Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
Parasites in Love –Travis Diehl
To Crush Absolute On Patrick Staff and
Destroying the Institution
–Jonathan Griffin
Victoria Fu:
Camera Obscured
–Cat Kron
Resurgence of Resistance How Pattern & Decoration's Popularity
Can Help Reshape the Canon
–Catherine Wagley
Trace, Place, Politics Julie Mehretu's Coded Abstractions
–Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.: Featuring: Friedrich Kunath,
Tristan Unrau, and Nevine Mahmoud
–Claressinka Anderson & Joe Pugliese
Reviews April Street
at Vielmetter Los Angeles
–Aaron Horst

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Mike Kelley
at Hauser & Wirth
–Angella d’Avignon
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Issue 18 November 2019

Letter from the Editor –Lindsay Preston Zappas
The Briar and the Tar Nayland Blake at the ICA LA
and Matthew Marks Gallery
–Travis Diehl
Putting Aesthetics
to Hope
Tracking Photography’s Role
in Feminist Communities
– Catherine Wagley
Instagram STARtists
and Bad Painting
– Anna Elise Johnson
Interview with Jamillah James – Lindsay Preston Zappas
Working Artists Featuring Catherine Fairbanks,
Paul Pescador, and Rachel Mason
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Children of the Sun
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

Karl Holmqvist
at House of Gaga, Los Angeles
–Lee Purvey

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

Jeanette Mundt
at Overduin & Co.
–Matt Stromberg
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Issue 17 August 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Green Chip David Hammons
at Hauser & Wirth
–Travis Diehl
Whatever Gets You
Through the Night
The Artists of Dilexi
and Wartime Trauma
–Jonathan Griffin
Generous Collectors How the Grinsteins
Supported Artists
–Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Donna Huanca
–Lindsy Preston Zappas
Working Artist Featuring Ragen Moss, Justen LeRoy,
and Bari Ziperstein
Text: Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Sarah Lucas
at the Hammer Museum
–Yxta Maya Murray

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Alex Israel
at Greene Naftali
–Rosa Tyhurst

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Issue 16 May 2019

Trulee Hall's Untamed Magic Catherine Wagley
Ingredients for a Braver Art Scene Ceci Moss
I Shit on Your Graves Travis Diehl
Interview with Ruby Neri Jonathan Griffin
Carolee Schneemann and the Art of Saying Yes! Chelsea Beck
Exquisite L.A. Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Ry Rocklen
at Honor Fraser
–Cat Kron

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age
of Black Power, 1963-1983
at The Broad
–Matt Stromberg

Anna Sew Hoy & Diedrick Brackens
at Various Small Fires
–Aaron Horst

Julia Haft-Candell & Suzan Frecon
at Parrasch Heijnen
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Shahryar Nashat
at Swiss Institute
–Christie Hayden
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Issue 15 February 2019

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor
Men on Women
Geena Brown
Eyes Without a Voice
Julian Rosefeldt's Manifesto
Christina Catherine Martinez
Seven Minute Dream Machine
Jordan Wolfson's (Female figure)
Travis Diehl
Laughing in Private
Vanessa Place's Rape Jokes
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Rosha Yaghmai
Laura Brown
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Patrick Martinez,
Ramiro Gomez, and John Valadez
Claressinka Anderson
Joe Pugliese
Reviews Outliers and American
Vanguard Art at LACMA
–Jonathan Griffin

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

Matt Paweski
at Park View / Paul Soto
–John Zane Zappas

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Catherine Opie
at Lehmann Maupin
–Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 14 November 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer and Figurative Religion Catherine Wagley
Lynch in Traffic Travis Diehl
The Remixed Symbology of Nina Chanel Abney Lindsay Preston Zappas
Interview with Kulapat Yantrasast Christie Hayden
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Sandra de la Loza, Gloria Galvez, and Steve Wong
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews Raúl de Nieves
at Freedman Fitzpatrick
-Aaron Horst

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Eckhaus Latta
at the Whitney Museum
of American Art
-Angella d'Avignon
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Issue 13 August 2018

