Vincent Johnson: Vernacular Architecture project (Los Angeles and Texas)

Booker's Del Hi

Vincent Johnson’s Artist statement from 2005 on Vernacular architecture project:

Ritz Motel in Living Color

My artistic practice is currently concerned with the production of an archive of digital photographic images of the remains of Los Angeles’ and Southern California’s vernacular architecture after the inception of the motel in the 1920’s through intriguing phase that delivered the fantasy of neon noir architecture of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Since the majority of this form of architectural history are in forlorn and neglected avenues of Los Angeles and beyond, I do not consider the project to be a form of cultural tourism, but an authentic investigation and concern that gives rise to a cultural document as history. On occasion I will also produce a photograph that documents the relationship between the 1950’s through the 1970’s car culture and California private residences.

Car and leaves

I work in Los Angeles, which has an exceptional amount of interesting architectural artifacts from the First World War period onwards. Many portions of the Los Angeles that I depict come into existence when New York was attempting to wrest the thorn crown of painting from Paris and succeeded. In the course of producing my photographic archive, I have employed strategies of production such as those used by the flaneur and the derive, in day and at night, by car and on foot, primarily in a stark and challenging urban territory, the Anti-City that is Los Angeles. Similarly, I have also allowed myself to merely wander through this world as the American artist that I am, and fall into pictures and spaces that call for documentation.

Hollywood station wagon

Neon Vacancy

It is my experience that driving a car in Los Angeles and seeing the world through its windows is a complex real-time cinematic event. There is a temporary encounter and an enduring intimacy through memory via the photographed subject – this produces the photograph, as versus a sustained relationship with a single but ever-changing street scene. Through auto travel one is given the privileged observer position of moving through the world as a real-time unedited film, a cinema-state; to take a number of photographs of it afterwards. Often, when I drive I look about and “remember” key images, photographs of urban sites from the mid-century and earlier that I will take pictures of in the future.

Poet's House

Despite the relative youth of Los Angeles cultural architectural properties from the mid-20th century and earlier, they are constantly vanishing from the physical landscape of the state, as the dead architecture and their signs are either demolished or their  elegant features are almost erased.  Part of my project is documentary in the recognition of this reality. At certain times and places in Southern California, merely by driving about, one can gain a very strong sense of the lifestyles of Los Angeles’ remarkable architectural past, in reinvented forms of openness to new possibilities, without external pressure, to fulfill the promise of the future.

Studio Self Storage

Vincent Johnson

Lake Balboa, California

4.12.05

The Five Signs of Deano's

Circus Liquor Parking Lot

Air-Conditioned Motel

Stein on Vine

Smashed Catalina

Painted Structure, Odessa

West Texas Ice Cream Parlor

Beach City Chevrolet

Copa West

Southern Gents Club

Furst Motel

Furst Motel

Vincent Johnson on his Vernacular architecture project, 2005

The nature and form of my work is investigative and analytical. Each photograph in my body of work combines a commanding visual poetics with a documentary and literary sensibility. Visual movement enthralls me. By degrees my eyes now take in photographs of the commercial vernacular architectural history of Los Angeles. My work is driven both by a radical reader’s intensity – which is, my profound desire to continue read and to know the world through its myriad night forms and daylight appearances. I am both an image-maker and producer of fiction and of fact, in language and in vision. My project is expansive and expanding, from the old interior corridors of the first avenues of Los Angeles, roaming outwards to the edge locals of the region – Riverside, San Bernardino County, San Diego.

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Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/user/vincentjohnson
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/william_livingstone_house_detroit
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604

===============================================

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography July 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at 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, 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 is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a one person show in Copenhagen, a one person show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a one person show at Las Cienegas Projects, Los Angeles.
Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. 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. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.
LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com
Vincent  Johnson
Artist Statement
Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of  which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.
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Los Angeles gallery of the moment: Khastoo

June Wayne paintings at Khastoo gallery, Los Angeles

Sunset boulevard is the newest hot gallery street of Los Angeles. It is where Ltd. Los Angeles, Overduin & Kite, 8th Veil, Michael Benevento (NYC and LA) and Khastoo are located. One of my friends in New York thinks of Hollywood as LA’s East Village, because of the concentration of bars, nightclubs and restaurants, and of course people walking on the streets until late in the night. He said this to me about five years ago. Neither of us could have envisioned that part of Hollywood could actually become even more like the East Village, with the founding of several gallery and project spaces in the last few years.

