Roundup: Damage at Palmyra, controversy over artist pay, the death of the American lawn

The drought has some writers questioning the viability of the grass lawn in American culture. Seen here: A gardener mows a well-watered, emerald expanse in Beverly Hills in April.

The drought has some writers questioning the viability of the grass lawn in American culture. Seen here: A gardener mows a well-watered, emerald expanse in Beverly Hills in April.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The idea that artists should make less money off sales of their work in galleries has some in the art world up in arms. Reviews on the new Broad museum are starting to trickle in. And Islamic State is at it again in Palmyra — trying to destroy still more ancient heritage sites. Plus: A Los Angeles County Museum of Art throwdown, the death of the American lawn and merch inspired by the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign. Here’s the Roundup:

— Just a week after the reported destruction of the Temple of Baalshamin (confirmed via satellite imagery) at Palmyra, Syria, Islamic State militants have reportedly tried to blow up Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel. The extent of the damage is unclear, with the head of antiquities in Syria saying that the damage is partial. Related: The FBI has issued a warning about Islamic State-looted antiquities hitting the art market.

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— A Swiss researcher’s proposal that galleries pay artists less has been the source of an art world social media storm in the past week. The Art Newspaper has several experts weigh in.


Christopher Hawthorne reviews Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s new Broad museum in downtown: “When you see the Broad from a distance, what stands out is a sense of near-total enclosure — the consistent cover of the white façade.”

— Speaking of museums, a couple of weeks ago, L.A. architects Sharon Johnston and Mark Lee wrote an essay defending Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s plans for LACMA. Architecture critic Joseph Giovannini, who wrote a really really really long piece criticizing the plan last month, isn’t buying their criticisms. It’s a design smackdown in the pages of the L.A. Review of Books!

— Renderings have been released for Frank Gehry’s 334,000-square-foot mixed-use development on the Sunset Strip.

— The week in art damage: Target shooters in Utah are ruining ancient petroglyphs, a boy punches a painting, a girl breaks a 2,000-year-old vase and a Cossack has reportedly vandalized a bas relief of Mephistopheles in St. Petersburg, Russia, because it’s offensive to the faithful.

— A Ghanaian artist, a gallerist, a patron (none other than Stefan Simchowitz), and a lawsuit. Plus, a lot of jute sacks. This story is soooo art world.

— Artist Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, an artist known for repeated body modifications, is critical of the idea that Caitlyn Jenner could be a representative spokesperson for transgender people.

— L.A. art writer and gallery owner Mat Gleason of Coagula Curatorial will be a judge on a reality show about body painting. One day I will tell you all about my screen test for a reality show about taxidermy. (Dead serious.)

— William Poundstone says that the Whitney Museum’s debut show in its new space has a pretty good (if not perfect) L.A. representation.


— Renzo Piano’s guide to building the perfect sandcastle.

— Sterile, monotonous and flagrantly wasteful: Megan Garber at Citylab has a must-read piece on the death of the American lawn.

Paris will go car-free for one day at the end of September. L.A. should do this! (The Guardian.)

— L.A. artist Dominique Moody has created a mobile tiny house of scavenged materials — made even more remarkable by the fact that she is going blind.


— Poor people in rich lands: Gustavo Jononovich’s remarkable photographs chronicle the plight of workers in resource-rich areas in Latin America.

— For our End of Days watch: Playwright Sam Shepard says American culture is on its way out and Michael J. Lewis (in a worthwhile long read), examines how art has become increasingly irrelevant to our society. I wonder how the rise in disengagement tracks with the rise of art school.

— A moving essay by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah on her grandfather and the Watts uprising.

Signs that aren’t the Hollywood sign.


— The Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign in Silver Lake, made famous by Davis Foster Wallace, has inspired a pin set.

— And, last but not least, your moment of 22 art songs for late summer. Happy listening, Los Angeles!

Find me on the Twitters @cmonstah.