Number Six / Winter 2017


William Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning” is just audible over road noise.

Abner Snopes keeps his personal fires controlled and modest, but Snopes shows little restraint in using fire as a weapon.

Faulkner describes the boy Colonel Sartoris Snopes’ possible future thoughts: “And older still, he might have divined the true reason: that the element of fire spoke to some deep mainspring of his father’s being, as the element of steel or of powder spoke to other men, as the one weapon for the preservation of integrity, else breath were not worth the breathing, and hence to be regarded with respect and used with discretion.”

On Interstate 5, well before Coalinga, a dense, smokey haze permeates the atmosphere of the Central Valley. Blue over the highway, yellow over the fields.

Outside of Kettleman City, many acres of hills have been burnt; the grass is blackened to a sooty tone right to the highway’s edge. The eye quickly normalizes the expanse of char until one looks to the east side of the road where the yellow grasses do, for once, appear golden, if only in contrast to the intimations of a ragnarok to the west.

There are giant snowflakes projected on the Italian travertine stone of the east courtyard walls of the Getty Center. Perhaps, floating ash came over those same walls earlier this month from the Bel-Air fire. The fire was accidentally set on December 6, 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times, by someone not maintaining their cooking fire in a particular area of the upscale neighborhood where people live without the benefit of a stove or roof. The snowflake reminds of Krzysztof Wodiczko's 1999 work at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (The A-Bomb Dome) where large videos of the hands of those impacted by the 1945 bombing were projected; the hands moved in explanation as victims’ accounts of horror were amplified through loudspeakers. Those of Korean descent, of a community marginalized and enslaved by the Japanese, also spoke. Considering this Wodiczko work and also his “Homeless Vehicle Project,” one imagines a projection of falling ash and the voices of Los Angeles’ 58,000 homeless filling the Getty.

This is also the month Philip Alston took a tour of downtown Los Angeles and the United Nations published “Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.” Alston writes, “I have seen and heard a lot over the past two weeks. I met with many people barely surviving on Skid Row in Los Angeles, I witnessed a San Francisco police officer telling a group of homeless people to move on but having no answer when asked where they could move to, I heard how thousands of poor people get minor infraction notices which seem to be intentionally designed to quickly explode into unpayable debt, incarceration, and the replenishment of municipal coffers, I saw sewage filled yards in states where governments don’t consider sanitation facilities to be their responsibility, I saw people who had lost all of their teeth because adult dental care is not covered by the vast majority of programs available to the very poor, I heard about soaring death rates and family and community destruction wrought by prescription and other drug addiction, and I met with people in the South of Puerto Rico living next to a mountain of completely unprotected coal ash which rains down upon them bringing illness, disability and death.”

A tall man wearing a red flannel shirt and standing outside the bathroom near the Getty gift shop has, fitted into golf ball wide holes in his stretched ear lobes, white plugs about 50% the diameter of the 2500-year-old, gold ear flares from Chongoyape (Peru) on display at the Getty Center in one of the first galleries of the Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Latin America & Latino Art in LA exhibition “Golden Kingdoms, Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas.”

According to the Getty’s free exhibition flyer, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA Latin America & Latino Art in LA “is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles.” The description continues: “Supported by grants from the Getty Foundation, the initiative involves more than 70 cultural institutions from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and from San Diego to Santa Barbara.” Exhibitions began in the late summer and fall of 2017 and many have continued through the winter with some on display through early 2018.

At the Getty Center are four Pacific Standard Time exhibitions: “The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830-1930;” “Golden Kingdoms, Luxury and Legacy in the Ancient Americas;” “Photography in Argentina, 1850-2010;” and “Making Art Concrete, Works from Argentina and Brazil in the Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.”

