Travis Diehl

  • picks October 02, 2015

    Glenn Ligon

    Glenn Ligon’s Live dissects the full length of Richard Pryor’s 1982 concert film, Live on the Sunset Strip, projecting parts of the comedian across seven speechless screens. Suspended in the round are zooms onto hands, head, mouth, shadow, and crotch. Seemingly a formal study, the effect is also vertiginous. The blown-up reds, blacks, browns, and golds of Pryor’s face, suit, shirt, wedding ring, and boutonniere wrap sickly around each frame’s object, which is pinned to center. Ligon’s stated intent is to examine, beyond Pryor’s radical words, what made him such a great performer. Yet surrounded

  • picks September 18, 2015

    Carter Seddon

    In his latest suite of technically rich black-and-white ink-jet prints, closely cropped by mattes in the modernist style, Carter Seddon takes up the mantle of mundane yet piercing still lifes practiced by photographers’ photographers as diverse as Walker Evans and Moyra Davey. Subjects include Ikea packaging and a “wellness formula” nutrition label. In Computer (all works 2015), a single hair echoes the round corner of a MacBook. Canvas depicts dark flecks marring an otherwise clean warp and weft. Indeed, the slight tragedies of grime on pristine image planes emerge as a preoccupation. Moving

  • picks September 03, 2015

    Margaret Lee and Emily Sundblad

    “You Can Teach an Old Zebra New Tricks,” the second collaboration between New York artists Margaret Lee and Emily Sundblad, chases the tail of their first. For 2013’s “Für die Kinder Düsseldorfs” (For the Children of Düsseldorf) at Off Vendome, the pair realized a suite of furniture draped with sheets and painted to resemble jungle animals pulled from the pages of Curious George Takes a Job. In the beloved children’s book, George’s gig as a window washer offers him a glimpse of housepainters at work; when they take lunch, he takes over. Rather than coating walls white, though, George turns the

  • picks September 03, 2015

    Keaton Macon

    Keaton Macon’s Data Recovery, 2013–15, comprises 366 field recordings on cassette tapes, one for every day of the year, two hours each, for a total of 732 hours. Playing them back to back, it would take about a month of continuous listening to hear them all. Digital media might have offered the means to logically extend Macon’s exercise to a seamless document of every second of one year of his life, yet the present sample is what it is: Deliberately, overwhelmingly incomplete—indeed, just “complete” enough to indicate an impossible totality—an aural corollary to Sontag’s proposed “image world”—the

  • picks July 27, 2015

    Olaf Breuning

    Olaf Breuning’s latest presentation features a row of mural-scale oval stickers crammed with a circus of humans, ranging from life- to palm-sized, all wrangling their own modern problems. In Life III (all works 2015), a man slumps under the weight of dozens of empty champagne bottles. Above him, a woman applies a plunger to her face. Another is covered head to toe in iPhones; undaunted, she places a call (Life IV). Throughout, tiny figures wearing hundred-dollar-bill beach towels prance around like money imps.

    Others grip “shaped balloons”—a beer mug, an Elmo—in further recourse to the iconic

  • picks July 22, 2015

    “The Slick & The Sticky”

    Poetry, said Robert Lowell in 1960, divides between the Raw and the Cooked. Today we might rephrase the split as the Relatable and the Pretentious—perennially popular emotive verse; and insular, academic gestures conceived as text. Cocurator Vanessa Place practices the latter. Included is her Statement of Facts No. 28, 2012, one of a series of silk screens of transcripts from appellate rape trials (Place is both a poet and a lawyer), “stripped,” insofar as such a thing is possible, of everything but truth. What survives redaction are phrases such as simply “The man was naked.” See also Lisa

