Monday, May 26, 2008

FBC Goes To An Opening!

Last Thursday FBC! was graciously invited by her pals from the LACMA Photo Dept. to the opening of Phlip-Lorca di Corcia. Having see one of his retrospectives before, as well as the "Pole Dancers" series in Paris, I was curious to go see the "One Thousand" series of Polaroids. And I'm glad I went, in the company of gal pal and LA Art Girls member Nancy Popp. Not only because Nancy is always lovely, but also because, as a photographer, she could ask all the right questions to the artist himself about the various Polaroid cameras he's been using.
The series in the show, save for the aforementioned "One Thousand" are rather incomplete, and mixed up instead of being installed separately. Which FBC didn't like that much, but as Nancy pointed out, the work is so strong that the effect is not diluted by having the pictures mixed together. There was my favorite shot from the "Heads" series , depicted below - once again, after being told it was OK to take pictures without flash, I was told by a guard within 5 seconds that photographies were not allowed. So most of the pix are from the opening.
But the highlight of the show was definitively the Polaroid series. It's beautifully installed on wall racks, unframed, looking vulnerable and unprotected without any plexi to cover them.
They are gorgeous to look at, and underscore how much diCorcia is gifted at framing, shooting from low angles, and mastering composition. The series spans a couple decades (maybe more, but I don't have the press release or anything to rely on), and presents anything within classical categories such as landscape, portraits, etc.
It's in the Ahmanson building, proving was again that everything that's good to see at LACMA is located on the East side. The opening was set up in the atrium, under the Tony Smith-that-is-a-posthumous-reconstitution, which was really cool. In addition to the artist, FBC! also met with Ken Gonzalez-Day, whose work in the Phantom Sightings show is so exquisitely beautiful it's almost painful. We were both rather tipsy and exchanged grandiose plans to take over next year CAA's conference, complete with booze parties at the Bonaventure and orgies for sex-deprived scholars at the Getty Villa. All in all, it was fun!
Other guests included Darcy Huebler, and I'm taking the opportunity to say hi here as we kept on missing talking to each other during the opening, various LACMA curators, including Rita Gonzalez, and of course Charlotte Cotton, Eve Schillo and Alex Klein.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Vast Entourage And I Visit Ironic Mustache Coffee Place a.ka. LA Mill

Being Frenchy, but chic! I naturally cultivate a huge entourage. For example, for those of you who regularly follow my adventures - I'm amazed, this being said in passing, at the number of people who are fascinated by what I eat for lunch - you know I have a Distinguished Literary Correspondent (Hi Mike!). You don't know it yet, but I also have a few regular Scrabulous partners in crime (Hi Joseph! Hi Analia! Hi Brandon! Hi Jennifer! Hi Celine! Hi Mike!). Now you know.

I also happen to have a personal assistant (named Mezigues L'Invisible), a private chef (called My Right Hand - I'm not ambidextrous yet), a magic carpet (otherwise known as Mam'zelle VaVaVoom), an imaginary boyfriend (Daniel Craig, but with dark hair, including on his chest, but not shag carpet-like), a large posse of devoted followers (variously referred to as "art people" ), a few non-art friends (Hi Annie! Hi Jonathan!), a maid (the other Moi), and so forth. Who knows, one day I may even have a walker, when I reach a suitable age and somehow make a vast fortune? I just made $2 at the Mega Millions on Friday.

In addition to that large list, I also happen to have a regular Fellow Espresso Drinker (Hi Daniel!). My FED and I regularly meet at this place on Larchmont, because espresso there is really, really good, or sometimes at The (good?) Karma Cafe, or even at Susina. But, we tend to be sick of getting to the same place over and over.
So today we decided to change and head over to Silverlake, a neighborhood quite unfamiliar to my Frenchy self. 10 years ago I knew loads of people living there, but they all moved back East to Eagle Rock and Highland Park, when Beck abandoned the neighborhood. Now I know only a handful of people there (Hi Mike! Hi Andy and Brandon! Ivan, sorry, you live in East Hollywood I think, you're a couple blocks too far from Virgil. But Hi anyway!), so I never really schlepp to Hipsterville, though I've been there about 4 or 5 times over the last 3 months.

Silverlake has been hyped as the center of the Los Angeles Coffee Renaissance recently, because 2 fancy coffee places opened there. Now, I don't think there ever was decent coffee in LA in the first place, so "Renaissance" is a bit exaggerated to my art historian eyes as there's no Classical Los Angeles Empire History Of Coffee to be unearthed and resurrected. So Intelligentsia cafe opened, followed a few months later by LA Mill, operated by the same people who gave us Providence. I've been to Providence last year and really enjoyed myself immensely, so I had a good a priori. We picked up LA Mill first, and intended to follow our visit by coffee to go from Intelligentsia, to do a side-by-side comparison.

