M+B EMBRACES A NEW CHAPTER IN
THEIR CONTEMPORARY ART PROGRAM
It should come as no surprise that LAC shares a breath of the same artists as M+B. The gallery has remained a steady fixture on our radar, nurturing some of the most enticing new artists right here in our very own backyard. From our past features like Matthew Brandt, Hannah Whitaker, and Mona Kuhn, we’ve been pillaging (or rather, graciously and inspiringly appropriating) the M+B arsenal for a cool minute now. Can you blame us?
We were first introduced to M+B long ago when a collection of Andrew Bush’s “Vector Portraits” surfaced for what became one of our favorite exhibitions yet. Bush’s voyeuristic, large-scale photographs of man and his automobile were beautiful, humorous, and poignant, and fueled our curiosity about M+B as a whole. So when the opportunity arose to get up close and personal with the team behind the magic, we pounced.
M+B sits between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard, in what appears to be a quaint and picturesque bungalow home. Beyond the front cottage with charming French doors, in a second (and equally inviting) space, lies the nucleus of the gallery, its traditional white walls and track lighting nestled within the ivy-coated driveway.
We sneak a walk-through of the property before Alexandra Wetzel, M+B’s Assistant Director, greets us. “It’s the perfect example of an indoor/outdoor California space,” she smiles. Indeed, the space is relaxing and comfortable, with a grateful lack of somber stuffiness or pretension. Through a mutual love for photography and general aversion for Pilates Plus (can you slow it down just a little?), Alexandra takes us through the gallery’s inception, its artists, and its evolution.
We bring on new artists when we see something amazing—an idea, perspective, or aesthetic that is unique and relevant to our time. Something we haven’t yet seen before.
At the helm of the gallery is Benjamin Trigano, who founded M+B in 2008 out of a deep passion for photography. Together with his team, M+B has spent its formidable years cultivating a roster of artistic mastery, not to mention developing a reputation for signing on undiscovered talent. “We bring on new artists when we see something amazing—an idea, perspective, or aesthetic that is unique and relevant to our time. Something we haven’t yet seen before,” Wetzel tells us. “LA is blessed with three of the country’s best MFA programs: USC, UCLA and CalArts. The number of artists moving to LA is greater than it ever has been.”
Recently, the M+B program, which has maintained a long-standing foundation in photography, has broken its own mold, transitioning into a wider understanding of the medium. The gallery announced its two-program split—with M+B, their newer, contemporary focus, and M+B Photo, their existing program that remains true to their photographic roots. “Almost all of the artists that we’ve shown in the past few years are contemporary artists. They don’t see themselves as photographers or particularly tied to that medium,” Wetzel explains. The need for the two programs became an obvious trajectory, with its former approach transcending its own limits of photo-based practices.
“This result was really about the artists and the work,” Wetzel imparts. “By always riding the edge and constantly pushing boundaries, the program reached a point where there were two different focuses and it was time to make that distinction.”
Now, with both M+B and M+B Photo under their belt, the programming is really taking off, shedding their more established ties to the lens in favor of prompting a new dialogue on the consumption of art in the digital age. So what’s on deck for the gallery? Soft Target, an ambitious group show curated by M+B artists Phil Chang and Matthew Porter and featuring a parade of artistic talent will be taking over the gallery until the end of August. Additionally, a stunning new body of work from Jessica Eaton is set to take shape (“It’s her first time working with
carbon printing,” Wetzel declares), and Mariah Robertson, one of the latest additions to the M+B roster, will have her west coast debut solo show in the spring of 2015.
We want to do something different and create a destination…where you can feel comfortable asking questions.
Evidently, this new chapter is slowly and steadily growing, filling the page with freshly innovative processes of artistic production—one that lies beyond the bounds of a once “traditional” medium. “We want to do something different,” Wetzel affirms, “and create a destination…where you can feel comfortable asking questions.”
Summer’s not just about day drinking and rooftop access. This month, why not branch out and explore your refined right brain a little? From film and illustration to insects and Mexican highways—we’ve got your guide to air-conditioned sophistication, cause no one really cares about your pool selfies.[infobox maintitle=”ALLAN SEKULA | SHIP OF FOOLS” subtitle=”Christopher Grimes Gallery
Opening Reception: July 3rd-September 6th ” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.cgrimes.com”]
Allan Sekula’s work spans the mediums of photography, film, and writing, producing incisive documents about labor, nationality, and the history and uses of photography. Deeply skeptical of the mythologies promoted by a society shaped by capitalism, Sekula’s work addresses the concerns of an engaged citizen investigating the networks of political and economic power and their intersection with individual lives and landscapes.
