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.)
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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 Mernet Larsen

Mernet Larsen, Subway (2014). Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 54.25 x 47 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires.

Mernet Larsen, Subway (2014). Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 54.25 x 47 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires.

Weitz and Larsen met in 2004 as colleagues at University of South Florida (USF) and have been
in dialogue ever since. For this interview, the two artists discuss Larsen’s early career, the challenges she faced as a professor in male-dominated institutions, the longevity of her practice over a lifetime, international success at a later stage in her life, and the association between her work and computer generated figuration.

————

Julie Weitz: Years ago I saw a photograph of you from your early days at USF. The strength of your pose and expression immediately struck me. Until then, I hadn’t imagined what it might have been like for you as
a young woman teaching in an all-male faculty at a Southern university in the ’60s. Did anything prepare you for the working environment at USF? Were you self-conscious about being the only woman professor?

Mernet Larsen: In the 1960s, the patriarchy was so “normal,” I had little distance on it. Like many women of my generation, I felt proud and grateful to be accepted into the male world, and probably felt somewhat superior to other women because of it. My first teaching job, in 1965, was at the University of Oklahoma. They brought me in for an interview because they thought my name was a man’s name; they hired me reluctantly and let me know they were taking a chance: “Women always got married, had babies, and quit.” Nonetheless, there was good chemistry at OU then, and I had a great time. Clearly, though, I was never going to get a tenure track position there, so I accepted a position at USF in 1967, where I was the only woman on the studio faculty for about ten years. In fact, I heard later that I was the only woman art faculty in the whole state of Florida at the time.

In the ’60s, there was a general mood that art students would learn art history better from studio artists than from actual art historians; we would presumably bring a more formalist approach. I was considered unusually articulate for an artist, so 
I was hired with the understanding that I would teach studio with the occasional art history course. I ended up teaching 1-2 art history courses per semester and eventually designed my own graduate seminars on Cezanne, for example, or the topic of perception. It turns out, this situation was often the only way women were able to find entrance into art department faculties at that time.

Studying and teaching art history at this intensity was invaluable to me as an artist. However, the preparation dramatically cut into my studio time, so I had a low profile as an artist. I was permitted to supervise graduate students’ written theses, but I was not allowed to serve on their committees. Generally, the male faculty members listened to what I had to say and respected me as a teacher, but didn’t seem to take me seriously as an artist. I once playfully wore a fake mustache to a faculty meeting, sat deadpan through the whole meeting. Everyone else kept a straight face too, and nothing was said.

Mernet Larsen, Taking Notes (2004). Acrylic, tracing paper, and oil on canvas, 48 x 50 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires.

Mernet Larsen, Taking Notes (2004). Acrylic, tracing paper, and oil on canvas, 48 x 50 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires.

JW: Wow, that was an Adrian
 Piper move before Adrian Piper!
 It also immediately brings to mind your paintings of faculty meetings. Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but did the psychology of those early experiences influence the way you construct space? To manage those kinds of situations, you must have developed an observational distance that cultivated imaginative ways of reorienting one’s perspective.

ML: Actually, I always rather liked faculty meetings. They were occasions for discourse, and my colleagues
 were more verbal and intellectually oriented than was usual back then. Meetings could be boring or contentious, of course. I made the faculty meeting paintings after I retired to commemorate something that had been a big part of my life. I took some photographs of the current faculty as my source. Reverse perspective became a way of both defamiliarizing (creating observational distance) 
and monumentalizing. I have always swung between detachment and involvement, but I guess my mode, as a representational artist, is one of detachment, hopefully with a sense of humor and sympathy.

JW: It’s been amazing to see your images proliferate on social media and the internet, particularly because the individuals and settings in the paintings are so familiar to me, but also because your work has been associated with computer-generated figuration used by many younger artists. Writers often discuss your work in connection with video game imagery and I’ve even heard people refer to you as an emerging artist. There’s the assumption that your work is part of a millennial affinity for early computer animation. Do you think these associations are relatable or superficial?

ML: I am a computer Luddite. I’ve never even seen a computer game, much less worked with computer-generated imagery. I play perversely with reverse, Western, parallel perspective to disorient, not to set
up another form of orientation. My characters are reconstructed into impossible constructions and expressive proportions. I see them as analogues to experienced reality, not as mechanical simplifications or dehumanization of the physical world. They have much more in common with early 15th Century Italian art, Byzantine Icons, Japanese narrative scrolls, or even some outsider art!