Twenty seven-year old Leila Khastoo worked at Gagosian and Mary Goldman galleries before opening her own space on Sunset boulevard. The gallery is getting the level of press that but a few of the small but international level spaces in LA have ever received. This includes the opening of China Art Objects a decade ago, and the launch of LAXART into Los Angeles just over 5 years ago. There is certainly more attention being paid to the happenings and events inside the LA Artworld than at any other time in the city’s history. Khastoo gallery has already been featured in BlackBook and the NYTimes T magazine. Not since the opening of LAXART 5 years ago has a project space – not an artist run space – got so much New York City attention. The gallery was featured in Wallpaper magazine’s US Top 40 in 2009. That the gallery is here in LA speaks of the desire to expand the local into the international discourse.

Lelia Khastoo, second from left, in her Sunset boulevard art gallery

photo by Stephanie Diani for the New York Times

From Khastoo gallery’s website:

“Khastoo Gallery was founded in November of 2008 by Leila Khastoo, a Los Angeles native interested in bringing an international academic perspective to the artistic landscape of the city.  Shows at Khastoo emphasize the critical content of art and art making, integrating current global viewpoints with an art historical approach to programming.www.khastoo.com

The Dubai-based arts and lifestyle magazine Brownbook featured a story on Lelia Khastoo and her gallery in Los Angeles.

Khastoo gallery was features in Wallpaper magazine's U.S. Top 40 for 2009

“los angeles gallery KHASTOO
is number 11 of wallpaper* magazine’s 40 reasons to be in the USA.

khastoo just so happens to be where smithshop made its preview presentation 1 year ago.

“CONGRATULATIONS KHASTOO.”

From the Art Newspaper, London:

“Leila Khastoo, owner of the Los Angeles-based Khastoo gallery which represents several Iran-based artists including Vahid Sharifian, said she, too, faced obstacles after opening her space in 2008. “It’s perfectly legal and fine to bring art work from Iran,” said Khastoo. “But customs brokers don’t know that and are frightened to go near it. Several said it was impossible and couldn’t be done.”

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles

Cold War photomontage: Watching Television 2009. Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604

=====================================================

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography July 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at 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, 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 is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. 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. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Vincent  Johnson Artist Statement

Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

New LA galleries report Summer 2010

The year 2010 is proving to be one of tremendous transformation and growth in the LA artworld. In the past year a small number of highly dynamic spaces have moved in, offering more low-key but strong exhibitions in recent memory that were not solely driven by the market. Despite LA having lost a few dozen commercial spaces in the past two years, the rise of prominent artist run spaces such as Las Cienegas Projects (a 2,800 square foot space), WPA, Actual Size, The Company, Pauline (apartment gallery), and Phil; as well as the opening of a new space by LA collector Shirley Morales (Ltd. Los Angeles, on the Sunset Strip on a corridor with a small number of year and two old spaces such as Eighth Veil), have reinvigorated the LA scene in new and powerful ways.

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Las Cienegas Projects

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WPA gallery

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The Company

The decision of far more powerful and stories spaces such as LAXART and West of Rome (a regular player at Art Basel when it was a commercial gallery), along with the newly launched Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND), to all turn to doing remarkable public art programs in Los Angeles, was done to give LA a strong public art presence in a way that it has never had in the past. This coincides with the growing strength of the University of Southern California’s public arts degree, which is already providing trained personnel for on the ground engagement with the new and unique realities being developed by the increasing interest in Los Angeles as a special place for making art.