[infobox maintitle=”DAVID HOCKNEY | ARRIVAL OF SPRING” subtitle=”L.A LOUVER
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 10th, 6 pm ” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.lalouver.com”]
Considered one of the most innovative artists of the postwar era, British-born Hockney adopts various new media in order to investigate the idea of perception throughout his career in los Angeles and England. Embracing cutting-edge technology including Photoshop, Polaroids, iPad, and iPhone drawings, Hockney explores new ways to depict the seasons.[infobox maintitle=”GENEVIEVE CHUA | CICADAS CICADAS” subtitle=”GUSFORD | LOS ANGELES
Opening Reception: Thursday, July 10th, 6- 9 pm ” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.gusfordgallery.com”]
In Chua’s first north American solo exhibition, she continues to develop her interest in the relationship between controlled situations and the element of chance and the unknown. Through mixed-media installations depicting insects and their environment, Cicadas Cicadas charts the fearsome terrain of psychological horror from a Southeast Asian point of view.
[infobox maintitle=”PIA CAMIL” subtitle=”BLUM & POE
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 12th, 7 pm ” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”https://www.blumandpoe.com”]
Camil’s work engages with the Mexican urban landscape in which she grew up in. Through mixed-media installations that include photographs of halted projects along Mexico’s highways and abandoned, decaying billboards, she explores the idea of urban ruin and the traces of art history that exist within it.[infobox maintitle=”DEEP END | YALE MFA PHOTO 2014″ subtitle=”DIANE ROSENSTEIN FINE ART
Opening Reception: Saturday, July 19th, 6-8 pm ” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.dianerosenstein.com”]
Diane Rosenstein fine Art plays host to Yale’s MFA thesis exhibition featuring works from new budding artists Erin Desmond, Awol Erizku, Genevieve Gaignard, Hannah Hummel, Fumi Ishino, Casey Mcgonagle, Tyler Moore, Hannah price, Billie Stultz and Evan Whale.[infobox maintitle=”AUDREY KAWASAKI, TARA MCPHERSON, DEEDEE CHERIEL” subtitle=”MERRY KARNOWSKY GALLERY
Opening Reception: Saturday, August 2nd 19th, 7 pm ” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.mkgallery.com”]
Merry Karnowsky presents the unique styles and mediums of three female artists and their exploration of parallel themes. Through work in paint, illustration, and photography, Kawasaki, Mcpherson, and Cheriel invoke meditative and breathtaking narratives that explore the female form.[infobox maintitle=”LUCY + JORGE ORTA | FOOD-WATER-LIFE” subtitle=”BEN MALTZ GALLERY, OTIS
August 16th – December 6th” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.otis.edu/ben-maltz-gallery”]
Food – Water – Life marks the inaugural premiere of the Orta’s work in the US. The French duo appropriate sculptures, drawings, installations, and video in order to shed light on major concerns such as environmental conditions and climate change that define the 21st century. Their humorous, jerrybuilt contraptions gain power as works of art created to move us to awareness and action.
[infobox maintitle=”VARIATIONS: ABSTRACT PAINTING TODAY” subtitle=”LACMA
August 24th – September 22nd” bg=”gray” color=”black” opacity=”on” space=”30″ link=”http://www.lacma.org”]
In an attention-compromised age when images are instant and prevalent, abstract painting serves as a contradiction, acting as a conduit for the mark of the original, individual artist. Variations: Abstract Painting Today presents 29 artists whose work reflects the language and style of abstraction. The exhibition looks closely at the claim of an abstraction that is timely and comments on a studio practice, paying homage to art history’s past while creating a vision for the present.
This week, with the release of her fourth studio album, ARTPOP, Lady Gaga created two pop-up galleries for her little monsters to converge on. The first pop-up was in New York, obviously, but Gaga would be remiss if she didn’t hit up the west coast. Shortly after the LA dates were released, we headed down to Cahuenga Blvd to see what it was all about. Knowing Gaga, we expected to see some crazy installations, but were surprised at how simple the space was. The wall covered in her singles artwork was the most visually appealing part, but was by no means an indication of artistic ingenuity. An 8×8 shot of her toned behind and a grill consisting of what looked like f*cked up human teeth made for some visceral material, but everything thereafter unfortunately fell short.
Moving on to the upstairs portion, stood past outfits and props from various tours, performances, and music videos. Among the outfits was the now infamous white square headpiece and robe she wore to open the 2013 MTV VMAs, the controversial machine gun bra from the ‘Alejandro’ music video, and her iconic bejeweled purple jacket from the ‘Monster Ball’ Tour. Sadly, the display was not as glamorous as we wished, looking more like a misguided amalgam of merchandise and so-called artistry.
If we had to choose a 2nd place winner for the most interesting part of the night, it would go to the interactive portion. Gaga fans are known to be pretty creative, so watching them in their element was a highlight. Pseudo-monsters took to the mirror to recreate the paint-smeared ‘Applause’ album artwork look, and walked around like they were in everyday attire. Next, fans took to a paper-covered wall where they could show their love and appreciation for the pop star. To the left stood an interactive dance station sponsored by Just Dance 4 and lastly, a photo booth/Beats by Dre listening station – which seemed redundant due to the album playing loudly throughout the space.
