The New Los Angeles (2011;2012; 2013; 2014)

The Cedd Moses award winning bar, The Varnish, at the back of Coles, a restored century old formerly run down restaurant. We enjoyed a great hot pastrami sandwich at Coles just after it opened. The Varnish was recently named best bar in America.


The Best Restaurant Bar Programs in L.A.

Despite what the New York Times says, there are plenty of great restaurant bars

October 10, 2014 Cocktails, Drinking Add a comment

Restaurant critic Pete Wells was kinda tough on New York restaurant’s bar programs in his New York Times column this week, saying that “an awful lot of the cocktails I’ve had in restaurants have landed with a splat in the ‘not good’ category.” So to convince Wells otherwise, Grubstreet came up with a list of New York restaurant cocktails “that don’t suck.” Surprisingly there were only 13 drinks.

Thirteen? L.A. could pass that in its sleep. In Los Angeles, many restaurants are taking their cocktail programs seriously. They’re hiring cocktail consultants or beverage directors, usually well-respected mixologists and bartenders, to build the bar program by handpicking the spirits, training the staff, and creating a drink menu to complement the food and the theme. Nowadays, a phoned-in cocktail menu of “classics with a twist” ain’t gonna cut it.

For this list, instead of calling out one cocktail from each restaurant, I decided to give a shoutout to restaurant bars that actually have drinks you finish involuntarily.

By the way, originally this list was up to 22 but had to whittle it down. Are there any restaurants that you think should have made the cut?

Rivera/Bestia/Acabar/Petty CashJulian Cox has the magic touch when it comes to bar programs. Trained by Sam Ross at Comme Ca, Julian’s drinks appeal to both teetotaller and pro drinkers. Unlike most restaurant cocktails which are light for fear of interfering with the food, his drinks are still flavorful and will leave liquor lovers sated. His bartenders are required to go through six weeks of training to earn a spot at one of his bars. Basically, when you see the Cox name on the menu, you know you’re good to go.

A.O.C.: Christiaan Rollich is also the man behind the bar programs at Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne’s other successful restaurants—Lucques and Tavern—but it was his creations at A.O.C. that helped put it at the top of L.A. Magazine’s 75 Best Restaurants list, at least for me. There he makes his own…well, everything, from coffee liqueurs to pepita syrups to even bathtub gin.

Brilliantshine: If Julian Cox can create such amazingness for other bar programs, you can imagine what he’s doing with his own restaurant, which he owns with his Soigne Group partner Josh Goldman. It’s like the best of Julian all up in there with cocktails inspired by his world travels. Best part, you can enjoy his drinks during a boozy brunch, late night or before and after dinner with food by Chef Richie Lopez. (During the meal, partake of Goldman’s wine list.)

The Corner Door: While this Culver City restaurant played musical chefs, head bartender Beau du Bois has been a stalwart fixture since the beginning, making it a go-to spot for cocktail enthusiasts who followed him from his days at M.B. Post. Plus, who can stay away from those fun cocktails with unusual flavor combinations like pineapple and cinnamon-infused Campari.

Crossroads: The fact that barman Jeremy Lake can create tasty vegan cocktails is a testament to his skills. Have you checked out his vegan hot buttered rum? Trained by Julian Cox, Lake consistently puts out imaginative drinks to complement chef Tal Ronnen’s animal-friendly cuisine.

The Eveleigh: Bar manager Dave Kupchinsky has singlehandedly turned the Sunset Strip, an area usually favored by tourists and the beautiful people, into a destination for craft cocktail enthusiasts. Every Monday features a different guest bartender, every Sunday a farmers-market fresh cocktail, and of course there’s D-Kup’s seasonally updated menu.

Gracias Madre: Another vegan restaurant with an impressive bar program. What are the chances? Only in L.A. At this West Hollywood vegan Mexican restaurant, beverage director Jason Eisner complements the fun fare by the Cafe Gratitude crew with build-your-own picklebacks, 24k gold-flecked cocktails, and boozy popsicles.

Ink: If you can’t get a reservation at Chef Michael Voltaggio’s hot West Hollywood adjacent restaurant, a seat at the bar with head bartender Gabriella Mlynarcyzk is in no way a consolation prize. She will wow you with her unique cocktails which make use of inventive ingredients like housemade IPA foam, chartreuse pixie dust, and chamomile vermouth. Or for something more familiar, check out her list of classic cocktails where a Negroni is made with rapid barrel-aged gin and the Dirty Martini has sake, umeboshe plums, vinegar, and celery bitters.

Petit Trois: It’s exciting stuff to be able to have cocktails with chef Ludo Lefebvre’s French bistro fare. For a long while diners could only enjoy BYOB wine with the pop-up king’s cuisine. But now for his second brick-and-mortar restaurant which features a full bar, bartender Danielle Motor (Hungry Cat) created food-friendly and Ludo-approved drinks.

Republique: I’m usually torn between barman Erik Lund’s cocktails and sommelier Taylor Parson’s wine list here but in the end it’s a cocktail for starters and wine for the meal. Lund’s short cocktail list–categorized by aperitif, traditional, and market–changes often, keeping up with chef Walter Manzke’s menu. So if you see something on there you like now better order it before it’s gone.

Scopa Italian Roots: What happens when two skilled barmen and a chef go into the restaurant business together? You get this Venice-adjacent eatery where everything you consume makes you happy. Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix (also co-owners of Santa Monica’s new Chestnut Club) created not only a stellar cocktail menu with instant favorites like Bullock’s Wilshire as well as one of the best Palomas I’ve ever had but a rich person’s drink list expertly using high-end stuff.

Tasting Kitchen: Barman Justin Pike has shaped the program of Chef Casey Lane’s Venice hotspot eatery since it opened in 2009. His drinks are simple, approachable and excellently crafted. Sure he’ll employ cocktail trends but because they make sense for his bar, and not because they’re crowd pleasers. Back when shrubs started to hit the scene, Pike made his own since he wasn’t a fan of the farm-to-glass trend. Shrubs were a good way to add the fruit component.

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Crossroads Bartender Jeremy Lake Opens New Hollywood Bar Lost Property

Claim rare whiskies and found items at this lost-and-found themed bar

November 12, 2014 Cocktails, Drinking Add a comment

Bartender Jeremy Lake is living the dream. Over a year after taking on his first solo project creating the cocktail program at Chef Tal Ronen’s Crossroads, he teamed up with Ryan Floyd and Walter Schild of the David Myers Group (Hinoki & the Bird, Comme Ca) and partners Rhino Williams and Matthew Jacobs to open up Lost Property in Hollywood.

This brand-new whiskey bar is next door to 33 Taps on the historic Hollywood and Vine intersection. “I feel so blessed. I get emotional about it. It’s amazing,” Lake gushed. “I’m opening my own place and it’s on Hollywood and Vine.” The intimate bar takes over 33 Taps’ little-used event space which can hold 60 people comfortably. Its decor is timeless with blue couches, clean midcentury style tables and a crystal whiskey decanter chandelier. “You can come in here in the ‘40s, ‘50s, ‘80s, ‘90s, today and it will all look exactly the same,” said Lake.

And even though sports attire and flip flops may reign supreme at the adjacent two-level sports bar, Lost Property will have a “just look nice” dress code and a doorman to enforce it. There won’t be a password, though.

Now, the concept of a whiskey bar isn’t new. But a “lost and found” claim check system where you can “claim” (read: spend massive amounts of money on) lost and rare bottles of whiskey is. “We’ll advertise that we have a very rare Macallan coming in and you can buy the bottle if you want to and we’ll keep it in a bag with a ‘lost and found’ tag with your name on it,” explained Lake. “Whenever you come in, you pay a little corkage and you and your friends can sip on your bottle. It’s reserved for you.” The idea is that customers will have fun getting a sense of ownership, knowing that their bottle is waiting there for them.

For the opening, the whiskey list will start out with 50 different brands ranging from a $6 Evan Williams to a $40 rare rye from Northern California, which they only have one bottle of. However, it won’t get super nerdy here with tasting notes laid out in the menu. “A whiskey geek can come in here and I’ll make them a great cocktail and we’ll talk all day long about whiskey. Or a guy who doesn’t know anything about whiskey can come in and have a great time, too,” said Lake.

Cocktails off the standard list will be priced from $9 to $15 while Lake’s more decadent “Why Not?” menu, which spotlights cocktails made with his more high-end spirits, will range from $20 to $100. Another fun aspect of the Lost Property theme takes drunk shopping to another level. “Unclaimed” scarves, hats, sweaters, etc. will decorate the walls and if you see something that should be yours you can claim it.

Or you can turn it into a fun way to buy a drink for a friend who isn’t there. Pick a knickknack and buy a drink for your absentee buddy. The bar will affix a “lost and found” tag to the item and write down the drink. Then your friend can simply come in with their claim check stub to pick up their drink and found item. Don’t worry about missing out. The bar plans to replenish the fake lost items on a regular basis through estate sales and places like Jet Rag.

Lost Property’s grand opening is tomorrow starting at 7 p.m. Hours will be Thursday through Saturday from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

redarrow Lost Property, 1704 N. Vine St., Hollywood, 323-987-4445

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A First Look at Butchers & Barbers’ Cocktail Program

Plus, how to pair the cocktails with chef Reyes’ comfort food

October 29, 2014 Cocktails, Drinking Add a comment

Leave it to Jonnie and Mark Houston (Houston Hospitality) to constantly up the bar and nightlife scene with every new venue they open. I mean, wow, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s. Next Tuesday, however, the brothers aren’t adding yet another drink spot to their growing repertoire of themed delights but rather an old bowery-style New American restaurant called Butchers & Barbers. Complete with meat hooks and barbicide jars. Tucked between Houston properties No Vacancy and Dirty Laundry in Hollywood, the 1,200-square-foot, 50-seat restaurant will feature New American cuisine by Chef Luke Reyes (The Corner Door).

So why a restaurant now? Besides courting the challenge of the food biz, Mark said it felt like a natural next step for them. “As I get older I desire an environment where I can sit down and have a conversation,” he said. “I think the next thing is breaking bread with friends, having dinner, and genuinely get to know each other.”

The food menu accommodates every kind of appetite. For snacking at the bar, there’s popcorn seasoned with roasted garlic, rosemary, and thyme oil. For something absolutely indulgent and hearty there’s the 34-ounce côte de boeuf. And even though these are shared plates, they’re the hefty family-style portions. “You have to be very cautious about ordering too much,” said Mark. “You want to make sure you order and don’t overstuff yourself because you might not be open to going out after.”

To go with the dishes, Houston Hospitality Beverage Director Joseph Swifka didn’t just complement the masculine feel of the restaurant with the use of heavy, brown spirits but designed a drink menu of eight food-friendly cocktails. With house-made infusions and syrups as well as fresh produce, the drinks don’t overshadow the food yet still manage to have interesting, sophisticated flavors. “I wanted to have a couple of drinks with sherry involved just because sherry pairs nicely with food in general,” said Swifka. “There’s also on the lighter end of things, nice acidity to balance some of the flavors and to cut through richer dishes that we have.”

If you’re looking to do your own cocktail pairing with dinner, he recommends starting with the Lillian Gish (name may change) or the Good Ol Laurel, a take on a gin and tonic. Both have “a nice brightness and acidity to get your palate moving.” While the mellowness of the Ava Gardner, thanks to the toasted hazelnut and honey, makes it a fitting sipper during the meal. And to finish up, go for the Battle Potomkin which “could stand in the place of a very strong cup of tea or coffee.”

Groups of friends can order up a barrel of cocktail, which won’t be used to age but rather as a serving vessel for four people or so. “They’ll go out to the table and they’ll be able to use the spigots to pour their own drinks.”

In terms of the beer situation here, there are six beers on tap and only one bottle and one can as that space behind the bar is very tight. The selection, although limited, hits all the major notes, from a light white ale to IPA to richer, darker beers by producers like Angel City, Ballast Point, and Saint Archer. As for wine, the list is primarily made up of Rosenthal wines. “They’re mostly French right now, but again food-friendly but pretty elegant stuff,” said Swifka.

Butchers & Barbers will be open Tuesday through Sunday starting at 6 p.m.

Butchers & Barbers, 6531 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, 323-461-1464

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L.A.’s Best New Bars

Where to drink this fall

By Katherine Kims

Best New Bars in Los Angeles 2014

Illustration: Libby VanderPloeg

With a new season comes the arrival of many recently opened places to quench our thirst, perfect for going classy in Hollywood, drinking seaside in Santa Monica or spending a late night in West Hollywood.

Whether you’re in the mood for fancypants cocktails, wines by the glass or beer on draft, here are the best new bars to spend a night out.

① Brilliantshine, Santa Monica
Most L.A. cocktail bars seem to start with Julian Cox. The barman behind Petty Cash, Bestia, Picca et al. recently debuted his Santa Monica flagship with partner Josh Goldman. The theme: seaside saloon. Grab a stool at the charming old-timey bar (think: vintage piano, brass fixtures) and order a Rome with a View ($10)—Campari, dry vermouth, soda and a lime wheel—or Spread Love, It’s the Brooklyn Way ($12) with rye whiskey, China-China bitters, dry vermouth and maraschino. There are Peruvian bites, too—we love the shrimp ceviche ($11) and lobster uni rice ($21). You can even post up for the night on the alfresco patio.

② Grandpa Johnson’s, Hollywood
Keep it classy with a taste of Old Hollywood. Blink and you’ll miss the unmarked entrance. Once inside, the Art Deco bar reveals wall-to-ceiling chevron panels, white marble tops, mirrored walls and a swanky 24-foot-long brass bar. The cocktails are just as fancy, dressed up in Darjeeling syrup, rose water and guava purée. Toast to T-Bizz ($14), named after owner Johnny Zander’s grandfather, made with bourbon, ginger syrup, apple cider, amaro, lemon juice, bitters and a lemon wedge.

③ The Nice Guy, West Hollywood
Continuing on the throwback theme, the Nice Guy serves cocktails with a side of mafiosa. Translation: red-sauce shared plates, old-school cocktails, booths (even a family chef’s table) and a sultry songstress. Go for a Moscow Mule ($15) served in a proper copper mug—you can upgrade to a punch bowl ($350) like a boss—or Mother’s Milk ($15), a frothy mix of vodka, house-made chocolate milk and soda water. Also of note: a dedicated whiskey menu, because that’s what men do.

RELATED   Zoe Nathan’s Santa Monica »

④ Grain, Playa del Rey
As the name suggests, whiskey is the order of the day. Ask for it straight up, on the rocks or in a cocktail at Playa Provisions’ bar. Your evening will go something like this: oysters followed by clams casino and a lobster roll on an outdoor patio, then a visit to the back room for a night cap. There are more than 60 whiskies from 21-year Elijah Craig Kentucky bourbon ($22) to Nikka Taketsuru Japanese whisky ($28). And even bar bites are made with the brown spirit—don’t miss boozy bourbon milk and warm chocolate cookies ($8).

⑤ The Chestnut Club, Santa Monica
This Santa Monica bar is serious about one thing: cocktails. With Pablo Moix and Steve Livigni of Black Market Liquor as the duo also behind the scenes (err, bar), the drinks here are worth a visit alone. But the lofty, den-like watering hole also has a relaxed neighborhood hangout feel, with comfortable leather booths. The mixed drinks are simple: All 13 list no more than five ingredients. And beer geeks can get into the impressive craft brew list, ranging from local barleywines to double IPAs.

⑥ Murph’s, Sherman Oaks
This Americana-themed bar is the latest to rouse the SFV after-hours scene. Designed to look like a 1930s gas station, Murph’s offers 11 local brews on tap (pulled from wrench handles) and even more by the can. If cocktails are calling, we suggest a standard Oil Change ($10)—a mix of bourbon, ginger and honey—or a rum-laced vanilla Coke float ($10) layered with bitters and vanilla liqueur. Fuel up with bro bar food such as a pimento cheese-topped burger ($14) and spicy fried chicken sandwich ($14). Bonus: Get $20 off your first Uber ride to make the trek back over the hill.

⑦ Bacari PDR, Playa del Rey
Winos can belly up and cheers at this beachside bar. And for good reason: Happy hour brings half-off wines by the glass and $10 liters of sangria, and “open bar” ($20) means 90 minutes of limitless red, white, champagne and sangria (and beer, too). If that doesn’t whet your taste buds, the kitchen slings grilled pizza ($8) and tapas-style cicchetti. Order individual plates ($8) or sample a trio of tastes ($21) ranging from crab crostini to lamb-stuffed eggplant with lemon garlic emulsion.

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  • Refinery 29 – Best New Restaurants in Los Angeles, November 2014
  • Freds
    Situated atop Barneys New York in Beverly Hills, Freds couldn’t have a more chic locale. The terrace offers top-notch views of the Hollywood Hills, while the menu sources local, fresh ingredients unique to California. In other words, you need to try this spot, pronto.

    Freds at Barneys New York, 9570 Wilshire Boulevard (at North Camden Drive); 310-276-4400.

  • Butchers & Barbers
    The brothers behind hot spots Pour Vous, Harvard & Stone, and No Vacancy have ventured away from the nightlife realm to open their first restaurant, Butchers & Barbers. Located smack-dab in the middle of Hollywood, the restaurant opened just last week. Hurry up and try it now — before word of its deliciousness gets out.

    Butchers & Barbers, 6531 Hollywood Boulevard (near North Cahuenga Boulevard); 323-461-1464.

  • Kye’s
    Whether you’re vegan, Paleo, gluten-free, or just appreciate a health-conscious meal, you gotta check out Kye’s in Santa Monica. The restaurant’s tagline — “Super tasty superfoods to go” — sums up the fare perfectly: It’s delicious, it’s healthy, and it’s quick. What more could you want?

    Kye’s, 1518 Montana Avenue (at 16th Street); 310-395-5937.

  • Stir Market
    A restaurant, market, wine bar, and cafe hybrid, this place is pretty much a one-stop culinary shop. Inspired by European food halls, Stir Market just opened its doors yesterday(!), so head over now to take the first peek.

    Stir Market, 7475 Beverly Boulevard (at North Gardner Street); 323-879-8283.

The Springs
In addition to being a 100% raw, organic, and vegan restaurant, The Springs also boasts a yoga studio, wellness center, and organic juice bar. So, really, you can just chill here all day long.

The Springs, 608 Mateo Street (at Mesquit Street); 213-223-6226


  • The Oyster Gourmet
    The newest resident of downtown’s Grand Central Market, The Oyster Gourmet comes complete with a crazy-cool, oyster-inspired bar that you need to see to believe.

    The Oyster Gourmet, 317 South Broadway (near West 3rd Street); 213-624-2378.

Bowery Bungalow
Nosh on Mediterranean, North African, and Middle Eastern cuisine at this two-week-old Silver Lake spot, which is housed in a super-cute yellow cottage (complete with a white picket fence). Standout dishes include baba ganoush, chickpea falafel, and Moroccan couscous.

Bowery Bungalow, 4156 Santa Monica Boulevard (near North Hoover Street); 323-663-1500.



L.A. Story: Where to Eat Now

The 10 must-try restaurants in the City of Angels this summer

By Katherine Kims

Best New L.A. Restaurants 2014

What’s cooking at Roy Choi’s POT? Hot pots, of course.

From Roy Choi to Ludo Lefebvre, and from Downtown to Venice, Los Angeles is flush with new restaurants to try this summer. We’re crushing just as hard on Choi’s latest venture, the unpretentious POT, as we are on the impressive rotating chef lineup at Fifty-Seven.

Here are ten noteworthy spots worth braving L.A.’s notorious traffic for:

POT, Koreatown
L.A.’s culinary hero, Roy Choi, continues to make headway with his sixth brick and mortar inside the Line Hotel. The Korean restaurant/bar/cafe is all about casual, unpretentious and fun. Diners tie on floral-patterned bibs and dig into one-dish hot pots—try the Boot Knocker ($25 small, $45 medium, $56 large) or seafood-loaded Fisherman’s Wharf ($39, $72, $96)—supplemented with more traditional dishes to share such as kimchi fried rice ($10). Bonus: The ’90’s soundtrack blares everything ffrom Boyz II Men to Bone Thugs.

Night + Market Song, Silverlake
Part two of Kris Yenbamroong’s cult Thai hit, Night + Market. Here, the Northern Thai menu continues with classics such as sweet and spicy “party wings” and sour Isaan-style sausage. The family-style additions are just as spicy and bold: pork blood-flavored luu shuk ($10) soup topped with cracklings and crispy noodles; and Bangkok mall pasta ($14) charged with salted fish, garlic, bird’s eye chile and green peppercorn.

③ FiftySeven, Downtown
Inside the old Heinz loading dock, the restaurant and downstairs bar is home to a rotating list of in-residence chefs. It’s only been open since March, but this Arts District restaurant has already seen David Nayfeld of Eleven Madison Park and Thomas Keller-trained Joshua Drew at the helm. For the summer, Farmshop’s former executive chef uses farmers’ market ingredients in dishes like local, ink-braised squid with beet greens, green garlic aioli and puffed buckwheat ($14). (Look out for 15-year old wunderkind Flynn McGarry June 23, July 21 and August 11, when he’ll be cooking a nine-course dinner, priced at $150 per person.)

④ Faith & Flower, Downtown
On the other side of Downtown, this glam restaurant’s bar is a scene in and of itself. Suede banquettes and sleek touches pave the way for chef Michael Hung’s menu of French-leaning dishes. Unexpected surprises like deviled eggs with kimchi ($6) and confit carnitas pizza ($17) keep things fresh, while an extensive list of cocktails keeps the night loose.

République, Mid-City
The old Campanile space returns to its roots as a fine dining destination, serving beautiful dinners at night and equally beautiful baked goods from the bakery. Stop in mornings for viennoiserie, tarts and dough baked, rolled, fried and sweet; and start dinner with housemade bread with salted Normandy butter ($5) or, better yet, wood oven pan drippings ($5). The rest of the menu reads like a French bistro’s—escargots en croûte, steak frites—but with seasonal ingredients. It’s all made by the talented Walter Manzke, formerly of Church & State and Bastide.

Superba Food + Bread, Venice
Superba Snack Bar expands its local approach to food, both in its ingredients and its devotion to Venice, with a restaurant-slash-bakery. The all-day menu options rotate from kaya toast and hotcakes for breakfast, subs and salads for lunch, a mid-afternoon selection of tartines, to a full menu of not-too-fussy large plates for dinner. Don’t miss weekly specials like rotisserie half duck with duck fat-braised radish ($29), and, of course, try the bread and pastries.

Ladies Gunboat Society at Flores, West L.A.
Chef Brian Dunsmoor of The Hart and The Hunter brings his Southern roots to plates like chicken-fried rabbit ($29) with spiced local honey, cilantro and sesame seeds, and Sea Island red pea and Carolina gold rice-mixed Hoppin’ John ($15). There’s also a fried chicken plus beer combo for happy hour, and a roster of stick-to-your-bones comfort foods (beignets, cornmeal pancakes) for brunch.

Pine & Crane, Silverlake
Pine & Crane keeps it in the family by using produce sourced from the owners’ own farm for its Taiwanese dishes. The service is fast-casual, which translates to unfussy food in a modest, minimalist setting. But the spot-on Chinese options mean legit dan dan noodles ($7.50) and pork dumplings ($5) without having to trek to the SGV.

Petit Trois, Mid-City
Trois Mec may be the hardest (ticketed) reservation in town, but come mid-summer, Angelenos can stop into its sister restaurant from Ludo LeFebvre, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (the duo behind Animal and Son of a Gun). The theme is classic French, with options like croque monsieurs, escargots, steak tartare and crème caramel. The look? That of a brasserie outfitted with an open kitchen counter, checkered floors, etc.

⑩ Alimento, Silverlake
Zach Pollack strikes out on his own from Sotto to the Eastside. Pollack sticks to what he knows best: handmade pastas, sugo and rustic Italian cooking. The indoor-outdoor space completes a nice trifecta of neighborhood food options—L&E Oysters and LAMILL are close by—come the end of June, when doors finally open.

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11 Key Restaurant Openings In Los Angeles

Feb 4, 2014 12:00 pm

Sandwiches, super omakase and the Egg Slut indoors

By Joshua Luriestatic
The busy dining room at Josef Centeno's new tasting menu only restaurant Orsa & Winston.
The busy dining room at Josef Centeno’s new tasting menu only restaurant Orsa & Winston.

The last four months have been a boom time for the Los Angeles dining scene. The culinary wealth extends from LAX to downtown and hits appear at all price points, from  breakfast sandwiches to a “super omakase” at an exclusive chef’s counter. We’ve done our homework. As in, eaten some serious meals. And with that here are 11 of the most promising openings from the past four months in L.A. County.

Orsa & Winston
Chef Josef Centeno, a well-known grinder who seems most comfortable in the kitchen, steps into the spotlight at Orsa & Winston, which features a refined combination of Italian and Japanese cuisines and a more open design that keeps the main man front and center. The menu changes daily and gets as ambitious as diners will allow, from a four-course family-style menu that costs $50 per person to seats to a “super omakase” meal at the chef’s counter. The menu is highly seasonal, but you might catch dishes like koshihikari rice with uni and Pecorino cream or pork loin with chicken liver mousse and huckleberries. Centeno already captured the attention of Angelenos with Bäco Mercat and Bar Amá in the Old Bank District, and Orsa & Winston is likely to keep it. 122 West 4th Street, Downtown, 213-687-0300,

The Factory Kitchen
This concrete and steel showpiece in the downtown L.A. Arts District features flashes of color from reclaimed wood tables and fire red chairs. Matteo Ferdinandi is running the front of the house while longtime Valentino chef Angelo Auriana is at the stove at this Italian-to-the-core restaurant. House-made pastas have been early hits, including marjoram-speckled corzetti stampati with veal and tomato sauce. Really though, plenty of people would visit just for the focaccia calda di recco al formaggio, thin focaccia stuffed with crescenza cheese and dressed with arugula and Ligurian olive oil. 1300 Factory Place, Downtown, 213-996-6000,


The Egg Daddy sandwich includes an all-beef patty and cheddar with a fried egg on a brioche bun.

Egg Slut
Chef Alvin Cailin and co-owner Jeff Vales generated plenty of interest by serving refined egg dishes from a truck. Now they’re running an open-air counter in downtown’s increasingly epic Grand Central Market. Sure, they’re still serving breakfast options like coddled eggs with bacon-braised cannellini beans and crostini. Also, The Fairfax — a sandwich with scrambled eggs, onions, cheddar and Sriracha mayo on house-baked brioche. But the duo’s also added steak and eggs served with crispy potato pave; egg salad tossed with honey mustard aioli and served with arugula on Texas toast. There’s even talk of a burger with coffee bacon jam…of course topped with a fried egg. Wonder if Burger Coffee Bacon Slut is going too far? 317 Broadway, Downtown,

L.A. Chapter
Sadly, Ace Hotel founder Alex Calderwood didn’t live to see the opening of L.A.’s Ace Hotel, which has inspired triumphant praise since reviving the United Artists building on the south end of downtown’s historic Broadway Theater District. On the ground floor, chef Ken Addington and business partner Jud Mongell of Brooklyn’s Five Leaves have opened L.A. Chapter, a two-tiered restaurant that features checkerboard tile floors, copper tables and serves three seasonal meals daily. Yes, they’ve imported the Five Leaves Burger, which hosts grilled pineapple, pickled betters, egg, harissa mayo and Lindy & Grundy beef. 929 South Broadway, 213-623-3233,

LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal
A long LAX layover is no longer dreaded thanks to the influx of new dining options at the retooled Tom Bradley International Terminal. The multi-tiered deck in the Villaraigosa Pavilion food court, named for L.A.’s previous mayor, now houses chef-driven restaurants like Border Grill (modern Mexican from Mary Susan Milliken and Susan Feniger), Larder at Tavern (seasonal sandwiches and salads from Suzanne Goin and Caroline Styne), and ink.sack (Michael Voltaggio’s reimagined sandwiches). Fast casual options include 800 Degrees (wood-fired pizza) and Umami Burger. Petrossian’s caviar emporium adds a luxe touch, and Vanilla Bake Shop delivers a sweet finish.

Din Tai Fung
Persuasive developer Rick Caruso convinced Frank Yang to expand his family’s Taipei legacy at The Americana at Brand, a 15 1/2 acre mixed-used development in downtown Glendale. Din Tai Fung already dominates the doughy San Gabriel Valley arms race with weekend-only soup dumplings, pan-fried rice cakes, airy steamed buns and more. So it was good news when this location opened closer to downtown. In Glendale, Yang’s upped Din Tai Fung’s game with juicy pork dumplings studded with shaved Italian truffles, potstickers and a full bar. Poon Design has also cranked up the ambiance, including towering wooden doors, overhead wood slats, jumbo box chandeliers and an exhibition kitchen fronted by rings that resemble dumpling steamers. Thankfully, DTF kept playful touches like a cartoon dumpling character, which greets diners at the reception desk. 177 Caruso Avenue, Glendale, 818-551-5561,


République already boasts one of the city’s finest selections of fresh morning breads and pastries.

Classically trained powerhouse Walter Manzke and talented chef/wife Margarita joined forces with restaurateur Bill Chait to replace famed Campanile with a multi-faceted restaurant and bakery. The airy space features a counter up front, which hosts pastries by day and oysters by night. High-top tables and detailed tile work give way to an open kitchen, communal tables and high ceilings. In terms of the menu, the well-traveled couple’s culinary offerings are by no means limited to France. République is already one of the best L.A. places to find morning pastries, seasonal salads, oak-cooked meats and inventive dishes like ramekins of escargots with puff pastry and garlic butter; or beignets with porcini mushrooms and Parmesan. Margarita Manzke’s desserts include stupendous panna cottas, tarts and bombolini. A seasonal bar program from Erik Lund and a varied wine list from beverage director Taylor Parsons rounds it all out. 624 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, 310-362-6115,

Mud Hen Tavern
Susan Feniger of Top Chef Masters, Food Network and Border Grill fame, joined chef/partner Kajsa Alger in flipping STREET into an everyday neighborhood hangout. The space now features an inviting patio, a more welcoming bar with high-top tables, comfortable booths, craft beer and cocktails. The menu still embraces global influences, including multi-textured tuna ceviche, and Greek-inspired lamb meatballs anchored in tangy tzatziki, though Mud Hen does feature a Cheeseburger with Lindy & Grundy grass-fed beef. After all, the name evokes Feniger’s childhood in Toledo, home of the Mud Hens minor league baseball team, so some things are all-American comfort. 742 North Highland Avenue, Hollywood, 323-203-0500,

Scopa Italian Roots
A culinary wave is washing over the Westside, starting with Venice, and now extending to Marina del Rey. One chef riding the crest is Antonia Lofaso, who teamed with Black Market partners Mario Guddemi and Salvatore Aurora and bartenders Steve Livigni and Pablo Moix on Scopa, who draw on the chef’s Italian roots. The glass-fronted space features brick walls, communal wood tables, and a backlit bar. Of course the bar is clearly visible, since Livigni/Moix are one of the most accomplished bartending duos on the West Coast. Lofaso’s sprawling menu can get pretty inspired at places, whether it’s a stuffed shells flavor bombed with duck sausage, ricotta and tomato sauce. There’s also rigatoni with oxtail and bitter dandelion greens, as well as a seared T-Bone served with salsa verde. For dessert, request Livigni’s favorite Amaretto, which drinks like a liquid cookie. 2905 West Washington Boulevard, Marina del Rey, 310-821-1100,


Floral custom tile flooring and communal tables are part of the dining room at East Borough.

East Borough
Chloe Tran & John Cao have opened an upgraded “Fraîche Vietnamese” restaurant in Culver City with restaurateur Paul Hibler and chef Jason Neroni, partners in the American Gonzo Food Corporation culinary incubator. This builds on the success of Tran and Cao’s more casual and small Camp in Costa Mesa. Sandwiches and salads are featured at lunch, and more ambitious fare is available at dinner, including head-on blue shrimp with tart pomelo in a funky crab paste butter bath. Neroni, also the chef at Venice’s Superba Snack Bar, has finally brought phocatini to Los Angeles, al dente pasta dotted with fresh herbs, oxtail, hoisin, sambal and onion. A large format pork shank slow cooked with Vietnamese spices and served with Sriracha, butter lettuce and sliced pickles for wrapping. For dessert, think bittersweet Vietnamese coffee…budino. Tran, a longtime designer, built the space with floral custom tile flooring and communal tables. 9810 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, 310-596-8266,

Warren’s Blackboard
Until chef Warren Schwartz opens The Frontyard this spring in North Hollywood’s Beverly Garland Hotel, the accomplished chef (Saddle Peak Lodge, Westside Tavern) is operating a sort of food & drink workshop complete with blackboard menu at night. Popular early selections include popovers, based on grandma’s recipe, sliced open and layered with mushrooms, bacon and pencil-thin asparagus spears; a bone-in braised lamb shank with orange gremolata and house-made pappardelle. White Boy Fried Rice is stir-fried with Spam, broccoli, egg and sambal, just like Schwartz makes for family at home. 4222 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, 818-255-7290,

Joshua Lurie is the L.A. based founder of Food GPS.



Downtown: The 11 New Bars You Need to Know About

Drinking downtown has never been better

Photograph courtesy of Bar Jackalope

Downtown L.A. has been getting more love than usual, not just from Angelenos but the rest of the nation. (Thanks, GQ and Bon Appetit!) And amazingly it continues to grow and develop. To think it all really started gaining momentum back in 2007 when Cedd Moses first opened Seven Grand. Cut to seven years later and we have a boom of new watering holes, underground and overlooking the city, to add to the mix of already successful bars, sealing the deal that DTLA is THE place to do an epic barhop. Either take the Metro in or book a room at one of the many hotels.

Bar Jackalope at Seven Grand: This new bar-within-a-bar, which opened in January, only accommodates 18 drinkers, emulating those intimate whiskey bars you find in Japan. In fact you can’t just saunter in from Seven Grand outside. Rather, you flick a light switch to get instructions on how to get in. Once in, enjoy the selection of 120 different whiskies, including rarities like Pappy and Balvenie Tun 1401 or the three classic whiskey cocktails. Ballers may choose to purchase a bottle of their own and store it in their very own whiskey locker at the bar.

City Tavern DTLA at Figat7th: This downtown outpost is, frankly, bigger and better than its Culver City sister what with more space, more taps and a thoughtful and extensive cocktail program created by Brent Falco and Cari Hah (both formerly of Cole’s Red Car Bar). Thanks to their cocktail menu, you’ll probably end up staying here from happy hour, when you can get a decent cocktail for $5 to $6, through dinner for a desserty Grown-Ass Milkshake, to close with a flight of Manhattans.

The Continental Club: From the folks who brought you The Room in Hollywood and The Association comes this basement bar which opened two weeks ago beneath Bar Ama. Meant to resemble the sort of gentlemen’s club you’d find in London it holds 300 stylish attired guests. Sip on fancy-pants cocktails like the Rolls-Royce or a “ferociously shaken” Sloe Gin Fizz.

Crane’s Downtown: The first of two new downtown bars with “Crane” in its name, this one is where Crane’s Hollywood Tavern moved and opened in November. Take the steps down til you come across a massive door leading into an old bank vault. Thankfully, it’s not a speakeasy, but rather a chill, upscale dive bar. Here you get no frills, just straight-forward drinking.

Honeycut at the O Hotel: True, this discotheque/craft cocktail bar opened in October of last year but it still bears mentioning. It’s where bartenders go to boogy down and lay back. With one room dedicated to a carefully crafted drink and the other a fun selection of cocktails on tap, you can’t go wrong.

Nest at WP24: Wolfgang Puck’s new 4,100-square-foot venue, which takes the place of the WP24 lounge on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton, opened just this month. Stop by for a bar bite like tiny dumplings or a dinner of crispy black pepper pork belly but definitely stay to explore the 300-wine list. Or there are cocktails like the Bourbon Buddha with sage, Buffalo Trace, Aperol, lemon juice, and simple syrup, and the Bird of Paradise with 209 Gin, lemon juice, orange wedge, simple syrup, and club soda.

Peking Tavern: Rounding out the basement boozeries, this Chinese gastropub is located in the basement of NCT Lofts and boasts to be “Home of the Bai Jiu Cocktail.” For those unfamiliar with this pungent Chinese liquor, best tread lightly. Definitely an acquired taste but you can ease into it with their Peking Coffee, a mix of Bai Jiu, coffee and horchata liqueur. Or try out their Peking versions of an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan, both made with Peking bitters.

Tom’s Urban: Taking the place of ESPN Zone in L.A. Live and opening just this week, this gigantic two-level sports bar is the place to go if you want to catch the game, any game, on one of the 80 TV screens. For your immediate drinking needs, there are cocktails on draft by barman Joel Black (Comme Ca).

