(Hi Liz, it’s Rick! Checking on you for timing, how are we doing? I’m finishing lunch here.) (Anytime! The building is now green so you can’t miss it)
(Cool see you 20-30!)
Head south on N Oxford Ave then turn right on Romaine St. Turn right on Western Ave
Liz Markus paints about being a person who grew up in Buffalo, NY, in the 1970s. Someone who grew up going to the Albright Knox museum, where the galleries were hung with the stained, raw canvases of Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland, the color experiments of Gene Davis, and the loose figures of Grace Hartigan. Wielding a brush like a dowsing rod, Markus divines where her paintings will go next. If there’s doubt —and of course there is, she’s a human making art— it doesn’t show. Her studio is large, sunny, and always clean. Beautiful canvas drop cloths cover the floor, speckled and splashed with bright colors, and dozens of paintings of all sizes lean against each other around three walls of the room. She always has something good to offer me to drink, and we always talk a lot longer than we first think we will. Her practice is a perpetual, iterative expedition of discovery and play. Her paintings are by no means automatic, but they buzz with the electricity of the now. They have the soul of a surfer hippie, speak the language of Abstract Expressionism, and are built out of Pop. Inspiration abounds.
In 300 feet, turn right on Santa Monica Blvd
Continue on Santa Monica Blvd for one and a half miles
What the hell is a Cheeserex? Could it win in a fight against a Burgesaurus? Will eating one of these burgers lead to a psychedelic day at the beach, a bout with botulism, or total enlightenment? Where did these dinos find a DeLorean and a drive-through big enough for them to grab a sack of burgers? What planet are these burgers from? Are these burgers planets unto themselves? Maybe they’re memorial portraits of those Flower Burgers in WeHo. That place closed out of the blue one day. Those pretty burgers are as extinct as the dinosaurs.
In 1000 feet, turn right on Sunset Blvd. Continue on Sunset Blvd for one mile In 600 feet, turn right on N Coronado St
For her inaugural exhibition with Stems Gallery, Liz Markus serves up works from two series of paintings on raw canvas using a wet-on-wet acrylic paint application and multivalent symbols. First, Markus returns to the T-Rex, a relatively new but highly generative motif. With crude little stick arms and jack-o-lantern teeth, her dinos might look as if Markus has created a T-Rex character for a Saturday morning cartoon, rather than doing her best impression of scary Sue. These terrible lizards are not dinosaurs at all, however. They are paintings of a mega-memed inflatable dinosaur costume that Markus finds hilarious and is “the perfect thing to hang a painting on.” It turns out they’re quite faithfully rendered. Like the costume, the Cheeserex’s jaw yawns permanently open, ostensibly to roar, but these Cretaceous cuties are giving more of a friendly “HEYYYYYYYY!” than a terrifying thunder. Here, they are given colorful geologic titles like Azurite, Alabaster, and Serpentine, at once interring them deep in the layers of prehistoric Earth’s crusty tomb while also surrounding them with bands of radiant light that glint off precious gemstones. Cheeserex is dead. Long live Cheeserex!
Turn right onto London St, then turn right onto the US-101 S ramp to Los Angeles. Merge onto US-101 S. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 3B toward I-110 S/San Pedro. Use the right lanes to take the 6th St exit toward Wilshire Blvd. Continue onto W 6th St.
Cheeserex marks the debut exhibition of Markus’s Cheeseburger series. Markus isn’t particularly into cheeseburgers herself, but her husband is obsessed. She ends up viewing Los Angeles through a cheeseburger lens as the two of them hunt the perfect fistful of greasy goodness. These riotous abstract canvases are not just formal experiments, then — they’re far-out love letters encoded with deep personal significance. The titles of the cheeseburgers are all street names in LA, making the series function as a kind of map. Small paintings in one collection take their titles from the elite Bird Streets neighborhood, streets so named because the homes are perched on top of huge hills, floating over all of Los Angeles as if they are about to take wing. Many of Hollywood’s most glamorous celebrities live in this coveted little enclave, lending a flight of fantasy to Markus’s rebellious melange of meat.
Turn right onto Flower St
In 600 feet, turn left onto W 9th St. Continue on W 9th St for one mile.
The cheeseburgers are composed of three quadrants; the top and bottom thirds serve as funky buns, and stripes of bright wet color make up the meat in the middle. Between each layer of goodies is a very thin white line of negative space. Every color floats in its own realm; these are burgers unbounded by gravity. It’s impossible to make out whether these are cosmic burgers the size of galaxies or micro burgers stained on a glass slide and examined under a microscope. The layers of lurid pink, cerulean blue, and acid green are unlikely to evoke hunger for a big fat one, yet they are satiating to look at. As the wet colors blend and swirl into one another, boundaries are permeated, and new forms emerge. Hazy Los Angeles sunsets appear in cosmic tie-dye buns. These are cheeseburgers that would give the Joshua Light Show the munchies.
In 300 feet, turn right onto San Pedro St. Continue on San Pedro St for three-quarters of a mile. Turn left onto E 18th St. In 300 feet, you’ll reach your destination.
Taken together, the Cheeserex paintings function as a bitchin’ Rorschach test. Not only will each viewer see something different in Markus’s paintings, Markus herself paints the same subject over and over in long-running series to drive home the point that our orientation to the world is never fixed. Our sense of constancy and permanence is an illusion brought on by our inability to comprehend scales of time much beyond our own short lives. As Anohni reminded us on her album Swanlights: “Everything everything. Everything is new.” Markus uses repetition to allow chance and circumstance to express themselves through alchemical bleeds and drips. Yes, each burger is much the same as any other: a stack of fixins sandwiched between two soggy buns. But then, each burger is also an entire universe dissolving before our very eyes, succumbing to its — our — entropic destiny. We all end up in the belly of a T-Rex at some point.
You have arrived.
(Here! Sorry I’m late.)