Issue 36 May 2024

Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

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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
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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.)
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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
Hannah Hoffman Gallery
Harper's Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Heavy Manners Library
Helen J Gallery
Human Resources
in lieu
LaPau Gallery
Lisson Gallery
Louis Stern Fine Arts
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)
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Interview with Devon Tsuno

Leer en Español

Photo: Elon Schoenholz.

On the Day of Remembrance 2022, the 80th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the forced removal and evacuation of Japanese Americans on the West Coast, Devon Tsuno shared an Instagram post detailing the story behind sixteen cents each and a stage for plunder (2022), a project that had been commissioned by the Descanso Gardens for the annual celebration of its famed camellia collection.1

Scholar Wendy Cheng has characterized the history of Descanso Gardens and its camellias as “an instance of racial plunder: a morally and affectively inflected act of theft structured by racism that is as much about the act’s preconditions and afterlives as it is about the act itself.”2 Tucked into the hills of La Cañada Flintridge, Descanso owes the existence of its camellia collection to Los Angeles newspaper owner Elias Manchester Boddy’s wartime purchase of the stock of multiple nurseries in the days before their Japanese American owners and families, including the Yoshimuras and the Uyematsus, were forced into incarceration with the signing of Executive Order 9066. Star Nurseries provided Boddy with a collection of camellias—many of them rare breeds—that had been imported, cultivated, and developed by its owner Francis Miyosaku Uyematsu, known as “the camellia king.” In the ensuing decades, Uyematsu, like the other nursery owners, was not credited for this contribution to the Garden’s beginnings, and many of the breeds Uyematsu developed are to this day identified with Boddy’s family name.3

Such stories of wartime profiteering are devastatingly common—incarceration-related economic losses for the Japanese American community are estimated to be between $1 and 3 billion without inflation.4 During the course of her research in 2020, Cheng connected with Descanso Gardens to illuminate some of her findings, joining journalist Naomi Hirahara, who had been contributing research on the history since 2018. Descanso has since updated its website to include the Uyematsus’ and Yoshimuras’ stories, and a planned future renovation to the Boddy House will include a room dedicated to the history of the camellias.

Tsuno, an artist known for painting native and nonnative flora as visual stand-ins for uncomfortable questions related to the history of Los Angeles, created a proposal for Descanso Gardens that was informed both by Cheng’s research and the poetry of Amy Uyematsu, a granddaughter of the original Star Nursery owners whose work has been foundational in the Asian American Movement. Uyematsu and other Japanese American poets had been planning an outdoor reading at Descanso in February 2022. Inspired by Uyematsu’s poem about the red camellia, Tsuno proposed a painting that would be digitized and turned into a vinyl wrap for the outdoor stage. He was eventually able to produce both pieces, though the process of the works’ making, circulation, and continued existence remains fraught.

Earlier this year, Uyematsu passed away after a lengthy battle with cancer. This loss to our community, as well as the uncertain status of Tsuno’s project, prompted my conversation with Tsuno. He and I are both yonsei, or fourth-generation Japanese Americans, as well as fourth-generation Angelenos. We have been engaged in a years-long dialogue about navigating our lives as art workers, grounded by shared histories of Asian American organizing and solidarity. As is the case for much of Tsuno’s artwork, this conversation seeks to continue dialogues around finding new forms of cultural preservation and solidarity, out in the open, together.

Ana Iwataki: How did Descanso Gardens first approach you about working together?

Devon Tsuno: They told me that they had hoped I would do some type of art project for their annual celebration of the camellias because they were familiar with the work I had done painting [the] flowers and plants of Los Angeles.

I [initially] offered criticism about [Descanso’s] description of how they came to exist. I felt that the narrative [as they were telling it] was inaccurate from my knowledge about it and that it positioned the institution as a white savior of this [camellia] collection. I didn’t want to perpetuate that narrative.

AI: How did they respond?

DT: They seemed surprised I was so critical. But they said that the institution was working with Wendy Cheng to take steps to correct that writing.

They didn’t seem to have a budget [for my project] thought through, and they hadn’t completed [the] process of rewriting [their] narrative. I told them that I wouldn’t do the project until those things were completed. [I also asked] if the family was aware of my work and into the idea of me doing something.

AI: What do you think Descanso was hoping an artist could do that they couldn’t?

