El Segundo Has "The Masked Singer" of Kunsthalles

Ralph Goings, Salt Shaker, 2001
ESMoA's small space on El Segundo's Main Street presents a varied selection of artworks without labels. Some are by big names, most are by lesser art celebrities not so famous as they once were, and some will be unmasked as kitsch. It's up to you to decide what's what.

ESMoA's just-opened exhibition, "Eat," takes the title as a pretext to juxtapose Last Suppers, still-lifes, Greek vases, and conceptual food-prank videos. For those who must have big names, the artists span Albrecht Dürer, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Andy Warhol, Wayne Thiebaud, and Jo Ann Callis. But "Eat" is more interesting for its disregard of canons or curatorial rigor. In lieu of labels, gallery iPads offer number-keyed information on artworks. But the process is a too cumbersome to do it for every work. The visitor is forced to use his/her own eye and (given the wide range of "quality") to reconsider what that scare-quote term might mean.

A standout work is one of the smallest on view, a painting of a Salt Shaker (2001) by Ralph Goings, the pioneering Photorealist. As Goings explained,

"In 1963 I wanted to start painting again but I decided I wasn't going to do abstract pictures. It occurred to me that I should go as far to the opposite as I could… To copy a photograph literally was considered a bad thing to do. It went against all of my art school training… That gave me encouragement in a perverse way, because I was delighted to be doing something that was really upsetting people…"
Marco Reichert, Strawberry Cake, 2009
The Goings anchors a constellation of much larger Photorealist paintings of food, such as a juicy paean to strawberries by Marco Reichert. But it's the Goings that sees a world in a grain of salt.
Louis Léopold Robert, Summer Reapers Arriving in the Pontine Marshes, 1831 (Louvre version)
One of "Eat"'s largest works is a version of Louis Léopold Robert's Summer Reapers Arriving in the Pontine Marshes (1831). Swiss-born Robert, a student of Jacques-Louis David, conceived a cycle of four large paintings celebrating the seasons and peoples of Italy. The second in the series, Summer Reapers, shows a wheat harvest described in Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. The painting made the artist's reputation when it was purchased by King Louis Phillippe. That version is in the Louvre. This large replica is from a private collection. Robert's story ends tragically. He struggled to create the autumn and winter paintings. Despairing of ever being able to equal Summer Reapers, he committed suicide in front of his easel.

Now Summer Reapers hangs in El Segundo, across from a painting of corn on the cob by Carole Bayer Sager, songwriter of  "A Groovy Kind of Love." That's how ESMoA works, and there's nothing quite like it.
Last Suppers by Matthias Galvez (2009), an unknown 16th-century German painter, and Albrecht Dürer (1523). In the foreground is Patrick Martinez's 25 and still alive (2016)
In the center, the cubist-inspired watercolor of Apples (c. 1930) is by animation artist Herbert Ryman, who designed Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland
Christoffel van der Laemen, Merry Company, 17th century
Wayne Thiebaud, untitled pastel, 1964
Marc Trujillo, LH457, 2016 (oil on panel)
Patrick Martinez, American melting pot 2 (pinoy pupusas), 2013. (The sign promises a Filipino interpretation of the El Salvadoran dumpling)