June 2008


“This exhibition will explore the history of Los Angles’ Skid Row through the stories of those who live, work and inspire others there. It will also celebrate those who have created positive change in this community. The Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) is a non-profit arts organization that connects lived experience to the social forces that shape the lives and communities of people living in poverty.

A map of Skid Row will be on the floor of the front gallery, marking significant sites where these stories have unfolded. This exhibition will also include images and videos highlighting the community’s efforts and strides. These videos feature speakers at public meetings and performances by LAPD. In the back gallery visitors will be invited to contribute their ideas for Skid Row’s own “Walk of Fame,” which seeks to honor those people and organizations that have bettered the community. In this area there will be inspiration booklets for visitors to draw out their ideas of whom they believe should be honored. The ultimate vision behind the Skid Row History Museum is to create a series of permanent public artworks, (plaques, signs, and the like) actually installed in the streets of downtown for this eventual “museum without walls”.

This exhibition has many goals; one is that it will enable the public to better understand the Skid Row community and the challenges that they have endured. The second is to empower the Skid Row population with work that confers the often-denied respect that this community and its members deserve.

As a major part of this exhibition there will be multiple events, including public discussions with key figures of the Skid Row community, musical and dramatic performances and workshops for members of Lamp Community and Downtown Women’s Center. See above for list of events.

Funding assistance for this project has been provided by the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles (CRA/LA).”

Fore more information go to http://www.theboxla.com and http://www.lapovertydept.org.

Jim “The Beast” Marquez reading from his latest book “L.A. Bitch IV” at the “L.A. Bitch IV DVD” release party last Friday night. The DVD is a slide show of Downtown life with words written and read by Jim Marquez, photography by Rick Mendoza, and paintings by Carl Ramsey. The DVD was produced by Dale Youngman and Gail Zone.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the candid, outspoken and poetic style of Jim Marquez’ “PG 13” book – in Jim’s own words – “East L.A. Collage,” I was looking forward to hearing The Beast unleashed in “L.A. Bitch IV.” Since the show, I’ve started reading his X rated tales. As disturbingly real and graphic as Jim gets, his heart is the leading force behind his unnerving depictions whether he rants against or achingly needs his fellow mortals as in “After the reading” (see excerpts below,) an undeniable proof that Marquez has mastered the art of the short story and is right to have moved on to writing his first novel. If I were you I would get a copy of his self-published books fast; in my opinion Marquez has already transcended his beginnings as an “East L.A. writer” to possibly become one of the most authentic recorders of our 21st American century.

“I should’ve been happy after the reading and signing of my latest book: big crowd, standing room only, college girls sitting on the floor and gazing up at me like I was the Mexican-Charles-fucking-Bukowski himself, but something was off…” Jim Marquez, “After the reading”

Paintings by Carl Ramsey.

“The booze flowed well, it always does when I read, and I read the fuck out of the material; freaked everybody out and even surprised myself with the ferocity and rage in which the words exploded off my tongue.”

Downtowner and “Bathroom Graffiti” author Mark Ferem with whom I got to sip iced coffee before the show. During our animated conversation, which I hope to continue with Mark soon and share with my readers, Mark waved and smiled at a friend across the street. “It’s Gronk,” he said. I grinned. How cool was that! Above him are paintings by Eric Jones from the Dale Youngman’s gallery’s closing exhibit: “Father.”

Sketch by Carl Ramsey from the LA Bitch IV DVD.

“Institution”

I found myself going back to this painting over and over again during the show. My photo didn’t do it justice. Fortunately I found it on http://www.downtownla.com. I couldn’t help sharing this other one with you because I believe it’s on the DVD and… well… it speaks for itself.

“Street Dance”

Photographer Rick Mendoza.

“I mean, I was running late because I had to pick up the chairs for the show, pick up a 20lb bag of ice, buy the drink bucket, and buy extra beers and, so, because all that shit was on my mind, and because I still had to fight rush hour traffic into Downtown L.A. in the fucking rain, and add to the fact that I had come to that afternoon with the sickness (hangovers to mortals, an entirely different and agonizing level of suffering to those of us who actually drink,) so, I guess I wasn’t in the best of moods come game time.”

Jim Marquez, Rick Mendoza, Carl Ramsey.

To find out more about the authors, go to: http://www.MySpace.com/JimtheWriter, http://www.rickmendoza.com, or click here for a link to Carl Ramsey’s work.

Rick Mendoza’s photographs were not prominently displayed during the show. The only way to experience his work was to watch the “LA Bitch IV” DVD on a small laptop. Fortunately there was that picture on the cover of the DVD and Jim’s latest book which left me wanting for more. Rick Mendoza’s work is currently on display at the First Street Studios, 2026 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights, CA 90033.

Marlene Dumas: Measuring Your Own Grave is the first mid-career survey of the work of Marlene Dumas (b. 1953, Cape Town, lives in Amsterdam) to be organized by an American institution. Dumas’s rigorous investigation of the human condition is manifested through portraiture, figuration, and her ongoing, painterly exploration of the body. The exhibition, which includes over 100 paintings and drawings, is organized according to specific subjects Dumas has examined throughout her 30-year career, including children, pregnant women, the dead, and the female nude.