The Chinatown gallery situation is also in flux. The Katheryn Brennan gallery, formerly Sister gallery, born from Acme gallery in Mid-Wilshire, is moving to the LES (Lower East Side) and becoming Brennan Griffin. She joins Rental gallery as the second LA space to move to the center of the market, where the possible billion dollars in cost Whitney Museum space will open in the Meatpacking District, and where the new DIA Chelsea will also to be built from the ground up to be an artist paradise exhibition space. What was once the high energy scene of LA has been shifted to the new spaces on Hollywood’s Sunset boulevard.

Actual Size gallery, Los Angeles (photo from Flash Art magazine)

Another Year in LA gallery, which has since inception hosted several important exhibitions, is moving, but has not made their plans public. They have operated out of the former Capital Records stamping plant. Cottage Home gallery, the 4,000 square foot shared gallery in Chinatown, is the most rewarding gallery going experience that remains in that part of LA’s ever-expanding artworld landscape.

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VOLUME, a bicoastal exhibition featuring artists of local, national, and international standing

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VOLUME opening

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More VOLUME at the gigantic 12,500 square foot AT1 space in Atwater Village, curated by a New Yorker, in Los Angeles (photos bytryharder blogspot)

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Mike Kelly Studio, a Voyage of Growth and Discovery

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(photos by Fredrick Nilsen)

Emi Fontana’s West of Rome, one of the LA spaces presenting major new public art, is showing Mike Kelly and Michael Smith’s project, A Voyage of Growth and Discovery. The project debuted in NYC and is exhibited in Los Angeles in the vast former Farley building storage space, which is also Mike Kelly’s studio. A show of this magnitude in New York would have multiple reviews. This is probably why it opened in New York in the first place, even though the project was born and formed in Los Angeles.

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The Faley building, Mike Kelly’s studio, where the project was conceived.


Phil gallery

T Payne

Phil gallery owner Tony Payne in Eastside of Los Angeles artist hood of Highland Park.

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Cheesy burger and fries at The York, a really fun real beer bar in LA.

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The York gastropub, which I prefer over the few other LA artist bars. The York avenue gallery scene also includes a few established spaces such as Kristie Engle gallery, whose space resides next to not one but two bars, one being The York gastropub, one of the most comfortable, accessible, relaxed yet fun and actually well designed bars in LA. The other is a biker bar.

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8th Veil gallery on Sunset boulevard (photo by tryharder)

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LA art collector Shirley Morales new space, Ltd.Los Angeles, on 7561 W. Sunset, in Hollywood.

She is interviewed about her space in the Flash Art issue 272, out now. Ltd. Los Angeles is a member of the NADA art fair. It should be noted that San Francisco has 9 NADA Fair members, while Los Angeles has 8.

Her upcoming program promises quite a bit of excitement. In July 2010, artist Erick Pereira will recreate the infamous nightclub which was in the space “Rodney’s English Disco” in the 1970s. Fall shows include a show by New York artworld sensation Kalup Linsay, followed by a group show curated by Matthew Higgins. This is one of the first project gallery spaces in LA to have visiting curators since LAXART came into Los Angeles in 2005.

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Led Zepplin band at the club in 1972

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The commercial gallery scene at the upper strata of the LA Artworld is seeing the New York art world move into town, to use LA as a platform for the sale of Contemporary, not Older, art. L&M Arts has already attracted the LA based sculptor Thomas Houseago, who left Kordansky gallery to join this global powerhouse secondary market gallery, now with a contemporary space opening in the fall of 2010 in Venice Beach. The début show will be the work of LA giant Paul McCarthy, which should be the not miss opening of the year. Another powerhouse from NYC, the Matthew Marks Los Angeles gallery opens in LA in the spring of 2011.

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In the fall of 2010, LACMA’s 45,000 square foot Resnick gallery opens.

It will hopefully begin to bring in some of the several exhibitions LA has been unable to bring to town for lack of exhibition space. The Getty Museum was supposed to do this work as of over 2 decades ago, but clearly went in a different direction. Perhaps now there will be a true sea change in terms of their being prominent exhibitions coming to LA. Up the road – just 2 years from now, the Broad Museum is to open, most likely across from LA MoCA on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles. It is hoped that with the joint institutions the number of visitors to both venues as a single destination, will prove to be both worthy and admirable.

