Issue 25

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Issue 19

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
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop
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

Issue 18

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 17

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 16

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 15

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
Buy the Issue In our Online Shop
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

Issue 14

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 13

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
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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

Issue 12

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 11

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 10

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
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.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 9

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
Letter to the Editor Lady Parts, Lady Arts
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 8

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
Letter to the Editor
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 7

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 6

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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.)

Issue 5

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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.)

Issue 4

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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.)

Issue 3

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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 2

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
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
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
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

Issue 1

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
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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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Maija Peeples-Bright’s Anti-Hierarchical Utopias and the Art of World-Building

Read in Spanish

Maija Peeples-Bright, Oh Maija, Oh Maija (1996). Acrylic on canvas, 48 × 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Noam Rappaport.

Maija Peeples-Bright painted a rare self-portrait in 1996, herself in the center of the composition and her dog immersed in his own reality behind her. In it, she holds a paintbrush in each fist, between ringed fingers with pink- painted nails. A leopard, with a second head in place of a back paw, stretches across her long-sleeved, fitted shirt while parrots and blossoms fill the surrounding space. The artist grins as she stares straight at us, her expression as slightly mischievous as the painting’s title, Oh Maija, Oh Maija, which sounds like a lightly chiding sigh. In its lack of self-seriousness, the portrait recalls Maria Lassnig’s agile, expressive paintings of herself (the artist holding a bunny or sleeping with a tiger). But Lassnig’s self-parody tilted toward abjection, while Peeples-Bright looks comfortable, well-adjusted, and just fine in her vibrant, animal- and pattern-filled realm. Her signature, written in looping cursive across the arm of an easel that extends out of the frame, reads “Maija Peeples”; she had yet to add the Bright.

The artist has changed her name five times throughout her life: from her birth name to a married name, to the name of her dog, to a second married name, and finally to the hyphenated name she still uses. This kind of change-ability is unusual, even stigmatized—I remember watching The Cool School, the 2008 documentary about Ferus, the (overly) acclaimed Los Angeles gallery, and seeing art historian Shirley Neilsen’s name changes imposed on her by the filmmakers via white onscreen text; her marriages and their endings were never explained in a way that gave her agency. For decades, female artists have clung, understandably, to their own names—Lee Krasner and Helen Frankenthaler never used their husband’s names professionally, and still they were accused of riding the coattails of their male partners. The systematic pressure to safeguard “a name for yourself” makes Peeples-Bright’s refusal to conform feel all the more deliberate, defiant, and—to me—attractive.

But even if I am correct to read a certain refusal into Peeples-Bright’s life and work, I have to admit that I am always looking for this and that I want something from it. I want to live in a different, more liberated world than the one most of us find ourselves caught in, and I want art to help me find it, even as art worlds themselves have again and again proven to be fully committed to a hierarchical, confining, and capitalist reality.

Peeples-Bright’s work resists this reality by almost entirely ignoring it, immersing fully in a rapturous, distinct style that has deserved more market attention than it has received over the decades (but is also so appealing because it does not bow to market forces). The artist’s name shifts—visible across the work in her recent exhibition, beautiFOAL, at Parker Gallery—are the most dramatic variable in half a century of paintings and ceramics that otherwise remain remarkably consistent. There have been no distinct phases, no shifts from abstraction to figuration (à la Philip Guston); no divergences from pattern to experiment with photo and video (à la Howardena Pindell). The exuberance that manages to at once be entirely sincere and tongue-in-cheek has been there since she finished graduate school in the early 1960s. So, too, has the textured maximalism, the fixation on animals and patterns, the alliteration in her titles, and the stylized, child-like flatness to her aesthetic (achieved and maintained with a calculated consistency that would allude any actual child). Consider one densely-packed painting in the main room of the Parker Gallery show, Giraffe Gibraltar with Gecko Gypsies and Geraniums (1979), wherein lanky, spotted giraffes float inside a red-orange terrain like fruit stuck within Jell-O, even the blue sky chock full of delicately rendered, impossibly consistent vertical white clouds.

