Frank Lloyd’s blog

Art, architecture and the people that I know.

Posts Tagged ‘Kristine McKenna

Closing a gallery

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CVS059_A copyThis week, the Frank Lloyd Gallery announced the closing of the public exhibition program at Bergamot Station. As of February 14, the gallery will close its doors, and move to a private space in Pasadena. The current show, of Peter Voulkos and Craig Kauffman, will be the last. After a long and successful program of over 190 exhibitions, the founder and director, Frank Lloyd, sat down to talk with Kelly Boyd and answer a few questions:

Q.: Why would you want to leave the gallery business?

A.: Well, after nineteen years of exhibitions, publications, and sales, I am finally moving on. I consider it more of a transition. I have to leave behind this accomplishment, and forge ahead with another job, as the full-time representative of an artist’s estate. I also have very personal reasons for the move, since I need to be close to my 91-year-old mother.

Q.: But what about your artists? What will happen to them?

A.: When I started the gallery, I had a specific mission of presenting ceramic artwork in a fine art context. The gallery functioned on three levels: as a commercial venue for individual artists, as an educational resource for the community of Southern California. I wanted to preserve a legacy of ceramics in Los Angeles. Finally, the gallery served as a forum for dialogue among artists, collectors and critics. I think it succeeded on all those goals.

Later, as the gallery expanded, I showed artists from other countries, FJL053_C copyincluding England, Mexico, France, Holland and especially Japan. Then, I further expanded the program to include contemporary painters and sculptors, because I thought they all came out of the same time period in L.A., the innovative post-war period. In many ways, ceramics, along with assemblage, led the way back then. Voulkos, Mason and Price were examples of fearless leadership and grew out of a common bond.

Q.: But the artists, what will happen to them? You didn’t answer my question.

A.: Oh, you’re right! I’m pleased to say that, for several reasons, ceramics has regained its rightful spot in the mainstream. Just today I had the pleasure of reading a review in the Boston Globe about an exhibition of 200 years of American ceramics at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Featured were Cheryl Ann Thomas and Adrian Saxe. Also, an artist that I represented for 16 years, John Mason, has now regained his position in the art world, with shows like the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time, the recent Whitney Biennial, and his representation by David Kordansky.

Bell_Installation_2006 copyI’m proud of showing Larry Bell since 2006, and now he’s with an international powerhouse gallery, White Cube. Even a less well-known ceramic artist from Japan, Satoru Hoshino, is having a show with Dominique Levy. Others that I’ve shown, like Betty Woodman and Ken Price, both had retrospective exhibits at the Metropolitan. Back in 2003, Dave Hickey for Artforum named Ron Nagle’s show at my gallery one of the top shows in the world. Now, he’s been in the Venice Bienniale and had a survey at the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. Adrian Saxe continues to win awards and recognition from critics and organizations.

Q.: Is that because of what you did? Do you take credit for that?

A.: No, I think the artists should get all the credit, I’ve always thought that. But the art world is increasingly aware of these artists, now, and there is a feeling of some vindication. I get some satisfaction out of seeing these artists, who I showed and believed in, get the change in visibility. I think it’s due to several factors, actually. I just felt it was going to happen, twenty years ago when I started the gallery. The exhibition program was all about the place of these artists and that history.

Q.: What exactly are the factors you’re referring to?

A.: First is the obvious trend: Young artists have been using the ceramic medium, and they have no real material hierarchy. That’s a major factor. Younger artists will use anything; they are, quite fortunately, not bound to the old prejudices against clay. Critics have been champions of this use by young artists as well as the use by recognized artists. And curators have recognized the value of the work—look at the tremendous reception for the retrospective of Ken Price, for instance. The curators at major museums are making a big difference in the public’s perception.

Q.: What other examples?

A.: Well, the gallery showed the ceramic work of a major woman FLB008 copysculptor, Lynda Benglis. We had two quite visible and successful shows of Betty Woodman’s work, well in advance of the retrospective at the Met. We’ve shown a significant number of women, including the early group like Vivika Heino, Laura Andreson and Beatrice Wood, then more contemporary artists like Cindy Kolodziejski, Jennifer Lee, Marilyn Levine, Betty Woodman, and Elizabeth Fritsch, as well as sculptors like Lynda. Cheryl Ann Thomas is another example. We didn’t just show the men!