Dreams of Technology: Water to Land (2010) by Vincent Johnson (30x40 inch Lightjet print)

American Cold War Shelters (2009) by Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/user/vincentjohnson
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/william_livingstone_house_detroit
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604


=====================================================

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography October 2010
Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at 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, 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 is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona, a show at the University of California, Santa Barbara, an exhibition in Copenhagen, and a second one person show at Las Cienegas Projects in Los Angeles.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. 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. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Vincent  Johnson Artist Statement

Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of whichconfront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

Three billionaires walk into an LA Art Museum…

Abu Dhabi's 450,000 sq. ft. Guggenheim museum opens in 2013

With the exception of the Getty Museum, which transformed an oil trust gift into as much as 7 billion dollars at the height of its investment value, Los Angeles’ art museums have been as underfunded as LA’s other cultural institutions for decades. Now with the arrival of truly deep pocket billionaire power players on LACMA and LA MoCA’s museum boards, the LA culture front is about to dramatically change into a true global leader. The fact that LACMA has existed for decades as a publicly funded entity of the region – thus its name Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA, born in 1965) and the fact that LA MoCA on Grand Avenue exists only because a one percent for art tax was applied  to the California Plaza towers on Grand Avenue (the one percent being 20 million dollars) testifies to this. The LA MoCA building in Little Toyko has lived its entire 2 decade plus existence with a 3 minute roof. For years it would have to go dark for months at a time. So even though the terrible wish to have a major contemporary art museum in LA was present at least as far back as 1979, the principal benefactors of LA MoCA did not personally endow the museum enough to build a free-standing cultural institution anywhere in Los Angeles, but did find the means to piggyback its designs upon the then 2 billion dollar plus California Plaza twin towers development. LA MoCA’s newest board members, which number 15 at the moment since 2009, will with the generosity of all on board, led by Jeffrey Deitch and his global reach, finally get LA MoCA the building, audience and recognition it deserves. LA wants to be a global cultural powerhouse, but despite there being over 180,000 millionaires in the region, the LA MoCA and LACMA attendance figures do not come close to matching the 2 million people who leave LA every holiday to enjoy themselves in Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego and destinations around the world. For decades it has been the case that the international museum shows have bypassed Los Angeles. Michael Govan at LACMA has said this will change with the arrival of the Resnick pavilion in 2010. Govan also said that building LACMA’s collections into those of a world-class museum will take decades.

The recently opened Centre Pompidou Metz

Part of the LA artworld was upset and acted as if it had been defiled when it was told that the Deitch circus will take over LA MoCA’s holier-than-thou financially naked exhibition program. Yet on Sunday mornings in LA, we culturally interested persons in Los Angeles receive our LA culture advertisement flyers, pamphlets and posters in the New York Times. These materials are not delivered by LA’s most prominent published news organ. The Los Angeles Times is perceived locally as the unwashed lower order, as The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are at the level that upscale Los Angeles has aligned itself. This is despite the fact that more than one LATimes Pulitzer award-winning (or Pulitzer finalist) culture writer was absorbed into the NYTimes in recent years, including the former LA Times film critic Manohla Dargas and the former LATimes architecture critic Nicholas Ouroussoff. Dargas still resides in Los Angeles.

The Deitch story received more concentrated and in-depth press coverage from New York than any exhibition or event at MoCA in its entire history. In fact that coverage dwarfs anything that has ever happened at any LA museum or cultural institution. Only the nearly 15 year-long Disney Concert Hall building saga (which the NY culture press embarrassed the LATimes into finally completing), and the Getty Museum debacles (including persons not qualified as curators who were making museum purchases) as reported by Thomas Hoving in the 1980’s, have  received as much press. Of all the carpet-bombing degree of press coverage of Deitch’s hiring, for me one statement by Deitch stands out as to the exact degree to which he will connect Los Angeles to the international culture world.

