Their work couldn't be more different, but in the eyes of the 2014 Made in L.A. Mohn Awards, they are all the same: winners.
The awards are part of the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. biennial, which runs through Sept. 7 and celebrates emerging and under-recognized artists in the city. The $100,000 grand prize, called the Mohn Award for artistic excellence, went to Alice Konitz, 43, who created a micro-gallery called the Los Angeles Museum of Art that serves as both a piece of art and a place to showcase the work of other artists.
Married couple Michael Frimkess, 77, and Magdalena Suarez Frimkess, 84, won the Career Achievement Award for their unusual work with ceramics; and firebrand artist Jennifer Moon, 41, won the Public Recognition Award for her quirky works of autobiographical fantasy.
"I think these three present an interesting, diverse group that both reflects international contemporary art but also very strongly what is happening in Los Angeles," said the Hammer's chief curator, Connie Butler.
Self-reference can often be found in the work of two of the artists, while it is pointedly left out of the third. Konitz has instead created a forum for others to occupy. For the Hammer biennial she built a series of display systems designed to fit into Los Angeles Museum of Art, which she established outside of her studio in Eagle Rock. She then populated the structures with the work of artists that fit with the logic of the display.
In contrast, Moon often uses her own image. One self-portrait with her Pomeranian, Mr. Snuggles, re-creates a militant portrait of Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton.
Similarly, Magdalena Frimkess paints images close to her heart, like one of her family in a work titled "My Mother, My Father, My Brother, and Me." The image, painted on glazed stoneware that is just a bit over a foot tall, is rough and almost folkloric, with the artist pictured as a small girl in a big bow seated with her family. Elements of Orientalism in the form of a floral motif surround the image.