So by 3 PM we went to LA Mill, happy that there is a parking lot attached to the place. Despite the somewhat chilly weather, there were a couple people posted outside on the patio. Now, this being Silverlake, FED and I had to be cautious in our anthropological assessment of one of the guys outside. You see, that guy looked like a mix between Earl from My Name Is Earl fame, and the famous serial killer, you know the one? With the silly mustache? Plus, he was wearing a checkered shirt AND that abominable abomination, the crowning achievement of American fashion, SHORTS. When it's chilly and rainy outside. My fellow Americans, I love you immensely, but please, DO NOT WEAR SHORTS. Ever. Especially if you go abroad. If you do, don't complain if you're being ripped off in Italian restaurants, mugged by Romanian gypsies in Amsterdam, spat on by Parisian waiters or served tepid beer in British pubs. You will have deserved it.
Anyway, if you insist on wearing them at home, please make sure you have decently shaped legs and that they are tanned. Better orange spray than pallid, sickly looking beige matchsticks.
So, we were a bit repulsed, but you know, what with being non-native and all, we though we were witnessing a fine example of the Hipster Ironic Mustache, complete with the Hipster Ironic Outfit. It goes on par with the Ironic Bad Painting Of Some Insignificant Figurative Narration In Acrylic: you know, if you twist the interpretation a little, you're supposed to forget that what you're looking at is a bad painting, because in fact you've been staring at a post-modern take on the post-structural deconstruction of Painting. It gave us a headache just thinking about it, so we got in to have our espressos, dammit!

So, first impression: there's a hostess to tell you where to sit. It's a coffee place, they also serve lunch , but at 3.30 PM they need to have someone assigning you a seat so you can get coffee. There were many tables available, but as a side note, in another life, FED and I have been used to chichi expensive places, boutique hotels and rich people whimsies, so we didn't really register the fact as odd. We sad at a pleasant table on some rather ugly low chairs not designed for people with back injuries (I'll sue you! I'm being discriminated against!). We spotted a large wallpaper motif depicting a Toile de Jouy pattern in the manner of a Poussin pastoral scene. There's a very ugly brass chandelier (the real French word is "un lustre") that's rather redundant as there's recessed lighting throughout, and a few bland, generic abstract paintings here and there. Also a few turquoise/greenish seats covered in fake crocodile, that clashed with the rather tasteful light blue panels and wooden tables. Overall the design is neither here nor there, not over the top Baroque nor demurely chic. It doesn't work, but on another hand isn't disagreeable. A good point: the noise level is fine, which mean for LA you can actually have a decent conversation. About Ironic Mustaches, Hipsters, Bad Painting, your sad dating history, whatever.

FED and I were given the food menu, and the coffee menu. Their thing is a supposed pairing between different types of coffees and the food. The problem being, IMHO, that coffee tends to clash with lots of food. I never understood how American people could drink coffee with their burgers and fries. Coffee is either a breakfast thing, or a post-lunch thing, or a I Need a Break-thing, but not something you drink with your lunch or dinner. Same with soda). Also, being French, for me coffee is espresso, not that horrible watery thing you guys drink.
At LA Mill they unfortunately offer US-style haute coffee, made either though a gazillion dollar machine called the Clover (it looks like a compact office coffee machine of the type you sometimes find in Europe, but its reddish) and an alchemical contraption called the Chemex. I don't know about you, but drinking coffee that comes out of something called the Chemex sounds scary to me. I'm sure it releases Dioxin or worse in your brew.

So, if you decide to get your daily dose through one of these things, you are given a choice of about a dozen or so blends, origins and whatnots.
But if, like us, you are espresso drinkers, your can have... Ta da! regular or decaf! Yeepee! Life's grand! 2 choices! Sounds like Poland under Jaruzelski! Granted it's their "organic house blend". But, hmmm, you know, in Europe, when you go to the fancy coffee places, you're given a choice of about 20 blends for your espresso, plus 3 or 4 decaf choices. And I'm not only speaking about boutique places like Verlet, but also chains such as Malongo (if you go to one of their Paris outposts, try La Grande Reserve).