Deitch says:

“I’ve been thinking about an industrial-type building in L.A., unlike a residence anyone has seen, where people would drop by . . . I want to bring all my experience, all my contacts, all my resources together and make it all work to support what I’m doing at MOCA. (Los Angeles Times)

I spoke to an artist and writer friend here in LA about this statement. We both agreed that it was of major importance, but were concerned that it would turn into the most exclusive and private Los Angeles art salon. LA doesn’t need more private art salons, it needs more public engagement. An example of such is what the LA collector Shirley Morales is doing with her new Ltd. Los Angeles gallery space on Sunset Boulevard. Ltd’s program already is going to be one of the hottest of the year 2010 in Los Angeles. This summer it will recreate the major rock club in the real space of the original club, as an art project, which is Ltd. Los Angeles’s exhibition space. This public engagement is also being given form by LAXART and ForYourArt. I was privileged to be invited to the salon series that launched the public art programs of West of Rome and of Shamin Momin’s L.A.N.D. and I also attended the salons led by LA architect Michael Rotundi at Eugenia Butler’s home several years ago in LA. Her mother, also named Eugenia Butler, had one of LA’s top galleries in the 1960’s, and also held a salon at her home for European Conceptual Artists of the era.

We know that over the past two years, LA MoCA almost died and was rallied around by hundreds of artworld friends. LA MoCA was offered to be absorbed into LACMA by that museum. It was given $30 million by Eli Broad, who also paid for UCLA’s new art school building and the new Broad Stage at the Santa Monica Community College.

LA MoCA has had a tremendous run of spectacular exhibitions in its history, despite running on fumes in recent times. It’s boosterism says it has a collection of over 6,000 works of art. Yet if I am not mistaken, the Rubell Family Collection in Miami also has over 6,000 works. From my experiences in Miami during Art Basel, their collection, which showcases their previous year’s purchases during the current year’s Art Basel, not only was often the sensation show of the entire Miami Basel viewing experience, but dictated by what they had purchased, who the hot artists were of the moment. So if the Rubell Family Collection, which was put together by a single family in Miami and New York City, can create and shift taste during the most important art event on the North American continent, and have a 45,000 square feet exhibition space, in 27 galleries, with a 30,000 volume art library open to the public for research, what does this say about the entire cumulative efforts of the entire LA artworld to create a robust international cultural showcase in LA? By comparison, SFMoMA has doubled its collection in the last 15 years to over 27,000 works; they are fundraising for half a billion dollars, much of which will go to their 150,000 square foot addition that will house their billion dollar art gift from the owners of The Gap jeans company, the Fishers, of San Francisco. We got to see their blowout 75th anniversary show earlier this year, while they also had the Luc Tuymans retrospective, which did not travel to Los Angeles. We are going back to see the Fisher collection, the paintings on loan from the Musee D’Orsay to the De Young Museum, and the 300,000 square foot renovated Oakland Museum.

Shenzhen MoCA, designed by Coop Himmelblau, 30,000 sq. meters

I also need to point out that when the Getty Museum was being planned, I was living in Chicago, having just left NYC . I had intentions of moving to LA and did so because of the several new cultural projects being discussed during the 1980’s. The Getty Center said it would be building a pavilion for international museum shows, a world-class art bookstore, and more. It did none of those things with its several billion dollars, leaving local art lovers no choice but to maintain that LAX Airport and the 5 freeway to San Francisco are LA’s most important connections to the larger and far more well off self-contained artworlds in Europe, New York, and Asia and even Brazil and Mexico City. The Getty could have transformed Los Angeles by collecting contemporary art and opening a massive structure called the Getty Contemporary. It could have filled the several holes in the LA culture scene, from paying for Modern Opera to come to LA, to helping the LA Opera finally build a free-standing opera house, to having a world-class cinema showcase, to sponsoring a major international contemporary art show in the countless empty warehouses in this city. If LA’s museums do not become more capable of collecting the art made in Los Angeles, it will become as dispersed and only able to be seen elsewhere. This is unlike the Pompidou, whose phenomenal 300,000 square foot 5 floor showcase envelops and displays not just the first tier known works of Modernism, but it also exhibits the major contributions of lesser known but well deserving artists who were more than a small part of the Paris artworld since the end of the 19th century. It has already been the case for at least a decade, since several LA artists came to world prominence, that these artists had no commercial gallery exhibitions in Los Angeles. This year of 2010 has been groundbreaking in this regard, as Mike Kelly has a massive installation via West of Rome, at his enormous Farley building (former storage facility) in Eagle Rock. Tim Hawkinson has a show at Blum&Poe in its new 21,000 square foot gallery building. He hasn’t shown commercially in LA in a decade, as hasn’t Paul McCarthy, who will debut the opening of the New York powerhouse L&M Arts gallery in Venice. Their gallery is being purpose-built from the ground up, which is highly unusual because most LA galleries are born of renovations.

