Generous
Structures
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature by Thomas Duncan
Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler by Stuart Krimko
Karl Haendel by Aaron Horst
Wolfgang Tillmans by Eli Diner
Ma by Claire de Dobay Rifelj
The Rat Bastard Protective Association by Pablo Lopez
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Launch Party Carla Issue 6
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews:
Made in L.A. 2016
Doug Aitken Electric Earth
Mertzbau

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
Mark A. Rodruigez
The Weeping Line
Molly Larkey, Aaron Horst,
Keith J. Varadi, Katie Bode,
Stuart Krimko, Matt Stromberg
Non-Fiction
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
at REDCAT
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Launch Party Carla Issue 5
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Hana Cohn, Eli Diner,
Claire De Dobay Rifelj,
Katie Bode, Molly Larkey,
Keith J. Varadi
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Reconsidering
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater
Diana Thater
at LACMA
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Launch Party Carla Issue 4
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj,
Matt Stromberg, Hana Cohn,
Lindsay Preston Zappas,
Simone Krug, Keith Vaughn,
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word
F.B.I.
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
and LOUDHAILER
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Launch Party Carla Issue 3
Share Your Piece of the Puzzle Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Eli Diner, Jonathan Griffin,
Don Edler, Aaron Horst
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Reviews Benjamin Lord, Aaron Horst, Stephen Kent
Top-Down Bottom-Up Jenny Gagalka
Snap Reviews Aaron Horst, Char Jansen, Randy Rice, Lindsay Preston Zappas
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee
William Pope.L’s Reenactor
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
MEAT PHYSICS/
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
SOGTFO
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
@barnettcohen
Mateo Tannatt
Photographs
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
VESSEL // CINS and
VESSEL // PERF
Ben Medansky
I've been a lot of places,
seen so many faces
Nora Slade
Launch Party Carla Issue 1
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal, Catherine Wagley, Keith Vaughn, Aaron Horst, Kate Wolf, Mateo Tannatt, Evan Moffitt, Cal Siegel
We’re in This Together Lauren Cherry & Max Springer
Distribution
Downtown
ARTBOOK @ Hauser Wirth
    & Schimmel
917 E. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Baert Gallery
2441 Hunter St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Central Park
412 W. 6th St. #615
Los Angeles, CA 90014

CES Gallery
711 Mateo St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Cirrus Gallery
2011 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Château Shatto
406 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Club Pro
1525 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Fahrenheit
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Ghebaly Gallery
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Geffen Contemporary
    & at MOCA
152 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Harmony Murphy
358 E. 2nd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

LACA
2245 E. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

MAMA
1242 Palmetto St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Mistake Room
1811 E. 20th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90058

MOCA Grand Avenue
250 S. Grand Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Monte Vista Projects
1206 Maple Avenue, #523
Los Angeles, CA 90015

Night Gallery
2276 E. 16th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

The Box
805 Traction Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wilding Cran Gallery
939 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Chinatown
A.G. Geiger
502 Chung King Ct.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Charlie James
969 Chung King Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

EMBASSY
422 Ord St., Suite G
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Human Resources
410 Cottage Home St.
Los Angeles CA, 90012

Ooga Booga
943 N. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Mid-City
1301PE
6150 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Big Pictures Los Angeles
2424 W Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

California African American Museum
600 State Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90037

Chainlink Gallery
1051 S. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Commonwealth and Council
3006 W. 7th St. #220
Los Angeles CA 90005

David Kordansky Gallery
5130 W. Edgewood Pl.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

HILDE
4727 W. Washington
Los Angeles, CA 90016

JOAN
4300 W. Jefferson Blvd. #1
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Kayne Griffin Corcoran
1201 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

ltd Los Angeles
1119 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90019

Marc Foxx
6150 Wilshire Blvd. #5
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Martos Gallery
3315 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

Ms. Barbers
5370 W. Adams Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Ochi Projects
3301 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

The Landing
5118 W. Jefferson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

Park View
836 S. Park View St. Unit 8
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Skibum MacArthur
712 S. Grand View St., #204
Los Angeles, CA 90057

SPRÜTH MAGERS
5900 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Underground Museum
3508 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90018

VACANCY
2524 1/2 James M. Wood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Visitor Welcome Center
3006 W. 7th St., Suite #200A
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Culver City
Anat Ebgi
2660 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Arcana Books
8675 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Blum and Poe
2727 S. La Cienega
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Cherry and Martin
2712 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Honor Fraser
2622 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Klowden Mann
6023 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Luis De Jesus
2685 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