I don't know how they can do food /coffee pairing with their espresso choices. Which didn't matter that much as we were there in the middle of the afternoon. So we opted for our espressos, and I got one cannelé when FED opted for a croissant. The espressos are announced as being "2 shots". I asked if I could have only 1 shot, and was cheerfully told the baristas were making ristretto. So I should opt for 2 shots. No, no, no, give me my real ristretto, one shot only! They did it, a good point for them. Now, the service, while being friendly and trying very, very hard, isn't very good. We forgive them, because the poor waitresses have to wear the most horrible uniforms ever: some super high-waisted jeans, paired with black shirts adorned with really ugly bouffant short sleeves. Yikes!

It seemed the waitresses were also sadly deprived of trays, so FED's espresso arrived before mine, then I got mine sans spoon, then his croissant arrived, then my cannelé, then the sugar. The sugar and cream are presented in those super famous Danish-designed containers (Arne Jacobssen?). There's a caveat: the sugar is cubed only, but is served with a spoon, not tongs. I'm sorry, but if you have to over-design a coffee place, complete with clownish outfits for the staff and grotesque glass contraptions to make coffee, please at least have the proper serving ustensils and flatware on hand.
Like, a spoon to dilute the sugar cubes in the coffee (I'm not even asking for a demi-tasse spoon. Any spoon would have done) and tongs to grab the sugar, otherwise people might me tempted to use their fingers. Even if they are Frenchy, but chic!

I was happy when my coffee arrived because it looked like a proper ristretto. Short, thick with crema, warm and not tepid. Alas, the taste...I'm afraid the LA Mill school of espresso subscribes to the NASCAR doctrine: bitter, burn rubber. When a decent espresso is smooth, round, short and strong. That was a disappointment, but from a place that touts its American-style coffee, we should have guessed it. As for the pastries, I must say my cannelé was very good, a surprising fact given that even in its town of origin, Bordeaux, the cannelé can be pretty much hit and miss. As for FED's croissant, unfortunately it was terrible. Cold, doughy, with the unmistakable look of something that's been popped out of a freezer and left out to thaw overnight. LA Mill people, if by some incredible planetary conjunction you're reading my blog, I URGE you to get your pastries from La Maison du Pain! Please, please, at least you could serve decadent macarons and great croissants! I could forgive you your so-so espresso, but that croissant is a serious blot on your record.

So FED an I had a pretty lousy time with our drinks and food, but we had tons of fun watching our surroundings. After commenting on the decor, you can observe the Chemex ritual: it looks like some weird chamanistic drug-related voodoo, just to make a cup of coffee! Plus, it didn't work at the table next to ours, so they had to send a second waiter with the glass thing (think about it as some kind of complicated crack pipe) to do it all over again.
Then, there's the people: within 30 minutes of being there we spotted 3 Ironic Hipster Mustaches!!!!! More than I've seen in over a year! Worth driving to Silverlake for! As for the rest of the crowd, it seemed evenly divided between Trustafarians and their parents, and the Mustachioed Hipsters.

Now, should you go all the way to Silverlake for that decadent cup of coffee?I don't think so. But I'd recommend the place if you need to go on a first date/coffee date if, like me, you suffer from social anxiety, or if you suspect you won't have much to say to your date. There's enough stuff to look at to give you conversation fodder. Now, if your date is with an Ironic Hipster Mustache wearer or a female Trustafarian, hhm, better go somewhere else...

As for intended comparison with Intelligentsia, we failed to act on it. We found a decent parking spot, walked up there, but after seeing the line FED decided he didn't want to wait behind 15 or so more hipsters. So, if I ever go there I'll let you know if they have decent espresso.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Eurovison Song Contest To Brighten Your Memorial Day Weekend!

Julien Doré - Les Limites
Video sent by Rasoukine62

Version Web du clip de Julien Doré, premier single extrait de son album "Ersatz".

