In a modest exhibition at LAXART, Zoe Crosher takes that most ubiquitous and iconic L.A. debris — the palm frond — and turns it into sculpture.
Cast in bronze and propped decorously in arching shapes on the floor, each frond takes on an almost animal character, as if it were about to inch away. As a group, they form an oblique, ambivalent commentary on the landscape of L.A.
In choosing bronze, Crosher evokes a long history of aggrandizing and memorializing statuary. To cast something in bronze is to say, “This is important. It should remain.” To apply that logic to annoying palm fronds asks us to pay attention to something we would otherwise sweep aside.
The fronds, as a form, are oddly hermaphroditic. One end is long and broom-like, while the other, where it split from the tree, is triangle-shaped with a gash up the middle. Perhaps as an art critic, I am too used to seeing sex everywhere, but there it is.
Still, the most brilliant stroke is in the works’ titles. Crosher named each frond after the intersection where it was found, creating a mini-map of L.A., from Atwater Village to Mar Vista. But there’s no local flavor; all the fronds look alike.
Granted, entire swathes of the city are unrepresented, but the exhibition delivers a landscape, which, depending on your point of view, is either reassuringly unified or depressingly homogeneous.
LAXART, 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., (323) 871-4140, through Oct. 24. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.laxart.org