Thursday, December 10, 2009

FBC! Will Be Temporarily Closed Until Early 2010

It's this time of the year again when rain comes to LA, there's a festive atmosphere, etc. and yours truly prepares for an annual visit in the motherland of frogs and stinky cheeses. It's a bit busy for me, and in addition to it my accident-traumatized right shoulder hurts like hell, despite being on meds, so typing away at the laptop is a bit trying. You've noticed I hadn't written much since March, it's because it is physically painful.

Before I leave you for a few weeks, I just want to reiterate how lucky we are in LA right now with the currently awesome exhibitions at our local museums. If you have a bit of free time, I'd recommend seeing all the photo exhibitions currently up at LACMA (seriously, great show, with The Sum of Myself: Photographic Self-Portraits from the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Collection), as well as the Melendez one, who, despite LACMA's best efforts to make us believe it, wasn't a great painter (not sandwiched between Velazquez and Goya, he couldn't have been, poor thing), and was rather a century backwards in his specialization in bodegones. But the show is interesting precisely in highlighting a very minor historical figure who was working in a nostalgic and minor way (like so many artists today) and yet his work somehow survived and was kept in collections and finally was given a retrospective a long, long time after his death (and after the invention of public museums - artists were not given even solo exhibition during Melendez lifetime).
I always think that if contemporary artists were looking more at this type of historical artists they would probably be a bit more humble and realistic about where their work was going to end up and who would be looking at it and for what reasons.

There's also the absolutely beautiful Charles Burchfield show at the Hammer, which woul be unforgivable for you to miss and the Bible illustrated by Robert Crumb, so if you don't know how to spend a rainy day or two, you'll just have to head over to Westwood. There's also the MOCA collection currently on view in both facilities of the museum (Grand Avenue and the Geffen).

If you are in LA this weekend, you can go attend the opening of All Time Greatest organized at the Fellow of Contemporary Arts space on 970 N. Broadway (suite 208), 7 to 9 PM, with Dave Muller DJ-ing. Gabrielle Ferrer, Brendan Fowler, Alex Klein, Dave Muller, Eamon Ore-Giron, Vincent Ramos, Steve Roden, Brian Roettinger, Sumi Ink Club, and Stephanie Taylor are all in the show, and if you're a doll please go introduce yourself to Stephanie Taylor and Alex Klein and say hi for me. Thanks!

And right before the opening, you can swing by Eagle Rock and go see the performance organized through/by Artists Curated Projects at the home of Eric Kim, all the info is here. Please say hi to Nancy Popp for me too!

Before the year 2009 is over for FBC!, if you are stumped for gifts ideas for your families and friends, may I suggest you offer them a membership at one of your local museums? Aside from the big names out here, there are plenty of smaller spaces such a the Santa Monica Museum of Art or the Pacific Asia Museum that could use all the help possible and they often are little peaceful jewels.

Have a nice holiday, dear readers, and see you in 2010!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The 2009 Edition Of The Great LA Walk Was Awesome!

the Shrine parking lot sign

Hello, my beloved, adored readers!

I'm happy to detour you away from the usual art fare on FBC! to give you a complete report on this year's edition of the Great LA Walk. Initially scheduled to be under 14 miles, the organizer Mike Schneider had us go up and down Adams and Washington at the start of the walk to see the beautiful architecture of West Adams, so we ended up covering 17.4 miles, all the way from the Shrine Auditorium to Venice!

Yours truly got up around 6 AM to quietly eat the breakfast of champions, get ready and hop on the bus and on a later connection to make it around 8.30 at the Shrine Auditorium and wander on the USC area for espresso before our 9 AM starting time. I was incredibly grouchy as the 4 or 5 people who had professed for weeks their enthusiasm at doing the walk with me all flaked out at the last minute (bunch of wusses and losers!) under the most dubious pretexts. Since I'm in chronic pain after all my car accidents (back and shoulder injuries give me no rest) and *I* did it, I didn't take too kindly the various excuses my flaky friends gave me (but I still love you people!).

Fortunately during the walk I met several people who made it really enjoyable and fun: Adam, Lee, Liesl, Ronda who joined us in Culver City and Maggie who walked with us after we passed Sepulveda. At the end, in the bar in Venice where we had the after-party we were joined by Lee's boyfriend Eddie (I think?) who very kindly gave me a ride home after, and saved me from the 3 bus rides home my old and desiccated body would have had trouble to undertake. Thank you so much all of you for all the fun!

We were about 250 people gathering just for the fun of walking all the way to the sea, thanks to Mike Schneider of the awesome blog Franklin Avenue who organized everything for us. Epic walker Walter was here too, who did all the previous walks and then some more, as attested with the cute little signs he painted on his helmet. Walter walked the length of Western Avenue from North to South a couple of years ago, which took him 2 days. Respect!
Mike's son Evan got his daddy to push him in his stroller for half of the walk, so in addition to his leg muscles Mike must now have really toned biceps as well! Mike's wife and their baby were following in their car all day long, so we all got to see and meet the family behind the Great LA Walk. Thanks so much for organizing such a fun adventure!

Walter the epic walker, waving his helmet during the group picture

So we started at the Shrine Auditorium, where I hadn't been since a Chemical Brothers concert in the late 1990s. It was a really cool place to start as I realized (duh!) that it was named after the Shriners organization, something I know virtually nothing about except they do put ex-votos near their statues, wear fez hats, have some deity (??) named Malakhai (spelling?) and an organization that include a "potentate" and a "rabban". If anybody has a good book to recommend about the Shriners, I'm interested to learn more! I liked that the parking lots has a domed logo replicating the Shrine's on its sign.

From there we walked a block West to see the Felix auto concession with its namesake cartoon character effigy, a "since 1921" stenciled above its door and the names of US carmakers in dire straits (Chevrolet, Cadillac), we passed the magnificent headquarters of AAA (seriously, everybody should go visit them), passed by the last remaining 50 feet of the Zanja, LA's original irrigation system that must date back from the late 1700s (?) and is under threat from developers willing to build a disgustingly ugly student housing complex to disfigure and obscure the adjacent and magnificent Thomas Stimson mansion and the Saint Vincent de Paul Church. We had someone from the West Adams Heritage Association give us a small talk about te neighborhood.

Felix car dealership

After this we sauntered up and down Adams and Washington, visiting the grounds of Mount St Mary College (including the Doheny Mansion and plenty of other interesting buildings), the Amat Residence where silent-movie era celebrities such as Theda Bara, Joseph Schenck and Norma Talmadge lived but also the (in)famous Fatty Arbuckle. Ronda mentioned the book "I, Fatty" about the scandal, I hope to check it up soon.

Many of the palatial mantions and houses we saw were beautifully restored and were converted (alas) in USC frat houses (I shudder thinking about drunken fratboys vandalizing the delicate interiors) but many more were sadly derelict and run-down.
It was really interesting walking around West Adams to see how there were pockets of obvious wealth within really dingy neighborhoods, and how some really beautiful architecture was still existing everywhere, regardless of the economic status of the various places we walked by.
The other thing we realized was how big West Adams was and how largely residential it remains. I can imagine how it could be subject to further gentrification in the future, once Eagle Rock/Highland Park/Glassel Park/Atwater Village/Silverlake and Echo Park all have merged into the final über-hipster bourgeois enclave it is ineluctably destined to be (you know, like SoHo in NYC).

