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
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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.)
Buy the Issue In Our Online Shop
1301 PE
Ace Hotel DTLA
Anat Ebgi (Wilshire)
Anat Ebgi (La Cienega
Arcana Books
Artbook @ Hauser & Wirth
Baert Gallery
Bel Ami
Blum & Poe
Canary Test
Carlye Packer
Charlie James Gallery
Château Shatto
Chris Sharp Gallery
Cirrus Gallery
Commonwealth & Council
Craft Contemporary
D2 Art
David Kordansky Gallery
Diane Rosenstein
François Ghebaly
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
Karma, Los Angeles
Lorin Gallery DTLA
Lorin Gallery La Brea
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
New Low
Night Gallery
Nino Mier Gallery
NOON Projects
O-Town House
One Trick Pony
Paradise Framing
Park View / Paul Soto
Patricia Sweetow Gallery
r d f a
Rele Gallery LA
Roberts Projects
Royale Projects
Sean Kelly
Sebastian Gladstone
Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Shulamit Nazarian
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
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)
Getty Research Institute (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)
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 Baltimore Museum of Art Library & Archives (Baltimore, MD)
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)

Walking in L.A.

Ken Price, Security, Domesticality, Leisure (1994). Ink and acrylic on paper, 20.5 × 16.5 × 1.25 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and
Kayne Griffin Corcoran.

There is something perverse about walking in Los Angeles. Action and context never quite match. The city, despite my love for it, feels designed so that walking must happen in spite of its qualities: vague, decentralized planning, narrow or non-existent sidewalks, whole neighborhoods aggressively fenced off, streets that unexpectedly fail to connect, and above all great swaths of distance between things. Resisting and pushing through these obstacles can be thrilling in its wrongness, or it can just feel wrong—Los Angeles is just as fascinating, messy, and sporadically ordinary in slow motion as it is by car. The act of unhurriedly absorbing and taking in Los Angeles can be disturbing. It makes the city a real place rather than an idea or a myth, just as art devises material objects from immaterial concepts.

Sometime in the 1960s, the Santa Monica Freeway sliced right through the middle of West Adams, where I currently live, demolishing entire blocks of homes. Former neighbors, once able to stroll easily to one another’s houses, were left with sporadic connections across the freeway gulf in the form of occasional overpasses every four to six blocks, many of which now also act as on- and off-ramps for traffic. Reyner Banham defined the freeway system as “a single comprehensible place, a coherent state of mind, a complete way of life” for the Angeleno.1 In Banham’s 1971 depiction, the world along the free- way—consisting of plants, architecture, and the people living there—is a kind flashing image, with all the depth that implies. In his schema, we only drive or arrive—the animating life behind the flickering architecture along our route remain opaque, and our own lives remain dangerously singular.

I have been walking multiple times a day, every day, since California began sheltering in place. I walk all the time anyway—sometimes to work; some- times halfway to work; sometimes getting off the bus early to walk a few blocks; sometimes just around and around in circles, departure and destination neatly overlapping. Walking for me serves two purposes—a slow, sustained physical wearing-out, and the temporary ordering of a very chatty mind. Walking offers a slow, unrolling focus, somewhere between leisure and exercise—a counter-rhythm to my own cycling thoughts and an antidote to my own restlessness. I walk in Los Angeles excessively, as if it were some- thing that I risk forgetting how to do, like writing in cursive. In some ways, this is one manifestation of a deep, reflexively contrary impulse: to never be anywhere too crowded, too popular, too obvious, or for too long.

There is something ordinary, even corny, about walking—hiking without the performative pressure, moving with no specific order nor even purpose. My mind ebbs from focus to distraction, stopping whenever, for whatever reason, then starting again. Walking and looking at my immediate surroundings have largely replaced biking, taking the bus, or driving to the manifold art galleries within Los Angeles to have a look at whatever is there. Art can appeal to a pondering mind or a sensual body; good art finds a way into both. Art is a rare kind of evaporative experience—resistant to strict standards of quality, slippery to define—and particularly so in a city as ambivalent towards history and memory as Los Angeles. Walking, when it’s good, ekes out an undulating rhythm of thought and recall. Art, on the other hand, works on a rhythm of disclosure and opacity, and looking at artwork, for me at least, is equal parts work and pleasure. The work part of it can invoke a pesky cynicism that I have to continually swat away, which in turn keeps the pleasurable moments enlivening.

Soon after I moved to Los Angeles, I remember seeing Mernet Larsen’s painting, Chainsawer and Bicyclist (2014): a woman in a blue dress, her hair in a bun, holds a chainsaw lightly beneath the crook of her elbow, as if cradling a purse. A bicyclist in the upper frame seems about to careen directly into the teeth of the saw; a single diagonal line links them both, suggesting their inevitable meeting. Larsen’s figures are blocky and geometric, positioned at oblique angles to the viewer and to one another. Action is frozen, and a course of action implied, but the simplicity and domestic ordinariness of the scene discloses little. The figures’ geometry suggests the monolithic, as if these beings, complete unto them- selves, can only hover at the point of collision, never meeting. The longer the movement in Chainsawer and Bicyclist is arrested (and it is always arrested), the calmer the composition begins to seem. The thin diagonal linking each figure might instead be keeping them a safe, but curious distance apart. As walking has become routine, I’ve started to recognize the same people on their own series of loops. Sometimes, I’m joined by friends, marching nearby at oddly-spaced distances. Standing near the edge of a green rectangle, Larsen’s chainsawer is perhaps seconds from stepping into the cyclist’s path, suggesting that the world beyond her own lawn is so precarious that an implement is in order. We all currently have our own defensive systems of masks, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes for dealing with the threat of contagion from the world outside.

