Saturday night was the start of the gallery season, with openings stretching from Bergamont Station to Chinatown. In Culver City alone, it seems like the number of art spaces has doubled since last September, growing like a tumor that consumes art school grads until Los Angeles becomes nothing more than gas stations and galleries.View of Miller's Work at Cardwell Jimmerson
Opening announcements asked visitors to be considerate of the residents in the surrounding neighborhoods, but the streets were fairly clogged with Priuses circling for parking spaces and art aficionados surreptitiously sneaking their plastic wine-filled glasses from one gallery to the next.
I was reminded of the conversations overheard in Venice at the last Biennale, where art viewers perpetually asked each other if they had seen anything interesting. There was too much to see, and a nagging worry that there was something hanging in a crumbling palazzo that would make the whole trip worthwhile. From the viewpoint of psychology, a person with limited choices (say Coke/7-Up or Levis/Wrangler) will be much more happy with their ultimate selection. Unfortunately we live in a world with hundreds of jeans and carbonated beverages, so any purchase made comes with the nagging sensation that there is something out there that's probably better. Likewise with opening night of the gallery season and too much art to see.
Koplin Del Rio Gallery featured the work of Kerry James Marshall, with included the Rythm Mastr series seen at Documenta, along with portraits of named men and unnamed women (pinups). Across the street at Cardwell Jimmerson a more complex and nuanced depiction of male sexuality is on display by Miller Updegraff.
Thinking about the various ways men are portrayed--from bears to BMX racers (not to mention cowboys and Indians)--one can see how the plethora of choices may ultimately leave a guy wanting, looking over his shoulder, wondering about the possibilities and choices made. In another artist's hands the depictions could seem ironic or aloof, but the delicate pencil work (poorly photographed here) evokes both distance and desire.
The double drawing of the rifleman in red and blue reminds one of 3-D illusions, but without providing glasses, the image becomes more about the the ploy than the pleasure of falling for the trick. Shooting out from the crotch, the rifle isn't allowed to spring from the page, and thus (like the middle finger) becomes a bit of impotent posturing.
There has always been a Yin and Yang to Miller's work, be it the left/right brain of his patterned depiction of flora, or the gendered ambiguities of his video collaboration with Kaari Upson. Rather than presenting us with nameless objects of desire, Miller's depictions offer up some of the possibilities of masculinity, and at the same time make us pine for more.
Portrait of the Artists as MFA Grads
L to R: Miller Updegraff, Megan Sant, Kara Tanaka, Michael Buitron