotext(e) for their Native Agents Series. In addition to being the first monographic study of the artist in English, Under the Sign of [sic]: Sturtevant’s Volte-Face surpasses the promise of formal ingenuity already established in Hainley’s previously published books of poetry and his co-authored Art—A Sex Book. On December 7, Los Angeles’s Ooga Booga will host a reception and discussion with the author at 3 PM.

    FOR A LONG TIME, I thought I was writing a book on Warhol. Two things scotched that idea: Wayne Koestenbaum

  • Daniel Knorr

    Daniel Knorr’s Los Angeles debut was so conceptually tidy and neatly packaged as to seem pat, yet it opened onto divergent readings. The show’s fourteen brightly colored, polyurethane wall reliefs, titled “Depression Elevations,” 2013–, were cast from potholes in the streets of LA (with one piece molded from the cobblestones of Berlin, where Knorr is based). In addition, the artist roamed the city’s famously carcentric urban sprawl to collect all kinds of litter—from disposable floss toothpicks to license plates to snack bags—which he then had pressed between the pages of two hundred

  • picks October 17, 2013

    Maureen Gallace

    The fourteen small paintings in Maureen Gallace’s first exhibition at the gallery are sly heartbreakers. Depopulated and seemingly bucolic postcard scenes—nine of the New England real estate connoisseur’s typically remote houses, three of related beachscapes, and two of flowering rosebushes—lull the viewer into the sunny idyll of posh vacation sedation.

    The pale heather blue that sloshes in loose strokes across the foreground of Beach / Wave, 2013, exactingly simulates the thin, reflective waters of the receding tide as it drains over wet sand. While the layered patchwork of greens, wine reds,

  • 2013 California-Pacific Triennial

    Replacing the California Biennial (rendered redundant by the Hammer Museum’s “Made in LA” series), the Orange County Museum of Art’s new triennial organizes itself around the vast, rising, tsunami-prone waters of the Pacific Rim, suggesting a curatorial approach calibrated by the global currents of climate change and cross-cultural dialogue. Tracking the contours of that region north to Vancouver; south to Santiago, Chile, and Sydney; and west to Beijing and Chiang Mai, Thailand, the inaugural installment of the California-Pacific Triennial—organized by OCMA chief

  • Cameron Jamie

    Taking on the major cultural stakes of vernacular social phenomena, Cameron Jamie locates the convergence of spectacle, performance art, and ethnography in order to air the seriously unheimlich in working-class suburbia. Take, for example, the backyard wrestling of BB, 1998–2000, or the domestic dance insanity of Massage the History, 2007–2009, which Harmony Korine declared “the single greatest dance film ever made.” This summer, the Kunsthalle Zürich surveys Jamie’s oeuvre, with selections from the early 1980s to the present. Expect a spectrum of materials to be on view,

  • picks April 12, 2013

    Dan Finsel

    “Meeting Your Dark Self”; “Meeting the Inner Other in Paint”; “Contacting the Inner Man in Every Woman/the Inner Woman in Every Man”—these chapters of Margaret Frings Keyes’s 1974 self-help primer The Inward Journey: Art as Therapy for You structure and guide Dan Finsel’s trip down the rabbit hole of psychoanalysis. In its immersiveness, the exhibition is an extension of the artist’s already established penchant for method acting and inhabiting psychic roles. In its use of Pig Latin for titles throughout, the show—“E-thay Inward-Yay Ourney-Jay”—characteristically taps Finsel’s deep well of