  • picks July 22, 2015

    A.L. Steiner

    A. L. Steiner’s first solo effort at Blum & Poe makes a formal presentation of the personal photo archive she has exhibited, in parts, for years. Meanwhile, a projection on the far back wall shows a website tracking deforestation, pollution, and other dire metrics of the world’s collapse. Clearly there is no more time for bullshit—except, maybe, that most exquisite bullshit of love. Love Changes the Lover, 2015, a big, framed digital collage, unites a ravaged ATM and bales of iridescent e-waste with the prosaic warmth of people gazing at the ocean or out windows. On a long wire, two cliché views

  • interviews July 03, 2015

    Yoshua Okón

    Earlier this year, Mexican artist Yoshua Okón travelled to Oracle, a small Arizona border town, to record the AZ Border Protectors. Oracle, 2015, the resulting four-channel video installation, includes footage Okón shot of the group reenacting a protest it had staged in 2014 against unaccompanied minors who crossed the border in record numbers that summer. The work will be on view in a show curated by Julio Cesar Morales at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe from July 4 through August 22, 2015.

    ORACLE includes a chorus of nine Guatemalan kids from the approximately sixty thousand

  • picks June 08, 2015

    “The Landscape of Golf”

    As lawns are let to die across a drought-stricken Southland, the Center for Land Use Interpretation mounts an exhibition, curated collectively by the CLUI staff, dedicated to our love of grass. Or rather, of golf, the game that needs lots of it. We learn, in an introductory didactic, that America’s golf courses stitched together would cut a swath a mile wide from coast to coast. Green Astroturf, crunchy underfoot, swaddles the gallery floor, complete with a golf bag and putter, a hole, and a flag. Covering one wall is a photo of a pond-side green at murky sundown.

    You might think you know what

  • picks June 08, 2015

    Milena Bonilla

    The specialization of “social insects,” such as bees and ants, is a tempting parallel with Communism in action; the difference, though, per Karl Marx, is that humans have free will. What ant, for example, would film itself crawling over the cracked ex-grave of Marx—a monument that now points toward his current monument in England? Leave it to artist Milena Bonilla to do so—her Stone Deaf, 2009–10, puts the insects’ segmented bodies to work as symbolic capital.

    The installation An Enchanted Forest, 2014, traces another poignant anamorphosis prompted by twentieth-century Communist states. A video

  • Pat O’Neill

    While Pat O’Neill is primarily known as an experimental filmmaker, this small retrospective, which filled two moodily lit galleries with five decades’ worth of sculptures, drawings, photographs, slides, and films, made a case for another, adjacent view of his practice—one concerned with fixed visual forms. In Untitled (Dingo 4), 1980, four identical gelatin silver prints of a dog appeared side by side, each overlain with a small photocopy that was partially obscured, in turn, by a different-colored paint chip—a frame-by-frame dissolve from color to color that recalled O’Neill’s movies.

  • picks May 26, 2015

    Kerry Tribe

    A long projection wall cleaves the space in two. The first half, daylit, contains a veritable chromed forest of warped, Seussian C-stands, composed along with piles of pristine apple boxes, potted plants, and the occasional parabolic-mirror pod or monitor. Here, the accoutrements of photo-media production are pretentiously made into sculpture, the artist expressing, barely, an attempt at expression.

    The second portion is a darkened theater screening Tribe’s three-channel video The Aphasia Poetry Club (all works 2015), narrated by three members of the titular group. “I’m aphasic,” says one, “and

  • picks May 05, 2015

    Max Maslansky

    After some youthful experimentation, Max Maslansky hit on the technique of painting blotchy pornographic figures, stain-thin on stretched bedsheets, punning on the aftermath of intercourse. In some cases, such as Gross Anatomy (Half-twin Bed) (all works 2015), this conceit seems to waver between titillation and satire. The scene depicts a pair of hands entering from the left to slide yellow panties off a pleasantly hot ass. The woman is similarly cropped at the midriff by the canvas; she mounts a stepladder in front of shelves of cartoonish “anatomical” specimens—a googly pair of eyes on a small