Upstairs Bar at the Ace Hotel: Everyone keeps talking about this gorgeously, romantic new poolside roof bar at the stunning Ace Hotel. It’s definitely THE place to take that special someone, aka the person you want to get it on with. Just make sure to come early to avoid the long line. The cocktails here are twists on tropical cocktails, showcasing aperitifs, gin and whiskey.

Wendell: Former Bukowski dive bar hang Craby Joe’s was made new again, openinglast October. Even though it’s sleek with its dark wood and long, polished bar, it’s still all about chill drinking for the neighborhoodies rather than the next big cocktail trend. Settle in and order up a tasty craft brew or a canned Schlitz while pondering the fact that you’re under the roof where U2 filmed that “Where the Streets Have No Name” video.

Wolf & Crane: This Little Tokyo bar, which opened in December, celebrates the Japanese trend of highball bars and features 10 different highballs, simple cocktails made with booze and soda. You’re in a hurry to get your drink on, then this is the place.



Restaurant News As 2014 Arrives, Downtowners Hunger for These New Restaurants

Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 5:00 am

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Foodies had plenty to chew on in Downtown Los Angeles in 2013, with a number of buzzed-about restaurant openings. It seemed that every time you threw a bread roll you hit a celebrity chef working on his or her own place in the Central City.

It appears that the momentum will continue in 2014. The new year is slated to feature fresh ventures from old faces, expansions of already popular L.A. joints, potential rising stars and everything else on the food spectrum.

In short, Downtown diners are already looking at a plethora of new eateries, even if some are still in the early planning stage. Here’s a look at some of the hottest restaurant arrivals slated for the coming year.

Lucky 57: Beau Laughlin has had plenty of success with West Hollywood gastropubs The Hudson and The Churchill. Now, he has set his sights on fine dining in the Arts District. Fifty Seven is scheduled to open at 712 S. Sante Fe Ave. — at the old Heinz loading dock, near Italian hotspot Bestia — in the first quarter of 2014. It will offer a unique conceit: The kitchen will feature a rotation of chefs from around the country who stop by, do their thing for a few months, then give way to the next big name. First up is David Nayfeld, a veteran of New York’s lauded Eleven Madison Park.

Market Madness: The Dec. 23 opening of DTLA Cheese at Grand Central Marketis just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the venue’s foodie revolution. Up next are three new eateries: Wexler’s Deli, Olio Pizza and Oyster Gourmet. The former comes from chef Micah Wexler and partner Michael Kassar (both from the shuttered Mezze in Beverly Grove) along with Pitfire Pizza co-owner David Sanfield. The restaurant is aiming for a February opening and will serve old-school deli classics such as house-made pastrami, corned beef and smoked salmon. Olio Pizzeria is an addition to chef/owner Bradford Kent’s restaurant of the same name in Beverly Grove, and will feature wood-fired pies and appetizers. Oyster Gourmet, meanwhile, is the brainchild of oyster expert Christophe Happillon. He has been wowing eaters with impeccable shellfish at pop-ups in several restaurants (including Downtown’s Perch) and farmers markets throughout Los Angeles.

Check, Please: It’s not every day that you eat a burger with ketchup “leather” and a kombu-infused revision of cheap American cheese. Then again, Plan Check isn’t your average restaurant. Come the spring, Downtowners will no longer have to trek to the Westside or Fairfax to get their hands on owner Terry Heller and chef Ernesto Uchimura’s inventive food. Instead, they’ll just head to 1111 Wilshire Blvd. in City West, where Plan Check’s third location will be on the ground floor of a recently opened apartment complex. Expect stellar burgers, beef-fat fries and smoky fried chicken.

Pub Love: Plan Check is not the only gastropub moving across town. Culver City favorite City Tavern will be opening in the FIGat7th shopping center by the end of January, joining a slew of new eateries; like neighbor Mendocino Farms, it will have its own large standalone spot near the mall’s bustling food court. This City Tavern will be twice as big as the original location, with enough space for a cocktail lounge and patio. The menu will feature comfort-food classics such as grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, along with new options, among them a selection of chilled seafood.

Flying High: From the we’ve-been-waiting-for-this-one-for-years corner, there’s Redbird. Chef Neal Fraser has long influenced the Southern California dining scene, both at his own restaurants (BLD and Grace, which shuttered in 2010) and at others through his consulting work. He’ll be returning to the kitchen at Redbird, which will open — at an unspecified date — in the rectory next to the old Vibiana cathedral. Fraser’s wife and business partner Amy Kroll took over management of the space last year and Fraser is partnering with Bill Chait (who helped open Bestia and Rivera, among others) on the venture. As for the food: “It will be as fine-dining as we can make it,” he told Zagat in April. “Not small plates, not a bistro, not a gastropub.”

Due (Middle) East: Bestia chef and co-owner Ori Menashe has made the Italian restaurant one of the toughest reservations in all of L.A., but he’s working on something decidedly different for his next project: He hopes to open a Middle Eastern restaurant, also in the Arts District, by the end of 2014. Though it might seem like an odd transition, the new joint will pay homage to his favorite comfort foods — Menashe was born in Los Angeles but grew up in Israel. Expect dishes with the rustic-but-modern aesthetic found at Bestia; Menashe has mentioned wood-fired tagines (stews), house-made pita breads and Middle Eastern-spiced charcuterie.



Top 5 Nightclubs in Los Angeles


Courtesy of AV
Courtesy of AV

Where are the hautest spots to party in the City of Angels? It’s a tough job, but we’ve done the digging for you. With great fanfare, we present our picks for the top five nightclubs in Los Angeles. Get ready to put on your dancing shoes!

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643 N La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 652-2012

Greystone Manor Supperclub

Hollywood’s hottest stars come to party at Greystone Manor. Dinner service from sbe’s executive Chef Danny Elmaleh begins at 6 pm, but late night is when the club is at its best. The beautiful people come out to play and party in the old Hollywood-style venue, whose interior can best be described as neo-Renaissance meets neo-Gothic décor.glamour and decadence. Like the best of its peers, its door is tight. Unless you’re one of the Hollywood elite, get there early for a shot at glory. Booking a table for dinner or reserving bottle service should also do the trick if you’re not into an early bird special.
9229 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 274-7500

Bootsy Bellows

Bootsy Bellows is the best new club to hit Hollywood in ages. Under the direction of owners David Arquette and John Terzian, the Sunset Strip spot is a mixture of vintage cool and complete whimsy. It’s nearly impossible to get in the door, but should you be one of the lucky few, you’ll be guaranteed to have the best time of your life.
8713 Beverly Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90048 (310) 274-7500

Hooray Henry’s principals John Terzian, Brian Toll and Markus Molinari have created a brand new British-themed club called Hooray Henry’s, and it’s a smashing good time. As conceived by John Sofio of BUILT Inc., Hooray Henry’s is like an aristocratic English manor with the modern touches only an Angeleno could enjoy. Dance the night away while imbibing hip Brit-themed cocktails like the bourbon-based “Royal Fashion” and gin-soaked “Oxford Lad.”
1645 Wilcox Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (323) 871-8233

The Sayers Club

The Sayers Club has credibility because it’s so unassuming from the outside. Though it’s hidden behind a hot dog stand, don’t be fooled: this hot spot attracts some of the biggest names — and DJ’s — in Hollywood. The nightclub is bigger and better after undergoing a revamp in 2013; it took over an area that formerly housed Papya King and converted the space into a dark and masculine den of relaxation with pre-party snacks for pizza lovers courtesy of its new wood-burning oven. Haute!
1601 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028 (310) 334-9619

AV Nightclub

AV nightclub may be located inside the historic 1920′s Marion building, but trust us, its interior is completely modern. There are three platforms for go-go dancers, aerial rigging for theatrical performances and staging for dancing behind each table. If you think this sounds like a party you want to be at, you’re right.




Your Handy Guide to the 2014 LA Art Book Fair

;;; designed this LA Art Book Fair car freshener that smells citrusy fresh! (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

LOS ANGELES — Shannon Michael Cane knows he has big shoes to fill as the new director and curator of the highly anticipated second edition of the Los Angeles Art Book Fair (LAABF). “Taking over the fair from someone like [artist and curator] AA Bronson, who is a mentor to me, is a lot of pressure to see what you can do to improve it,” Cane told Hyperallergic.

Some of the 15,000 people that attended the 2013 LAABF. (image via Printed Matter)

A native of Australia, Cane has worked at Printed Matter in New York for the last six years after extensive experience as the independent publisher of They Shoot Homos Don’t They?, a cult classic zine that was part of the surge of queer zine making a decade ago. Cane was invited by AA Bronson back in 2007 to exhibit at one of the first New York Art Book Fairs (NYABF), and he found the experience exhilarating, as he was able to meet his zine and artist-book idols all in one place.

Cane is also a perfect spokesperson for the rise of a scene that is smart, diverse, and global. His enthusiasm for artist books and zines is obvious, and probably comes from his own experience of learning about the power of community through the page. ”I’m trying to keep what people love about the fairs that AA produced but slowly putting my spin on it,” he said.

Curator Shannon Michael Cane with Farra's mural inside MOCA's Geffen Center, where the LAABF is taking place.

While the New York incarnation of Printed Matter’s popular art book fair has continued to grow, attracting a whopping 27,000 visitors over three days in 2013, the Los Angeles fair is still coming into its own, even if it’s clear that Angelenos are hungry for the event (15,000 people attended last year). Roughly 650 applicants applied for the 260 spots available at the 2014 edition, and the publishers range from blue-chip galleries (including Gagosian) and antiquarian booksellers that have no websites or shops to the $150 zine booths that welcome exhibitors who would probably never have access to such a vast pool of potential readers in any other way.

A visitor to last year's LAABF peruses the colorful material. (via Printed Matter)

What binds all these diverse exhibitors and visitors together is a love of books — more specifically, artist books and zines, or as Cane characterizes it, “art for the page.” ”Art books are retaliation towards the gallery system,” he explained, adding that people who can’t get gallery shows have often turned to alternative outlets to communicate with an audience. “It was a reaction against the gallery system, as artists said ‘I want something I can give to people — an object but it’s not a catalogue of my work. It’s more than that.’”

But book sellers will not be the only draw this coming weekend, as the 2014 LAABF will also feature an exhibition of queer zines curated by Philip Aarons and AA Bronson, Fabulousity, an exhibition of ephemera and photographs by Alexis Dibiasio about 1980s and ’90s New York club kid culture, a conversation between LA-based artist Piero Golia and Andrew Berardini for the duration of the fair (presented by Gagosian, the entire dialogue will be transcribed in shorthand by a court stenographer), and so much more.

A view of the large MOCA Geffen Center during the 2013 LA Art Book Fair. The large warehouse space will also be the location of this year's LAABF. (via Printed Matter)

One of popular features of the NYABF that’s coming to LA is the Classroom, which has a full schedule of programming organized by David Senior, bibliographer of the Museum of Modern Art library.

“The Classroom has functioned at the NYABF as a change of pace to the bustle of fair. People can listen for an hour to someone read or an artist’s talk about their practice or a recent work. It also usually has a few zany performances to keep things fun and irreverent,” Senior told Hyperallergic.

“In LA, I’ve sort of followed the same idea. We created a pretty packed program with a lot of different artists and publishers, while also emphasizing the community of people that are out here working with this genre of artists’ publications. And this takes on a wide range — I am excited to hear Martine Syms read from her screenplay Most Days on Sunday, as well as Anna Sew Hoy in discussion with the writer Laurie Weeks. These are some highlights that feature individuals from the LA community.”

Hyperallergic will be reporting from the LAABF all weekend, but until then we’ve compiled a short list of some choice events to check out.

Thursday, January 30

6:30–7:30pm: Donelle Woolford kicks off the 2014 Whitney Biennial (yes, seems random) with a re-creation of Richard Pryor’s 1977 comedy routine from his short-lived TV show.

7–8pm: Artist Jack Pierson signs his latest book, Tomorrow’s Man, Lynn Valley 9, presented by Presentation House Gallery and Bywater Bros. Editions.

Friday, January 31

1–2pm — Women’s Center for Creative Work (WCCW) leads a casual conversation (which I guess means it is non-hierarchal) about the use of the word “feminism” and why people shy away from it.

4–5pm — Artist Laura Owens will be in conversation with Ooga Booga’s Wendy Yao about their recent book collaborations. Owens is one of those rare artists who has fully integrated artist books as an important part of her body of work.

Saturday, February 1

11am — Dynasty Handbag, the performance-arty-leotardation-comedy-psychic-meltdown-voiceover-stretchpants/antipants-lezbiananationalarmy vehicle of Jibz Cameron, will put on a show that is sure to raise questions about the role of art and comedy … and probably make you laugh out loud.

2–3pm — Psychologist Dr. Alan Castel will discuss his research on human memory and why we remember some things while choosing to forget others. Related to the release of Michael Schmelling’s Land Line from J&L Books, Castel will also discuss metamemory (our thoughts about our own memory) and its influence on memory.

3–4pm — Johan Kugelberg, an author/curator and proprietor of Boo-Hooray, will discuss the problems and possible solutions of archiving counter-culture narratives. Kugelberg has created university archives for Yale, Cornell, Oxford, and Columbia on punk, hip-hop, May 68, Living Theatre, Larry Clark, and Angus MacLise, among others. He is currently working on the Printed Matter archive.

Sunday, February 2

1–2pm — Martine Syms‘s “Most Days” is what what she calls a “Mundane Afrofuturist sound work” that will be released on vinyl next month. The piece by an artist who considers herself a “conceptual entrepreneur” looks at “what an average day looks like for a young black woman in 2050 Los Angeles.” She will be reading from her sci-fi anti-adventure.

1–3pm — Artists and special surprise guests will read from More Than You Wanted to Know About John Baldessari (eds. Meg Cranston and Hans Ulrich Obrist), a new two-volume publication from JRP | Ringier. This event requires an RSVP, which you can do here.

3–4pm — Aram Saroyan is most famous for his minimalist poem “lighght,” which caused NEA-related controversy back in the 1960s, and his four-legged “m” poem, which was cited by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s shortest poem. He will be launching the second edition of his Complete Minimal Poems, which collects his renowned works into one definitive volume. Saroyan will give a rare reading of these works at the LAABF.

Hyperallergic is a media sponsor of the LA Art Book Fair.



The Best New Restaurants In LA, According To The Pros (PHOTOS)

2012-08-16-Screenshot20120816at4.00.54PM.png  |  Posted: 09/10/2013 7:04 pm EDT  |  Updated: 09/10/2013 8:05 pm EDT

This story comes to us courtesy of Refinery29.

With new restaurants popping up everyday, deciding where to eat dinner in LA is no small feat. So, we’ve turned to the pros! Ahead, six influential local foodies give us the scoop on their favorite new restaurants, which tasty trends are getting them excited, and why Los Angeles is such an exciting place to be hungry right now. We hope you’ve got an appetite…

connie and teds

Who: Ellen Bennett, Founder, Heldley & Bennett Aprons

Favorite new restaurant In LA:
“Connie & Ted’s is definitely my favorite restaurant! It looks like a giant boat parked in the middle of West Hollywood. The quality of the ingredients is at the level of Providence, but it’s way more casual.”

Food trend predictions:
“It seems like everyone is revolutionizing the typical ice cream!”

What’s most exciting about the LA food scene right now:
“The coolest thing about the LA food scene is how the farmers and their produce are becoming the stars.”

Connie & Ted’s, 8171 Santa Monica Boulevard (at Crescent Heights Boulevard); 323-848-CRAB.

tar and roses

Who: Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park, Founders, Spoon Fork Bacon

Favorite new restaurant In LA:
“Tar and Roses in Santa Monica! We’re both big fans of cheese and charcuterie, and this place definitely specializes in it. The space itself is cozy and the brick walls are a nice touch.”

What’s most exciting about the LA food scene right now:
“What makes the L.A. food scene so exciting right now — and always — is that it’s such a multiculturally influenced city that there are constantly new and different foods to try. It’s impossible to get bored with so many fun and unique options.”

Tar & Roses, 602 Santa Moinica Boulevard (at 6th Street); 310-587-0700.

moon juice

Who: Kat Odell, Star of Bravo’s “Eat Drink Love” and Editor of Eater LA

Favorite new restaurant In LA:
“This is actually more of a shop/cafe, but I am over the moon for the new Moon Juice in Silver Lake. I love the celestial meets clean-hippy aesthetic and energy. The space is studded with crystals, there’s a refrigerated case up front with a rainbow of cold-pressed juices and nut milks in fun flavors like ‘tomato-watermelon’ and ‘pumpkin-seed ginger,’ and chef/owner Amanda Chantal Bacon is serving a sophisticated raw snack menu with the likes of strawberry geranium bars. I am by no meats a raw foodist — or even a vegetarian — but her healthful snacks are the kind even carnivores will appreciate.”

What’s your favorite current food trend:
“I have to say, as over-saturated as the ‘cronut’ trend is at the moment, I love me some fried dough! My favorite iteration has been from ConfeXion in Pasadena. It makes a serious brioughnut, which is glazed and topped with maple bacon.”

Moon Juice, 2839 Sunset Boulevard (at Silver Lake Boulevard); 213-908-5407.

bar ama

Who: Matthew Poley and Tara Maxey, Chefs/Owners, Heirloom LA

Favorite new restaurant In LA:
“We love Chef Josef Centeno’s restaurants downtown, Bäco Mercat and Bar Amá. And, we can’t wait for his new place Orsa & Winston to open. His food is playful, but not experimental. It’s food you can eat everyday.”

What’s most exciting about the LA food scene right now:
“The fact that chefs are growing some of their own produce on their rooftops, in their parking lots, and even on their counters!”

Bar Ama, 118 West 4th Street (between Main and Spring streets); 213-687-8002.

the hart and the hunter

Who: Talamadge Lowe, Founder and Drinkist, Pharmacie LA

Favorite new restaurant In LA:
“I love The Hart and The Hunter. Being from the South, I’m a sucker for fried-chicken skin and pimento cheese! And, even though it is a beautifully designed restaurant, it feels like a quiet little hole-in-the-wall discovery.”

What’s most exciting about the LA food scene right now:
“Two things: The availability of just about anything and everything from produce to sprits as well as the inclusive nature of the city’s bars and restaurants and caterers. It seems like everybody knows just about everybody. I love that!”

The Hart and The Hunter, 7950 Melrose Avenue (at Fairfax Avenue); 323-424-3055.


Who: Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg, Chefs/Owners, Spork Foods

Favorite new restaurant In LA:
“Crossroads is our new fave. We love the space because it’s clean, modern, and elegant. It shows food lovers a mature side of vegan cuisine that Los Angeles hasn’t seen yet. The menu changes seasonally, which we enjoy!”

What’s your favorite current food trend:
“We are constantly inspired by DIY techniques, and have even experimented with making our own scorpion-pepper-infused vodka and home-made bourbon vanilla extract.”

Crossroads, 8284 Melrose Avenue (at Sweetzer Avenue); 323-782-9245.


Eat 5 sweet new spots you need to hit right away

By Jeff Miller

Los Angeles

  • Honeycut, Los Angeles-5 sweet new spots you need to hit right away
    Joey Maloney (Honeycut)

Nobody likes a know-it-all. Unless that know-it-all is providing valuable information about five new LA spots you most definitely want to check out. Everybody likes that guy… right? RIGHT?! Check out the newest deliciousness to open in LA so that YOU can be that likable know-it-all…

  • 643 North, Los Angeles-5 sweet new spots you need to hit right away
    Moretti Photo

    643 North
    Gastropubbing-up the normally traditional Downtown ‘hood, this new hops-packed grubbery is letting you lay a base with fennel sausage pizza and ossobuco ravioli before you move onto craft beer flights… that ironically make it far more difficult for you to lift off the ground.

  • Phillipe, Beverly Hills-5 sweet new spots you need to hit right away

    Beverly Hills
    It’s ba-ack!! After closing its Mid-City location more than a year ago, the longtime power-meal Chinese resto’s back in Beverly Hills, serving up signature dishes like their Peking duck, pan-crispy salmon, and “nine seasons spicy prawns”, which’re delicious Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, and wait, what are the other five seasons? We didn’t pay attention in Earth Sciences.

  • Honeycut, Los Angeles-5 sweet new spots you need to hit right away
    Joey Maloney

    This collab between the 213 dudes (Las Perlas, 7 Grand, etc.) and the NY bros behind Death And Co. is a decidedly Manhattan-esque underground lair sporting pool tables, an extensive cocktail list, and a second room with bottled drinks and a light-up dance floor… so tread carefully if you’re epileptic.

  • Orsa and Winston, Los Angeles-5 sweet new spots you need to hit right awayOrsa & Winston
    The Bar Ama and Baco Mercat guy’s at it again, this time with a small, fixed-menu-only joint named after his dogs (but not his dawgs, ’cause then it’d be called, like, Ted and Brent’s). The menu’s got some Asian influences with dishes like rice w/ uni & Pecorino cream.
  • Stumptown, Los Angeles-5 sweet new spots you need to hit right away

    You know how anyone you meet from Portland’s all like, “we have coffee that’s way better than anything you’ve got in LA”, and you’re like, “there’s no way that’s true”, and then they make you some Stumptown and you’re bashed over the head with caffeinated amazingness? Yeah. Now they have a store here.


The Best New LA Bars To Check Out This Fall/Winter

October 29, 2013 6:00 AM

Los Angeles is home to many bars, but finding the perfect watering hole to call your own is no easy challenge. Whether you’re looking to class it up with a view or just enjoy that classic SolCal vibe, we have a newly-opened bar that’s perfect for you. Be sure to check out our Fall E.S.P. Guide to guarantee a great night out on the town. By Rex Sakamoto

(Photo credit: Alen Lin)

(Photo credit: Alen Lin)

Pearl’s Liquor Bar
8909 West Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 360-6800

There’s nothing classier than a pearl, and this spot is nothing short of classy. A three-level, expansive slab of sophistication that’s straight out of the 1920’s, Pearl’s features a scenic front deck overlooking Sunset Strip and supreme handcrafted cocktails for which even Mr. Gatsby would travel to LA. Opened late summer. 8909 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, CA

(Photo credit: Alen Lin)

(Photo credit: Alen Lin)

6507 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 460-6667

After opening last September 2013, this plush cocktail lounge is already the hottest place to be on Sunset Boulevard. What used to be a dingy lingerie bar has been transformed into a swanky space adorned with comfy leather couches, circular chandeliers and photos of naked ladies. Yep, the high brick walls are covered in artsy full frontal nudes of women. So grab your friends and join the party.

(Photo credit: Las Palmas Furniture Warehouse)

(Photo credit: Las Palmas Furniture Warehouse)

Las Palmas Furniture Warehouse
1714 N. Las Palmas Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 464-0171

There’s always a party at this recently opened crazy neighborhood dive bar filled with remote controlled sumbarines, piñatas, glowing neon signs and Simpson posters. Imagine bashing a piñata, while sipping on a couple of beers. Pretty cool right? If you need to take a break from all the action, head out to the patio and enjoy a few mint juleps and Berry Manilows (blueberry vodka, soda, lime). With all the action, there’s never a down moment.

(Photo credit: Frank Ishman)

(Photo credit: Frank Ishman)

Dirty Laundry Bar
1725 Hudson Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

From the men who brought you No Vacancy & Pour Vous, the Houston Brothers bring you the brand new Dirty Laundry Bar. During the prohibition it served as the personal speakeasy for silent film actor Rudolph Valentino. In order to preserve the speakeasy atmosphere, the 1,500 square foot space hosts an exposed brick ceiling, deconstructed light fixtures and black leather couches.


NYTimes T Magazine

Accommodations | A New Hotel in L.A. Celebrates its Koreatown Surroundings



October 21, 2013, 2:00 pm Comment

Clockwise from left: Chef Roy Choi at Pot; a guest room overlooking Koreatown; the hotel's sleek exterior.Photographs by Adrian GautClockwise from left: Chef Roy Choi at Pot; a guest room overlooking Koreatown; the hotel’s sleek exterior.

A stately yet unstuffy hotel injects style into the vibrant Los Angeles neighborhood.

In L.A.’s golden age, when streetcars clanged past urban orange groves and Carmen Miranda was Hollywood’s nod to ethnicity, the high life thrived on a stretch of Wilshire Boulevard near Vermont Avenue. Today, a generation after gang wars and riots sapped the life out of this district, it has re-emerged as the lively epicenter of the city’s Koreatown, bustling with restaurants, nightclubs and shops. The area has long been off the tourist map, but this is about to change with the opening of the Line in November.

The hotel’s creator, Andrew Zobler, is the man behind the Beaux-Arts-style NoMad Hotel in Manhattan and the cheap-chic Freehand Miami hostel. But the Line, designed by Sean Knibb, is something different for both Zobler and Los Angeles. Korean-American culture — or at least a high-end permutation of it — is the 388-room establishment’s organizing theme. ‘‘There is so much good stuff coming out of Korea today, and nobody has really captured that in a hotel,’’ Zobler says. Setting out to educate himself on Korean culture, he encountered the celebrated chef Roy Choi, who will preside over the hotel’s two restaurants: Pot, which serves a new take on hot-pot cuisine, and Commissary, a vegetarian eatery. The 24-hour thrum of the neighborhood inspired Zobler to make the hotel an all-hours social hub. There will be a late-night bakery, a newsstand that never closes and a nightclub that stays open until the wee hours, called Speek, created by the twin brothers Mark and Jonnie Houston, who grew up just four blocks from the hotel.

A version of this article appears in print on 11/03/2013, on page M256 of the NewYork edition with the headline: The Scene: Koreatown Cool.


Drink An editor’s guide to drinking around town

By Jeff Miller

Los Angeles

  • An editor's guide to drinking around town

Los Angeles has long been marketed as the birthplace of the Moscow Mule, so perhaps its fitting that there are hundreds of fantastic drinking establishments here willing to help you make an ass of yourself. Unfortunately, the urban sprawl means a self-guided crawl is a dicey situation, which is why local editor Jeff Miller is here with his picks for the top places to get your booze on.

Best Club: Clubland is fickle around here. By the time you’re reading this, it could already be closed, but I was impressed when I was recently at The Emerson Theater, a glittery, gilded room that feels sufficiently majestic to justify the wallet-emptying cost of bottle service.

Best for Work: The Montage in Beverly Hills has a slightly-hidden bar called Ten Pound directly above Scarpetta. You should make a reservation first, but, once you’re in, it feels like an old boys’ club: huge leather couches, a massive Scotch menu (they’re exclusively Macallan, with all the pricey, ancient, partner’s-expense-account-ready blends that entails), and a private patio for making discreet calls.

Best for Partying: Hollywood’s recently renovated Three Clubs is an old-school gem: a two-pronged bar with a classic-feeling LA lounge on one side, and a darkened dance floor room on the other where DJs push everything from oontz-tacular electronic jams to 90’s hip-hop. It’s a great place to party because it walks the line: you can dance your ass off with a cute girl, then actually seal the deal next door. Bonus: no (or very cheap) cover.

Best Drink: I’m a big fan of letting bartenders go nuts, and no one does it better than the guys at The Varnish, who — through their booze-addled haze — have somehow retained an encyclopedic knowledge of alcohol and how to mix it. The only problem is that it’s different every time, and after you’ve had a couple it can be hard to remember what you drank and which one was better than the last.

Best Cocktail Bar: The Houston Brothers — a pair of identical twins — kind of have this category on lock. La Descarga is a rum-centric Cuban speakeasy with a cigar lounge; Harvard & Stone‘s rear R&D room’s where barmen from all over the world head to get nuts; and Pour Vous has an extensive list of fresh, fruit-forward cocktails and, um, an actual train in the backyard, so they all tie for first, second, and third.

Best Beer Bar: Another tie! Both Blue Palms and The Surly Goat are manned by hops lovers who’ll talk to you for hours about the difference between an IPA and a double IPA, if you’ll let them. Bonus points to The Surly Goat, though, as last time I was there the TVs were screening Reservoir Dogs.

Best Wine Bar: Though their Hollywood location didn’t make it (R.I.P.), the Westside is still lucky to call Bodega their own. Knowledgeable staff, heavy pours, and inexpensive options make this longtime favorite a, uh, longtime favorite.

Best Local Beer: I recently visited Angel City‘s now-open-to-the-public Downtown brewery and tried their Eureka! Wit out of the tap. It’s simple, it’s refreshing, and it has unusual complexity. They can definitely count me as a fan.

Best Brewery: No question on this one: Golden Road keeps blasting out winner after winner (their 16oz cans of smooth-drinking Hefeweizen are my favorite part of seeing a band at the Bootleg), and they’ve created a mini bar empire as well, as the owners are also the behind Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank, and Mohawk Bend in Silverlake.

Most Local Place (aka Where Locals Hang Out): Every single neighborhood in LA has at least one stellar dive where you can find 63-year-old wizened barflies and recent college grads discussing the best route for avoiding police checkpoints. The Drawing Room, Tom Bergin’s, The Backstage in Culver City, the Chimneysweep in the Valley — I could go on. But I won’t.

Best Place to Day Drink: I’m partial to the patio at El Coyote. They make a mean margarita, the tortilla chips and salsa duo never stop coming (insider tip: mix ’em together!) and they’ve got the perfect combo of shade and sun. That said, if you want something more unique than Cuervo and marg mix, the back patio at Eveleigh has wood tables, foliage on the walls, an odd birdcage in the back, and housemade cocktails on par with anything you’d find at a more dedicated cocktail bar.

Best Jukebox: Koreatown’s HMS Bounty isn’t just one of the best nautically-themed dive bars in LA — it’s also the only nautically-themed dive bar in LA. And it has a sick jukebox. Sinatra? Check. Obscure punk rock? Check? THE NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK? Yep.

Best Outdoor Spot: On a sunny day, there’s nowhere I’d rather throw one or five back than Ray’s & Stark at LACMA. Their bar snacks — flatbreads, charcuterie, and more — are top-notch, their modern-artsy chairs are equal parts pretentious and lounge-y, the drinks are proper and strong, and their live jazz on Fridays is actually, like, bee-pop-a-bop good (as opposed to “wanka-blllepabap” unlistenable).

Hottest Girls: If I can jump to the conclusion that you like college girls (safe conclusion), then Happy Ending in Hollywood, The Lab at USC, and either location of Busby’s are sure bets for eye candy. If your tastes could be better described as “aspiring actresses”, The Churchill will do juuuuuust fine.

Easiest Place to Get Laid: Head West, for sure. The Basement Tavern in Santa Monica has a ventilation problem, which means that all the girls in there are shedding clothing and inhibitions nightly, and Venice’s well known cougar hangout James’ Beach is an in-at-1:15, in-and-out-and- well, you get the idea, by 2:15.


10 Great Los Angeles Bars With Truly Excellent Food

By Erin Lyall
Published Mon., Oct. 7 2013 at 7:00 AM

Erin Lyall
Deviled Eggs at Library Bar

There’s a thin red line — or perhaps a fuzzy purple one — between restaurants with good bar programs, and bars with good food. This is a list of the latter: The following are drinking establishments in which you don’t feel guilty pulling up a chair just to have a drink, but where the food is much better than it needs to be. These are the perfect places to head after work when you’re starving — to meet up with your friend who already

ate. No one’s going to look down their nose at you if you just order a glass of wine and pick at your friend’s fries.There are a gazillion bars in town that serve a good burger. But on this list you’ll find burgers and dogs and nachos — as well as salads, sushi, mole and charcuterie. It’s bar food, elevated. And there’s a nice bonus when you eat dinner in bars: Happy Hour. Many places will slash prices on booze and bites, potables and provisions, spirits and snacks. Keep reading for the best of the bunch. We know there are more bars in town than days in the year, so if we’ve missed your favorite, add it to the comments section!

Chris Jolly
The interior at El Carmen

10. El Carmen
El Carmen is a tequila bar serving stick-to-your-ribs Mexican fare. The tables are bar-sized; the lighting is dim-to-dark; and the menu, a thick little booklet of 16 pages, only dedicates two of those to food (the rest is the tequila list). But the guacamole is top-notch, the tamales are rich and creamy, and the tacos (particularly the pork taco) more than serviceable.During Happy Hour here (Monday thru Friday, 5-7 p.m.) eleven bucks will get you a freshly squeezed margarita and a platter of tacos with rice and beans. Plus, this place is just cool. There are Mexican wrestling masks on the ceiling and Mexican wrestler portraits on the walls and you have to walk through a velvet bordello curtain to get in. It’s fun. You want to be there. So go. 8138 W 3rd St., Los Angeles; (323) 852-1552.

Erin Lyall
Greek Nachos at Pour Haus

9. Pour Haus Wine Bar
Tucked into the Warehouse District, just beyond the bistro fare of Church & State, you’ll find an industrial little wine bar serving food that’s filling and flavorful and far better than you’d expect from their teeny little kitchen. During Happy Hour (4-7 p.m. daily) there are six food options for five bucks: bruschetta, oxtail tacos, white flatbread pizza topped with artichokes and olives, papitas bravas (roast baby potatoes with aioli), a grilled vegetable sandwich, and the insanely addictive Greek nachos.Crispy pita chips are topped with melted feta, roast eggplant, tomatoes, olives and a tangy tzatziki sauce; you’ll wonder why no one thought of these before. Pour Haus serves beer and wine, including generously poured $10 wine flights, and every patron gets a bowl of truffled popcorn to start their evening. Come for a bottle, stay for a plate — the Mediterranean-influenced menu pairs beautifully with fermented grapes. 1820 Industrial St., Los Angeles; (213) 327-0304.

Erin Lyall
The deli counter at Spring St.

8. Spring Street Bar
Compared to so many East Coast cities, Los Angeles is woefully short on delis. Good news, meatball sub fans — one of our better delis is located inside a bar! Take that, New York! At Spring Street Bar, a high-ceilinged, casual spot of bar stools and communal high-tops, the back corner is dedicated to a cold cuts case and a toaster oven. From that humble spot emerge warm, crusty sandwiches like prosciutto and burrata, Cubano, roast beef, and a killer veggie melt of smoked cheese and avocado.You may not think you’re hungry but once the table next to you puts in an order, the smell alone will inspire you to get one of your own. Don’t worry, they’re big enough to share — but be aware, you need to order at the bar, and keep an ear out for the bell meaning your meal’s up. Wine, booze, and a good rotation of interesting draught beers will round out the experience. Ding! 626-B S Spring St., Los Angeles; (213) 622-5859.

Erin Lyall
Fried chicken at The Prince

7. The Prince
You have out of town guests staying with you for the weekend, and you want to show them something uniquely L.A.? Take them to The Prince. It’s got Hollywood street cred (with cameos on Mad Men, The New Girl, and Chinatown), it looks mid-century swank (with red leather banquettes, a horseshoe bar and funky carved lights), and it serves Korean food. No kidding. The thing to get here is the deep-fried chicken — fried Korean-style, with no batter. A whole bird is spatch-cocked and served with Korean chili paste and picked radishes, all crispy skin and moist meat and salt.Pair it with some kimchi fried rice, maybe a seafood pancake, and some galbi for a full meal. The Prince has beer and soju but also a full bar, and during Happy Hour (’til 8pm) all drinks are half off; be aware that like most Korean establishments in town, you’ve got to ring the tableside doorbell to get service. Bonus: This may be the one bar in town in which you can snack on spicy sea snails. How’s that for “Welcome-to-LA” impressive!? 3198 1/2 W 7th Street, Los Angeles; (213) 389-1586

Villains Tavern
Salad at Villains Tavern

6. Villains Tavern
The first time you drive up to Villains Tavern, you think you’re lost: it’s out in some weird Gotham City no-man’s-land that is kind of Little Tokyo and kind of Downtown L.A. and kind of the “warehouse district” but seems way too dark and scary and then BAM you arrive. And there is this strange place that looks like a circus-tent-slash-New-Orleans-Victorian bar and you’re like “what is this place,” but then you get one of their incredible cocktails (like the Bluebeard: Jameson, blueberries, lemon, cranberry and egg whites) and you’re like “OK, I can get behind this.”And then you look at the menu and order some things that sound interesting and then you are totally pleasantly surprised when a burger with bacon marmalade, spicy roasted corn on the cob topped with cayenne and cotija, and a bowl full of Bourbon-bacon caramel corn make their way to the table. And you eat your above average meal while listening to above average live music and drinking above average libations and you think “I’m in heaven” but then you look around at all the red lighting and steampunk décor and you wonder if maybe you’re just having a really good time in hell. 1356 Palmetto St., Los Angeles; (213) 613-0766.

