Critics’ Picks



Los Angeles

Mark A. Rodriguez

Emma Gray HQ
Private residence near Santa Monica/Venice border. Please email for address:
March 12–April 26, 2015

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 abstract financial mishaps of the past decade—selling money to the rich, as it were, in the form of sculptural home decor.

This would be a hard fight to pick for an artist who moves lots of product—and trickier still for an “emerging” one such as Rodriguez. Not that money doesn’t matter. A puzzle printed with the image of a predatory life-insurance mailer, framed like a cheesy corporate award (Accomplishment), leans against the wall; the back of one piece set in a matte window is scrawled with a chillingly apropos note: “Never stop. bad driver, never stop bad driver”—as if existence, like the advertised policy, has a five-figure value, and, short of cash, poetry and persistence are the only weapons. A pair of wrinkled receipts pinned to a stud (Party Fish), both for small amounts, invoke the mundane POS through which we all confront capitalism. Reasserting the show’s preened pugnacious tone, the work is listed “NFS”—though none of the other pieces is overtly priced. The politics of cash, while present, remain unpersuasively vague. The show’s one completely new work lines the garage-cum-gallery walls: Business Landscapes, draped vinyl tarps printed with the facades of high-rise offices or apartments, behind which who knows what really goes on.