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

at 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
at LADIES’ ROOM
– Jessica Simmons

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
at SMART OBJECTS
–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
at NAVEL
–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
at LAXART
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
at MOCA PDC
–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
Reviews
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

Home
at LACMA

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.
Featuring:
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
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
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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

Ma
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
at LACMA
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Mertzbau
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
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
Exquisite L.A.
Featuring:
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
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
Interiors and Interiority:
Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Char Jansen
Reviews L.A. Art Fairs

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room
at LACMA

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:
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
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
at ASHES/ASHES
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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
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
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe
at LACMA

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
Distribution
Downtown
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Baert Gallery
Château Shatto
Cirrus Gallery
François Ghebaly
GAVLAK
ICA LA
in lieu
JOAN
Luis De Jesus Los Angeles
MOCA Grand Avenue
Monte Vista Projects
Murmurs
Nicodim Gallery
Night Gallery
OOF Books
Over the Influence
Royale Projects
The Box
Track 16
Vielmetter Los Angeles
Wilding Cran Gallery
Wönzimer Gallery
Chinatown/ Boyle Heights
Bel Ami
Charlie James
Human Resources
LACA
Leiminspace
NOON Projects
Parrasch Heijnen Gallery
Stanley's
Tierra del Sol Gallery
Culver City/ West Adams
Anat Ebgi
Arcana Books
Blum & Poe
George Billis Gallery
Hashimoto Contemporary
Philip Martin Gallery
Roberts Projects
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
the Landing
The Wende Museum
Thinkspace Projects
Eagle Rock/ Cypress Park
BOZOMAG
Gattopardo
Odd Ark LA
Historic South Central
Sow & Tailor
USC Fisher Museum of Art
Westside
18th Street Arts
Five Car Garage
L.A. Louver
L E  M A X I M U M
Laband Art Gallery at LMU
Marshall Contemporary
Paradise Framing
Von Lintel
Westwood/ Beverly Hills
CLEARING
Hammer Museum
M+B
Simchowitz
UTA Artist Space
Hollywood/ Melrose
Bridge Projects
Diane Rosenstein
Harper's Gallery
Helen J Gallery
LACE
LAXART
Make Room Los Angeles
Matthew Brown Los Angeles
Moskowitz Bayse
Nino Mier Gallery
Nonaka-Hill
Shulamit Nazarian
STARS
Steve Turner
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
The LODGE
Various Small Fires
MacArthur Park/ Pico-Union
as-is.la
Commonwealth & Council
Hannah Hoffman
O-Town House
Mid-City
1301 PE
Chris Sharp Gallery
Harkawik
Hunter Shaw Fine Art
Lowell Ryan Projects
Ochi Projects
Park View / Paul Soto
r d f a
Shoot the Lobster
Mid-Wilshire
Anat Ebgi
Craft Contemporary
David Kordansky Gallery
Hamzianpour & Kia
Kayne Griffin
One Trick Pony
Praz-Delavallade
SPRÜTH MAGERS
Pasadena/ Glendale
Junior High
The Armory Center for the Arts
The Pit
Silverlake/ Echo Park
Marta
Smart Objects
Tyler Park Presents
Non-L.A.
Angels Gate Cultural Center (San Pedro, CA)
BEST PRACTICE (San Diego, CA)
Beverly's (New York, NY)
Bortolami Gallery (New York, NY)
Buffalo Institute for Contemporary Art (Buffalo, NY)
Et al. (San Francisco, CA)
Left Field (Los Osos, CA)
Minnesota Street Project (San Francisco, CA)
Mrs. (Queens, NY)
Ochi Gallery (Ketchum, ID)
Santa Barbara City College (Santa Barbara, CA)
South Gate Museum and Art Gallery (South Gate, CA)
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (Skowhegan, ME)
Verge Center for the Arts (Sacramento, CA)
Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art (San Francisco, CA)
Libraries/ Collections
Bard College, Center for Curatorial Studies Library (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY)
CalArts (Valencia, CA)
Center for the Arts, Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT)
Charlotte Street Foundation (Kansas City, MO)
Cranbrook Academy of Art (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Fulcrum Press (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles Contemporary Archive (Los Angeles, CA)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Research Library (Los Angeles, CA)
Marpha Foundation (Marpha, Nepal)
Maryland Institute College of Art, The Decker Library (Baltimore, MD)
Midway Contemporary Art (Minneapolis, MN)
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, Emerging Leaders of Arts (Santa Barbara, CA)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Scholes Library (Alfred, NY)
Northwest Nazarene University (Nampa, ID)
NYS College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Scholes Library (Alfred, NY)
Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego, CA)
Room Project (Detroit, MI)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago, John M. Flaxman Library (Chicago, IL)
Skowhegan Archives (New York, NY)
Sotheby’s Institute of Art (New York, NY)
Telfair Museum (Savannah, GA)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Thomas J. Watson Library (New York, NY)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
USC Fisher Museum of Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
Whitney Museum of American Art, Frances Mulhall Achilles Library (New York, NY)
Yale University Library (New Haven, CT)