Erin Lyall
Bacon-wrapped dates at Library Bar

5. Library Bar
Hidden behind Sixth Street Tavern, Library Bar has a speakeasy-ish vibe: dark, book-lined, candlelit, sultry. Cocktails, wine, and beer are top notch — muddled, mixed and poured by well-trained (and well-dressed) bartenders. Yet the beautiful people populating the mirrored bar and the leather couches are looking good and eating well – dipping into garlic fries, pork belly skewers, chorizo sliders.The bacon-wrapped dates are salty and sweet, oozing sharp blue cheese hot from the oven. There are deviled eggs, roast artichokes, and edamame tossed with lime juice and flakes of sea salt. Go big with a burger or pork belly sandwich, or go decadent with grilled cheese made with buttered raisin bread, apricot jam and three kinds of dairy. Just wipe your fingers before you start thumbing through those hardcovers on the shelves behind you. 630 W 6th St #116A Los Angeles; (213) 614-0053.

Adam O’Connor
The York

4. The York on York
The York just might be the Cheers of Highland Park. It’s the perfect neighborhood spot: there’s usually a game or an old movie on the TV, and there’s usually no trouble finding a seat. Local artists hang their work up by the bar, and it’s the kind of place where the bartender won’t just remember your name — she’ll remember your drink.But next time you pull up a stool for a beer (and they have a serious selection), do yourself a favor and pair it with an impeccable burger, juicy and oozy with melted cheese, or a bowl of mussels — spicy, garlicky, and served with grilled bread. Fries are crisp, hot, light on the grease, and ideal to share with friends (for a slightly more “healthful” snack, go for the fried garbanzos, tossed in cayenne and lemon). On weekends you can brunch to cure your hangover with croissant French toast or eggs Benedict — just don’t be surprised if you find yourself hanging out there all day. 5018 York Blvd., Highland Park; (323) 255-9675.

Erin Lyall
Grilled Artichoke at Laurel Tavern

3. Laurel Tavern
Bustling at nearly every hour of the day, Laurel Tavern is one of those great neighborhood joints that feels like the place to be. Once you’re in the door, the energy is infectious. It’s casual — you seat yourself, and have to walk up to the bar to order both booze and food — and convivial, with people chatting between tables and standing out on the sidewalk. They’ve got a dozen beers on tap, wine by the glass and craft cocktails; but pay close attention to the chalkboards on the wall.Listed there you’ll find a range of things to nosh on: from the light (a fabulous marinated/grilled artichoke, beets with burrata, grilled shishito peppers) to the substantial (chorizo fondu, patty melt, bbq ribs). They’ve got five yummy burger options, and claim to have the best one in the neighborhood: we’ll let you be the judge. 11938 Ventura Blvd, Studio City; (818) 506-0777.

Erin Lyall
Taco Tuesday at Mission Cantina

2. Mission Cantina
Mission Cantina is tough to characterize, but right there on their website they qualify themselves for this list: “The Mission is a bar with fresh homemade Mexican food.” Mission is in fact a tequila bar, an impressive gothic-looking cave with bottles stacked all the way to the ceiling. But it’s got some of the best Mexican food in this part of town, including chile rellenos, enchiladas (verde & rojo), and a rich chicken mole poblano, deeply flavored with chocolate, spice and spiciness.They also serve tamales on the weekend. But the day to go is (Taco) Tuesday — when their tacos are a dollar apiece: carne asada, carnitas, chicken, potato and veggie. Top a couple of those carnitas tacos with onions, cilantro and salsa, pair it with one of their top-notch jalapeno margaritas. Life doesn’t get much more bueno than that. 5946 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood; (323) 469-3130.

Erin Lyall
Trout Toast at Black Market Liquor Bar

1. Black Market Liquor Bar
This relative newcomer to Ventura Blvd. (opened in 2011) is fast becoming the local favorite, filling up quickly and staying busy ’til closing time — 2 a.m. every night of the week. The room is vaguely reminiscent of a tunnel, long and dark under a curved ceiling of inlaid brick. Candles flicker on every table, booths ring the walls, marble high tops cluster in the center of the room, and a polished wood bar hugs the length of the place. There’s a full bar, a list of “fancy drinks,” two-dozen beers and an interesting wine list — but the real stunner is the food menu.Follow your gut. Want a few beers and guy food? Dig into the homemade dill potato chips, the sweet-spicy kimchi chicken wings, or the highly addictive fried cauliflower. On a date? There is very little sexier than the ricotta gnudi, sautéed in a brown butter sauce (eaten over flickering candlelight with a few glasses of wine). Smoked trout toast is a thing of casual beauty — and a good indicator of chef Antonia Lofaso’s skill in the kitchen — open-faced baguette strewn with hard-boiled egg and pickles, served on a cutting board. Still hungry? They’ve got a deep fried fluffer-nutter for dessert. ‘Nuff said. 11915 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 446-2533.


Vogue Daily — Trois Mec

“Our place is more like a little kitchen,” Lefebvre says of the 900-square-foot open layout. ” (Vogue magazine)

Trois Mec is the hottest new restaurant in LA, with three superstar LA chefs at the helm.

Photographed by Austin Hargrave


6. Create

Create, a new 20,000 sq. ft. gallery in Los Angeles

8. Willie Jane

Willie Jane, a beautiful new Southern style cooking restaurant in Venice, CA by Govind Armstrong.

3. Vanguard

Vanguard, a new nightclub in Los Angeles

10. Le Ka

Le Ka, a new French inspired artisan restaurant in downtown Los Angeles


Much good news is on the way in terms of the continuing range of offerings in downtown Los Angeles. The Grand Central market already has six new vendors; several others are on the way, including Olio pizza, who is bringing in an oven from Italy and who will only cook by fire. The Medallion building, originally designed to showcase wholesalers and discounters, has changed course. Now they’re planning for ten restaurants to move into their 125 million dollar space, plus a 27,000 square foot farmers market, instead of trying to lure a supermarket. And check this out – the Alamo Draft House from Austin, Texas is opening an eight screen independent film showcase. You will be able to order food and drinks at your seat.

Sticky Rice brings authentic Thai street food to Grand Central Market

 Hinoku & The Bird has opened in a plus new Century City Los Angeles condo tower, whose penthouse is owned by Candy Spelling.
The New York Times did a phenomenal advance review of it in January 2013. It noted:
“The cocktails, by the Milk & Honey mixologist Sam Ross, are as refreshing as the food.”
Lobster Roll (Photo by Dylan + Jeni)
Hinoku & the Bird – some dining options.

Le Grand Fooding comes to MoCA Geffen from Paris in April, 2013.

Chi Spacca is the latest restaurant in the Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza LA Italian food empire.

Baryard Restaurant in Venice is one of the best new places that have opened in LA in 2013.

Barnyard Venice exterior. Its chef worked at the French Laundry in Napa.

Superba Snack Bar in Venice is also adding to the how new LA dining scene.

Bestia is one of the most months in advanced booked new Italian restaurants in California. Its in downtown Los Angeles.


A sample of Bestia’s in-house salumeria offerings.

A dish at Bestia.

Figaro Bistro has opened in downtown LA.

alma new american french 952 s broadway los angeles ca is getting superior reviews from LA’s genius restaurant critic Jonathan Gold. He says there is no one cooking like Alma in LA, its on its way to being a global destination restaurant.

An example of Alma’s cooking.

Over 15,000 Attend Inaugural LA Art Book Fair at LA’s MoCA Geffen museum

Artist A.A. Bronson’s LA Art Fair was covered by the NYTimes T magazine. There were 220 exhibitors from 21 countries. There were small showcases of exceptional collections of art books that I found fascinating, particularly the one featuring Yves Klein and his International Blue. The LA books fair received a huge amount of press from New York.

The book fair attracted thousands of people from all parts of Los Angeles. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

The book fair attracted thousands of people from all parts of Los Angeles. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic). The entire museum’s space was given over to the first annual LA Artist Book Fair. We went on Sunday afternoon and it was packed. Afterwards we ate in nearby at an amazing noodle bar. So many choices – most directly from Japan.


The main lobby of The Geffen, on the second day of the Book Fair before the rush (over 15,000 visitors in the three-day fair).


In late 2012 and early 2013, LA will experience a new wave of most remarkable new restaurants. (photo)

Bestia, an amazing new Italian restaurant that will open in the downtown LA arts district. It will feature 30 kinds of salumi and an Acunto pizza oven from Naples, Italy.

–Le Grand Fooding Announce LA Event

By FDL on September 24, 2012

The team at Le Grand Fooding, publishers of the Le Fooding Restaurant guides and organizers of food events in New York, Paris and Milan, have announced plans to stage a food event in LA.

The team have recently held their fourth annual New York event – this time with a focus on upcoming chefs and say that tell the LA Times that they picked Los Angeles because it’s just a lively as New York but still very different from the Big Apple.

Known for throwing quirky events that mix social and dining experiences perfectly with some of the worlds best chefs, Le Fooding has built a solid reputation over the years. With New York offices now opened and the announcement of an LA event in the works – it’s seem there’s a Le Grand Fooding revolution taking place State sid

Campanille Exterior - H 2012

“Republique, a concept from acclaimed chef Walter Manzke and prolific restaurateur Bill Chait, will replace the Cal-Mediterranean restaurant at the landmark 1929 address originally owned by Charlie Chaplin.Beginning in 1989, chef/owner Mark Peel and his then-wife Nancy Silverton, who now nurtures industry hotbed Mozza not too far away in Hancock Park, helped define a quintessentially L.A. sort of white-cloth yet rustic Cal-Mediterranean menu that would eventually emerge as one of the most dominant trends in the city’s restaurant culture in the 1990s.”

the historic property was  first built for Charlie Chaplin in 1929


Jeremy Fox Launches Barnyard Restaurant In Venice

“Los Angeles, CA(July 17, 2012) – Chef Jeremy Fox, formerly of Ubuntu and Manresa, is readying Barnyard Venice for a 2012 opening. In his first solo project since Ubuntu, Fox’s Barnyard will showcase his own interpretation of peasant cuisine, offering shareable plates of rustic, seasonal fare. Says Fox, “Barnyard will be a product of everything I have learned on my cooking journey. Not only do I look forward to exploring the flavors of the Mediterranean and North Africa, and incorporating elements from my childhood in the South, but to continuing the voyage as the Barnyard menu evolves.” Barnyard is located at 1715 Pacific Avenue in Venice.””About Jeremy Fox
Jeremy Fox opened Ubuntu in 2007, where he was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef 2008, Bon Appetit’s 2009 Best Chef, and received James Beard Best Chef Pacific Award nominations in both 2009 and 2010. In Fall 2009, Ubuntu became the first modern vegetarian restaurant to receive a Michelin Star. Prior to Ubuntu, Jeremy spent five years working for his mentor, Chef David Kinch, at Manresa, eventually rising to the position of Chef de Cuisine. During his tenure, Manresa received two Michelin Stars and four stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. Fox has also staged at the Michelin three-star Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and the widely acclaimed St. John, both in London, as well as the Michelin two-star De Snippe in Belgium. Since leaving Ubuntu, Jeremy has been working on a vegetable cookbook for Phaidon Press and has consulted for restaurants including Plum, Tyler Florence’s Rotisserie & Wine, Freddy Smalls, and Paper or Plastik Cafe.”

Plan Check restaurant and Bar, West Los Angeles

  • Redefining Classic American Food with Plan Check's Ernesto Uchimura
  • Plan Check restaurant and bar just got the review of the century (10.20.2012)  for its technology driven modernist cooking ultra burger by Jonathan Gold in the LA Times. Gold also mentions that Plan Check may have more Japanese whiskey than all of the other restaurants in LA combined.

    “Plan Check (West Los Angeles) – Industrial atmosphere, small batch liquors, and wagyu burgers.” (Text and Photo by Blackbook/Los Angeles)

New Los Angeles restaurants and bars, July 2012

Kitchen 24 downtown LA ( photo)

Perch restaurant and bar downtown LA ( photo)

The Parish downtown LA true 2 story gastropub (photo: Longrada Lor)
We went to The Parish for Sunday dinner at 6pm during opening week. The tomato soup and wonderful toast with Grafton cheese started the evening, along with cocktails. Broth infused tasty clams and other dishes followed.
The dining area is on the second floor of a Flatiron shaped building on South Spring street. The bar is also on the second floor and was packed even at this early hour.


Departures magazine names n/naka one of the Top 1- World’s Top Tasting Menus for 2012


© Zen Sekizawa

n/naka, Los Angeles

At n/naka, the tasting menu is modeled after kaiseki, the Japanese analogue to a multi-course haute cuisine dinner. Chef Niki Nakayama’s Modern Kaiseki is a 13-course affair that showcases her inventive twists on traditional kaiseki progression, which specifies a first course of “something common and something unique,” a second course of a “main seasonal ingredient presented as an appetizer,” a third course of sashimi and more. At n/naka, these specifications yield dishes like Maine lobster tartare with uni butter and California sturgeon caviar, and Muscovy duck houba yaki with foie gras. The meal comes with similarly diverse beverage pairings—sake to start, Portuguese port to finish and wines in between.


File:Stumptown Coffee Roasters window.jpg
Stumptown Coffee is expanding to LA.

Pour Vous bar, Hollywood

“The space is separated into four main parts: a lengthy marble bar to the left, w/ antiqued mirrors and a steampunk-ified vintage espresso maker rejiggered to pour four tap beers; a sunken seating area to the right, w/ plush velvet couches and a fireplace under a domed skylight; a formerly working train trolley (!) that’s been refurbished into a backyard smoking area” Thrillist

oysters at Pour Vous
Wolfslair Biergarten, Hollywood

“This dark-wooded biergarten kinda feels like that taxidermy-wolf bar in Hostel where the kids talk about how much fun they are having in Europe before they have much less fun being killed.” Thrillist


The Wellesbourne in West Los Angeles

Picture brass reading lamps, a bar menu printed on textured paper, oversized bookshelves jammed with books and guest checks issued in miniature novels…”

Los Angeles Brewing Company
AV nightclub, Los Angeles / Photos: Genie Fitzgerald

The Blue Whale jazz club is LA’s hottest. Located on Astronaut street in Little Toyko.

Parc bar, Beverly Hills

“It’s that living room-y space located across from Scarpetta on the ground floor of the Montage in Beverly Hills with sweeping vistas of Canon Gardens. Each evening at Parq,  different musical genre such as jazz, R&B or blues and a fresh lineup of talented local and regional artists are featured. From 8 p.m. to 12 a.m. nightly, you can settle in with a glass of wine, Champagne or a classic cocktail and enjoy house-made charcuterie, beef and Fourme d’Ambert sliders or fresh farmer’s market produce. Get this! They even offer fresh, hand-crafted sushi.”


Black Hogg, in Silverlake neighborhood, Los Angeles from Chef/owner Eric Park (The Spotted Pig, Eleven Madison Park in New York City)

Little Bear Belgian beer bar in east of downtown Los Angeles is rolling. (Photo: Savory Hunter blog)

Umamicatessen’s Soft Opening, DTLA (Photo: Darin Dines/Eater National Flickr Pool)

Burger Demand in Los Angeles Grabs Hold in New York Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg
Customers eat lunch at UMAMIcatessen in Los Angeles.

Beautiful Pork @ PIGG, UMAMIcatessen

TOP 1: Burgers Ozark (CA, MO)
2: Finchville (KY)
3. Iberico de Bellota (Spain)
Bottom 4. Iberico de Bellota paletta (Spain)

bacon and dipping sauce from PIGG. It has an off the chain selection of tastes of the worlds finest hams from Spain.

For years Water Grill was the only Michelin starred restaurant in downtown LA. Now its has completed a $1.5 million upgrade and is more fabulous and phenomenal than ever.

Fresh seafood displayed at the bar counter at the Water Grill in downtown LAGovind Armstrong’s new Post & Beam is the first truly upscale restaurant and cocktail bar in Central Los Angeles, south of the Santa Monica (10) freeway in a predominantly African-American community. Nearby is one of the wealthiest black communities in the U.S. in Baldwin Hills.

Pasta at Post & Beam in Central Los Angeles

Beacher’s Madhouse at the Roosevelt Hotel, Hollywood

“And fourth, saving the wildest for last is Beacher’s Madhouse — a revolutionary Vaudeville-inspired theater on the hotel’s lower level, with European influences and echoes of the Folies Bergére. The venue extends 3,000 square feet, featuring a mirrored passageway, a 1920s-inspired main stage, antique brass accents and red velvet curtains. Eighteen VIP banquettes of various sizes are available throughout the theater including an exclusive birdcage booth with seating for 20. Concessions and catering are offered to guests as they enjoy the performances and order drinks from the Beau Joie Flying Midget bartender mixing up cocktails at the fully operating Midget Bar.”

Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel

Beacher’s Madhouse Theater, Thompson’s Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel.

Artisan House Interior - H 2011
Artisan House joins Botegga Louis and many new restaurants coming to the quickly transforming Broadway corridor.

Artisan House
Officially opening today, this massive, high-ceilinged complex full of reclaimed marble on the ground floor of the Pacific Electric Lofts in the Historic Core is remarkably ambitious. The sit-down restaurant serves foie gras terrines just a block from Skid Row. The bar finds mixologist Elden McFeron III, a vet of The Bazaar, whipping up margaritas cryo-frozen with liquid nitrogen. And the market annex sells made-to-order deli sandwiches—as well as gelato, wine and more—until 2AM (and an hour later on weekends). 600 S. Main St., L.A., 213.622.6333, (Hollywood Reporter)

Oldfield’s bar

Pattern Bar opened in the fall of 2011 on  9th/Main in Downtown LA

batch-restaurantBatch, a new gastropub in Culver City.

Batch Restaurant & Bar is now open in Culver City offering artisanal food and handcrafted cocktails in a sophisticated and lively environment.

Short Order is one of several new LA gourmet burger bars. They recently added a selection of savories by Walter Manszke, whose won restaurant, Republique, is on the most anticipated new dining destinations in LA. It will be downtown.

Golden Road Brewing , Los Angeles

Chicago has seen the rise and collapse of brewpubs since the late 1980′s. The now famous Goose Island (an actual tiny island with a superb brewing facility and lively bar and restaurant in Chicago) hails from that time and is a standard-bearer today. The Chicago Beer Society’s Real Ale Festival started in 1996 and was closed in 2003, when the were forced out of business by the liquor commission who said they had to license the former steel factory they used each year as a year round tavern. The festival closed and relocated to San Diego. Chicago’s global beer bar – the Map Room – opened in 1992. The Chicago Beer Society was formed in 1977. Ray Daniels Cicerone Certification Program has so far produced 38 Certified Cicerone’s in Chicago and 8 in Greater Los Angeles. The 6,000 square foot The Publican (Belgian beer and grub bar, every waiter and bartender is a certified beer server (level 3 in the Beer Cicero education program, with Master Cicerone and Certified Cicerone being levels one and 2. There are now 2 Master Cicerone’s in Chicago). Unbelieveably, and unlike in the past, when major breweries were out to destroy the smaller breweries, Goose Island has been absorbed into Anheuser-Busch In Bev, yet Goose Island remains a true artisanal brewer with its full arsenal of flavors. Chicago is building neighborhood breweries to compliment the rise of their city’s culinary programs to being at the upper strata of American cuisine. Since it was city-based breweries that did not ship out their beer that were at the start of the American beer industry, what we have then is a return to the same place that the industry started, but this time, actually producing product in America that has already been on this planet for somewhere between 700 and 2000 years, depending on the place of the earth you choose as a starting point.

Ray & Stark bar, LACMA

Cook’s country is one of the most rewarding new artisan restaurants in LA.

Handsome Coffee Roasters

A sneak peak at the new flagship store in LA’s downtown Arts District

by Julie Wolfson in Food-Drink on 15 February 2012 / Coolhunting


For the last few months, the corner of 5th and Mateo in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles has been abuzz with activity as the WoodSmithe team puts the finishing touches on Handsome Coffee Roasters‘ flagship store. Handsome has made a splash in the specialty coffee world since they announced that Tyler Wells and Chris Owens would be teaming up with World Barista Champion Michael Phillips to launch the coffee company of their dreams.


With the space nearly ready to open its doors, the collaboration between the roasters and the builders—who also happen to be neighbors—seems like a natural one. Also in on the operation is Na Young Ma’s Proof Bakery, whose pastries will be served alongside the coffee.


“Frank Gehry Designing New Jazz Bakery Theater in Culver City” (Curbed LA)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012, by Adrian Glick Kudler

“Current site photo via Culver City Times The Jazz Bakery is getting a new permanent home in Culver City and it’ll be designed by Frank Gehry, who we don’t often see around these parts anymore. The jazz nonprofit has been itinerant since 2009, when it lost its lease in the Helms Bakery complex, but about a year ago it got a $2 million grant from the Annenberg Foundation and made a deal with the Culver City Redevelopment Agency for a piece of land on Washington Blvd., next to the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Last night, the city council signed off on the land deal (probably in advance of the redevelopment agency apocalypse going down tomorrow), reports the Culver City Times. The Jazz Bakery will get the land for free on the condition that it goes ahead with plans for a “premier live performance state of the art jazz venue with two hundred and fifty (250) seats, ground level lobby, a jazz museum, black box performance area and a bakery/café with outdoor dining,” as described by the staff report on the matter. The Bakery plans to hold about 250 shows a year. According to the CC Times, the whole project will cost $10.2 million, so the Jazz Bakery will be holding a capital campaign to supplement the Annenberg grant.” (Curbed)

LA To Get Film Museum next to LACMA in 2016

Film News

Posted: Tue., Mar. 27, 2012, 4:45pm PT

Academy adds to future museum (Variety magazine)

Ruby slippers just one recent acquisition

The recently acquired ruby slippers are just one centerpiece for the future Academy museum. The recently acquired ruby slippers are just one centerpiece for the future Academy museum.
The Acad collection includes sketches from “There Will Be Blood.”
“The Acad collection includes sketches from “There Will Be Blood.”

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences gathered for a recent staff meeting at the Pickford Center in Hollywood, the group had the opportunity to see a piece of movie history that impressed even the most senior executives: a pair of ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”

It was the first time since AMPAS made the acquisition in February that anyone within the org had seen the shoes, and everyone celebrated with red velvet cupcakes embellished with tiny, garnet-colored shoes.

The footwear unveiling was a tangible sign of how much closer the org is getting to opening the decades-in-the-making Academy Museum of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the centerpiece of which will be Dorothy’s magical shoes. The Academy recently named execs to run the museum, which is targeted to open at LACMA’s May Co. building in 2016.

“The experience of seeing (the slippers), especially in a crowd, puts everyone in touch with their inner film geek,” said Anne Coco, graphic arts librarian.

The high-profile pair of shoes is just one of the recent additions to the Academy’s massive collection of scripts, press clippings, biographies, costume sketches, movie posters and personal papers, amassed over more than eight decades, that will provide fodder for a wide scope of exhibits when the museum opens.

The library is also processing late-2011 donations from producer Stephen Chin, who gave the library several kung-fu movie posters, and Chicago-based real estate developer Dwight Cleveland, who provided rare film posters from his collection.

“The library is the history of our country, the history of our culture,” Hudson explained.”

Berggruen builds collection for Los Angeles (excerpted)

The German collector shelves plans to build a Berlin museum in favour of long-term loans to the US

By Gareth Harris. News, Issue 231, January 2012
Published online: 05 January 2012

Berggruen is focusing on German and West Coast artists, including Chris Burden, whose Metropolis II (right) is already on loan to Lacma from the collector

The private collector and billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, son of the late German-Jewish art dealer and philanthropist Heinz Berggruen, is set to follow in the footsteps of the collector Eli Broad by sending several works on long-term loans to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma), where Berggruen is a trustee. “I’m building up a collection for Lacma,” he says, “focusing on German artists such as Thomas Schütte, Martin Kippenberger, Gerhard Richter and Joseph Beuys.” Works by West Coast artists such as John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Charles Ray, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman and Mike Kelley from Berggruen’s collection are also due to end up at the museum. “Los Angeles is still a developing cultural centre and that’s why one can make a difference there,” he says.27 Jan 12

A ‘very special’ city.

“I find L.A. super vibrant. The city is not always considered a serious place, but it has a lot of serious creativity,” he added. “Notwithstanding its problems, California is the idea center of America. If you take away Hollywood and Silicon Valley for the last 20 years, you would have a different world. If you erased New York, I hate to say it, if you erased Frankfurt, even London, the world would not have changed.”

LA MOCA Teams with YouTube for Art Video Channel

By Stephanie Murg on January 23, 2012 9:51 AM

Get ready for MOCA TV! The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles has teamed with YouTube to create a new video channel for fresh contemporary art and culture programming. The online programming venture, part of YouTube’s new original programming push, is expected to debut in July with an identity designed by L.A.-based Studio Number One. “Contemporary art is the new international language, unifying leading creators across art, music, fashion, film, and design,” said MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch, who has always struck us as a natural VJ. “MOCA TV will be the ultimate digital extension of the museum, aggregating, curating, and generating the strongest artistic content from around the world for a new global audience of people who are engaged in visually oriented culture.” Slated for the MOCA TV line-up? Global art news briefs, programs focused on the latest collaborative projects (art and music, art and fashion), looks inside artists’ studios, the street art beat (natch), and an interactive education series called MOCA University. The musem has tapped social media company theAudience to help get the word out about MOCA TV as the launch approaches.

The Bordello is now the One Eyed Gypsy!

The re-model looks gorgeous, and I’m glad to see they haven’t lost their steam-punk circus vibe! They just added an old-school fortune-teller, a love-o-meter, and two skee ball machines that distribute tickets redeemable for drinks & food! And they didn’t leave out the grub, The Brite Spot guy will be slinging an extensive fried menu (corn dogs, sweet potato tots, funnel cakes, deep-fried Chocodiles, etc.) as well as share-eats like a reuben pizza with sauerkraut, corned beef, and thousand island.
The Escondite burger bar in downtown LA

United Artists Theater to Be Ace Hotel

photo by Gary Leonard

United Artists Theater

Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 7:45 pm | Updated: 3:53 pm, Tue Jan 24, 2012.

By Ryan Vaillancourt, Staff Writer | 0 comments

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – Oregon-based Ace Hotel has confirmed plans to open in the historic United Artists Theater on Broadway.

The hotel chain’s plan calls for 180 rooms in the former office building’s 13 floors, and it will include a 1,600-seat entertainment venue in the structure’s namesake theater. The plan also calls for a pool, restaurant and bar in the edifice that has not been fully activated in decades, according to the office of 14th District Councilman José Huizar.

The Broadway landmark had long been owned by the University Cathedral, a congregation made famous by its late founding pastor, Dr. Gene Scott. The church has maintained the building, which was built in 1927 by United Artists founders D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

The building was the tallest privately owned building in Los Angeles until 1956, Huizar’s office said.

King & Grove Coming to LA, Possibly with Two Hotels

Where: Los Angeles, CA, United States
December 23, 2011 at 10:30 AM | by | Comments (0)

Lanyard key chains at Ruschmeyer’s, a King & Grove Hotel in Montauk.

Downtown LA blog Brigham Yen found out earlier this month that indeed King & Grove would open up inside the old Hotel Clark near 4th and Hill Streets in downtown’s Historic Core district (and just a few blocks away from the intended Ace Hotel.) A rep for King & Grove confirmed the scoop but was not able to release any further details. Still, Brigham Yen had noticed some renovations going on at the hotel including a new pool deck and some new orange curtains.

But one hotel might not be enough for King & Grove as the blog now says that the old Trinity Auditorium at 9th and Grand Ave in downtown could possibly be a second King & Grove hotel as well.

Breaking News: Hotel Clark to be Reborn as King & Grove Hotel in Downtown LA

Posted on December 2, 2011 by | 14 Comments
“King & Grove is a new lifestyle hotel brand defined by modern luxury with eclectic influences. Dedicated to creating intriguing hotels that are sophisticated yet accessible, King & Grove is launching a collection of iconic destinations themed by a sense of nostalgia delivered through thoughtfully crafted environments. With an emphasis on immersive service, King & Grove hotels will feature honest and aspiring restaurants and bars, progressive retail, and unique amenities.”After sending an inquiry to King and Grove asking about their involvement with the Hotel Clark, I received a reply back from Jennifer Foley Shields, VP of Media Relations for King and Grove Hotels, “The Clark will become a King & Grove property, you are correct. At this point, I’m not able to provide any further detail.”Examples of King & Grove’s hotels:

King & Grove Hotel in Miami South Beach (Photo: King & Grove)
King & Grove Hotel in Montauk, New York (Photo: King & Grove)
King & Grove Hotel in Montauk, New York (Photo: King & Grove)
Downtown bar“NEW COCKTAIL LOUNGE THE AVIARY Calling The Aviary Chicago’s best cocktail lounge is needless and obvious, considering the oceans of ink already expended on this months-old Fulton Market bar, but it must be said: This brainchild of Alinea’s chef, Grant Achatz, and his business partner, Nick Kokonas, is the most ambitious, fully realized, innovative twist on drinking the city has ever seen. One sip of its take on an old-fashioned (In the Rocks, $18), which requires the drinker to crack a bourbon-filled egg of ice with a miniature slingshot, and we were hooked. Not to mention attentive, polished service; a gorgeous room blissfully devoid of false Old World charm; and finger food straight out of the Alinea playbook.”

Aviary molecular cocktail lounge from Chicago will be expanding to LA

Macao Trading Co. is one of New York City’s most fun bar.restaurants that is coming to LA

“Bagatelle has long been a St. Tropez-infused phenomenon in New York, feeding the city’s elite for years. Now emerging hospitality group Brand Essence and industry leaders The ONE Group will bring Bagatelle’s legendary dining experience to the West Coast with a multi-room indoor/outdoor establishment located in the heart of West Hollywood. Created by design firm Studio BRASA, the 2,700 square foot restaurant’s motif resembles the salon of the Parisian apartment of an international jet setter. Bagatelle’s patrons will be treated to seasonal, French-Mediterranean menu offerings by Chef Scott Quinn, whose inspiration and experience are sure to provide a lively and fine dining experience for L.A.’s globetrotters, foodies, celebrities and tastemakers.”



Bardot supperclub at the Avalon in Hollywood

Bardot at the Avalon, Hollywood

The Spare Room lounge, inside the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel

A decade ago Los Angeles seemed unconcerned with the new American phenomenon of artisan and craft beer bars, Belgian beer bars, artisan cocktail bars, adventurous upscale dining. It was only six years ago that the Los Angeles Times ran articles where local restaurants said there were only 500 serious diners in LA, and that group moved from new restaurant to new restaurant, causing the recently hot place to go under. The same newspaper chronicled the rise into the heavens of the new Las Vegas restaurant scene,  while slamming much the restaurant scene here at the time. Las Vegas,which is no doubt the most stellar today in the West at the uppermost levels of dining, as it now offers a dazzling array of European and America Michelin starred chef driven dining destinations, seems to have educated the palates of Angelinos as to the degrees of playful elegance that a truly global restaurant could offer its guests. Perhaps because of this influence of the Los Angeles palate, a new world of exceptionally good restaurants is now in Los Angeles as never before. Over the past couple years LA has gained authentic Noodle Bars from Tokyo, high-end steak houses and Italian eateries from New York, and finally we in LA now have several of the most coveted cocktail and beer bars in America, with several more planned, including one by a LA entrepreneur who promises to bring to LA a bar that he considers the best in the world. Los Angeles of course has benefited tremendously from the New York cocktail world expanding into the warm weather climate without a beach of downtown Los Angeles. I have to say that this is the first time I have been as excited about going out in LA to a great new bar or restaurant, as verses planning on have a phenomenal time in San Francisco and spending quiet evenings in LA to rest up for another trip to a mecca for entertainment like Miami Beach or New York City.

The Writers Room, enter via the back of historic Musso & Franks, Hollywood. The bar is named after the major fiction writer’s meeting place that the space once inhabited. (photo: Vogue Daily)

So here now refer to you some of my choices for the best of the new Los Angeles, 2011.

(Please note that this post will grow throughout 2011)

Downtown Los Angeles breaks into the extensive beers selection beer store with the beautiful and dark woods of 8th’s Street Bottle shop. “The 8th Street Bottle Shop will be housed just inside the entrance door at Golden Gopher whose rare 1903-issued liquor license provides for on site and packaged liquor to go sales. ” Beer Chicks Los Angeles

Sunset Beer in Echo Park promises to grow to over 1,000 different bottles of beer, giving LA a real neighborhood place to pick up something special, just like in Portland.

The sensational Total Wine and More has entered the Southern California adult beverage market

Total Wine and More has raised the everyday experience of buying beer, wine and spirits in LA/Orange County region. It has to be the case that the emergence of artisan and craft beer bars and haute cocktail lounges in Los Angeles over the past two years is the reason Total Wine and More saw there was a market in LA for their level of shopper. The largest store is in Tustin, at 50,000 square feet, yet even the Northridge store blows away every other place in town, from variety to price. Total Wine carries all the truly deluxe bottles of tequila, and has $2,000 gorgeous bottles of wine. The store has several hundred kinds of artisan and craft beer, possibly as much as the incredible Berkeley Bowl gourmet low-priced – yes – it’s true! supermarket in Berkeley, California, where we make twice a year trips just to shop and bring home countless provisions not available to us here in LA. When people here first visit Total Wine and More they start calling their friends and telling them they’ve got to get over there now!  Total Wine and More has in store ads saying they are crushing another beverage store here, from the handsome look of Total Wine as compared to the LA low rent warehouse way of selling product, to astounding variety, to pricing that blows the competition away.

Steingarten in West Los Angeles has 20 beers on tap and a menu of exotic meats to devour

In the coming months watch for several new craft beer bars in LA, including Beer Belly in Koreatown, Mohawk, a 10,000 square foot bar in Echo Park, and Smith House, in Century City (West LA), which will have 120 beers on tap. Steingarten has opened in West Los Angeles. The LATimes reports that the Houston brothers will also be opening a German beer hall in LA.


Mohawk Bend patio, Echo Park

Mohawk Bend, restaurant and bar interior, Echo Park

The second venture from owner Tony Yanow and manager Paige Reilly of Tony’s Darts Away fame, Mohawk Bend debuts in April in newly hipsterized Echo Park. The 10,000-square-foot facility is an ode to beer and farm-fresh California cuisine, with half of the menu (and the kitchen) dedicated to vegan fare. (But don’t expect a pushy, green-fiend staff; “We like to open the vegan door but not push anyone through it,” says Yanow.) For herbivores, there’s mochi-crust pizza; meat-lovers will relish the duck-pork Dork Burger. Every palate will savor the whopping 72 taps—including five nitro faucets and two hand pumps—pouring strictly Cali brews, like house favorites Hangar 24 Orange Wheat. 2141 Sunset Blvd. (Draft magazine)

The Hemingway lounge in Hollywood has ten thousand books on its shelves and is known for its strong cocktail program. Future plans for this lounge are to open a Cuban  coffee and African tea lounge next door.

Las Perlas, Cedd Moses mezcal and tequila bar in downtown Los Angeles

“Those who want ready-to-go ice for their cocktail should reach for Névé ice (available at Barkeeper in Silver Lake). Founded by former barman Michael Dozois of Seven Grand, Névé delivers perfect Collins and Rocks Glass cubes to consumers and bars anywhere in the United States.” (Seven Grand is also one of Cedd Moses’ collection of high quality LA bars.)”

Villains Tavern, on the eastern edge of downtown Los Angeles.

Villains Tavern opened in 2010

The Tar Pit opened in 2010 with beverage direction from the Pegu Club in New York. (Photo: Caroline on Crack)

The bar at the Tar Pit

La Descargas bar, on Western Avenue in East Hollywood, by the Houston Brothers. This is the first bar they transformed for LA.

Harvard and Stone bar, East Hollywood, by the Houston brothers, opened in March 2011

Library Ale House, Santa Monica, California

Wood and Vine, Hollywood
L.A.’s Smart Summer Art Hang: Ray’s Restaurant & Stark Bar

Stark bar at LACMA is one of the hottest new bars in Los Angeles

Bar concepts

Only about a decade after the Belgian beer bar boom happened in New York and San Francisco, downtown Los Angeles will finally be getting an authentic Belgian beer bar called Little Bear. Royal Clayton’s was in this space during the time that Walter Manske manned the stoves at across the street Church & State, which while he was there was the most sensation restaurant in Los Angeles. The bar will feature L.A.’s first certified beer cicerone. Chicago has three and also has a full on 3 tier cicerone training program that is providing core educations to hundreds of first tier Chicago bar helpers. (10.21.11)


The Gin Palace, a new bar planned for downtown Los Angeles

New York’s new gin palace will be fancier than this one.

“Ravi DeRossi, co-owner of an East Village mini-empire that includes Desnuda, Mayahuel, Cienfuegos, and Death & Co., is opening a new spot called Gin Palace, a spin on the original Victorian dive bars.

Gin Palace will be an upscale spin on the louche enterprises where Victorians boozed up. It will focus on gin, with a majority of cocktails made with the spirit. As for food, DeRossi says that he’ll offer “hundreds” of kinds of tea sandwiches, served on three-tiered silver platters.”

