Recent Work By Andra Moldav

To make up for the abysmal fiasco that was my mother’s birthday in early August, I planned and filled this year’s Thanksgiving visit with an enormous amount of fun activities and mother-daughter bonding. The first of these is a Tuesday lunch at Eleven Madison Avenue, a shiny rung in the Relais & Châteaux chain.

Christopher Russell’s first solo show for the Luis de Jesus Gallery at Bergamont Station in Santa Monica, is an exploration into how images make up a narrative. It starts off with some abstract prints: a pattern motif encapsulated by a series of X-Acto knife slashes that form a “frame” around the image. The borders are spray-painted and blurred, turning the whole thing into a vignette – a memory of nothing. Along with the collage-like illustrations in the back room, these pieces resonate like a confused echo of the decadent romanticism Russell displayed last year at the Hammer Museum. The show includes a giant, hand-illustrated, hand-bound tome, behind which hang monochromatic prints of varying sizes, each one a different version of a ship lost at sea or sinking into a foggy gray backdrop. Unencumbered by spray paint and X-Acto knife slashes, they seem to bring a bit of peace to the show, even if they fail to deliver an emotional impact with sail ships boxed into a postcard-sized frame or placed almost cartoonishly aslant on a larger print.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA tries hard to bring art and people together. They are unpretentious, have relatively low ticket prices (with discounts if you take public transportation), and programs that invite the public’s participation. For example: the Engagement Party series – a public program funded by the John Irvine Foundation that promotes new work from emerging Southern California-based artists. The latest artist to take up residency in the series is Ryan Heffington. Heffington is a performance artist, choreographer, designer, and “self-described dance guru who makes highly theatrical works exploring dance’s aesthetic and socio-cultural possibilities.” Seems like a perfect match for the Geffen’s social aspirations.

So Sean Lennon forms a band called GOASTT (with girlfriend Charlotte Kemp Muhl) and holds a concert in a cemetery. A quirky triad, or perhaps it a clever way to divert attention from the obvious ghost that comes to life when one looks at his face: his famous father. Yes, he has a famous mother, too, but between the clothes he wears onstage, the perfectly round spectacles, and the curly, longish hair, it is his father that comes to life out of our collective consciousness. Is the whole thing an embracing of his legacy or a path-of-least-resistance approach to expelling people’s expectations or prejudices? Give them what they expect in order to get their attention, then challenge that.

How does the new Lynda and Stewart Resnick Pavilion fit into the LACMA family? Surely you must remember the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Danny DeVito movie “Twins.” I will not go so far as to suggest that this is what the worldly architect Renzo Piano had in mind when he designed the Resnick Pavilion at LACMA and placed it right next to his other contribution to “the campus:” the Broad Contemporary Art Museum. The resulting effect, however, is not far off. As viewed from the Entrance Pavilion, the Resnik Pavilion looks like the less-developed sibling of the taller, more imposing BCAM. It’s, well, the grand Piáno and the baby Piáno (insert restrained, WASPY laugh here). Both buildings are topped by a saw-tooth roof, are constructed from the same pale travertene marble, and are embellished with this or that functional accent in fire engine-… sorry, “Renzo-Red:” a staircase (BCAM) or an air-duct (the Resnik).But these are just surface details. As LACMA CEO and director Micheal Govan assurs us, the Resnik Pavillion is nothing but grand when viewed from the inside.

I had just spent almost eleven hours of a whole entire Wednesday carrying books. It must have been about four hundred pounds of books overall, and be it as is may that I didn’t have to carry them over long distances and really a lot of people in the world have it a lot worse than I do, I will still complain that it was a grueling day because I am neither a mover or as sturdy as I often like to believe I am. But that’s not what this little post is about. It’s about the thing that happened in the Trader Joe’s on Sunset and Laurel after my grueling day.

I grew up in New York and I don’t like to visit now that I don’t live there anymore. A good friend pointed out why it might make me sad: because being there I notice that everything’s the same but older, and it reminds me that I’m older – older and somewhat different for having been away. This leaves no feeling other than being disconnected. I avoid going home because I know that when I do I will be confronted with things I once used to use and no longer need, people I once saw every weekend and now talk to once in a while, stores I used to shop at and now don’t even think about. In other words, I will be faced with the reality that I had a life once that was not indispensable, and like after any sort of loss, I end up feeling sad. I end up feeling sad and guilty for leaving. Like my life here was a garden and I’ve abandoned it to a bunch of anonymous weeds.