While all of you US readers are enjoying Memorial Day weekend, having already forgotten which David won the latest American Idols, Europeans are worshiping their own Idols this weekend, with the final of the Eurovision Song Contest. If you're not European born and bred, it's hard to understand this transcontinental communion with kitsch, camp and good old clean fun.
Virtually everyone in Europe grew up with that Spring rite of passage, stuck in front of the cathodic cube, waiting for the Eurovision anthem, not Beethoven's Ode To Joy, but Marc-Antoine Charpentier Te Deum and its triumphal trumpets (it's French baroque music, for the classical-impaired among you). Long before many Eastern countries joined the Union, they could compete with the moneyed West, and join such geographical oddities as Israel and Turkey (technically, Turkey halfway seats in Europe anyaway).
In fact, I think the Eurovision is probably the only thing that really unites Europe: not the Euro, since many countries haven't adopted it, not our 2000 years of shared wars, and certainly not the mania to regulate everything from the size of cucumbers to unpasteurized cheese, nor that habit to unleash unbridled capitalism on our formerly State-run train systems or energy companies. Which used to work perfectly well without the Union meddling, thank you very much, as the Brits can attest.*
The most famous band to ever emerge from the contest is Abba, other than that there are few chances you may have heard of the winners. When I was growing up it was dreadfully boring, and when I was a teen I certainly couldn't stand the bland music that was being played. Then, over the last decade or so, countries started to embrace the kitsch of it, and send trannies, band cross-dressing in flight attendant costumes, fake Metal icons a la Spinal Tap, and so forth. This year Ireland sent a puppet turkey, France sent a very ugly clone of Michel Polnareff (but far less talented), Sebastien Tellier. Whom I find dreadfully boring myself, even though the Brits sounded very excited with our choice.
I would have much preferred we sent the winner of our own "American Idol" (it's called "La Nouvelle Star" , formerly known under its Proustian name, "A la recherche de la nouvelle star"), the super cute Julien Doré. His style of music isn't really forward, it's retro trying to follow in the footsteps of Gainsbourg. But I cannot resist a former art student with Marcel Duchamp's name tatooed on his arm.

UPDATE: Russia has just won. With a very boring song. Shhhhhh.

* Note to the European Union leaders: why don't you study your history a little bit? You know, if most of the transportation, health, education and energy systems had to be progressively taken over from private businesses and run by State companies, there's a reason. I swear. Look up history from the late 19th century to WWII, will you? It will help immensely. Meanwhile, if you can avoid boarding trains in Britain, do it. Not only you will save time, but you will likely save your life as well.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Your Social Life At Home And Abroad, Memorial Day Weekend Edition

Hello hello, dear devoted, beloved readership!
I hope you are all doing well, and apologies for being AWOL since last week, I had a few non-FBC! deadlines to meet. I'm also working on a non-art post, about How May 1968 Ruined Our Lives, so you can a) avoid to buy that issue of Artforum and b) enjoy a bit of fun while forgetting about art for a few minutes.
But before that, FBC! has thought about how to help you enjoy your social life this weekend!
First of all, for those of you in Europe, I'd recommend you go to the Saturday opening of Legend (see picture above and click on it to see it better) , curated by the non less legendary (and FBC! pal) Alexis Vaillant in a fairy tale fantasy castle outside of Paris in the Domaine de Chamarande. Local boy (and FBC! neighbor) Chris Lipomi is in the show, as well as Jason Meadows and Pae White and many, many other artists. FBC! hopes to see the show in June and come back with many pix for your viewing pleasure.
Closer to us, Philip-Lorca di Corcia's polaroid retrospective, curated by fab' Charlotte Cotton, opens at LACMA tonight, and to the public tomorrow. It's of special interest since he's known for photography that looks rather staged , and because of the dying medium.
While at LACMA, enjoy a tour of Phantom Sightings, and also the Ensor show, which I'll review next week. All in all, LACMA presents 3 excellent shows that will likely refresh those amongst us suffering from BCAM fatigue.
And tomorrow Friday, the Santa Monica Museum of Art opens the Ingrid Schaffner and Carin Kuoni-curated Puppet Show. Both are great curators, and the SMMOA a great gem in th LA landscape, I just wish they wouldn't be in Santa Monica. FBC! will be unable to attend that opening because of a scheduling snafu and regrets it bitterly, so if you go please say hi to Ingrid and Carin for me.

There's also Andrea Zittel at Regen Projects, and Pat O'Neill at the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I'll link to these tomorrow as I have to get going now.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend all, and enjoy the BBQ, the beer, and the art.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Your Social Life Outside Of The Art Box

Sorry I didn't post yesterday about your eagerly anticipated weekend activities, I was out looking at art. But today's YSL (not to be confused with a famous French designer brand) won't take you look at too much art.
Because, you know what? It's way too hot this weekend to go gallery-hopping in decent-watering-holes-deprived Chinatown and Culver City. Yes, I know about The Mountain Bar, The Mandrake and Royal T., but do those scream "Summer! We want cool! Not dark and confined!" Not really, eh.
What you guys should do, aside from the obvious BBQs, beach parties, pool parties and so forth is go out and have ice cream.