Legendary New York barmen Alex Day and David Kaplan, of Death & Co. bar NYC, have plans to open either an LA Death  Co. or another establishment or both. They are already in Los Angeles, reconfiguring cocktail programs across the city.

By summer LA will have two authentic currywursts that will be open late for the all night party crowd.


Manhattan Beach Post gives LA its first authentic dining destination restaurant a block from the Pacific Ocean.

At Manhattan Beach Post, we loved out entire meal. This restaurant and Playa on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles gave us our two most rewarding meals in LA this year. Please make sure to order the cheese and bacon biscuits….

…and the asparagus dish – which transported us into Paris. One could only wonder what LA would be like were our oceanfront dotted with restaurants and bars of this caliber.

Son of a Gun restaurant, a new seafood palace, whose parent restaurant Animal received mountains of national press for its creativity with pork dishes. Bon Appetit just named Son of A Gun one of the top 10 new restaurtants in America for 2011.

Picca will be Richardo Zarate’s highly anticipate modern Peruvian restaurant.

Picca will be a “contemporary anticucho, ceviche, causa and cocktail concept.” We are certainly looking forward to this experience, especially because of the extraordinary food we had at Moi Chica on South Grand Ave. in South Los Angeles. Picca will be in The Townhouse, along with Sotto, in LA’s West Side. There are reports that Moi Chica, Zarate’s original LA restaurant sensation, will reopen in a downtown LA setting. We have waited years in LA to have upscale food of this kind.

Lukshon, the just opened luxury Pan Asian restaurant from LA’s first serious quality cult burger bar, Father’s Office. One of our favorite dishes is the spicy chicken pops, get some!

Lukshon, second interior

Playa, the global Latin cuisine inspired new restaurant on LA’s West Side. Its parent Restaurant, Rivera, in downtown LA, is just as memorable an encounter. (LATimes photo)

Sotto’s Ferrara pizza oven from Naples, Italy is only one of 10 in the U.S. It is the first in Los Angeles.

Lazy Ox Canteen, Little Toyko, downtown Los Angeles. Go for the lamb burger! This restaurant garnered major press in LA when it opened in 2010.

Waterloo & City, one of the top new gastropubs in Los Angeles, it serves a contemporary take on British pub food.


Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles is the best pizza we’ve ever had. It is one of the places that has brought LA to a new level of casual yet superior dining experience. At sometime this year, the third Mozza will open in Newport Beach. The image here is of a projected 3,500 sq. ft restaurant for Pizzeria Mozza Newport Beach. It will have all of what the LA version has, with an updated Mozza-to-go.

Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen food network television program will cause his soon to open LA restaurant, will make his upcoming LA restaurant an instant sensation. This television showing of his working method, his interest in employing the latest in food technology devices, and his excellence in transforming high concept into exquisite new dishes, will make his projected 60 seat LA restaurant concept fill up with reservations like few other places have experienced in Los Angeles.

The Daily Truffle reports that “Michael Ovitz will open Ink (with Michael Voltaggio of Top Chef) is his old restaurant space which housed Hamasaku.”

There are also reports that Thomas Keller will open his Ad Hoc restaurant in Los Angeles.

Bastide veteran Paul Shoemaker (the greatest restaurant contemporary LA’s histor with multiple star chefs) has announced plans to open an artisan pizza parlor and craft beer bar that promises to be “Father’s Office meets Pizzeria Biano in Phoenix

The owners of Rustic Canyon and Huckleberry – perhaps LA’s best breakfast, certainly it is awesome! is opening an artisan pizza parlor and bakery in Santa Monica later this year. So of a sudden the West Side will have a real artisan pizza scene.

This coming July 2011, on Venice, California’s Abbott Kinney boulevard, already one of the hottest scenes in all of Los Angeles, Local 1205, a 3,500 square foot gourmet market. I spoke to my partner about how we in LA are not getting true gourmet food encounters like never, yet we still have miles to go before we catch up to San Francisco and the Bay area, whose restaurant, pizza and artisan cocktail bar scene is on fire. It will really be really nice to not have to go up Northern Cali to get some satisfaction.

“His partner is Steve Carlin, founder of the Bay Area’s Oakville Grocery and Napa’s Oxbow Market, and project manager of SF’s Ferry Building Marketplace and the recent organic market addition in the city’s airport.” (The Feast)
a nearly 24-hour emporium that combines retail and sit-down eat-in options. The 3500-square-foot space will have sidewalk seating, a juice bar, a patio, a raw bar, and will be similar to Dean and Deluca and other famed gourmet Bay area/New York City food emporiums.

“The food will be half organic/Slow Food movement, half rich, luxurious, snotty food”—by which he means oysters, caviar and foie gras. Smoked fish, bagels, charcuterie, cheese, Portuguese-style pizza, sandwiches, rotisserie meats, frozen custard, and flowers will also be on offer.” (The Feast)

Local 1205 will be at 1205 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and will be open daily from 7 a.m. – 4 a.m.  [The Feast]”

Ken Friedman, co-owner of New York’s West Village (with April Bloomfield), Michelin starred British gastropub The Spotted Pig, has promised his Mom who lives in San Diego that he will be opening a major seafood restaurant in LA by the end of the year. My partner and I fell in love with his white-hot restaurant in the Ace Hotel in New York City, The Breslin, which is named after the original name of the building that  too cool The Ace Hotel now resides in. The hotel features a Stumptown Coffee café and a new seafood dream of a restaurant  called The John Dory. I have covered this in another blog post about a trip to New York. By the way – the best slice of pizza I’ve ever tasted was a smoked black olive pizza that my daughter ordered at Pulino’s, which is a recently opened a Friedman establishment on The Bowery. As it turns out, Mario Batali’s restaurant group is also partnered in with Friedman and Bloomfield, which may explain why Friedman is expanding to Los Angeles at this time.

In a November 2007 New York Observer interview, Friedman said this about gastropubs: “Pub means public house. In England, it was where the poor people went, and the animal hanging outside the door [as it does at the Spotted Pig, in place of an actual sign] was because they couldn’t read. It was literally, ‘Meet me at the pig at eight!’

Friedman said this about his Los Angeles plans: “For some strange reason there are very few seafood places here even though we’re on the ocean. We’re at a certain point where we can open restaurants in places we want to be, like London or San Francisco or L.A.. ”  (Paper magazine, April 2011)

Friedman also recently noted that Los Angeles is on the ocean, it seems to not be engaged in eating from the sea. Many others have observed this, but may not take into account the orgy of sushi bars in LA, that are part of growing LA’s fixation of Japanese products, from cars to sushi bars and now to robata bars and beyond.


Michael Voltaggio’s ink.sack



The Factory Place Arts complex will be expanded with 8,00 sq. ft. 140 seat restaurant space in a 1920’s warehouse called Republique that will be home to former Bastide Chef Walter Manzke. The bistronomy inspired Republique restaurant will have a curated good and full baking department via his  wife, called the Factory Baking Co. The Los Angeles Times reported on August 22, 2011 that “The Manzkes took several Paris trips that included visits to restaurants such as Le Comptoir, Chateaubriand, Spring, Frenchie and Chez Dumonet.”

I went to The Tasting Kitchen for my birthday earlier this year. Both it and the next door Gjelina are two of my top special occasion restaurants in LA (actually on ultra cool Abbott Kinney in Venice Beach). So when I read that The Tasting Kitchen was opening what they are describing as “a true gastropub” – this got my attention on the spot and it will soon be on my dining calendar. Scheduled to open at the end of 2011. The Tasting Kitchen’s crew is from Portland. They ran the best restaurant in the city when they were in town, called Clark & Lewis. When their newest venture opens, it will mark the warehouse arts district downtown Los Angeles as a major new dining hotspot of LA.


From Chicago’s Bill Kim we have a noodle bar concept called Belly Pop that will open in downtown Los Angeles. Kim’s Belly Shack in Chicago was  food world sensation when it opened, and has since garnered a Michelin Bib Gourmand award. Studio City has already been blessed with Ramen Jinya, an authentic noodle bar from Japan, which itself has expanded to the  Japanese restaurants district of Sawtelle avenue in West LA, but this one has a liquor license. Nearby yet another direct from Japan noodle bar import has opened, called Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle. It is part of a Tokyo based chain and is the first U.S. location.

los angeles: tsujita restaurant opening

© tsujita – artisan noodles anyone? (photos by Superfuture magazine online)

“if your craving for good noodles is as regular as ours, and you live in los angeles…lucky you! artisan noodle restaurant tsujita hails from tokyo and has just opened a rather spectacular new branch in california, the first one stateside. designed in a clean contemporary yet japanese style, tsujita’s most striking interior feature is an intricately designed ceiling installation of sorts.

crafted by japanese designer takeshi sano, it’s poetically inspired by clouds surrounding izumo shrine in japan’s shimane prefecture, using 25,000 drum stick-shaped wooden sticks. obviously tsujita serves noodles or ramen, but also a wide range of typically tokyo-style japanese fusion food. you just have to drop by and taste it yourself. location: 2057 sawtelle boulevard [west los angeles].” Superfuture magazine online


“Why did you choose L.A. for Lindy & Grundy?

Erika: Amelia is born and raised in Los Angeles, so we would come visit her family here a lot, and we saw that there was a great need for a whole animal, sustainable butcher shop. We try to source as close to L.A. as possible. Everything other than our lamb comes from a 150-mile radius of our butcher shop.” from Cool Hunting’s interview of Lindy & Grundy.”

Sabatino & Co. Roma supplied several of Americas top restaurants with truffles. Soon the store will open in LA and offer truffles as well as gourmet foods and products from Italy. This  certainly makes up for LA/OC not having a Dean & DeLuccas

The news of the year in food for Los Angeles is that the world’s largest Italian gourmet food emporium, Eataly, will be opening in LA, in the Fairfax district. Eataly has several eating stations, and will be making fresh pasta daily. There will be an astounding array of prepared meats, wonderful rustic breads, and so much more. The NYC Eataly opened last fall. It has a free-standing restaurant that is mobbed. It is about to open its 4 part craft beer bar on the roof of its building on at 24th street and 5th avenue in Manhattan. It will be amazing to watch LA go from having none of the major gourmet markets to having one of the top places on earth. There are already three Eataly locations in Japan, and five in Italy.  Perhaps now we’ll also get a Berkeley Bowl supermarket from Northern California, which would be a dream.

Eataly in Turin, Italy (AP Photo/Massimo Pinca)

Eataly NYC bread station

Eataly NYCs fresh pasta station (photo AliceQFoodie)

Performing Arts venues arts

In 2011 several new performing arts venues opened or broke ground in Los Angeles. Already the performing arts scene is more dynamic than ever, with several major events happening in a single month, so much so that LA now has a dedicated Dance Calendar. In the past two years alone I’ve seen Pina Bausch Dance Wuppertal, the Berlin Phiharmonic, the Munich Symphony, Kidd Pivot Frankfurt dance company, the Wooster Group at Redcat Disney (three different tremendous experimental theater plays!), and a lot more. With these new venues LA will be able to have wall to wall performances.

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Beverly Hills, CA

Valley Performing Arts Center, Cal State Nortridge

Performing arts hall, Cal State Northridge

The Broad Stage, Santa Monica College



New York’s Perry Rubenstein gallery has announced that it will relocate to LA into a 7,500 sq. ft space in fall 2011.

“I’m bringing to Los Angeles the perspective of someone who has lived and worked his entire life on the Atlantic seaboard,” says Rubenstein. “Los Angeles is a new center. It looks today the way New York looked compared to Paris after the war.”

Rubenstein is one of many New York art world personalities who is convinced that Los Angeles is post-war New York City. This is of course the time when NYC overtook the 300 year old Paris artworld  and became the new center of Western world international art. What is interesting is that NYC has been talking about LA for over 60 years, first as a no place, then a place with potential that always seemed to fizz out. Now it is being seen for the first time as THE PLACE WHERE CONTEMPORARY ART COMES FROM IN AMERICA.

In 2011 LA’s first art parade will tale place in downtown LA, courtesy of West of Rome, the LA nonprofit visual arts presenter.

LA really separated itself from the rest of the West Coast in 2011 with recent announcements of their being the first LA Biennale in 2012. Yet the major news is in 2011, with LA finally getting a layer of its own art history on paper, with the 50 some exhibitions planned that open as early as late September 2011. The major shows will be at the Getty and MoCA, with several other equally significant but smaller group shows throughout Southern California in 2011 and 2012. In the fall of 2011 LA gets the first West Coast version of the Armory Show with Art Platform Los Angeles. The Pulse Fair of Miami and NYC is also expanding to LA and will put on a huge exhibition during the same time as Art Platform Los Angeles. There are also more powerful artist run spaces in Los Angeles than at any time in its history. These spaces are serving as both project spaces for artists yet serving as commercial galleries but without the backroom storage. They are promoting the artists they show to an international audience that now visits LA monthly, as LA is now unquestionably one of the most important centers of art production and exhibition in the worl

May 2011:

London based contemporary art collector and curator Kay Saatchi moves to Los Angeles to be at the forefront of the new LA art scene. Over the next month more press reveals her plans to create major exhibitions of LA art, which she also will be collecting.


The Swiss/US based HUB Foundation announces an exciting new exhibition program in Los Angeles that will use multiple venues in winter 2012. (from the Artnewspaper, London)

LA Art collector Dean Valentine launches Bowmont Art, in 7,000 square feet of space at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood. Initial plans are to showcase his collection, and to have performances, talks and other programming.

summer 2011:

 L&M Arts talks about their expansion to Los Angeles (from Artinfo)
“Why did you open in LA

DL: There’s a creative energy there right now, and a fabulous number of talented artists living there. Not just young ones. If you think of the living established artists there, you think of Ed Ruscha, Baldessari, Charles Ray, Paul McCarthy, Barbara Kruger—they all live in LA. There are museums with an energy that’s quite unique. The creativity is comparable to what New York was like at the time of the [abstract expressionists]. Plus, we found a gorgeous building—it’s very beautiful.

RM: I was there last week, I was so proud of just standing in front of that building. I felt like it was one of my kids.

And the focus of the LA gallery is the primary market?

DL: Absolutely. It was a natural evolution of the gallery. There’s always been a major interest in contemporary art. We had done some primary shows: Bob was the first to do a major Jeff Koons show. But in New York, the market is saturated. You have to enter into a big fist fight to work with some of the artists. In LA, that happens less.

How is the market in LA?

RM: The only totally honest thing to say is that we see a tremendous amount of interest. We did one traditional show just to give a feeling of the range of what we do: a De Kooning show that I’m very proud of with great works on paper from 1947-52. But nothing was for sale, so the market could have been phenomenal and we wouldn’t have known one way or another.”

New York/Miami art fair veteran Fountain Art F announces it’s participation in Pacific Standard Time. Art Platform LA Weekend for 2011.

The Broad Contemporary Art Museum, to be built in downtown Los Angeles, opening in 2013

Art Platform Los Angeles will be the first major new art fair in LA. It is the creation of the same folks who own and put on The Armory Show in New York City, and the Volta Show. It promises to be an exciting time, from its gala opening on September 30, through the shows closing October 3, 2011. It opens along with Pacific Standard Time, which will see over 60 California arts institutions showcase the history of the Los Angele art scene from 1945 through 1980. This is an unprecedented event for Los Angeles.  The Getty museum’s history of LA painting and sculpture of the aforementioned period will be traveling to the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin. The Blues show at MoCA on historical African-American artists in Los Angeles will travel to three other venues and will have a full compliment of ancillary events and a catalog. With Art LA 2011 providing showcdates, this brings the total number of artfairs that will be in LA in the fall of 2011 to four.

artLA brings the experience and knowledge of the Los Angeles landscape garnered over the past two decades, to the service of its exhibitors and collectors.

The Marriott Ritz Carlton at LA Live is nine blocks from Art Platform-LA and overlooks the Pulse tent on LA Live’s parking structure. The breathtaking fourth floor lobby atrium frames the entrance to artLAWe offer 25,000 square feet of column-free floor space with 25’ ceilings joining with 15,000 square feet of additional exhibition space which will house anchor booths, installations, book publishers, museum and vendors in addition to a private café for the fair.”


LA Artist Sterling Ruby: Interviews+Commentary

  • Sterling Ruby has just opened a 90,000 sq ft studio in California” Financial Times London




Sterling Ruby: Balancing Act

Controversy hasn’t stopped the artist from coming out on top.

The artist Sterling Ruby’s bright future appears momentarily in doubt as he turns left off 26th Street in an industrial sector of downtown Los Angeles and suddenly faces a tractor-trailer, its white cab aglitter with chrome and menace. A split-second later, it’s clear that there’s no real danger—the truck is slowing to make a wide right turn—but the approaching hulk still appears ominous from the lower perspective of Ruby’s front seat. Its headlights are fierce eyes, the massive grille a toothy maw, and the manufacturer’s name, approaching us at eye level, is declared in manly block letters: sterling. “I was almost taken out by Sterling,” notes the 42-year-old with daredevil glee.

In a decade that has seen Ruby become the dominant L.A. artist of his generation and a star on this year’s international biennial circuit, he has faced actual perils that might have flattened a less ambitious man. In 2005, he was denied a master’s degree from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena because his advisory committee split sharply on the merit of his final project, which included a messy and perhaps incomplete thesis and a weird video triptych that showed the artist in flagrante with a skull—a shaky reference both to Shakespeare and to perhaps more senior local artists like Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley. Three years later, Ruby survived the bust-up of his first studio, a collective space in one of Los Angeles’s gangland neighborhoods. And, more recently, he weathered the charge of being a careerist gallery hopper after he moved in quick succession from L.A. based Marc Foxx to Manhattan’s relatively low-key Metro Pictures to the more internationally known Pace Gallery to the global powerhouse Hauser & Wirth.

But none of those threats to Ruby’s reputation as a serious artist have imperiled his ability to make money. Like a punk rocker who breaks into the Top 40, Ruby has surged to market heights, thanks largely to support from supercollectors including Michael Ovitz, who set up a meeting with Pace when Ruby decided to leave Metro Pictures.

“ ‘Material’ is the word that comes to mind when I think of Sterling’s work,” says the artist Alex Israel, a 31-year-old native Angeleno. “I remember thinking the first time I saw one of his ceramic pieces that no one was doing ceramics and yet he made it seem relevant and gorgeous and really fresh. And his stalagmites are these strong totemic sculptures that appear malleable and liquid. He’s inventing new forms that are somehow both alien and familiar—that feel like they are tapping into the pulse of our time. Sterling’s work doesn’t look like anyone else’s.”

Like a punk rocker who breaks into the Top 40, Ruby has surged to market heights.

And yet, until recently, his rise has not been universally cheered by critics. “Sterling has such a drive to produce, and he wound up being very commercially viable, very early on,” says Philip Tinari, director of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, which will feature Ruby as one of eight artists in “The Los Angeles Project,” an exhibition opening in September. “For those of us in the critical establishment, that kind of success usually creates a disinclination to like the work. Artists who are able to build a giant apparatus marginalize themselves by being too successful, unless it becomes part of their shtick, like with Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst. But Sterling is sincere.”

And as for the observers who fret about Ruby’s equally sincere commitment to sales—well, time is on his side. A generation of young curators including Tinari, who is in his mid-30s, came of age in the era of superstar artists like Hirst and are less inclined to look down on business savvy. These new arbiters are the ones who have booked up Ruby’s exhibition schedule. This year alone, his signature clay “basins”—which look like oversize ashtrays drenched with wet-finish glazes and filled with the fragments of earlier pieces—were included in the Whitney Biennial, and the Baltimore Museum of Art recently opened a show of “soft work”: fabric sculptures of what Ruby calls “vampire mouths.” (“My Rolling Stones tongue,” he jokes.) Ruby unveils new works in May at Hauser & Wirth, New York; in September at Taka Ishii Gallery in Tokyo; and he will also be represented at the Gwangju and Taipei biennials, which open at the same time as the Ullens Center exhibition in Beijing. He calls the run of transpacific dates his “Asian tour.”

Ruby’s booming career is reflected in the spaces that have given rise to it. When I first saw his current studio on 26th Street some five years ago, he and his 10 assistants had just moved in, and the place seemed gigantic. The converted industrial space consists of a series of workshops, each dedicated to one of the many materials Ruby uses in his versatile practice. One is for drawing; another for ceramics (the basins are made with up to 300 pounds of clay); another for ceiling-high poured-urethane sculptures (his instantly recognizable “stalagmites”); another for fabric collages; another for paintings (up to 20 feet wide); and, finally, a white-walled gallery to display completed works. The really big pieces are assembled outside: The cardboard-and-urethane forms used to cast his stove sculptures require a forklift to transport them around the studio. After my first tour, I walked away unsure of how to characterize him as an artist (sculptor? ceramist? painter?) but with a clear understanding that everything about Ruby’s practice, apart from his own compact physical stature, was XXL.

Now, five years later, Ruby and his current team of 14 assistants have outgrown 26th Street, and he’s building a new studio nearby that dwarfs the old one. The compound encompasses four acres—more than two acres are under roofs. When you set foot inside the main building, the feeling you have is something like awe. Its central bow-truss ceiling soars to 42 feet and is flanked by barrel vaults on either side. Thirty thousand square feet will be devoted to a viewing room where Ruby can study his work—a mega-gallery of his own. A separate building houses a ceramics studio with glass-fronted bays large enough to park in. Another 10,000-square-foot corrugated-metal building is reserved for storage, so that Ruby can hold back 50 percent of his production as a personal archive. On the bright spring day when Ruby shows me around, it is months before he will begin moving in, and only one artwork has been installed. It is, predictably, large. The cast-bronze basin is a Pompeian riff on his ceramics, he says, and it could easily serve as a wading pool for Ruby as well as his wife, the artist Melanie Schiff, and their children were it not tipped up as a wall sculpture and filled with quasi-archeological scrap from the foundry in China that fabricated it. If Ruby’s current studio is XXL, this new one will be XXXXL.

Born in 1972 to a Dutch mother and an American father in Bitburg, Germany, Ruby and his family lived for a time in Baltimore before moving to rural Pennsylvania, the childhood home with which he most strongly identifies. By 13, he was focused on the California punk scene and busy with a sewing machine that his mother had given him; his peers preferred shop class. Ruby got into a lot of fights. He still sews, and in addition to his fabric sculptures, he makes fabric-collage “paintings” that reference the Pennsylvania quilting tradition; he even designed his own studio wardrobe of denim trucker jackets, jeans, and aprons—all splattered with paint and drips of urethane. Ruby’s attire intrigued the fashion designer Raf Simons, the creative director at Christian Dior, who has collected Ruby’s work in depth and referenced it in his designs since they became acquainted nearly a decade ago. At Simons’s prompting, the two designed a collection for Simons’s eponymous men’s wear label; it was shown in Paris this past January, vampire-mouth fabric sculptures looming over the runway. “When we worked together, it was almost like being married,” Simons recalls of the collaboration, noting that his family in Belgium lives just across the border from Ruby’s Dutch relatives—a bond they discovered when they first met. “The collection grew out of years of talking—so many similarities between us, so many shared interests. It was a really natural thing to do.” Ruby likens the experience to the Bauhaus practice of combining craft and fine art, and says he loved the standing ovation that ended the show. “Raf was crying, and I was crying,” Ruby recalls with a laugh. “Everybody was standing up, cheering. At that moment I thought, Fuck being an artist—this is wonderful.”

Ruby realizes that some may look askance at his fashion-world dalliance, but he prefers not to distinguish between his side projects and his so-called serious work, because he views what he does as a single practice that challenges old artistic hierarchies that place metal and paint (“masculine”) above ceramics and fabric (“feminine”). Former Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) chief curator Paul Schimmel, who is now a partner in Hauser & Wirth’s upcoming L.A. gallery, suggests that Ruby’s dislike of such judgments stems from his view of himself as an art world outsider, someone who grew up far from the “thin sliver of culture” along America’s coasts. “It’s almost a moral stance for him,” Schimmel says. “It’s fundamental to how he sees himself.”

Since arriving in California, Ruby has consistently explored antisocial behavior.

After his undergraduate years at a small Pennsylvania art college that emphasized unfashionable craftsmanship courses and sketching live nudes, Ruby earned a BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Then he headed west in 2002 to attend Arts Center, attracted by what he calls the “pathology” of Los Angeles and the presence of established artists including Kelley, who was then an Arts Center faculty member; Chris Burden; and Paul McCarthy. “It was a completely different art world than New York,” Ruby explains one morning at the pleasant but modest house he and Schiff own in Sunland, about 45 minutes from downtown L.A. “It seemed way more dangerous. I was drawn to that.”

Apparently, the sketchy fringe still appeals. The suburb used to be a Hells Angels hideout. “Some of the neighbors were unsure about having a couple of artists move in,” Ruby says as he shows me around the acre plot and his contemporary house—painted matte black—shaded by oaks. But over time, the Ruby-Schiff clan has quietly fit in. “It reminds me of where I’m from. Sort of rural. We have a Sizzler.”

Since arriving in California, Ruby has consistently explored antisocial behavior and his own relationship to art history. He assisted Kelley as a grad student, and from their conversations, he developed the notion of the artist as criminal, someone who decontextualizes meaning and faith with only a skewed sense of social responsibility. Ruby’s key themes were fully expressed in his breakout solo museum exhibition, “Supermax 2008,” at MOCA, which drew parallels between the penal system and art history, the common thread being incarceration and repression. It amounted to a forceful reaction against the theory-heavy curriculum at Arts Center, where, in Ruby’s opinion, discussion was given precedence over studio time. Almost as revenge against the faculty who denied him a degree, Ruby stuffed as many handmade objects as possible into the galleries. The exhibition included sculptures, paintings, drawings, and collages, all of which shifted abruptly between the anthropomorphic (goopy, drippy, wet) and the geometric. “It had to be packed, dense, confusing,” Ruby explains. “It had to be nauseating.” Some of the hard-edged sculptures were purposely defaced with dirty smudges and graffiti, as if Ruby were “tagging” the pristine legacy of his minimalist and conceptualist forebears. Some visitors walked away saying “This guy needs to figure out what he wants to do,” Ruby recalls. Ovitz and his curator, Nu Nguyen, were not among them. “I was blown away that he could work in so many materials and deliver a message as coherent as it was,” Ovitz says. “We sat in there for about an hour, and when we got in the car, we called his studio to start talking to him about doing something for us.”

Ruby had produced the “Supermax 2008” work at the studio he shared with a revolving cast of 10 to 15 other young artists—including Amanda Ross-Ho, Brenna Youngblood, and Aaron Curry—in the aptly named Hazard Park neighborhood. Their dilapidated sheet-metal building once partially collapsed during a minor earthquake; another day, a shoot-out took place on their street. Ruby and his studio-mates were energized by the gritty reality of making art among the gangbangers: It felt dangerous and, thus, somehow authentic. “I think in many ways the best part of being there was that we were working toward a movement,” he recalls. “We fed off one another.” But the group fragmented only three years after it was formed. Feeling hemmed in by the emotional complications of navigating friendship, studio life, and gallery politics, Ruby left in 2008. He skirts the details of the studio’s breakup, other than to say, “It was a pretty conscious effort to drop out.”

Today, Ruby keeps an orderly 9-to-5, Monday-through-Friday work schedule. He insists that his real job is making stuff, and he goes to work like a blue-collar man. He -acknowledges that he’s not entirely comfortable with the established gallery system—“Very early on, I started to think about what it is to share 50 percent of your income with a dealer,” he says—and he cites Kelley and Burden as other artists with working-class roots who taught him to be pragmatic about money. “I have to say that I can’t do this without the dealers,” he tells me on another day. “But I think that at some point in the future, they will have less of an impact on the market, and artists will do things differently.”

Nine years out of grad school, Ruby oversees a studio humming with activity and is making the transition from “young” to “midcareer” artist. When I show up at the studio a week after our meeting in Sunland, Ruby emerges like an apparition in a paint-splattered white-denim outfit that looks as if it had doubled as a drop cloth. He jokingly calls it “studio camo.” Sitting down, he tells me a story he apparently forgets having told me the week before. Ruby recently ran into the artist Diana Thater, whom he knew as a grad student at Arts Center but hadn’t seen for years, and certainly not since she became chair of the graduate faculty that had denied Ruby his degree. “The first thing she said was, ‘Sterling, I’m the chair. I can get you your degree now,’ ” he recalls. At first, he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to sew up this small rip in his legitimacy, but then he told his studio assistants to dig into his digital archives for a copy of his forgotten thesis and video project to send Thater. The degree would be purely symbolic at this point, but apparently old scars still smart. “I figured I paid for it,” Ruby says. “I should probably have it.”

Sterling Ruby Talks His New Show, Punk Rock, and Why You Won’t Find Him at Frieze


Sterling Ruby

Photo: HANGING FIGURES (4838); 2014; Fabric and fiberfill; 388.6 x 480.1 x 414 cm / 153 x 189 x 163 in

Thanks to a Fall ’14 menswear collaboration with Raf Simons, Sterling Ruby has become somewhat of a household name amongst the fashion set. But in the midst of his splattered sartorial foray, many missed out on the sheer scope and scale of Ruby’s accomplishments off the catwalk (as far back as 2008, The New York Times’ Roberta Smith dubbed him “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century”).

Sunrise Sunset, which bowed in NYC Friday night at Hauser & Wirth’s West 18th Street outpost, offers a good opportunity to catch up. The L.A.-based Ruby has tackled 10,000 square feet of exhibition space to create a wondrously ominous playground of new works. His pieces are informed as much by institutions (Ruby was born on a military base in Bitburg, Germany, and grew up in the darkly named, rural town of New Freedom, Pennsylvania) as a lack thereof (punk and skate cultures were among his earliest aesthetic touchstones). Faceless, flaccid effigies in a deceptively cuddly Stars and Stripes fleece hang from the rafters, and a bleach-riddled patchwork flag presides over the space from a back wall. Elsewhere, murky, spray-painted horizons recall graffiti. Ranging from ruminations to eviscerations, these works turn an eye to topics like the prison system and U.S. military involvement, and are affecting in a way that’s rare for such large-scale pieces.

We sat down with the master of many mediums to talk punk, bleach, and why you “goddamn well” won’t find him at Frieze.


Photo: SCALE / BATS, BLOCKS, DROP (4837); 2014; Wood, steel, fabric and fiberfill, paint, and mixed media; 459.7 x 454.7 x 396.2 cm / 181 x 179 x 156 in

I’ve read that you came to art through punk rock and skate culture. Can you talk a little bit about that?

I grew up primarily in rural Pennsylvania. I went to a pretty straight agriculture school. We had calligraphy and we had drafting—those were the only two art classes. And around the age of 12, I think I loved skateboarding and the associations [with it]. At that point in time, skateboarding was so closely merged with not only the aesthetics but also the attitude of California punk. There wasn’t necessarily a cultural background to my family; there weren’t museums. My family didn’t know art. It wasn’t a visual childhood, and so when I reached 12, 13, I got super-obsessed with that kind of lifestyle [and there] was already a type of aesthetic associated with that, and so it was to me a real challenge to associate a look with an attitude, and that became something that has mostly held true throughout my adulthood. Later on, when I started to meet a lot of other artists, like Mike Kelley, those things were also how they were introduced to visual culture. Not through art, per se, but through music.

Why L.A.? I’ve heard people talking a lot about the artistic community there being at a point of change.
I first started art school in 1990, and I went to a straight formal foundation school in Pennsylvania. When I say foundation school, it was like four years of figure studies, bowls of fruit, perspective and a lot of color theory. But the school modeled most of its curriculum on, like, Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, which stops very much at modernism. I mean, you had your de Kooning books, but there wasn’t anything that seemed crazy and out there, and I remember sometime around ’93, Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s was bought by the library at the school. It was such a strange thing for this library to get, and I liked the pathology of the work that I saw within [it]. That made me really interested in Los Angeles as a place, as opposed to, say, New York. Years later I went to visit for the first time and I just felt super-comfortable with it, and I knew that I could feed off of that behavioral geographic. So when I wanted to go to graduate school, I only applied to two places— Art Center [College of Design] and UCLA. UCLA didn’t let me in, so I went to Art Center. But it was perfect. I became Mike Kelley’s teaching assistant for three years, and I’ve been pretty happy ever since. It’s also cheaper; you can work outside most of the year; and geographically, there’s a lot of diversity within it. It’s a big suburb. It’s not a real city, you know? And I quite like that about it. It’s so spread out and there’s a lot of hermeticism. People can easily stay isolated for long periods of time, whereas I think the logistics of New York don’t allow that as much.

How do you feel about the proliferation of art fairs?
I don’t really feel one way or another about it, but I think strategically I’ve realized that you need to be more selective or you’ll burn yourself out. And I don’t necessarily have a problem with the idea of people seeing the work, but it’s the context within the work…whether or not it’s shoved into a corner that has a bad floorboard on it…something like that. So those are qualities that are negative, but the fact of the matter is that more people will see, say, Basel Switzerland or Basel Miami than they will this show, and that’s challenging, to say the least.

Do you see fashion glomming onto the art world? Basel Miami has basically turned into a party scene.
I have to say that I don’t know the last time I actually went to an art fair. I mean, I’m in New York for a week, but I know goddamn well I’m not going to Frieze. I would love to if they would let me in with, like, five other people. But I don’t actually like seeing art in that scenario because it really is social—extremely social, and it kind of waters down the experience of what it is that you’re standing in front of. I’m sure for other people that’s a nice thing, to see art at a party, but I typically don’t—unless I absolutely have. I don’t do it.

Sunrise Sunset—does that refer to the fall of empires?
I think that Sunrise Sunset is a title that’s super-open. And I kind of like that. It could easily refer to the fall and rise of an entire empire. It could be a bookend. It could be my entire autobiographical archaeology of my day-to-day existence. I drive off the mountain into the city at sunrise. I drive out of the city, up to the mountain at sunset. I have at least an hour, an hour and a half in the car where there’s nothing but contemplation of what it is that I’m doing. And that again just seemed perfect for a show like this. It’s sort of a mixed bag. It is this rise and fall of the contemplation of what it is that I’m actually working on.

Sterling Ruby

Photo: TROUGH (4837); 2014; Bronze; 133.985 x 110.49 x 233.68 cm / 52 3/4 x 43 1/2 x 92 in

There seems to be a very domestic reference in this show. Can you speak a little bit about that and how it’s crept into your work?
The stove in and of itself—I think that I initially started making these stoves on a much smaller scale, and there were two reasons: I grew up on a farm until I was 18, and our entire source of heating for the house was always the wood-burning stove, so at a certain age I was bound to the chores of chopping wood, stacking wood, and starting and maintaining a fire. In ceramics, I started to think specifically about the truncation of things within the stove. What does the fire mean? What is the alchemy of it? And so I really wanted to make my own stove. We started importing these cast-iron stoves that were similar to the ones that my parents had on the farm, and we were burning scrap lumber, we were burning all of our documents, doing all of these things in the studio. After a while I realized that I wanted to make my own. I didn’t want to rely on other people’s cast-iron stoves, so we started making really small ones just out of cardboard and then casting them. And then I realized I wanted to make a monument to that. So this one is, in particular, a large-scale, fully operational stove.

The large fabric pieces of the flag, the fabric paintings, and fabric collages are really based on quilts. I’ve always been somewhat obsessed…they were one of my early visuals, because we lived so close to Lancaster and I had a lot of friends who were Amish. I saw quilts before I saw any sort of Pop art or geometric art. Over time, I really started to like Japanese boro textiles, which are a kind of transformation from the utilitarian to the aesthetic. With boro textiles, when your clothing gets too worn out from working too hard, you turn it into a quilt or a tapestry. It’s this exchange between something that was once used as clothing for something that is looked at as an aesthetic. And I’m doing the exact opposite—we tend to dye, bleach, and paint fabric canvas in the studio almost every day. Then I hand the scraps to my patternmaker and I have her make clothing. I think in many ways I like the universalness of not only formalism but also recognizable icons of use, value, and associations. I like that. Not everything has to be a complete abstract.

Sterling Ruby

Photo: FLAG (4791); 2014; Bleached and dyed canvas and elastic; 431.8 x 675.6 cm / 170 x 266 in

Is bleaching for you about creating an absence, or is it about putting something onto fabric?

I think of bleach in both of those terms. I like the deduction of bleach—I like that it’s not an additive, it’s a negative. And that’s something Raf [Simons] and I have talked about at length. Also, bleaching is a destructive process, so you’re riding an extremely fine line of things being broken down and deconstructed. Sometimes the pieces get completely chewed through, and other times we time it just right so that we get these really beautiful washes that are almost like photographic processes that turn into negatives.

Has working with Raf informed your practice in other ways?

I think the project with Raf has confirmed the idea of not following an allegiance to hierarchies within art. Why should making clothing be anything better or worse than making a painting? I understand from the art community why there are differentiations between [those], but I think both Raf and I are huge fans of the idea of working within a Bauhaus mentality, one that has no barriers within genres.