MiM Gallery
2636 La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Roberts and Tilton
5801 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

Samuel Freeman
2639 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90034

Susanne Vielmetter
6006 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Silverlake/ Echo Park
Smart Objects
1828 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Otherwild
1768 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Hollywood
Diane Rosenstein
831 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Family Books
436 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

GAVLAK
1034 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Hannah Hoffman
1010 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

LAXART
7000 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90038

M+B
612 N. Almont Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90069

Mier
1107 Greenacre Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Moskowitz Bayse
743 N. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Regen Projects
6750 Santa Monica Blvd.
LLos Angeles, CA 90038

Shulamit Nazarian
616 N. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Various Small Fires
812 Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Westside
18th Street Arts
1639 18th St.
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis
    College of Art and Design
9045 Lincoln Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Christopher Grimes Gallery
916 Colorado Ave.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

DXIX Projects
519 Santa Clara Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90291

Five Car Garage
(Emma Gray HQ)

Team (Bungalow)
306 Windward Ave.
Venice, CA 90291
Eastside
67 Steps
2163 Princeton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90026

ACME.
2939 Denby Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90039

ESXLA
602 Moulton Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90031

SADE
204 S. Avenue 19
Los Angeles, CA 90031
Boyle Heights
BBQLA
2315 Jesse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Chimento Contemporary
622 S. Anderson St., #105
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ibid.
670 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Ooga Twooga
356 Mission Rd.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
1326 S. Boyle Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Museum as Retail Space (MaRS)
649 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023

Nicodim Gallery
571 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Venus Over Los Angeles
601 S. Anderson St.
Los Angeles, CA 90023
Pasadena/ Glendale/ Valley
The Armory Center for the Arts
145 N. Raymond Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91103

Los Angeles Valley College
5800 Fulton Ave.
Valley Glen, CA 91401

Natural
15168 Raymer St.
Van Nuys, CA 91405

The Pit
918 Ruberta Ave.
Glendale, CA 91201

The Female Cool School

Allison Miller, Flush Arch (2015). Oil, oil stick, acrylic and pencil on canvas. 60 x 58.5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and The Pit, Los Angeles.

Allison Miller, Flush Arch (2015). Oil, oil stick, acrylic and pencil on canvas. 60 x 58.5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and The Pit, Los Angeles.

Usually, art movements or “schools,” acquire names for reasons of expedience. Critic Irving Sandler named Color Field Painting, because he needed a title for the chapter on Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko in his book The Triumph of American Painting. Critic Jules Langser and his friend Peter Selz coined Hard-Edge Abstraction because they needed a name for a show linking Lorser Feitelson, John McClaughlin, and Karl Benjamin—all California artists with a preference for sharpness and clarity. The term Light and Space emerged similarly from a group exhibition’s title. Many of these schools consisted mostly of men (Selz and Langser notably left female hard-edger Helen Lundeberg out of their exhibition); the catch-all Feminist Art Movement being the exception.

Just this summer, Yale University Press published what they called “a long-awaited survey,” Women of Abstract Expressionism—every time I see the title, I think of a scene in Ann Rower’s book about Lee Krasner and Elaine De Kooning, Lee & Elaine (1988). Rower closes her eyes and tries to imagine that Lee and Elaine did it first, that their husbands copied them, and then lied about it. But even with eyes closed, she feels the overshadowing force of Jackson and Willem. Books like Yale’s new survey, and shows like Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel’s recent Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women function almost as correctives, acknowledging femaleidentified artists as important and influential too. Maybe that ongoing preoccupation with correcting makes us less primed to notice when the women are dominating in the present.

It was an L.A. gallerist who first pointed out to me the “badass lady painters” working in Los Angeles. right now. “Something’s going on with that,” he said, adding that he was giving me a scoop, which he was. As soon as their badassery had been singled out, I couldn’t help seeing Sarah Cain, Allison Miller, Laura Owens, Rebecca Morris, and Dianna Molzan as a cohesive group, female artists whose coexistence in the same region is consequential rather than coincidental. Because they’re based in Los Angeles, and tied together by an aesthetic attitude, they remind me of The Cool School posse from Los Angeles’ midcentury heyday—Irwin, Moses, Bell, Altoon, et al.—studio rats united by a moment and a certain spirit. The Cool School, though, is an all-male frame of reference, so maybe it’s better to adhere to no frame.