Mernet Larsen, Chainsawer and Bicyclist (2014). Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 49.5 × 49 inches. Image courtesy the artist and Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Seoul.

Slow, prolonged contact with my immediate surroundings has taken the place of sometimes equally slow (or sometimes very brief) encounters with artwork. But focus begets fascination if you are curious enough, and
the observed object tends to grow in weight as you continue looking. Walking as its own end suggests that focusing plainly on the world around you is something to take seriously. It requires a certain amount of faith in the unre- markable to hold your attention. Howardena Pindell’s Video Drawings: Baseball (1973–76) painstakingly maps delineates, or attempts to predict a compressed sequence of movements between baseball players, who stand blurry and frozen in a video still under- neath her teeming notations. Pindell’s marks suggests the real-time, predictive flurry of a sports announcer eager to wring greater detail from the freeze-frame. Walking slightly differing routes, at slightly differing times in the same neighborhood brings difference and texture to a repetitive experience, a reminder that there are many paths between points, as in Pindell’s drawing, which looks to describe most of them.

I remember the peculiarity of watching my grandfather, in West Virginia, zoom out from my Google-mapped Los Angeles address on his iPad, pinching again and again with two fingers, the city demurely failing to reveal its edges. The smattering of nature throughout Los Angeles tends to obscure its overwhelming size, break- ing the city down into a series of loose, colliding neighborhoods. Google Maps revealed the lie, or rather the limits of the truth, and it felt as if I were watching myself through my grandfather, trapped in a maze. In Mary Reid and Patrick Kelley’s retelling of the myth of the Minotaur in the labyrinth (Priapus Agonistes, 2013), the Minotaur reinterprets the labyrinth from within, wandering its depths and coming across trinkets left by visitors past. The graffiti and objects left behind animate the labyrinth further, like a narrative that never discloses its overarching order but suggests its shape. If Los Angeles cannot be understood, it can at least be slowly digested. A city that repeats itself, endlessly. Hoping that something will stick in its mind.2

A sequence of objects along a walk, simply by way of being encountered, takes on the rhythm of narrative. In Los Angeles, garbage and litter interlace with wild and domesticated plant life, climbing and crawling along- side the walls, chain-link fences, cracked sidewalks, and parking meters that define the city’s narrow bands of public space. Litter has as mysterious and impenetrable a story to tell as the most esoteric and busy artwork. There is a section along Washington Boulevard filled with haphazard arrangements of garbage that tell so many partial stories that a cohesive narrative is hopeless: what looks like five pounds of (cooked) spaghetti next to three mismatched shoes and an overturned stroller; a refrigerator with the front door torn off, housing a single, unopened box of caster sugar. A series of small, identical, empty liquor bottles set at regular intervals along a nearby chain-link fence indicates both effort and specificity. And idleness.

Whether the product of idleness or an illustration of graceful tedium, Alejandro Almanza Pereda’s photograph Just five blocks away (2015) pictures a precarious underwater still life. Pool noodles, fruits, and vases float and are weighted down in a tight arrangement of cinderblocks. The objects—glassy, synthetic, sometimes organic—are unrelated beyond the fact that they have been corralled into the same frame, and they teeter in gently refracting underwater light. Harmony is less the point than balance, brevity, or the coy impermanence of the photographed moment. Pereda’s image, like a strange arrangement encountered on a walk, suggests boredom as an opportunity for pause; if instead of avoiding the mundane, we treat it as one of many states, a disarrayed moment might align into meaning.

The air in Los Angeles is strangely clean lately, free of traffic’s drone and less frantic in its mix of smells. It is only since movement has slowed that I can take in a deep breath of a blooming flower without the immediate, accompanying riptide of urine, marijuana, or unidentifiable aerosol. In walking, my mind meanders now as often as my path: zeroing in on details of houses— particular shades of wood stain, or tiny, strangely-placed windows—as well as budding flowers, arrangements of graffiti and litter, and glum perspectives down alleyways. There is discord and near-harmony, in endless combinations. In at least this sense, Los Angeles is settling, like sediment in water.

The air in Los Angeles is strangely clean lately, free of traffic’s drone and less frantic in its mix of smells. It is only since movement has slowed that I can take in a deep breath of a blooming flower without the immediate, accompanying riptide of urine, marijuana, or unidentifiable aerosol. In walking, my mind meanders now as often as my path: zeroing in on details of houses— particular shades of wood stain, or tiny, strangely-placed windows—as well as budding flowers, arrangements of graffiti and litter, and glum perspectives down alleyways. There is discord and near-harmony, in endless combinations. In at least this sense, Los Angeles is settling, like sediment in water.

This essay was originally published in Carla issue 20.

Mary Reid Kelley & Patrick Kelley, Priapus Agonistes (video still) (2013). Single-channel HD video with sound, 15 minutes, 9 seconds. Edition 4 of 6 + 2AP. Image courtesy of the artists, Fredericks & Freiser Gallery, New York, Vielmetter Los Angeles, and Pilar Corrias, London.
Alejandro Almanza Pereda, Just five blocks away (2015). Archival pigment print, 26 × 26 inches. Edition 1/5 + AP. Image courtesy of the artist and Ibid Projects Archives, London/Los Angeles. Photo: Jeff McLane.
  1. Reyner Banham: Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies (University of California Press: 1971), pg. 195.
  2. Laurie Anderson, “New Jersey Turnpike,” from United States Live (Rhino/Warner Brothers, 1984).

Travis Diehl has lived in Los Angeles since 2009. He is a recipient of the Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant (2013) and the Rabkin Prize in Visual Arts Journalism (2018).

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