Ruby Sterling

Photo: The Cup (4791); 2013; Foam, urethane, wood and spray paint; 233.7 x 293.4 x 223.5 cm / 92 x 115 1/2 x 88 in

You seem to be able to really draw out the plasticity in everything you work with. What is your approach when you’re bringing a new medium into your practice?
I think a lot of the time it’s already there. Maybe it was something that evolved out of another body of work, or something that was kind of trial and error with something previously. Most of the time that’s how it happens. It’s like working on something that is determined already and trying to work with that, and maybe failure of working with that turns into an entire other body, that the material jumps from one to the other. And then sometimes it’s really a matter of looking at it from a different perspective; that there exists something that’s made out of a certain material that is either functional or already exists, but I kind of like the tonality of it or the meaning of it.

Your pieces are obviously very spatial. Is it challenging to create these in your studio and conceive of how it’s going to exist in a gallery setting?

That’s always the hardest thing. I enjoy the installation process, but I’m not a very good preplanner, and I know some artists work off of a diagram, but that never works for me. I need to be in this phase to see the sights and see the crescendos, to see the breathing room between works. The ceiling here in the 18th Street space is considerably difficult because it’s almost like having a train track or a bridge above you. Even though we made a diagram on a computer and tried to plan, it just never works. It doesn’t work. You can’t do it. For a show like this, it makes me anxious to bring everything in and think that maybe we’ll edit half of it out. We don’t really know. I have to give credit to my gallery for this, because I think it’s a leap of faith to let an artist show all of his work. Maybe three pieces are going to go in. I don’t know until we actually start moving things around. But for me it’s a super-special challenge to get everything in and start to look at it—the demographics of viewing things both on the wall and in the space.

Your work looks at institutions and at the same time a lack thereof, with punk influences. How do you think those forces end up playing out?

I don’t always like making something that’s so didactic that it takes one side or the other. What I like the most is when a piece comes together and it alludes to this scenario of self-reflexive acknowledgment of the negative. I think that the pieces, for a lot of people, are very American. They’re very male. But at the same time, I would hope that you could read the self-reflexivity and criticism of that in the scale and you don’t have tropes or colors or the masculinity of it. I don’t think there’s always proportion to such a degree that it’s reveling. Sometimes it’s reveling in the negative of it.

Photos: © Sterling Ruby; Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth, Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

Pass Notes: Sterling Ruby

Violet Hudson gives us the lowdown on fashion’s favourite artist Sterling Ruby.

Who is Sterling Ruby?

If you have been paying attention to the fashion merry-go-round, you will have already seen some of Sterling Ruby’s designs. He collaborated on a punky, collage-inspired menswear AW14 collection with Raf Simons, shown in Paris last week. But Ruby isn’t actually a clothes designer; he’s an exciting young artist of international renown.

Who is he?

A German-born artist who currently lives and works in LA.

What’s his stuff like?

Good question. Ruby doesn’t confine himself to one medium. His work has spanned many oeuvres of art, from canvases and collages to ceramics and ‘nail varnish drawings’. He works in sculpture and in textiles. Immensely versatile, there is no signature Sterling Ruby style – although there are unifying themes if you look carefully enough.

So…how would I recognise one of his pieces?

They share the same punk aesthetic, and are all influenced by societal issues. Ruby has cited schizophrenia as an inspiration, as well as gang warfare, cults and maximum security prisons.

Is he mentally stable?

He is sane, but wildly creative (if those attributes aren’t mutually exclusive).

Tell me more…

He was born on an American military base in Bitburg, Germany. He’s a bright spark: Joyce Carol Oates’ novels are a big influence, and he finds creative stimulation in everything from fascist architecture to LA graffiti.

Who likes him?

The New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, has called him one of the most interesting contemporary artists around. The Guggenheim, MoMA, Tate and Raf Simons are all collectors.

Where can I see his work?

Apart from his work in permanent gallery collections, Ruby has created a public sculpture in Portugal. As for exhibitions, you’ll have to pop over to NY to see him this year. He’s showing at Hauser & Wirth from 9 May – 25 July. See for more details.


Installation view, ‘EXHM’, Hauser & Wirth London, England, 2013 © Sterling Ruby / Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth / Photo: Alex Delfanne

CDCR, (2011)

© Sterling Ruby / Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth /Photo: Robert Wedemeyer


Sterling Ruby at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

January 7th, 2014
Sterling Ruby at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

Artist: Sterling Ruby

Venue: Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle

Exhibition Title: Droppa Blocka

Date: October 27, 2013 – January 14, 2014

Click here to view slideshow

Sterling Ruby at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

Sterling Ruby at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

Sterling Ruby at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens

Full gallery of images, press release and link available after the jump.


Images courtesy of Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Deurle

Press Release:

Sterling Ruby (b. 1972 Germany, lives and works in Los Angeles, U.S.A.) is a multidisciplinary artist who became renowned for his large glassy ceramic sculptures and abstract paintings.  His paintings are reminiscent of dark interpretations of the Colour Field Paintings from the sixties.  His work can as well refer to classic architecture and modern Minimalism, but also to marginality, vandalism and power structures.  His exceptional use of materials and his ability to develop a particularly powerful visual language makes Sterling Ruby one of the most important artists of the beginning of the twenty-first century.  At the museum Dhondt-Dhaenens, Sterling Ruby creates a complete project for the large patio and the garden.


Sterling Ruby

Bonniers Konsthall invites Los Angeles based artist Sterling Ruby to present his first solo exhibition in Sweden.

On December 15th Bonniers Konsthall opens the first large solo exhibition for the Los Angeles based artist Sterling Ruby in Scandinavia. Sterling Ruby, whose been named one of the 2000s most interesting artists, works in a mixture of materials and genres, from glazed biomorphic ceramics to drawings in nail varnish. He takes his subject matter from a wide range of sources, including maximum security prisons, urban gangs, modernist architecture, and the mechanisms of warfare.  His works can be seen as a form of assault on both materials and social power structures.

The universe of Soft Work is by first look playful, soft and humorous but will soon reveal a dimensions of fear or terror. The artist transforms pillows, blankets, and quilts from objects of comfort into ominous sculptural objects that hint at the possibility that safety and security are an illusion. Here the American flag is used as material in gigantic vampire mouths and obese stuffed animals hangs from the roof like macerated cadavers.

The exhibition is organized in association with Centre d’Art Contemporain, Genéva, FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims and MACRO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome,



Wed 9 Jan, The Cool School by Morgan Neville

The Cool School is an abject lesson in how to build an art scene from scratch and what to avoid in the process. The film focuses on the seminal Ferus Gallery, which groomed the LA art scene from a loose gang of idealistic beatniks into a circuit of competitive, often brilliant artists, including Ed Kienholz, Ed Ruscha, Craig Kauffman, Wallace Berman, Ed Moses and Robert Irwin.

Wed 23 Jan, Surfer Aesthetics. Liv Stoltz on LA art scene

Los Angeles is home to not only iconic artist names, but also an emerging young artist scene. In this lecture, curator Liv Stoltz talks about the younger generation that she had the opportunity to meet in Los Angeles when curating the exhibition LA Trash & Treasure at Milliken, 2006 – one of whom was Sterling Ruby.

Wed 6 Feb, Graffiti and the established art scene

Graffiti and street art and its characteristic expression has long inspired artists working in the institutional art scene. What happens when the terms change contexts? Jacob Kimvall, a doctor of art history and author of Zero Tolerance – The fight against graffiti 
in conversation with gallery owners Jonas Kleerup and Jeanette Steinsland, representing a new generation of street art inspired artists.

Jacob Kimvall is an art historian and writer. He is currently a PhD student in art history at Stockholm University and working on a thesis focusing on street art, and among other things, investigating the interplay between art institutions and street art. Kimvall himself has a background in graffiti art, and in 1992 co-founded the international graffiti periodical Underground Productions.

Jeanette Steinsland is a curator and head of the gallery Steinsland Berliner which opened in 2008. She was the first to exhibit the street artist Banksy in Stockholm and today her gallery organizes street art walks. Jeanette is currently working on an exhibition at Bomuldsfabriken in Arendal, Norway.

Jonas Kleerup is a gallerist and head of Gallery Kleerup in Stockholm. Since opening in 2006, Gallery Kleerup has represented several artists inspired by street art. Jonas also runs the project Villa Contemporary Art.

Wed 20 Feb, Jörg Heiser: Who is Sterling Ruby?

Jörg Heiser, co-editor of Frieze Magazine and co-publisher of Frieze d/e, and one of the most influential names in contemporary art criticism, gives a presentation of Sterling Ruby, putting his practice into a broader context where both Ruby’s sources of inspiration, such as minimalism, Mike Kelley and brutalistic architecture,  and Ruby’s later ”softer” works are discussed.

Jörg Heiser is co-editor of frieze magazine, co-publisher of frieze d/e, and writes for the national daily Süddeutsche Zeitung. He is a visiting professor at Kunstuniversität Linz, and teaches at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste Hamburg. His book All of a Sudden: Things that Matter in Contemporary Art (Sternberg Press) was published in 2008, and he co-edited (with Eva Grubinger) the volume Sculpture Unlimited (Sternberg Press 2011). Heiser curated the exhibition “Romantic Conceptualism” (2007, Kunsthalle Nürnberg, BAWAG Foundation Vienna). He lives in Berlin.

Wed 27 Feb, Does material play a role in artists’ practices today?

This seminar focuses on sculptural materials and asks questions surrounding what materiality can be seen as today. What information
is inherent in contemporary artists’ material choice and which shifts have influenced sculptural processes. Three artists working in three-dimensional fields discuss their view of sculpture today. Confirmed participants are Zandra Ahl and Olav Westphalen.

Zandra Ahl is a artisan and professor at Konstfack in Stockholm. Her work has often focused on taste, class and power. In her practice, she has produced and curated exhibitions, organized talks and seminars, and worked with the fanzine Slicker. She also made the documentary short film “National Museum and I” (2008). This year Nilleditions re-issued Zandra and Emma Olsson’s “Swedish Taste” (2001), and in October she will open “Family Outlet” at Gustavsbetgs art gallery.

Olav Westphalen is an artist and professor of Fine Art at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, specializing in the performative characteristics of art.

Wed 6 Mar,
 Soft Work according Kakan Hermansson

Karin ”Kakan” Hermansson, Swedish artist, tv personality, DJ and club organizer, makes a more personal tour of the exhibition. As an artist, Kakan Hermansson works with questions surrounding gender, class and sexuality. She has arranged such events as the nail-art salon Girls Club in both clubs and in the art world.

Wed 13 th Mar. Florence Derieux on Soft Work

Florence Derieux is a French art historian and curator. Since 2008 she has been director of the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, reims where she curated the previous Soft Work exhibition and initiated the basic idea of the tour.


All is subject to change. Limited number of seats. 80 kr; 60 kr for students and pensioners. Free for members and everyone under 18 years. Get your ticket from 11 am the same day at the Konsthall reception desk.



Sterling Ruby: EXHM


Contemporary art

Various venues

Until Sat May 4 2013

  • Free
Installation view of Sterling Ruby at Hauser & Wirth, 2013.

Installation view of Sterling Ruby at Hauser & Wirth, 2013.

Time Out says

Posted: Wed Apr 3 2013

Drip-spattered dirty monumental effigies to America dominate Sterling Ruby’s first show with Hauser & Wirth. However, the Los Angeles-based artist isn’t paying homage to the land of the free; rather, he’s exposing his misgivings.

Enormous urethane sculptures are displayed alongside debris-encrusted collages. Akin to stalagmites and missile weaponry, the floor pieces derive a corporeal quality from the poured red, white and blue pigments that run, sweat-like, down their surfaces. These glistening forms are branded with their own titles, ‘We Luv Strugglin’, ‘The Pot is Hot’, and ‘Drag On’, honouring the protest slogan. Ruby also uses acronyms to reference the very government agencies he’s questioning, most blatantly in ‘CDCR’ – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations.

There are odes to American craft in his quilt-like soft fabric sculptures. ‘Pile (4129)’ slouches on the floor, its stars and stripes material oozing red droplets, while the bulbous form of ‘Husbands + Drops (4133)’ hangs from th gallery ceiling like a disemboweled cuddly toy.

If only the exhibition’s slick production had taken on more of the works grungy poetics, Ruby would be as much of a superpower as the organisations he’s poking at.

Freire Barnes



    Sterling Ruby installation view of MOCA Focus: Sterling Ruby, SUPERMAX 2008 2008 photo by Brian Forrest

  • September 22, 2011

    Sterling Ruby and Lucio Fontana


    Andrea Rosen

    525 West 24th Street, Chelsea

    Through Oct. 15

    Pairing Sterling Ruby and Lucio Fontana is an inspired idea. Fontana (1899-1968) was the Italian avant-gardist known for cutting neat, graceful slices into his own monochrome paintings. He violated sheets of copper, too, leaving them bent, scratched and ragged along the edges of the incisions. Three examples from 1962 are included here. Less well known and compelling in a different way are his ceramics: pedestal-size, expressionist sculptures of vigorously worked and beautifully glazed clay. In two representations of the Crucifixion from the 1950s the literally torn and gouged clay and the figuratively tortured flesh of Jesus become one.

    Mr. Ruby, who was born in 1972 and lives in Los Angeles, toys freely with multiple styles. He has the attitude of a grunge rocker with a head full of Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. A big, bracingly ugly bronze sculpture resembles part of a subterranean archaeological dig. Displayed on pedestals, flat-bottomed, crudely hand-molded clay basins contain broken pieces of other basins and pours of brightly colored glazes that resemble toxic chemicals and tarry sludge. Large, framed collages are mainly made from pieces of stained and splattered cardboard that appear to have been used initially as studio floor covers.

    Fontana and Mr. Ruby share a mission to uncover violent psychic depths that genteel idealism covers up. Yet in so doing, both exercise acute conceptual and aesthetic sophistication. (Mr. Ruby might be the love child of the artists and university professors Paul McCarthy and Mike Kelley.) They are mandarins masquerading as barbarians in the wishful service of convulsive beauty.



Full color illustrations
Paperback, 152 pages, English

Introduction by Jeremy Strick
Cataogue essays by Sarah Conaway, Erik Frydenborg, and Philip Kaiser

Published by The Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-933751-10-8

30 USD

  • Monocle
    Sterling Ruby

Sterling Ruby is now at the top of the LA artworld. The Wall Street Journal recently said Ruby is the number one artist who will enter art history.

  • ========================================================================
  • 7 Dec 2012
  • The Wall Street Journal Asia


40, lives in Los Angeles

Gestures of apocalyptic angst. Mr. Ruby is a pro at toggling several gritty series of artworks that collectively chronicle what he calls his “generation’s unrest”—from ceramic bowls that evoke ancient dig sites to drippy fang-toothed “Vampire” sculptures to neon graffiti-style paintings. At a time when some art schools still preach cerebral conceptualism, Mr. Ruby’s eagerness to get messy makes him look like a maverick. When it comes to coveted artists, London collector Tiqui Atencio says this artist is “first on everyone’s list.”

sterling ruby 5

Sterling Ruby 2

sterling ruby 1


Apr 5, 2010

Sterling Ruby

Posted by Honey
Filed in All entries, Art



Sterling Ruby’s three dimensional structures engage with traditional considerations of sculpture being inherently relative to the human body: things which occupy real space (rather than painting’s illusionary space) are experienced physically. Measured against minimalism’s hallowed purity of the object, where form is asserted on a conceptual level, Ruby’s Kiss Trap Kismet is a radical convergence of the sublime and abject. Presented as a towering arch, Kiss Trap Kismet poses object as organism – primal, totemic, exuding a raw, animal power in its visceral aesthetic. Mounted on a graffitied plinth, Ruby’s sculpture teeters between instinctive revulsion and stounding beauty, drawing reference to contemporary ritual, aggression, and urban experience.



Art in Review


Published: March 21, 2008


Sterling Ruby and Metro Pictures

“Bread Basket,” a sculpture from 2007 by Sterling Ruby.

The Drawing Center

Sterling Ruby is one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century. That’s only eight years, of course, but the claim may stick. He makes obstreperous, richly glazed ceramic vessels that suggest charred remains; totemic sculptures webbed with mucousy, macramélike drips of resin; large, dark collages dotted with constellations of tiny images of artifacts; and drawings, photographs and short videos.Mr. Ruby draws from ancient art, graffiti, sports, science fiction and the persistence of primitivism on all fronts. Minimalism and other forms of authority are frequent targets. Most important, he situates all this in a continuum of material, process, history and emotion.

Mr. Ruby, who lives in Los Angeles, stormed New York last spring with an inchoate two-gallery show at Metro Pictures and Foxy Production. “Superoverpass,” a big white Formica arch à la Tony Smith — expertly finished but grimy and incised with graffiti — turned Foxy into an eerie mausoleum. Metro displayed the drawings, several increasingly phallic totems and a large ceramic mortar with pestles swimming in glaze. It all fulfilled the battle cry of his most widely quoted anti-poster: “Finish Architecture. Kill Minimalism. Long Live the Amorphous Law.”

Now Mr. Ruby is back with a pair of slightly quieter, clarifying exhibitions. The Metro show is his first devoted entirely to ceramics, a medium he took up about 10 years ago, evolving an innovative, violent variation of “hand built” that suggests post-Schnabel Peter Voulkos. The 14 works straddle the line between decoration and tragedy. Some suggest votive objects adorned with misshapen amphora handles. Several contain small bowls, as if you were supposed to scoop up their bright, slurred glazes. “Bread Basket,” splattered with shiny oranges, black and blues and a crusty white, resembles a child’s car seat or a football helmet after some cataclysm.

At the Drawing Center Mr. Ruby has filled the small gallery with drawings, collages and photographs, as well as two enormous, Formica-covered, benchlike monoliths whose incisions include “cop” in enormous letters. Here glaze is replaced by red nail polish on paper, and the artist’s vessels are primarily tattoo-covered bodies seen in photographs.


Sterling Ruby / frac champagne-ardenne

Exposition Sterling Ruby / frac champagne-ardenne

sterling ruby 3

A Hard Look during Sterling Ruby’s Cushy and Satirical Solo Exhibition in France

| June 5, 2012 |
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REIMS — ”Soft Work,” Sterling Ruby’s initial solo uncover in France, non-stop final week during a Champagne-Ardenne FRAC in Reims. It focuses on several new pieces in an garb initial recognised in 2005, and outlines a depart for a artist, who formerly worked essentially with some-more plain materials. Here, as a pretension indicates, density predominates by a use of pressed fabric — though a ideas are hard-hitting.

The muster was curated by FRAC executive Florence Derieux — a opposite chronicle of it was presented during a Geneva Contemporary Art Center progressing this year. It includes works imitative vampire mouths that hang from a rafters, red drizzling from their teeth like cushy metaphors for consumerism. The array “Husband Child” consists of beanbags made like bum and was desirous by a beanbag chairs found in standard American TV bedrooms of a 1980s. Other pieces are some-more vertical, like a set of thin, intertwined sausages that remember a bars of a prison. “This era of artists, generally in a United States though not customarily there, has stopped desiring in this antithesis between condensation and formalism,” Derieux told ARTINFO France. “There is a arrange of reusing of these strategies.”

The sculptures in “Soft Work” — that is on perspective by Aug 26 — have been sewn with several pressed and colorful fabrics, some of that are recycled, while others were purchased. Certain pieces are lonesome with dripped paint à la Jackson Pollock, while others underline tangible patterns, like a American flag. At initial peek a designation is fun and humorous — a large cushiony playground. But there’s unequivocally zero so soothing about this show; a meditative is utterly radical. Erotic though not vulgar, domestic though peaceful, a designation touches on 4 vital subjects: a United States, feminism, mercantile liberalism, and a penal system.

“‘Soft Work’ is customarily a terse term. It’s not hard, it’s not solid, it’s malleable,” Ruby told ARTINFO France. “This tenure refers to what a designation is. It’s a fiber sculpture though it’s also in anxiety to several centuries of art regulating textiles, to art therapy, and to feminism, especially. In America, there is a domesticity that is not compared with masculinity — or if it is, it’s customarily compared with a difference, a contradiction.” Ruby, who complicated French speculation in college, cites a incluence of Foucault‘s papers on a penal system, heterotopias or spaces on a margins of society, passionate norms, domesticity, and governmental constraints on a individual.

Born in 1972 to a Dutch mom and an American father, Ruby chose to work in Los Angeles, where he was an partner to a late Mike Kelley, who became a tighten friend. Derieux pronounced that some of a works are an loyalty to Kelley, who committed self-murder progressing this year. “The star of ‘Husband Child’ is utterly tighten to that of Mike Kelley,” she said. “Why certain practices, certain tellurian activities are ascribed to women, for example, sewing, etc. — they had talked about this a lot.”



a conversation with sterling ruby

27 April, 2011

Berlin rents might be going up, but Berliners still root for gritty ideological integrity in art. Sprüth Magers’s decision to present Sterling Ruby‘s I Am Not Free Because I Can Be Exploded Anytime during Gallery Weekend exemplifies that commitment.

Ruby is a Los Angeles-based artist working primarily with large-scale ceramics, spray-painted canvases, poured urethane sculptures and collages. He was born in Bitburg, Germany but grew up in Baltimore and suburban Pennsylvania. His background includes a degree in agriculture and experience in construction, which he applies to the massive proportions of his physically intimidating sculptures. A sense of being overwhelmed and even threatened activates his art, which largely addresses America’s methods of containment, restraint, restriction and punishment. Supermax, his 2008 exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, which evoked the feeling of being incarcerated, is the foundation for his solo show at Sprüth Magers. Here, he focuses on America’s insidious paranoia—and its use and abuse by the American government.

Ana Finel Honigman: How do you define and value freedom?

Sterling Ruby: To me, personally, freedom is always about being able to set up my own parameters and to have a private space in order to work through them. I definitely don’t see myself as an anarchist, but coming up against external limitations is where the definition of freedom becomes less abstract. Being able to work the way I do, as an artist, seems like freedom… for sure.

AFH: On ideological, not just petty logistical levels, how does America’s obsession with terrorist threats limit our profound freedom?

SR: America’s obsession with terrorism, in general, is a scapegoat for its own self-importance. What I mean is that our paranoia regarding terrorism is used to give primacy to the ideologies of America ahead of other countries. This kind of U.S. righteousness holds countries of “difference” into account for not being similar to us. We also have a real predisposition to equate fighting with freedom, which creates a situation where conflict and liberation go hand in hand with one another.

AFH: What were the circumstances when you first encountered the collaboration between Jenny Holzer and Lady Pink?

SR: I first saw these works in Munich at Sprüth Magers. Philomene Magers introduced me to this collaboration between Holzer and Pink, and I immediately fell in love with the series. Holzer is one of my all-time favourites, but her works are so clinical and polished. The Lady Pink graffiti images accompanied by Holzer’s stenciled texts seemed much dirtier, less finished, almost illicit.

AFH: Does RWB (Red, White, Blue) also involve England, France and other countries with these colours dominant in their flag? Is this show essentially referencing America, or the West in general?

RS: I suppose it could be seen as reference to those other countries, but in this instance it is an autobiographical take on being an American and associating that colour combination with American power.
For most of my youth I grew up in rural Pennsylvania and quite often I would see shirts, bumper stickers and posters that read “THESE COLORS DON’T RUN.” This slogan perfectly illustrates the symbolic attachment of Americans to the colours of the flag, and again there is that implied readiness to fight . . . it has always stayed with me.

AFH: What is your ideal for government involvement in citizens’ lives?

SR: Stay out—stay out and let us crash if we need to. I suppose that’s not a real answer. My ideal for the American government is for it to allocate more funding and tax revenue towards mental and physical health, change the drug laws, raise education levels, revise prison and correctional standards, and reverse its continued escalation of funding for the military industrial complex. But this is difficult, we are such a large and diverse country, and we have come to be seen as the peacekeeper for the world, which is very schizophrenic. You know. It often seems impossible to make this kind of change in the trajectory that we have had for so many years—we’re fucked.

AFH: How have Robert Morris, Rosemarie Trockel, Jenny Holzer and Lady Pink influenced your work and world view?

SR: That’s difficult to sum up and even more difficult to give credit where credit is due. Morris defied Judd’s Minimalism by making it psychological, physical, theatrical and personal. Trockel’s work has been very important to me, she seems like the logical figure to continue the Beuys trajectory of alchemy—political, formal and healing processes of actual art making. Holzer is militant, she is unforgiving in her subject matter and I admire that a lot. Lady Pink is the exception here, I was interested in her work because of her use of spray-paint and her themes of sexuality, which you don’t see very often in graffiti. I’ve been influenced by urban environments for a while, particularly since I moved to Los Angeles 10 years ago. This is not street art in particular, but more street expression, what happens in the streets as survival adaptation. Lady Pink is an anomaly to what is happening now in “formal” street art. I don’t know what she’s been up to recently, but I quite like this set of collaborative work from the 80s.

AFH: What attracts you to Minimalism?

SR: My first real introduction to Minimalism was in grad school at Art Center, primarily through Donald Judd’s writing, which seemed hierarchical. I understood Judd’s interest in laying out the initial discourse, which was a foundation of simple industrialised objects or sculptures with no personality. Objects that were realised without the actual hand of intervention, this was also similar to Michael Fried’s Art and Objecthood. Judd seemed to be responding negatively to Abstract Expressionism.

I started to think about simple minimalist forms in urban environments and how often I saw them demarcated, as a kind of existential “tagging”—you know, citizens trying to gain footing and legacy by placing their name on something with object presence… within their own community. Of course in Los Angeles this was primarily a gang-initiated activity—claiming that a certain territory belonged to you. For me it seemed to be similar to Judd’s possessive strategy 30 years prior. It is all about territory.

AFH: How does Berlin compare to L.A.?

SR: I’m not sure, I suppose that they are both inexpensive and somewhat sprawling. They both seem like easy artist cities. Germany seems to have a similar artist and education connection to Los Angeles—artists still teach.

AFH: How do you respond to common anti-Americanism in Europe?

SR: I completely understand it. I was born in Bitburg, Germany. My mother was from Eindhoven, Netherlands, and I still have a big “Dutch” family there that I visit frequently. I’m quite aware of the hostility that America seems to disseminate. I get it.

AFH: How does paranoia in America manifest differently from elsewhere?

SR: Well, we’re crazy—we worry about everything. There is such a tension between wanting freedom and wanting protection. We are true historical schizophrenics. Paranoia and fear serve to legitimise our actions in regard to what we produce both politically as well as culturally. I suppose that it is a good time for me to say that I wouldn’t want it any other way. I like the push and pull effect that America has had on me—it is true contemporary existentialism.

AFH: What makes political art successful?

SR: Political art only seems to be successful when it has no bias or hides its bias. I suppose that most art has an agenda, but quite frankly I don’t like art that preaches as much as I like art that calmly reveals circumstances or societal problems that most individuals ignore.

by Ana Finel Honigman


STERLING RUBYFALSE POSITIVE PROPHETSThe False Positive Prophets will bring light to the fact that we cannot continue in the ways that we have in the past. The False Positive Prophets will foretell of the final outcome, and herald an end to the continuum. The False Positive Prophets will cut through all cynicism, ironic contemporary endeavors and meaningless gestures to shed light on how truly fucked we are. Achieving these states will require psychotic-like divination.VISIONARY SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCESeveral diagnostic categories have been proposed for the term, psychotic-like divination, which have the potential for false-positive outcomes. Two of the most promising categories, from recent studies and limited control groups, are problem-solving schizophrenia and positive disintegration. In direct contrast to contemporary mainstream psychology, psychotic-like divination sees “disturbed” or “harmful states” (tension, anxiety, depression, psychosis et al.) as necessary conditions and conduits for growth. Further categories will include creative illness, spiritual emergencies, mystical-experience with psychotic features, metanoiac voyages and visionary states. The term Visionary Spiritual Experience from a False Positive Prophet or “VSE from FPP” is used to describe how, through the guidance of such an instructor, one can achieve these states. For the purposes of this study, the term visionary is used as it is in anthropological and religious studies to refer to a person whose mental condition leads that individual to see things more clearly than the general population and to propose radical changes for the entire society. Such visionary experiences are more likely to occur in societies undergoing rapid and devastating social change like the United States of fucking America.DEVASTATES
te, dev·as·tat·ed, dev·as·tat·ing, (see also: United·dev·a·States)
1. To lay waste; destroy.
2. To overwhelm; confound; stun: was devastated by the overwhelming amount of apocalyptic information.PROBLEM-SOLVING SCHIZOPHRENIA: A CASE STUDYThe Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow just won the 2010 Oscar award for “Best Picture”. This says something about what is going on today, here and now, but maybe not what you might be thinking. Actor Jeremy Renner plays Staff Sergeant William James. James is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) sergeant who gets stationed as the team leader in the U.S. Army’s Bravo Company during their last month in Baghdad, Iraq. James has a deep addiction to the risk that this job entails; he has a reckless demeanor when dismantling bombs, and he continuously places his company in jeopardy while out in the field. He plays ARMA HD military simulation games while off duty. James finishes his tour of duty and returns to his wife and infant son in America. Within this domestic situation, he is uninterested, alien, and absent. He quickly requests to serve yet another year of duty in Iraq.Many film critics have praised The Hurt Locker for its accurate portrayal of contemporary warfare. The complexities and uncertainties of this film, stirred a contemplative debate regarding what side we are on, if any. But the fact is, that James doesn’t seem to be particularly patriotic, or even loyal to his task or company; instead he seems to be a pure product of his symbiotic relationship with the bombs he is dismantling. He does not exist without this relationship. Without a war zone, without an enemy, without an apparatus to disengage, he does not exist. He is a case study for contemporary schizophrenia, or Problem-Solving Schizophrenia (PSS), created by a zone of habituated risk.SUPERMAXI was born in Germany to an American father and a Dutch mother. I was raised in rural Pennsylvania, but would visit my mother’s family in the Netherlands. So, I am a citizen of the United States of America, but with a bit of a remote perspective. America revels in a kind of cultural slumming; we identify with bad behavior more than any other country. America wants to be seen as a force for good across the world. To maintain this delusion, America must keep its darkness hidden and contained. At the same time, it is almost expected for an American to have the need to consume violence, as if it were a kind of longing.The Supermax is a prison constructed to be on permanent lockdown, prisoners are kept in solitary confinement, and often under sensory deprivation. American citizens are kept in homes watching television shows like MSNBC’s Lockup, where we see what it is like on “the inside.” This is interesting because, usually, one wants to be on the inside, and the outside is the bad place. The Supermax as an allegory of contemporary American society is like a beacon of the end. I look at Supermax as the closest thing I can imagine to hell.TRAUMA THEORYRobert J. Lifton and Dominick LaCapra are two authors who have considered at length a kind of “trauma theory” by means of psycho-historical studies. Robert J. Lifton is an expert on cults and thought reform. He has identified recent generations as embodying an attitude of apocalyptic uncertainty. Dominick LaCapra wrote two books, History and Memory After Auschwitz and Writing History, Writing Trauma that examine how societal violations throughout history have launched a kind of aftermath in which the dominant society became confused about who it was or who it thought it should be. They trace this trauma through multiple generations, and expound on how history has become a kind of baggage or burden for us. This baggage impedes the growth of the society, and as the timeline of history gets bigger, so does each generation’s burden. We feel ashamed of the atrocities committed in the past, but continue to commit equal atrocities in the present and look to the future with extreme apprehension and anxiety. We see no possibility of a correction, just a continuation and a continuum. We perceive ourselves universally as both victims and perpetrators and this burden will only get heavier as time goes on.BASIN THEOLOGYI collect catalogs and books, published by private and museum collections, of knives and ceramic pottery, objects from a dirty, functional past that are now being preserved in a sterilized refuge. These objects, in a sense, have been separated from their use-value. They are remnants, signs and memories of a previous utilitarian life. It is as if these knives and vessels have been removed from one functional world and placed into another kind of world, one that worships primal significance. Which I suppose means that these pieces still have a use-value, just a different kind.I have been making large ceramic basins and filling them with broken materials that look like animal remains and architectural waste. I am smashing all of my previous attempts, and futile, contemporary gestures, and placing them into a mortar, and grinding them down with a blunt pestle. I am doing this as a way of releasing a certain guilt. If I put all of these remnants into a basin, and it gets taken away from me, then I am no longer responsible for all my misdirected efforts. I will no longer have to be burdened with the heaviness of this realization. This is my basin theology. (Visionary Spiritual Experience from Vessels and Containers/VSE-VC)THE OUTSIDER AND THE DEEP SAD PITOur generation and those who come after are going to have to redefine our relationship to “the outsider”. This is not because we will reconsider our relationship to those who we perceive to be different, oppositional, or marginal, but because we will be lamenting the loss of our belief in “the inside”. When history and conditioning disallow this generation to feel autonomous, then inevitably we will feel as though we have lost control over that autonomy. The idea- -that this generation’s particular beliefs and actions are innate and unique to its identity –will inevitably become trumped by the weight of historical precedence. This will be our burden and our baggage. The product of this final reckoning will be the Deep Sad Pit.A NEW GENERATIONYoung contemporary art, particularly in the US has become abstract and formal as if in direct opposition of 90’s post-modernist and post-conceptualist terms. This return to abstract expressions and formalism is a response to the Deep Sad Pit. This new formalism brings us out of the Deep Sad Pit and into a New Era. This new formalism will heal our current state of confusion, and our lamentations about what to do next. This new formalism is a sign of our disengagement. This new formalism is a cheap and lazy cry for attention. Are we embarrassed by our abstract expression? Do we find comfort in its excess and effortlessness. This new formalism is a False Positive Prophet that will lead to a Visionary Spiritual Experience. The new curriculum will enforce the reading of “The Spiritual In Art: Abstract Painting” in opposition to “Relational Aesthetics”. Our teachers told us that this was not possible. They said that too much was destroyed, that too much was known. But this is our generation’s burden to discover. It is our burden, it is our formalism, it is our New Era.Sterling Ruby 2010


Sterling Ruby


Submitted by Wayne on Mon, 2011-10-31 22:24.

American artist Sterling Ruby’s first solo exhibition in China

American artist Sterling Ruby’s first solo exhibition in China

“In this exhibition the artist is exploring the idea of the vampire as a way of reassessing the uncontrollable and insatiable drives that inform the darker aspects of human behavior.

Submitted by Wayne on Thu, 2010-02-25 22:59.

"These works bring what Michael Fried forty years ago called the theatricality of Minimalist sculpture to a gruesome point." AF

“These works bring what Michael Fried forty years ago called the theatricality of Minimalist sculpture to a gruesome point.” AF

Submitted by Wayne on Mon, 2008-10-20 21:00.

Raf Simons' Tokyo store "remixed" by artist Sterling Ruby Image via kultureflash

Raf Simons’ Tokyo store “remixed” by artist Sterling Ruby Image via kultureflash


Sterling Ruby's Ashtrays

Sterling Ruby’s Ashtrays

October 8 – November 6, 2010

October 7, 18.00 – 21.00

15, Rue des Minimes
1000 Brussels

The Pierre Marie Giraud gallery organizes regularly “solo shows” of the most significant figures in contemporary ceramics. From october 7th to november 6th, the gallery will feature for the first time artist Sterling Ruby, internationally known for the large variety of media and techniques he uses. The artist will present “Ashtrays,” an intriguing series of colorful and unusually shaped ceramics.

Born in 1972, Sterling Ruby lives and works in Los Angeles. His creations are very much sought after by American and European collectors and noted by arts critics at exhibitions in New York, London, Miami, Cologne and Paris. At the last Paris FIAC, his productions were endlessly astonishing in the very diverse directions he explored in order to deconstruct the norms and assert his own freedom of creative thought.

Sterling Ruby is well known for his propensity to confront all and any power or social pressure mechanism, including the major institutional art forms. Social transgression, devious attitudes, delusion, paranoia, repressed libido, are so many subjects “constellating his work.”

The creative act, for him, asserts the individual, and lets him break away from well mannered shackles, by distorting the use of media.

Created in 2010, Ruby Sterling’s ceramic “Ashtrays” explore the traditional language of design, art brut and minimalism: we are delivered unidentifiable work, bearing the intrinsic stamp of an art that is timeless and oblivious of fashion.

At the occasion of the exhibition a catalogue will be published.


Sterling Ruby Zen Ripper

Sterling Ruby Zen Ripper

The first time I had the chance to see Sterling Ruby’s work was two years ago at Emi Fontana’s gallery historically located at the address Via Bligly 42 in Milano: the show was composed of black and white pictures based on the torsos of female body builders and candles as well as totemic, dark and vaguely anthropomorphic, sculptures recalling the dripping of the lit candles. “Recombines” – that was the name of the 2006 exhibition – suggested an interest in both the imposing and the elusive.

