Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: pacific standard time

A Little Learning

Sometimes, if I get gloomy about the (ir)relevance of criticism to the wider world, I turn (or click) to the restaurant review pages. Last autumn, I caught KCRW radio host Evan Kleiman interviewing LA Weekly’s outgoing food critic, Besha Rodell – one of the city’s best critics (in any field, period). Rodell was responding to a double-barrelled question, relating to a conflagration she’d recently been tangled in over Los Angeles critics’ misunderstanding of Mexican food, about whether the food media was too white and whether she would like to see a person of colour replace her. Yes and yes, came Rodell’s unhesitating reply. Read the rest of this entry »

Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974–81

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

John Divola, Zuma #9 (1978/2006)

Events sometimes tell their own story. 1974: Richard Nixon resigns; Patty Hearst is kidnapped by left-wing terrorists; the U.S. oil crisis continues. 1975: Saigon falls; Gerald Ford survives two assassination attempts, both in California. 1976: Chairman Mao dies. 1977: Elvis Presley dies; Jimmy Carter is sworn in. 1978: Californian cult, the Peoples Temple, commits mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana; Harvey Milk and George Moscone are shot in San Francisco; Proposition 13, limiting Californian property taxation, is passed. 1979: Three Mile Island nuclear disaster; the U.S. embassy in Tehran is seized; revolution in Nicaragua; Soviet Union invades Afghanistan, reigniting the Cold War. 1980: the U.S. and other countries boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow; John Lennon is murdered. 1981: assassination attempt on the Pope; Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated; AIDS is identified; Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president. Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Ruscha

Ed Ruscha may now regret saying, in 1966, that ‘being in Los Angeles has little or no effect on my work’. He’s been pedaling back from this characteristically contrary statement ever since. After all, the city has been his muse ever since he arrived from Oklahoma City in 1956. What he was perhaps trying to say is that he’s not an ambassador for Los Angeles – a city that, for all its brittle self-absorption, he admits that he loves. ‘Palm trees have a narcotic effect on me’ he says, speaking from his Culver City studio. ‘And all this tropical vegetation. Mix that with, what have you, fast food and movies, and the forward motion of things out here, with respect to artists, it’s a pretty jumpy scene.’ Read the rest of this entry »