A caption in the Research Institute galleries reads “Drawings from Corbusier’s Ninth Lecture,’Can Buenos Aires Become One of the Great Cities in the World?’ (October 18, 1929).” One of the drawings presents a line drawing of the Americas. The cities of New York and Buenos Aires have been drawn with radiant lines emitting from them. Brown lines indicating shipping lanes extend into the ocean waters and orange lines travel into the lands of the interiors. Many of the works in “The Metropolis in Latin America, 1830-1930” make clear the colonial intent to reshape. The modernism of this period is meant to be understood as a direct outcropping of events that strike one as distinctly pre-modern: as a timeline in the exhibition indicates, under the headings of Mexico and 1846: “The Mexican American War begins. The conflict ceases in 1848 with the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Half of Mexico’s territory, including the land now occupied by California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, is ceded to the United States.”

Brazilian artist Judith Lauand’s work “Concreto 61” of 1957 suggests an Iron Cross, a spiral, or a gyre. Twenty narrow black shapes create the form. The Getty Conservation Institute provides wall text focusing on the impact of the availability of “self-adhesive tape” on artists and their hard-edged work. The “Making Art Concrete” exhibition gives the impression of being easily digested--but the four Getty Center LA/LA exhibitions as a whole call for hours of viewing and consideration.

In Liliana Porter’s untitled work of 1973, the Argentinian artist presents a large circle drawn on a wall. At some time after ten on the circle, the line curves across a photograph of a hand. Vasari’s account of how Giotto, in response to a request to demonstrate his skill, drew freehand a perfect circle has been retold in near infinite variation on and off the web. Porter might be reminding the viewer to question the role of the hand in the making of her circle. Or, she might have been thinking of Giotto’s very early 14th Century work the “Last Judgment” in the Scrovegni Chapel in which a mixture of fire and the condemned rain down from beneath god’s feet.


In “The Narrative of Bethany Veney: A Slave Woman” of 1889, Ms. Veney recounts, “I was dreadfully frightened; and, as soon as I could get away, I ran to my mammy, and, repeating what mistress had said, begged to know if it could be true. To my great sorrow, she confirmed it all, but added what Miss Nasenath had failed to do; namely, that those who told the truth and were good would always have everything they should want. It seemed to me then there was nothing so good as molasses and sugar; and I eagerly asked, "Shall I have all the molasses and sugar I want, if I tell the truth?" "Yes," she replied, "if you are good; but remember, if you tell lies, you will be burned in the lake that burns for ever and ever."

Two men play ping pong on the second story patio at the Hammer. At least one speaks English with an accent; he has grey hair and wears a blue headband. Both men wear shorts and one wears an unbuttoned short sleeve shirt. One man makes a brief comment in Russian. The other laughs and corrects his grammar.

Virginia Santa Cruz’s work “They shouted black at me” greets viewers entering the Hammer’s exhibition “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985.”

The artist shouts, dances and claps her hands and is accompanied by other singers and dancers. She performs the following text:

They yelled “Black!” at Me

I was just seven years old,
What seven years!
No, not even five!
Suddenly, some voices on the street,
Yelled “Black!” at me

Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black! Black!

And the time went by,
and I was always so bitter
I continued to carry my heavy burden
On my back,
And how it weighed!

I straightened my hair
And I powdered my face,
But in my gut

The same word always resounded:

Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black!

Until one day that I stepped back,
I stepped back and I was going to fall

Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black!

So what? so what?! (Black!)
Yes- (Black!)
I’m- (Black!)
Black- (Black!)
I’m black! (Black!),
Yes- (Black!)
I’m- (Black!)
Black!- (Black!)
I’m black!!

Henceforth, I don’t want to
Straighten my hair (I don’t want to!)
And I’ll laugh at those
Who, to prevent--according to them--
To prevent us from some unpleasantness
Call blacks people of color

And what a color! (Black!!)
How good it sounds! (Black!!)
What a rhythm it has!

Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black!

I finally realized! (Finally!)
I don’t step back anymore (Finally!)
I move forward with confidence (Finally!)
I move forward and hope (Finally!)

Jet black should be my skin color,
And I understood (Finally!)
I already have the key!

Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black! Black!
Black! Black! Black!


In Judith F. Baca’s work “The Three Marias” of 1976--a triptych with a black-haired woman depicted on the right panel gazing out at the viewer (grey skirt, broad red belt, red scarf, cream blouse, cigarette in mouth about to be grabbed by the “V” of two fingers) and another black-haired woman depicted on the left panel gazing out at the viewer (grey pants, black v-neck pullover, hands in pockets) and a mirror in the middle panel--visible in the mirror is a black-haired woman looking down at her cell phone (grey Issey Miyake vintage pleated skirt, natural coat, deep brown patterned scarf, matching brown boots, small black backpack). As one moves directly in front of the piece one sees one’s self. One cannot see at any time the Ana Mendieta work “Rock heart with blood” of 1975, which one is not allowed to make a a video recording of or even take a still picture. The staff will ask that the image be deleted.

In the exhibition “Axe Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis” at The Fowler Museum at UCLA, in an exhibition full of sculpture, video, photographs, textiles, and paintings, Jamelle Bouie and Andrew Kahn present “The Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes: 315 Years. 20,528 voyages. Millions of Lives.” It is an “Interactive Map based on the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (” On the screen small dots dart west to the Americas, each one representing a ship and the vast majority traveling to the Caribbean and South America.


Fly down low now, right against the ground. Every door have a crack, no matter how small.

Right here. Slip into the house. Turn back into a woman. Is a nasty feeling, walking around with no skin, wet flesh dripping onto the floor, but I get used to it after so many years.

Here. The baby bedroom. Hear the young breath heating up in the lungs, blowing out, wasting away. He ain’t know how to use it; I go take it.

Nice baby boy, so fat. Drink, soucouyant. Suck in the warm, warm life. God, it sweet. It sweet can’t done. It sweet.

No more? I drink all already? But what a way this baby dead fast!

(Nalo Hopkinson, “Greedy Choke Puppy”)

In the main galleries of the exhibition “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985” at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, one finds, among a wealth of other artists’ work, the five framed photographs of Ana Mendieta’s “Rape Scene” of 1973. In several images a woman is depicted from behind with blood on her body--on her bottom and her legs. In another image blood is pooling around her head on a table, and in another, blood floats in the water in the bowl of a toilet.

The three color photographs from Sophie Rivera’s series “Red and Black” each depict a bloodied tampon in the bowl of a toilet.

In “Classic Maya bloodletting and the cultural evolution of religious rituals: quantifying patterns of variation in hieroglyphic texts,” Jessica Munson, Viviana Amati, Mark Collard, and Martha J. Macri discuss what is "essential for the evolution of complex society:" “Religious rituals that are painful or highly stressful are hypothesized to be costly signs of commitment essential for the evolution of complex society. Yet few studies have investigated how such extreme ritual practices were culturally transmitted in past societies. Here, we report the first study to analyze temporal and spatial variation in bloodletting rituals recorded in Classic Maya (ca. 250-900 CE) hieroglyphic texts. We also identify the sociopolitical contexts most closely associated with these ancient recorded rituals. Sampling an extensive record of 2,480 hieroglyphic texts, this study identifies every recorded instance of the logographic sign for the word ch'ahb' that is associated with ritual bloodletting. We show that documented rituals exhibit low frequency whose occurrence cannot be predicted by spatial location. Conversely, network ties better capture the distribution of bloodletting rituals across the southern Maya region. Our results indicate that bloodletting rituals by Maya nobles were not uniformly recorded, but were typically documented in association with antagonistic statements and may have signaled royal commitments among connected polities.”

Milk and Water

In “Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985” at UCLA’s Hammer Museum, Cecilia Vicuña's work “Vaso de Leche, Bogotá (Glass of Milk, Bogotá)” is depicted in four photographs of the 1979 performance. The Chilean artist, Vicuña, tied a red string to a glass of milk and pulled over the glass in front of Simón Bolívar’s house in Bogotá. The Hammer’s wall text indicates the performance referenced the Chilean leader Salvador Allende’s program that provided milk for school children--a program that was one of the few of Allende’s programs continued after the socialist leader was killed in the course of a military coup on September 11, 1973.