Along the way we saw the house where Marvin Gaye was killed by his father, the house used in Six Feet Under, the house that used to belong to the mother of Gaylord Wilshire (he of the boulevard name - read the book!), and the Ray Charles studio. We also passed by the gorgeous Angeles-Rosedale Cemetery where I've been a couple of times. It's full of very interesting tombstones, and the chapel is really adorable too.

Around 12.30 I found myself walking with the charming Adam, who kindly shared his bag of carrots with me (thank you so much!) and then patiently waited for me when I got myself a really good burger at the Jonnie (I think) burger stand on Adams and Crenshaw. Don't try their fries, but the burger is good, they also have a pastrami hot dog that looked really great, and I don't even like pastrami.
My camera battery died around there, unfortunately.

The Zanja on Figueroa

After this we were firmly and definitively on Washington, where we passed by the Nate Holden Theater where other walkers spotted Magic Johnson who was attending an event, and then we all stopped for lunch in my 'hood, where the Mid-City Neighborhood Council passed on water, trail mix, candies, sunscreen wipes (true genius!) and hand sanitizers to all of us, and the Atomic Café had concocted a $5 bagged lunch special (turkey sandwich, chips, cookies). I had their really good blackberry/boysenberry smoothie, Adam got some chili, and I saw some ribs that looked really good too. Unfortunately, 250+ patrons took their toll on the small bathroom and we clogged their sink. Sorry, sorry Atomic Café! I hope we will bring you more clients, as your food is really good and fairly priced.

Waiting on the side near Atomic for us was the Marked 5 truck (Japanese burgers on rice "buns"). We were tired and hot and sweaty and thinking, "hey, where's Coolhaus when we need them????". I would have enjoyed the Nom Nom truck as well, and I think this morning near USC the Buttermilk truck would have made a killing, had it been there (because, you know, Starbucks and Dennys...)

After an hour break we started walking again, when I met Lee and Liesl with whom I crossed into Culver City, yay! We all shared a common taste for cooking, good food and fun, so our goal was espresso at Surfas Café where Lee needed to get vanilla bean paste, and Liesl and I were more than happy to use their bathroom. I also got a great lemon bar with lavender, and Lee got a chocolate cannelé. Liesl was good and got nothing! We passed by the ridiculous Royal T, restaurant row in downtown Culver City, missed the 2.30 meeting point at the old City Hall (I think we were trailing Mike and the boys by a good 15 minutes) but met Ronda then, who is a resident a Culver City and knew all about places to stop by and get treats and bathroom stops.
During the second part of the walk we realized how BIG and WIDE and LONG Culver City is, dammit!

We passed by a stretch we dubbed "pastry shop row" because we saw several stores including the delicate and sophisticated Platine where goodies are very small and pricey but look really appetizing. We were not hungry so we bought nothing, but I hope to go by one day and try their "vanilla oreos". After we passed pastry shop row where one "healthy" store was not attractive to my Frenchy self (but will appeal to SoCal natives) the walk started to be... difficult.
We set our sights on Sepulveda and the bloody 405 thinking, yay, we're on the West Side! more miles to go???? I had never been so happy to see the 405 ever, but the realization we had to pass Centinela...Lincoln...until we made it was, uh, daunting.

We stopped at Samosa House where we didn't get anything but enjoyed looking at the store, then at Leaf so Ronda and Lee could get some coconut juice, and we all used their bathrooms.
I know I'm mentioning bathrooms a lot, but when you're on a 17.4 miles walk the issue is critical, and all the places we stopped at were beacons of kindness and cleanliness, so I do hope you will go patronize them and eat/buy goodies there.

Ray Charles Studio

After Lincoln the Sun was rapidly declining and in the waning sunset, at 5 PM we finally spotted the lifegard shack on Venice Beach in a postcard-perfect moment, with rows of impossibly tall palm trees aligned on both sides. It was too dark to join the group photo at the end, so we gratefully ended up sharing drinks and food at Baja Cantina where we rested our sore bodies. I was limping so much when we left that I'm very thankful to Lee and Eddie for taking us all back home as I don't see how I could have possibly walked up to Venice to catch the first of 3 buses to reach the Frenchy But Chic Mansion (it's palatial). I sauntered to bed at 9 PM, and got up on Sunday at 9 AM.

Now two days after I'm still very sore all over, but thanks to my investvment in my Saucony Jazz sneakers and my ASICS Kayano II socks my feet and toes are in tip-top shape: no cracks, no blisters, no bunions, no callouses. I mentioned my injuries earlier, so in all honesty I have to say I was on meds all day, so thanks to Cartrex and Voltaren (both are prescription-only) I was in no more pain than necessary.
I'm mentioning all these brands not because I am a shill - no one sent me any free sample of medications nor sponsored my choice of socks and shoes but myself - but because last year I was inadequatly shorn and ill-equipped, so I ended up dropping out of the walk after 9 miles thanks to a ping-pong ball-sized blister under my left foot. This year, I researched better what I needed, trained in September with a 9-mile walk on Route 66 between South Pasadena and Arcadia, and I'm very happy I made it all the way, from start to finish, on the Great LA Walk 2009.

It was really a fun adventure and I'm very proud we all made it, so I hope to see you, beloved readers, as well as my new friends next year on November 20, 2010 when, for its 5-year anniversary, the Great LA Walk 2010 will tackle Wilshire again. Hopefully by then a generous benefactor will have offered me a couple extra battery packs for my Canon Powershot SD 750 (hint, hint) so I can document the second half of the walk!
And, lastly, if I can make a plea to Mike Schneider: could we start about 30 minutes earlier next year, so we have a bit more daylight to take pictures at the end of the walk?

[I will be posting more pictures of the walk later in the next couple of weeks or so]

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Your Social Life -Elsewhere This Week

If you live in LA, you can't have missed the hoopla about MOCA's 30th birthday and all the self-congratulatory stuff about the-museum-back-from-the-brink-celebrates-its-gala, with worldwide famous and famed art amateurs Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in attendance, to witness the Francesco Vezzoli orchestrated "performance" with no less than Lady Gaga. In case you wondered, tickets to attend the event started at $5,000.

[if you managed to read this entire first sentence without pausing for breath, you will figure in my thoughts on Thanksgiving. Just write a comment "I didn't die from asphyxia" with your name, and I'll do a performance during the holiday. Promise].

We're all happy for MOCA it didn't die financially, but very sorry it had to succumb to the uppermost vulgarity in order to do so. RIP, aesthetic and intellectual appreciation of art, arise, bling-loving status seekers. As an ad hoc epitaph for the artistic endeavor it used to be, MOCA has put up a show of its permanent collection (the raison d'être of any museum worth its salt) which you can go see for free until I believe tomorrow Friday, both at the Geffen and at the Grand avenue main building. Hurry, you'll have to wait 30 more years before you're able to see it again!

Aside from celebrating MOCA's anniversary, there are a bunch of shows opening this Saturday you can go visit, but you won't find yours truly, because I'll be doing my annual pilgrimage from downtown to the sea. It's this French catholic heritage where we have to redeem ourselves or something, so I'm trying to expiate all the current vulgarity of the art world by doing ... something else.