Interview with
L. Frank

Leer en Español

L. Frank in her studio (2021). Photo: Julie Weitz.

In August, I visited artist L. Frank (Manriquez) in her home studio on Pomo and Coast Miwok land over which the settler-colonial city of Santa Rosa was built. As I entered, she began singing to me, a song that she later explained was written during the mission times by three children dreaming of escape. I was fortunate to have been introduced to L. Frank through an activist friend who has supported resource mobilization in forming the emergent Tongva Tah-rah’-hat Paxaavxa Conservancy. In conversation, L. Frank, a Tongva/Ajachemen/Rarámuri artist, activist, and scholar, is sardonic, entrancing, and outspoken. Often, she interrupts herself to share anecdotal stories and sing gentle melodies. A few times during the interview, she pointed to the chalkboards surrounding us. They displayed the Tongva songs L. Frank intermittently sang to me. One of her original Tongva songs is featured in City of Ghosts (2021), the Netflix animated series for which she played the role of a singing crow.

For L. Frank, who has dedicated her life to the revitalization and visibility of Indigenous art practices and languages originating from the Los Angeles Basin, art is a mirror that reflects a living culture through which a community can recognize itself. Her unwavering commitment to this ethos has led her to a practice that renews the traditional art practices of the Tongva—stone carving, canoe construction, and song. In the early 1990s, resisting the settler-colonial narrative that Indigenous languages and cultures are relics of the past, L. Frank cofounded Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival (AICLS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the knowledge of Native California languages and fostering new speakers. I first encountered L. Frank’s work through her photographic project, First Families: Photographic History of California Indians (2007), for which she traveled across the state to collect personal stories and photographs from California Indigenous communities. She has worked in the backrooms of institutional archives like the Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and has spent decades cultivating close relationships with the few remaining artworks that were made by her ancestors. What museums and anthropologists consider an artifact of an erased culture, L. Frank perceives as a sentient object that tells the story of her people and carries the possibilities for their future. As she explains it, visiting the storage rooms of museum collections is like reconvening with old family members. 

Seated near two enormous canoes, we spoke for over two hours about what it means to resuscitate a culture nearly erased by genocide. At the beginning of our conversation, she explained the process of canoe building, showing me a finished one, and softly sanding the side of another while we spoke.

 

L. Frank: This is the second Tongva canoe made in 250 years or more. We built the first one in the early 1990s.

Julie Weitz: How did you know the design of it? 

LF: Well, the Chumash had built one or two at that point. But we knew about it because there was anthropological information. We had to get out to the island1 somehow! So that information was kind of easy to find—what it looked like—but there are only suppositions on how to build it. Nobody knows how to build it. So, having [now] built three, I now am one of the experts on how to build it, which is really weird. 

JW: How did you find the initial community support to build the first canoe? 

LF: Oh, I just started it. I did it on my own. Everything I do, I just start. Then people go, “Oh, okay, cool.” You know, they come along, or they don’t. 

JW: You’ve described the canoe as a vessel that contains the culture, holding the people together. I know you’ve participated in epic canoe journeys with other Indigenous groups. What are those journeys like?

