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 CĂ©line. 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.]

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Short Visit To Some LA Art Shows

For my regular readership (hi Joseph, hi Leslie!), as you know I'm still disabled by these 2 effing car accidents, and I haven't gotten back my trusted vehicle yet (seriously, anyone has a Japanese/Korean make car to lend me? With power steering, as my shoulder still hurts like hell) so my visiting and reviewing of current shows in LA is severely limited. I depend on friends who are sweet enough to come pick me up and bring me back home, and openings are still out of the question. Reviewing is a bit difficult too (can't really concentrate, typing hurts the damn shoulder).

So, quickly: last Saturday, Ivan Morley who's a hell of a great painter kindly took me to see the tail end of 9 Lives: Visionary Artists From Los Angeles at the Hammer. I'm not sure about the theme of the show/idea of the curator (I don't even know who curated it) but I have a vague idea it has to do with the work of many of them to be visually reminiscent of "outsider" artists, also sometimes called visionary, in the sense that it flirts with visual and cultural tropes coming straight out of the vernacular. I think. Though it may be true of artists such as Jeffrey Vallance or Llyn Foulkes but I doubt it applies to Charlie White, Hirsch Perlman or Lisa Ann Auerbach's work. Or is it maybe because all these artists tend to be under the radar of a certain LA artworld? I have no idea, except that we had a great time.

We continued on to Culver City, where we had a blast at the group show at David Kordansky, and admired Matthew Brannon prints (seriously, they are exquisite) as well as some very shiny-looking Broodthaers plates, and work by James Lee Byars and William E. Jones. We were delighted by the show and braced ourselves to check the Keith Tyson show at Blum & Poe, which was just ... meh. We had hoped to rejuvenate ourselves with the architectural ice cream sandwiches being churned out by the Coolhaus truck, alas they had sold out and were out of creamwiches. Boo hoo!

[Pictures: Charlie White's video, the Coolhaus truck in Culver City, and 3 pics of the show at Kordansky's]

Every Dude’s Guide to Dating at LACMA

[By FBC! guest blogger Renee Montgomery].

What better place to impress and seduce a woman than at an art museum? -- Society’s treasure trove of excellence, emotion and eroticism. LACMA’s encyclopedic collection of 100,000 artworks from around the globe certainly offers plenty of opportunity for you, the eligible dude, to display your inner-Renaissance man while touring the galleries with your date. Should you require some remedial help, following are a few suggestions on how to put your best foot forward at LACMA with the object-of-your-desire.

Start strong on your date on the first floor of the Ahmanson building. There in the stunning Modern Art galleries you can impress your girl with your knowledge of art AND athleticism. For instance, linger before Magritte’s "Ceci n’est pas une pipe" and say something like: “Eighty years since Breton, this painting takes on greater meaning now, what with our consumer culture’s exploitation of the subliminal messages of images. I couldn’t smoke though if I wanted – considering my triathalon schedule.” In case your date has doubts about the sporty type, go sensitive with Picasso’s "Head of a Woman" from 1909 (78.6) by stating: “Picasso’s analytical cubism - the grand-daddy of so much of our new civic architecture. But I don’t know, deconstructing women? It just seems wrong!”

Underscore your romantic side on the third floor in the impressive Medieval galleries: Staring down at the massive "Tombstone of Alberto Barbiero" (49.23.6), try something like: “Speaking of knights and chivalry, I like to think I’m as progressive as the next guy, but the late 20th century was confusing to many of us. Is it okay that I open the car door for you?”

Where else to establish your intellect and total grasp of current affairs than on the fourth level. Stroll through the world-class Islamic galleries, reflecting on works from Iran, Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan, then muse: “The situation in the Middle East is so complicated, isn’t it? It will be a challenge for Envoy Ross to engage Tehran, with Iran becoming a nuclear threat supporting Hizbollah, Hamas and Syria, as his two books describe.”

Lastly, take in the American Art galleries in the next building. Americana, mom, apple pie – where else to prove one’s emotional grounding? There you can exclaim: “Wow! This 1857 'Quilt with Buchanan’s Banner and Rose of Sharon Motifs"'(30.1) really reminds me of my Grandma. Every time I pull up that tattered old quilt she made for me, I remember what’s truly important in life.” If that doesn’t seal the deal, then the Byrdcliffe Arts and Crafts desk (AC1993.176.15.1) in the next gallery, will. Looking wounded, pine on: “This desk reminds me of the reason my old girlfriend and I broke up. She criticized me for writing her letters rather than text-messaging. You know, letters? – like with stamps, in the mail, creating anticipation and expressing the writer’s urgent affections in longhand?”

Finish your tour in the Museum Gift Shop. I recommend purchasing a single iconic postcard to remind her of your amazing afternoon together: “Here, I’d like to buy you this. It reminds me of when I was so flustered in the first gallery – in my total lack of preparation, afraid I’d say something lame that put you off.” Touchdown!

[Renee Montgomery sneaked into the museum world when the guards weren’t looking. Despite her long term job at a big L.A. art museum, she preferscollecting road kill to contemporary art. A mother living in the Crenshaw district, she can usually be found cruising with camera on
Southern California freeways in a Joan Didion ecstasy, with country music blaring ont he soundsystem. She graduated from colleges with cows on campus]