But for you, local LA arts people who didn't grow up in a place where vulgarity was frown upon from birth, you don't have anything to expiate so you can go out and attend a few openings. I'd recommend highly the two shows opening at Steve Turner, where I would go myself but I won't be fit to, the high point being "Amir Zaki" selects. There's also China Adams whose work seems attractive, so make sure to come by and see it. If you feel like it you can also participate in the Miracle Mile Art Walk.
You can then race down to La Cienega and enjoy Sharon Lockhart's new show at Culver City new behemoth, the Blum & Poe giga-mega-insane new building. Before or after, cross the street but for the life of everything that's holy and sacred, don't jaywalk, so you can safely go and see the new exhibition at LAXart, featuring Alice Könitz (and a lot of other things, but you can click on the link and see for yourself, you lazy readers). You can also go help Side Street Project by participating to Bookmeat. There's also an opening at Roberts & Tilton.

If you are possessed with an invite, I think Saturday is also the opening of the show curated by Hou Hanru at REDCAT. But only if you have an invite, you lucky member of the exclusive elite.

If you're in Chinatown (and, between MOCA's B-Day, and REDCAT, I see with my psychic powers a very downtown-centric evening for you art people) you can of course attend the various openings at Chung King Projects, China Art Objects and Tom Solomon/Cottage Home.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Your Social Life - Not At Performa Edition!

In case you haven't noticed, right now in NYC the performance festival Performa 09 (watch out, noisy website) is going on. It seems to have expanded exponentially since the 1st edition to the point that there are now some -off Performa events, and even some -off -off Performa ones. It all looks confusing to me, but I'm not in NYC this weekend, I'm in LA where as usual some stuff is going on.

To begin with, I'm making an exception to my usual policy of not mentioning the events promoted by begging and/or nagging PR people because these ones actually asked very politely and nicely that I spread a bit of "internet love" about their event. So here it is, an auction at Track 16 and a party for Rachel Rosenthal, her 83 birthday bash. Like all Track 16 events it is likely to be fun, so if you are not a broke-ass Frenchy like myself and can spend $25, go and have fun and maybe you can also buy one of the 83 art pieces donated by the likes of Mike Kelley, Betye Saar, Ed Ruscha or John Baldessari. Happy Birthday Rachel Rosenthal!

On Friday if you're in West LA, don't miss Filophile at Jaus, with FBC! pal Chris Sicat. Note that a portion of all sales will go to a relief organization helping the victims of Typhoon Ondoy which recently devastated the Philippines.
Don't forget the Pacific Design Center Design Loves Art Series curated by Diana Thater and Helen Varola. Opening from 5 to 8 PM on Friday, with a special Art Catalogues pop-up store and many interesting artists.

On Sunday in Eagle Rock, you can attend the event organized by Outpost for Contemporary Art, the Monster Drawing Rally, where many LA artists will make drawings in public, Dave Muller will DJ (if you don't know it yet, he's a badass fabulous DJ). The drawings will then go on sale for $75 each, not bad if you look at the list of over 100 artists involved. Donation required of $10 at the entrance. And while you're in Eagle Rock, you will only be a stone throw from Pasadena where Offramp Gallery opens Small Works between 2 and 5 PM.

Lastly, if you're one of my numerous readers in the Pacific Northwest (hello! Any readers outside of Eugene and Portland here? Seattle, can you hear me?), originating in LA but launching this weekend in Seattle and later in Vancouver (the one in Canada) is the #2 issue of Area Sneaks, a literary and art journal to which your truly has contributed. It's out! You can buy it! No proceed of the sales will go into my pocket, so the shameless self-promotion is truly disinterested!
Have a great weekend happy FBC! readers!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Fourth Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar

Once in a Chinese bazaar I fought to avert my eyes from the unusual animals for sale as food: puppies, kitties, snakes. At the recent Los Angeles Archives Bazaar I fought to look away too – the sights, sounds and amazing stories in the featured photos, films, rare books and newspaper archives were so riveting, I couldn’t tear myself away. For example:

- Who knew my elderly West Adams neighbor Mayme Clayton was stuffing her garage with the second largest archive of Black Memorabilia in the country-- rare Little Black Sambo’s, slave stories, and L.A. Harlem Renaissance photographs?

- Who knew there was a Great Shark Hysteria of 1939 – multiple shark attacks in Long Beach, with a missing Compton fisherman turning up in a shark’s tummy off Catalina – identified by his Timex?

- Who knew Raymond Chandler lived in 36 different Southern California locations – from Monrovia to Riverside to Big Bear, 24 places in L.A. alone -- with his wife Cissy, 20 years his senior?

Los Angeles is famous for its hucksters, riots, mass murders, and celebrity suicides. Fortunately someone’s been preserving all this weird wacko-jacko history once the police barricades come down: the city’s mousy archivists – in dozens of local archives and libraries. Yep, we always knew these shy librarian-types with their horn-rimmed glasses and sweater clips had all the good stuff. Still waters run deep -- like under the L.A. bridges highlighted in this cool calendar available from the rad organization Studio for Southern California History.
Catch the Fifth Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar next year (see their Facebook page). Here’s a video from last year’s event.

(Guest blogger Renee Montgomery is head of the archives program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where her favorite historical event is The Bridge-Game Murder in May Company)

Picture found courtesy of the LIFE archive on Google Images, found here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Your Social Life, East Side, West Side

Your Saturday this week will see you once again cavorting all over town, with FBC! super close friend Nancy Popp who will present a talk at Outpost For Contemporary Art about her recent street performances all over the world. It involves pole climbing (not pole dancing, you dirty scoundrels) and many, many other things. Nancy being also a very practical person, her talk is scheduled at 3 in the afternoon, which should leave you enough time to go eat a bite and then head off to Chinatown and the William Powhida opening at Charlie James. If you go early enough, then you can continue your Westward journey toward Hollywood where at Circus Gallery you will discover the unveiling of the new group show The Hills Are Alive with Chris Wilder! The other stop on your way West will be in West Hollywood at Margo Leavin who not only FINALLY HAS A WEBSITE, YEEPEE!!! but also has a super early reception (seriously, who has openings between 4 and 6 PM in this town?) for our very own Jeffrey Vallance with his project, Lapland Shaman Drum.

(pic: Jeffrey Vallance from his Margo Leavin show)

Friday, October 16, 2009

How Did You Get Sucked Into The Big Art Vortex?

Following a series of threads launched by the always excellent Mark Dutcher (Hi Mark!) on his Facebook wall, I've asked a few of my Facebook friends to answer this query:
How did you get sucked into the Big Art Vortex? Were you influenced by your family, friends? Did you attend some after-school art programs (I did)? Was it the shock of visiting an exhibition, or attending someone's class/lecture in college?
I got some very interesting answers and I thought it would be nice for my (few and far between) readers to answer this question in the comments below. Please don't hesitate to let the world at large know!

The picture of course is Composition, 1913, by Vorticist painter Wyndham Lewis.

[and I apologize to have to make you register to comment but I'm getting way too much botspam otherwise]

LACMA On Fire Blog and Let's Start A New Power 100 List

My connection is freakingly sluggish these days, and I'm not too much into writing, but I wanted to link to the really smart blog Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, which I like a lot because, unlike most art blogs in this town and elsewhere, it does not focus exclusively on contemporary art.
For the few people who asked me: I do not know its author personnally, or if I do this person hasn't made himself or herself known to me. And I couldn't care less who it is or if this person works at LACMA or not. I just think it is a very intelligent blog, pertinent and well-written (and funny too!). And unlike myself, the author of this blog is truly reactive (maybe (s)he hasn't suffered from blog fatigue yet).