This fixation on fullness, and the meticulous world-building that Peeples-Bright performs on canvas, has also spread into her life. She hand paints her own clothing and, in the late 1960s, with the help of then-husband David Zack, she painted a late 19th century Victorian home in the Filmore District of San Francisco. As with her paintings, this over owing vision felt coherent and inspired (radical perhaps but not frenzied): she used every color available from the Dutch Boy paint group, each detail on the exterior a different color, painted beasts surrounding the ceiling light fixtures (“not exactly the Sistine Chapel, but nice,” read a photo caption in the San Francisco Chronicle1), and painted her dog Woof W. Woof in the study. A large alligator climbed up the exterior entryway. Sometimes friends—and even strangers—would stop by to help paint, stepping into the colorful utopia for brief stints. There was another, albeit short-lived, utopia that hatched inside the house. In 1970, Maija and David, a literature professor, made plans with students and friends for a collective learning and living experiment in Italy. Students remember Maija cutting oxtails for soup as the group talked. The group of 31 indeed went on to form a learning community at the castle of a former contessa, called Monte Capanno, near Perugia, Italy. While there, they shared responsibility for heating the building, finding food, and building curriculum. It lasted just six months, and a website devoted to archiving the project is knotty with contrasting, complicated views (about how, purported liberation aside, chores were still a woman’s work; about infighting and the paranoia that kept the project from being all it could have been; about Maija being “SO STRANGE” but a great cook2) The masterpiece of a house in San Francisco didn’t last either: after their separation, the couple sold it, and its rainbows fell victim to California’s growing conservatism and bland 1980s taste. But in Peeples-Bright’s paintings, the promise and possibility of non-conforming environments, and the kind of living such environments encourage, persists untethered.

Maija Peeples-Bright, Giraffe Gibraltar with Gecko Gypsies and Geraniums (1979). Oil on canvas with wood frame, 51.5 × 68 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Paul Salveson.

I think about non-conformity a lot, and sometimes imbue the label with a certain undeserved purity. Though in fact, conforming—or refusing to conform—tends to be a messier reality in art and especially in life. This summer, I read poet Bernadette Mayer’s Utopia (1984), slowly, at night and in the morning, as if it were my bible and I just needed a daily verse or two to lift my spirit. At first, I thought I liked Mayer because she rejected recognition and dismissed the validation of the literary world. In the book, she says things like, “It doesn’t matter who I am in the utopian tradition I am no one, no woman no man no person….”3 But as I continued to read her essays, poetry, and letters, I began to notice more frustration. In a 1978 poem, she called artists and poets, “Tenants of a vision we rent out endlessly.”4 Mayer felt stuck, too—her annoyance with careerism didn’t lead to liberation. Yet her art does o er something of a model for refusal or escape: in Utopia especially, she funnels her anger into the imagining of a dreamland modest enough to feel almost achievable, where “there are no cage-like places, … all windows can open, places open out onto other places, hallways are generous, there is no rent….”5

In the utopias of Maija Peeples-Bright’s paintings, worlds in which absurdity, delight, and curiosity are allowed to thrive together without hierarchical tension, the escape already seems to have happened—there are few traces of a former, less ideal world. This utopian model, far less modest than Mayer’s, would feel unfeasible if not for the example of the Rainbow House. The fact that the artist once turned her sensibilities and “beasties” (as she calls her painted creatures) into an immersive, physical environment in which people gathered makes her world-building feel surprisingly plausible and tangible (even as the Rainbow House predated the difficulty of owning present-day real estate in San Francisco). Usually, an inclusive, all-together quality characterizes her painted worlds, as in Mountain on Wheels with Cat Canoeist (2018–2019), which is among the newest works in the Parker Gallery exhibition. In this painting, the symphony of mammals are nearly all composites of other animals, humans included. The canvas bulges and sparkles; no space remains empty. Leopards pop up out of water and curl inside canoes; giraffes with multi-colored, collaged fabric for spots adorn the mountain—which indeed rests on wheels—and small, repetitive penguins and bats ll the background. The repetition that characterizes her paintings contributes to the sense of a complete universe—like when you perform the same task for so long that the task becomes a conduit for a different kind of imagining. For instance, with Mountain on Wheels, the leopards and leopard spots are so omnipresent that it’s impossible to fixate on just one, instead you are swept up in the overall leopard motif. These paintings demand full presence; they feel like escape hatches from a world of cultural production that equates a kind of skeptical distance and aloof self-importance with desirable intelligence. The notion of escape has been a theme in art discourse over the past half century. Lucy Lippard famously wrote of dematerialized art as a kind of “escape attempt,”6 artists attempting to vacate a market- and cache-driven world by making the unmarketable. But, of course, as soon as such objects became on trend, the market came calling. In his 2016 book, Tell Them I Said No, Martin Herbert narrates the lives of artists who tried to escape art world expectations by either ceasing to make, ceasing to show others what they’d made, or rigging the system as to be in control of its demands. Charlotte Posenenske, for instance, made interactive, modular, and vaguely industrial sculptures that she would invite viewers to rearrange as they saw fit. But then she turned to the sociological study of employment and industrial labor, focus- ing specifically on assembly line work after art failed to provide the transformative effects she sought. Her dropout was only noticed—and then mythologized—decades later, when her work began to resurface in exhibitions. At the time, however, her choices mostly had to do with how she wanted to live, choosing to do work that she felt could more directly draw attention to, and perhaps help remedy, social inequalities.