Being European, I have trouble with US-type hard rock, sugar-laden concoctions. Me, I want my gelato. Eastsiders are lucky, since the best ever, hands down, is Bulgarini in Altadena.
If you're in town and you're stuck with a non-working AC in your car, you can limit the trek and your CO2 emissions by trying Pazzo in Silverlake. It's open late for our hipster friends.
Closer to Mid-City (Hi my 'hood!), hmmm, Andre Gelato's is somewhat decent, and an oddity: it's located in the Italo-American style cafeteria right next to the Whole Foods at 3rd and Fairfax.

Of course you cannot spend the entire weekend eating gelato (well, you can), so I'd suggest you get a good book or two, find a spot of shade and enjoy a good read. If you are backyard deprived, cafes are good for you, or even better, bakeries such as my fave La Maison Du Pain, where Carmen and Josephine have used me as their official macarons-tester and are churning out heavenly pieces of pure joy. Their latest is the pistachio one, which manages to upstage my previous favorites, chocolate and blackberry. The only downside is the pistachio macaron is filled with pistachio butter, so in this heat it doesn't travel that well, meaning you should eat it "for here" as opposed to "to go". That's OK, because they also serve tea, coffee, French lemonade and Orangina.

Now, if you absolutely insist on fulfilling your art duties this weekend, you'd better go to AC-equipped spaces: I recommend the Jonathan Herder show at Daniel Weinberg (if you missed your chance to buy a Mother's Day present there, you can still catch up and get a Father's Day dollar bill drawing. It's recession-proof). Then you can also schlepp to LAXart and go see not only Michelle Lopez sculptures, but the fabulously well-installed, smart and funny video installation by Vishal Jugdeo. That's where I was yesterday, and it's the best show in CC. Think of is as if Stan Douglas suddenly had a sense of humor, would conflagrate with Buster Keaton AND Jesper Just, with some great sculpture/props thrown in the mix.
You could also head over to LACMA if you haven't done it yet, and go see not only Phantom Sightings but also the great Ensor show , which hasn't had any review yet that I know of, but is a little gem of an exhibition. Just avoid donating your money to the Patina Group and go eat/drink elsewhere after.
You can also go to the Hammer and see the Kara Walker show, and ponder Gary Garrels departure to SFMOMA if you're an art world gossip whore, but I personally think it's too hot to ponder anything this weekend but global warming.

I know you East Side people will be suffering in the scorching heat, and will need a bit of distraction. You can go admire the series of performance/screenings curated by Julie Lequin at Outpost for her final appearance in Los Angeles, and also tonight head over to Glendale for a bit of contemporary poetry and literature at the Poetic Research Bureau. I'm not sure whether it's their inaugural event or not, but take note, as they are on your way to future events at the Gendale College Gallery or at Another Year in LA.

Pix: 2 installation shots of Vishal Jugdeo's piece at LAXart, Michelle Lopez sculpture, same location, and a poor abandoned stuffed animal screaming for ice cream in Silverlake. Hipsters, follow your heart and take the poor thing to Pazzo!
all pix Your Truly.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg RIP

So all of you art people, you know by now, Rauschenberg passed away yesterday. I'm not going to write an obit, or elaborate about his career or anything else. I just want to point out that the news was on the home page of the Los Angeles Times this morning. It signifies (a word favored by my Distinguished Literary Correspondent) that in this country, unlike mine (hey France! home of arts and culture! hellooooooo!), contemporary art has achieved enough prominence and respect that the passing of a visual artist is considered worthy news. In France, we just put the antics of our undignified Prez and his boring millionaire chanteuse wife.
Respect, America. This is another reason why I love you.

Picture of the artist via this site.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Some Artist's Turf Markings

So Terence Koh really, really wanted to brand the people who went to his opening, maybe as a way to count them or see if they were given access to the after party at Chateau Marmont.
Another interpretation would be to see his installation as some modern-day appropriation of the infamous Rob Pruitt cocaine buffet , but with a pool of chalk instead of a mirrored circuit so to render the whole thing harmless and out of reach from the long arm of the law.
Grad students in LA art schools, I'll let you ponder that. Papers shouldn't excess 3,000 words, and are due next week. We'll humiliate you critique them publicly together during the grad seminar.

More Pictures Without Too Many Words

So last Saturday FBC! went for a round of openings in Chinatown.
Best show was at Dan Hug, though the presentation of the works at Kordansky was pretty interesting. The trophy for the most inane and overblown show, of course, goes to Terence Koh at Peres Projects. FBC! didn't go down the basement though, seeing that chalk stains on my clothes would have been unbecoming at the birthday party I went to after, and also I am now too old to attend openings that require dry cleaning after the fact. Although, if I was paid to do so and the art dealer would provide cleaners reimbursement after, why not?