Born between 1969 and 1979, all of these female L.A. painters have self-possessed, un-heroic approaches to mark making, mixed with quiet rebelliousness and full-on dedication. The work reads as easygoing, but that’s deceptive. Leaving things unfinished or loosely formed on purpose often seems easy or nonchalant even if it’s really something else, such as deep aversion to hierarchy (aka patriarchy). And being routinely, methodologically breezy undermines stereotypes of feminine flightiness so effectively, it’s hard in the moment to remember they exist.

These painters have crossed paths and exhibited together in piecemeal—Cain and Morris in a two-person Chinatown show in 2009, Owens and Morris appearing in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Cain and Miller in a show in a former bank in 2013, Molzan, Cain and Owens all curated into Variations: Conversations in Abstraction at LACMA in 2014, and so on—but no curator has ever invited them all to show together at once.

When I imagine them shown together, I see the exhibition clearly: Sarah Cain’s Supreme Being, massive and bordered in gold leaf, hangs on a wall that thankfully isn’t white. It’s cracked, stained concrete, not at all pristine. In Cain’s painting, loose pink and gray graffiti-like marks appear above the gold leaf and then, suspended on top of the graffiti, is a frame of painted stripes lined with cut-out fringes along the bottom. Cain made this in 2009, and it hangs a few generous feet away from Allison Miller’s Hour (2015), in which blue and red half-moons appear on a light pink surface that has been punctured with holes. The half-moons, which look like watermelon slices or disoriented rainbows, line up at regular intervals until, abruptly, the pattern stops and fades into an expanse of white interrupted only by a very light pink circle. Miller’s painting, while significantly smaller than Cain’s, holds its own. On the opposite wall is a new untitled painting by Laura Owens, impasto swooshes of teal, green, blue, purple and red overlaying a cartoon image that includes a sheep. Next comes Untitled (#04-13) (2013) by Rebecca Morris, an army green circle broken by geometric incisions, hovering casually above lots of black specks. Then there’s Untitled (2009) by Dianna Molzan, a hazy wash and splotches of color on linen that doesn’t stretch all the way to the bottom of the frame. Painterliness in all the work is intermittent, a choice rather than a methodology. Abstraction too is a functional preference rather than a rule; recognizable imagery does appear occasionally.

The artists have no qualms about taking up space, though doing so does not read as an aim in itself. Their lack of ambivalence and disinterest in outright expressionism means they’re not really aligned with the Provisional Painting Raphael Rubinstein outlined in 2009, (1) and only peripherally with gestures of refusal and Ab-Ex reliant “fakery” Mark Godfrey described in a 2014 essay (in which he actually did discuss Owens). (2)

Other female L.A. painters are clear kindred spirits, though they aren’t in my imagined exhibition for reasons related to imagery and painterly mannerisms: Alex Olson, Mari Eastman, Monique Van Gendersen, Caitlin Lonegan, and Mary Weatherford. Fewer men working right now would fit as easily in. Bart Exposito might be a vague kindred, as might New York-based Zak Prekop, or Matt Connors. This gender divide is likely circumstantial, the result of historically different relationships to power. Curator Helen Molesworth tried to locate such a different relationship in an essay on New York painter Amy Sillman in which she discussed unknowability as a feminist virtue, a reaction against authority and mastery. (3) Abstraction has been described as “unknowable” before (in terms of all-black canvases, or seeking out the unperceivable), but here, in the context of feminist mark-making, “unknowable” has a more pragmatic use. A gesture that isn’t predetermined is less likely to adhere to already established patterns and expectations.

Sarah Cain, Tessie (2015). Acrylic, gouache, potholder, beads, string, and glitter on canvas. 28 x 15 inches. Image courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Joshua White/JWPictures.com

Sarah Cain, Tessie (2015). Acrylic, gouache, potholder, beads, string, and glitter on canvas. 28 x 15 inches. Image courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Joshua White/JWPictures.com

In a 2013 Artforum interview, Laura Owens pondered what it meant to inhabit her gesture completely. “Isn’t it interesting that a male orgasm has a DNA imprint that will replicate itself over and over again, reinforcing itself the way language or naming might,” she mused, “but the female orgasm has no use, no mark, no locatability? It can’t even be located in time. […] I want to think about how that can be the model for a new gesture.” She added, “That sounds really gendered, but it’s not—” (4) This new gesture, she tried to explain, would be distanced from the signature and narrative of the artist, more about the experience of the process and object, for artist and viewer. Her version of process art sounded less like Robert Morris’ “means over ends” approach, more like Eva Hesse’s desire to push against “singleness of purpose” in favor of something less goal-oriented, “to achieve by not achieving.” (5)