Letter From the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Letter to the Editor Julie Weitz with Angella d'Avignon
Don't Make
Everything Boring
Catherine Wagley
The Collaborative Art
World of Norm Laich
Matt Stromberg
Oddly Satisfying Art Travis Diehl
Made in L.A. 2018 Reviews Claire de Dobay Rifelj
Jennifer Remenchik
Aaron Horst
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring: Anna Sew Hoy, Guadalupe Rosales, and Shizu Saldamando
Claressinka Anderson
Photos: Joe Pugliese
Reviews It's Snowing in LA
at AA|LA
–Matthew Lax

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

Show 2
at The Gallery @ Michael's
–Simone Krug

Deborah Roberts
at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
–Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Math Bass
at Mary Boone
–Ashton Cooper

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Condo New York
–Laura Brown
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Issue 12 May 2018

Poetic Energies and
Radical Celebrations:
Senga Nengudi and Maren Hassinger
Simone Krug
Interior States of the Art Travis Diehl
Perennial Bloom:
Florals in Feminism
and Across L.A.
Angella d'Avignon
The Mess We're In Catherine Wagley
Interview with Christina Quarles Ashton Cooper
Object Project
Featuring Suné Woods, Michelle Dizon,
and Yong Soon Min
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos: Jeff McLane
Reviews Meleko Mokgosi
at The Fowler Museum at UCLA
-Jessica Simmons

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

iris yirei hsu
at the Women's Center
for Creative Work
- Hana Cohn

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

Reena Spaulings
at Matthew Marks
- Thomas Duncan
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Issue 11 February 2018

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Museum as Selfie Station Matt Stromberg
Accessible as Humanly as Possible Catherine Wagley
On Laura Owens on Laura Owens Travis Diehl
Interview with Puppies Puppies Jonathan Griffin
Object Project Lindsay Preston Zappas, Jeff McLane
Reviews Dulce Dientes
at Rainbow in Spanish
- Aaron Horst

Adrián Villas Rojas
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
- Lindsay Preston Zappas

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960- 1985
at the Hammer Museum
- Thomas Duncan

Hannah Greely and William T. Wiley
at Parker Gallery
- Keith J. Varadi

David Hockney
at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.A. in N.Y.)
- Ashton Cooper

Edgar Arceneaux
at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (L.A. in S.F.)
- Hana Cohn
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Issue 10 November 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Barely Living with Art:
The Labor of Domestic
Spaces in Los Angeles
Eli Diner
She Wanted Adventure:
Dwan, Butler, Mizuno, Copley
Catherine Wagley
The Languages of
All-Women Exhibitions
Lindsay Preston Zappas
L.A. Povera Travis Diehl
On Eclipses:
When Language
and Photography Fail
Jessica Simmons
Interview with
Hamza Walker
Julie Wietz
Object Project
Featuring: Rosha Yaghmai,
Dianna Molzan, and Patrick Jackson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McLane
Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA
Regen Projects
Ibid Gallery
One National Gay & Lesbian Archives and MOCA PDC
The Mistake Room
Luis De Jesus Gallery
the University Art Gallery at CSULB
the Autry Museum
Reviews Cheyenne Julien
at Smart Objects

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

Trigger: Gender as a Tool as a Weapon
at the New Museum
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 9 August 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women on the Plinth Catherine Wagley
Us & Them, Now & Then:
Reconstituting Group Material
Travis Diehl
The Offerings of EJ Hill
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
Interview with Jenni Sorkin Carmen Winant
Object Project
Featuring: Rebecca Morris,
Linda Stark, Alex Olson
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Photos by Jeff McClane
Reviews Mark Bradford
at the Venice Biennale

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


Analia Saban at
Sprueth Magers
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
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Issue 8 May 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kanye Westworld Travis Diehl
@richardhawkins01 Thomas Duncan
Support Structures:
Alice Könitz and LAMOA
Catherine Wagley
Interview with
Penny Slinger
Eliza Swann
Exquisite L.A.
taisha paggett
Ashley Hunt
Young Chung
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Alessandro Pessoli
at Marc Foxx