Praemium Imperiale Nuragic Contemporary Art Museum Cagliari, Italy

Lastly, note that major players from the New York artworld are now in control of all three of LA’s leading museums. Michael Govan, formerly of DIA Chelsea and DIA Beacon, NY, is the head of LACMA. Ann Philbin, from the Drawing Center in New York, is the head of The UCLA Hammer Museum. Jeffrey Deitch, formerly of Deitch Projects New York, which sponsored an erotic art parade to launch the New York artworld’s fall season in recent years, is the head of LA MoCA. If this does not represent a reality check for Los Angeles, and a capitulation to that reality, that there are not enough interested persons here with the means to transform LA into what it dreams of being, what can I say?  LA dreams of getting events such as Art Basel Miami Beach to come to Los Angeles and fight the sprawling traffic nightmare of the century and like it. LA isn’t at the level of San Francisco in terms of cultural apparatus – SF Opera is the second most important opera house in the country. SF is also building a freestanding 30 million dollar jazz showcase. SFMoMA is the most important Art Museum in California, period. Like SF, The Vegas Strip has a phenomenal dining scene and everyone in LA wants to celebrate their birthday in an only-in-Vegas stellar ultralounge or nightclub. For San Francisco’s presentation of the Ring Cycle, ticket purchases are first based upon prior donations to SF Opera. LA meanwhile has miscalculated its number of ticket sales of its Ring Cycle, which was supposed to propel LA into some fantasy space of cultural superiority.  Meanwhile the NYC and SF Operas are planning mind-blowing versions of the Ring Cycle in 2011. The most important flagship grade upscale shopping on the West Coast is on the Las Vegas Strip. So it isn’t like Los Angles has been just cruising along as leader of the pack in the West in these important areas. Only in the past few years have relevant lounges, cocktail bars, and clubs opened here that would be news in SF or Vegas. Time to grow up, whether LA wants to or not, as New York City is here and has taken control of the vehicle. The question will now be is this transformation and transition about New York extending itself into the semi-arid desert, into the “sand states,” of which Southern California is part, or will it be about the elevation of Los Angeles for LA culture’s sake.

In the past there have been several major projects planned for LA that never came to fruition. The Steel Cloud, which was to overhang the Los Angeles freeway system as it came into downtown, was one of the first in the 1980’s. It was to have a musical forest, whereby live video footage would be shown on huge screens over the freeway, of persons living and loving and working and being in Los Angeles. The project was trying to connect LA freeway culture to LA street life. Then there was the Dance Gallery, that was supposed to be the second major venue for the arts on the Grand Avenue corridor. This venue was to be the most advanced showcase for concert dance in the world. It was to have a dance library and a dancer’s medical facility.  Another LA, what’s-in-that- pipe-you’re-smoking, dream that received major press coverage back East during the 1980’s, and like the other major cultural institutions announced in LA during the mid-1980’s, was the American Cinemateque. This was to be a 20 million dollar showcase in Hollywood. It was to have a black box theater and real-time translation. It too never saw the light of day here. This despite their being at the time 40 such venues around the world, including a multi-screen international cinema showcase in Mexico City. The much more recently announced dream (November 8, 2007, Variety magazine) of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences building is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, in Hollywood, to be designed by Christian de Portzamparc. This will happen whenever Hollywood raises the 200 million dollars for the building.