LF: Pretty spectacular! It’s like a moving village. There can be up to 120 canoes, mostly from the Pacific Northwest. We start out and we drive up to Washington. It mostly takes place in Washington, sometimes in Canada. We drive up to where our canoe family is, and there’s a major destination that all canoes will end up at. Everybody starts getting closer and camping together. Every day, there’s a journey that you take out. You talk about it the night before. There’s singing and dancing and protocol, and sometimes the tribes feed us. There, your life is run by the winds and tides, which is very different. You live in a community unlike modern communities. So, that teaches you a hell of a lot. 

This canoe knows way more than we do about the water. We don’t know, and my people had never practiced together. But we still go and join everybody. It’s one of the hardest things, and yet, the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. Because you have to come up with song—that’s why we have song. Because when you’re on other peoples’ lands, you have to sing [or] dance and tell story. My people in L.A. are pretty rubbed out. Our dictionary is maybe like that [gestures small]. You don’t have a lot of vocabulary.

JW: What about the elders?

LF: [Laughs] I’m one of the elders.

JW: How did the language get passed down?

LF: It didn’t. They killed us all. There are only little bits. There’s an artist in L.A. named Weshoyot Alvitre. She participated in the #tongvaland project organized by Cara Romero (Chemehuevi). Her grandfather was one of the people we made the first canoe with, and he did a prayer, and it was the first time I’d ever heard my language. I’d read it before, but it was the first time I ever heard it. I realized I understood what he was saying. People know fragments, but we have no fluent speakers. Actually, my canoe family has three songs in Tongva, and I think it’s three more than the Tongva have. My nephew wrote this one. It’s simply about moving the paddle in the water. [Sings.]

wii’e’aa komar paanga (pull the paddle in the water)
yayaton’aa mopwaar paanga (move your right hand in the water)
wii’e’aa komaar paanga (pull the paddle in the water)
yayaton’aa mokaano’ paanga (move your left hand in the water)
eyoomaaman’e yayatonax mii paanga (our hands move in the water)

JW: That’s beautiful. 

LF: It’s what I spent the last 40 years doing—actually all my life—trying to have a tribe I can hang with. So, I created a language program that’s gone around the world to help us get our languages back. And we’ve made these canoes, and I made the stone pieces, and we’ve made the dances.

JW: How did you start making the stone artworks?

LF: Well, I’ve gone to Europe three or four times just to look at things that we’ve made, to see our culture. I’ve gone to where our culture is—in the museum.2 I made the first [Tongva] stone bowl in two hundred years because I went to the [Riverside Metropolitan] Museum and I saw stone bowls and I said, “Well, who’s making these?” And they said, “Nobody.” I just couldn’t let that happen. That’s how I made the first stone bowl, and other things. [Shows me a small whale sculpture carved out of stone.]

JW: When you saw the Tongva stonework in the museum in France, what was your visceral reaction to it?

LF: Well, I was totally immersed in everything I was finding. It was pretty darn emotional. From the very first day I got there, they had no idea why I was there. They didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak French. I said that I was there to photograph things and they said that they’ve already been photographed. But the people who photographed these things, their developer was too hot. So you couldn’t tell what anything was. It was overexposed—the negatives were just black and you couldn’t see anything. 

From the start, it was traumatic going into the building, because all the museum staff had never seen an Indian in their midst. So, they followed me up to where I was supposed to go. I walked past a room full of skulls, which freaked me out, so I started running. After that, they would watch me run past that door every day. Everything was traumatic, really. But the director let me in to photograph things and when I went into the collections room, everything on the shelves started crying at me and I started crying. I told the French people, “You just don’t understand!” And, of course, they didn’t. But I spent a lot of time with these things.

JW: There’s a sentience in the objects themselves?

LF: Absolutely. When you’re making the stone, it’s as if that stone has been made before and it’s got memory. When I made that first stone bowl, I didn’t know what I was doing. But I dreamt it and there it was. It’s perfect. Because of something else, not me. The stone is very informative, and it’s very satisfying. You know, just doing something that your people have done, and you recreate or redo it, then that knowledge seems to just fly right into your head. It’s already there. 

JW: In an earlier conversation, you mentioned that you went to Immaculate Heart College because Sister Corita Kent taught there. 