A framed poem written by Cecilia Vicuña, “Vaso de Leche,” hangs to the left of the photographs. Perhaps the title references Manuel Rojas’ short story of the same title about hunger. Rojas, a well known Chilean writer, died in 1973.

Cecilia Vicuña’s text is in Spanish. The poem’s translation, found here, reads, “A cow / is a continent / whose (blood) milk / has been spilled. / What do we do / to our life?” Blood spilled in Vicuña's lifetime resulted in the artist living in exile--first in London then in New York. Her poem associates the milk of the performance not with a human mother but with a cow and makes clear that the milk is symbolic of the blood of a land’s people. That said, the poem is complicated by the subject of the first sentence being “a cow” and not “a continent.” Giving the cow primacy rather than the continent confuses; it seems if the intention were to be direct then the subject and first words of the first sentence should be “a continent.”

A statement regarding the artist’s approach can be found on her website:

“My work dwells in the not yet, the future potential of the unformed, where sound, weaving, and language interact to create new meanings.

In January 1966 I began creating precarios (precarious), installations and basuritas, objects composed of debris, structures that disappear, along with quipus and other weaving metaphors. I called these works "Arte Precario", creating a new independent category, a non colonized name for them. The precarios soon evolved into collective rituals and oral performances based on dissonant sound and the shamanic voice. The fluid, multi-dimensional quality of these works allowed them to exist in many media and languages at once. Created in and for the moment, they reflect ancient spiritual technologies—a knowledge of the power of individual and communal intention to heal us and the earth.”

Fluids, whether coming from the body or being taken in by the body or existing wholly outside the body, take on a key role in a number of other works of the exhibition.

In Sara Modiana’s work from 1980-1984 “A Culture Disappears,” eleven photographs show the destruction of sand pyramids by the ocean. The photographs also show how red coloring on the pyramids then colors the water of the ocean. Here, the bleeding of the continent is placed in time, the pyramids bringing the viewer back to a pre-Hispanic moment and their destruction bring the viewer to the start of the colonial period.

In Catalina Parra’s work “Cicatriz,” a soft sculpture, nothing enters or leaves the body. Head, arms, and feet are missing. There are no visible orifices and the “skin” of the body is sewn shut or tied at the base of the neck, arms and feet. Here, no more blood will leave the body, and the body has become only a sack for fluids that no more influence or are influenced by their surroundings.

In Gloria Camiruaga’s work “Popsicles,” children eat popsicles while chanting “Hail Marys.” As the popsicles are licked down, in each one a toy soldier is revealed. The work was made during the time of Augusto Pinochet’s rule in Chile. Religious and pop culture norms to do not long hide or protect from a dangerous military regime.

Four black and white photographs of Sophie Rivera’s “Bowl Series” show shit in a toilet bowl. The toilet reveals itself in this exhibition as a place of sanctuary and culturally constructed shame. It is a location where the body can define itself even in the face of external suppression. In Rivera’s works the artist confronts the reality of her body--she menstruates and she shits. The artist makes the point that the only evidence of these realities is briefly visible to an audience of one before being removed by water through the plumbing. In Mendieta’s rape piece, in the toilet, a woman can see and dispose of blood generated by violence. Here, the passive eye of the toilet may be the only witness to a crime that would be ignored in the public realm.

Water can destroy or hide or cleanse.

Marta Minujín’s “Reading the News” documents a “happening.” A figure wrapped in newspaper ends up in a body of water. The viewer can imagine that the water will rinse away the toxicity of the news.

Lee Lublin’s “Interrogations about Woman” is a banner with a list of interrogations in colored text in French. The questions are translated into English in the wall text.

