Big weekend in the Los Angeles art world, with two art fairs at opposite ends of town and any number of gallery openings. Ellie kicked it off last night at a reception for two very different artists sharing the space at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. A huge party at a large Brentwood home of contemporary design, where we ran into many old friends and met some new ones. Very old friends were one of the artists, Arnold Mesches, and his wife, the novelist Jill Ciment, both visiting from Florida for the occasion, whom we have known for forty years and more. Arnold--whose wonderful website is well worth visiting, by the way--has been painting and teaching for more years than he cares to remember. He's a painter par excellence, who wields a mean brush and has not been afraid, on occasion, to take on social issues head on. His latest series, "Coming Attractions," is a nightmarish, surrealistic look at a world in which baroque excess and real-world deprivation are contrasted in huge, exuberantly-painted canvases. You'll be able to hear more from Arnold himself on an upcoming episode of my Art of Outrage podcast series on Artscene Visual Radio.
The second artist was the remarkable Ethiopian Elias Sime, who works with raw indigenous materials like mud, clay and straw to create hauntingly beautiful artifacts that are at once raw and "primitive" and astonishingly sensuous and sophisticated. Peter Sellars, the noted impresario who co-curated the exhibition, was on hand to give a passionate introduction to the work whilst, behind him, a film projected on a huge flat-screen television monitor ran a movie of Sime's magnum opus--to date, at least--a house in Addis Ababa that evokes the off-beat architectural genius of an Antonio Gaudi(of Sagrada Familia cathedral fame, in Barcelona) or a stirringly a low-tech Frank Gehry.
Since the exhibitions of both artists do not open until today, I have not yet seen either. I'll plan on reporting on them more fully when I do. Meantime, I'll be checking in on one or both of the art fairs this afternoon.