Issue 36 May 2024

Defying Narrative
Containment, for
E.L. and Others
–Maya Gurantz
Does it Move You? How to Look at Art,
According to
the Late Robert Irwin
–Janelle Zara
From Earthwork
to Test Plot
Transdisciplinary Approaches
to Ecological Reparation
–Emma Kemp
Interview with
Paulina Lara
–Joseph Daniel Valencia
Works in Progress Featuring: Soo Kim
Photos: Leah Rom
Reviews Teddy Sandoval and
the Butch Gardens
School of Art

at the Vincent Price
Art Museum
–Philip Anderson

Lex Brown
at Bel Ami
–Isabella Miller

Hugh Hayden
at Lisson Gallery
–Alexander Schneider

Diana Yesenia Alvarado
at Jeffrey Deitch
–Eva Recinos

(L.A. in N.Y.)
Cauleen Smith
at 52 Walker
–Shameekia Shantel

(L.A. in São Paulo)
Candice Lin
at Almeida & Dale
–Mateus Nunes
Carla en Español

Issue 35 February 2024

Issue 34 November 2023

Issue 33 August 2023

Issue 32 June 2023

Issue 31 February 2023

Issue 30 November 2022

Issue 29 August 2022

Issue 28 May 2022

Issue 27 February 2022

Issue 26 November 2021

Issue 25 August 2021

Issue 24 May 2021

Issue 23 February 2021

Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

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

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

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

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

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

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

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

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

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

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

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

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Issue 16 May 2019

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

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

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

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

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

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

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

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

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

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

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

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

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

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

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

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

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

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

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

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

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

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

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

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

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

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

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

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

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

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

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

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


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

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

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

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

Issue 7 February 2017

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Catherine Wagley
Put on a Happy Face:
On Dynasty Handbag
Travis Diehl
The Limits of Animality:
Simone Forti at ISCP
(L.A. in N.Y.)
Ikechukwu Casmir Onyewuenyi
More Wound Than Ruin:
Evaluating the
"Human Condition"
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Brenna Youngblood
Todd Gray
Rafa Esparza
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Reviews Creature
at The Broad

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

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

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

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Kenneth Tam
's Basement
Travis Diehl
The Female
Cool School
Catherine Wagley
The Rise
of the L.A.
Art Witch
Amanda Yates Garcia
Interview with
Mernet Larsen
Julie Weitz
Agnes Martin
Jessica Simmons
Exquisite L.A.
Analia Saban
Ry Rocklen
Sarah Cain
Intro by Claressinka Anderson
Portraits by Joe Pugliese
Made in L.A. 2016
at The Hammer Museum

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

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

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

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

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

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

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

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

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

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

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

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

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Hot Tears Carmen Winant
Slow View:
Molly Larkey
Anna Breininger and Kate Whitlock
Americanicity's Paintings:
Orion Martin
at Favorite Goods
Tracy Jeanne Rosenthal
Layers of Leimert Park Catherine Wagley
Junkspace Junk Food:
Parker Ito
at Kaldi, Smart Objects,
White Cube, and
Château Shatto
Evan Moffitt
Melrose Hustle Keith Vaughn
Max Maslansky Photographs
Monica Majoli
at the Tom of Finland Foundation
White Lee, Black Lee:
William Pope.L’s "Reenactor"
Travis Diehl
Dora Budor Interview Char Jensen
Reviews Mary Ried Kelley
at The Hammer Museum

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

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

Letter from the Editor Lindsay Preston Zappas
Metaphysical L.A.
Travis Diehl
Art for Art’s Sake:
L.A. in the 1990s
Anthony Pearson
A Dialogue in Two
Synchronous Atmospheres
Erik Morse
with Alexandra Grant
at François Ghebaly
Jonathan Griffin
#studio #visit
with #devin #kenny
Mateo Tannatt
Jibade-Khalil Huffman
Slow View:
Discussion on One Work
Anna Breininger
with Julian Rogers
Reviews Pierre Huyghe

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

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

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

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

Perennial Bloom

Austyn Weiner, Here’s Your Fucking Flower (2017). Oil stick on canvas, 86 x 71½ inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Ibid Gallery. Photo: Chris Adler.

Florals in Feminism and Across L.A.

