Issue 35 February 2024

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Issue 24 May 2021

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Issue 22 November 2020

Issue 21 August 2020

Issue 20 May 2020

Issue 19 February 2020

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

Chiraag Bhakta
at Human Resources
–Julie Weitz

Don’t Think: Tom, Joe
and Rick Potts

–Matt Stromberg

Sarah McMenimen
at Garden
–Michael Wright

The Medea Insurrection
at the Wende Museum
–Jennifer Remenchik

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

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

Derek Paul Jack Boyle
–Aaron Horst

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

Katja Seib
at Château Shatto
–Ashton Cooper

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

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

George Herms and Terence Koh
at Morán Morán
–Matt Stromberg

Hannah Hur
at Bel Ami
–Michael Wright

Sebastian Hernandez
–Julie Weitz

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

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Issue 16 May 2019

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

Rob Thom
at M+B
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

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

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

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

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

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

Sperm Cult
–Matt Stromberg

Kahlil Joseph
–Jessica Simmons

Ingrid Luche
at Ghebaly Gallery
–Lindsay Preston Zappas

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

Trenton Doyle Hancock
at Shulamit Nazarian
–Colony Little

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

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

Gertrud Parker
at Parker Gallery
-Ashton Cooper

Robert Yarber
at Nicodim Gallery
-Jonathan Griffin

Nikita Gale
at Commonwealth & Council
-Simone Krug

Lari Pittman
at Regen Projects
-Matt Stromberg

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

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

Fiona Conner
at the MAK Center
–Thomas Duncan

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

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

Mimi Lauter
at Blum & Poe
–Jessica Simmons

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

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

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

Chris Kraus
at Chateau Shatto
- Aaron Horst

Ben Sanders
at Ochi Projects
- Matt Stromberg

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

Harald Szeemann
at the Getty Research Institute
- Olivian Cha

Ali Prosch
at Bed and Breakfast
- Jennifer Remenchik

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

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

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

Nevine Mahmoud
at M+B
- Angella D'Avignon

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

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

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

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

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

Paul Mpagi Sepuya
at team bungalow

Ravi Jackson
at Richard Telles

Tactility of Line
at Elevator Mondays

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

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

Broken Language
at Shulamit Nazarian

Artists of Color
at the Underground Museum

Anthony Lepore & Michael Henry Hayden
at Del Vaz Projects


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

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

Jennie Jieun Lee
at The Pit

Trisha Baga
at 356 Mission

Jimmie Durham
at The Hammer

Parallel City
at Ms. Barbers

Jason Rhodes
at Hauser & Wirth
Letter to the Editor
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Issue 7 February 2017

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

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

Karl Haendel
at Susanne Vielmetter

Wolfgang Tillmans
at Regen Projects

at Chateau Shatto

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

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

Doug Aitken
at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

at Tif Sigfrids

Jean-Pascal Flavian and Mika Tajima
at Kayne Griffin Corcoran

Mark A. Rodruigez
at Park View

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

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

Carl Cheng
at Cherry and Martin

Joan Snyder
at Parrasch Heijnen Gallery

Elanor Antin
at Diane Rosenstein

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

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

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

Material Art Fair, Mexico City

Rain Room

Evan Holloway
at David Kordansky Gallery

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

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

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

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

Fred Tomaselli
at California State University, Fullerton

Trisha Donnelly
at Matthew Marks Gallery

Bradford Kessler
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Issue 2 November 2015

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

Tongues Untied
at MOCA Pacific Design Center

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

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

Mernet Larsen
at Various Small Fires

John Currin
at Gagosian, Beverly Hills

Pat O'Niell
at Cherry and Martin

A New Rhythm
at Park View

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

Charles Gaines
at The Hammer Museum

Henry Taylor
at Blum & Poe/ Untitled
(L.A. in N.Y.)
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1301 PE
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega)
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Babst Gallery
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Clay ca
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art (Inglewood)
D2 Art (Westwood)
David Kordansky Gallery
David Zwirner
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
Gana Art Los Angeles
George Billis Gallery
Giovanni's Room
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)

The Female Cool School

Allison Miller, Flush Arch (2015). Oil, oil stick, acrylic and pencil on canvas. 60 x 58.5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and The Pit, Los Angeles.

Allison Miller, Flush Arch (2015). Oil, oil stick, acrylic and pencil on canvas. 60 x 58.5 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and The Pit, Los Angeles.

Usually, art movements or “schools,” acquire names for reasons of expedience. Critic Irving Sandler named Color Field Painting, because he needed a title for the chapter on Clyfford Still, Barnett Newman, and Mark Rothko in his book The Triumph of American Painting. Critic Jules Langser and his friend Peter Selz coined Hard-Edge Abstraction because they needed a name for a show linking Lorser Feitelson, John McClaughlin, and Karl Benjamin—all California artists with a preference for sharpness and clarity. The term Light and Space emerged similarly from a group exhibition’s title. Many of these schools consisted mostly of men (Selz and Langser notably left female hard-edger Helen Lundeberg out of their exhibition); the catch-all Feminist Art Movement being the exception.

