Friday, January 23, 2009

Around the Art World

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.


mandt said...

Great post! Arnold Mesches has a beautiful site. His painting is lush and colorful---reminds me of early Kandinsky and the Blue Rider School. Also, another reference to the 20th cen. German schools of satircal caricature: Grosz, who savage scenes of social life in Berlin still haunt.

They call him James Ure said...

Great art. I just wish that I could get my work out there more. I think I could really make a name for myself. However, I think that my stuff is too "weird" and "deep" for the sometimes elitist, stuffy art scene.

It's frustrating to know that my art is as good as any artist in the scene these days but not get any traction.

I guess I'll just keep painting because it seems that most artists don't get recognized until they die. Shame don't you think?

PeterAtLarge said...

Yes, mandt, Mesches does inherit a great deal from the social conscience of the German Expressionists, and from the exuberant paint-work of Kandinsky and others. Thanks for the comment.

James, what you mention is the experience of the vast majority of artists. The art schools are producing thousands of them, all with high expectations and few with any chance of fulfilling them. When Ellie and I talk to artists, as we do very often, we're always encouraging them to look elsewhere than the art market for satisfaction! The same is true, don't you think, for writers?

They call him James Ure said...

Thanks for the advice. I'll just keep up the painting and go about the online sales as I've been doing and in the coffee shops where I display around here.

And look for other avenues. I agree about writers too. My two main talents--art and writing are both ones that are hard to have a successful career in.

A lot of times I just wish I had a more marketable skill like a knack for accounting. Oh well. I am what I am. I must just follow the path and see where it goes.