COLUMNS

  • Sweat and Lowdown

    The Extra Action Marching Band is a thirty-five strong troupe of Bay Area drum-and-horn hellions who play an aggro blend of Balkan brass music, New Orleans second-line funk, and primeval Moroccan trance, preceded by a raunchy flag team that marches, bumps, and grinds in corsets, hot pants, and pasties. They have graced the prestigious Guca brass band festival in Serbia, sailed the playa at Burning Man in a self-built Spanish galleon, and rocked the Hollywood Bowl with fan and colleague David Byrne. They incite near-riots wherever they go, and may be some of the best public art available in our

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  • Dog and Pony Show

    “This is Jeffrey at his finest,” announced Steve Powers, a.k.a. ESPO, assessing the Italian dinner served up in honor of the Dreamland Artist Club, Powers’s urban beautification project which, for the past two years, has recruited mostly New York-based artists to create signage for Coney Island businesses, concession stands, and arcade games. To celebrate, Jeffrey Deitch and non-profit Creative Time teamed up to throw a real “island party” in Brooklyn. Held in the sprawling Gargiulo’s restaurant (whose outdoor mosaics and plaster fountains have a new addition, Dreamland’s crowning achievement:

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  • West Side Peers

    “I like the maid’s room, Richard” says a visitor, one half of a ballerina-and-polo-player-beautiful-couple whom architect Richard Meier is guiding around apartment 4B in his latest residential tower, 165 Charles Street, overlooking the West Side Highway. In a dark corner of the windowless little chamber is a video projection of shivering digital flowers. This turns out to be art by Jennifer Steinkamp, courtesy of Lehmann Maupin Gallery. There’s a faint whirr from the projector fan. “Well,” Meier says gently, “that’s a closet.”

    Still, the closet is so well proportioned, with its frosty glass door,

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  • Wild Palms

    Full of honeyed light, looming tropical fronds, and lazily splashing koi, the third-floor conservatory is one of the quieter corners in that Brutalist warren of exhibition and concert halls known as the Barbican Center. It’d be a good place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon in its own right, but add in the fact that Cerith Wyn Evans has mobilized this paradisiacal green zone with a chancy, multistrand sound piece—not to mention that the city’s feeling somewhat torn and frayed thanks to the recent terrorist bombings and the police killing of an innocent suspect—and, as was clear from

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  • Solitary Refinement

    “Against Nature,” a weeklong series of performances inspired by the careening decadence of J. K. Huysmans’s novel of the same name, is a multidisciplinary collaboration at the ten-month-old theXpo Gallery in DUMBO. The neighborhood is deserted on summer weeknights; the gallery was an oasis of activity. Eric LoPresti, a painter, had hung his high-grade Photorealism—mostly paintings of bundled extension cords, with the remarkable exception of a knot of eels—on the walls. They are done in industrial OSHA hues and are placed on flat colored grounds carefully chosen for maximum “zing,” as

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  • Helter Shelter

    On Thursday night, Los Super Elegantes’ new musical, The Technical Vocabulary of an Interior Decorator, premieres at Daniel Hug Gallery in L.A.’s Chinatown, itself a Disneyfied fantasy neighborhood, at least by comparison to New York’s. Fans of Milena Muzquiz and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet’s theatrical mayhem have turned out in force, among them a passel of New York dealers—Jeffrey Deitch and his lovely assistant, Nikki Vassall, and Amalia Dayan and Stefania Bortolami—as well as Chinatown gallerist Javier Peres (LSE’s last play in L.A., The Falling Leaves of St. Pierre, was staged at

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  • Witch on Heels

    Your diarist is wicked hungover but still committed to writing five hundred words about Kiki and Herb’s free concert Thursday night following the opening of “Founders Day,” the Jack Smith-inspired summer show at Grimm/Rosenfeld. (How many words is that?) The charming, disarming, and often alarming pair serenaded their adoring audience from a third-floor fire escape across 25th Street from the gallery. Framed by a spotlight against the brick façade of the gallery building, the mise-en-scène was very West Side Story meets Evita. Every once in a while a truck went by and blocked the talent. The

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  • Pop Rocks

    It was a beautiful summer Friday evening in Los Angeles as I arrived at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre for the world premiere performance of Petra Haden’s a cappella remake of The Who’s 1967 album, The Who Sells Out, presented by the Society for the Activation of Social Space through Sound (SASSAS). Encircled by lush flora, the Ford is a handsome, vaguely medieval fortress, its idyllic charms heightened by its proximity to the decidedly un-idyllic 101 Freeway. I reached the stage in time to hear the end of the sound check. Petra was the sole performer on the recording, but is joined for live

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  • Park Life

    During my harrowing mini-cab journey from Shoreditch to Hyde Park, the meteorological prospects for the Serpentine Summer Party did not look good. A long overdue week of glorious weather had succumbed to fitful rain, and my overblown visions of sartorial extravagance, radical architecture, and green urban meadows were quickly giving way to damp disappointment. The taxi made its way gradually, detained slightly by the hordes scurrying off to a Babyshambles and Kasabian gig elsewhere in the park. The clouds lifted just as I noticed a large “Make Poverty History” banner for the Live 8 concert that

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  • Mother's Courage

    The second and final performance of Robert Melee’s Talent Show last Thursday at The Kitchen drew a sold-out crowd. (At the last minute colorful pillows were thrown on the floor in front, kindergarten-style, for additional seating). The homage to current downtown performance ran the queer gamut from the haute-foppish pretension of Wayne Koestenbaum’s poetry reading (“But relatedness—Winnicott, Klein?—shines in her eyes”) to the pure gender-bending ridiculousness of Julie Atlas Muz’s anatomically perverse “Mr. Pussy,” which eschewed vagina dentata in favor of the relatively ineffectual

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  • Tuttle Recall

    Richard Tuttle’s highly anticipated SF MoMA retrospective is, like his work, a deft balance of playfulness, elegant presentation, fine-tuned funkiness, and what one admirer described to me as a “slow burn” aesthetic. And on opening night, the art definitely smoldered, even if the festivities themselves were lukewarm. SF MoMA’s openings haven’t been particularly lively since “the go-go David Ross days,” as Bay Area-based art historian Pamela M. Lee put it. Back then, in the era of the dot-com bubble, the museum’s events pulsed with an—how to put this—irrational exuberance that’s been

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  • Soggy Notion

    On Monday night, I excused myself early from a friend’s book party to go uptown for the Public Art Fund-sponsored screening of William Kentridge’s Nine Drawings for Projection in Central Park, arriving just as an intermittent light rain began to fall. In the otherwise empty park, my companion and I found a few hundred people at the band shell, among them New Museum Director Lisa Phillips, Marian Goodman and almost all of her staff, composer Philip Miller (Kentridge’s longtime collaborator), and the artist himself. Staffers handed out clear plastic ponchos to everyone and, after a twenty-minute

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