However, I do feel the world
of digital imaging has awakened, or reawakened, an interest in meta-opticality, an infinite 3D grid, where
the viewer is no longer located in a specific viewing position, as one is in conventional representation. I felt an affinity with early Julie Mehretu and Matthew Ritchie, whose works are strongly grounded in digital processes, and I love the vastness of their spaces, a melding of information and sensual perception, which my paintings do not have. In general, when I look at the work of many young artists, like yours, I can see that they are seeing such potential with digital image making! So perhaps we are in an early period.

JW: You’ve been steadily working in the art world for over 50 years. Given your recent success, how has your perspective changed?

ML: When I was young, we thought art was progressing. Everyone was vying to be on the cutting edge, and to define the trajectory of art history. Now art is understood as a network, and people seem more interested in the synchronic fabric of art, how everyone is intersecting. What node you or others are on this web. There seems less at stake; people seem less a part of a greater cause, and more concerned with their own ability to find a niche. On the other hand, artists seem to have much more freedom to carve out their own eccentric territory. There is much greater interest in the world, socially and politically. Art used to be much more about the self: private or archetypal. We used to worry about posterity.

Now artists worry about relevance. Nonetheless, in talking with students over the years, in some basic ways nothing has changed: most artists want immortality, fame and glory, depth and significance, originality and self-realization. When I was young, it seemed a liability that my work did not conform to any school of thought; now that seems an asset.

Mernet Larsen, Explanation (2007). Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. 41 x 52 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles.

Mernet Larsen, Explanation (2007). Acrylic and mixed media on canvas. 41 x 52 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles.

JW: That’s a beautiful way to put it, leading me to wonder, if there’s less at stake, does that mean we care less? Your commitment and impact on the lives of both students and colleagues at USF has been substantial. How do you frame your practice in terms of cultural and communal value, rather than individual career success?

ML: In the ’70s, I thought I might quit my job at USF and stay in New York. But I made a decision to commit to USF/ Tampa as my base. The department, and my role in it, had changed—largely as a result the feminist movement (which is a whole other conversation). I felt New York was a bit self-referential. I thought it would be better for me, given my temperament, to be some place where I could think of myself more iconoclastically, but also more internationally; I could get travel grants to Japan, China, India, Mexico, Europe, and these experiences were invaluable to my work. I also loved teaching, and liked being in a place where I felt I could make a real difference, and could support the development of young artists through grad school. I felt that a dynamic university art department could be an art world in itself.

I considered myself a researcher in an institution, where I was paid to work on my art. It gave me a freedom to not have to think about a product, or style, or success in the market. (That isn’t possible any more: to get tenure you have to be very successful in the market or an equivalent.) My interactions and dialogues with graduate students were an indispensable part of my working process. I showed at museums and university galleries, but I didn’t show in any commercial galleries until I was in my 50s. When
 I was 50, I had a comprehensive 25-year retrospective in a Florida museum.

As I got older, I began to feel
 a stronger sense of responsibility for sharing my work, getting it out in the world to do its work. It became clear that if I wanted to have visibility and eventually get my work in museum collections, I would need to work through commercial galleries. The chain of circumstances that led to my recent visibility evolved directly and indirectly from relationships that I have had over the years; none came from the direct pursuit of gallery representation. Luck, serendipity, and the support of friends and allies, were, as they always are, key factors!

JW: In that sense, what has it meant for you to make art over the course of a lifetime? Were you aware of an end goal?

ML: I think most of us, in our late teens and early 20s, are shaping lifelong ideals and goals. We ask ourselves why we want to make art and what we can bring to the world through our art. It seems very important to see one’s involvement in art as a lifelong venture, and to remain dedicated and idealistic. It’s amazing how much foresight we have, how prescient most artists are about their unique potential. It’s important to develop an essential grounding before becoming involved with seeking fame, glory, and commercial success, so that there is always a point of tension, something you can come back to when you lose your bearings. Later, I think the pursuit of external success can be good, it can be almost an ally, give us deadlines, challenge us, spur us on when we are discouraged or stuck. I think artists have a responsibility to share their work with the world, even if it’s uncomfortable.

There has to be a constant curiosity, looking for a breakthrough to another level of understanding. As do scientists or philosophers, you share these discoveries, your trajectory, with the world. It’s not about you, it’s about what your work realizes for
 you and everyone else. This is your cultural contribution. Success should, ultimately, be about giving this contribution power and effect in the world.

Mernet Larsen (1967). Image courtesy of Mernet Larsen.

Mernet Larsen (1967). Image courtesy of Mernet Larsen.

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Originally published in Carla issue 6

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