From the Studio

thoughts on art and process in action from a contemporary artist

Art Los Angeles Contemporary

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One side benefit of being in LA this weekend for the installation was being able to swing by Art Los Angeles Contemporary.  I’ve heard artists and others in the art world say that it’s best to stay away from art fairs.  It’s easy to see what they mean- art that should be seen in a very specific environment or with lots of space around it is crammed together in a very commercial space with lots of other hardly related art.  It’s a rough environment for anything.  I am sure that being in one of those booths as either artist or gallerist, with the pressure to sell, the fluorescent lights, the all-day intensity… it has to be rough.

On the other hand, as an artist if I can let go of some of that, it’s kind of like a gallery Tapas bar with a spread of artists, galleries and art.  I get to see who else is out there in a bite-sized format.  Who is exploring similar ideas?  Who is using similar materials?  What is there that I like?  What can’t I stand and why?  If I like a work, I may actually be able to speak with the artist.  That’s the best.I had two brief but excellent conversations with artists, one of whom I would love to collaborate with.

For the galleries, it’s window-shopping.  I have yet to really approach a gallery.  It’s like getting married, and I’m only just thinking about dating.  Right now at each art fair I go to, each gallery I visit in LA or New York on SF I look at what they are showing.  If I like the collection of artists, if I feel affinity for the gallerist’s vision, I talk with them about the work they are showing.  Then I see how they talk about the art.  Are they passionate?  I watch how they treat visitors and if they are there the artists.  Are they people I would want to work intensively with?  Would I trust them with my art?  If the answer is yes, I watch the gallery.

Here are some of the artists that hit me from this show.  Sadly some of the photos are rushed and blurry (gives a sense of the place in itself), but I came away with new thoughts and new people to watch.

I think I was on a particular 2D/3D perceptions of materials, what are our expectations of what we see sort of kick while I was there.  Also intersections of digital with cloth and wood.

In Dan Gunn’s work I really enjoyed the way he was taking such a classic painting element as drapery, flattening it with a photo and then making it simultaneously have dimension, flatness, and the quality of cloth while being the unexpected material of wood.  I appreciated the material surprise of Ara Peterson’s “Loyal”- also in wood, but made to look soft and gooey, yet still digital.  Pae White had as broad a range of materials in her work as I do, but the piece that was there to grab me was a giant computer-woven tapestry that looked like metal.  Digital, fiber, and flat things pretending to be sculpture and a material they are not… yes, right up my alley (sculpted canvases, fiber work, digital work).  The artist I got to talk with briefly who also had a huge range of work that related to mine in all kinds of places was Clara Montoya.  What caught me first was her “Momento” piece.  At a distance, or on the screen of your phone, the flesh-toned squares begin to resolve into a face.  She is exploring the boundaries of representation and abstraction.  The human face is the thing we seek out in all things, the first thing we visually recognize, so it’s great territory for this.  I loved how the piece was also a puzzle that will get mixed up over time, just as a memory degrades each time you examine it.  Wonderful.

Written by Mary Corey March

January 28, 2013 at 11:17 am

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