Just this summer, Yale University Press published what they called “a long-awaited survey,” Women of Abstract Expressionism—every time I see the title, I think of a scene in Ann Rower’s book about Lee Krasner and Elaine De Kooning, Lee & Elaine (1988). Rower closes her eyes and tries to imagine that Lee and Elaine did it first, that their husbands copied them, and then lied about it. But even with eyes closed, she feels the overshadowing force of Jackson and Willem. Books like Yale’s new survey, and shows like Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel’s recent Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women function almost as correctives, acknowledging femaleidentified artists as important and influential too. Maybe that ongoing preoccupation with correcting makes us less primed to notice when the women are dominating in the present.

It was an L.A. gallerist who first pointed out to me the “badass lady painters” working in Los Angeles. right now. “Something’s going on with that,” he said, adding that he was giving me a scoop, which he was. As soon as their badassery had been singled out, I couldn’t help seeing Sarah Cain, Allison Miller, Laura Owens, Rebecca Morris, and Dianna Molzan as a cohesive group, female artists whose coexistence in the same region is consequential rather than coincidental. Because they’re based in Los Angeles, and tied together by an aesthetic attitude, they remind me of The Cool School posse from Los Angeles’ midcentury heyday—Irwin, Moses, Bell, Altoon, et al.—studio rats united by a moment and a certain spirit. The Cool School, though, is an all-male frame of reference, so maybe it’s better to adhere to no frame.

Born between 1969 and 1979, all of these female L.A. painters have self-possessed, un-heroic approaches to mark making, mixed with quiet rebelliousness and full-on dedication. The work reads as easygoing, but that’s deceptive. Leaving things unfinished or loosely formed on purpose often seems easy or nonchalant even if it’s really something else, such as deep aversion to hierarchy (aka patriarchy). And being routinely, methodologically breezy undermines stereotypes of feminine flightiness so effectively, it’s hard in the moment to remember they exist.

These painters have crossed paths and exhibited together in piecemeal—Cain and Morris in a two-person Chinatown show in 2009, Owens and Morris appearing in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, Cain and Miller in a show in a former bank in 2013, Molzan, Cain and Owens all curated into Variations: Conversations in Abstraction at LACMA in 2014, and so on—but no curator has ever invited them all to show together at once.

When I imagine them shown together, I see the exhibition clearly: Sarah Cain’s Supreme Being, massive and bordered in gold leaf, hangs on a wall that thankfully isn’t white. It’s cracked, stained concrete, not at all pristine. In Cain’s painting, loose pink and gray graffiti-like marks appear above the gold leaf and then, suspended on top of the graffiti, is a frame of painted stripes lined with cut-out fringes along the bottom. Cain made this in 2009, and it hangs a few generous feet away from Allison Miller’s Hour (2015), in which blue and red half-moons appear on a light pink surface that has been punctured with holes. The half-moons, which look like watermelon slices or disoriented rainbows, line up at regular intervals until, abruptly, the pattern stops and fades into an expanse of white interrupted only by a very light pink circle. Miller’s painting, while significantly smaller than Cain’s, holds its own. On the opposite wall is a new untitled painting by Laura Owens, impasto swooshes of teal, green, blue, purple and red overlaying a cartoon image that includes a sheep. Next comes Untitled (#04-13) (2013) by Rebecca Morris, an army green circle broken by geometric incisions, hovering casually above lots of black specks. Then there’s Untitled (2009) by Dianna Molzan, a hazy wash and splotches of color on linen that doesn’t stretch all the way to the bottom of the frame. Painterliness in all the work is intermittent, a choice rather than a methodology. Abstraction too is a functional preference rather than a rule; recognizable imagery does appear occasionally.

The artists have no qualms about taking up space, though doing so does not read as an aim in itself. Their lack of ambivalence and disinterest in outright expressionism means they’re not really aligned with the Provisional Painting Raphael Rubinstein outlined in 2009, 1 and only peripherally with gestures of refusal and Ab-Ex reliant “fakery” Mark Godfrey described in a 2014 essay (in which he actually did discuss Owens). 2

Other female L.A. painters are clear kindred spirits, though they aren’t in my imagined exhibition for reasons related to imagery and painterly mannerisms: Alex Olson, Mari Eastman, Monique Van Gendersen, Caitlin Lonegan, and Mary Weatherford. Fewer men working right now would fit as easily in. Bart Exposito might be a vague kindred, as might New York-based Zak Prekop, or Matt Connors. This gender divide is likely circumstantial, the result of historically different relationships to power. Curator Helen Molesworth tried to locate such a different relationship in an essay on New York painter Amy Sillman in which she discussed unknowability as a feminist virtue, a reaction against authority and mastery.3 Abstraction has been described as “unknowable” before (in terms of all-black canvases, or seeking out the unperceivable), but here, in the context of feminist mark-making, “unknowable” has a more pragmatic use. A gesture that isn’t predetermined is less likely to adhere to already established patterns and expectations.