Is woman a sexual victim?
Is woman an immaculate image?
Is woman a holy mother?
Is woman a whore?
Is woman a sperm bag?
Is woman an inverted phallus?
Is woman the pillar of her double?
Is woman the male of two?
Is woman the evil of the century?
Is woman a social victim?
Is woman an inferior being?
Is woman the proletarian of sex?
Is woman a poor, exploited being?
Is woman private property?
Is woman the object of man’s oppression?
Is woman submissive to man?
Is woman his favorite victim?
Is woman a maid of all work?
Is woman a stranger?
Is woman a sexual object?
Is woman an object of reproduction?
Is woman a subject like any other?
Is woman a possessive being?
Is woman a jealous being?
Is woman a divine being?

In the documentation of Lublin’s “Dissolution in the Water, Pont Marie, 5 p.m.,” this banner or a version of it is thrown into a river. Is the banner removed from the water unscathed--does the text dissolve? Is the symbolic cleansing of the hurtful language effective? What is the diameter of the circle of influence of this cleansing?

Prelude to Darkness

Dear Dino,

I just reread “Art and Objecthood” for the first time in 25 years. Thank you for returning me to a text that, if memory obviously doesn’t serve, I had probably not read with care. And to think then it was only half as old as it is now. How many theorists have taken it apart and paved over it since?

I suggest not reading further, and if you have, I apologize for sharing half-baked ruminations with you (about the text and our viewing of the half-lit exhibition “Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance” at Geffen Contemporary at MOCA) just for doing me the favor of graciously reminding me of what would have been common knowledge to any inquisitive first-year art student.

The short version--until an artist makes a magic forest, all art is pretty much the same.

To rewrite history, the point I was trying to make while walking through the Japantown tourist gauntlet was the viewer, even if wearing a rubber suit and VR headset, can never escape Fried’s conundrum of the theatrical relationship of the viewer to the object unless the self is completely negated. If one forgets one’s self and becomes somebody else then one’s previous self is automatically no longer in any problematic relationship with any objects. The inconvenience of the waters of Lethe is that your old self does not get to reflect on the experience, which eliminates the possibility of art altogether.

A main distinction for me between types of art has been “duration,” as Fried puts it. But his criticism of minimalist sculpture as theatrical objects and notion the experience of viewing them “persists in time” is the wrong emphasis on time. The question for me is whether you as a viewer can go back to the same place you were. You cannot in a live “performed” performance. But you can just as easily go back to a specific static place of a three-dimensional work as you can of a two-dimensional work. Any “instantaneous” presence a work has is just a reflection of a viewer’s prejudices. Even a painting cannot be looked at all at once. Line and form and hue and material and narrative all require separate investigations--whether in a Stella or in a Lassnig. In this way, minimalist sculptures and the installation of “Adrián Villar Rojas: The Theater of Disappearance” are more like paintings than theater. (We can ignore the speed of decay of the less permanent objects in Rojas’ work as being too slow to make an experiential difference.)

Art and literature convince us to give heightened attention to what is in front of us. Art is concept, material, and context. A student can retrace Smith’s drive and it will be art. A student can fetishize Bourgeois’s doodle as art. It makes no difference whether one is within a constructed environment like “The Theater of Disappearance” or if one stands in front of a painting. The primary difference is the speed of change. In true theater one cannot return to the “object” because the elements have changed--this makes Judd not at all theatrical.

What makes “The Theater of Disappearance” ultimately unengaging is not that it is too much like theater but that it relies on the physical distance between objects to add dimension to a work which has minimal creative depth--simple juxtapositions within a clear range of hackneyed processes create the environment. A Judd sculpture or a half-lit Mike Kelley environment (as the ones at Hauser & Wirth in “Mike Kelley: Kandors 1999 – 2011”) are more successful because they don’t as easily reveal the limits of their “aesthetic” or intent.

Fried sums up his critique: “We are all literalists most of our lives. Presentness is grace.”