On the opposite site of the spectrum (meaning, wallowing in intellectual mediocrity) is Art Review's rankings of the "100 more powerful art personalities". Just the idea of ranking people acording to their power is ridiculous, but a list that begins with Hans-Ulrich Obrist and ends up with Glenn Beck just sounds like... a big joke.
In passing, most of the people on this list (with the exception of Mike Kelley) are not particularly known for their sense of humor. So maybe we could start a new list "the 100 funniest, most entertaining, endearing and/or eccentric personnalities in the art world".

Please nominate your entries either in the comments section of this post, or drop me an email at
Please explain after your choices why they belong to the list, if possible with a few exemples. Write in up to 5 names, multiple votings are OK too. Depending on the volumes of answers I'll run the results either before Christmas or early in the new year.

(image from Bruce Nauman's video Clown Torture, 1987

Your Social Life In Freaky Weather!

Here we are, it's October, everywhere else in the Northern hemisphere (say in London, where the Frieze art fair is drawing to an end this weekend) it's Fall season, and here in California we've been welcoming rain mid-week, and now we're experiencing 96ºF, sunshine, and uncharacteristically very high humidity. Your truly is suffering from blocked air pipes, so I'm a bit slow on the uptake, plus I had a couple of deadlines to meet this week, hence making this installment of YSL kind of late (and, yes, I know I missed it last week: see "deadlines to meet" above).

So I haven't paid much attention to the art world, and I'm going to haphazardly unload a list of the few openings you should go to tomorrow.
Starting at 4 PM in Glendale tomorrow, don't miss Mama San at the always excellent Glendale College Gallery (hi Roger!). Right after you can go to Pasadena and enjoy the unveiling of David Schafer's public project at the Huntington Hospital. If you decide to go please RSVP on the Facebook page so David can get enough food and wine.
If you drive a bit further West don't forget to stop in Chinatown for JP Munro's opening at China Art Objects.
If you'd rather be on my side of town there's an opening at Steve Turner, complete with the de rigueur "Mexican Chinese Fusion taco truck".
Further West in Santa Monica at 18th street, there's a show called "Without A Car In the World" by Diane Meyer, who lives car-less in Los Angeles, something I've done a lot (see: 3 car accidents in 18 months) and as heroic and environmentally-friendly as it may be, I don't recommend doing unless you have lots of time on your hands.

Meanwhile, you likely won't see my Frenchy self at any of these shows: I'm going out to see one of my favorite bands playing tomorrow night, and alas I'm still not in good enough shape to go cavorting all over town on the same day.
Have fun looking at shows, and enjoy your social life in LA!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear 3' Tall Parking Enforcement Officer

Dear 3' Tall Parking Enforcement Officer

I want to sincerely thank you for slipping this parking ticket under my windshield wiper yesterday afternoon while my car was peacefully and legitimately parked at a meter on La Brea, right next to TJ's. I was extremely surprised to find it there since there were 17 minutes of prepaid parking left in said meter.

The only 2 reasons why I park on the street rather than at the *free* TJ's lot are:
1) it's a zoo out there, and after a recent and debilitating car accident, backing up and turning my head are a bit too difficult for me to willingly maneuver my car if I can help it
2) I like to think I help the broke-ass City of Los Angeles by giving it my spare change, though after yesterday I'll probably save it for the gazillion homeless people our lovely bankrupt State is creating by the minute, and will instead run the risk of being hit by yet another idiot LA driver on his/her cell phone in the TJ's lot.

After I grabbed that ticket I realized you wanted to bring to my attention the fact that my tags are expired, just in case I wouldn't have noticed myself. Thank you for your consideration. While it is true I have suffered slight brain damage in the most recent car accident, I have nevertheless not been oblivious enough to skirt performing my obligations toward the State of California.
Furthermore, I had just spent a lovely afternoon at the DMV at the end of last week to figure out why a) despite paying my fees eons ago no tags had been mailed to me and b) what was happening with that salvage title I should also have received a long time ago (see "debilitating accident" above).

The very helpful DMV employee laughed at me when she heard I had "mailed the forms to headquarters up there in Sacramento" and helpfully made me re-fill several forms, pay more money to the State, and finally gave me a nice red placard with a white "10" printed on it, to coordinate it with my fabulously cute car (my baby is flaming red).
It's called something official or other but it does have a nice "temporary registration tag" affixed to it, and it's valid until October 29, 2009 (3 weeks from today, in case you cannot count on your fingers). I dutifully taped it to the lower right side of my back window, as mandated by the DMV, and it has been adorning my car since last Friday, hence allowing me to drive my vehicle around until my mechanic gives me a "light and brake inspection certificate" and I go back to show it to the DMV and get new plates and a new title (next week).

Which prompts me to ask you, dear Parking Enforcement Officer: are you 3' tall? Because only a midget-sized person could have missed seeing the temporary registration. I'm very impressed you didn't see it, because to check that the meter wasn't running out and then put this ticket under the wiper, you must have exited your car and walked up to mine. I'm only 5'1" myself (hence my need to drive fun but pint-sized Korean cars) and even I, standing up, can see this temporary registration placard prominently displayed where the DMV told me to put it.

In case you read this ad, I would very much like to meet you for coffee and see if you exist for real. I've never met a 3' tall Parking Enforcement Officer and I would love to get the experience, in anticipation of writing my memoirs.
It's about being badly injured by LA drivers who run stop signs, traffic lights, hit your car while being on their cell, etc. and I think at some point the reader would like an encounter with a midget parking enforcement officer, for a bit of comic relief.

I already have a book deal with Random House and my agent is in talk with ABC to turn it into a sitcom, with some really poignant hospital scenes (we hope to get George Clooney to guest star). It would be cool if we could also get Danny de Vito or Verne Troyer to play you. Before we get to that, it would be nice to meet you in person, to get your insight into parking enforcement experience in Los Angeles, and to learn how, against all odds, you managed to make it as an officer. It's a tough world out there for 3' tall parking enforcement officers, and I really admire how you rose to this challenge. I suppose, you had to climb on top of the hood to slip that ticket under the wiper. You're a real hero. Tell you what? Maybe we could create a whole new reality show around you. We'll call it "Parking with the Stars".

Photo found on the LAist site here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Your Social Life At 400!!!!!

400 posts that is, in a little bit over 2 years. You've noticed FBC! has been rather disengaged from really writing recently, it's because, well, the art world is a bit un-motivating these days.
Little gestures here, gesticulations over there, amnesiac artists re-enacting performances from 30 years ago without doing any research prior to ripping-off older artists, no real critical debates per se beyond the "oh-I-can't-believe-museums-are-showing-private-collections-as-exhibitions" so-called scandals. It's called kissing donors and future donors asses because there's no friggin' public money in this country to build real public collections, and don't give me this "oh but museums are tax-exempt" crap. Just to give you an example, I just saw a statistic saying that 47% of Americans this year will be too poor to file a tax return, which mean that in practice they are tax-exempt for 2009. Do you see these very same tax-exempt people running around investing into "assets" to build for the future? Exactly.
Anyway, what can you expect from a country whose politicians cannot establish a decent and affordable health care system for everybody. No way they'll tackle public access to the visual art next.

