Tormenta by Los Angeles Artist Gronk

Whenever I'm in a Los Angeles art gallery if I notice a piece by Gronk I always get snagged and hang around in front of it for too long. I tire easily of galleries and museums because of the general impatience you encounter in those places. People are at their absolute bottom level of stupidity when they saunter through a gallery, stopping for just an exquisitely timed observation period sometimes directly in front of where you happen to be standing. They also tend to move around a room in the same direction, going with the flow or listening to their little tape-recorded tours. I like to go backwards and jam these people up a little. I also like to massively flirt with pretty women but often get into trouble with their boyfriends whom I haven't noticed lurking in the opposite corner.
Gronk makes me feel at home in a gallery because I like to stand before greatness. I'm not fond of the equalization of creativity. This guy just casually blows everything off the walls like he's the kind of great artist we made in the time of Pollock. There's an air of hard-edged bohemian mixed with muralist mixed with art history scholar. In other words, he knows what he’s doing. He's got an enormous classical underpinning that may sometimes get obscured if you too closely associate him with the Los Angeles street. I mean classical in the more inaccurate general sense of an artist that has a deep connection to the artists and major movements that came before him. I see a calm and understanding continuation of American art history coming through the few Gronk works I have had the pleasure of standing in front of.
Gronk on ArtNet.
L.A. Times 2005 profile of Gronk
Complete list of works

A Colour Box: 1935 Abstract Direct Paint on Film Animation by Len Lye

Len Lye’s 1935 film, ‘A Colour Box,’ was made by painting and applying dye directly to the film surface. It is apparently the first direct paint film to gain a general public release and has been widely seen ever since. The film is an odd way to advertise for cheap parcel post and this message starts popping up near the end. The cheerfully infectious music is ‘La Belle Créole’ by Don Baretto and his Cuban Orchestra. Lye’s work must have been hugely influential for the later work of direct paint filmmaker Stan Brakhage.

1964 Documentary on Spanish Surrealist Film Director Luis Buñuel

Luis Buñuel was the great Spanish film director who made ‘Un Chien Andalou’ and ‘L’Age d’Or,’ two of the original surrealist films. This documentary, directed by Robert Valey, was made in 1964. The director talks freely and with a certain charming guile about his influences, friends, paranoias, enjoyments and his impressions of various countries. He once smacked Salvadore Dali down on 5th Avenue in New York city!

I enjoy listening to people like him talk about their work because they talk about how they see things – how they interpret the world. Compare the way he talks in this film to what you normally see coming from people like Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. Those people don’t seem real. They don’t seem to have any point of view. Notice how people in the film consistently associate Buñuel’s filmmaking with the work of painters. It is the continual grinding down of art into business that destroys real culture. One should immerse one’s self in better ideas and more subtle things if one wants to avoid the dullness that permeates most film work currently going on in the United States. I have found it to be a general rule that people with real talent who are artists answer questions in a slightly confusing manner. Clarity is another word for fake. Buñuel appears to me to fit this general principal.

Buñuel wrote a short and very beautiful autobiography called ‘My Last Sigh.’ I recommend it very highly if you want to know more about the mind behind Surrealist film.

And of course, here is the great Surrealist short film, ‘Un Chien Andalou,’ made by Buñuel in 1929.

Detective City Angel: A Film by Alessandro Cima


First, here’s a nice review and interview about the film at Dangerous Minds. Want to follow a secret identity artist through a dangerous Los Angeles as he escapes and hits like a criminal? Hang on and watch carefully. You may need to watch it 14 times to catch the drift. But you’ve probably got that kind of time anyway. This is a Los Angeles crime film. But it’s as if several films on celluloid fused together and what you end up with is an art film that gets overwhelmed by urban documentary and then collapses into a narrative thriller. It’s filled with hints, clues, evidence and misdirection. Images, ideas and sounds bounce off each other, mirror each other. There are secrets in this film. You have to watch carefully, through layers to catch things. I’ve tried to make a film that moves like disjointed thoughts toward the preordained ending. Continue reading

Crosscurrents: Film About Pacific Standard Time Art Exhibits Focused on Los Angeles Art From 1945 – 1980

Pacific Standard Time is a massive overview of Los Angeles art from 1945 to 1980. At least sixty galleries and museums are taking part over the next few months. I have already been to the largest exhibits at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Getty Center. The whole thing is a lot of fun and I have discovered artists I never knew about before. There are magnificent things on display and the curators have also published big books to go along with each exhibit. I seriously recommend that you always get the books because they have far more information in them than the exhibits themselves. I view it as my own effort to compile a record of this unique regional art show.

You can find almost everything you need at the Pacific Standard Time web site.

This film was put together for the Getty Center’s flagship exhibit, Crosscurrents, which covers 1950 to 1970. It’s a very nice little documentary about some of the major art developments in Los Angeles.

Behind The Wall: The Battle for LA’s Murals

Oliver Riley-Smith made this short documentary about the disappearing mural art of Los Angeles. It features a prominent muralist complaining about how murals have been ‘bludgeoned by graffiti’ and ‘censored by the city.’ Perhaps so. The city does make it difficult to get permits for murals. But I don’t really like murals. They tend to be stiff and unoriginal. I like the murals that have been vandalized by the graffiti artists. Sorry but I do. They are much more interesting than the clean murals which are entirely unimaginative and offer nothing to move art in any direction whatsoever. If muralists want to preserve their images, they should paint indoors. Look at the mural on the highway underpass wall that’s covered with graffiti at the 42 second mark in the film. Beautiful. Much better than the mural ever was. The muralist in the film says, ‘Museums are for the dead. I want life.’


There’s a guy in this film called ‘Ghost One.’ I like what he says about art.  He’s realistic and open to whatever comes along.  He says that taggers mark up murals because they assume that their marks will have more longevity that way. That’s a very interesting thought. An artists seeks longevity by making his mark inside the work of another artist. Fascinating. Much more interesting than the murals. Such thinking shows possibility.

But then the film draws the two sides together and our muralist says he ‘hopes our two styles can work together.’ Well, they can’t really, but it’s a nice thought.