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop

Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

Sam Pulitzer & Peter Wachtler
at House of Gaga // Reena Spaulings Fine Art

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

The Rat Bastard Protective Association
at the Landing
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Issue 6 November 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

The Weeping Line
Organized by Alter Space
at Four Six One Nine
(S.F. in L.A.)
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Issue 5 August 2016

Letter form the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
at The Underground Museum
Catherine Wagley
The Art of Birth Carmen Winant
Escape from Bunker Hill
John Knight
Travis Diehl
Ed Boreal Speaks Benjamin Lord
Art Advice (from Men) Sarah Weber
Routine Pleasures
at the MAK Center
Jonathan Griffin
Exquisite L.A.
Fay Ray
John Baldessari
Claire Kennedy
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Revolution in the Making
at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

Performing the Grid
at Ben Maltz Gallery
at Otis College of Art & Design

Laura Owens
at The Wattis Institute
(L.A. in S.F.)
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Issue 4 May 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Moon, laub, and Love Catherine Wagley
Walk Artisanal Jonathan Griffin
Marva Marrow's
Inside the L.A. Artist
Anthony Pearson
Mystery Science Thater:
Diana Thater
Aaron Horst
Informal Feminisms Federica Bueti and Jan Verwoert
Marva Marrow Photographs
Lita Albuquerque
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

Histories of a Vanishing Present: A Prologue
at The Mistake Room

Carter Mull
at fused space
(L.A. in S.F.)

Awol Erizku
at FLAG Art Foundation
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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Issue 3 February 2016

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Le Louvre, Las Vegas Evan Moffitt
iPhones, Flesh,
and the Word:
at Arturo Bandini
Lindsay Preston Zappas
Women Talking About Barney Catherine Wagley
Lingua Ignota:
Faith Wilding
at The Armory Center
for the Arts
Benjamin Lord
A Conversation
with Amalia Ulman
Char Jansen
How We Practice Carmen Winant
Share Your Piece
of the Puzzle
Federica Bueti
Amanda Ross-Ho Photographs
Erik Frydenborg
Reviews Honeydew
at Michael Thibault

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
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
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

No Joke
at Tanya Leighton
(L.A. in Berlin)
Snap Reviews Martin Basher at Anat Ebgi
Body Parts I-V at ASHES ASHES
Eve Fowler at Mier Gallery
Matt Siegle at Park View
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Issue 1 August 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
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
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

Unwatchable Scenes and
Other Unreliable Images...
at Public Fiction

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
Hamzianpour & Kia
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Lowell Ryan Projects
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MAK Center for Art and Architecture
Make Room Los Angeles
Matter Studio Gallery
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Morán Morán
Moskowitz Bayse
Nazarian / Curcio
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
Regen Projects
Reparations Club
r d f a
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater)
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Smart Objects
Steve Turner
Stroll Garden
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The Box
The Fulcrum
The Hole
The Landing
The Poetic Research Bureau
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Tiger Strikes Astroid
Tomorrow Today
Track 16
Tyler Park Presents
USC Fisher Museum of Art
UTA Artist Space
Various Small Fires
Village Well Books & Coffee
Outside L.A.
Libraries/ Collections
Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Bard College, CCS Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Maryland Institute College of Art (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
University of California Irvine, Langston IMCA (Irvine, CA)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Don’t Make Everything Boring

Julie Becker, I must create a Master Piece to pay the Rent (2018) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Photo: Mark Blower.

In the last week of June, we drove to a town outside of Lisbon to look at real estate, because houses were cheaper there than in any major city. We thought, maybe, if we could manage to invest in a few buildings, it could become a gathering place and a source of stability for an international group of artists who didn’t have that. The town, on a hill, was old, charming, and full of centuries-old vacant homes butting up against beautifully cared-for, inhabited ones. At the town theater’s second-floor coffee shop, we asked some of the older ladies gathered there if they knew of anyone selling. My friend spoke Portuguese well enough to do this; I stood by. One more enthusiastic woman waved us up the street. Hours later, a home owner who toured us through the house she wanted to sell—which led up to a garden with an apricot tree—assured me that even if I didn’t speak the language, my new neighbors would be patient as I learned. She made it all sound too easy, moving in on someone else’s home and history.