DT: [I felt like they were] looking for artists who [would] celebrate the beauty of the narrative that they’re presenting. It’s also a way for them to show, in a public-facing way, that they’re working with communities of color, especially in correcting mistakes the institution has made over their existence.

AI: What happened to make you accept the project?

DT: [Some time] had gone by and, to my surprise, [Descanso] emailed me and said that they had spoken to the family, who would be happy to see me do a project. They had come up with a budget for the project and they had completed the work they were doing with Wendy Cheng to correct the writing on their website. So, I accepted, [and] start[ed] the conversation about what the project would be.

I wanted to find a way to amplify Amy Uyematsu’s poetry. The painting I made is an abstraction of those red camellias, one of the rare breeds her grandfather propagated. Red can be an ambiguous color—it can be beautiful, but it can also be violent, very intense… but also very calming. I tried to embody that in the color and the layering of the acrylic and spray paint.

I thought that would be a beautiful way to participate and to direct focus to Amy, because it’s her family’s history. I requested that Descanso purchase the painting for their permanent collection and put it in public view. [I wanted them] to honor the family and have the narrative be seen in the didactic of that painting. [P]eople should be aware of [that history] when they visit Descanso.

I titled it sixteen cents each and a stage for plunder, which is the amount that [Boddy] paid per plant to Amy’s family.5 The word “plunder” comes from how Wendy Cheng has written about Descanso Gardens and the camellia. I thought it was, again, important to amplify and be true to the language of other people who had already been doing the work. This was really the only way it would be appropriate for me to do a piece. It couldn’t be something that was temporary to celebrate the annual bloom of a flower.

Devon Tsuno, sixteen cents each and a stage for plunder (camellias) (installation view) (2022). Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge, California, 2022. Image courtesy of the artist. Photo: Elon Schoenholz.

AI: Wendy’s writing focuses on the camellias as a way of addressing broader systems—looking at how one camellia got to the gardens helps you untangle something that’s a big mess. And so, by asking you to make a project about the annual camellia celebration, they were really asking you to address the very reason why Descanso Gardens exists. That seems like a difficult ask because the story goes way beyond the annual celebration.

DT: Definitely. I was probably naive, but I felt that it was a moment for me to take a risk even though I knew there were a lot of hurdles.

After the painting was done, they said that now, they didn’t think they could afford to wrap the stage with the vinyl, and asked if they could use the [digital artwork] and turn it into banners. I told them: “This isn’t a decoration for your festival. This is an artwork and process that was intentional, and was created with the blessing of the family.” I was ready to give up, but kept reminding myself it wasn’t for me. It was really to honor Amy and their family.

AI: Right. You didn’t want to leave them alone in this struggle as Descanso tried to figure out their responsibility to the Japanese American community.

DT: They pretty much said they couldn’t do it because of the budget. [A]nd even though I was frustrated, I decided to let go of that aspect of the project. It only ended up happening because one of the fabricators, the Wilson Cetina Group, reached out to me and said they felt so strongly about the project [that] they would do it within the budget constraints. I was very against the institution accepting that, [but] Eder [Cetina] from Wilson Cetina convinced me, because he [had] heard about the context of the piece.

And then, I found out about the event celebrating the camellias with the poetry reading through an ad on Instagram that popped up in my feed on the day of. I had not been invited. There was no acknowledgment of my piece anywhere on their website, on social media, or at the event.

So on the Day of Remembrance, the anniversary of E0966, I made an Instagram post to tell the story myself [of] why I made the piece and what had happened to Amy’s family, and why it was important that people knew. There was a huge response by not only the art community and the Japanese American community but also people just wanting to see [the piece, but it had already been taken down].

AI: It’s so challenging because artists are asked to bring different perspectives. But when presented with what that means, it’s often not what institutions actually want.

DT: I email [Descanso] periodically to ask if the painting is on display yet. They always respond with a very nice email saying they’re planning on displaying it in the remodeled Boddy House in a room dedicated to the history of the camellias.

AI: Descanso Gardens didn’t acknowledge Francis Uyematsu for so long. He created breeds of camellias and Boddy took credit for them. And to do the same thing to another Japanese American, in an effort to repair this whole history, demonstrates a lack of understanding of the underlying issues.

DT: For me, one of the big lessons learned is that I was never trying to repair the issue. I was trying to attack the issue.