Pictures from the Erika Vogt opening at Daniel Hug, with artist Stephanie Taylor, her husband Mike Holtz and someone who looks a lot like photographer/artist Joyce Campbell, the Nicolau Verguero opening at David Kordansky, artists Tom Allen, Ivan Morley and Will Fowler.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Almond Cranberries Muffins

Pfeww, with all these art things, all the poor you who cannot buy a Jonathan Herder drawing for Mother's Day are starting to feel the heat. What, but what the heck can you do for your respective Moms in time for that day?
No panic! FBC! is here to rescue you with a killer muffin recipe to serve for breakfast on Sunday (or tea, or dessert, depending on your Mom's tastes). Careful! the quantities are in metrics, so you may need to get a scale.

For 10-12 muffins:
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 egg whites
40g butter, softened at room temperature, cut into pieces.
100g white flour
150g sugar
150g blanched almond meal (found at Surfas)
1 demi-tasse spoon baking powder (maybe 1/4 teaspoon?)
Half a bag frozen cranberries (about 150g to 200g)
A handful of slivered blanched almonds
one shot glass filled with rum
a few drops almond extract
a few drop vanilla extract

Preheat your oven at 400F.
With a hand held mixer, beat in the 2 whole eggs, the egg yolk and the sugar until the mix becomes pale yellow and foamy. Beat in the rum, almond extract, and vanilla extract, then the softened butter until the mix becomes homogeneous. Stir in the flour and the baking powder, mix thoroughly, then beat in the almond meal. Unplug your hand held mixer and wash the beaters.
Mix the cranberries to the dough. The mix should be very thick.
Beat the 2 remaining egg whites until they are stiff, then fold them delicately into the dough.

Fill your muffin molds* with the batter, then sprinkle your slivered almonds on top of each one, put the molds into the oven and bake for about 15-18 minutes. To check if they are ready, insert a rounded knife blade into one muffin, it should come out dry and free of gooey batter.
When they are ready, take the molds out of the oven, let them cool off before unmolding the muffins.
Absolutely wait until they have totally cooled off to eat them.

* I use silicon molds, if you use the metal variety, grease and flour them before pouring the dough into them.

Your Social Life Very Busy This Weekend

So this weekend your social life will be extremely busy, what with Mother's Day, friends B-Days, going away parties and so forth! How are you going to squeeze art stuff into that, I wonder.

So here in LA, it's going to be slightly complicated. Let's start with Culver City and LAXart, where not only the delightful Vishal Jugdeo, curated by the none less delightful Aram Moshayedi, will open in the project space, while Michelle Rodriguez will have the main room. There's a walk-through at 6 PM. Elsewhere in Culver City is the opening of Shana Lutker, whose work FBC! is very interested in, at Susanne Vielmetter. And Murakami continuing at Blum & Poe, if you're not sick of him by now. FBC! must confess being tired of his continuing presence in LA.

Anyway, as much as FBC! would love to be in CC on Saturday, it will prove impossible as I'm supposed to be in Chinatown at the same time, and then at a B-Day celebration in Silverlake (Hi Mike!). You will find me at Erika Vogt's opening at Daniel Hug, and maybe I'll poke my head in at Peres Project to see the infamous Terence Koh. Whose work I find very, very sub-par, boring, and frankly a little ghetto, but it's the kind of coke-fueled, sex-crazed art for the nouveaux riches atmosphere that is so reminiscent of the 1980s it's kind of fun and sleazy just to think about it.
I'll probably drop by David Kordansky too if we have time before dinner and the B-Day party.

Now, I'm also thinking about the moneyed readers of FBC! (is there one? at least?) who forgot a Mother's Day present. Oopsie. What can you do? Of course, head over Daniel Weinberg's and get one Jonathan Herder's drawing! Exquisite, underpriced, fun, and much, much easier to pass muster with Mom than a Terence Koh. I guaranty it.

Now, what if you're out of LA, blessedly free of parental obligations, and wanting to see some art? Well, if you're in Boston, you can go see the Chantal Akerman retrospective at the List Visual Center at MIT (Hi Bill!). There's also the group show with Mark Bradford at the ICA.
If, like Andy Warhol, you're from Pittsburgh, of course you have to go see the Douglas Fogle-curated Carnegie International, Life on Mars, which title is borrowed of course from Bowie, but is also the one of my favorite Brit TV shows. I find the list pretty safe, including my own personal fave Mike Kelley, and there's a bunch of others I find excessively boring (Pernice, Althoff, Hirschhorn). There's no chance I may be able to get there, so if some of my readers want to contribute a review, you're welcome!