California’s wildflower super bloom of 2017 felt like a miracle after the darkness of the presidential inauguration. An unusually wet winter not only lifted California out of drought but also blanketed the state in a burst of pastel wildflowers. In droves, Angelenos traveled east to catch a glimpse of the array. A friend and I drove to Diamond Valley Lake, our cell service weakening by the hour, where we parked in a dirt lot, paid a woman in a booth, and wandered out into color. It was a wholly somatic experience: fields of orange California poppies relieved by washes of indigo-colored thistles cresting over hills and ending only at the water’s edge. A perfect triad of orange, purple, and green soothed us like color therapy, our eyes adjusting in the sun. Afterwards, everything else in sight looked grey and sandy; our vision piqued, like coming down from psychotropic mushrooms. The super bloom took us outside, brought us together and dislodged us from the alien glow of our phones, unwittingly compelling us to meditate on the natural world. The super bloom only lasted a quick three weeks, but elsewhere flowers germinated unseen: an uncanny amount of floral imagery began to emerge in Los Angeles art after the inauguration and the super bloom, as though flowers had buried themselves into the subconscious of artists across the region.

Florals in art have been ubiquitous since the lotus flower symbol of ancient Egypt. They’re fodder for studio studies and still lifes, cornerstones of landscape painting, and hold a long symbolic history. Though flowers always have been common fodder for art, the sudden burst of floral-oriented work in Los Angeles is hard to ignore. Flowers as a new zeitgeist. From absurdist patterning, to tightly controlled photography, to physically arranging flowers on the body in performance, florals have the power to challenge gender and the baggage that comes with it. Artists are retooling the flower in order to expand the role of femininity in art-making by reclaiming symbols and aesthetics that once signified frailty and coquetry.

At Ibid Gallery last November in Austyn Weiner’s show, Here’s Your Fucking Flower, florals figured as props in interpersonal, possibly romantic, transactions. This turn to the flower was new—the Los Angeles artist’s previous experiments in abstraction focused on the figure. Moving beyond eroticized parts of the flower, the pistil and stamen, the petals and hips, Weiner’s flowers feel resentful and uncooperative. In Wiener’s paintings, flowers have moods; they call bull shit. They droop expressively, styled in oil stick. “California’s dry season comes to an end when” is written at the bottom of a pink canvas whose title finishes the sentence: The Bloom Begins (2017). Larger canvases feature stemless blossoms floating and clustering on the plane, like faces in a crowd seen from above. Swarms of flowers aggressively fill negative space, refusing to budge and or wilt. The aggression of her treatment pulls flowers out of a conversation of delicacy, and shoves them under the nose of the viewer as the exhibition title dictates; the dissonance of a refusal and an advance happening simultaneously.

The turn to flowers in Los Angeles art and the phenomenon of the super bloom coincided with another monumental event: the Women’s March, first held in January 2017. The L.A. march, attended by an estimated 750,000 Angelenos, helped to pull certain feminist ideas into the mainstream. Being together in the flesh felt better than arguing online; standing outside together, crowded in the street, skin bumping up against skin. But as inspiring as it felt, critiques of the Women’s March appraised its optics: participants were overwhelmingly white and imagery on their signs overwhelmingly gynocentric. While a women’s march may be one of the few public places one might see an exquisite rendering of a uterus and ovaries, its inclusion and the tradition of centering reproductive rights as the essential women’s issue harkens back to the second wave and the Women’s Liberation Movement, whose issues (somewhat reductively) centered on the concerns of white women. Focusing heavily on gyno-centric images is also considered trans-exclusionary as not all women are defined by their biology; nor should they be. The sense is that reproductive justice is the premier cause of feminism when so much more is at stake and it isn’t that reproductive rights aren’t important, it’s that they aren’t the only issue. Feminist aesthetics need a serious update and to push beyond the platform taken up by the early makers of so called Women’s Art, the cunt-imagery of Judy Chicago, the repetition of the Venus symbol of genetic science. Abuse of Flower Comes as No Surprise.

Austyn Weiner, A Poem (2017). Oil stick on canvas, 84¼ x 69 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Ibid Gallery. Photo: Chris Adler.

The sexual innuendo of vagina as flower is enduring. But why can’t the floral aesthetic signify outside of essentialist renderings of femininity or womanhood? Can’t flowers be queer? (Let me rephrase, flowers, like most living things, are queer.) Even Georgia O’Keefe famously railed against the notion that her floral compositions were vaginal (a characterization made and proliferated by her husband no less) because she was a woman artist. As if that’s the only thing a flower could symbolize when painted. It wasn’t so much that flowers were like women, but that women should be more like flowers: delicate, fragrant, decorative, silent.

The use of the flower as symbol for an essentialist feminine quality was born from a limiting gender binary. Under this framework, women are either mothers or artists, where one type of labor compromises the other. A woman is not only limited by her biology, but also by a narrow duality restricting her labor, whether maternal or artistic. Addressing this in poetry, Lesley Wheeler writes, “The flower has provided a powerful idiom for female lyricists negotiating a double role as both aesthetic objects and creators of beauty.”1 Women are limited to the option to blossom in only one of two seasons: motherhood or in career. Wheeler positions this as either blossoming or cultivating, either the flower or the flower-gatherer.