Sarah Cain, Tessie (2015). Acrylic, gouache, potholder, beads, string, and glitter on canvas. 28 x 15 inches. Image courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Joshua White/

Sarah Cain, Tessie (2015). Acrylic, gouache, potholder, beads, string, and glitter on canvas. 28 x 15 inches. Image courtesy Honor Fraser Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Joshua White/

In a 2013 Artforum interview, Laura Owens pondered what it meant to inhabit her gesture completely. “Isn’t it interesting that a male orgasm has a DNA imprint that will replicate itself over and over again, reinforcing itself the way language or naming might,” she mused, “but the female orgasm has no use, no mark, no locatability? It can’t even be located in time. […] I want to think about how that can be the model for a new gesture.” She added, “That sounds really gendered, but it’s not—” 4 This new gesture, she tried to explain, would be distanced from the signature and narrative of the artist, more about the experience of the process and object, for artist and viewer. Her version of process art sounded less like Robert Morris’ “means over ends” approach, more like Eva Hesse’s desire to push against “singleness of purpose” in favor of something less goal-oriented, “to achieve by not achieving.” 5

Sarah Cain also talked about avoiding goals in a 2013 interview with MOCAtv, in which she grappled with gender. “I’ve been owning up to the super femme idea recently and going really big with femininity,” Cain said, “which is about a lot of things, but I think it’s also a way of processing what it means to be a woman, what power means.” She explained that she would enter a zone, processing femininity via her manipulation of materials and generating an instinctive sort of language for the work that might seem “really dumb” at first, to viewers and even to her. The work behind her in the studio as she spoke included a large amount of pink and purple, strips of canvas bunched up like ribbon and applied like a frame to the edges of a finished painting. These girly markers were messy, divorced from “prettiness,” and they took on an intuitive fierceness that only seemed intentional because it was so consistent. “If I know what I’m doing, or if I know what the painting’s going to look like,” she continued, “there’s really no point in doing it.” 6 Molzan, Miller and Morris agree that predetermination can be a hindrance.

“[T]here has to be a degree of the unknown for me to proceed with a painting or body of work, or else it is just execution without discovery,” said Molzan in 2011. 7 Space for discovery means unexpected results, Miller said in 2011: “Since there is no real planning involved in the making of the paintings, they are as much a surprise to me as to anybody looking at them.”8 Morris spoke in 2013 about how the process of painting involves translating what one wants internally into an external form, and how sometimes, when they emerge, her wants aren’t what she expected. “I don’t like planning too much in advance,” she said, “because I want to be fully open to that moment—to that transition from the inside to its manifestation in the outside world.”9

The results of this unplanned-ness, unsurprisingly, differ across all five artists’ work. The quietness of Miller’s intuitive language can’t be mistaken for Owens’ assertiveness, or for Cain’s femme-informed graffiti. But still, choices appear contingent, made in relation to each other (i.e., unplanned). Artist Penny Slinger, a radical to the core, has talked about how frustrating she found 1970s feminism—her peers trying to take for themselves the recognition they hadn’t had, rather than rethinking success and power altogether. Not planning on purpose is a way to be uncertain without being insecure. It’s thus not surprising that female artists, expected to be less confident and thus better situated to rearrange what confidence looks like, would front this particular approach. And in Los Angeles, where there’s historically less pressure to conform to historical and academic models, they perhaps have the physical and psychological room they need.

In the exhibition I’ve imagined, the artists’ work together communicates a pulse and sense of place, one that’s influenced by sprawl, empty lots, and imperfections. It evokes an intensity that isn’t territorial, a West Coast punkishness. But it seems annoyingly linear to call these artists a school and give it a name. The work resists that way of thinking and categorizing and thrives on its own disinterest in formal pronouncements. At the same time, recognizing the overlaps gives the work a collective force, mapping the way that key facets of its sensibility have dispersed across a region. Dispersal means greater influence; you can’t deflate a canon singlehandedly.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 6.

Rebecca Morris. Untitled (#16-15) (2015). Oil and spray paint on canvas. 75 x 75 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photo: Lee Tyler Thompson.

Rebecca Morris. Untitled (#16-15) (2015). Oil and spray paint on canvas. 75 x 75 inches. Image courtesy of the artist, Corbett vs Dempsey, Chicago, and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photo: Lee Tyler Thompson.

  1. Rubinstein, Raphael, “Provisional Painting,” Art in America, May 2009.
  2. Godfrey, Mark, “Statements of Intent,” Artforum, May 2014.
  3. Molesworth, Helen, Amy Sillman: One Lump or Two. New York: Pressel, 2013.
  4. Lehrer-Graiwer, Sarah, “Optical Drive: Sarah Lehrer- Graiwer Talks to Laura Owens,” Artforum, February 2013.
  5. Hesse, Eva, “untitled statement,” Art in Process IV. Finch College, 1969.
  6. “Sarah Cain: The Artist’s Studio,” MOCAtv, October 18, 2013.
  7. Hainley, Bruce, “Dianna Molzan,” Kaleidescope, Winter 2011.
  8. Lupo, Nancy, “Interview with Allison Miller,”, 2011.
  9. Cahill, Zachary, “Rebecca Morris: 500 Words,”, September 6, 2013.