Sterling Ruby Zen Ripper

The same can be said of “Zen Ripper”: the gallery is invaded with big, geometric sculptures made of formica sprayed with colourful textures and, now and then, cut with symbols and phrases as the ones that can be found on trees or park benches made by teenagers who want to leave a mark of their presence. There is a sharp contrast between the sculptures which seem to come from the minimalist tradition of neat and geometric shapes and the almost camouflage-like painting that disorients the viewer visiting the labyrinthic installation.

Sterling Ruby Zen Ripper

“Zen Ripper” opened in parallel with another exhibition of the Los Angeles based artist in the area: “Grid Ripper” held at Bergamo Museum of Contemporary art GAMEC which is only an hour or so away from Milano and it’s definitely worth the visit.

Date: September 19th – November 10th, 2008
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 11:00-19:30
Place: Galleria Emi Fontana, Milano
Address: Viale Bligny, 42, 20136 Milano
Tel: +39 02 58322237


Sterling Ruby

Sterling Ruby Geometric Study 2005 inkjet print with red pen on paper 13″ x 19″

Sterling Ruby 90-Degree-Cryer 2004 Lambda print mounted with sintra and plexiglas 20″ x 25″

I’ve seen Sterling Ruby‘s work in Foxy Production‘s rooms before, and it pulls me in every time. I can’t explain why. Even once inside, there seem to be so many questions unanswered; in fact I think that includes most of the questions, but you can tell he’s very serious about asking. While I admit his investigations are of a kind which wouldn’t occur to me, or perhaps to most any viewer, they manage to give his unique aesthetic an extraordinary intensity just for their being posed.

Yeah, I really like them.

One caution: The two images above don’t manage to do justice to the actual work, on view in the gallery as part of a very good small group show, “Geo,” until February 12.

[both images from Foxy Production]


Sterling Ruby. Soft Work

Catégorie: art, exhibition, featuresPas de commentaires
27 February 2012

at Centre d’Art Contemporains, Geneva
from 24 February – 22 April 2012
all images © WFW

For his first solo exhibition in Switzerland – that opened a few days ago at the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva,  Los Angeles based artist STERLING RUBY (1972) toys freely with a series of large-scale installations of soft sculptural works designed especially for this exhibition.

RUBY makes art of myriad forms which includes ceramic vessels, enormously phallic polyurethane stalagmites, minimalist cubes “defaced” by graffiti, photographs painted with red nail polish or video works. Alternately raw and elegant, degraded and ballsy, his works depict a fascination with the repressive overtones of minimalism, architecture and the history of abstraction.

Coming from an artist known for working in an excess of media, STERLING RUBY‘s current exhibition in Geneva is surprisingly single-minded. In fact, the exhibition focuses on a significant part of his body of work that has not received specific attention until now. Pillows, blankets and quilts are transformed from objects of comfort into sculptural objects that hint at the possibility that safety and security are an illusion. He also used his soft sculptural material to transform threatening or aggressive subject matter into playfully pop-like form. However, just as his previous exhibitions, it is all about overwhelming the viewer with objects, color and surfaces.

RUBY’s vocabulary is constantly mutating and expressing danger, as in the animal kingdom where the evolutionary expression of bright colors distinguish a poisonous creature. Similarly, in a manmade environment florescent colors are used to warn or avert, to caution or police, to highlight or even to castigate, as with the choice of a florescent orange uniform for a prisoner. Color is sometimes easy to overlook, yet considering his formal choices RUBY proves to be a well-versed student of that artistic tradition. – by STEVEN PULIMOOD for 032c #20

Soft Sculpture is currently on view at Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva until 22 April 2012


There Is No There
Miami-based. Internationally-sourced. Contemporary art site. Primary Documents. Local Explication.

Event Horizon: Sterling Ruby at the Rubell Family Collection

by Hunter Braithwaite on Jan 3, 2012 • 10:04 am No Comments

“In Mississippi it is difficult to achieve a vista.” –Barry Hannah

“When the links of the signifying chains snap, then we have schizophrenia in the form of a rubble of distinct and unrelated signifiers.” That’s Fredric Jameson, outlining what he calls subjective schizophrenia, one of them postmodern maladies that we keep hearing about. His diagnosis also fits the Down and Out in Detroit and LA work of Sterling Ruby. In his rubble, one finds chunks of the New York School’s cloudwhipped façade, discolored by the gang tags of East LA. As tangled ends of the cultural continuum, they constantly try to snuff the other out. Moreover, as once separate levels of culture, quarantined from the other, their collapse reveals not so much a negation of cultural difference, but of space.

Sterling Ruby, SP170, 2011, Spray paint on canvas, 160 x 235 x 2 in.

Viewed this way, it makes sense that the paintings are preoccupied with atmospheric perpective. Created with spray paint on canvas, the images arise and retreat into a lo-gloss haze of pigment–cue the schizophrenic dispersion of subject. The color scheme recalls a heat-sensitive camera, or Predator’s vision. The dot, a puncture wound and a structuring element, lands on the cultural register somewhere between Ben-Day and an arterial spurt. And then there is the line: vertical and horizontal, repeated. This horizon underscores the work.

A horizon provides structure, be that geospatial, or narrative (John Wayne riding off into the sunset at the end of Red River). Speaking to the border between ex- and internality, it is the easiest way to locate oneself. Sugimoto, when attempting to photograph the primitive moment of naming, photographed the line between sky and sea.

Ruby comments on the distance between the subject and the landscape in his 2010-2011 essay, American Perspectives: “Our generation and those that come after are going to have to redefine their relationship to ‘the outsider.’ This is not because we will reconsider our relationship to those who we perceive to be different, oppositional, or marginal, but because we will be lamenting the loss of our belief in ‘the inside.’” Being outside history is a condition of what Karl Jaspers defined as an Axial Age, or the brief period between social epochs where thought flourishes. It is obvious that America has come to a turning point, but many, the artist included, are not optimistic about time to come.

Sterling Ruby, SP171, 2011, Spray paint on canvas, 160 x 235 x 2 in.

But the thing about the horizon is there’s just one. What is one to make of Ruby’s paintings, where the line jitters top to bottom? One can begin with parallax. Freshman year geometry example: Look at something twenty feet away. Close your right eye. Open it, then close your left eye. The object will oscillate. This phenomenon, which becomes more pronounced on the astronomical scale, is an easy allegory for the multiplicity of self. Take this excerpt from Joyce:

“What’s parallax?…Never know anything about it. Waste of time. Gasballs spinning about, crossing each other, passing. Same old dingdong always. Gas: then solid: then world: then cold: then dead shell drifting around, frozen rock, like that pineapple rock. The moon. Must be a new moon out, she said. I believe there is…I was happier then. Or was that I? Or am I now I?” (Ulysses, Episode 8, Lines 578-608)

Sterling Ruby, SP173, 2011, Spray paint on canvas, 160 x 235 x 2 in.

So while the illusory movement of a distant (solitary) object testifies to a plurality of the subject, these paintings, with their multiple horizons vibrating in tandem, almost completely dislocate the viewer. This complication of perspective reveals much larger breakdowns. The failure is not visual, but ideological. With the single horizon, we are simultaneously inside and outside of a space that is once shifting and contained. A line across a composition provides this ontological framework. (A comparison: the meditative internal space on view at the Rothko Chapel). By multiplying the horizon, the paintings seem to place us outside the outside-removed from the entire network.

Sterling Ruby, SP170, 2011, Spray paint on canvas, 160 x 235 x 2 in.

In case you were wondering, the distance to the horizon can be identified with the following formula: distance(km)=3.856√height (from sea level). For a person of average height standing on the beach, the horizon is 5km (3.1 miles) away. However, it’s rarely the numbers that matter. My favorite description of the horizon comes from Tennyson’s Ulysses:

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro’

Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades

For ever and forever when I move. (Lines 19-21)

The horizon is not just the dividing line between firmament and terra firma. It is the limit, albeit one forever retreating, of human endeavor. What was once a Sublime representation of human potential is now shattered. Think of Caspar David Freidrich’s Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog, 1818. Think of the thumbnail crest of a rising moon. Etymologically, the sublime comes from the Latin sublimis, which is a combination of sub (up to) and limis (a boundary, limit, or threshold.) Push it to the limit. With Sterling Ruby’s new paintings, this limit ceases to become a spatial term, but another bit of cultural wreckage that one can pick through if they’d like.


International Edition
December 15, 2012 Last Updated: 10:23:AM EST

A Hard Look at “Soft Work,” Sterling Ruby’s Cushy and Satirical Solo Exhibition in France

Photo: Martin Argyroglo
Installation view of Sterling Ruby’s exhibition, “SOFT WORK,” at the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne
by Juliette Soulez, ARTINFO France
Published: June 3, 2012

REIMS — “Soft Work,” Sterling Ruby‘s first solo show in France, opened last week at the Champagne-Ardenne FRAC in Reims. It focuses on several new pieces in an ensemble first conceived in 2005, and marks a departure for the artist, who previously worked primarily with more solid materials. Here, as the title indicates, softness predominates through the use of stuffed fabric — but the ideas are hard-hitting.

The exhibition was curated by FRAC director Florence Derieux — a different version of it was presented at the Geneva Contemporary Art Center earlier this year. It includes works resembling vampire mouths that hang from the rafters, red dripping from their teeth like cushy metaphors for consumerism. The series “Husband & Child” consists of beanbags shaped like buttocks and was inspired by the beanbag chairs found in typical American TV rooms of the 1980s. Other pieces are more vertical, like a set of thin, intertwined sausages that recall the bars of a prison. “This generation of artists, especially in the United States but not only there, has stopped believing in this opposition between abstraction and formalism,” Derieux told ARTINFO France. “There is a sort of reusing of these strategies.”

The sculptures in “Soft Work” — which is on view through August 26 — have been sewn with various stuffed and colorful fabrics, some of which are recycled, while others were purchased. Certain pieces are covered with dripped paint à la Jackson Pollock, while others feature recognizable patterns, like the American flag. At first glance the installation is fun and funny — a big cushiony playground. But there’s really nothing so soft about this show; its thinking is quite radical. Erotic but not vulgar, political but peaceful, the installation touches on four major subjects: the United States, feminism, economic liberalism, and the penal system.

“‘Soft Work’ is only a didactic term. It’s not hard, it’s not solid, it’s malleable,” Ruby told ARTINFO France. “This term refers to what the installation is. It’s a fiber sculpture but it’s also in reference to several centuries of art using textiles, to art therapy, and to feminism, especially. In America, there is a domesticity that is not associated with masculinity — or if it is, it’s usually associated with a difference, a contradiction.” Ruby, who studied French theory in college, cites the incluence of Foucault‘s writings on the penal system, heterotopias or spaces on the margins of society, sexual norms, domesticity, and societal constraints on the individual.

Born in 1972 to a Dutch mother and an American father, Ruby chose to work in Los Angeles, where he was an assistant to the late Mike Kelley, who became a close friend. Derieux said that some of the works are an homage to Kelley, who committed suicide earlier this year. “The universe of ‘Husband & Child’ is quite close to that of Mike Kelley,” she said. “Why certain practices, certain human activities are ascribed to women, for example, sewing, etc. — they had talked about this a lot.”

To see works from Sterling Ruby’s show at the Champagne-Ardenne FRAC, click the slide show.

This article also appears on ARTINFO France.

o See – New York: Sterling Ruby “2TRAPS” at PaceWildenstein, West 22nd Street through March 20, 2010

March 6th, 2010

Sterling Ruby, “Pig Pen” (2009-2010), on view at PaceWildenstein.

Through March 10, Sterling Ruby has two new pieces at PaceWildenstein’s downtown gallery.  On view are “Pig Pen” and “Bus,” two industrialized traps that confine, says a gallerist, humanity’s basic primitivism. This is an artist’s apocalyptic endgame.

Sterling Ruby, “Bus” (2010) at PaceWildenstein.

More images and story after the jump…

Installation view, Sterling Ruby’s “2Traps” at PaceWildenstein.

Where “Pig Pen” is a stationary cage, “Bus” is a vehicle of transportation converted into a sculptural object, emphasizing 2Traps’s feel of ultimate stasis. They are the same size — about 10′ x 9′ x 40′ — but “Pig Pen” is almost cubist nature, comprised of smaller blocks themselves composed of the security doors found on many urban homes, where “Bus” is just that automobile fitted with speakers, sub-woofers, chrome, and confinement cages. That is, the artist in both cases confines an animalistic interior, but “Bus” comments most explicitly on societal stagnancy.  Argues Ruby, today’s transportation holds its patrons still, defines them as animals in a procedurally ordered, dehumanized/dehumanizing society.

Detail from Sterling Ruby’s “Pig Pen” (2009-2010), at PaceWildenstein.

Back view, Sterling Ruby’s “Bus” (2010) at PaceWildenstein.

Detail, Sterling Ruby’s “Bus” (2010), at PaceWildenstein.

Born in Bitburg, Germany, Sterling Ruby studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Center College of Design. He has had solo exhibitions at Galleria d’arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and more. Ruby is recently represented by PaceWildenstein, which hosts this show. He lives and works in Los Angeles.

– R. Fogel



Issue 122 April 2009 RSS

Who is Sterling Ruby?


Grappling with the work of an artist who relishes multiple viewpoints, myriad materials and a slippery approach to meaning


‘SUPERMAX 2008’ (2008), exhibition view, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

‘And he invents spaces, of which he is the convulsive possession.’
Roger Caillois

Landscape Annihilates Consciousness
On screen: a blob of viscous matter is gathered on a palette, and then smeared against a blank field. The image is accompanied by a soft, soothing, cajoling whisper, a voice, and the sound of repetitive movement: ‘I’m gonna just tap. Just gonna tap, very lightly. I don’t want to destroy. I want to diffuse. Now very lightly, lift it upward. See now, it softens it, pushes everything back. You can continue to do this ‘til it absolutely disappears on you, if you want to. You can soften it to any degree of brightness or darkness that you want in your world.’ A picture begins to emerge from planes and volumes: a snow-covered mountain landscape, the result of this tapping, softening, and diffusing. And where the painting is elaborated progressively, the voice loops back. In repetition, the murmured instructions come to seem like a mantra of sorts. Under their spell, the painter’s steady articulation of a conventional landscape comes to be more and more ambiguous.

In its 19th-century heyday, landscape painting put forward a human confrontation with the matter and appearance of the natural world. Sterling Ruby’s video, Landscape Annihilates Consciousness (2002), shows the practice as now deformed and inverted, determined instead to idealize and ‘diffuse’ this material world, ‘’til it absolutely disappears on you.’ Conventional landscape painting is figured here as the neutralization of world and mind. Reduced to its pure semiotics, painterly modulation becomes transcendentalist death wish. The last thing the painter renders is a house: flat geometry and broadcast television now produces the picture of a rustic pre-modern cabin – a nostalgic and ideological fantasy. Sovereignty is established, and totality realized. This painted world belongs to the artist, and – through the apparatus of televisual transmission, in the form of Bob Ross’ show The Joy of Painting – his world is to be yours. And yet the video dramatizes another turn as well: in his looping narration, the painter-fantasist is stuck, inertial, repeating himself. He is prey to his own creation. Annihilated and consumed by landscape, he is the one who fades into the background.

Legendary Psychasthenic
Who is Sterling Ruby in this arrangement? Which position does he inhabit? Is he the annihilated painter, or the mesmerized viewer? Is he the absent presenter of an altered artifact – its conduit or amplifier – or does he observe with us? In this video, and elsewhere, Ruby converges with each of these identities in turn, in a universe of effects without causes. Form is infinite, and dispossesses everyone equally: producer and consumer, image-maker and the one who looks. This troubled shifting of positions casts the artist one moment as producer of a heterogeneous range of conventionalized objects and styles – abstract paintings, Dada-lite collages, Minimalist art, Situationist posters, graffiti, ceramic earthenware, and so on – and the next as the outraged and dispossessed consumer of the generic signs he has produced; a third moment might find him ironizing this hysterical reaction, lacerating its private aspirations to totality; and so on.

‘Sterling Ruby’, then, is an unstable sign for a set of convergences, enactments, and circumscriptions – indeed, in its blank preciousness his name reads like a pseudonym, as if he were a fictional character. This conclusion is affirmed elsewhere: ‘The character at work,’ wrote Ed Schad in a review, ‘is not Ruby specifically, but a person who makes art created by Ruby.’1 ‘I have always thought of Sterling as a serial killer Joseph Beuys,’ Sarah Conaway declared in the third section of Ruby’s 2005 video Transient Trilogy. ‘Each pocket of work came from a different viewpoint’, Ruby told Holly Myers in 2006. Yet they share a ‘lineage’, he continues: ‘a dichotomy of repression and expression’.

Abyss of Negative Utopias
This ‘Ruby’ has been prolific since his first solo exhibitions, which began in 2003, while he was a student at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; a survey will include ceramics and sculpture, posters and collages, and finish up with his synthetic exhibition-forms and video works.

His work deals with the production of space, including abstracted ceramic biomorphs, polyurethane stalagmites, and stained or defaced ‘Minimalist’ objects. His 2008 exhibition ‘Kiln Works’ at Metro Pictures is emblematic of this approach: convoluted and asculptural objects reproduce the organizational logic of microcellular organisms (Clover Dear, Blackout Romeo, all works in the exhibition 2008), simple containers or tools (Mortar and Pestle, Bread Basket), and mutant artifacts (Head Artist / Archaeology). Applied with expressionistic fervour, liquid rivulets of drizzled glaze are fired into unlikely, grotesque anti-forms – flayed turkeys, uterine dissections – that shade unexpectedly into ostentatious ornaments (Pyrite Fourchette) or weird reliquaries (resonating with Paul Thek’s and Lynda Benglis’ work, among others). These objects nevertheless relate to human size, embracing their domestic status as things for us, sometimes with comic literalness: Bread Basket is no bigger than its namesake.

Installed for ‘Killing the Recondite’ (Metro Pictures, 2007) or ‘Stray Alchemists’ (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, 2008), Ruby’s ‘stalactites’ embrace instead an architectural and geological logic of phallic verticality, somewhat effaced by the alien fragility of the polyurethane strands from which they are composed. Like the ceramic artifacts, these are borne up by support structures marked as objects in their own right: wooden gallows, beam structures, minimalist cubes, plinths, and ethnographic or consumerist display platforms. These geometrical structures are evocative of public sculpture and the relative anarchy it can provoke: works like Inscribed Monolith (EPA-Alabaster) (2006) incorporate scrawled graffiti, fingerprints, and aggressive inscriptions on their surface. But they can also act out that version of minimalism which instates an oppressive ‘inclusiveness’.2 For example, Superoverpass, (Foxy Production, 2007), a minimalist arch which compresses the space of the gallery and looms above the viewer, or the various Inscribed Plinths from ‘SUPERMAX 2008’, presented by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which confront and structure the physical behaviour of their audience. They enact an oppressive minimalism to destroy it – to exacerbate and attack Minimalism’s perverse logic of power, its negative Utopia; even so, they are subject to the contradictory logic of iconoclasm, which reifies and glorifies the power it aims to defile. Defaced, shat upon, decapitated – titled Headless Dick / Deth Till (2008), one work presented an erect and bloodied formica shaft – and forced to bear the written language its pristine surfaces meant to forestall, 1960s Minimalist sculpture remains ineradicably and inevitably at the centre of the story. So too does the established critique of minimalist form as brutal and domineering, famously articulated by art historian Anna Chave in her 1990 essay ‘Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power,’ come to seem, in Ruby’s new context, reciprocally grotesque – paradoxically in love with the movement it means to insult.3

Paintings, posters and digitized collages map out a second zone of heterogeneous activity, pictorial in nature: breathtakingly lurid paintings, bright, sharply-defined acrylic spatters over blurred, neon topographical maps (such as Spectrum Ripper, 2008); fungal smears of dye captured in thick blocks of translucent urethane (Absolute Contempt for Total Serenity / DB Deth, 2008); bubblegum zones of flesh and mint and orange, stained with nail polish and framing magazine clippings of military camouflage and a depiction of a dressed wound (American Soldier – Digital Camouflage Composition, 2007). Collages notice strange patterns in the detritus of culture, and assemble them for our view – for example cross-breeding high Modernist abstraction with LA gangs’ colour fixation in FEMALE GANG HANDS (2007). Or they barrel off with giddy takes on postmodern body culture that decry formal domination (‘Long Live the Amorphous Law’ reads a graffiti slogan scrawled across Anti-Print Poster 3, 2007) and locate allegories of metamorphic possibility. These include the male-to-female transsexual effacing her phallus who appears in Trans Compositional (Crimped Red Hair, Cream Satin Dress) (2006), alongside gestural droplets of red nail polish that are themselves ‘reoriented’ from horizontal to vertical; and the bodybuilder whose physique mimics an erect penis in ‘Physicalism – The Recombine series’, (2006), as their clenched bodies are paired with – or have their heads replaced by – biomorphic candles.

To describe the works in this way, however, is to present them problematically severed from their system of objects. In their synthetic forms – exhibitions, video – Ruby’s works achieve a more programmatic scenography. The installation for ‘Stray Alchemists’ is a blasted psychedelic bunker; ‘SUPERMAX 2008’ presents the spires of a living organic city emerging from the inert remains of an imperial, minimalist urbanism. Paintings and actions are related to one another allegorically and semi-autonomously; they become accreted scenes and atomized props in a larger Gesamtzerstörwerk (a ‘total work of destruction,’ as historian Hanne Bergius once described the cumulated assemblage of Johannes Baader’s The Great Plasto-Dio-Dada-Drama, 1920).4 From this allegorical terrain of exhibition we perceive both Ruby’s meaning in fragments, and a traumatized and hysterical ‘Ruby.’

‘… ciphers of an infinite authority …’
Perhaps this ‘Ruby’ will assassinate or replace the artist who produced him. In Transient Trilogy he seems intent on erasing his twin from the story, at least judging by the quote from an essay by Roger Caillois worked into the video’s script as a voice-off: ‘If an artist is invested with what he does, then there is little possibility of disassociating the maker from the work. When work is specifically about the artist, or if the work is dependent on what the artist-figure is occupied with, then the maker can have no real distance from the work. The artist and the work are unified as a hermetic structure and isolated from outside influence.’ Alternately this artist is simply self-similar: ‘… not similar to something, but just similar.’5

Yet the ‘Ruby’ enacted by the work is hardly so hermetic or isolated; rather, pre-existing sources, references and theories pervade his work, where they are brought into a contradictory and mutually embarrassing constellation. Critical theory ruptures artistic practice, even as its aphoristic obscurity is lampooned. Every work comes readymade with theoretical armature, self-annihilations, didactic instructions, blasé refutations, rabid slogans and more. This can leave an attentive viewer confounded – wondering if theirs is just another paranoid inscription onto forms full of evident energy, but still mysterious or essentially arbitrary. Ruby is clearly aware of what Henri Lefebvre described as ‘the vanity of a critical theory which works only at the level of words and ideas (i.e. at the ideological level)’6. Yet his practice leaves both theorists and artists in place, as ciphers of an infinite authority that might be resented but never overcome.

Dark Space
The final moments of Transient Trilogy: a camera scans the graffiti-covered terrain of a ‘natural’ reserve (gravel paths are in view, and cars just out of sight) and discovers a character, played by Ruby, trousers around his knees and head tucked into his arms. This is the homeless ‘transient’ of the work’s title, who ‘makes art by marking and decorating the environment’ – though it is inevitably erased by time and entropy. So too is this character caught in a troubled flux of sexual identity: hermaphroditic and sterile, the trans-figure is discovered in a moment of doomed and autoerotic sexual congress.

Figurations of this solitary, ‘fucked’ subject appear most clearly in Ruby’s video works; he ‘invents spaces of which he is “the convulsive possession.”’ Indeed this line is quoted in Dihedral (2006), which combines a voice-over reading a Caillois quote (again from the same essay) to a film of different dye-colors falling into a clear medium, a live-action Morris Louis painting. The ‘dihedral of representation’, for Caillois, stands for that context of perception wherein ‘the living creature, the organism, is no longer the origin of coordinates, but one point among others; it is dispossessed of its privilege and literally no longer knows where to place itself.’7 This demotion is presented, in the videos, alternately as terrifying – space becomes a ‘devouring force’, the subject merely a ‘dark space where things cannot be put’ – and perversely comforting: no longer forced by abstract form to identify himself, this subject can be one amorphous shape among others in a dedifferentiated universe.

This dream, however, is impossible to grasp – abstract space keeps intervening. The video works put forward several versions of this isolated character, dispossessed by space: the hiker, followed by the camera as if by a stalker, walking through a spectacular landscape transformed by the eye’s prerogatives, and perilously close to the abyss (Hiker, 2003); the vampiric office-worker who, bearing a camper’s rucksack, craves the comforting compression of a bathroom stall, sleeping bag or heating duct (Agoraphobic, 2001); the primitive-convulsive characters acted out by Ruby in Temper Tantrum / Intimate Death Magician (2003) or Found Cushion Act (2005).

In Transient Trilogy the character marks his presence in ritual fashion: cultish constellations of talismanic objects, spatters of nail polish. These efforts are not built to last, fading soon into indistinction. Stumbling into the woods, over a thick loam of leathery animal corpses and condom wrappers, the transient soon merges with the bushes. ‘Transient’ is not put forward as a social category, but as a state in which all life and form must inevitably exist: between life and death, male and female, form and formlessness. Not content to let this melancholic allegory stand, Ruby immediately reappears in a new role: an asshole director, whose ridiculous stage direction and squabbling with his intractable actor comically annihilates the sombre narrative that precedes it: ‘Listen! Think of Hamlet! The character who could not make up his mind.’

The Ruby of 2005 dramatized and ironized this punctured subject – an artist ‘afraid of yet obsessed with what went before and neurotically pursuing [his] own symptoms.’8 ‘SUPERMAX 2008’, on the other hand, puts forward the artist as the paradoxically exuberant governor of a rotting carceral order (the title refers to specialized ‘control-unit’ prisons). Geometrical abstraction is present still – in the form of stained and defaced plinths and grids – but these seem now to undergird an alien-geological order that stretches to the ceiling. The subject of this sci-fi scene remains troubled: permeated by a dark space that ‘touches the individual directly, envelops him, penetrates him, and even passes through him,’ he inscribes on the framework of Headless Dick / TSOVM (2008), and: ‘the past has cheated me/the present torments me’. Partly obscured, the third phrase reads: ‘the future … me’. The erased word is ‘terrifies’. Such negations are all the hope we get, in Ruby’s work. But perhaps they’re enough to live on.

1 Ed Schad, ‘Sterling Ruby: Supermax 2008’, Art Review, September 2008, p. 145
2 ‘Inclusiveness’ is Michael Fried’s term for a situation, precipitated by a ‘theatrical’ Minimalism, where ‘there is nothing within [the beholder’s] field of vision – nothing that he takes note of in any way – that, as it were, declares its irrelevance to the situation, and therefore to the experience, in question.’ Michael Fried, ‘Art and Objecthood,’ Gregory Battcock, ed. Minimal Art: A Critical Anthology, New York, E.P. Dutton & Co 1968, p. 127
3 Anna C. Chave, ‘Minimalism and the Rhetoric of Power,’ Arts 64, January 1990, pp. 44–63
4 Brigid Doherty, ‘Berlin’, in Dada: Zurich, Berlin, Hannover, Cologne, New York, Paris (exh. cat.), Washington D.C., The National Gallery of Art 2006, p.97
5 Roger Caillois, ‘Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia,’ October 31, Winter 1984, p. 30
6 Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith, Oxford, Blackwell Publishers, 1991, p. 60
7 Ibid, Caillois, p. 28
8 Sterling Ruby, ‘A Brief Rebuttal to Michael Workman’, New City Chicago, 7 February, 2005,

Julian Myers

Julian Myers is an art historian based in San Francisco. He is an assistant professor at California College of the Arts.


Sterling Ruby Chron

by Shane McAdams

The Drawing Room
February 22 – March 27, 2008

For hundreds of years, artists did everything in their control to refine their studio practices to achieve a singularity of style and technique. This changed slightly over the past century as Modern artists bounced from one orthodoxy to the next, but at any given point their work would have still been cohesive. In the last two decades, however, attitudes have changed considerably. Sterling Ruby’s exhibition, Chron, at the Drawing Room in Soho is emblematic of the rejection by younger artists of the unitary vision sought by generations of artists before them. Though it is positioned as a “drawing” show, Ruby’s wanderlust takes his work outside drawing’s conventional domain into collage, photography, and sculpture, incorporating a range of media from cosmetics to spray paint to gold foil—all the finest trappings a trip to Canal Street can offer.

Sterling Ruby: CHRON, February 22 � March 27, 2008, The Drawing Center. Photo by Cathy Carver.

The wide stylistic variations of his work, however, as well as his bizarre love/hate relationship with Minimalism, sometimes result in Ruby’s goals getting lost in the noise. The question is whether there is a method to his divergent madness. In Chron, he mixes the excesses of pop glamour with elements drawn from reductive sculpture and painting. “(Mapping) Pink” for example, lays a riotous nest of drizzled nail polish over a geometric matrix of carefully inked lines. It is at once elegantly restrained and trashily expressive. The fact that the drawing is composed of nail polish can’t be overlooked, either. Its effectiveness as an innocent line drawing is quickly subverted by its materials, which transport the work from the realm of the autonomous and abstract to the referential and literal.

Other works such as “Soft Vortex” and “Prison” continue the visual duel with art history in ways that look nothing alike. “Soft Vortex,” a 60-inch-square wall object, looks like an oversized, bleach-splattered shirt ripped off an extra from Flashdance and wrapped around a small Carl Andre floor sculpture. If you approach such a work in terms of art’s past, it is clever and funny; if you don’t, I suspect it might look like trash. “Prison” collages a photo of a prison cell in the upper midsection of the paper, out of which emanates an array of slightly irregular, and slightly clumsy, colored pencil lines. One can’t help but read the prison image metaphorically in light of the geometric shortcomings of the line work (the “prison” of autonomous art?). If there is any lingering doubt whether such works are in fact guileful jabs at Minimalist dogma, and not accidental commentary, remember that Ruby exhibited a set of letterpress prints at Foxy Production two years ago, one reading “kill minimalism” and another, “minimalism tries to kill the amorphous law – geometry ends life.” Anyone who saw that show couldn’t be a character witness for Ruby if he was ever put on trial for vandalizing a Frank Stella painting.

Sterling Ruby: CHRON, February 22 – March 27, 2008, The Drawing Center. Photo by Cathy Carver.

Chron’s gaudiness is heightened by its more than occasional references to bodily fluids, body parts, and sex. At moments it has the unsanitary, faux-glamour feel of a strip club with its lights on. The use of gold and silver foil and cheap cosmetics in several of the works on paper makes it difficult to separate the cultural implications of his work from its formal characteristics—a circumstance that asserts an ongoing challenge to the rhetoric about “Primary Structures” and “Specific Objects” mouthed by Donald Judd, Robert Morris and company forty years ago. Ironically though, despite Ruby’s determined rebuke of Minimalism, his most significant achievement in Chron is his treatment of industrial material, a concern not far from the hearts of many of the Minimalists. However, Ruby and others like, say, Rachel Harrison and Isa Genzken, now seem to celebrate excess production and the accumulation of waste, rather than the mechanical possibilities of the process. Judd’s immaculate stainless-steel boxes look less utopian now, and more like precursors to the year-old, junked IKEA coffee tables waiting on the curb for the arrival of the Department of Sanitation.

Yes, there is a method to Ruby’s madness, but it is a counterintuitive method for anyone expecting unity and homogeneity. While a knee-jerk reaction would be to judge this exhibition as lacking a center of gravity, the more patient observer will recognize in its unevenness an antithetical relationship to the evenness of the past. Chron addresses the failures of the autonomous pursuits of reductive art by indulging in the excesses that seem to be our society’s—and art’s— destiny.



interview by Sterling Ruby

Ron Nagle, Chez Monieu, 2009
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by Don Tuttle

STERLING RUBY    I am sitting here looking at a yellow work of yours that I own called Wall Street Gerbil. It has had a place in our house for a few years now, and I enjoy it quite a bit. There has been a lot of debate over whether the small hanging protrusion in the middle is a nose or a dick. I was wondering if, as a personal favor, you could shed some light on this…

RON NAGLE    I wasn’t thinking of that particular protrusion as a nose or a dick. My intention is to make images as ambiguous as possible so that viewers can create their own story. But for your own peace of mind, the protrusion has nothing to do with a nose. I would think of it as some kind of growth coming off of a field. I think the main influences on this kind of image, which occurs occasionally, are warts, skin tabs or moles, but I never make things too specific.

SR    Since we’re on the topic of titles, I keep thinking that a lot of your titling is directed toward naming or giving a kind of subjectivity to your objects.

RN    You are correct in thinking that my titles are often an attempt to vaguely personify the inanimate. My assistants and I usually have an on-going list of titles. We then put these against a group of pieces until we find one that makes some sort of sense at a vague associative level. Wordplay, non sequiturs and free association of imagery all come into play in the titles, but don’t actually affect what I make. I name my pieces like you would name your kids. I particularly love the way some words fit together phonically, which must come from my background as a songwriter. Without being too heavy-handed, most of my titles have an element of humor and, frequently, darkness. I will often hear a phrase that catches my attention and I’ll write it down because it struck some humorous note for me. For example, there was a guy from the utility company who, after performing various services, asked me to fill out a form evaluating his performance. He instructed me to “circle excellent.” This cracked me up, and there will be a piece coming soon called “Circle Excellent.”

Ron Nagle, Blue Weeorama 2009
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by Don Tuttle

SR    Your sensibility for ’50s post-war aesthetics seems more in line with artists such as H.C. Westermann or Billy Al Bengston as opposed to Peter Voulkos or John Mason. What are your thoughts regarding the interactions between abstract expressionism and things like the Hot Rod or Kustom Kulture movements during the early stages of the California clay Revolution?

RN    Even though I am strongly associated with the California Clay Revolution, the majority of my influences come from sources other than ceramic artists. I first delved into the well-crafted object when making model airplanes as a kid. I saw these guys at the rec center making Japanese fighter planes out of orange crates, sanding the wood down to a fine finish, sealing off the surface, painting the planes with Testors Dope hobby paint, and then meticulously gluing the components together. That same mentality still exists in my work. When I was making model airplanes with my father, he would always tell me two things: “Sand with the grain” and “Never do a job half-assed.” As much as I rebelled against the majority of his teachings and opinions, those two seemed to stick. After this, I was fully engaged in the hot rod culture in San Francisco and had a ’48 Ford Coupe, which had forty coats of British racing green lacquer, sanded with fine sandpaper between each coat to create a richness and depth that couldn’t be achieved without that kind of fanaticism and attention to detail. I still think that there are cars from the past, both custom and production, that are more interesting than most sculpture.

I came from San Francisco, but I couldn’t relate to the Bay Area figurative school, so I made pilgrimages to L.A. to see shows at the Ferus Gallery as often as I could. Theirs was an aesthetic, in scale and execution and surface, to which I could relate quite strongly. You mentioned Billy Al Bengston; I was unquestionably greatly influenced not only by his use of the airbrush to apply paint, but by the incredible sense of color in his paintings of the mid-’50s. Of all the California clay “revolutionaries,” my main influence was Kenny Price, whose discipline, sense of craft, and integrity have been major influences on my work.

With a few exceptions, I have a great deal of disdain for the “ceramic world” and its preoccupation with material, process and trite humor. I am much more drawn to painting. In my younger days, I looked a lot at Tàpies, Morandi, Albers, de Kooning, Rothko and Twombly. I always felt the aesthetic aspirations of painters were on a much higher level than those of the ceramic crowd. That being said, I am crazy about almost all ceramics from the Momoyama period in Japan (in the late sixteenth century) and American 1940s restaurant-ware, because of its lack of pretense.

Ron Nagle, Knights of Franconia, 2008
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by Don Tuttle

SR    I’m not sure if you are tired of talking about this, but I just found out that you did all of the sound effects for The Exorcist (1973). What were some of your favorite scenes and your techniques for producing the sound for them?

RN    I’m never tired of talking about this because its one of the best jobs I ever had. I was working with brilliant professionals in a rarified environment where I could do anything I wanted and get paid for it. The film’s director, William Friedkin, wanted the sound to be “bigger than life” so that even the smallest details were magnified. I was given a portable tape recorder to record anything that popped into my head, which could potentially used in the film. The sounds for the beginning of the movie were organic, such as the sound of a single bee in a jar tuned a hundred times to create a threatening din. That was combined with the sound of pigs being slaughtered along with some ambient machine noise that leaked into the recording. I had no idea what I was going to do with this combination of sounds once it was assembled on multi-track tape, but when it was played against the opening scenes, it seemed to work. The director flipped for it and I got the job.