All of this to say I haven't seen much around the galleries and museums lately that I found interesting, so I don't really feel like writing at all. Plus, let's face it, I'm still having trouble to move around too much.
But I can still announce the openings here I think you should go, and basically there are only two I can think of this week.

One is by invitation only, but if you don't have one you can go see the show on Sunday anyway, the paintings of Charles Burchfield at the Hammer, curated by one of FBC!'s private God, artist Robert Gober (it's unrelated but in passing, if you can ever find the interview he did with Vija Celmins it's really beautiful).
There's a really cool preview of the show by Gober on the website.
If you have an invite, you know the opening is this Saturday, yay!

This Saturday too is the big extravaganza for the opening of Blum & Poe new space, exactly across the street from the now old one. It's a gigantic warehouse, and they're showing all the artists from the gallery, and methinks it's gonna be a zoo the chances of seeing my diminutive Frenchy self there are pretty slim.

Lastly this weekend is Free For All Museum Day/Weekend in Los Angeles (and also Orange County). Some museums are free on Saturday, some on Sunday and others both days. Complete list is here. I'd advise you call ahead to check if "free admission" means permanent collections only or also temporary exhibitions, and to double-check if "special ticketed exhibitions" are included as well. Maybe I'm blind or I've mis-read but regrettably I don't find LACMA in this list. But if you haven't gone yet and can spare the super expensive admission please go see the last day of Pompeii and The Roman Villa, it is such a gorgeous show.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your Social Life In These Dire Economic Times

The recession is supposedly over, which I'm sure the 12%+ unemployed in LA will tell you is total bullshit, as will all the people who currently don't have health insurance coverage and even those who had it but ended up filing for bankruptcy after being dropped by their insurance company, something that's not going to improve at the rate our beloved President is dragging his feet to impose a public option.
Since you and I know that no, the recession is far from being over (or if it is, can we have our taxpayer money back, dear bankers and AIG executives, so we can pay our rents and buy health insurance?) we're left with a dearth of options to entertain ourselves cheaply, that is if we don't infringe on copyright laws and download a bunch of stuff from the Internet. Thankfully, old-fashioned reading is still free, thanks to our public libraries (which people in Philadelphia almost lost, can you believe it?) and if you visit museum strategically, art viewing can also be free, about once a week on some inconvenient evening all over the country. In parts of the country that haven't shut down their museums yet, that is, or imposed levies on cultural (Philadelphia, I'm looking at you, and your bloodsucking civic leaders who manage to be even more inept than SoCal ones, a record!)

Now, if you live in Los Angeles (or New York City), luckily our non-profit organizations and our local art dealers are doing a public service for you, letting you enjoy a healthy dose of visual arts to restore your soul and sometimes, if you're very, but very lucky, even stimulate your intellect.
So let's start with Not Los Angeles at the Fellow of Contemporary Art space, which Geoff Tuck kindly signaled to my attention. I also want to publicly thank him for letting me know that yes, that's it, MARGO LEAVIN FINALLY GOT HERSELF A WEBSITE!!! Wow, better late than never.
It's this Saturday, which is also the day of the 3rd LACE annual 10k art crawl, "Out of Bounds" which is combined with a membership drive. So for $50, or for free if you're already a member, you can walk in Hollywood (a radical concept, I know) and enjoy an afternoon of fun, while supporting a venerable local non-profit space.
Speaking of non-profits, if you are in Riverside this weekend, don't miss the opening of Intelligent Design at UCI's Sweeney art gallery. It looks really good. And still in Riverside, let me give a shout out to the Small Wonder Foundation, an interdisciplinary space which also publishes [com]motion magazine.

It's all very well, but what about people who wants to mill around West Hollywood on a Thursday afternoon and early evening? Why, they can go to the Pacific Design Center which allows lots of art dealers to show artists, rent-free, in exchange for filling up empty show-room spaces and try to (visually at least) somewhat mitigate the experience of the recession for what is basically a high-end shopping mall. Nature has emptiness in horror, and apparently so do owners of commercial shopping malls. I hear this type of thing is also in the works in Palm Spring and I heard of similar ideas in the UK. Whether it will be a positive experience for the viewers, the artists or the galleries is difficult to say.

[the picture here has nothing to do with the post, it's a building that now has retail spaces but that I hear was Bruce Nauman's studio in Pasadena in the 1960s]

A Few Pictures From The Chinatown Openings

As you remember, on September 12 Los Angeles was chockablock with openings all over the place. Yours truly didn't really have to run all over the place to catch what was going on, since I was invited to a very delightful dinner party downtown. I did manage however to quickly check 3 openings, Analia Saban at Tom Solomon/Cottage Home, Libby Black at Charlie James and the group show The Curse of Ceramics at China Art Objects. I didn't stay long enough to feel like I can write anything meaningful, so I'm just posting 3 pictures from the shows, plus a view of the bathroom floor at Cottage Home/Tom Solomon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Your Social Life Is About To Become Incredibly Busy

... At least this week. Yep, it's this time of the year again, back-to-the-artworld-frenzy when everybody and his uncle is about to have an opening. And, given how LA is spread out, it's going to be hard for everybody to navigate the gazillion social events held between Chinatown, Culver City, WeHo and other locations. This year FBC! isn't even trying, because I have a dinner invitation exactly at the same time everybody is gallery-hopping, so you won't spot my Frenchy self anywhere.
[In passing, thanks for all who asked about my post-car-accidents-health. In short, finished physical therapy 5 weeks ago, neck still stiff and shoulder still hurting, but I'm functional if not at 100%, and I could do without the exponential increase in migraines that followed the whiplash thing.]

Anyway, here's a short list of a few worthy openings. Not that the others are not worthy, but I have trouble to keep up with the hundreds of press releases and invites littering my mailbox.

1. OK, so tonight Wednesday, François Ghebaly, my fellow Frenchy (we dont know each other personally) open his new space on Bernard Street with Neil Beloufa and Philip Loersch. He's also launching in his old space the LA Kunsthalle on Saturday with a solo show by Joel Kyack but the website isn't up and running yet. Anyway, if you show up in Chinatown around the time when everybody opens on Saturday, you should be able to see it. Also tonight an opening at Parker Jones who needs a better website too.

2. And on Thursday, something I almost forgot to mention, but you should have a look, there's June Wayne at Khastoo Gallery, from 6 to 8 PM.

3. On Friday at The Box, don't miss Rachel Khedoori. Still on Friday a new artist-run space, Jaus, opens On The Shoulders of Davids. It's on the Westside, a welcome addition to what is mostly a calcified blue chip-dom neighborhood artwise, if we except SMMOA. Speaking of which, Jaus is on your way to go to the opening of the Allen Ruppersberg big solo show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, so it's super convenient! You can also go to Hollywood and see Ami Tallman at Circus Gallery.

4. On Saturday around noon don't miss the Bruce Nauman skywriting piece to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. You can swing by the Daniel Buren installation installed at One Colorado while in Pasadena, and go see the anniversary exhibition since it's been opened for more than a week now. Details of all the festivities here.

Still on Saturday, FBC! pal Analia Saban is having an opening at Tom Solomon/Cottage Home. Everybody is opening in Chinatown, so don't miss while you're there Libby Black at Charlie James and The Curse of Ceramics at China Art Objects.