Because it's my blog, I'm happy to entirely forgo NYC and tell you to go instead to Luxembourg, yay! and see the shows worth seeing at the MuDAM (their website is atrociously tiresome, I know), especially Candice Breitz, and at the Casino-Luxembourg (Hi Enrico!) Locked In.
And that's it for your weekend!

Image is a film still from Vishal Jugdeo.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Olivier Debroise, 1952-2008

I've learned today the passing of Olivier Debroise, a curator, critic, writer and scholar of French origin who lived in Mexico. Because we were both French many people assumed we knew each other, but Olivier was 20 years my senior and moved to Mexico before I even knew what art was. We met only once about 2 years ago, but I can only say I knew of him rather than really knew him. I keep the impression of a very nice, warm and friendly person. He was very involved in making contemporary Mexican art well-known outside of its border, and also contributed learned research on historical Mexican photography. And much, much more.
I always heard great things about him from everyone involved with arts in Mexico, and I'm deeply saddened he passed away prematurely. As we say in French, ce sont toujours les meilleurs qui s'en vont les premiers (the best ones are always the first to go).

As usual the NYC-centric art informants prefer to concentrate on the comings and goings of the powerful and famous, rather than chronicle the life of someone who really worked to make a difference. Feel free to write testimonies about Olivier in the comments section, and visit Blow de La Barra's to contribute as well. My very best wishes to everyone who knew and cared for Olivier.

Olivier Debroise's picture courtesy of this site.
There's an article here, if you speak Spanish and suscribe to La Reforma (in the "Noticias por seccion" under "Cultura" click on "Fallece Olivier Debroise").

(thanks to Pablo de la Barra and Rita Gonzalez)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

La Der Des Der At Raid

In French, "la der des der" means "la derniere des dernieres", an expression initially applied to WWI in a futile attempt, you know, to wage the war to end all wars. I didn't quite work the way it was intended, and now the sentence is used mostly when you play cards and want to end the game with the last run, or when something folds.
Sadly, Raid Projects at the Brewery in Downtown LA is closing its exhibition space after 10 years, and initiated an "artwork swap" to celebrate the last of the last of the end of the end, and added a lecture by artist Julie Lequin in a side room. It was a presentation rather than a performance, and unfortunately the sound was partially drowned by the loud buzz of the opening attendees, but still a bunch of fun!
Pictures above.

A Japanese Kink That Isn't So Kinky In CC

Hello my dear beloved, devoted readership!

I'm back and over the stomach flu, and ready to show you a few more LA-related thingies.
First of all, a few weeks ago was the kick-off/launch/premiere/debut of Los Angeles Art Weekend, an attempt to de-provincialize the inner provincials inside all of us LA art people (I mean, not me: the other LA art people! I'm Frenchy! But Chic! and as such a well-traveled femme du monde, non mais alors!).

In a nutshell, for all the non-US art lovers everywhere: you would be surprised at how crass is the ignorance of the US art media/critics/curators/collectors regarding the high quality of art produced in LA.
At fault, the LA institutions, US newspapers (hello LAT and NYT!), and the local absence of generous art donors, despite California being home to the largest number of millionaires in America. It's mind-boggling, for example, to see Miami outdoing LA with the art fairs and local art foundations. When was the last time you heard of a great Miami art school, artist, publication, etc? Exactly. Also, in case you live on planet Skyron in the galaxy of Andromeda (and in that case, you're a medieval pudding) and haven't noticed, there is another cultural industry in this town that pretty much recycles its own money unto itself, without sharing crumbs with us. So we have to make do, being a world-class art city without the means to fund it properly.

So to try to attract the attention of Los Angeles people on the local art scene, Los Angeles Art Weekend was implemented, I don't know exactly by who, but had the misfortune of happening on a weekend when, er, not that much was happening here. I suppose that's why they mixed in a few fashion boutique launches with the art stuff (it's very charitable of me to think so, no?) as well as the super-hyped-trendy-filled-to-the-brim-with-overdressed-Hollywood-types-wannabes Grand Opening of Royal T, otherwise known as the "Japanese Maid Cafe". I know, it sounds like some mid-1990s porn anime concept. Come to think of it, it's probably it!
But toned down for prudish US audience, I suppose, and that's the reason why it quite doesn't come off as that interesting or fun.