Garden Variety, a recent group show curated by Katie Bode at the Brand Library in Glendale, likened artists’ labor, collective or otherwise, to tending a garden. Bode writes in the press text, “A garden is a witness and participant, as it is a historian and time-keeper.” Flowers appeared throughout the exhibition including the manipulated scanned flower prints of Megan Mueller, the precise photographs of Arden Surdam, and the enormous paintings of Sarah Ann Weber (among others). Weber, who’s been painting Monet-sized paintings of gardens for the last three years, cites moving to California as an initial inspiration for her recent solo exhibition at Club Pro, Scenic View. “It all felt so exotic to my Midwestern brain: the skies were pink, and the succulents were straight out of Dr. Seuss illustrations,” she said. “Flowers budding, bloomed, and dying create a sense of entropy in my compositions that I find exciting.”2

Flowers are exemplars of temporality. The photographic work of Arden Surdam, included in both Garden Variety and A Curious Herbal—a recent floral-centric group exhibition at Garden—provides glossy studio shots of plants and floral arrangements on the verge of wilting. Like traditional still lifes, her high production images make for an exploration of death and time, drawing the contemporary notion of a photography studio together with the tradition of the Renaissance painter’s atelier. In comparison to Wheeler’s analysis, Surdam’s work reflects the quick lifespan of flowers as a parallel to the short window of youthful years for women (during which they are considered most valuable by society). If cultivation and arrangement are metaphors for a woman’s life, Surdam captures the precise moment when both begin to turn.

Tucker Nichols’ single bouquet paintings, which premiered at Charlie James in June of last year, were meant as protest paintings, as a kind of gentle flower power in the face of toxic masculinity that shouts from the bully pulpit the president has made of his platform. After equating what he saw as the futility of lawn signs with the uselessness of painting as a mode of engagement or activism, Nichols filled the room with flowers that could not die.

Poet Eileen Myles is said to have wielded a fistful of daisies at the Baltic Pride March in 2016, “and raised them in the direction of homophobic protesters, it was revelatory: You hate, but I love.”3 The Greek poet Dinos Christianopoulos was ostracized by the literary community for his sexuality and penned the famous line: “What didn’t you do to bury me / but you forgot I was a seed.”4 At the national level and for the majority of 2017, Kehinde Wiley spent hours placing white jasmine (Hawaii’s state flower), chrysanthemum (the national flower of Chicago), and African violets into the backdrop of Barack Obama’s presidential portrait. At the foot of the portrait, a flower blooms near his left foot, undisturbed and uncrushed. Never before had a presidential portrait included flowers as a signifier for identity or at all.

Moving away from essentialist renderings of gender and womanhood, from vaginal florals to single-issue politics is a means of expanding our understanding of feminism. Perhaps floral aesthetics point to an idea of life force and sexuality that is unhindered by prescriptive gender roles, marked instead by our relationships to one another when we are outside, side by side, roused by anger, desire, and a determination to keep growing. Perhaps flowers as a symbol are a more fitting metaphor for the complexity behind feminism’s cultural trajectory than waves: flowers blossom, wilt, and blossom again, where no season is without a bloom (at least in Los Angeles).

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 12. 

Sarah Weber, Desert post-drought (2017). Image courtesy of the artist, Will Richter, and Club Pro Los Angeles.

Austyn Weiner, The Bloom Begins (2017). Oil stick on canvas, 40 x 30 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and Ibid Gallery. Photo: Chris Adler.


Sarah Weber, Willow tree makes a curtain, or maybe a veil onstage (2017). Image courtesy of the artist, Will Richter, and Club Pro Los Angeles.

Tucker Nichols, Untitled (BR1724) (2018). Enamel on panel, 40 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery. Photo: Michael Underwood.

  1.  Lesley Wheeler, “Both Flower and Flower Gatherer: Medbh McGuckian’s ‘The Flower Master’ and H.D.’s ‘Sea Garden,’” Twentieth Century Literature 49, no. 4 (2003), 494–519.
  2. Sarah Ann Weber, e-mail message to author, March 25, 2018.
  3.  Jenny Zhang, “The Right to Idle,”, July 18, 2014,
  4. Mark Savage, “Ibeyi: ‘They Tried to Bury us But We Were Seeds,'”, September 28, 2017,

Angella d’Avignon is a writer in Los Angeles.

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