I agree that there is a state in which something exists when we address it as art, but I think we have the ability to confer this state. We can put something in a state of “grace.” If we start to feel like an object is not worth this state of grace then we start to feel ripped off--and when this unworthy something has been announced as art, we then look for the weaknesses in the artist’s project.

I bought “The Art of Cruelty,” thanks, and am going to read the first essay now. Comments will not follow.



A tube runs from a tank into a grotto. A tube connects to a bell jar. Mike Kelley’s “Kandor” works are premonitions of his suicide by gas. A bell jar becomes Sylvia Plath’s “Bell Jar” and an ode to her suicide by oven. A pose, head in oven, Kelley himself struck in one of his videos.

Hauser & Wirth’s back rooms are filled with Kelley’s “Kandors.” In one room large pieces of blackened synthetic material read as rocks and create a grotto which contains golden treasure and a bell jar covering a city--Kandor. Perhaps if one went inside one would see more. Linda is visually impaired and in the darkened room keeps brushing against the set-like structure.

A video of cruelty being acted out in a grotto plays next to the grotto.

In the next suite of rooms are many bell jars and videos of bell jars and models of the city of Kandor--Superman’s home city. The models and jars are illuminated, their colored translucent material glowing, but the room is darkened.

There are many stories about Kandor. If you don’t know, a popular one is that the city was miniaturized and spirited away and then later kept safe in its miniature form by Superman.

A fit, large, young man in a black t-shirt represents the gallery and explains to a man with stylish grey hair and two young children how many multiples there are of the works and how it is possible the project, in another room, of the rebuilding of Kandor is still taking place now that the artist is dead.

It is very warm outside. The sun is strong and the temperature is into the 80s. The air is dirty. One imagines smoke from a new fire in Riverside has been added to smoke from other fires.

Linda is not feeling well. One video shows, from floor to ceiling, swirling particulate matter in a bell jar. The sound is forceful, dramatic and captivating. It is difficult to separate the artist’s death from the work.

This show looks more like an auction than an installation, but the wealth of Kandor work creates knowing, plastic mystery. Kelley’s work reaches escape velocity and is not tethered to the city of its creation by the weight of kitsch.

Kelley’s retrospective at Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in 2014 was a revelation. The current Pacific Standard Time exhibition of Rojas’ work, a somewhat immersive darkened installation, is not. Lit refrigerator cases contain detritus and shoes and decaying flesh and the floor is covered with afixed dirt and the space is interspersed with perhaps faux and perhaps real boulders which support striated columns in which one can find running shoes and the walls are painted the same blue as a Hollywood set. Flash pictures are allowed. A version of Duchamp's bicycle wheel and fork installed in a stool (here with fried egg) fills a glass-fronted refrigerator case. Helpful employees of the MOCA circulate and explained the floor and the walls.

Dino senses correctly that live crickets are part of the exhibition. Dino is sensitive. There is discussion about whether the exhibition is Pierre Huyghe-lite

Rojas’ work does not escape the feather-light gravity of its locale. It could be a Hollywood tale of homosapien’s fate as deep and shallow as the stories presented in “Avatar” or “WALL-E.” Kitsch from top to bottom. There is no mystery in this journey--except for Linda who wonders whether she will plunge off a step.

Linda cannot see the work without the aid of an iPad which renders what is in darkness in fuller contrast on the screen.

A helpful employee of MOCA in 2014 was happy to explain how Mike Kelley died. According to his version, a hose was not involved. In a bathroom Kelley opened tanks of gas. The internet is not much help in confirming the specifics of this suicide. In the retrospective, in a corner, one could listen to and view the work “Superman Recites Selections from 'The Bell Jar' and Other Works by Sylvia Plath.”

Unfortunately, Superman is not present when men carry torches to announce their racism--their darkness.

