A miscellany of things that caught my eye in New York and LA.
Ah, New York pizza, how we missed it! And the streets.
At the Whitney, an employee replaces wicks in a huge wax sculpture, telling the onlookers, “You know, this is not a performance.” Right, just a gal doin’ her job…
The 8 foot sculpture of Julian Schnabel is by Urs Fischer, who often works with materials that decay and change with time. I wonder how much of the cast wax sculpture has melted since I was there a month ago.
Fischer says, “You could see an artwork as an offering. If you are ready to take something out of it, or if you reject it, it’s up to you. It’s there anyway. That’s what I like about art.”
Puzzling it out inside a Serra sculpture at the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibit is up until July 29th. Go see it, and maybe you’ll be fortunate enough to have your assumptions about space and physicality skewed, or at least, enriched.
From the notebooks of June Leaf, at an exhibition titled “Thought is Infinite” at the Whitney through July 17th.
Born in 1929, Leaf has worked and shown in New York for many decades. If it wasn’t for this exhibition of her work at the Whitney I’d still be ignorant of her. She said in an interview: “You can make something and you see it. But then you have to spend your life to get the world to see it.”
A table top -sized sculpture by Leaf, above, and part of another sculpture, below.
When asked if she thinks of herself as a painter or sculptor, Leaf said she thinks she’s an inventor.
When asked when she knows a piece is finished: “The image has to hit you back, for all of your gesticulating and fighting and stabbing and jabbing, being courageous or weak, or soft or hard. Something tells you when you’ve told the truth. It is a little like falling in love, not that it is equal to that. But, it is a similar moment, where you can’t argue with it; you can’t fake being in love. “
A companion show at Thorp Gallery in Chelsea closed a few days ago, but Thorp regularly shows her work. Highly recommended.
Another show I enjoyed was Sigmar Polke at David Zwirner in Chelsea. Here is one painting from it, poorly shot with my phone:
Coffee break under the Highline.
On the other coast, my eye was caught by this palm growing next to a fence. The dizzying angle was surely a reflection of my state of mind.
At LACMA – the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. An installation of antique lamp posts by Chris Burden contrasts new and old and repeats the verticality of a nearby high rise and the ever present palms.
Detail from the kitchen of a private home in Hollywood Hills.
Below, an extraordinary tree at the Huntington Botanical Garden in LA. The silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa), called palo borracho (drunken stick) in Spanish, grows in South American tropics and sub-tropics. Covered with sharp little spears to keep animals away, its pods produce fluff used like kapok, which it’s related to. Who could resist that figure?
Beside a bonsai exhibit at the Huntington Botanical Garden, a guard began to quietly balance rocks on sculpture pedestals. He had an intense presence. He was heavyset with long, dark hair, and he wore Southwest Native American jewelry. Three young women watched him work, fascinated. It seemed to be something he would just do from time to time. One of women talked briefly and quietly to the guard. He was a man of few words. We heard snatches of the conversation: she was struggling with grief over a family member’s cancer, he offered to help her balance rocks; it would help her heal.
He showed her how, with almost no words – just 100 % concentration. After balancing a heavy rock on its narrow end herself, the woman broke into a smile and tears of joy.
It was one of those serendipitous moments that leave you breathless and without words.
Framed in LA, above; frames in LA, below.
More from the Melrose Flea market, a favorite LA Sunday shopping destination.
Parting LA shot: a spindly cactus reaches for a better view at LACMA.
Back home, the ubiquitous Doug firs, shot this time through a small pane of blue glass in a frame, balanced on a window. Sometimes the view from home is enough. Sometimes you need to fly somewhere, switch it up. I’m thankful that I have both options.