In an intrepid spirit of curiosity, and wanting to earn my very own credentials as a "citizen-journalist" (that's the fancy name given to bloggers who fart higher than their asses, it seems), I went, accompanied with a very talented painter (Hi Ivan!), also because I wanted to take Mam'zelle VaVaVoom on her first outing. Also someone had already RSVPed for me and I think in total I have been RSVPed 3 or 4 times, so I had to go, right? It would have been rude not to.

There was an exhibition of Japanese art with the usual suspects (Nara, Murakami, Kusama, etc) enclosed behind what looked like bullet-proof walls. Cute! Taken from a private collection, nothing really original about it but the Kusama is stunning and well-worth the schlepp, IMHO. I couldn't get a good picture of it, sorry, so you have to go see it.
There was a DJ playing French retro-Pop (Jacques Dutronc), cocktails with watermelon and vodka (really good), green tea, and coffee dirty Martinis (a concept that makes me sick just thinking of it, actually).
Lots of Japanese fashion-victims, -istas and -istos, but also plenty of men who looked too precisely dressed to be straight but with too much details overkill to be gay either. Like they would be singers of ironic bands straight outta Trustfundville, listening to the Wallflowers and the White Stripes with a dash of Franz Ferdinand here and there, but with a Williamsburg twist. In short, non date-able if you are over 22, but fun to observe otherwise.

The Japanese maids themselves weren't particularly sexy, or kinky. I was sorta expecting an upscale, artsy-fartsy version of Hooters, but the French maid outfit wasn't particularly flattering in any regards. Being a straight woman I guess I'm disqualified to judge whether they were sexy or not, but a poll of a few males sampled or overhead at the event seemed to confirm that inkling.
They were simply waitresses freely distributing badges, Japanese crackers, chocolate napolitains (emblazoned with a heraldically incorrect earl crown, not a royal one) and a bunch of extremely delicate and flavorful appetizers. I must say, the food was really, really good, and it seems prepared in the Royal T kitchen by the same team that will run it, not an outside catering company. Having lead the glamorous life in a previous incarnation, I've had my fair share of finger food here and there, and Royal T's was by far vastly superior to most of everything I've ever sampled anywhere.

Would I go back there? Well, not for the art, obviously, and I don't really care for the CosPlay thing. But I'd definitively stop there for lunch or drinks in between gallery hopping in the area, if only to see how it looks like once the hype of the opening had died down. Just to see if it looks hip, of just sad.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Save Out Taco Trucks!!!!!

This is LA-oriented, but if you've visited from abroad, you may have noticed our beloved tacos trucks. It's the Los Angeles equivalent to le camion-pizza. Without them, we couldn't survive: most kitchens in LA restaurants close at 10 PM, so the local truck is often the only late-night dining option. In addition, if you're stuck working in some culinary wasteland, more often than not the taco truck will be the only edible option within several miles.
For example, where I live in a very residential mid-city neighborhood, there simply isn't anything to eat at all after 8 PM but the taco truck at Olympic and La Brea (I recommend the Al Pastor).
They are so beloved that there's even one blog devoted to them, by one literary guy who calls himself Bandini!*
But some evil local politician recently decided to try pass an ordinance that would all but ban our beloved trucks from freely roaming and feeding our neighborhood. Supposedly because they are some competition to "established restaurants". Which is stupid as taco trucks provide services that restaurants don't offer (see above). Plus they are cheap, and with all the talk about soaring food costs they offer a low-budget option to all recently laid off or impoverished LA denizens.
I sure hope it will cost that guy's next re-election, but meanwhile please help Los Angeles keep its culinary vernacular tradition alive by signing the petition here.

* we also have one blog devoted to ramen by the aptly-named rameniac.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Pictures Without (Too Many) Words

I'm sure you are by now acquainted with this site. Unusually for FBC! today's post will mostly show you images.

FBC! has been AWOL for about a week, having a guest in town until yesterday and the stomach flu since last night.
I'll refer you to FYA for your weekly social life events, and will write more once the nausea and cramps are over.
And I'll remind you, because it is not on FYA, that on May 3rd, Julie Lequin will give her last performance (or so) in Los Angeles at Raid Projects. Go en masse!
FBC! will try to be there.
Before that, be well and don't catch that silly bug. And, no, you don't need to go to that Murakami opening, nor to the Gregoy Crewdson (though I'd pick him up over TM) one. But Julie Lequin, yes.