So Much Art to See, So Little Time, So Good!

By Sarah Spitz

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So Much Art to See, So Little Time, So Good!
Photos by Sarah Spitz BASIL KINCAID’s “Dancing the Wind Walk” greeted attendees in the parking lot upon entering the FRIEZE LA art show at Santa Monica Airport.
Sometimes I will report on events after they’ve happened, due to production schedules, but they’re worth knowing about for the next time around. Kristina Wong: Sweatshop Overlord at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City is absolutely worth your time and will be onstage through March 15. This energetic, funny, poignant and moving solo performance distills so much of everything that was going on in the world while we were in lockdown, and represents Kristina’s attempt to combat despair by creating purpose in her life. Finding herself an unemployed, single, Asian-American female performance artist, coincidentally facing anti-Asian hatred because of COVID, she wondered what her “essential skill” might be. She comes from a long line of women who sew, and starting with her own “Hello Kitty” sewing machine and some bedsheets, she assembles, through word of mouth, networking and necessity, an army of 800 “Aunties” in 33 states who manage, in 504 days of the pandemic, to sew 350,000 masks, distributed primarily to vulnerable, underserved communities. In the process, she builds a miraculously interconnected and loving community of her own. It’s not without pain and loss, but it is full of joy. If you’re looking for uplifting entertainment, I highly recommend you see Kristina Wong: Sweatshop Overlord.
JULIAN LENNON’S “Midnight Smoke” 2012, Dye Sublimation on Aluminum, from “Atmospheria” at William Turner Gallery, Bergamot Art Station, Santa Monica.
FRIEZE LA
On Thursday, Feb. 16, I spent a couple of hours (you could spend days) at the FRIEZE LA art show, this year for the first time at Santa Monica Airport, so sprawling it required two separate venues at the airport. Outstanding galleries included Venice-based LA Louver, New York’s Sperone Westwater, London’s Project Native Informant, Tehran-based Dastan Gallery, and the now-global Gagosian Gallery, which is also exhibiting several mammoth works by post-WW II German artist Anselm Kiefer at the Marciano Foundation in mid-Wilshire, the same space that housed the massive Ai Weiwei exhibition some time ago.

I walked through countless numbers of galleries, saw just a few works that stopped me in my tracks, and ended up talking to a young black independent curator who explained NFTs and blockchain to me, because LG (the appliance and electronics maker) was sponsoring a talk by, and auction of NFTs, by a sculptural artist named Barry X Ball in a side gallery. Interesting but still essentially incomprehensible to me.

The artist collective DIS created the image “Fossil Passing,” presented by London’s Project Native Informant at FRIEZE LA.
To say that FRIEZE is overwhelming is like saying the sun will rise tomorrow. It’s a gathering of some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, a great way to get a read on the pulse of the art world, and see what’s happening mostly in contemporary and some classics of modern art. My takeaway: mixed media fibers and fabrics are being increasingly used for art making; political works seem in rather short supply; ceramics are beginning to be looked upon more as fine and experimental art; and the art market itself is very active.

Photo by KIT YOUNG of Hulett Collection, from the inaugural Photo LA Art Forward Fair,” at Danziger Gallery, Bergamot Art Station.
Julian Lennon’s “Atmospheria” at William Turner Gallery
Ethereal, meditative, inspiring: just a few of the descriptions of Julian Lennon’s photography, in an exhibition titled “Atmospheria” in the William Turner Gallery at Bergamot Station. Julian, son of Beatle John’s first marriage, has had a successful artistic and musical career on his own merits, as a musician, filmmaker and philanthropist. In this photographic show, he highlights the drama of our planet’s atmospheric forces, the ever-changing light, darkness, color, shapes and shadows of the clouds that surround and protect the delicate balance of nature on Earth. A portion of proceeds from the show will benefit his non-profit, The White Feather Foundation, supporting Indigenous, environmental, education, health and clean water projects across the world.

Photo Forward Los Angeles
The inaugural Photo Forward Los Angeles Fair at Bergamot Station’s Danziger Gallery, over the weekend of Feb 17-19, featured classic and contemporary photography. Sponsored and curated by the Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles, a broad array of black and white, color, abstract, landscape and architectural images were on offer from such photographic legends as Andre Kertesz, and new artists, such as Kit Young, whose skills in the darkroom—and for capturing that once-in-a-lifetime, just-at-the-right-moment shot—signal the vitality of the photographic medium. Let’s hope this Fair continues in the years ahead.

Sarah A. Spitz is an award-winning public radio producer, retired from KCRW, where she also produced arts stories for NPR. She writes features and reviews for various print and online publications.

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March 3, 2023

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