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February 12, 2012

Review: SMALL IS BIG AT THE TORRANCE ART MUSEUM

Before I forget- To Live and Paint in LA was reviewed by Chris Hoff at the OC Art Blog. 
I got some good ink.



SMALL IS BIG AT THE TORRANCE ART MUSEUM

For the last several months the Los Angeles art world’s attention has been captured by the blockbuster Pacific Standard Time exhibitions happening throughout southern California. In the midst of this dominant viewing of the past art of Los Angeles there has been a few brave souls staging exhibitions that sit outside of this particular lens. One of these shows is the quiet survey of current Los Angeles painting that recently opened at the Torrance Art Museum titled To Live and Paint in LA curated by Max Presneill and Jason Ramos.
This satisfactory show tucked away in the south bay provides rich conversation for what challenges a painter in Los Angeles may face. When one first enters the main gallery it is apparent that scale is on the majority of these painters minds. L.A. painters are going big, with mixed results. I found myself wondering if this is how you get noticed in the noise of the L.A. art scene these days, go billboard size. Most of these large paintings had interesting parts and would have worked if they had been scaled down to a quarter of their current size. Working on such big canvases is difficult work, and I applaud the effort, but most fell short. The funny thing is, in the heart of all these large canvases, it’s the small paintings that work best.
I attended the night of the opening, and while walking through the main gallery fighting the crowd; it was the smallest painting of the show that drew my attention. Mary Addison Hackett’s slight depiction of a figure and a dog stood out among the noise and crowd of opening night because of its tenderness. I went back a week later and still experienced the work in the same way. Hackett’s painting is reminiscent of David Park’s figure work, but with a sunless palette that left me with a sense that her subjects reside in place far away from Los Angeles, possibly giving us a glimpse into the psyche of every Los Angeles based painter, the hope of escape one day.
One take away from this exhibition will be that L.A. painters are not afraid of color. A strong work in this show that captured what seems to be the prominent color field in current L.A. painting best (minus the hot pink) could be found in the work of Tomory Dodge. Dodge’s hard-edge abstraction is firmly Californian in its roots, but thoroughly L.A. in its color choice.
Another quiet work that was almost missed among the colossal works in this show was the meditation on line and pattern by Alison Rash. Rash’s markings stood far outside the kinetic energy of the majority of works in this exhibition that it almost felt like a break to get lost in the line of Rash’s subtly strong work.
To Live And Paint in LA is a wholly gratifying examination of the current state of L.A. painting, even in the work that fell short, providing a broad survey of the painting of our location and time. The show will run until some time in March and should not be missed.

2 comments :

Nomi Lubin said...

"I got some good ink."

Yes, and much deserved.

Mary Addison Hackett said...

Thank you, Nomi.