The Mike Kelley show at MOCA Geffen has a whole lot of everything going on: child nightmare videos, weird banners, scary stuffed animal sculptures, night-light installations of the fictional Kandor, and architectural models of every school Kelly ever went to. There’s also his “Chinatown Wishing Well,” above, his tribute, to a similarly garish fountain located in L.A.’s Chinatown.
It’s a lot to absorb. But while you’re at it, don’t forget to take a peek under and inside many of his pieces, since they often seem to contain little surprises. Under the architectural models, you’ll find a mattress; a pink dresser hides books about sex and a packet of birth control pills; and inside the “Wishing Well” is a mattress, a box of Kleenex, some candles and tub of Vaseline. (This latter space he once described as a “crawl space/fuck room.”)
All of it certainly gets at aspects of the forbidden he often explored in his work. But they also serve as a reminder that if you’re just looking at the literal surface of his pieces, you’re missing a good chunk of the story.
The Lost Frontier, 1997-2005, by Llyn Foulkes. (Image courtesy of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.)
I had the great honor of profiling painter Llyn Foulkes for NPR News. Not only did I get to spend some quality time in his studio, I got a private concert on his one-man band, The Machine. Plus I got to see his collection of curiosities (skulls!). Foulkes has an an all-kinds-of-gangbusters retrospective at the Hammer Museum: gritty, funny, desperate, intense, and beautiful, with works, such as The Last Frontier, above, that are just mind-boggling in their content and material construction.
Pleasepleaseplease click over to my story or stream it below — and if you’re in SoCal, definitely check out the show. It’s up through May 19.
P.S. After you’ve listened, check out this performance of Llyn playing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” on The Machine. ♥♥♥♥
Times, 2011, by Stanley Donwood. Part of an 18-foot panel showing the destruction of L.A. at the artist’s solo exhibitLost Angeles, at Subliminal Projects. Opens Saturday at 8pm, in Echo Park. (Image courtesy of the artist and Subliminal Projects.)
STEP TWO: Rest on top of performer. As the performer breathes, the Angry Bird is gently raised and lowered — a meditation on awareness and mortality.
IF DESIRED, CONTINUE TO STEP THREE: Place Angry Bird head on a Lazy Susan. Inspire grotesque discomfort in your dinner guests by forcing them to confront the probing stare of another as they sip cocktails and dine on tuna tartar.
San Suzie sent this photo along to me this morning and, well, I just can’t resist imagining their sales pitch:
At Shining Path Montessori, we take brainwashing seriously, which is why we’ve named this Los Angeles pre-school after an Andean terrorist group renowned for its brutally violent tactics. In combination with off-hours re-education at Potemkin Village Day Care, we’ll get your little Maoist zealot ready for graduation to Red Brigade Elementary and, ultimately, Long March High. Shining Path Montessori: For when you want only the best for your pillager-in-training
Seriously, though: What the fuck are you guys thinking???
The last time I was in L.A. I got an impromptu tour of L.A.’s trendiest tanning salon, an expansive, pseudo-industrial spot in the heart of Beverly Hills, where Posh and Becks and Jennifer Aniston and lots of names I don’t recognize, all pile in to get sprayed and get baked. (Not good baked. Baked baked — as in laying around inside light pods cultivating unnatural bronze sheens.)
Needless to say, I was rapt. I also stole a pile of packages filled with disposable tanning underwear. Which I’m wearing right now.