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Top 3 This Week

Let Lindsay Preston Zappas curate your art viewing experiences this week. Here are our Top 3 picks of what not to miss. Scroll down for Insider stories.

 Kyungmi Shin, in COLA 2023 (installation view) (2023). Image courtesy of the artist and the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs / Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Photo by Jeff McLane.


COLA 2023 at LA Municipal Art Gallery

The Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, located in Barnsdale Art Park and operated through city funding, is one of the city’s longest running art spaces. Their COLA grant –– an annual $10,000 grant given to several mid-career creatives and accompanied by an exhibition of their work –– has been a fixture for over 20 years. While the pandemic put a halt on the public exhibition, the exhibition is back up for the first time since the 2020 lockdowns and six of the ten grantees are showing a selection of work made this year. Though the artists are not given any thematic guidelines, there happens to be some crossover in both medium and theme across the show. Many artists mix photography into their work to unique multimedia ends. Duane Paul, for instance, creates inventive plush assemblages that are arranged alongside moody self portraits. Kiyungmi Shin collages printed photographs below detailed paintings which harmoniously tell stories of family, heritage, and history. A stand out was Elyse Pignolet’s large scale installation of hand made painted tiles which together tell a story of women’s autonomy in the face of ever-encroaching legislation aimed at limiting access to abortion care. 

On view: July 13 – September 16, 2023 | Map

Keith Haring
Slavs and Tatars: Hang Don’t Cut (installation view) (2023). Image courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Los Angeles.


Slavs and Tatars at Tanya Bonakdar

In Tanya Bonakdar’s dimly lit main gallery space, an array of melon-shaped, hand-blown glass light fixtures hang from the ceiling, each with a bespoke glaze that mimics the surface of cantaloupe or honeydew. Each of the melons is in fact varieties found in Central Asia (particularly Uzbekistan and Xinjiang) –– the collective specifically explores the geographic area “east of the former Berlin wall and west of the Great Wall of China” in their work. Notably, the Slavic etymology of the word melon stems from the verb for "to blow” –– the lamps, then, are a kind of literalizing of an etymological connection. These light fixtures are met with mirrors that have been screen printed with monochrome melon textures, each print camouflaging the word CAPTCHA on its surface in a variety of languages. The second gallery is brightly lit by contrast and contains a rug picturing two cupped hands, each printed with a similar melon texture. Throughout the exhibition, the melon seems to be elicited in a slew of connotations: from romantic ambiance implying a deeply spiritual connection, to technology cyber-security (with the CAPTCHA works), to a human connection in which our own wrinkled bodies become akin to a melon’s unique surface. In this way, Slavs and Tatars works to blend a myriad of cultural symbols, delving into etymology, history, and cultural slippage.   

On view: July 8 — September 9, 2023 Map

Storage Wars at The Hole (installation view). Image courtesy of The Hole.


Storage Wars at The Hole

There is a whole industry involved in packing, crating, moving, and storing artwork—labor that is often unseen by the public, but necessary to the sales and exhibition of artworks. And, when artworks aren’t being exhibited, they are in storage…countless crates that live in warehouses, galleries and storage facilities. At the Hole, the gallery has visualized this abundance, inviting dozens of local collectors, artists, and gallerists to pull artworks out of storage to put on view—and inventively, the wooden crates themselves become the exhibition furniture with paintings and sculptures hung in and on top of the wooden boxes they are otherwise stored within. The wood provides a warmth to the gallery and beautifully frames the works on view, allowing for a dense salon-style installation that feels less about each individual work (although there are some lovely pieces on view) and more about the mass as a whole. This is the last week to catch the show before the works get packed back up and head back into storage. 

On view: June 24 – August 19, 2023 Map

Keith Haring

A Closer Look

Photo: Ruben-Diaz

Last weekend, the LA Art Book Fair returned to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Little Tokyo for the first time since 2019 –– taking a three-year hiatus due to COVID-19. Presented by Printed Matter, a non-profit art bookstore from New York City, the fair champions artist-made books and small-production publications. 

The fair included over 300 exhibitors, showcasing merchandise, zines, artist-run magazines, out-of-print books, gallery publications, and published art books. With this large range, art is certainly the glue which holds this fair together. In addition to the exhibitors, an array of programming also took place, from DJs and performances to on-site talks and book signings. 

I recently spoke to Steve Chiotakis for Greater LA about the fair, and how art publications support and provide context for artists’ work and bolster this creative ecosystem of contemporary art.


Gallery Talk

Gallery talk is your insider look into the stories of gallerists, curators, and artists in the Los Angeles art community.

Elyse Pignolet, No Gods, No Masters (2023). Ceramic and handmade tiles with glazes and gold luster, 128 x 204 inches. Image courtesy of the artist and City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs / Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery. Photo by Jeff McLane.

Elyse Pignolet

In an interview for COLA 2023 with Jamie Costa and Nancy Meyer, Elyse Pignolet spoke to themes of political and social issues within her work. “Engaging with social issues through my art is my way of confronting current political and social injustices,” Pignolet explained. “I really think about the language of social inequity, which feels more and more important in an increasingly divided society.” When it comes to her current work at COLA 2023, Pignolet finds that this method of engagement has expanded over the years, as she –– and her art –– bears witness to our ever-changing society: “This exhibition was in response to the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade, as well as a reaction to the many other women’s rights movements across the globe, including the Green Wave in Argentina and throughout Latin America, the Women Life Freedom protests of Iran, and the student-led protests in Afghanistan that were supporting the right for women’s education.” 


Lindsay Preston Zappas is KCRW's Arts Correspondent and the founder/ editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles (Carla).

Keith Haring
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