A few days after, on a run, I had a vision of some travel magazine story about artists moving into a small historic village—I’d seen something recently on Thrillist about small towns to move to before they get popular— and wanted to hurl. Speculators and developers inhale such stories before swooping in to make everything  boring, and expensive: how to never participate in that crass creative class narrative?

Living in an experimental way tends to require lower overhead and, often, hustle. Unless you have family money, the hustle takes over without low-cost living space—art critic Lucy Lippard, a lifelong freelancer, once wrote a note to herself saying “if you spread yourself any thinner you’ll vanish”1—and the work starts becoming strategic and homogenous (sameness sells). But if we can learn to secure affordable space without jeopardizing affordability for others, perhaps we can learn how to live and experiment in diverse, accessible environments over time, with long-term residents (rather than newly-arrived yuppies) as neighbors.

Laid over in London on my way back to L.A., I saw Julie Becker’s survey at the ICA there, titled I must create a Master Piece to pay the Rent. The downstairs galleries featured Researchers, Residents, a Place to Rest (1993–1996), the work the late L.A. artist began when still a student at CalArts and finished a few years after. The installation included miniature rooms installed maze-like on two low-to-the ground plinths—a billiard room, weird detritus on sawhorses against wallpaper, goldfish on a metal shelf next to a cardboard partition, a studio with a brown couch and papers on floor and walls. These rooms looked forlorn and tasteful at once. Chris Kraus, in writing about this installation, compared them to single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels, which hold the downtrodden as they move from or toward homelessness. Becker’s never-ending series Whole occupied the upstairs galleries. She began this series of drawings, photographs, and video while living in a bank-owned home in Echo Park that changed hands multiple times as she leased it. In one C-print, a projector screen in a carpeted basement shows the same wood paneling that covers the wall behind it—an elegant close study of home before it’s gone.

Back in L.A., Carmen Argote’s show at Commonwealth & Council, The Artist, having used all her money to make the work, lives in the mother-mold of her sculpture, dealt with home anxiety slightly differently. A cocoon-like wooden arc—part of the mold Argote used for the resource-intensive mound-shaped sculpture she recently finisehd for the Hammer’s Made in L.A. 2018— sat on the gallery’s wooden floor, draped in sheets printed with photos of Argote’s cat, the leftovers of her process reimagined as a shelter. The work mirrored the unease of so many artists living in major cities: how to continue to live and make as affordable space keeps slipping away?

When Fluxus artist George Maciunas endeavored to solve this problem of precarity in Manhattan half a century ago, he did so through an ingenious feat of collective organizing. He wrote a manifesto calling for affordable housing in New York in 1963, and established the Fluxhouse Cooperative II in 1967 by soliciting enough small deposits ($2,000-5,000) to hold buildings on Wooster and Grand Streets. Maciunas negotiated— usually with owners eager to offload big industrial buildings—purchase mortgages (the owner would take payments with interest until the building was paid off). Within two years, he managed to fill 17 buildings with artists this way, renovating them himself for an unrealistically low fee, because he underpaid his work force, cut corners on supplies, and often left residents with plumbing problems or unpaid bills.2 The artist cooperatives, members of which owned their own lofts but shared responsibility for the building as a whole, had to make financial and legal decisions collectively, sometimes giving grace periods when one resident couldn’t pay the mortgage or calling in favors from wealthier friends of friends. Maciunas himself spent much of his last decade alive (he died young, of cancer, in 1978) dealing with legalities, or evading them, given the innumerable illegal moves he’d  made in his real estate dealings. He booby-trapped his own basement apartment—sharp blades lining a front door—and built an escape tunnel.3

Richard Kostelanetz, who lived in one of Maciunas’ co-ops and has published two books on SoHo, speculates that 1970s Artists’ SoHo led to “the subsequent boom in Manhattan and then Brooklyn real estate,” but that artists’ lack of prominence kept them from claiming credit.4 It’s not clear that artists would want credit, however, as the SoHo story became something of a warning.