Click here for more information.

The woman of Algiers

Taco was cordially invited by Brady Brim-DeForest of Found Gallery to take a peek at their current exhibition of Irene Kai’s photo essay: “What do you see?” I jumped on the opportunity to discover a new gallery and to see why, according to the press release, “Princess Margaret was shuffled past an art exhibit at the Royal College of Art in London in 1976. College officials deemed Irene Kai’s work too provocative for even the liberal minded Countess of Snowdon. The images caused a major uproar within the Royal College of Art staff, which took two months to settle and caused the Royal College to change its hiring policy.”

frankiely: How is a show that was judged shocking in 1970’s London relevant in Los Angeles of 2008?

Brady Brim-DeForest: What was shocking to me was that this show had been in New York City and London but had never made it to Los Angeles. Many LA galleries are very SoCal-centric. They show contemporary art made in LA – so we were interested in showing a retrospective of an old show, one that has been around for a while – one that had perhaps lost a little bit of its luster. It’s definitely not as shocking now as it might have been in 1976 London but it’s still relevant – especially in an American society that still struggles with its own sexuality today.

frankiely: What have people’s reactions been like?

Brady Brim-DeForest: This image (above) generates the most negative reactions, some people feel disgusted by it. Some are intrigued. Either way, it regularly produces a very visceral reponse in the viewer.

frankiely: I think it would have been interesting not to refer to the 1976 scandal in your press release to witness people’s reactions free of the knowledge that they might be shocked. Why did you make that choice?

Brady Brim-DeForest: We had an endless series of discussions about this particular point – but we determined that the best way to get people to the show, in a city dominated by endless noise, was to tell them a story that would pique their interest, appeal to their inner voyeur – and it worked! Ultimately, it is better for us to push through the noise, and encourage people to see the work, than to get lost in the shuffle.

frankiely: The fact that informing the audience that the pictures are sexual in nature is the best way to get people into your gallery makes a point that this exhibit is still relevant today.

Brady Brim-DeForest: Definitely. Nudity and sexuality are much more acceptable in European culture than in America today. What strikes me as funny, however, is that during the time that these photos were taken, “Deep Throat” was all the rage on this side of the pond. I can’t imagine the same film enjoying that kind of reception in the States today. Maybe we have become more conservative as a society over the last thirty years?

frankiely: That first picture definitely had that “Ooohhh what am I seeing here?” effect on me… but the more I paid attention to the photographs the more I was drawn by their sweetness, humor, the poetry a la Georgia O’Keefe and yes that liberating feeling.

Brady Brim-DeForest: Some people are disappointed because they expected to be shocked and they find out rather quickly that they are not. There’s a mix of excitement and disappointment. From that perspective it’s been great to watch people’s reactions.

frankiely: Every time we’re confronted to how we feel about something, it’s a great mirror for where we are at as individuals and as a society. Is that Found Gallery’s goal?

Brady Brim-DeForest: To a certain degree, it is. We’re interested in showing artists and producing shows that no other gallery would take a chance on. We love to explore art as a process. For instance, the Joint Custody Project, which this year paired 44 artists of different disciplines, twenty-two each in Berlin and LA, to work together. The show opens in Berlin on June 28th and the reception for the LA artists will be here on July 5th. You can see them at work on jointcustodyproject.blogspot.com.

I see a flying elephant. You have until the closing reception, Saturday, June 28th between 7 and 10pm, to be attended by Irene Kai, to tell us what you saw. Found Gallery, 1903 Hyperion Avenue, LA, CA 90027. Tel: 323-669-1247. http://www.foundla.com

Cyd Charisse’s leg in the dance sequence that made her famous from the 1952 Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly masterpiece “Singin’ in the rain”… One of my top 10 most erotically charged scenes in the history of film… not just because of the way Cyd wraps her famously gorgeous legs around a blushing Gene Kelly, or the burning hot chemistry between two of the best dancers of their time… but because of that smile on her face when he finally takes charge.

Thanks to YouTube, you can click here if, like me, you like to watch.

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Keirin Brown, Bryan Brown, Ilana Turner, Olya Petrakova. Photo by Taso Papadakis.

“Fearless, avant-garde and determined to make us active participants in the creative process, ARTEL’ shows are as disorienting and exhilarating as a trip to another of my favorite LA wonders, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, where every room defies expectations and logic, stripping us of everything familiar.” Taco

4 MORE SHOWS, 4 more chances to experience the American Russian Theatre Ensemble Lab. performing their revamped take on the adventures of Russian literary martyr, Mikail Bulgakov, in the days of Stalin. I saw the version they performed last November at Highways and was as usual blown away by their originality and fearlessness. I’m going back for more this weekend and can attest that there’s nothing like ARTEL in LA. Read last November’s Taco review to find out why and treat yourself to a mind-opening experience.

ARTEL @ Art/Works Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd, Hollywood 90038. June 6th through June 14th. Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm. $15 (seniors/students/hungry artists)-$25.00 (general admission).

Reservations recommended, the last show is closed to being sold out: 1-800-838-3006 or online via http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/31312. Click here to view the show’s latest pictures.

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Keirin Brown. Photo by Taso Papadakis.