Sarah Cain also talked about avoiding goals in a 2013 interview with MOCAtv, in which she grappled with gender. “I’ve been owning up to the super femme idea recently and going really big with femininity,” Cain said, “which is about a lot of things, but I think it’s also a way of processing what it means to be a woman, what power means.” She explained that she would enter a zone, processing femininity via her manipulation of materials and generating an instinctive sort of language for the work that might seem “really dumb” at first, to viewers and even to her. The work behind her in the studio as she spoke included a large amount of pink and purple, strips of canvas bunched up like ribbon and applied like a frame to the edges of a finished painting. These girly markers were messy, divorced from “prettiness,” and they took on an intuitive fierceness that only seemed intentional because it was so consistent. “If I know what I’m doing, or if I know what the painting’s going to look like,” she continued, “there’s really no point in doing it.” (6) Molzan, Miller and Morris agree that predetermination can be a hindrance.

“[T]here has to be a degree of the unknown for me to proceed with a painting or body of work, or else it is just execution without discovery,” said Molzan in 2011. (7) Space for discovery means unexpected results, Miller said in 2011: “Since there is no real planning involved in the making of the paintings, they are as much a surprise to me as to anybody looking at them.”(8) Morris spoke in 2013 about how the process of painting involves translating what one wants internally into an external form, and how sometimes, when they emerge, her wants aren’t what she expected. “I don’t like planning too much in advance,” she said, “because I want to be fully open to that moment—to that transition from the inside to its manifestation in the outside world.”(9)

The results of this unplanned-ness, unsurprisingly, differ across all five artists’ work. The quietness of Miller’s intuitive language can’t be mistaken for Owens’ assertiveness, or for Cain’s femme-informed graffiti. But still, choices appear contingent, made in relation to each other (i.e., unplanned). Artist Penny Slinger, a radical to the core, has talked about how frustrating she found 1970s feminism—her peers trying to take for themselves the recognition they hadn’t had, rather than rethinking success and power altogether. Not planning on purpose is a way to be uncertain without being insecure. It’s thus not surprising that female artists, expected to be less confident and thus better situated to rearrange what confidence looks like, would front this particular approach. And in Los Angeles, where there’s historically less pressure to conform to historical and academic models, they perhaps have the physical and psychological room they need.

In the exhibition I’ve imagined, the artists’ work together communicates a pulse and sense of place, one that’s influenced by sprawl, empty lots, and imperfections. It evokes an intensity that isn’t territorial, a West Coast punkishness. But it seems annoyingly linear to call these artists a school and give it a name. The work resists that way of thinking and categorizing and thrives on its own disinterest in formal pronouncements. At the same time, recognizing the overlaps gives the work a collective force, mapping the way that key facets of its sensibility have dispersed across a region. Dispersal means greater influence; you can’t deflate a canon singlehandedly.

(1) Rubinstein, Raphael, “Provisional Painting,” Art in America, May 2009.

(2) Godfrey, Mark, “Statements of Intent,” Artforum, May 2014.

(3) Molesworth, Helen, Amy Sillman: One Lump or Two. New York: Pressel, 2013.

(4) Lehrer-Graiwer, Sarah, “Optical Drive: Sarah Lehrer- Graiwer Talks to Laura Owens,” Artforum, February 2013.

(5) Hesse, Eva, “untitled statement,” Art in Process IV. Finch College, 1969.

(6) “Sarah Cain: The Artist’s Studio,” MOCAtv, October 18, 2013.

(7) Hainley, Bruce, “Dianna Molzan,” Kaleidescope, Winter 2011.

(8) Lupo, Nancy, “Interview with Allison Miller,” Artslant.com, 2011.

(9) Cahill, Zachary, “Rebecca Morris: 500 Words,” Artforum.com, September 6, 2013.

Rebecca Morris. Untitled (#16-15) (2015). Oil and spray paint on canvas. 75 x 75 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photo: Lee Tyler Thompson.

Rebecca Morris. Untitled (#16-15) (2015). Oil and spray paint on canvas. 75 x 75 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photo: Lee Tyler Thompson.

 

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Originally Published in Carla Issue 6