One scene that stands out is when the priest goes through the window. The sound was created by smashing many, many window props and recording the smashing at various distances, as well as extending the tinkling and falling of the glass to just a little more than real time. That one window crash consisted of about forty one-inch pieces of tape spliced together to make one long crash. Later on, it occurred to me that much of the stacking or layering used in the recording process is not that dissimilar to my approach for glazing sculpture: I fire my ceramics many times and use layer after layer of glaze, underglaze or china paint to create the color. At least that is what I did until very recently. I am now using auto paint that has been matted out to paint on bisque ware. This usually requires fewer layers for the same effect, and it is a much more direct way of working. It is very satisfying to see how certain color combinations come alive immediately, before my very eyes, without having to wait to open the kiln every morning. It is just more like painting, which is something I’ve been trying for all along. I am seriously considering making my next group of work out of hollow cast plastic, using clay only to create the first immediate image and taking a mold from that.

Ron Nagle, Dr. Bob Cobbler, 2008
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by Don Tuttle

SR    I am always amazed at your generation’s craftsmanship skills. Do you think that this comes from a time when everyone learned how to fix and make things properly? You first learned ceramics from your mother, and then moved into jewelry-making. What were the gender associations at this time for someone working in ceramics and jewelry?

RN    My father was a businessman by profession, but he could make or fix almost anything, so the idea of making objects was instilled in me early. My mother was also a very skilled seamstress. I am like many people of my generation, whose parents made or fixed stuff because they came out of the Depression.

Craftsmanship, for me, does not only represent slick or finished work. It is any technique that makes the finished piece believable. I started off as a jeweler because it was considered a very hip thing to do during the Beatnik period. During that time, the majority of contemporary jewelers were men, whereas ceramics was still thought of as something that little old ladies did. It wasn’t until the studio pottery movement and then Voulkos that ceramics took on a macho image. When I started using things like store-bought glazes, china paints and decals, and began slip casting, it ran contrary to this macho image. Let’s not forget that it was Kenny Price who took these small cup and vessel forms and started bringing bright color and subtlety to contemporary ceramics.

SR    Can you explain what you mean when you call yourself a “White Devil Formalist”? Is this the same as being a “Precious Asshole”?

RN    Being a “White Devil Formalist” and a “Precious Asshole” are two separate, but similarly glib, responses to classifying myself. “White Devil Formalist” is a sarcastic way of saying that I am a white male whose work doesn’t necessarily have literal meaning. “Precious Asshole” means that I am drawn to small-scale intimate work by artists such as Morandi, Vermeer, Price, Cornell, Albers and Albert Ryder.

Having taught at the college level for fifty years, I’ve become very cynical and, in fact, resentful of political correctness, French theory and the what-does-it-mean crowd. By and large, I learned to detest academia and its left-brained approach to the arts. People forget that all of the aforementioned issues are matters of fashion and not necessarily the truth.

I come from a music background and I apply the same sensibility to both making and experiencing art. It all comes down to what it feels like, what it conjures, what associations a great piece of work can have on a vaguely, dare I say, magical level. I make no separation between high or low, pop music or oil-painted masterpieces. I would just as soon hear “River Deep, Mountain High” as look at Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa. They both do the same thing for me. I told my daughter to go to the Met and see the Turner show. She said, “Ike Turner?”

Ron Nagle, Knights of Franconia, 2008
Courtesy of the artist
Photography by Don Tuttle


Ciprian Muresan and Sterling Ruby at the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

April 21~2012

Artistic and literary works are the starting point for the work of Ciprian Muresan (*1977, Dej, Romania), who appropriates them for a reflective project that intersects with the recent history of Romania and other Eastern European countries and, more generally, ponders the realities of the contemporary world.
For his first solo exhibition in Switzerland, Ciprian Muresan presents two new pieces: an installation, “Recycled Playground”, from which the exhibition takes its title and its tone, and a companion video creation. A selection of other significant works is also presented. Juggling humour and critique, the artist highlights the structures and processes of all forms of power.

Above – Ciprian Muresan. Recycled Playground
Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
until April 22, 2012

© Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. Photos: David Gagnebin-de Bons

“Soft Work” is the first solo exhibition in Switzerland by the Los Angeles based artist, Sterling Ruby – described by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith in a 2008 review as “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century”. Taking cues from artists such as Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy, Ruby works in a variety of different media. His work is a form of assault on both materials and social power structures. The show in Geneva focuses on one significant body of work within the artist’s practice that has not yet received specific attention: the “soft sculpture”.

Sterling Ruby. Soft Work
Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève
until April 22, 2012

© Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève. Photos: David Gagnebin-de Bons


by David Spalding

November 8, 2011

Sterling Ruby’s “Vampire”

THE PACE GALLERYBeijing24 September–5 November, 2011

Caught in that dark crawlspace between the living and the dead, hounded by a destructive, unending hunger and burdened with the need to indoctrinate: this is today’s American empire as it appears in “Vampire,” Sterling Ruby’s exhibition of new and recent work at The Pace Gallery, Beijing. Ruby has always needed to tag and topple monuments dedicated to the old order. For his 2008 exhibition SUPERMAX at the Geffen Contemporary, MOCA, Los Angeles, Ruby scratched, scarred, and defiled Minimalist-derived sculptural forms until they confessed their sins, creating a claustrophobic installation that forged links between 1960s American Minimalism and incarceration. For his first solo show in China, Ruby returns to the period’s obdurate, block-headed muteness, finding an unspoken desire for power in the geometric, reductive, and “objective” approaches made famous by Minimalists and the critics that championed them. Here Ruby reinterprets these forms, along with historically contiguous modes of painting and sculpture, dragging the whole lot squarely into a present marked by desperate consumption, global war, and economic collapse.

Ruby has a flair for the theatrical. With its star-spangled smile and dripping fangs, the soft sculpture Double Vampire 6 (unless otherwise stated, all works 2011) evokes the Rolling Stones’s lascivious tongue-and-lips logo, high on meth and out for blood. It’s plagued by a grimacing hunger without conscience, sitting in a gridlocked SUV, gobbling Oldenburg’s burgers after a visit to art history’s drive-thru. Though undead, it must continue to feast: gluttony has become its eternal curse. The only word it knows is “more.”

America’s endless conflicts in the Middle East are palpable here. An inclined, rectilinear form made of spray-painted aluminum, Predator Monolith rises from the floor as if it’s about to take flight. The work simultaneously suggests the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey and the wing or cockpit of a “hunter-killer” MQ-1 Predator, those unmanned aerial vehicles used by the US Air Force and CIA for classified bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan…wherever the war on terror takes us.  A related work, Consolidator (2010-2011), repossessed from Ruby’s junkyard of spray-painted geometries, is a Euclidian take on an all-in-one cannon-cum-coffin. Predator Monolith appears to be aimed at Monument Stalagmite / Vampire Empire. The work is a monument to erectile dysfunction: a sinewy, psychedelic tower of shiny red and blue supported by an unpainted board (a “crutch,” in Ruby-speak) on which is written, in prison-jumpsuit orange, the phrase “VAMPIRE EMPIRE.”

Surrounding these works are three large bronze Debt Basins: sutured, roughly circular structures containing what look like artifacts unearthed from the site of a post-credit crisis Pompeii. Each of these reliquaries contains petrified dioramas—miniature landscapes of scavenged junk where stacked kilns become towering crematoria. Though they seem to have been sent from the tombs of an ancient, ruined culture in order to warn us, they arrive too late, foretelling a future that has already been set into motion. A series of three works called JIGS are solemnly arranged in an adjacent room: abstracted American flags made of rebar and displayed atop configurations of what looks like scrap metal—an improvised, solemn tribute to fading glory.

With their overlapping bands, scribbles and blasts of hazy, electric color, Ruby’s enormous, spray-painted canvases play at transcendence through an irreverent, day-glo nod to Rothko’s color fields. They also give a shout-out to artists such as Jane Kaufman and Jules Olitski, who continued to expand the medium of painting during the mid-60s, despite the limitations touted by Minimalism’s critical cabal. The distinction in these works is not between figure and ground, but between a series of competing planes of atmospheric color that alternately float against the painting’s surface and then recede like so many after-images. Their fuming magnetic fields draw viewers toward an imploding horizon. If the paintings sometimes suggest the luscious sunsets of Los Angeles, it’s the LA of Synanon and the Crips, seen in hindsight through the rear view mirror of an apocalyptic present.

Sterling Ruby is at the forefront of a generation of LA artists whose training enables them to successfully mine the legacy of recent sculpture, particularly Minimalism and its aftereffects—artists as different as Jason Meadows, Taft Green, Won Ju Lim, and Rachel Lachowicz. Ruby is also a storyteller, motivated by formal and ethical questions. It doesn’t matter whether Beijing audiences can identify the art historical references in Ruby’s work. His point is not to stage a solipsistic conversation about the art of the 60s, but to use his knowledge of these forms to speak to something far more pressing—the vampiric impulses of an undead empire, one that continues to devour resources because it cannot be laid to rest. To present this work in Beijing, the political heart of an economically ascendant country widely prophesized to be the next global superpower, couldn’t be more fitting.

DAVID SPALDING is an art writer and curator based in Beijing, China.


  1. morad ezzanzoune

    good work

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View of, "Vampire", The Pace Gallery, Beijing, 2011.

1View of, “Vampire”, The Pace Gallery, Beijing, 2011.

Sterling Ruby, Consolidator, 2010-2011.

2Sterling Ruby, Consolidator, 2010-2011.

Sterling Ruby, Monument Stalagmite / Vampire Empire, 2011.

3Sterling Ruby, Monument Stalagmite / Vampire Empire, 2011.

View of, "Vampire", The Pace Gallery, Beijing, 2011.

4View of, “Vampire”, The Pace Gallery, Beijing, 2011.

Sterling Ruby, Debt Basin 3, 2011.

5Sterling Ruby, Debt Basin 3, 2011.

Sterling Ruby, JIG 1, 2011.

6Sterling Ruby, JIG 1, 2011.

  • 1View of, “Vampire”, The Pace Gallery, Beijing, 2011. All images courtesy of The Pace Gallery, Beijing.
  • 2Sterling Ruby, Consolidator, 2010-2011. Bronze. 175.3 cm x 233.7 cm x 642.6 cm.
  • 3Sterling Ruby, Monument Stalagmite / Vampire Empire, 2011. PVC pipe, foam, urethane, wood,spray paint and formica. 558.8 cm x 96.5 cm x 157.5 cm.
  • 4View of, “Vampire”, The Pace Gallery, Beijing, 2011.
  • 5Sterling Ruby, Debt Basin 3, 2011. Bronze. 243.8 cm x 243.8 cm x 50.8 cm.
  • 6Sterling Ruby, JIG 1, 2011. Metal. 105 cm x 96 cm x 90 cm.



Sterling Ruby

In his 2004-5 video Transient, Sterling Ruby embodies a disheveled, homeless drifter moving through a terrain both ruinous and vacant. Along the way the eponymous character creates unsettling little ephemeral sculptures, splashes blood-red nail polish in a concrete pit, and—yikes—fucks a skull. Later in the video, Ruby adopts a second persona: the obsessive, obnoxious director of the narrative we have just witnessed. The appearance brings unexpected comic relief to a dark and knowingly unpleasant work; more importantly, it suggests Ruby’s interest in positioning the artist as an archetypal figure, a duplicitous creator-destroyer engaged in a self-induced, self-perpetuating cycle of making and unmaking.

Highly prolific, Ruby moves fluidly—like a transient—among video, ceramics, sculpture, installation, drawing, photography, and collage. Rather than obliterating the notion of medium, his sprawling practice reifies a more primitive sense of the term, structuring much of his work’s meaning around the agency of its becoming. His ceramics, with glazes that appear to be melting, suggest violent, visceral creation, retaining a sense of the material’s initial malleability in the final forms. The ceramics are visually striking but nearly impossible to apprehend in one’s memory, at once recalling wobbly three-dimensional peace signs and eviscerated rib cages. (Clearly related to the ceramics, a creepy kiln has appeared in a number of collages, appearing paradoxically as a vaginal point of origin and a deadly void.) While a recent sculpture, Orange Inanimate Torso (2005), is as grisly as the name suggests, the work also vigorously asserts its indefinite, “abstract” nature.

This engagement with form and formlessness is clearly indebted to postminimalists including Lynda Benglis and Robert Morris (both keenly aware of the artistic potential of embodiment and persona), as well as Los Angeles father figures Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy. But the scariest and most rewarding aspects of Ruby’s work, in which the artist obsessively attempts to locate sublimity at various sites of trauma—and in the horrific potential of materials—finds roots in marginalized oddballs such as Paul Thek, Lucas Samaras, Bruce Conner, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and as suggested by a recent collage, sci-fi artist-designer H. R. Giger. Giger’s signature aliens, part insect, part machine—methodically juxtaposed alongside images of U.S. soldiers in Iraq, war protestors, Linda Blair from The Exorcist, the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, and heavily tattooed women—are agents of transference, transgression, transformation, and (perhaps) transcendence. As such, they embody Ruby’s ambition to locate trauma—and meaning—in an unfixed state.

This essay originally appeared in the catalogue for the 2006 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, October 31 – December 31, 2006.


João Ribas

Flash Art  n.271  March – April 2010SINCERELY HOSTILEJOÃO RIBAS: I’d like to begin by discussing this post-humanist condition underscoring so much of your practice — ranging as it does from sculpture to drawing, video, ceramics, and painting.Sterling Ruby: Post-anxiety, post-cynicism, post-transgression, post-depression, post-war, post-law, post-gender, etc., etc., etc. For me it seems fitting to the purpose that all of this baggage is the reason we have to be post-humanist. There is just too much information for anything to be coherent or whole. To be quite honest I had never thought about post-humanism in relation to my work until Robert Hobbs started the discussion while preparing his essay for the JRP|Ringier book. What makes it hard is that there is no real definition of post-humanism, which seems fitting for the times and for the topic. During the ’80s and ’90s, Félix Guattari and Jean-François Lyotard were focusing on technological advancements and sociological peripheries that seemed to suggest a future transformation or liberation of some kind. At present Mike Davis sees the post-human as an entity of excess, an individual or group who can’t take any more. Even Steve Nichols who published The Post-Human Manifesto in 1988 suggested the situation might be generational.
Grid Ripper, 2008. Installation view at GAMeC, Bergamo (IT), 2008. Courtesy the artist and Emi FontanaWest of Rome, Milan / Los Angeles. Photo: Roberto Marossi.
JR: Yet somehow your work seems particularly grounded by a specific notion oftransversalitySR: Well, one outcome of this ‘post-situation’ is generating a feeling of continuum, as an adjustment or a way of coping. It certainly doesn’t feel as if it is anything other than a strategy for survival. I recently started thinking that I apply a kind of ‘transversality’ not only in theory, but also as a work ethic. My intention is to use many media as a kind of schizophrenic labor strategy. It seems very easy now to say it, but it has taken me years to convey that this scattered routine belongs within a coherent trajectory. Works may not look the same formally, they might not even be within the same medium, but there is a lineage that links everything that I do together.JR: There are two poles that emerge directly from your early sculptural and drawing work that seem foundational. On the one hand there is the masculine orthodox language of minimalism, which your work has had an agonistic relationship with, in its reappraisal, from the start. On the other hand, the notion of representing, in symbolic form, marginal states and forms of containment like the penal system and incarceration, normative sexuality, the notion of a stable social identification, as well as attempts to move out of these things that are often deemed types of ‘pathologies’ — gangs and criminality, transexuality, abjection… These are in some way the repressed otherof minimalism…SR: These two poles (formalism and representation) have always seemed to be in opposition of one another, but for me they became mirrored necessities, especially over the past decade working as a contemporary visual artist. I went to a foundation college in Lancaster,  Pennsylvania, for four full years; I learned the visual basics like perspective, color, composition and form. In that curriculum I did nothing other than still life, figure studies, mixing colors and additive and subtracted sculpture. After that my education switched completely; I wound up taking almost no studio classes, enrolling mainly in psychology and theory courses. Havingone versus the other seemed absurd and I often thought about what it would be like if I haddone neither. This is where my graduate education fell into a downward spiral, which ultimately led to not receiving a degree. I felt like I was regressing, that I had too much education, and that this was preventing me from making anything other than premeditated work. The antagonistic approach that I have taken towards minimalism started during this period. I thought that Judd’s writing was too much of a handbook and that the movement was restricted because of it. The ideas of territory and how things were deemed minimal were in dialogue with masculine authority or, more significantly, who controlled the movement, and I found that to be problematic. I have always thought of art as similar to poetry, that it can’t be proven and yet, if done right, has a sense of unmistakable aura. This idea is also in direct conflict with education and training; it brings with it my generation’s shift towards primitivism or naivety. My disobedience of the regulations that set definition to the movement manifested itself in certain pathologies. Everything started to collapse in on itself, and there became no line between formalism and representation. The minimal form was in fact no longer the item of exteriorobject-hood, but instead the vessel that contained all aspects of marginal states.JR: Is there also a sense of embracing devalued cultural forms, say like ceramics, orgraffiti — as demarcations of territory and collective identity?SR: Yes, absolutely. Ceramics in particular correspond to the therapy-driven collective identity. The medium of clay for me is universal. It holds all sorts of shared principles with reference to desire, immediacy, sexuality and repression. The malleability of the clay becomes truncated via the kiln, which is also a kind of a monumental allegory for where we are as a generation. Perhaps it characterizes our incapability to truly feel as if there is an innate expression… that even this is an incarceration of current times. It is converted through the firing into a monument of the gesture that it once had. Graffiti is similar to this as well. It seems like a kind of collective mark making, as much as it is about territorial pissing.
American Risk, 2009. PVC pipe, foam, urethane, wood, spray paint and formica, 422 x 229 x 183 cm. Courtesy the artist and PaceWildenstein, New York / Beijing.ACTS/KKDETHZ, 2009. Formica, wood, spray paint and urethane, 154 x 159 x 86 cm. Courtesy the artist. Photos: Robert Wedemeyer.
JR: One of the terms that seems to keep coming up in discussions of contemporary art practice is the idea of ‘sincerity’ — almost taken on as a positive, critical term. At the same time, your work has often been reproached for being precisely the inverse. I find it somewhat puzzling that sincerity would be taken up by a generation of artists as a critical term.SR: Yes, I agree with that completely. Sincerity seems to have become a designationfor our generation. It feels like the backlash to cynicism or even postmodernism. I guess I hadn’t thought that it was a critical term as much as a way out of conceptual pessimism, maybe even anti-critical. I get pretty down on the fact that people equate sincerity with being positive. I do think that my work is sincere, but this often gets overlooked because of its underlying hostility.
The Masturbators, 2009. 9 channel video with sound, installation view at Foxy Production, New York.Courtesy the artist and Foxy Production, New York. Photo: Mark Woods. Animal, 2009. Lambda Print, 183 x 122 cm. Courtesy the artist and Marc Foxx, Los Angeles.
JR: I’m curious about The Masturbators (2009) in terms of its structured patheticalness— the corporality is so intense and aggressive as to almost be a form of torture…SR: I started The Masturbators almost a year ago. I originally had a different idea for the work.I hired one male porn actor and asked him to masturbate to climax in a room by himself. The camera and crew were in the adjacent room with the lens being focused through a hole in the wall. I expected the actor to run through the request with ease, but the reality of it was that he couldn’t do it. His embarrassment over his profession and not being able to masturbate to climax became the project itself. I followed the project over six months by hiring an additional eight actors, shooting them all the exact same way. In the end only three of the nine actors were able to climax; the ones who could not had reactions ranging from subtle humiliation to violent disappointment. There were times during the production where it got very tense. I had focused so much on the super maximum penitentiary stuff the years leading up to this, that I had contemporary masculinity in the back of my head. I read a great line from Lorna Rhodes’ Total Confinement, which stated: “The secret of violent men is that they feel ashamed —deeply ashamed over matters that are so trivial that their very triviality makes it even more shameful to feel ashamed about them.” I thought about this quote every time I finished a shoot with one of these guys. I mean: who should be expected to climax on cue? The projectbecame like a core behavioral study once completed. It seemed brutal, but honest.João Ribas is curator of exhibitions of MIT, List Visual Arts Center, Boston.Sterling Ruby was born in 1972 in Bitburg, Germany. He lives and works in Los Angeles.Selected solo shows: 2010: PaceWildenstein, New York. 2009: Xavier Hufkens (with Robert Mapplethorpe), Brussels; Foxy Production, New York. 2008: Sprüth Magers, London; GAMeC, Bergamo (IT); Emi Fontana, Milan; MOCA, Los Angeles; Metro Pictures, New York; The Drawing Center, New York. 2007: Christian Nagel, Berlin; Bernier/Eliades, Athens; Foxy Production, New York; Metro Pictures, New York. 2006: Marc Foxx, Los Angeles; Emi Fontana, Milan; Christian Nagel, Cologne. 2005: Marc Foxx, Los Angeles; Guild & Greyshkul, New York; Sister, Los Angeles; Foxy Production, New York. 2004: 1R, Chicago; Foxy Production, New York. 2003: Art Center College of Design, Pasadena (CA); 1R, Chicago; Suitable, Chicago.


Sterling Ruby

Sterling Ruby Painter, Mixed-media Artist, Ceramicit, Sculptor– For an artist whose hyperprolific output jumps from inchoate stalagmite sculptures covered in a urethane coat akin to a nail-polish lacquer to a refurbished bus that once transported California prison inmates; from neon-dappled semi-abstract graffiti paintings to one recent video work of masturbating male porn stars, the studio compound of Sterling Ruby is surprisingly organized. Located southeast of Los Angeles in the industrial stretches of Vernon, California (Pennzoil motor oil is produced directly across the street), the artist’s headquarters, staffed by 10 assistants, is divided into five separate workshops for drawing and collage, ceramics, paintings, urethane, and woodwork. Ruby, who was born in Germany but grew up on the East Coast and attended college in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles for graduate school, is probably one of the most accomplished material-jumping art stars of the last decade. He’s known for producing bright, pop-colored works that belie more sorrowful, failed underpinnings—as if the 38-year-old’s sculptures can’t seem to organize themselves into a form and the canvases can’t cohere to produce a single order. This, of course, can be read as a structural breakdown or the beginning of new possibilities. “I’ve found a pretty happy route in using a lot of different mediums,” he explains. “Even video. I feel very capable of picking it up without preconceived rules and regulations to make it work.” Currently, Ruby has two different bodies of work taking up most of the activity of his studio. One is a series of Mexican scrap-metal sculptures, many of which seem to be shaped like guns, which was inspired by a recent stay at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, near the Mexican border. The second is a number of large ceramic basins glazed in vibrating colors and filled with broken shards that reflects Ruby’s “basin theology” (his belief that in placing past work in these containers, he might reclaim his futile gestures). In a sense, these pieces may be the receptacles of Ruby’s past mistakes, but they are also small monuments celebrating their own subsistence.

Sterling Ruby at his studio in Vernon, Ca, October 2010. All clothing: Ruby’s own.



06.19.08 – 09.19.08
MOCA Focus: Sterling Ruby, SUPERMAX 2008 is the eighth installment of MOCA’s series of one-person exhibitions of work by emerging artists in Southern California. Presented at MOCA Pacific Design Center, the exhibition will feature new works in an installation specifically designed for the space. Sterling Ruby’s works in collage, ceramics, video, and sculpture tackle received notions of aesthetic tropes and social stereotypes that are based on visual signs. Often monumental in scale, Ruby’s works immerse the viewer in sets of formal codes and gestures that refer to transience, transgression, and transference—phenomena that are social and psychological, physical and emotional. Born in Bittburg, Germany, in 1972, Ruby received BFAs from the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design in 1998 and from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002. After relocating to Los Angeles in 2003, Ruby received a MFA from Art Center College of Design in 2005, and his work has been featured in numerous exhibitions internationally. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with an essay by MOCA Curator Philipp Kaiser.MOCA Focus: Sterling Ruby, SUPERMAX 2008 is made possible by generous endowment support from The Nimoy Fund for New and Emerging Artists and the Fran and Ray Stark Foundation Fund to Support the Work of Emerging Artists.Major support is also provided by a multi-year grant from The James Irvine Foundation. Additional generous support is provided by The MOCA Contemporaries, Karyn Kohl and David Hockney.
4 images


21 Questions for Artist Sterling Ruby

Published: October 11, 2011

Age: 39
Occupation: Artist
City/Neighborhood: Los Angeles, CA

What project are you working on now? 


I am working on a soft-sculpture exhibition for the Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève, organized by Katya García-Antón, which opens in February 2012. I’m also finishing a show titled EXHM / BC for the Frac Champagne-Ardenne, in Reims, in May 2012, working with Florence Derieux on this one.

Your solo show, VAMPIRE, is currently the first exhibition by a Western artist at Pace Beijing, and one of the first selling shows by a Western artist in mainland China. What do you make of that distinction?

I’m not sure what this means, to tell you the truth.

Why do you think they chose you?

I was very excited visiting Beijing for the first time in 2008 — there was an energy that the city had that the artists seemed to be feeding off of, it reminded me of the first time I experienced Los Angeles. I became fascinated by China’s speed and scale. It seems somewhat cliché but there really is an excessiveness and power in Beijing. The invitation to exhibit came from Leng Lin, the Pace Beijing director. We have a good rapport, and I admire what he’s done.

You are known for jumping from one medium to another, which is a rare approach among Chinese contemporary artists, who tend to cultivate signature styles. How has your work been received by the Chinese audience?

So far the reception of the exhibition has been good. The idea of Chinese contemporary artists cultivating signature styles is misleading. I don’t believe that Chinese artists are any more unidirectional than, say, American artists. That assumption might be based on the obsession with media, auction prices, and specific works. I have been to Beijing eight times over the past couple of years and realize now after getting to know many artists there and having done frequent studio visits that my perception prior to going was wrong. Someone like Zhang Xiaogang is primarily known for his paintings because of the auctions, but he has an incredibly diverse practice, which also includes sculpture, collage, and printmaking. This is something that I would not have known without visiting his studio and meeting him. I really like the work of Song Dong, whose ’90’s performative roots continues to inform his interdisciplinary practice. Even Li Songsong has made sculptures. The younger generation of Chinese artists is also working through this figurative/narrative (pre-Cultural Revolution) paradigm, which seems to be the West’s narrow definition of Chinese contemporary art.

You also have a show up currently at Andrea Rosen Gallery where your work is displayed alongside that of Lucio Fontana. Is there another historical artist with whom you would like to share a show? 

I would love to curate a show around Jay DeFeo’s “The Rose” and Bruce Conner’s assemblage works like “The Bride.”

What’s the last show that you saw?

Paul Schimmel’s phenomenal “Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981” at L.A. MOCA.

What’s the last show that surprised you? Why?

Tatsuo Miyajima’s “Ashes To Ashes, Dust To Dust” show at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art. The LED counters, projections and sculpture were so crystal clear and hypnotic. I loved watching this optically trippy set of works and thinking about their Buddhist-Existentialist subject matter. I like the fact that as long as the equipment continues to run, the works perpetually have a life of their own. I forgot to ask the Ullens folks if they turn it off at night.

Do you make a living off your art?


What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

The Hitachi CR18DL 18V 3.0Ah Lithium Ion Reciprocating Saw.

Do you collect anything?

I collect art and pottery.

What’s the last artwork you purchased?

I recently acquired Taryn Simon’s “Ski Dubai, The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai” (2005) and Robert Mapplethorpe’s portrait of the Baltimore writer “Cookie Mueller” (1978).

What’s the first artwork you ever sold?

I sold my first sculpture in 1999-2000 while living in Chicago. I was paid $500, which is what my rent was at the time. I spent $700 to make the sculpture. I bought the sculpture back from the collector a few years ago. I’m glad to have it in my possession again despite having lost money both times.

What’s your art-world pet peeve?

There are many, but I tend to keep them private now.

Do you have a gallery/museum-going routine?

Not really, I try to see what I can… I tend to see more shows when I travel.

What’s the last great book you read?

I just finished “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Faber and Mazlish and Murakami’s “A Wild Sheep Chase.”

What work of art do you wish you owned?

I wish I owned Georg Baselitz’s “The Big Night Down the Drain” (1962-1963).

What would you do to get it?

Almost anything, and I mean “anything.”

What international art destination do you most want to visit?

Egypt — I want to see the pyramids.

What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about? 

Three photographers: John Divola and friends Sarah Conaway and Melanie Schiff. I think Mara McCarthy’s gallery, the Box, is exceptional.

Who’s your favorite living artist?

I have always been a fan of Chris Burden, I’ve gotten to know him personally over the past few years and really admire his way of doing things. He’s up there for me.

What are your hobbies?

I’m trying to get Young Buck out of his contract with 50 Cent so that he can finally have a real follow up to 2004’s “Straight Outta Ca$hville.”


by Walter Robinson Artnet

The notion of the “abject” came into the art world in an appropriately half-assed way, as a show organized for the Whitney Museum by students in its “independent study program” in 1993.Subtitled “Repulsion and Desire in American Art,” the survey focused on what might be called female troubles — those very physical and very real elements of sexuality that men don’t typically find sexy. The exhibition included works by Louise Bourgeois, Carolee Schneemann, Cindy Sherman, Kiki Smith and that maestro of the anal phase, Paul McCarthy.

Since then, the idea of the abject has spread like a fungus, and today is the attribute that few avant-garde artworks can do without. Their anti-social truancy is all that separates “advanced” art from our flourishing mass culture. It makes you think: Long gone is the time that contemporary art was about abstraction taking us to new spiritual heights.

A case in point would be Sterling Ruby, the 30-something Los Angeles artist whose Minimalist sculptures defaced with smudges and scratchiti took the art market by storm in 2008. One especially clear example was exhibited at Metro Pictures, a sculpture of two geometrical forms smeared with schmutz and titled Absolute Contempt for Total Serenity.

These modest thoughts framed an evening visit to the Museum of Modern Art a couple of months ago, where curator Barbara London had arranged a special screening of five of Ruby’s videos in collaboration with his Chelsea gallery, Foxy Production. (Though shot on video, they took the form of “films,” and were projected in MoMA’s theater as part of a “Modern Mondays film screening.” )

The notion of abjection provided a way into a group of short videos — 61 minutes in all — that were otherwise fairly hermetic. Like a lot of artist’s films and videos, Ruby’s are not what you would call “narrative structures.” Rather, they’re more like drawings or sketches, in which each video tries out a single idea, rather than telling any kind of story.

For what it’s worth, though the artist likes to work across disciplines in many mediums, these five vids struck me as the work of a sculptor — though they do give a broader sense of Ruby’s artistic practice.

Thus, the short vid Hole (2002) illustrates a voice-over of some retail employee relating how he hated his job so much that he would stuff store stock into holes in the wall, costing thousands in lost inventory, with footage of several actors putting stuff through a gap in a plaster wall.

Similarly, Cartographic Yard Work (2009), shows the artist in an industrial yard, surrounded by piles of construction debris and the like, filling in small holes. (A task undertaken at the request of his landlord, Ruby informed the audience, as he himself had dug the holes, which were behind his studio, apparently as a kind of meditation).

This video especially seemed to be the work of a sculptor, particularly the “anti-form” sculptors of the 1970s, though Ruby’s approach seems more downbeat, even nihilistic, than those Postminimalist exercises in matter, volume and texture could ever be.

In Dihedral (2006), on the other hand, the image is pure prettiness, a chromophonic spectrum of color and movement presumably effected by dropping colored inks into an aquarium. The soundtrack for this nutrient-free eye candy is some gnomic scientific text, possibly about form in space but, really, impossible to follow — in its own way, nutrient-free as well.

Most abject, and decidedly avant-garde, is the final video in the series of five, called Triviality (2009), and featuring an endless — actually it was only nine minutes long — scene of a Los Angeles porno actor, Tom Colt, standing naked in a bare room masturbating, trying unsuccessfully to bring himself to orgasm. The film’s approach is all Body Art and very little eroticism (and is not at all coy like the accompanying still).

The artist said he was interested in his actor’s sense of embarrassment (at his professional failure to ejaculate on cue), but to the viewer the performance was a challenge to watch. Though the action in Triviality is utterly familiar — and certainly much can be said about it — its presentation was offensive first of all. Which is what makes it an emblematic avant-garde gesture.

The longest video, at 36 minutes, is titled Transient Trilogy (2005), and comes the closest to being a real film, with an actor, a setting and something of a narrative scheme. Ruby himself plays a bum, who transits a marginal landscape, neither nature nor manmade, where he occupies himself crafting what can only be called artworks from string, cast-offs and other bits of trash. In one scene, he makes a minor splatter painting on a rock with red fingernail polish.

As a filmmaker, Ruby lingers longingly on his “nonsites,” woods and streams on the city’s fringes, contaminated by urban runoff and trash, its trees spotted with carved initials and graffiti. He seems to be saying, as an artist, this is my place, and I love it.

The vid also has an odd interlude, in which Ruby, this time playing the filmmaker, gives impatient and loud direction to his schizophrenic performer, who is off screen, and who invariably fails to understand. The hostility and aggression here stand out. They are the actual feelings that hide beneath the affectless shield of the avant-garde abject.
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of Artnet Magazine.


Best in Show | Sterling Ruby’s Caged Heat



February 11, 2010, 1:15 pm 1 Comment

Sterling RubyG.R. Christmas/Courtesy PaceWildenstein, New York “Pig Pen” and “Bus” by Sterling Ruby, on view at PaceWildenstein in Chelsea.

Best in Show follows the peregrinations of critic and novelist Linda Yablonsky, author of The Story of Junk, and a front-line chronicler of art-world events and exhibitions.

Art is such a subjective pursuit that the next best thing to living with it may be having it to yourself in public. Sterling Ruby’s “2 Traps,” two new monumental sculptures on view at PaceWildenstein in Chelsea, offer such solitary experience in spades. “Bus” looks at first like a cross between a heavy metal band’s tour vehicle, a prison van outfitted for “Mad Max”-style siege and a nightclub from hell. Actually it is all three – and more.

The bus once belonged to the Los Angeles Police Department, which used it to ferry inmates to and from California prisons. A rock band then acquired it and painted its fiery logos on the exterior. Before Ruby acquired it from the city’s metro transportation system, the bus also did service as a mobile salesroom for stereo sound equipment.

The L.A.-based Ruby, who is 38 and a subscriber to Bus Conversion magazine, made his bus a gothic icon. He put in black vinyl banquettes of the sort common to party limos, and enclosed them behind the kind of security gates used by California homeowners in bad neighborhoods. To complete its transformation as a metaphor for a dark night of the soul, he installed multiple subwoofers and shiny chrome globes, as if it were a traveling disco engulfed in an eerie silence.

“Bus” functions as a metaphor for the suppression and release of personal demons that becomes even more pronounced with “Pig Pen,” the other monster piece in Ruby’s show. Looking like a minimalist structure conceived by Sol LeWitt in a straitjacket, or a live chicken market absent its inhabitants, it is made of 68 locked steel cages that replicate solitary confinement cells in San Quentin. Though hardly a thing of beauty, the work is somehow as sexy as it is forbidding — and best experienced alone.

Followers of Ruby’s work, which includes gloppy but fascinating ceramic vessels, enormously phallic polyurethane stalagmites, minimalist cubes “defaced” by graffiti and photographs painted with red nail polish, may be surprised by the claustrophobic extremes of the “traps.” But Ruby, whom the Times’s Roberta Smith has called “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century,” is nothing if not unpredictable. After all, his last show in New York, “The Masturbators,” was a video installation showing nine male porn stars doing what they do best — and mostly failing at the task. A similar sense of shame, rather than remorse, runs through both “Bus” and “Pig Pen.” Ruby thinks of them as time machines — places that stop time the moment you enter and alter it when you come out. Such rearrangement of the senses is exactly what art delivers — like nothing else.

“Sterling Ruby: 2 Traps” continues through March 20 at PaceWildenstein, 545 West 22nd Street.


New York

Sterling Ruby

An installation about masturbation falls limp.

By Time Out editors Mon Nov 9 2009

Installation view; Photographs: Mark Woods, Courtesy of the artist and Foxy…

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>3/5

Sterling Ruby takes the comparison of contemporary art and onanism to new lengths—eight inches or more—in The Masturbators, an installation featuring nine video projections of naked men jacking off. Each guy stands in the same alcove, its walls covered with peeling paint, and, to stress the relationship between self-gratification and art, each stands in his abject white cube on two towels of contrasting colors, like Minimalist paintings underfoot. The spectacle momentarily shocks, but that sensation quickly shrinks to mild interest as we begin appraising differences in body type and—since the models all work as professional porn actors—manner, from theatrical to affectless: A tattooed, bearded guy stands on tiptoes and pinches his nipple; one with a hairy chest plays with his balls; a third needs to lie down with a magazine. An amplified cacophony of heavy breathing, grunts and wet slapping sounds accompanies the visuals.

