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.