Of course you will have to decide what is the most propitious moment on that same day to run to Culver City and see Elad Lassry at Kordansky, or an obviously Art & Language-influenced Dave McKenzie at Susanne Vielmetter.
Still in Culver City, don't miss the show curated by FBC! favorite curator Aram Moshayedi at LAXart, no less than the awesome William Leavitt! Aram is also curating a group show at Cirrus next week so it will be a Moshayedi-intensive week for you art foks. Cirrus hasn't updated its website or put a decent link, so to make your life easier the opening will be on Thursday, September 17th from 6.30 to 8.30 and you may be able to spot the Frenchy if you go on the very early side to admire The Awful Parenthesis.
Meanwhile still in Culver City this Saturday the 12th there's Titus Kaphar at Roberts & Tilton while Michael Dee has an opening at the Western Project.

Closer to my Mid-City 'hood, at Steve Turner there's Joshua Callaghan as well as Zoë Sheehan Saldana (soory, can't manage to put the ~ where it belongs!) while John Knight opens at Richard Telles. A bit further West, Doug Aitken opens also at Regen Projects. While I have no idea about what's happening at Margo Leavin because SHE HAS NO FREAKIN DECENT WEBSITE and I've fell off her mailing list after a few changes of jobs. If someone talks to her, please convince her to get a real website, not that stupid artnet-hosted one, and please no flash, no animation, no cute music and provide linkable url. That would make many a blogger day.
On the West West side of the Westside, there is an opening at Mark Moore of a group show where Mario Ybarra is featured, which is the main reason why I mention it.

5. OK, that's pretty much it, with the addition of two fundraisers I want to mention. One is the benefit auction for Les Figues Press which unfortunately happens to be at LACE on Saturday, when most everybody will be cavorting through town, schmoozing at openings and so forth, so I fear it may be forgotten in all the brown noise around. If you have a minute, please go and donate and help support contemporary, independent and experimental literature in Los Angeles.

The second fundraiser is also very important, and if I were not so broke I'd love to attend it, it's for the William H. Johnson Foundation Gala. It's in 2 weeks at Gemini G.E.L. I know most of my readers could barely afford the $100 ticket (as an individual patron), but if you can, please go support the Foundation. They're doing an incredible job of supporting and recognizing African-American artists and have an outstanding record in awarding their annual prize to really good ones. The gala is on September 26 and you can buy your ticket until the 19th here.

(pics: Analia Saban from her upcoming show at Tom Solomon, and a banner from the William H. Johnson Foundation)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Save the UCLA Arts Library!

If you live in SoCal of course you know that by now our lovely sunshiny State is deeply troubled financially and our wonderful elected representatives have decided, to balance (cough, cough) their respective budgets, to effect huge cuts in most public programs, whether it's at the City, County or State level. In addition, the financial shenanigans of the honorable Wall Streeters who have put us in this mess to begin with have also affected the endowments of many arts institutions. And I'm not speaking of the people at the helm of these same institutions and how pitifully inept they have been.

The results? Well, anything from MOCA and the Getty laying off dozens of staff, pay cuts and pay freezes there as well as in the Cal State and UC systems, LACMA shutting off its film program (it's telling no stupid big corporate entertainment industry would step in and help legitimize the history of movies in its hometown at a fraction of what the cost of swag goes at a post-Oscar party).
The latest worrisome cuts are affecting the UCLA Arts Library, which not only serves the larger UC population, but is also a reminder of the power the UCLA art department has had over the Los Angeles AND the international art world over the last 2 decades. The wider UC Library service system has decided to potentially close this library, which, for an institution devoted to higher education and scholarly learning, is rather counter-intuitive, isn't it?

Why don't they shut off their stupid athletic programs instead? LA would totally survive without that stupid Trojans-Bruins rivalry thing, for one thing, and I'd love to know what this idiotic football thing does for the intellectual renown of a university. At the international level.

Whereas clsoing a library is obviousy more than harmful and damaging for the university prestige, but at a more immediate level deprives its students from an essential resource. Where else are they supposed to turn to when in need of doing research? wikipedia? Any suggestion that's even more ridiculous? Given the cost of art books and the fact that museums tend to be tighwads when delivering information about its displays because "there are books people can turn to" (try find decent art books in any major US city library system, and I'm not even speaking about the poor souls lost in the middle of rural counties), the closing of its library is a major catastrophy for a university system that has sought to present itself as a model of affordable education to all.

If you wish to react and try to prevent the closing of the UCLA arts library, you can either join the Facebook group or sign the petition, or both. In addition, the FB groups gives the contact info of the University Regent you should email or write to to register your protest.

Picture courtesy George Baker, FB Group "save the UCLA Arts Library".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coming Back Shortly!

Hello Dear FBC! readers,

Soon coming back with a few posts after several weeks of hiatus, mostly due to trying to meet deadlines and then traveling to NYC.

Note to desperate gallery owners, art dealers and other artists' "agents and representatives" who regularly send me some notes: yes, I do receive your emails, but in case you're oblivious to the fact that bloggers are not paid, I'd like to remind you of a few things:

Namely that writing takes time, and if you've been reading FBC! as of late you would have noticed that not only this is an unpaid, one-woman-operation, but also that yours truly has been in a couple of car accidents in March, has subsequently spent lots of time in physical therapy and has been without a car until 2 weeks ago.

I am truly sorry but I do not spend my time driving to every single gallery show in town to review them. It happens when it happens, if I'm not too busy with something and/or writhing in pain post-accidents, I may mention your show/artist/gallery if I can. Please do not inundate me with emails and press releases and reminders and follow-ups, the only thing it can achieve is making me irritable, even if you are very sweet about it.
I'm happy to receive your current press release, but if I want to review the show you're presenting *it is my own decision*.
Thank you for your understanding (it's called gallery managing/artisanal PR 101).

And for everybody: thanks for your patience!
A vintage Pettibon from the Judith Rothschild Collection fund or whatever it's called, currently at MoMA, to help you wait for the next post.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Your Social Life

Hello everybody,

another short edition of YSL, to announce a few selection of art-related things I would attend, if I wasn't on a writing deadline.
First of all, tonight two competing things are going to require you to stretch your attendance between Mixtape Volume 1 at Federal Art Project, featuring FBC! super favorite Juan Capistran, and many others, and a special movie projection at Cottage Home (more below). All the information you need about Mixtape 1 can be found here.

There's a life after today, and you can delight in it with something a little bit more, er, *family-friendly* with the Public Art Party in Beverly Hills on Saturday organized by For Your Art around the Yayoi Kusama sculpture. In what other place than LA can you experience conceptual porn AND giant polka-dotted flowers on the same week? Rumors say there will be some Kusama-inspired cupcakes too, but yours truly is on a diet, so if by any chance I make it there I won't succomb to temptation.
After Kusama, I'd suggest you head down to Chinatown where you can attend the opening for the Summer group show organized at Cottage Home by China Arts Objects as well as the one curated by Thomas Solomon (with Marcelo Rios)

This is all very well, but what was this other thing competing with Mixtape 1 tonight? Tonight is also the premiere of Lawrence Weiner's movie "Water In Milk Exists" at 8 PM (so you can go to Federal Art Project first) at Cottage Home. There's no link on their page, so please check all the info on the Facebook event page. Lawrence Weiner will say a few words, and just in case you haven't heard about it yet, it is a conceptual porn movie. When was the last time you saw one? Exactly. So, have fun tonight!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Please Allow Me To Introduce My Friend

FBC! is please to introduce its HUGE readership (hi Pam! hi Nancy!) to the latest offering by special gal pal Theresa Papanikolas, the former Wallis Annenberg Fellow at LACMA and the current curator of European and American art at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
When at LACMA Theresa curated a great show, "Doctrinal Nourishment: Art And Anarchism In The Times of James Ensor", which did a great job of explaining Ensor's influences as well the artists he later influenced himself, and putting him in the context of the artists of his times, including FBC! favorite, Félicien Rops.
It was a jewel of a beautiful show to look at, and I'm very happy that finally the catalog/book is out. You can purchase it on Amazon, where it is amazingly inexpensive, prior to visiting the current Ensor show at MoMA.