Q.: What part of the gallery are you most proud of?

Sensual_Mechanical_cover copy4A.: Oh, that’s easy: the publications. I’ve taken that job seriously, working with writers and a legendary graphic designer. In many ways, I was lucky to work with a superb graphic designer, the late Joe Molloy, and he mentored me through the process of publishing. I still have a huge stash of our publications, in which we published the writing of Kristine McKenna, Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, and the art historian Frances Colpitt.

I’d also have to say that every day in my gallery was enhanced by the architecture, designed by Fred Fisher. It’s a sad thing to leave this space, so perfectly designed.

Q.: So, that’s a regret. What was your biggest disappointment?

A.: Lack of attendance. We work our butts off, and then the attendance is poor.

Q.: Were there shows that drew in the audience?FJS028 copy

A.: Yes, and it’s a great memory. The big crowd pleasers were clearly deserving: Adrian Saxe’s shows—any of them! And then, we had people return again with their family, just to see the stunning and heartfelt works of French sculptor Georges Jeanclos. The first show of Peter Voulkos in 1999, that had people lined up just to get in. All were extremely gratifying to present. But lately, the attention has shifted and we are working on other projects.

Q.: Will you be busy? Is there enough work in your new job to keep you busy? Or are you retiring?

A.: This is a common question. The truth is, with an artist of this significance, Craig Kauffman, there is more than enough research, conservation, and publication to keep a full staff busy for a decade. The representatives of artist’s estates, and many foundations, are dedicated to the job of preserving and protecting the legacy and work of an artist. We’ll have plenty to do.

Q.: Won’t you miss the gallery business?

DSC_0646 copyA.: I’ll miss the people. I have a number of passionate colleagues. That’s something I learned: many art dealers are passionate and committed individuals. We are fortunate to have them. I must say that there should be more recognition for the patrons and the dealers. I started by coming from the artists’ side—and now I’ve learned more about the collectors and the dealers. Art world news is often about hot young artists, the big money that is spent, and the connections to celebrity, all of it coming in a steady stream on new portal sites, traditional news media, and social media. But the thing that sustains it all is the hard work and passion of the artists, dealers, and patrons. I’d hate to see an art world without art galleries.

Q.: How would you sum up the last 19 years?

A.: In five words or less? A lot of hard work. But seriously, when I started, I wanted to make a statement: a gallery with a sense of history, that presents itself as a strong and relevant component of the contemporary art world.  Although it was originally media-specific and became known as a specialty gallery, everything we exhibited had a relationship to painting and sculpture.  We presented ceramics as a vital part of the regional and national scene and we also proposed links between historical precedents and contemporary ceramics. That was the reason for the expanded program, and it succeeded in many ways. I think the last show is a good way to finish the statement, and I’ll continue to try to set the record straight.

Roseline Delisle

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Install_6The opening reception for Roseline Delisle last Saturday was a bittersweet moment for the gallery. It had the feeling of a reunion, as friends and family of Roseline and her husband, Bruce Cohen, filled the space. Spanning two decades of her career, the sixteen works on display demonstrate Roseline’s commitment to her aesthetic vision – they grow larger but maintain her characteristic precision and elegance.

Vertical vessels, composed of stacked cylinders that interlock seamlessly, Roseline’s work is almost mechanical in its exactitude. A strict color palette of blue, black, and white is made infinitely variable through her use of horizontal striping. Yet for all its austerity, her work never crosses over into the severe, as her forms refer to the figure. With foot, body, waist, and head, her vessels have a human presence. When installed in groups, these figures form families.

Roseline’s belief in the power of a beautifully designed form ties her work to that of Kasimir Malevich and Oskar Schlemmer, whom she cited as important influences. Her work feels as fresh and modern now as it did when it was made.

