Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The rain has given us a break for the past two days—was threatened for today, but hasn’t happened so far—and now we have mosquitoes the size of helicopters. Last night in the garden, taking out the pea vines and replacing them with zucchini plants, an entire fleet landed on my ear. Even though I’ve sprayed it with so much Benadryl the afflicted organ is now stuck to my head, the urge to scratch it takes up nearly all my attention. With what little brain space I have left over, I will attempt to write a little about L.A., where the sun was out all the time and there were NO MOSQUITOES.

I said I didn’t want to go see art (“I’m here to see you”) but son Matt insisted and anyone who knows Matt knows that when he insists, it’s futile to protest. Besides he was right, as he usually is.

Our first stop was Ace Gallery, which in L.A. is as vast as its last incarnation in New York, to see Matt’s friend, Melanie Pullen’s glamorized portraits of soldiers in uniform, which you can get a glimpse of here. Then there was a chain of three rooms lit by Robert Irwin in different colors, the after-image of each affecting how you perceived the hue of the next, and a lovely set of graphite squiggle drawings by Australian artist Ana Pollak, which, like the Irwin installation, were totally unphotographable. You can look at them here, but you won’t have a clue.

I admitted I wanted to see the Jorge Pardo reinstallation of pre-Columbian art at LACMA that had generated so much controversy, and as with the Musee Quai du Branly in Paris, I don’t feel the need to evaluate it, but am simply glad that museums are experimenting with creative solutions. I guess my only gripe about the Pardo is that the lighting was so even throughout that the objects on display seemed more incidental than highlighted. Meanwhile the show of young Korean artists at LACMA, “Your Bright Future” was one of the worst exhibitions of anything I’ve ever seen, yet another example of how the Academic Faux Avant Garde (hereafter to be known as AFAG) has gone global.

Best of all was Chris Burden’s Urban Light, 2008, a grid of 202 vintage Los Angeles street lamps that’s permanently installed on Wilshire Boulevard at LACMA. Sometimes I think that video (except for Christian Marclay and perhaps Omer Fast) could have begun and ended with Nam June Paik, and conceptual art could have begun and ended with Chris Burden. Next time I want to see it at night.

Oh, and the chilled soup I got at the museum cafe in the courtyard. You can try this at home: beet puree mixed with watermelon juice and a touch of finely chopped mint. Perfect!

1 comment:

joan said...

Here is something that might interest you from a friend of ours concerning mosquitoes and New England and bats.

"ps We have tons of mosquitoes due to the rain, but primarily due to the mass extinction of New England bats. You probably know this. I have been tracking frogs and bats in this area for the state with a couple of friends, and we are in trouble.

The mass extinction of the bats is due to a fungus named the "white nose" as the fungus produces a white powder around the nose. Not all the bats are dead but close to 75% are, and that is serious. No cure to date and no idea of how they got it, but they have barred the caves and mines from humans. Similar to the fact that a fungus has wiped out certain species of frogs and toads throughout South America and Central America."