Tagged: Los Angeles

L.A. Trip Diary: Coroner’s Office Gift Shop + Gigantor Burrito. Hell yes.


Forget museum gift shops. The LA County Coroner’s Office can fill all your merch needs. (Photos by C-M.)

In between running errands for Road Trip 2010 (which officially starts tomorrow), I met up with my homegirl Vidalia for a quick field-trip to a couple of important L.A. sights. First stop: the L.A. County Coroner’s Office, so that we could patronize the gift shop, where we stocked up on all manner of Coroner department merch. (Because a girl’s wardrobe isn’t complete unless she has a blingy tee with a body outline on it.) The added bonus is that the shop is located inside the building that once housed the old L.A. County General Hospital. Built in 1878, it has been beautifully restored, and comes complete with graceful Beaux Arts facade, dramatic staircase, mosaic tile floors and frosted glass doors. I half expected to see Jack Nicholson running around in Chinatown garb.

Because buying T-shirts with toe tags builds up an appetite, we followed this excursion with a visit to the infamous El Tepeyac, where we dined on the infamous Manuel’s Special Burrito, a behemoth machaca monster that was bigger than an airline pillow (remember those?) and weighed more than a small dog. It’s even bigger than the infamous porno burrito from El Atacor. So big, in fact, that the restaurant staff helpfully supply you with a pie server in order to be able to eat the thing. And yes, it was damn good. Special props go to the kick-ass house hot sauce, which has just the right amount of punch and smoke.

Special thanks to my former colleague and Twitter pal @russelltrombone for the tip on the Coroner’s gift shop. It is, indeed, as spectacular as described.

BONUS C-MON GIVEAWAY EXTRAVAGANZA: Leave a comment below to be entered to win an L.A. County Coroner’s office lick-n-stick tattoo. Estimated value: 25 cents.

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In L.A.: Resurrecting Robert Mallary, Master of Assemblage.


Working on Robert Mallary’s Corner Piece. (Photos by San Suzie and Box Gallery.)

Last December, the director of L.A.’s Box Gallery contacted me about the conservation of some 1950s and 60s pieces by Robert Mallary (1917-1997). The pieces consisted largely of old tuxedos dipped in resin and sculptures made of polyester, sand and dirt. For an Art Nurse like myself, nothing is more exciting than a chance to work on detritus-as-art, and these works — made by a pioneer in the field of assemblage and use of resin — would provide me with a rich opportunity to experiment with the conservation of new materials, not to mention chew over the limits between junk and art.

Crafted out of wood, dirt, sand, rusted steel, cardboard, tar paper and fabric that has been crushed, bent, twisted, and dipped in a resin of questionable formulation, these sculptures had once been seen in landmark avant-garde exhibitions such as MoMA’s Sixteen Americans (1959) and Art of Assemblage (1961). More recently, they had  languished in a near-junk heap in the building that had once served as Mallary’s studio in Conway, Massachusetts. They might have never been seen or heard from again if artist Paul McCarthy, long an admirer of Mallary’s work, hadn’t included some of them in the show Low Life, Slow Life at the San Francisco Wattis Institute in 2008.

“As soon as we saw this work we knew something bigger had to be done,” says Box Gallery director Mara McCarthy (who also happens to be Paul’s daughter). So the gallery’s team made three separate trips to Massachusetts and carefully sorted through the heaps in Mallary’s studio. After receiving the Art Nurse treatment, eighteen of these sculptures will go on exhibit this Saturday. Working on them wasn’t easy. Mallary’s pieces aren’t just fragile; they’re each made up of  what seems to be a million different materials – one corner might be all fabric and resin, another dirt and old newspaper. And because every material adheres differently and every adhesive used in conservation has the potential to stain the very thing you’re gluing, every single repair required a separate decision.  By the end of the week when the work was done (which incidentally was also the week that L.A. was pummeled by rain, which meant that everything took twice as long to dry) my brain felt as torqued as one of Mallary’s tuxedo pieces.

But it was clearly worth it.  In today’s art world, we’ve gotten so used to pieces made of weird materials that junk art seems as common as canvas painting.  But Mallary’s sculptures have a raw power that defies description.  This is shockingly good work – that has not been seen in nearly four decades. So if you’re going to be anywhere near L.A. over the next couple of months, get yourself over to The Box to see them. Mara McCarthy, in fact, believes that the proper resting place for these pieces would be a museum. After spending 60 hours staring and handling these works, I’d have to heartily agree.

A special thanks to the folks at the gallery for allowing us to document this process. See many more photos after the jump. Robert Mallary opens at the Box Gallery in Chinatown this Sat, Feb. 6 at 6pm and is on display until April 3, 2010.

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The Digest. 12.05.08.


The Fun Finder: Spotted in front of LACMA, Nov. 19, 2008. (Photo by C-M.)

Art for Stoners: L.A. museums edition.


Visual Molasses: A figure comes into focus very, very sloooowly in a Kevin Hanley video piece at MoCA. Hang around long enough and you’ll wonder if you’re seeing things. (Photos by C-M.)

Just because one L.A. museum is in the middle of a financial freefall doesn’t mean that there isn’t buzz-inducing art to be seen. At MoCA, in a corner of the Conceptualism in California show at the Geffen Contemporary there is a meltingly slow piece by Kevin Hanley, as well as a black-and-white, super-fast Bruce Conner number that has a total 2 a.m. music video kind of feel. Better yet: it’s comprised of three monitors. I coulda hung out there all afternoon.

Across town, at LACMA, there’s Chris Burden’s Urban Light installation. I know that this piece is far from new (it debuted in February), but I managed to spend a bit of time hanging out with this sculpture at dusk today and it was damn beautiful. The best part: anybody can wander around this thing, 24 hours a day. Perfect for a late-night hangout, especially if you’ve got a Slurpee in hand.


Eve Ray Forever, 1965-2006 by Bruce Conner. Quick cuts. Lots of nudity. Yeah.


Chris Burden’s Urban Light. Lampposts all in rows. Duuuude.

Late addition:

How could I forget? Marcel Duchamp’s Roto Relief: Optical Discs, at the Norton Simon. You are getting sleepy… On view through Dec. 8.