I think Wendy’s writing says it really well. We default to the word “development” [to describe the Uyematsus’ role in Descanso’s history], but it was plunder… I think we’ve come to a point, especially in Los Angeles, where we no longer can survive on our own as a cultural group. I think our generation is starting to understand that our survival also is contingent
on other people surviving.

The very little bit of privilege that we do have as Japanese Americans, having our parents and grandparents survive so that we could make it to this point, we feel very obliged to use that privilege and to relinquish it to other people. The only way we can learn how to do that in an effective way is to understand how it was taken from us—how plunder works, how it shaped our history. That’s the road I’ve been going down. And it’s not a road that any artist can go down by only making art. It’s my belief that you have to do the work in your daily life as an artist, but also as a human being. That [work] has to become necessary, even though capitalism tells us that making money and being a middle-class American is how you survive, which actually isn’t true.

AI: How has your family history helped you think through these issues?

DT: My family’s been here since around 1910. [But] because so much of my cultural history has been erased from common knowledge, it’s been a process of peeling back the layers, going backward in time to learn about my own history and my family’s role in the development of what’s now Southern California… Different people in my family have fought for equality and social justice over those four generations through their labor, through education, and through the arts. It took 40 years for me to really understand that’s what I was doing.

I know that there are huge gaps. I have to seek those things out. And oral history is how it’s passed on. I’ve learned that from other artists, like Alan Nakagawa and others from the generation before me. It’s just been a process and it’s been enjoyable even though there are moments of frustration, like this project. I don’t regret doing any of it. You told me one time that the struggle has to be in public view. [T]hat’s really stuck with me.

AI: I think that we share a concern for how culture functions in the landscape that you’re talking about, in the development of Southern California as a place that we’re engaged in, but also where similar attempts of facilitating racial justice are really mishandled. It’s very difficult to know how to navigate that.

DT: I think it’s really easy to give up. Sometimes I want to give up and stop making work, but I also know that that’s what I do best. And even though I make mistakes and fail, it’s something that I have to continue to do. We’re all trying to survive in a system of capitalism, and artists have to do so as well. And, to stop being an artist, or to stop making work, or stop showing work, for me, is surrendering.

Editor’s note: Descanso Gardens provided Carla with a statement regarding their work with Cheng, Hirahara, and the Uyematsu and Yoshimura families to better understand the history of the camellia collection. They noted that “from this work we not only were able to tell the story more accurately, but we continued to build relationships with the families that have proven to be invaluable as we tell the story of Descanso. This work is ongoing.”

Devon Tsuno is an artist and fourth-generation Angeleno. Tsuno’s work is a yonsei story, indissociable from the complexities of intergenerational and collective trauma, agriculture, fences and cages, gentrification, displacement, water, and labor politics. Tsuno is represented by Residency Art Gallery, is a member of J-TOWN Action と Solidarity, and is an Associate Professor at California State University Dominguez Hills.

This interview was originally published in Carla issue 34.

Fred W. Yoshimura with wife Mitoko and their children Florence, Hayao, Raymond, and Margie. Image courtesy of San Gabriel Nursery & Florist and Descanso Gardens.

Lathhouse at the original Star Nursery in Montebello, California (c. 1920s). Image courtesy of the Francis Miyosaku and Kuni Uyematsu Collection.

  1. Devon Tsuno (@devontsunostudio), “‘sixteen cents each and a stage for plunder’ Commissioned for Descanso Gardens,” Instagram photo, February 19, 2022,
  2. Wendy Cheng, “Landscapes of beauty and plunder: Japanese American flower growers and an elite public garden in Los Angeles,” Society & Space 38, no. 4 (March 8, 2020), 699.
  3. Cheng, “Landscapes of beauty and plunder,” 706.
  4. R. Daniels, SC Taylor, & HHL Kitano, eds., Japanese Americans, from Relocation to Redress. Rev. ed. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991), in Cheng, 703.
  5. Boddy paid $50 thousand, or 15.5 to 16.6 cents per plant, for between 300 and 320 thousand camellia plants. Records show that as early as 1908, Uyematsu sold camellias for between 50 and 65 cents each. See Cheng, “Landscapes of beauty and plunder,” 704.

Ana Iwataki is a cultural historian, writer, and curator from and based in Los Angeles. She is also a PhD candidate in Comparative Media and Culture at the University of Southern California.

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