Another reason why you should buy this book? Yours truly is on a writing deadline, of the kind that pays the rent, unlike amateurish (if LA-centric) blogs, so I won't have time to write much for you guys before a few weeks, and I'm not sure I'll be able to post more stuff from Renee Montgomery, our current blogger-in-residence. It's OK, it's the Summer, what's better than a little Ensor to reflect on the spirit of our times?

1) the cover of the catalogue,
2.) James Ensor. Masks Confronting Death. 1888. Oil on canvas, 32 x 39 1/2" (81.3 x 100.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, Mrs. Simon Guggenheim Fund,
3) Artwork: Baron James Ensor (Belgium, Ostende, 1860–1949), The Doctrinal Nourishment (Alimentation doctrinaire), 1889–95 (detail), LACMA, print, etching printed with tone and hand-colored with white gouache and with red, yellow, and blue chalk and watercolor, image: 9 3/8 x 7 1/16 in. (23.81 x 17.94 cm); sheet: 9 1/4 x 11 5/8 in. (23.5 x 29.53 cm); mat: 16 x 20 in. (40.64 x 50.8 cm), purchased with funds generously provided by the Joan Palevsky Bequest (M.2007.6). © James Ensor Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SABAM, Brussels, and 4)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Your Social Life In Los Angeles And Los Angeles In NYC

Hello dear beloved readers,

Sorry for being one day late to post YSL, our connection here at FBC! worldwide headquarters went down yesterday for a very, very long time.
So this weekend, I know you will need some cultural distraction after reeling from Celebs Holocaust. You can start and go pay a visit to Cosmopolitan Book Shop to load on print culture, then attend a few openings that are going to make you stretch quite a bit geographically.

First of all there is Michael Rashkow's opening at China Art Objects from 6 to 9. There's also the opening of the recent UCI grads at LAXart, and of course the opening of the shows at the Armory Art Center in Pasadena, where yours truly would have showed up, had I been in better shape physically. There's the exhibition curated by David Burns and featuring, among others, FBC! gal pal Julie Lequin, while Michael Markowski is also having a solo exhibition (where you will be able, or so I hear, to get his new book).

Meanwhile, if you happen to be in NYC, don't miss the opening at d'Amelio Terras of Tables and Chairs, an all-LA show curated by Jedediah Caesar and Shana Lutker with works by, among others, Vish Jugdeo and Rebecca Morris.

Have fun everybody.

The Fast-Disappearing Bookstores of Los Angeles: Cosmopoiltan Book Shop

SAVE Cosmopolitan!

FBC! Guest contributor Renee Montgomery continues her series of visit to LA's bookstores on the verge of extinction:

Cosmopolitan Books, 7017 Melrose (just east of La Brea), West Hollywood

“Great man. Great book.” Cosmopolitan shop owner Eli Goodman waves The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell at me, “but no one buys it! No one buys books!” 51 years in business. Now going out of business. Being kept alive by orders for 5,000 or 10,000 indiscriminate titles at a time, Eli explains, -- no doubt orders for set decorating purposes.

Top five experiences L.A. will miss with Cosmopolitan’s closing:

1. The serendipitous discovery of first edition treasures, from Aubrey Beardsley to Letters from Laura Ingalls Wilder from San Francisco in 1915, -- not to mention thousands of elusive out-of-prints, and assorted other quirky old tomes. (I recommend for lovers Mary Johnston’s To Have and To Hold, or Sir Walter Scott’s The Castle Dangerous --$5).

2. A Counterculture section that just screams “L.A.”: witchcraft, erotica, Kaballah, Steve Allen, Stella Adler!

3. Cosmopolitan clerk Charles’ personal stories at the drop of a hat – for instance, accounts of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley -- related in his Charming Clerk Charles way.

4. Aging proprietor Eli’s unsteadiness on his feet, bringing down stacks of Modern Library as he trips but still lucid on so many subjects, e.g., Louis l’Amour’s reading habits

5. The most fascinating customers: a dapper elderly gentleman inquiring “Do you have the biography of Farouk I?” Young girls searching through vintage magazines for something?

The last of a dying breed. Cosmopolitan Books. Dusty, yellowed, crammed, cramped, ten foot ladders to heaven-sent shelves. Host a birthday/anniversary/holiday party there. Buy everyone a round of books. Make it a meeting spot for blind dates. Be green there. Be your most stimulating there. C’mon L.A.. s-t-r-e-t-c-h!

[Guest blogger Renee Montgomery works at a large L.A. art museum. She reads about 1 out of every 4 books she buys, but especially the ones on animal husbandry or Native-Americans]

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Help Mat Gleason Unload His Warhol-Basquiat Poster!

Just relaying a note I received in my mailbox.
Not that I'm interested myself, but I'd much rather have my readers give a boost to Coagula than, say, link to socks websites and other promotional codes to designer furniture/ knock-offs sites. It's not as if there wasn't enough visual pollution from the Google ads already. Anyway, here below, a plug for a venerable LA art institution (I'm sure the Coagula editors will love being called " a venerable LA art institution", right?).

A note from Coagula Publisher Mat Gleason:
A few years ago, I bought this cool Warhol-Basquiat poster on eBay. I never hung it up, just put it all rolled up on a shelf. It is 9 years later, now I am going thru all my junk and it has a little wrinkle but is otherwise good as brand new. It is a 1999 Tony Shafrazi reprint of the 1985 original, printed on great, thick paper. I bought it on eBay for $150 and I could sell it for that if I wanted to, but I want YOU to have it for free.

I also want you to see the new issue of Coagula Art Journal. After 17 years of being a freely distributed magazine, we have gone print-on-demand. You can download the issue as a pdf file at our website. If you like it, you can buy the color glossy Coagula Art Journal book online as well.

If you want to enter a contest to win my Warhol-Basquiat poster, just download the new issue of Coagula at for free. Your entry has to be in by late July so get the details now. There is NO purchase necessary to win this poster, but I am thinking you might want to buy the print-on-demand issue of Coagula after you check out your free pdf download of issue #98. There is a lot to enjoy in it: our interview of the artist collective Finishing School, art career advice from Alan Bamberger, the continuing saga of life as an artist from Gordy Grundy as well as photos and coverage of the Los Angeles art scene.

This contest is void where prohibited. It is quite simple to enter. Just download our free pdf of issue #98 and look for the contest rules as you catch up on the LowDown on High Art!

Coagula Art Journal Issue #98 now available as a free PDF file download.