Carmen Argote, The Artist, having used all her money to make the work, lives in the mother-mold of her sculpture (2018) (installation view). Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

Certain artist-owners chose not to profit exorbitantly from the real estate boom. When Simone Forti left her SoHo loft, she sold it to her friend, dancer Cathy Weis, for what Weis could afford and Weis kept the front room a project space. If all had done this, SoHo might now have a slightly different shape. How too would it differ if Maciunas’ co-ops, and others started in the neighborhoods, hadn’t been exclusively for artists? Kostelanetz describes committees the New York Department of Cultural Affairs set up in the 1970s, after it zoned certain buildings as live-work, meeting to determine whether an applicant qualified for certification. Young and under-recognized artists often did not. Spouses of deceased artists risked eviction. And so SoHo became exclusive even before it became expensive.5

Watching the L.A. Arts District gradually expel so many of its working artists as anti-artwashing protests played out in nearby Boyle Heights over the past two years brought these issues into sharp local relief. Art itself is never really the problem. But art organizations fast-track an area’s turn toward moneyed homogeneity when they fail to treat the sustenance of their programs as inextricably linked to the sustenance of existing residents. What if, before opening in downtown L.A., Hauser & Wirth had, for instance, bought the building on Traction that for decades housed a number of (now-evicted) Japanese American  artists, keeping the artists’ studios alongside units for low-income downtowners? Or what if Boyle Heights gallerists, villainized as gentrifiers by protesters, had from the start banded together to give their neighbors some desirable amenities—a laundromat, affordable childcare center with arts programming—and agreed not to relinquish their leases for a set number of years, thus keeping at bay the wave of tech companies and other businesses eager to enter the increasingly-attractive area? It’s too bad if our faith in capitalism’s selfinterest makes these possibilities seem like fairytales.

Artist Sara Daleiden hypothesizes that inverting some of the same techniques that led to segregated, exclusionary real estate markets could lead to more integration and accessibility. I met with Daleiden a few days after returning from Portugal, because she has thought deeply about real estate and art for a number of years, and collaborates on projects related to affordable housing in Milwaukee and Los Angeles. Researching real estate’s racially-biased history is, she suggests, the first step in understanding how— at least in the U.S.—artists can own without participating in displacement.

The Fair Housing Act, passed by Congress in 1968, purportedly prohibited redlining, a process by which surveyors color-coded certain areas “red” (meaning hazardous or in decline). Lenders then refused to loan, or offered exorbitant rates, to anyone living in those areas, often predominately occupied by people of color (and often colored red because of the color of inhabitants—“a change in social or racial occupancy generally leads to instability” read a 1935 Federal Housing Authority manual6). The act did too little, though, and this process had already become selffulfilling prophecy; residents of redlined areas, unable secure loans to start new businesses or own land, got caught in cycles of poverty. Before redlining were land covenants included in home buyers’ deeds, specifying  that a property could not be sold to a person of color. Their legacy lingers too. “Undoing the effects of de jure segregation will be incomparably difficult,” wrote historian Richard Rothstein in 2017, “[W]e will first have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on the behalf of our government, accept responsibility.”7

In the urban United States, certain noteworthy art and affordable housing initiatives occupy neighborhoods inhabited largely by people of color. Project Row Houses, the Houston initiative started by artist Rick Lowe, partners with an affordable housing complex built near artists’ studios and exhibition spaces in the city’s Third Ward. Artist Theaster Gates’ new Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative, his partnership with Chicago’s Housing Authority, opened in late 2014 in Grand Crossing, the neighborhood in which Gates’ Rebuild Foundation and multiple social art projects live. The Collaborative includes 11 market rate units, 10 public housing units, and 10 artist units, all surrounding an arts center. While coverage of Gates and his projects trends overwhelmingly positive, criticism of the effort bites. In an Art Monthly essay on art and gentrification, Larne Abse Gogarty describes Gates’s Rebuild Foundation “acting as a kind of feel-good money laundering facility for the commercial art world and corporate developers […]. Furthermore,” she adds, “Gates’s description of his practice as ‘real-estate art’ signals the artist as property speculator.”8 He purchases, repurposes, and invites neighbors in, but plays primary arbiter while his foundation serves as developer—even if good comes of this, the property still belongs to a few.

The NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative (NYC REIC), co-founded by artists, curators, a finance attorney, and neighborhood activists, takes another approach. Few, if any, of the 300 current members could buy a building independently. They are pooling money and seeking promised investments for cultural  spaces and small businesses, though they own no property yet. Preliminary criteria, according to member artist Caroline Woolard, includes that “programming in the property benefits populations that have traditionally had barriers to accessing stable places” and the “property acquired is restricted from being transferred as a market commodity in the future through legal mechanisms in its deed […].”9

In essence, the cooperative proposes to reverse the historic use of land covenants, establishing new ones to work toward diversity, accessibility, and sustainability. This is in increasingly stark contrast to how real estate works in big cities: the developer Ben Shaoul, who bought 17 West Village apartments and systematically, illegally eroded protections for rent-stabilized tenants, told the New York Times earlier this year: “The idea was to increase rents. That was the business plan. That was the intent. It’s America.”.10 (He later sold the building to companies controlled by Jared Kushner.) That America sounds classist and homogenous. Imagine all urban buildings designed by Atelier and featured on sterility-celebrating In Harper’s July issue, Kevin Baker called New York “boring,” “increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity” that once made it fertile, thanks largely to growing wealth gaps. He connected this current “urban crisis of affluence” with a more pervasive crisis, one in which “we believe that we no longer have any ability to control the systems we live under.”11

Back in Lisbon, after our house-hunting, we considered options: perhaps, if we found two or three investors willing to let others pay purchase mortgages on a few buildings, other residents could make payments over time with no banks involved. We could draw up contracts specifying no flipping and requiring that any leases be kept at an affordable rate, market surges aside. Would this encourage a paradigm shift, at least on a small scale, away from  displacement, accumulation, and self-promotion? We can hope so, but the shift requires preparation and then maintenance: learning about neighborhoods, their histories and who lives there; seeking out investors; studying zoning laws; managing money; learning to own together. Counteracting the usual concessions to capitalism and power requires an intimidating amount of work—work many of us don’t yet know how to do—but a sustainable future among diverse peers, in space that allows for more probing and exploring than climbing, isn’t a dream worth dismissing.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 13. 

Carmen Argote, Mothermold, 2018. Wood, acrylic, paper mache, Bondo, foam, resin Approx. 59.5 x 84 x 64 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

Julie Becker, I must create a Master Piece to pay the Rent (2018) (detail). Image courtesy of the artist and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Photo: Mark Blower.

Julie Becker, I must create a Master Piece to pay the Rent (2018) (detail). Image courtesy of the artist and the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. Photo: Mark Blower.

Carmen Argote, Cover (for another island) (2018). Acrylic on muslin, cotton rope.104 x 108 x 27 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Commonwealth and Council. Photo: Ruben Diaz.

  1. Lucy Lippard, “Changing: On Not Being an Art Critic” (lecture, Vera List Center for Arts and Politics, The New School, New York City, Oct. 30, 2013).
  2. See Charles R. Simpson, SoHo: The Artist in the City (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981); Roslyn Bernstein and Shael Shapiro, Illegal Living: 80 Wooster Street and the Evolution of SoHo (Jonas Mekas Foundation, 2010).
  3. Anthony Haden-Guest, True Colors: The Real Life of the Art World (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996), 56.
  4.   Richard Kostelanetz, Artists SoHo: 49 Episodes of Intimate History (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015).
  5. Kostelanetz, 27.
  6. In Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law (New York: Liveright, 2017), 66.
  7.  Rothstein, 194.
  8. Larne Abse Gogarty, “Art and Gentrification,” Art Monthly, Feb. 2014.
  9.   Caroline Woolard, “NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative,”
  10.   Kim Barker, “Behind New York’s Housing Crisis: Weakened Laws and Fragmented Regulation,” The New York Times, May 20, 2018.
  11.   Kevin Baker, “The Death of a Once Great City,” Harper’s, July 2018.

Catherine Wagley writes about art and visual culture in Los Angeles.

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