Male masturbation in art has a sizable history, going back at least to Vito Acconci’s Seedbed of 1971, so to think of Ruby’s work as transgressive is difficult, especially when similar entertainments are readily available on any computer without parental controls. A gallery handout’s claim that The Masturbators says something meaningful about either masculinity or performance art is merely risible. Yet nearly anywhere we stand in the gallery’s close quarters, our own shadows get cast on the sometimes life-size projections, turning viewers into actively participating voyeurs of a creepily pretentious, deadpan—and deadening—wankfest.—Joseph R. Wolin


Sterling Ruby. Anti Print Poster (in three parts), 2007
Sterling Ruby
Anti Print Poster (in three parts)
23 1/2 × 17 1/2 inches
Edition of 30

Sterling Ruby. Anti Print Poster (in three parts), 2007
Sterling Ruby
Anti Print Poster (in three parts)
16 × 23 inches
Edition of 30



by: Robin Newman

The exhibition of Sterling Ruby and Lucio Fontana currently on view at Andrea Rosen Gallery intertwines the work of two artists, juxtaposing while illuminating their similarities. Ruby is a contemporary artist based in Los Angeles, known for his biomorphic sculptures and graphic paintings as well as collages. Fontana was a Italian-Argentinean artist who founded the Spatialism art movement in New York during the 1940′s, alongside the development of abstract expressionism.

Although separated by time and place, both artists’ works are heavily influenced by their use of bronze and ceramics, and the organic forms and qualities that these materials take on. The exhibition begins with Fontana’s spherical bronze sculpture with a violent cracked down the center, recalling land splitting during an earthquake or a planet cracking in half. This sculpture sits by a smaller ceramic piece that twists and turns as if melting. In the next room we encounter a monolithic bronze sculpture by Ruby with the words “EXCAVATOR DIG SITE” emblazoned on the front. As Fontana’s sculpture recalls land, Ruby’s piece is more literal, creating a kind of archaeological dig site. Dripping in bronze, it looks as if the site has been consumed by molten lava and is as frozen in time as the ruins it was attempting to unearth.

These sculptures are juxtaposed with Fontana’s wall pieces of metal sheets that have been slashed down the middle. They are visceral yet somehow pristine, a perfectly executed cut. Also lining the walls are Ruby’s collages of found objects and paint on cardboard. These pieces recall the landscape of a dirty floor in an artists studio. Seemingly made from the leftovers of other works, they relate to Ruby’s ceramics which make up the second half of the show. The ceramics are at once destructive, while simultaneously allowing for a new creation. As in nature where decomposition feeds growth, and in recycling where trash can be reused, Ruby uses the refuse of failed ceramic attempts to birth a new piece. Broken bowls and shards are layered and glazed over, building a haphazard but complex structure. The works take on a psychological dimension when considering Ruby’s statement that he is destroying his past attempts and “grinding them down” as a way of “releasing a certain guilt” about the failure of the pieces. All the broken pieces collected into a basin feels an apt metaphor for a fragmented psyche. The pieces excavate and monumentalize failure by trying to come to terms with it. While Ruby’s ceramics are born from destruction, Fontana’s seem to be effortlessly slab-like and fluid.

Both artists engage the primeval nature of their materials while using it to create multi-layered works that investigate their modernity and history. The show attempts to unfold the past and bring it into the present. Partnering the historical work of a deceased artist with that of contemporary is an exercise in the archaeology of artistic lineage.

Now – October 15, 2011 at Andrea Rosen Gallery, 525 West 24th Street, New York, NY 10011


Sterling Ruby

by Rachel Corbett Artnet magazine


Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) makes a strong impression. His esthetic is masculine and a little bruised, antisocial and smart, grounded in its materials, and seems completely unpredictable. His varied output includes 18-foot-tall phallic “stalagmites” dripping with seemingly viscous urethane; rough-hewn ceramics with primordial glazes; paintings done with Robitussin-red nail polish or graffiti-like spray-paint; sculptures of smudged and scratched white minimalist forms; bus-sized cages on wheels; and videos of frustrated male pornstars masturbating to no end. For his latest exhibition, Ruby has turned to a classic Goth theme — vampires.

“Sterling Ruby: Vampire,” Sept. 24-Nov. 3, 2011, at Pace Beijing, is an appropriately splashy entrance into what looks like something of a new phase in the Los Angeles-based artist’s career. In the six years since he earned his MFA, Ruby has seen his prices leap to unsustainable levels, has ricocheted between galleries, and has confused some collectors and advisors with his refusal to stick to any one — or even three — mediums.

But now, the painter-sculptor-ceramicist who has been labeled a “rising young star” for years — he turns 40 in January — seems to have hit his stride. He has signed with Pace Gallery, stabilized his market and suddenly looks poised to move from cult hero to a kind of “mid-career” canonization.

“Sterling is the only one who shows signs that he’s going to be on the level of the major artists Pace has shown in the past — or that he could be in 20 years,” said art advisor Lisa Schiff. “There’s a space opening up. Artists like Christopher Wool and Albert Oehlen are starting to move into seniority, so there’s room for the next wave of great artists like him.”

“This has been a particularly hectic year,” said Ruby by phone from his studio in Vernon, Calif., a few days before catching a plane to install his first solo show in China. In 2009, Ruby was one of Pace director-in-waiting Marc Glimcher’s first recruits, and now he’ll be the Beijing outpost’s debut western artist. Luckily, “I tend to make an abundance of work,” he said.

Ruby is also in a two-person exhibition at Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York, in which his ceramics are aptly paired with works by Italian maestro Lucio Fontana, who of course also made ceramics as well as his trademark punctured monochromes. Last year, in a similarly savvy bit of curating, the Xavier Hufkens gallery in Brussels juxtaposed Ruby with Robert Mapplethorpe, another chronicler of elegance and the abject.

In an even bigger consummation, Ruby has recently seen a stream of museum endorsement — traditionally the ultimate arbiter of legacy. Since just last year, his works have been acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, the Tate Collection, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and seven other major public collections around the world.

But success for the young artist whose market once teetered on the brink of too-much-too-soon has not always looked so probable. Born on a military base in Bitburg, Germany, to a Dutch mother and American father, Ruby has spent most of his life far outside the bounds of the rarified art scene. The family moved around the Netherlands, to Baltimore, and finally settled on a farm about 20 minutes south of York, Penn., because, as Ruby put it, his parents “were hippies who had a subscription to Mother Earth News.” (That also might explain his name, which, he added, “was somewhat difficult as a kid living around a bunch of rednecks.”)

After graduating from an agriculture high school, Ruby spent several years working in construction and “getting very depressed” before having his introduction to the art world. His mother’s friend, a wildlife illustrator, helped him get into the Pennsylvania School of Art and Design in Lancaster, an unaccredited college where Ruby learned, predominantly, to draw bowls of fruit and nudes.

His real artistic awakening came with the discovery of Paul Schimmel’s catalogue Helter Skelter: L.A. Art in the 1990s in the tiny school library. “It was a red herring — I don’t know how it got there,” Ruby said. “I became certain that I was going to wind up in L.A., which seemed like it had more pathology than any other city in America.”

But he got his first break before he ever made it to the coast. He moved to Chicago to finish his degree at the School of the Art Institute, and it was there, at 1R Gallery, that New York dealer Michael Gillespie spotted Ruby’s work. The following year, Gillespie gave the artist his first solo exhibition in the city at his gallery, Foxy Production.

In 2006, not long after Ruby graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, he signed on with Metro Pictures gallery. But the relationship was rumored to be unsteady and they parted ways after two shows. So Ruby bounced back to working exclusively with Foxy Production (where he continues to show today on a project basis).

Then, the following year, Ruby saw a stratospheric surge in his auction prices. A spray-painted canvas, SP28, estimated at $35,000-$45,000 at Phillips de Pury, sold for $260,000. A month later, a print estimated at about $10,000 at Phillips in London went for $62,000.

“He came of age right at the pinnacle of the last decade’s market,” said Schiff. Suddenly, “a lot of people were glomming on, trying to get work out of his studio.” Gillespie remembers that “no one knew him and really no one knew us. But a small group of collectors and other gallerists started coming around. I think it was just the rawness and visceral quality of the work — it just hit you in the gut.”

Schiff stopped recommending Ruby’s work to her clients. Sure, he was popular, and the critics loved him too — that year Roberta Smith wrote in the Times that Ruby was “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century” — but “I couldn’t understand what was going on, and it made me nervous,” Schiff said.

Glimcher said that dealers face a problem of arbitrage when this happens. “If your public market goes above your private market, what are you going to do? Your dealer has to drop prices. Nothing hurts confidence in an artist’s work more than when a gallery has to say, ‘we’re going to drop prices.’”

And the most coveted works seemed to be Ruby’s paintings — not the sculpture or ceramics that had largely defined him thus far. Paintings, as a whole, tend to sell better than other media because they’re considered more livable, but some advisors worried he was becoming too stylistically pigeonholed.

“People are always confused by artists who work in multiple practices,” Glimcher said. “But he doesn’t really care.”

While Ruby’s primary-market prices have risen steadily over the years, he “is very conservative. He has kept his prices low and that’s a consistent trait of artists who, 40 years from now, we still know their names,” Glimcher said, citing Robert Ryman as a model of this kind of long-term prudence.

According to Pace, the majority of Ruby’s works range from $25,000-$150,000, while his large-scale sculptures go for between $250,000 and $500,000. (One dealer said that a larger ceramic work in the Andrea Rosen show is going for $75,000.)

Things seemed to settle down for Ruby in 2009. The economy was faltering, but that may have helped slow any further spikes in his auction prices. That was also the year he signed with Pace and, so far, they seem to be making smart moves. Ruby said he has intentionally held off showing ceramics for a while, maximizing the Fontana exhibition’s impact. “Ceramics are in vogue, without a doubt,” he acknowledged.

And could there be a subject with more mass-market appeal than vampires? “Twilight, True Blood, that Gucci Mane single… everyone wants to be a vampire in some way,” he said, adding that he was happy to play up to the theme, partly selected by Pace Beijing director Leng Lin.

But that’s not to call Ruby a sell-out. “Vampire” is a natural continuation of the anti-jingoistic themes he has long explored. There are 30 extremely large-scale new works, including Old Glory-printed fabric sculptures of lips and fangs; a supersized sheet-metal flag; new spray-painted canvases; a series of five-by-eight-foot bronze Debt basins filled with scraps; and an 18-foot stalagmite in which shades of empire red and blue bleed into black. It’s all housed in Pace Beijing’s perfectly Brutalist 25,000-square-foot old munitions factory.

“Society-conscious art has taken shape and risen in China,” said Leng Lin in an email. “Chinese contemporary art tends toward narrative, while Sterling Ruby’s work emphasizes shape and form. Sterling’s entrance will undoubtedly open eyes and minds and pour new life and energy into a flourishing, society-conscious Chinese contemporary art scene.”

“There’s something drastic about the vampire,” Ruby said. “It’s hyper-sexual, taboo, and there’s the existential scenario of never dying, being faced with the principles of eternity. It seems fitting for the time.”

RACHEL CORBETT is news editor at Artnet Magazine.


-Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

July 29, 2012

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

New Abstract Paintings: The Cosmos suite (2012)

Golden Dream (2012), part of the Cosmos Suite of paintings

California Toilet, Filthy Light Switch (2010) by Vincent Johnson. Archival Epson print (Private Collection, Miami, Florida). I provided this image as I realized its clear similarity to Golden Dream, which I completed a week ago in my studio in Los Angeles.

Two at Night (2012) from the Cosmos suite of paintings, Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches

Cosmos. Oil on canvas  2012 by Vincent Johnson

Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

This new painting series is part of my ongoing exploration of painting materials and techniques from the history of painting. The works combine knowledge of painting practices of both abstract and representation paintings. The works concern themselves purely with the visual power that paintings can do through the manipulation of paint. Some of the underpaintings are allowed to dry for months; some of those are built dark to light, others light to dark. None are made in a single setting. Most are worked and reworked using studio materials. Each new series takes a different approach to the painted surface from how the paint is applied, to varying the painting mediums. This suite concerns itself with the layering of paint by building up the surface and altering and reworking the wet paint with studio tools.

Two larger paintings will be completed and photographed on Sunday, July 15, 2012 and posted here.

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting: The Storm (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting, Snow White/White Snow (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

Vincent Johnson

Los Angeles, California

Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.


Art Press for Vincent Johnson in Photography 2013 at Another Year in LA gallery West Hollywood

Artillery Calendar

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Another Year in LA


Artist Name:
Richard Haley, Vincent Johnson, John Knuth, Ann Mitchell, Rachel Sussman

California Toilet: The Sink, by Vincent Johnson (2010)

8687 Melrose Blvd, Suite B267, PDC, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Opening Reception
Thu. Jan 17, 2013 @ 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Start Date:
Thu. Jan 17, 2013

End Date:
Fri. Mar 08, 2013

Description: Although there are only five artists (Richard Haley, Vincent Johnson, John Knuth, Ann Mitchell, Rachel Sussman) in PHOTOGRAPHY 2013, the range of imagery in this

Thursday, January 17


Today, January 17th 2013

  • Click to enlarge

    Another Year In LA

  • California Toilet: The Sink, by Vincent Johnson (2010)
  • Design Lab at Pacific Design Center, Suite B267, 8687 Melrose Avenue  / +13232234000 /

  • Tue – Fri 12pm to 5pm

    Richard Haley, Vincent Johnson, John Knuth, Ann Mitchell, Rachel Sussman PHOTOGRAPHY 2013

    Jan 17 – Mar 8, 2013 Reception: Thu Jan 17 5pm

  • Although there are only five artists in PHOTOGRAPHY 2013, the range of imagery in this show is vast.


    -Vincent Johnson

    Los Angeles, California

    July 29, 2012

    Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

    New Abstract Paintings: The Cosmos suite (2012)

    Golden Dream (2012), part of the Cosmos Suite of paintings

    California Toilet, Filthy Light Switch (2010) by Vincent Johnson. Archival Epson print (Private Collection, Miami, Florida). I provided this image as I realized its clear similarity to Golden Dream, which I completed a week ago in my studio in Los Angeles.

    Two at Night (2012) from the Cosmos suite of paintings, Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches

    Cosmos. Oil on canvas  2012 by Vincent Johnson

    Cosmos Red Yellow Green. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

    Green God. Oil on canvas 2012 by Vincent Johnson

    This new painting series is part of my ongoing exploration of painting materials and techniques from the history of painting. The works combine knowledge of painting practices of both abstract and representation paintings. The works concern themselves purely with the visual power that paintings can do through the manipulation of paint. Some of the underpaintings are allowed to dry for months; some of those are built dark to light, others light to dark. None are made in a single setting. Most are worked and reworked using studio materials. Each new series takes a different approach to the painted surface from how the paint is applied, to varying the painting mediums. This suite concerns itself with the layering of paint by building up the surface and altering and reworking the wet paint with studio tools.

    Two larger paintings will be completed and photographed on Sunday, July 15, 2012 and posted here.

    Vincent Johnson, Grayscale painting: The Storm (2012). Oil on canvas, 30×40 inches, created in studio in Los Angeles, California

    Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

    Vincent Johnson, Nine Grayscale Paintings, Beacon Arts Center, Los Angeles, (2001). Oil on canvas. Each panel is 20×24 inches.
    photograph of silver paint on my hands in studio, Los Angeles, during the creation of Nine Grayscale paintings.
    Vincent Johnson – in Los Angeles studio working on Nine Grayscale Paintings, 2011

    Vincent Johnson

    Los Angeles, California

    Vincent Johnson received his MFA in Fine Art Painting from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was selected for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 for the Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art Slant and many other publications. His photographic works were most recently shown in the inaugural Pulse Fair Los Angeles. His most recent paintings were shown at the Beacon Arts Center in Los Angeles.


Los Angeles’ new culture scene 2012

Walt Disney Concert hall downtown Los Angeles
Rendering of the Broad Art Foundation museum ©Diller Scofidio + Renfro
The Broad Art Museum on Grand Avenue opens in 2013 across from LA MoCA

The Los Angeles cultural front is seeing growth in several areas simultaneously and to levels never before witnessed in this international city. LA now has an experimental dance showcase, called Pieter, in its white hot artists East Side of LA neighborhood of Highland Park. LA has an experimental music venue in The Wulf. It has a hopping jazz showcase in Little Tokyo named the Blue Whale, on Astronaut street. The Geffen Playhouse is presenting David Mamet’s American Buffalo, and August Strinberg’s Miss Julie. The Broad Stage adding another performance space and is presenting……Still waiting to hear the complete 2012-2013 performance schedules from Cal State LA’s Luckman showcase, where we saw the phenomenal LTDX dance company from Beijing. In the artworld, New York’s Gavin Brown Enterprise’s director is opening a large special projects space in Boyle Heights, a historic Latino community in Los Angeles. In Venice, a new project space has opened called Various Small Fires, by one of the backers and founders of the Performa Biennial in New York City. LAXART and the UCLA Hammer museum have teamed up to present the first ever LA Biennial in 2012. Former New Museum in New York City Dan Cameron is now Chief curator at the Orange County Museum of Art. Already he has refashioned the former California Biennial into the California Pacific Rim Triennial for 2013, which will showcase artists from Asia, Latin America and California, giving Southern California its first ever international contemporary forum. With Cameron, this makes it now that four world-class artworld personalities from New York have come to LA to take charge of LA art museums. Michael Govan, from DIA and DIA Beacon, New York, now has a German billionaire creating a massive collection of contemporary art for LACMA, in the face of Eli Broad building BCAM at LACMA but not giving LACMA his contemporary art collection. In 2013 the new Broad contemporary museum opens across from LA MoCA on Grand Avenue, some 27 years after MoCA opened via a one percent for art taxing of the California Plaza towers development. The Paris Photo fair is expanding to LA in 2013. Art Platform Los Angeles returns to LA, but in Santa Monica instead of downtown in 2012. And the LA Art Fair in downtown LA was a sensation last January. The major highlight was the presentation by China of a 7,000 square foot pavilion in the Los Angeles Convention Center, which featured a centuries old yet large, exquisitely wrought poet’s reading room, as well as enormous photorealist paintings of ritual life in China. A Noise Within, LA’s most important repertory theater company, now has a 300 seat venue in Pasadena. The Mark Taper Forum at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion presented Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. It was an astounding performance. The queen of contemporary dance presentation in LA, Glorya Kaufmann, has for almost a decade now brought to Los Angeles the best of international modern and contemporary dance and dance theater. And this is without Los Angeles having its own resident dance company – until this year, when sensational choreographer Bernard Millipied launched his LA Dance Project in September of 2012. Redcat Disney will be presenting a new performance based on Eugene O’Neill’s early plays. The Broad Stage will present the Shakespeare Globe Theater production of Hamlet. London’s Menier Chocolate Factory avant-garde theater company’s Nina Conte’s Talk to the Hand and Ruby Wax, Losing It. The LA Opera Off Grand will début at the Broad Stage with the opera Duce Rosa, based upon a short story by Isabel Allende. Up the road we’ll see a new jazz showcase in Culver City designed by Frank Gehry.

2013 Season

The Fall of the house of usher,

Long Beach Opera

By Phillip Glass
January 27, February 2, 3  2013

Ghostly. Mysterious. Chilling. There is a time to confront our fears and nightmares; a time to explore the fine line between truth and imagination. Welcome to one of Edgar Allan Poe’s most unsettling stories. Enter the eerie realm of the House of Usher where the border separating the real and the supernatural is blurred. Glass’ haunting and suspenseful music provides the soundscape for this journey to the edge of madness. Read More…

Here are some of the offerings coming to LA in 2012-2013

CAP UCLA 2012–13 Season
International theater returns to UCLA, beginning with the U.S. premiere of Théâtre de la Ville–Paris’ production of Eugéne Ionesco’s “Rhinoceros” Sept. 21–22. Directed by Emmanuel Demarcy–Mota, the Royce Hall performance will be in French with English subtitles.

London’s acclaimed Cheek By Jowl brings its version of John Ford’s classic Jacobian drama ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore” to the Freud Playhouse Jan 9–12.

Trisha Brown Dance Company: The Retrospective Project, which will include three full-length dance programs. On April 4, the project highlights Brown’s enduring collaborative relationship with famed artist Robert Rauschenberg with “Astral Converted,” presented at the outdoor Sunset Canyon Amphitheatre on campus.

Hamburg Ballet Hamburg Ballet
John Neumeier, Director / Chief Choreographer
February 8–10, 2013

Under the leadership of John Neumeier, Hamburg Ballet has developed into one of the most exquisite companies in the world. His thoughtful story adaptations have shed new light onto well known tales as he seamlessly combines movement, music and visual imageryHis modern but timeless interpretation of The Little Mermaid, created to mark the 200th birthday of Hans Christian Andersen, is a dramatic tale that contrasts the simplicity of underwater life with the worldly nature of the humans. As she travels through both worlds, the title character endures torment because of her love for the prince before ultimately triumphing through her own strength.Choreography, staging and design by John Neumeier
Music by Lera Auerbach

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
Boris Eifman, Artistic Director
May 3–5, 2013

For his newest ballet, Boris Eifman has once again been drawn to a famous story of creative genius, inspiration and passion. Rodin, which premiered in 2012 to mark the company’s 35th anniversary, is based on the life of the famed French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840–1917) and his turbulent relationship with his mistress and muse, Camille Claudel. Set to music by Saint-Saëns, Massenet and Ravel, Rodin is a tale of artistic inspiration and the terrible price of genius.
 Los Angeles Music Center
 Alice in Wonderland
Christopher Wheeldon’s acclaimed version of “Alice in Wonderland,” danced by the National Ballet of Canada, plus an array of repertory programs by Alvin Ailey, the Joffrey Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre, are among the highlights of the 2012-2013 Music Center seasonAlso on the bill are some firsts for the 10-year-old Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center:L.A. Dance Project’s first performances, which will kick off the Music Center season (Sept. 22-23), includes Quintett” by William Forsythe, “Winterbranch,” by Merce Cunningham plus a new work by Millepied with composer Nico Muhly, graphic artist Christopher Wool and the fashion house Rodarte.
  • Miss Julie

    February 26 – April 7, 2013

    Written by August Strindberg
    Adapted & Directed by Neil LaBute
    World Premiere – Geffen Playhouse

    A Daring New Adaptation

  • American Buffalo

    April 2 – May 12, 2013

    Written by David Mamet
    Directed by Randall Arney
    First Major Los Angeles Production in Decades – Geffen Playhouse

    Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright

Christopher Wheeldon’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” (Oct. 19-21), a contemporary full-length ballet, will have its U.S. debut (with live orchestra) with these performances. Created for London’s Royal Ballet, “Alice” moved recently to the National Ballet of Canada.

Also performing with a live orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet (Feb. 1-3) is bringing a reconstruction of the original 1913 Ballet Russes production of Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre du Printemps/The Rite of Spring,” along with Wheeldon’s “After the Rain” and William Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s five-night run (April 17-21) will feature three distinct programs, including Ohad Naharin’s “Minus 16.

America Ballet Theatre (July 11-14), with live orchestra, closes the series with two bills: the full-length “Le Corsaire,” which plays three nights,  plus a mixed-repertory program (to be announced) for opening night.

Experimental opera by the Los Angeles Philharmonic


photography by Autumn de Wilde

” In addition to “Le Nozze di Figaro” (with designs by the architect Jean Nouvel and the fashion designer Azzedine Alaïa), next season brings Oliver Knussen’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” Berg’s “Wozzeck,” Peter Eotvos’s “Angels in America” and a staged version of John Adams’s “Gospel According to the Other Mary” (which has its premiere here in a concert version on Thursday). That is an extraordinary program of opera in America.”

LA Dance Project by Bernard Millipied

Misty Copeland, Jillian Vanstone and Benjamin Millepied at Walt Disney Concert Hall

“L.A. Dance Project is close to finding a permanent space in the city, and that “the goal is to have a home.”

L.A. Dance Project will perform a world-premiere piece by Millepied, featuring music by Nico Muhly. It will also perform William Forsythe’s “Quintett” and Merce Cunningham’s “Winterbranch.” Millepied said he will be dancing in “Quintett” in what will be one of his final dance performances. The L.A. Dance Project is scheduled for Sept. 22-23 at Disney Hall.

By DANIEL J. WAKIN, New York Times

Benjamin Millepied’s company, L.A. Dance Project, will make its first appearance on the East Coast with October performances at Montclair State University’s Peak Performance series, it was announced on Wednesday. Also on the bill are a new chamber opera about the African-American artist Clementine Hunter, created in part by Robert Wilson; a new and so-far untitled work by Laurie Anderson and the Kronos Quartet; performances by South Africa’s Via Katlehong dance group, the Richard Alston Dance Company and the Jasmin Vardimon Company; and the first presentation of “Dog Days,” a mix of “opera, musical theater and rock-infused concert music” set in an imaginary “war-torn United States,” Peak Performances said. “Dog Days” is the work of David T. Little, Royce Vavrek, Robert Woodruff, Judy Budnitz and Alan Pierson.

Redcat’s ongoing presentation of The Wooster Group experimental theater performance troup. This is America’s greatest experimental theater company. They will be presenting a program based upon the Early Plays of Eugene O’Neill

Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Brian Mendes and Kaneza Schaal, center, in “Moon of the Caribbees,” one of three related Eugene O’Neill one-acts in “Early Plays,” at St. Ann’s Warehouse. (Brooklyn)

Industry, the LA experimental opera company formed from VOX, New York City Opera’s groundbreaking opera company.

The Voodoo Queen is ready for her closeup in The Industry’s multi-genre inaugural production, “Crescent City,” in Atwater Village
The Industry

Gate Theatre Dublin’s production of Samuel Beckett’s
Krapp’s Last Tape
with John Hurt

Oct 9 – Nov 4, 2012

Kirk Douglas Theatre
downtown Culver City

Paris Photo Fair LA to debut in 2013 at Paramount Studios Hollywood
Med_julien_frydman-134-jpgJulien Frydman © Philippe Levy

After 16 years of existence, Paris Photo has become an essential meeting place, both on a French and international level.
Nevertheless, as the network of cultural centers and galleries tends to make Los Angeles an essential meeting place for collectors who don’t come to Paris, Jean-Daniel Compain, General Director of the Culture and Entertainment branch of Reed Expositions, and Julien Frydman, Director of Paris-Photo, decided to create Paris Photo L.A. The first edition will take place from April 24-28, 2013 at the Paramount studios, also celebrating their 100th anniversary.
It will present a selection of 80 French and international galleries whose definitive program will be announced during the next edition of Paris Photo, scheduled to take place from November 15-18, 2012, at the Grand Palais.
Julien Frydman adds that Paris Photo L.A. “is determined to represent all types of photography, including the most avant-garde, the program will be defined in relation to the cultural activity of the city and of its principle actors” (private collections, cultural institutions).

Bernard Perrine



Bernard Perrine

Andy Wahol’s Los Angeles Artworld Years

Warhol silkscreening in The Factory

Like Andy Warhol, the LA Artwold is obsessed with Hollywood. It is courting Hollywood 24/7 to become collectors, to be part of the LA culture scene, not to merge high and low, pop culture and serious culture, but to be in the world of stardom that only Hollywood itself can offer. Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art’s new director, Jeffrey Deitch, has moved from New York City into a Hollywood Hills home that some of Hollywood’s most famous personalities have lived in. Several LA art collectors and dealers also have residences in historic Hollywood Hills homes.

Bernard Weintraub wrote that “Andy Warhol lived in New York, but Los Angeles was his spiritual home.” in his May 24, 2002 New York Times review of the Warhol retrospective in LA.

And here is Walter Hopps on how he came to show the work of Andy Warhol at the Ferus gallery:

“At some point, we may have also seen, in Warhol’s studio, work in progress that included one of his first Campbell’s Soup cans. Blum was running Ferus Gallery, but I still had ownership stock and had stayed involved. I said to Warhol, ‘Absolutely, I want to take some of this work for a show in Los Angeles.’ Warhol, who had never been to California, answered with some excitement, ‘Oh, that’s where Hollywood is!’ In the sea of magazines and fanzines scattered on the floor, so deep it was hard to walk around, were all those Photoplay and old-fashioned glamour magazines out of the Hollywood publicity mill. So a show in L.A. sounded great to Warhol. He agreed, and thus the multiple-image soup can show came to Ferus in 1962. Warhol missed that first exhibition of his Pop images, but he finally made it to California in September 1963 for the opening of the Marcel Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Art Museum and his own second Ferus show.”

Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans is now showing at MoCA in Los Angeles. This is the first time this work has returned to LA since its original exhibition in July of 1962 at the Ferus gallery. It returns just in time for its lessons to be used to fertilize the cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

From MoMA’s website: “When Warhol first exhibited these thirty–two canvases in 1962, each one simultaneously hung from the wall like a painting and rested on a shelf like groceries in a store. The number of canvases corresponds to the varieties of soup then sold by the Campbell Soup Company. Warhol assigned a different flavor to each painting, referring to a product list supplied by Campbell’s. There is no evidence that Warhol envisioned the canvases in a particular sequence. Here, they are arranged in rows that reflect the chronological order in which they were introduced, beginning with “Tomato” in the upper left, which debuted in 1897.”

Warhol's Gold Marilyn was created in August, 1962, just a month after his show at Ferus in Los Angeles. He immediately made this work in response to Marilyn Monroe;s suicide.

Warhol's Triple Elvis (1963) first exhibited at Ferus in LA, now part of the Fisher Collection at SFMoMA

Warhol said the following about his work in 1967: “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am,” he told an interviewer. “There’s nothing behind it.”

Andy Warhol and Diviine at Studio 54. When does the party start and never stop in Los Angeles?

German art historian Heiner Bastian curated the 2002 Warhol retrospective, which was not initially intended to travel, for the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin. The May 24, 2002 New York Times reported that he said: “Warhol’s paintings are not about something,” he continued. “His work exists without an essence. The source is taken directly from life without any emotion.”

Andy Warhol is the most important artist to ever work in New York. Andy Warhol was a brilliant and supremely successful commercial graphic artist in New York in the late 1950’s when he realized he wanted to be an artworld artist. At some point afterwards he realized that if he used the already through the roof iconographic images of Hollywood Stars, he could propel his own art career into the heavens. Now the LA Artworld is using the idea of Los Angeles as the next in line to be given the art world baton. The same blue blood baton that was once in the hands of Rome, was awarded to Paris, which ran with it and kept it in its possession of it for 300 years, then New York ripped the baton of art out of Paris’ too sophisticated hands during the 1950’s (see How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, by Serge Guibault), and 60 years later, the baton is being handed over to Los Angeles  by New York, who sees LA today as New York was in the 1950’s. New York sees itself as being too high up on the hill and eating too high up on the hog to do the dirty work of creating genius art in 1950’s garrets that are so plentiful in Los Angeles. Los Angeles now realizes that it first showed Los Angeles’ art history to be as important as New York’s because it was the first white hot Los Angeles art scene of the early 1960’s that launched Warhol’s career. It was the now legend making Ferus gallery on North La Cienega, directed by high culture impresario Walter Hopps, that put Andy Warhol on the New York artworld map. LACMA didn’t even open until 1965. Cal Arts didn’t open until 1968. MoCA didn’t open its Grand Avenue building until 1986, yet LA showed Warhol in 1962. And MoCA in Los Angeles has had one of the powerful impacts in the arena of serious and substantive highly intellectually rigorous exhibition making, of any museum of its type in the world. And it did this with a miniscule budget and a small number of dedicated local visitors for well over two decades.

Warhol understood how the idea was framed was what produced the fame.

Warhold could see that how one frames was the name of the game. Now Los Angeles is in the frame and wants the fame to never end.

The arid Conceptual Art made in New York in the 1980’s has been remixed by the Conceptual Art coming out of LA since the 1990’s. LA’s Post-Studio Art logic has been shattered by this and been reconstructed under the tidal wave of Art Basel and especially the regal artworld tastes on display at Art Basel Miami Beach, the latter of which announced the return of narrative and abstract painting with its start in 2002, brought into vogue by the rise of ferociously intellectual painters such as Luc Tuymans of Belgium. Charles Saatchi’s 2005 the Triumph of Painting show in London blew the lid off of Painting as much as any show on earth. Peter Doig and Martin Kippenberger, Kay Althoff, Marlene Dumas were among several star painters who were broadly celebrated. This first decade of the 21st century has also seen the rise of the African-American artist into the heights of the artworld, with Los Angeles based painter Mark Bradford being the trailblazing leader on the international artist. The birth of new schools of painting –  such as the Leipzig school, with the formidable, strange narrative paintings by Neo Rauch and his students, and the concurrent collapse of the pounding beat of critical theory, which still dominates the Biennial circuit, but not the art market, has caused a literal sea tide directional shift in the international artworld. This has freed up artists to reawaken their narrative picture making drives, and with this, the notion that painting is a demonic enterprise, that narrative art needs to be crushed; that art must be “emptied out” of narrative to be untainted by the grand master narratives of history, which themselves were supposedly eradicated from the earth once the layers of false consciousness left over from the European Enlightenment project were eliminated.


The decades old narrative of Los Angeles being the place of forgetting, of having no past and erasing all of its history is still true; yet it is also true that Los Angeles cares about its past, and wants to get it down on paper, once and for all time. Proof of this is the Getty Museum’s paying for the Pacific Standard Times, Los Angeles art history from about 1945 to 1980, with some of the exhibitions framing their shows in more recent times. Both the Pompidou in Paris and the Louisiana Museum outside of Copenhagen have done remarkable exhibitions on the history of the LA artworld. Yet Pacific Standard Time — with over 60 exhibition venues, will mark a coming to consciousness about the Los Angeles artworld.

Bob Dylan in Warhol's Factory with a Warhol "Elvis"

Tennesse Willians talking with Andy Warhol. I can only imagine what stinging provocations came out of Williams mouth toward Warhol.

Andy Warhol was also a Hollywood film director. He shot screen tests and made several films, some of which could fall into the Structuralist Cinema camp, such as his 24 hour film of the Empire State building titled EMPIRE.

Former LACMA curator Henry Hopkins on Walter Hopps and Irving Blums discovery of Andy Warhol:

“In the Fall of 1961, Walter Hopps and Irving Blum… co-proprietors of the now legendary Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles–were in New York together scouting for young talent. The two of them made arrangements to visit Warhol’s studio… Neither of them could relate to this new, subject-based art since they…were absorbed in Abstract Expressionism and the new “Beat” aesthetic of Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. A few months later, Blum was again in New York as the guest of collector and art supporter Ed Janss, who wanted Irving to look at a Giacometti that he was considering for purchase. An inevitable visit to the then “hot” Leo Castelli Gallery took place where Ivan Karp, a dedicated searcher, showed Blum the work of another new comic book artist Leo was planning to take on, Roy Lichtenstein… So, it was off to Warhol’s loft once again where Blum expected to see more “comic book” art, but instead was confronted by thirty-two small paintings of soup cans each seemingly identical in every way except for the name of the soup: Chicken Noodle, Beef Barley, etc. The paintings represented every flavor of Campbell’s Soup on the market. When Irving asked Warhol about this new direction, Andy simply told him that there was this other artist (Roy Lichtenstein) who was painting comic strips better that he was, so he shifted to soup cans. This was the limit of their philosophical discussion.

Perhaps it is time now for yet another assessment of the career arc of Andy Warhol, which has caused over one hundred different books about him to be written, and this does not include exhibition catalogs.

This sculpture of Andy Warhol is in front of Warhol's Factory studio in Union Square on 17th and Broadway.

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles based artist and writer Vincent Johnson
Biography July 2011
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at Soho House, Los Angeles, Palihouse, West Los Angeles, Las Cienegas Projects, LAXART, the P.S. 1. Museum, the SK Stiftung, Cologne, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Adamski Gallery of Contemporary Art, Aachen, Locust Projects, Miami, the Sacramento Center for Contemporary Art, 18th Street Arts, Santa Monica and the Boston University Art Gallery. His photographic works engage both significant and neglected historical and contemporary cultural artifacts and is based on intensive research of his subjects. Upcoming are projects in Europe and Los Angeles. He will also be participating in at least one Los Angeles art fair this coming fall.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997 and his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  He studied with Mike Kelly, Jack Goldstein, Stephen Prina, Liz Larner, Chris Williams, Mayo Thompson (formerly of Art&Language), and Liz Larner. He is a 2005 Creative Capital Grantee, and was nominated for the Baum: An Emerging American Photographer’s Award in 2004 and for the New Museum of Contemporary Arts Aldrich Art Award in 2007 and for the Art Matters grant in 2008, and in 2009 nominated for Foundation for Contemporary Art Fellowship, Los Angeles. In 2010 he was named a United States Artists project artist. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, Art in America and many other publications.

Soviet Space (2009) by Vincent Johnson (Private collection, Los Angeles)

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