LF: Sister Corita really caught my eye the more I paid attention, because she was talking differently. She was doing things so non-Catholic, so artistic, so free. That’s why I decided that I had to go—’cause I had never really thought about even going to college. I just went to a JCC [junior community college] to use their equipment. But at Immaculate Heart, it was beyond that. Once I got there, it was like a renaissance for me.

JW: What time period was this?

LF: 1970, I think.

JW: You mentioned that Faith Wilding taught there? 

LF: Yes, she introduced me to all kinds of things. She introduced me to feminist art, which I knew absolutely nothing about. In the very first two minutes in her class, she put [a] slideshow on and she was showing us her work, and up on the screen, she was wearing a leotard [with] a very large phallus tied to the front of her. Another woman was wearing a leotard and she had a very large vagina strapped to her. I was so surprised by that because that was not my culture, not my world, and then she said, “The title of my play is Cock and Cunt,” and I said, “Oh, no, it’s time for me to be somewhere else.” But it’s a good thing I stayed because I had never seen feminist art. It had never crossed my path, really. 

JW: In another interview, you joked about the idea of a “Hollywood Indian.”

LF: Well, it was not a joke; I am a Hollywood Indian. We were in the first movies—my great-grandfather was in over 200 films. All of us were, because at the beginning of Hollywood, it started in our Homeland. Most of the movies were cowboys and Indians, [and] all of and other things. [Shows me a small whale sculpture carved out of stone.]

JW: Would they be compensated adequately? 

LF: I don’t think so… . They populate the films, but their names do not exist, as we don’t exist—again, erased. 

JW: Tell me about your tattoos. 

LF: The Tongva—we had 11 types of doctors and one was a tattoo doctor. We started tattooing the little girls when they were about five. We, Tongva, had tattoos on our faces and our arms and our chest. But some of the people up north can’t get tattoos until they’ve accomplished certain things. Like the Māori, you don’t get these [points to her chin] unless you can speak your language. So, there are really heavy things tied to tattoos. That’s why me trying to decide to get mine was hard because we’re so wiped out, there was nobody to tell me. And, so, I listened to my closest neighbors who were tattooed, and remembered more of it. And then Wendy Rose—she’s a California Native, and some Pueblo—did her dissertation on tattooing in aboriginal California.

JW: How have the tattoos changed you? 

LF: I tell people when we take them to get their tattoos, “Your life will change.”… Before I got the tattoos, I was worried about their correctness. So, I focused on my intention. My intention was strictly to hold hands across time. And I could not believe the connection that I felt. The minute I got the tattoos, my whole life changed. There’s not one person who gets their tattoos who doesn’t say that. For each of us, it’s different as to how, but if you weren’t responsible before—and mostly it’s the responsible ones doing the cultural things who get them—you are nothing but responsible now. 

JW: In what way? 

LF: Every way. In every way that you can to help your people to make sure the next seven generations work. In every way. That’s why when people say to me, “You need to rest, L. Frank. You should stop,” how can I? I look at the elders who came before me, they didn’t stop. They just got canes.

L. Frank is a Tongva, Ajachmem, and Rarámuri artist, writer, tribal scholar, cartoonist, and Indigenous language activist. She lives and works in Santa Rosa, California.

L. Frank, A small stone cup (2021). Steatite. Image courtesy of the artist.

L. Frank, Sunrise Departure (2018). Digital Print. Image courtesy of the artist.

L. Frank, Arrival Protocols (2016). Digital print. Image courtesy of the artist.

 


This interview was originally published in Carla issue 26.

  1. Pimu, also known as Catalina Island.
  2. L. Frank is referring to the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, France, which originally housed a Native American collection, the majority of which has since been transferred to the Musée du quai Branly, a museum in Paris that focuses on Indigenous objects.

Julie Weitz is a transdisciplinary artist whose narrative-based works include live and multimedia performances, video, drawing, and installation. Her highly collaborative process often involves spiritual leaders, activists, poets, choreographers, and musicians, and frequently draws on her heritage as a queer, Ashkenazi, and diasporic Jew.

More by Julie Weitz