Conveniently the Artpop album and t-shirts were sold – reassuring us the pop-up was not just about allowing fans to interact, but about making that dollar as well.
All in all, while the idea of a Lady Gaga-curated pop-up space was appealing, we weren’t quite sure if the idea had realized its potential. And was it worth the traffic on Sunset Blvd? Probably not.
Since its introduction in 1925, Leica’s reputation has preceded itself, its commitment to excellence never faltering among the millennial generation’s lust for instant gratification. So when Leica decided to open a new gallery space in the heart of Los Angeles, they, predictably, took their time and did it right. Upon entering the 8,000 square foot space, I am greeted with a flood of natural light, a well-clad staff on deck, and a gargantuan, metallic Leica sculpture built by Chinese artist Liao Yibai. It is one hell of an introduction, as “after all,” says Roland Wolff, VP of Marketing and Corporate Retail, “everyone knows that you only have one chance to make a first impression.” Tiffany’s window-shopping be damned, this is a gadget-hoppers dream, a camera-lover’s heaven, a photojournalist’s paradise. You are entering an elite club, and you’d be a fool not to take note.
But geeking out among the pristine cases of vintage and contemporary lenses will have to wait. Upstairs, the gallery beckons. I am given a tour of the space by curator, Annie Seaton, who describes in detail the incredible history of the brand and what’s in store for the gallery’s upcoming exhibitions. Breathtaking prints by iconic photographer, Mary Ellen Mark line the walls of a space that has been retrofitted to host Leica Akademie workshops, with projections built into the ceiling and hidden walls appearing as if out of thin air. There is a small library curated by celebrated Magnum photographer, Martin Parr, where guests are invited to peruse his selections of some of the best photo books the publishing world has seen. Double glass doors lead to a gorgeous outdoor (why yes, there’s an outside!) patio. I grab one of the books from the gallery and find my way to a shadowed corner on the patio and read away, mesmerized by images and totally relaxed in this hidden oasis just off Beverly Boulevard.
Below the gallery, lies the equally well-curated store, home to the entire range of new Leica products, along with a number of their rare and vintage pieces. From a gold-plated, special edition Leica created for the Sultan of Brunei, to their entire line of the brand new and highly coveted Summilux motion picture lenses, the store is an optical sanctuary, housing some of the most cherished and influential cameras in photographic history. I am enthralled with the staff’s knowledge, and they are quick to school me on all things photography. Many of their cameras are made by hand in batches of 15, taking up to four to six weeks to produce. Apprenticeship in their factory can take up to a full year before handling the precious cargo is even allowed. And with their technologically advanced rangefinder system, it’s no wonder that photojournalists across the world are keen to call this camera their own.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE IN OUR ISSUE HERE
I first discovered James Turrell when I was 16 and happened across the PBS art21 series that featured Turrell’s Roden Crater. Why any 16 year old would happen across anything PBS is slightly suspect, but apparently I was a bit more of a nerd than I had wanted to believe. In any case, I was hooked. I mean, like, mind. Blown. (It also doesn’t hurt that Turrell looks a bit like a cowboy-slingin’, mad-genius Santa Clause, which, let’s be honest, is a total win in my book.)
So when I heard Turrell was due for a ginormous retrospective at LACMA, I marked my calendar. For those of you who happened to score a ticket to Sunday’s opening, lucky you.
For those of you who didn’t, lucky you.
While the exhibit spans across two of LACMA’s pavilions, I probably spent most of my time outside of them. The Turrell exhibit is more of a waiting game than anything, us unfortunate fans shunned to wait in some kind of never-ending punishment line. Patience is necessary, and fitting, in an ironic way, as Turrell’s work encourages a greater understanding of one’s self through quiet contemplation, meditation, and, well, patience. Perhaps it was Turrell’s silent joke on all of us all along?
Finally inside, the retrospective truly lives up to its word. Featuring 10 or so light installations, holograms, and an entire section devoted to Turrell’s Roden Crater project, the retrospective on the whole is a carefully calibrated, fully immersive, optical mind-fuck. But in the best way possible. “Breathing Light,” one of the most impressive pieces in his collection, extends across 5,000 square feet of the museum and invites patrons to climb a staircase up to a corner-less room flooded with sequences of colors. Special shoe booties included. And let’s not forgot about the Perceptual Cell (Light Reignfall) which requires a signed medical waiver and an emergency contact (told ya it would blow your mind).
Overall, I left the exhibit slightly disoriented, but completely fascinated. LACMA and Turrell don’t disappoint and have created a transformative environment with their cleverly simple use of light and space. If your sense of perception isn’t questioned upon leaving, then you must have been closing your eyes.
“Afrum (White),” 1966
“Breathing Light,” 2013
If long lines have deterred you, then be sure to catch more of Turrell’s incredible light installations and skyscapes at Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery, on view now until July 6th, 2013
*LACMA’s retrospective is complemented by concurrent, independently curated exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)(June 9—September 22, 2013); and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (June 21—September 25, 2013).