In a 2018 talk with curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, the artist Luchita Hurtado, who died just shy of 100 this August (and knew everyone from Salvador Dalí to Leanora Carrington to the Guerrilla Girls) joked about how artists get mythologized. “I live again!” she laughed, after Obrist recounted her many recent exhibitions, after the commercial art world “rediscovered” her in her 90s and rewarded its discovery by staging survey shows at galleries and institutions.7 She also pointed out, after Obrist asked her to recount meetings with Duchamp and other famous artists, that no one ever knows who will be remembered by history and that it is silly to speak in such terms. She had worked her entire life, sometimes feeling self-protective of her output (as when she painted self-portraits of her legs and feet while in her closet, in part because it was the only place she, a mother of three boys, could be alone) and sometimes not. Her work, not its reception, was the evidence of that commitment, and of the explorations she had made (with imagery, spirituality, and language). She, too, built a world: a quieter, more changeable one than Peeples-Bright’s world, but you can fall into her paintings and feel held in a reality that demands presence and that values minutiae and uncertainty for their own sake.

Like Hurtado, Peeples-Bright has always made art, and she has not always been lauded as heavily or as widely as other members of the California Funk scene in which she came up (e.g., Roy De Forest). But it’s nearly impossible to appreciate and take in all Peeples-Bright is doing if you’re busy thinking about the complexities involved in the reception of an artist in correlation to art world merit. There’s also little room for skepticism in the menageries that she creates. Their biggest, most impressive refusal then is the refusal to be anything other than fully-realized worlds, thriving, teeming, perfectly crafted—refusing to let human pettiness have enough air to survive, Peeples-Bright instead choosing to live among her beasties.

One earlier painting, Goose Lady Godiva (1969), is a rare instance in which a human figure—a fleshy, queenly female on horseback, whom I am reading as an embodiment of human-designed pecking orders—takes up disproportionate space in comparison to Peeples-Bright’s flocks of animals. The animals surrounding the figure seem amused and unconvinced by her pompous and hierarchical prominence in the composition—the many laughing, floating cats are seemingly just waiting for her to pass out of the frame so they can carry on with their mischief.

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

Maija Peeples-Bright, Mountain on Wheels with Cat Canoeist (2018–2019). Acrylic, glitter,
fur, plastic claws, elastic bands, fabric, wood, and plastic reflectors on canvas, 30 × 40 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Paul Salveson.

Mural by Maija Peeples-Bright in the Rainbow House (San Francisco, California). Image courtesy of the artist and Parker Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Robert Arneson.

The Rainbow House (San Francisco, California) on the cover of the July 1969 issue of Art and Artists. Image courtesy of Parker Gallery, Los Angeles.


This essay was originally published in Carla issue 22.

  1. Jerry Carroll, “A Beastly Victorian,” The San Francisco Chronicle, July 27, 1968.
  2. Gordon Bowen and Linda Bowen, “Memories of Monte Capanno 1970,” last updated November 9, 2004, http://www.montecapanno1970.com/.
  3. Bernadette Mayer, Utopia (New York: United Artists Books, 1984), 13.
  4. Bernadette Mayer, “Essay,” in A Bernadette Mayer Reader (New York: New Directions Books, 1992), 52.
  5. Mayer, Utopia, 27.
  6. Lucy Lippard, “Escape Attempts,” Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (1973; repr., Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997).
  7. Luchita Hurtado in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist (Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, March 11, 2018).

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

More by Catherine Wagley