  • picks May 04, 2015

    Ken Gonzales-Day

    Of the 352 recorded lynchings in California since 1850, 132 of the victims were Latin American or Mexican and another 80 were African American, American Indian, or Chinese. Artist and author Ken Gonzales-Day’s groundbreaking revisionist history Lynching in the West (2006) argues persuasively and poetically that racist extrajudicial executions targeted more than just Southern blacks. His current exhibition stems from this research while also incorporating trigger-happy white cops in this notorious lineage (a grid of nine shots of ruined Ferguson, MO, or Justice for Michael Brown, Los Angeles, CA

  • Marcus Herse

    Visitors to Greene Exhibitions will likely brave that most persistent of LA clichés: terrible traffic. So those who came for Marcus Herse’s solo show were primed for a suite of six long videos, projected larger-than-life on each of the gallery’s three walls in loops of two, of the artist piloting his car through gridlock. The works were shot using a camera joined to an electric motor mounted to the vehicle’s inner roof, which allowed the lens to swivel from left to right in small, even increments. Herse posits driving as “durational” performance, like Situationist wanderings filmed by an autonomous

  • picks April 22, 2015

    Mark A. Rodriguez

    Both a statement of a serial method and the ploy of an earnest businessman, Mark A. Rodriguez’s latest show mostly comprises unsold inventory from his solo effort at LA’s Park View this past January. Seven copies total of two models of his Common Lamps (all works 2015), disarmingly crafted from copper tubes, colored bulbs, and two sizes of cheap aluminum saucepans, sit in a careful row. It is significant that Rodriguez fills their bases with that most persistent, most irritating of US denominations: the penny. This unlimited edition of artist-designed lighting tosses a lo-fi invective at the

  • picks April 10, 2015

    Jon Pestoni

    Lots of people make paintings these days; few are painters; rarer still are those who, like Jon Pestoni, are able to contort the suspicious self-evidence of their medium into something complex. His latest solo exhibition presents ten self-deprecating, layered works, each broad swath neurotically qualifying the last with technically virtuosic, singular style.

    Pestoni has spent long enough in this nonfigurative territory that the gestural arcs, dry-brushed on top of colors already jostling to recede and pop, read as self-aware, increasingly inadequate redactions. Topcoats smeared with wide curls

  • picks April 10, 2015

    Sarah Conaway

    A ledge in the back of the gallery holds a row of small, darkly patina’d sculptures. On the far left, above the rough-cut titular opening of Archway (all works 2015), the metal bears a looser, bowing scratch made in the styrofoam original. That the casting process preserved this detail even in bronze, a material perhaps destined for greater posterity than framed photos, underscores the often provisional and fragile objecthood of Conaway’s subjects. Her elegant still lifes are modernist in program, oddly post- in parenthetical design and display. Careful and technical, Conaway’s images wink at

  • picks April 09, 2015

    Olga Balema & Anne de Vries

    Olga Balema and Anne de Vries’s “Listening” offers several weirdly supple sculpted riffs on aural physiology—that is, ears. In the most literal example, de Vries’s Listening to Snail (all works 2015), the small, whorled shell of the titular mollusk sits in the hollow of a big plaster ear, echoing its curves. The tumorous lobes of his vacuum-formed Faces, shallow head-shaped pucks covered in abstract mounds, are printed with pixelated, nerve-like digital tracings. The double yellow bars of Apple Maps freeways and pictures of Apple earbuds cross the surface of Face 03, evoking a kind of technical

  • picks March 25, 2015

    David Hartt

    Washed-out color shots of sagging architecture fill the windows of a storefront at the Bonaventure Hotel, a fitting advertisement for David Hartt’s “Interval.” Inside, a pair of monitors mounted to black poles screen lush, near-static grayscale footage—on the left, Siberia; the right, Alaska—set to a skittering, plunking sound track by Mitchell Akiyama. Stateside, for example, a balletic shot of helicopter gunships taxiing on some remote tarmac, while opposite, Russian kids hanging out in a parking lot throw their sports car into donuts. Somewhere in the Yukon, a silvery-gray fence hems in a