(image shamelessly downloaded from Coagula's website).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Your Social Life This Weekend

Hello dear beloved readers,

Our regular feature "Your Social Life" is returning on FBC!

Not that FBC! herself is going to attend many openings soon (still too tiring for a physically injured Frenchy) but I am slightly better and able to pay attention a little bit more to what's going on in LA.
This weekend there's the Saturday opening of Larry Johnson's retrospective at the Hammer, an artist represented by one of the museum's donors, as well as the opening for the presentation of the collection of Dean Valentine in the same museum. Where he happens to also be a donor and to sit on the Board. It's not a real problem in itself (all museums do that) but it makes me wonder if the Hammer is also hurting financially if it needs to honor its big donors simultaneously, unless there are some scheduling advantages I'm not aware of?
I love Johnson's work but I'm not 100% certain it deserves a retrospective yet. I won't make it to the opening, but I'll try to see the show later and report here.

If you prefer something a bit more funky and less established, you can also go on Saturday night to anotheryearinla where Fallen Free is opening with "Fresh And Easy", and where you can say hi to David and Cathy Stone for me.

The other promising show will open on Sunday at 6 PM at the Glendale College Art Gallery, "Abstractionists Unite!", curated by Nancy Chaikin, with a great line-up that includes FBC! fave Mary Heilmann, as well as Rebecca Morris and Liz Larner (and plenty of others).

Have fun this weekend, and remember to drive responsively and watch out for the stupid LA drivers who don't.

Taschen Warehouse Sale This Weekend

This weekend Taschen is having its semi-annual warehouse sale, books will be 50 to 75% off. Show the world that Los Angeles isn't a city inhabited by illiterate people, and do your patriotic duty by buying books! If you Google "Taschen", you will be aware that "the big penis book" is listed immediately below their URL. I'm not writing this to drive up the blog stats, no, no, no, far from me the idea to use this type of cheap trick and lure casual voyeurs viewers on FBC! I just want to also encourage the workers of the biggest porn industry in the world to join the Culturatti this weekend and buy more books!

Details below:

June 19th – 21st

TASCHEN Hollywood
Farmers Market, 6333 W 3rd St
Clock Tower
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Friday/Saturday 9am -9pm, Sunday 10am-7pm

TASCHEN Beverly Hills
354 N Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Friday/Saturday 10am-7pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm

The Disappearing Bookstores of Los Angeles

The first edition shelves of Kulturas, a sight of rare beauty. Rare meaning teetering on the verge of extinction.

Guest blogger Renee Montgomery explores the fast-disappearing second-hand bookstores standing in Los Angeles:

Following is the first of a five-part series highlighting the second-hand bookstores of Los Angeles. Organized by region: first Santa Monica, to be followed by Venice/Mar Vista, West L.A., Hollywood, Los Feliz. Angeleno People: take note, we have a full-scale local state of literary emergency on our hands!

If you want to be sure to find a particular book, advance asap to the three A’s: Amazon, Alibris or But if it’s community and atmosphere and sensuality you’re looking for, try a secondhand bookstore. These are two of my favorites, not just because they’re on my daily route, but because one can actually find what they’re looking for there, and save money, and recycle.

Angel City Books (218 Pier Street)

One word describes this charming shop on Pier Street: Light. The diffused sunlight of the old Ocean Park series by Richard Diebenkorn. The Santa Monica of the ‘60s -- laid back mornings after the surf chops out --white clapboard cottages on narrow lanes -- health food stores and original Birkenstocks -- dreamy days before that ridiculous Borofsky ballerina clown went up and Main Street turned trendy. Like Kulturas below, Angel City carries a bit of every topic, but mainly the humanities. As proprietor Rocco Ingala explains: “Our goal is to create an environment that encourages a classical education. We are more than a bookstore, we are a philosophy.” YEAH! I ALWAYS come away with a stack of excellent choices at fair prices (half the marked price in most instances), never settling. A collection of kitschy mid-century pulp novels injects some verve. Friendly Rocco is as involved or uninvolved as the customer wants, letting you browse quietly or providing helpful literary context, like how Balzac birthed the modern novel.

On my "Can-I-Actually-Locate-What-I’m-Looking-For-There-Or-Should-I-Go-Running-Back-to-Amazon’ index (with NYC’s Strand being #10)", Angel City rates a 9.5. As a professional information manager I appreciate Rocco’s experimentation with the best way to organize his inventory, ultimately settling on your basic scheme of fiction all in one section, with mystery separated out -- with Faulkner filed after Fante and regular maintenance of The Alphabetical Order. My only complaint about the quaint Angel City: no chair -- because when you’re Serenely at Peace with The World, you want it to last.

Kulturas Books (corner of Ocean Park and 17th Street)

Can you say NYT bestsellers and flawless taste? My other favorite used book store for several reasons. The most up-to-date merchandise. Important current releases would seem to fly over from Barnes and Noble or Book Soup, like John Wray’s “Lowboy,” in no time at all. Friends agree there’s not a clunker in this store. And the owners and staff are incredibly knowledgeable. Part-time clerk Ahnadgud not only chaws on Bukowski’s “Women” at the counter, but also on Bukowski’s influence Céline. Even the clerk’s friends are smart, guiding me to the best Flaubert like it was je ne sais pas quoi. Only, I’ve never been made to feel a literary half-wit here. It’s stylish but unpretentious. Like Angel City, this is a relatively small store but every category of reading is represented -- with large sections on politics, American history, contemporary culture, art, food, plus many first editions and rare books, from “Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan . . . ” to Dobie’s “Cow People.” Or Francis Dean Smith’s collection. But just when I thought the proprietors Andrew MacDonald and Irene [XXXX ] had made themselves at home here after two years, with a section about L.A. and shelves double-parked with stock, Kulturas announces its return to Washington D.C. A victim of L.A.’s lack of population density. Crap. Check it out anyway before the July 20th closing date.

Which brings me to my next topic . . .CRAP!!! Again. Bookstores floundering, failing all around! What’s wrong with us Los Angeles!!! A metropolis of 4.5 million and we can’t even support a few secondhand bookstores? We’re pathetic. When I went to interview the proprietor of the 99 Cent Secondhand Bookstore at Venice and Culver Blvds., I met the painter, remodeling for the next tenant. You might not have even noticed this shop, a noble experiment wedged in between Ross, Office Depot and Albertsons, -- seeing that it lasted only a few months.

Who says L.A. lacks tradition? Pickwick, Heritage, Dutton’s, Wilshire Books, Other Times, Santa Monica Promenade Borders -- a long tradition of closing bookstores. C’mon L.A.! Aren’t we sick of playing back-water second-fiddle to NYC and DC, here in the illiterate wild west? Borders La Cienega on its last legs too, except for shelf-after-shelf of “Gossip Girls.” We rally Angelenos! Wi be The Big Read! When native son Philip Marlowe wasn’t liquoring himself or womanizing, he was reading. City of Angels: We Can Do It! Sustainable reading. A readin’ riot. In our secondhand bookstores. Because like La Brea Woman slippin’ in the ooze, Papa Bach’s may be gone but It Is Not Forgotten.

[FBC! guest blogger Renee Montgomery is a California native, like her literary hero The Lost Woman of San Nicolas Island. Renee enjoys books about shipwrecks. She attended So Cal colleges with cows on campus.]