REVIEW: "To Live and Paint in LA" @ the Torrance Art Museum, Feb. 2012

"To Live and Paint in LA"
January 21 - March 10, 2012

Curated by Max Presneill and Jason Ramos
A broad survey of current and emerging painting trends and talent from Los Angeles.

Jonathan Apgar
Rebecca Campbell
Daniela Campins
Alika Cooper
Noah Davis,
Tomory Dodge
Asad Faulwell
Jon Flack
Yvette Gellis
Iva Gueorguieva
Mary Addison Hackett
Carlson Hatton
Thomas Whittaker Kidd
Andy Kolar,
Constance Mallinson
Allison Miller
John Mills
Aaron Noble
Antonio Puleo
Alison Rash
Nano Rubio
Conrad Ruiz
John Seal
Ryan Sluggett
Comora Tolliver
Chris Trueman
Miller Updegraff
Grant Vetter
Ben White 

For the last several months the Los Angeles art world’s attention has been captured by the blockbuster Pacific Standard Time exhibitions happening throughout southern California. In the midst of this dominant viewing of the past art of Los Angeles there has been a few brave souls staging exhibitions that sit outside of this particular lens. One of these shows is the quiet survey of current Los Angeles painting that recently opened at the Torrance Art Museum titled To Live and Paint in LA curated by Max Presneill and Jason Ramos.This satisfactory show tucked away in the south bay provides rich conversation for what challenges a painter in Los Angeles may face. When one first enters the main gallery it is apparent that scale is on the majority of these painters minds. L.A. painters are going big, with mixed results. I found myself wondering if this is how you get noticed in the noise of the L.A. art scene these days, go billboard size. Most of these large paintings had interesting parts and would have worked if they had been scaled down to a quarter of their current size. Working on such big canvases is difficult work, and I applaud the effort, but most fell short. The funny thing is, in the heart of all these large canvases, it’s the small paintings that work best.I attended the night of the opening, and while walking through the main gallery fighting the crowd; it was the smallest painting of the show that drew my attention. Mary Addison Hackett’s slight depiction of a figure and a dog stood out among the noise and crowd of opening night because of its tenderness. I went back a week later and still experienced the work in the same way. Hackett’s painting is reminiscent of David Park’s figure work, but with a sunless palette that left me with a sense that her subjects reside in place far away from Los Angeles, possibly giving us a glimpse into the psyche of every Los Angeles based painter, the hope of escape one day. -Chris Hoff