It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they executed the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I’m stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that’s all there was to read about in the papers--goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like, being burned alive all along your nerves. (Sylvia Plath, “The Bell Jar”)


Palo Grande

The City of Palo Alto’s website provides a history: “The first people to inhabit the lands that became Palo Alto were the Ohlone. The mild climate and bountiful natural resources provided them with a good life. The bay and marshes provided shellfish and fowl; the valley floor supplied small game and acorns from the thousands of oak trees. San Francisquito Creek and the other waterways gave them fish and fruit and berries from the stream sides. Larger game including deer and grizzlies were caught in the foothills. Pre-history became history with the expedition of Don Gaspar de Portola, who with his men explored the area in 1769, camping alongside El Palo Alto [the Tall Stick], the tree that symbolizes both Palo Alto and Stanford University.”

Artists in the exhibition “A Universal History of Infamy” at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Charles White Elementary School, and 18th Street Arts Center include Angela Bonadíes (Venezuela); Mariana Castillo Deball (Mexico/Germany); Carolina Caycedo (Colombia/Los Angeles); Josefina Guilisasti (Chile); Tamar Guimarães and Kasper Akhøj (Brazil/Denmark); Runo Lagomarsino (Argentina/Sweden); Fernanda Laguna (Argentina); Michael Linares (Puerto Rico); NuMu [Stefan Benchoam, Jessica Kairé] (Guatemala); MapaTeatro [Heidi Abderhalden, Rolf Abderhalden] (Colombia); Naufus Ramirez-Figueroa (Guatemala); Gala Porras-Kim (Colombia/Los Angeles); Vincent Ramos (Los Angeles); Oscar Santillán (Ecuador) Zinny and Maidagan (Argentina/Germany) and Carla Zaccagnini (Brazil/Sweden). According to LACMA, “Most works on view are new projects that began during two-month residencies at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica.”

“Museo del Palo” or “Museum of the Stick” by Michael Linares offers up a collection of sticks. The work is paired with the video “Una historia aleatoria del palo” or “An Aleatory History of the Stick.” Sticks fill a large stepped pedestal that occupy the majority of a room. Sticks include but are not limited to a crowbar, a yardstick, a golf club, marshalling wands, pencils, a ruler, a stick as part of a washtub bass, a berimbau, a hockey stick, a shovel, a billy club, a truncheon, a broom, a skewer (with shrimp), a handled holder for a magnifying glass, a hair brush, a rolling pin, emery boards, a glue stick, a scythe with Death holding it, a walking stick with Jesus holding it, a hoe, a rake, a modified ski pole as walking stick, a pogo stick, a stake holding a reflector, a bow, an arrow, a back scratcher, a stilt, a boat paddle, a pressure gauge, a cricket bat, toothpicks, a push broom, a shinai, a balero, and numerous others.

Carolina Caycedo’s “River Serpent Book” is the star of this show.
Marina Magalhães’ website explains her use of the work in a performance. The listing and description follow:

“Sunday, November 12, 10am – 5pm (workshop) & 6:30-8pm (public showing)

Location: Beta Main is free and currently open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 11am to 7pm. We are located at 114 W. 4th St. Los Angeles, CA 90013.

Led by Brazilian-born dancer and choreographer, Marina Magalhães, Decolonizing the Body Through Dance is an ongoing series of workshops based on the belief that decolonization is a futuristic process of reclaiming and reinventing tradition. Alongside Magalhães, this iteration of the workshop was developed by The Main’s artist-in- residence Carolina Caycedo in collaboration with Isis Avalos and Samad Guerra.

Carolina Caycedo’s River Serpent Book will be used as a score to catapult specific exercises around fluidity, containment, water, and environmental justice. Published in 2017, the foldout book encompasses five years of research and images on the significance and impact of damming rivers. Through both movement and conversations, dancers will develop a common language that will culminate in a public performance, following the workshop, on Sunday, November 12. Participants in the workshop are welcome to participate in the performance.

SIGN UP Open to all. Some dance experience encouraged, but not necessary. Instruction will be available in English and Spanish.

