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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.



Gil Yefman at Shoshana Wayne

At Shoshana Wayne Gallery in mid-city, Gil Yefman’s bright fiber works are an explosion of color in the gallery, particularly the large knitted work Tumtum, an assemblage of knitted orifices and reproductive organs that swirl together, hanging from the ceiling in a massive orb. Yet, under Yefman’s playful style, covert meaning often points to complex cultural or historical themes. Tumtum, for instance, is a Hebrew word used in Biblical times to refer to a person with ambiguous genitalia –– although in modern day, the word is often deployed to mean stupid. This slippage of language points to deeply-seated prejudices around non-binary individuals. Elsewhere, Yefman takes on the subject of the holocaust, making several works about victims including the felted work, Subtraction, a grouping of felted tattoos referencing those of Holocaust victims based on imagery gathered by a Buchenwald doctor via grotesque means. The playful tattoos –– which range in subject matter from endearing to nautical to playfully sexual –– again belie the grim undertones of their historical significance.

On view: August 5 – September 15, 2023 Map

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Elmer Guevara at Charlie James Gallery

Elmer Guevara, a Salvadorian artist who was raised in South Central LA, draws from familial memories in his large-scale paintings. Family members can be seen in paintings recovering from hangovers or napping in hammocks. A large self-portrait in his solo show at Charlie James Gallery pictures the artist playing pool in a domestic interior surrounded by trappings of his childhood and family history –– empty beer bottles, family photos, and a Salvadorian flag are dotted throughout. Notably, Guevara’s works are mixed media; using gel transfer, he layers family photographs into his paintings, often flanking them across his subject's skin. 

The artist often considers sci-fi writer Ursula K. Leguin’s “Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction,” a theory that demarcates characters in a story as either heroes or containers. Guevara’s scenes focus on the latter –– mundane scenes of the everyday with minimal action or drama. Yet, the word container feels significant –– each individual depicted becomes a container for shared familial memories and cultural history.

On view: July 22 – September 16, 2023 Map

CATALYST, Tanya Aguiñiga | Carla Gannis | Trulee Hall | Auriea Harvey | Bahareh Khoshooee | Caroline Sinders | Sammie Veeler, June 16-September 15, 2023. Image courtesy of EPOCH.


Catalyst at Epoch Gallery

The pandemic-era virtual gallery, EPOCH, is still at it, staging new digital exhibitions, many set within post-apocalyptic architectural venues that viewers can navigate through. The newest locale: the yet-to-be-built Peter Zumthor building at LACMA, a project which has incited much debate. In EPOCH’s rendering, the prospective building already feels on the brink of demolition with smoky orange skies lending an ominous tone to the experience. And, while the virtual exhibition is still on view, over the summer viewers could also experience the show in real space (kind of) via a just closed iteration of the show at Honor Fraser, where gallery-goers donned virtual headsets while navigating the exhibition space. The show begins with Carla Gannis’ Virtues and Vices, a virtual sculpture featuring a grid of AI avatars that the artist has developed over the years, and ends with Auriea Harvey’s monumental digital sculpture, Black Conversation, in which a mother and son lean back-to-back gesturing to each other, yet gazing in opposite directions. Across the show, both bodies and communication, whether biological or technological, serve as a center point to the work on view. 

On view: June 16 – September 15, 2023 Open map

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A Closer Look

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.

The LA Municipal Art Gallery is currently celebrating its grant recipients in the annual COLA IMAP exhibition. Each year, LAMAG selects 6-12 mid-career, LA-based artists and awards them with an unrestricted $10,000 grant and the opportunity to exhibit work made possible by the funding. 

This year, 10 lucky artists received the honor, using the grant money to delve into literary, performing, and visual art endeavors. Six of the artists are participating in the visual art exhibition, each creating in a range of mediums and themes. Despite this range, interdisciplinary approaches to art-making feel like a throughline –– several artists blend photography with other mediums like soft sculpture and painting, and others mix installation with ceramics or painting with sound. 

I recently spoke to Karen Grigsby Bates for Greater LA about the show, and how it highlights each artist as much as it honors their Angeleno influences.


Gallery Talk

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


Knitting Nostalgia

Gil Yefman’s show, IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SOFT, challenges the boundaries of knitted work –– skeletons, soup cans, eyeballs, reproductive organs, and orifices swirl together in his dynamic contrstuctions. Shoshana Wayne Gallery explains:  “Though knitting and felting are commonly associated with female, queer, and domestic tasks that would traditionally fall into a strictly decorative category, Yefman redefines them into works that honor a memory within the individual to provide a sense of justice and new presence in the world.”

Yefman’s work knits history among its threads, allowing the past to intermingle with the present. “The uncanny, and even romantic, nature of the nostalgia exemplified in Yefman's work is both familiar and strange, standing in contrast to human nature,” the press release continues. “It demands a new relationship to difficult realities of the past, and requires that something beautiful be made from that pain.”


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

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