Amsterdam FIlm Museum

Charlie Chaplin image projection - Amsterdam FIlm Museum

delugan14kl.jpg (545×357)

The Amsterdam Film museum, river view

From the LA film museum’s press release:

“We’ve chosen a site just south of the Sunset and Vine intersection, and will aim to develop two contiguous blocks into an eight-acre museum campus. This location is bounded by Fountain to the south, Delongpre to the north, Vine to the east, and Cahuenga / Ivar to the west.”

I also remember UCLA’s Film Archives saying that they were going to showcase their program in a new venue possibly on Wilshire Boulevard. That was planned to be the equal of the film program at MoMA.  Just this past week MoMA announced it was bringing its 3rd most well attended exhibition, the Tim Burton retrospective, to LACMA.  LACMA then said they weren’t sure if the film program component of the exhibition would be coming to LA, where Burton works, where Hollywood is located. During this same week LACMA has said it might still have to drop its own film program for lack of funds and audience. The MoMA Tim Burton retrospective drew an audience of  over 850,000 visitors in a 5 month span. The MoMA in Berlin, Germany show had 1.2 milion visitors and sold over 182,000 catalogs during its 7 month run. In 2009 total visitors for LACMA was 695,545.  During that same year LA MoCA had a total of 148,616 visitors. The Tate Modern had 4,747,55 visitors. MoMA had 2,672,271 visitors. The Centre Pompidou had 3,533,000 visitors. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston had 1,274,774 visitors. SFMoMA had 703,520 visitors. In other words, there is a hell of a lot of work to do to bring LA up to speed.

Cold War photomontage: Soviet Space. (2009) by Vincent Johnson

Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles
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Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles. He has recently been named a 2010 United States Artists Project artist.

The USA site went live on December 7, 2010

My initial project is to fabricate a 3 foot tall doll house sized sculpture of the collapsed William Livingstone House in Detroit. The project description and a video presentation of the project are at the links provided here:
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/user/vincentjohnson
http://www.unitedstatesartists.org/project/william_livingstone_house_detroit
Please feel free to review the site and to contact others who would be interesting in supporting the program and my project.
thanks so much
Vincent Johnson
Los Angeles, California
cell: 818:430.1604

 

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Biography July 2010 

Vincent Johnson lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited at 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, 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 is a group show at the Kellogg Museum of Cal Poly Pomona.

Johnson received his MFA from Art Center College of Design in 1997. 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. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

LANYArtiststudio@gmail.com

Vincent  Johnson Artist Statement

Vincent Johnson’s work is a form of sustained cultural mining that explores the depths of his subjects. His photographic works created from 2001-2007 delved into architecture as fantasy, from the vernacular architecture of Los Angeles to that found throughout the American West. He has documented several of the no longer extant commercial vernacular structures in both South Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley that came into existence during the birth of long distance family travel by car. In 2007 he presented a fully fabricated work of sculpture – a 12 foot long six-foot high replica of a 1956 Chrysler Air Raid Siren. This project developed as he was both researching and documenting a former military corridor in the San Fernando Valley that included a retired military airfield. His newest photographic works, all created in 2008 and 2009, are large-scale photographic montages, each of which confront significant cultural figures and several dramatic signal events of Cold War era Western cultural history, including Television, the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Space program, American home-based bomb shelter  program, and Vietnam. He is working on large-scale photomontages of the several major American political figures of 1960’s, including Martin Luther King, the Kennedy family, and Malcolm X, as well the representations of both Communism and Capitalism, Hollywood and Los Angeles and many related Cold War era subjects. Johnson’s photomontages can take several months to create as he captures hundreds of images from online sources, before selecting those which most well index a particular historical moment, personage or event. The creative juxtapositions and scale shifts of the found images is what he most relies on to develop his potent and illuminating photographic works.

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