In a 1999 interview with Kristine McKenna, Install_8Roseline reflected on the trajectory of her work, saying that:

It never occurred to me that my career would last this long, but I was recently struck by the fact that I’ve spent the last 29 years perfecting a specific idea. When I ask myself how I’ve stayed with it for so long, I remember a dream I had many years ago. I dreamed I was walking down a long road and that the road was my work. The sun was setting at the end of the road, and all I had to do to get to this exquisite sunset was keep walking.

Written by Frank Lloyd

March 11, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Books

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bookcase2 copyPublications are an important part of what we do at the gallery – they provide us with another way to educate the public about the arts. I’ve written a lot about Sensual Mechanical: The Art of Craig Kauffman, our recent monograph on the life and work of Craig Kauffman, but that’s far from the only book we have available to visitors. In addition to books and catalogs produced by the gallery, we also offer selected museum publications. I try to make a point of displaying a variety of books that relate to our current exhibition or connect with what’s going on with the artists that we represent.

From the Peter Shire_Chairs Catalogue 2007beginning (our first gallery publication was a 1999 catalogue for Roseline Delise), my intent was to use the talent and resources at hand. The late Joe Molloy, a superb graphic designer and legendary typographer, designed most of our publications. His eye for composition, alignment, and legibility was always present, as the catalogues were designed to extend our graphic identity as well as present the artworks. I’ve also employed recognized authors to write the essays, including Kristine McKenna and Hunter Drohojowska-Philp. Another feature of the gallery publications has been the excellent photography of Anthony Cuñha and Alan Shaffer.

collaborations copyRight now, we have a selection of books related to the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time initiative, with exhibition catalogs including Clay’s Tectonic Shift at Scripps College, Phenomenal at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and our own Peter Voulkos in L.A.: Time Capsule. Other publications feature the work of artists we currently have on display at the gallery, such as Richard Shaw and Peter Shire. To see a more complete list of the books we offer, including our online publications, follow this link to the publications page of the Frank Lloyd Gallery website:
http://www.franklloyd.com/dynamic/publications.asp.

Author Kristine McKenna signs new release: The Ferus Gallery: A Place to Begin

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John Mason solo exhibition at Ferus Gallery in 1959.
Photo by Robert Bucknam

Kristine McKenna, a Los Angeles based author and curator, will sign copies of her latest book on November 21, 2009.  The book signing event will take place at the Frank Lloyd Gallery, from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The recently published book, The Ferus Gallery: A Place to Begin, is an illustrated oral history of the Ferus Gallery, a storied enterprise that showcased modern art during the late 1950s and 1960s. Drawing from 62 new interviews and more than 300 photographs (most previously unpublished), the book retrieves a lost chapter of twentieth-century American art.  The text is written and edited by Kristine McKenna.

Kristine McKenna is a noted author, art expert and co-editor of the critically acclaimed publication Semina Culture.  Kristine has also organized numerous exhibits about American music and art, and has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, and many other major publications.

In 1950s California, and especially in Los Angeles, there existed few venues for contemporary art.  To a whole generation of California artists, this presented a freedom, since the absence of a context for their work meant that they could coin their own, and in uncommonly interesting ways. The careers of Ed Ruscha, Wallace Berman and Ed Kienholz all begin with this absence: Ruscha’s early and iconic Pop images combine words with images, Berman pioneered installation art with his first Ferus show, and in March 1957, Ed Kienholz, in collaboration with curator Walter Hopps, co-founded one of California’s greatest historical galleries, Ferus. Within months of opening, Ferus gallery gained notoriety when the Hollywood vice squad raided Berman’s first–and, in his lifetime, last–solo exhibition, following a complaint about “lewd material.” Shows by Kienholz and Jay DeFeo followed, but 1962 was Ferus’ annus mirabilis, with solo shows by Bruce Conner and Joseph Cornell, and solo shows of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol (his first gallery show ever).  The following year, Ferus also hosted Ed Ruscha’s first solo exhibition.  After Kienholz and Hopps moved on to other things–Hopps went on to mount the first American Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Art Musuem–the reins were handed to Irving Blum, who took over and ran the gallery until its closure in 1966.

Former Ferus artists currently exhibiting at the Frank Lloyd Gallery are John Mason, Larry Bell, Ed Moses and Craig Kauffman.