Space is limited and registration is required. If you are interested in participating, please rsvp here.

Find more information about the event here.”

The catalogue for “Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano L.A.” explains that the woman smoking a cigarette in Judith F. Baca’s triptych “Las Tres Marias” (described above) is the artist as “La Pachuca.” The Museum of the City helps with the question of “What is a Pachuca?” Found here is the following explanation: “Pachuca/o was a subculture created by Mexican youth in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Pachucas were the female zoot-suiters (males zoo-suiters were called pachucos) who rebelled against social conventions. The origin of the term is unsure, one popular and well known theory is the name originated from El Paso, Texas which was a popular town for migrant workers. Referred to as “Chuco Town,” the migrants that came from the town to Los Angeles were called pachucos. The pachucas/os were a marginalized group in American society during the mid-20th century due to their youth and ethnicity and by adopting the zoot-suit style, they adopted the statement of defiance and developed a style for their generation. The subculture went relativity unknown and unnoticed by the American public until the Sleepy Lagoon Murder in 1942. Soon the subculture would be shot into the public eye and these young women and men would become stigmatized by both the American public and within their own cultural communities.”


The Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibitions at Los Angeles County Museum includes “Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915–1985.”

Near the entrance to this exhibition is a 1938 parade saddle from the workshop of Edward H. Bohlin. It was owned by Leo Carrillo whose family had come from Spain to California in the mid 18th Century and whose great-grandfather was the governor of Alta-California and whose great-uncle was the mayor of Los Angeles. Carrillo became best known as Pancho--a role he began at the age of seventy--on the TV series “The Cisco Kid.” Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park can be found in Carlsbad, California.

The saddle is constructed of leather, silver, steel, mohair, wool, cotton, and wood.

Carrillo used the saddle to ride in Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade of 1938.

In the Rose Bowl of that year the California Golden Bears defeated the Alabama Crimson Tide 13-0. The NAACP recorded six lynchings in Alabama in 1938. In 1971, John Mitchell became the first black player to play for the Crimson Tide.

The Chinese Exclusion Act would not be repealed until 1943. California’s Alien Land Laws would not be invalidated until 1952.

Seventeen saddles can be seen in the 50 works by Martín Ramírez hanging on the walls of the Institute of Contemporary Art on East 7th Street in downtown Los Angeles in the exhibition “Martín Ramírez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation.”

Martín Ramírez (1895-1963) is described as a self-taught artist and his institutionalization from 1931 to 1963, also from the wall texts, is indicated to have perhaps been arbitrary: “In recent years, Ramírez’s psychiatric diagnosis has been called into question, suggesting the artist was the victim of discrimination and institutional bias.”

The exhibition helps the viewer focus on the curving lines Martín Ramírez laid next to each other to build up abstract patterns. Some works include no other elements than these lines. Most all the works, whether they also featured animals or riders on horses or trains and tunnels or other figures, include these lines.

Riders are either referred to as “caballeros” or as “riders,” but as these seem to be descriptive titles and not provided by the artist, there may not be much advantage in discussing why some figures on saddles on horseback are referred to as “caballeros” and some as “riders.” Of course the term “caballero” first refers to a gentleman, and the use of it to mean rider of a horse is somewhat localized, to this writer’s web aided understanding, to the southwest United States.

Like Martín Ramírez, Edward H. Bohlin was born in 1895. Like Martín Ramírez, Edward H. Bohlin immigrated to the United States looking for work. Bohlin came from Sweden. Ramírez came from Jalisco in central Mexico. According to the LACMA wall text Bohlin, “employed many silversmiths and leather workers of Mexican descent.” Central Mexico is the region of Mexico, also according to LACMA, where most Western saddles were produced up to the mid-nineteenth century. By the time Bohlin had become the “saddlemaker to the stars,” Ramírez was forcibly housed in mental institutions from which he had unsuccessfully tried to escape several times.