Carmen Argote's 720 sq. ft.: Household Mutations at g727

Whether it is the neutrality of the painted white on brown or the simplicity of the large geometric shapes of the cut carpet hanging from the back of the gallery g727– it is difficult to comprehend that one is looking at an art installation, and not entering a room in the process of installation or renovation. This bodes well for a piece negotiating the relationship of physical space on an artist’s psyche; the carpet is literally the entire flooring of artist Carmen Argote’s childhood home, built in 1917 in the Pico Union area of Los Angeles, cut and displayed with her family’s permission. Reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread in how she tracks interior space, Argote has painted all but the edges of the carpet in white paint, creating a latex blueprint of her home: a pathway that invites walking all the way to the back wall where the path goes straight up to the ceiling. Upstairs, the second part of the installation reveals the artist’s process and iterations of the same project (g727, Downtown).


WIndow of a calligraphy brush shop.

Despite all the illness at the tail end of of my Korea trip – I did get out and do much more touristy stuff than I’d expected. Or at least as much as one might reasonably expect while staying in a capital city of ten million of another country for nearly three weeks.

VIew of some lush rooftops cafes in Insadong.

As on my visit to Seoul, seven years prior, when I mentioned I wanted to see art, I was immediately directed towards the neighborhood of Insadong.

There is one long main street dotted with galleries, cute shops, and street vendors selling fans, chopsticks, and other favorite Korean knick-knacks, including mini-stampers of any photobooth picture that you could provide. (Postcards, though, were amazingly difficult to come across – particularly ones with a food theme…)
And while yes, this is a touristy area, Seoul, in general is not very touristy, compared to other cities I’ve visited. There were definitely just regular Seoulites strolling about, most comically, the ever-present couples dressed in matching outfits. This seems to be a popular thing in Korea, this dressing like eachother. It’s cute in that uber-cute Asian way that makes cartoon characters have enormously big dark eyes.
We stopped to buy a touristy treat, which is called a Kkultarae, or a traditional court cake made of thin strands of honey – 16,000 strands to be precise.
The guy started with a solid block of boiled honey slighter larger than his fist. Slowly he stretched it out into a long ring loop. Then constantly dipping the loop into a vat of cornstarch, he folded the loop in half, and continued the stretching process. That made 4 strands.
Less than 12 folds later, the honey strands were thin as cobwebs – literally 16,000 threads of honey!

Then he tore off an 12-inch length and wrapped it around a spoonful of sesame and nut mixture. The texture was very unusual – like a light honey cloud, but similar to baklava once the honey melted in your mouth.

We ended up buying five boxes, of which we consumed three! One box was a gift for the folks who lived in the apartment underneath my parents (we didn’t know them, but they were definitely experiencing a lot of our noise) and the other was for my neighbors back home.

Notable art that day was the Red Room – I would tell you the artist’s name, if I could make out which Korean word on the pamphlet was a name (that’s how few tourists – everything is still written in Korean!). The entire room was strung with metallic red ribbon – and blindly you had to navigate your way to five different spots in the room. You paid $1 (1000 won) and were a given a map and directions before entering. Visitors entered the room individually and were spaced out by at least a minute. At one point, Songbae stretched and screamed – there were butcher knives dangling above our heads and his fingers had grazed one! he wasn’t hurt, but we all got a big laugh.

Also like this work, which was made in the tradional craft manner of sewing strips of linen to the canvas.

For dinner, we stopped in at a cozy restaurant simply called “Bpap,” which is the Korean word for “rice” and also for “food.” It was an old-style house that had been transformed into a restaurant with a few different rooms. They had one specialty: kimchee chim – which was stewed kimchee served with pork and tofu and rice, of course.

Afterwards, we (my brother, his friend, Christian and I) got a coffee at an upscale district nearby – this is where I paid $5 for my espresso.
Taxi home – and fell into bed.

I’m pretty sure I’m in love with this new blog.
He’s a stay-at-home dad/artist who posts simple toys he’s made for his kids.
Here’s two of his youtube videos so you can see what I mean.
But my FAVORITE thing so far is his modern dollhouse.

Omo Omeonu, Enugu, Nigeria, 2008

Following his popular solo NYC show,  “The Hyena and Other Men,” which captures street performers (and their children) with their muzzled hyenas during off-hours in large-format photographs, Hugo takes theatricality a step further in his new body of work, “Nollywood.” Using actors from the flourishing Nigerian film industry, the result is the bone-chilling manifestation of a collective nightmare – a place where the real and unreal are often difficult to tease apart – the devil sits next to his demure and turbaned wife or a dwarf confronts you in the jungle with a sword in hand. Using the many existing stock characters of popular Nollywood cinematic culture, Hugo goes far beyond standard documentary work. If you’ve forgotten the visceral belly-churning of experiencing something so different, so alarming, that you are startled into self-conscious awareness of your own perceived normalcy, let the bare-footed masked man (wearing only a trench coat, bowler hat, large fake ears, and carrying a hatchet) take you away. The traffic is blurred behind him, and you’ll wonder if you’re the only one who can see him (Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Bergamot Station).

Mummy Ahmadu and Mallam Mantari Lamal with Mainasara, Abuja, Nigeria 2005

Daytona Beach (1-5), 1996

It is a pleasure to see the landscapes and smaller works of Alex Katz, who is largely known for his portraits; they are imbued with the same stillness and inquiry into form and color that informs his more famous works. While not entirely escaping representation, the daubs of paints and etched lines are looser – and call more attention to themselves as materials. In Daytona Beach (1-5), 1996, a simple painted gesture progresses through a series of five aquatints of deepening hues. The first two plates are repeated, creating a moment of pause, before the brushstroke begins to increase in force, capturing the swelling intensity of an Atlantic wave (Greenfield Sacks Gallery, Bergamot).

I don’t know who this band is, but their Rube Goldberg contraption is great.

I love an obsessive, long, imaginative Rube Goldberg machine.

Chad and I spent last Friday in LA seeing art. The weather was perfect. It was a pre-Valentine’s Day day. We planned the day around art, fountains, and lunch at Mendocino Farms. The Kurabato Pork Belly Ciabatta Panini rocked out.

Doing the art sweep of Chinatown.

Looking up in Los Angeles is always more pleasant than looking down (or around).

First fountain of the day: the granddaddy of all fountains. It's just huge and pours out water all day long, properly, like a grand fountain should.

Still not tired of the Disney concert hall. Coming up on it from behind here.

Such an alien building - where did it come from?

A proper view from the front - taken this same shot dozens of times.

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