One of the best exhibitions now on view in Los Angeles occupies the partially built-out corner of a concrete building that resembles a multi-level parking structure being converted into loft-style offices.
At the corner of La Brea Avenue and 4th Street, the construction project is slated to house Ace Museum, an offshoot of Ace Gallery, which has been a fixture in Los Angeles since 1967.
Ace Gallery is no run-of-the-mill venue, and Andrew Holmes’ exhibition in the museum’s project space adds to its legacy of mold-breaking idiosyncrasy.
You enter through a rolling door off a rear parking lot (behind the stainless steel sculpture of Lenin wearing a propeller-topped beanie). The space is raw. A single attendant sits on a folding chair at a folding table. A few phone lines run to electrical outlets.
No wall labels get in the way of your experience of Holmes’ works. Nor does a checklist provide information about the British artist’s 14 color pencil drawings of trucks, cars and motor homes or his 10 two-hour videos, all playing simultaneously on 10 monitors lined up on a long table. The setup feels like a downtown start-up or a private museum outside America.
Holmes’ drawings are knockouts: virtuoso displays of keen observations. In many, light dances off polished metal, catching reflections of the visible world in the curved surfaces of tankers, pickups and custom-painted cars. Even junked vehicles look beautiful in Holmes’ super-realistic pictures, which treat ordinarily overlooked details as occasions for extraordinary attentiveness.
The videos work well as a group, transforming the open road into an open-ended story about the various ways automobiles have shaped the American landscape, not to mention its people.
Ace Museum, 400 S. La Brea Ave., (323) 965-8200, through September. Open Tues.-Fri. www.acemuseum.org