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Monday, February 2, 2009

Art Run to L.A. part 1: Bergamot Station

Last Saturday, Richard Gleaves, Iana Quesnell and I went to L.A. for an art run. Great day, great conversation, very interesting art - time flew! I love art runs! We arrived at Bergamot Station just before 11:00. We saw a lot, but somehow we took our time.

Tim Berresheim
"Condition Tideness. Rude. New Editions."
Patrick Painter Los Angeles - East Gallery
We started with Tim Berresheim's work: large prints on wood. Generated on computer and then printed on a large scale by a computerized "pen". I would like to see that machine working!

Tim Berresheim "Condition Tideness. Rude."
Patrick Painter Los Angeles - West Gallery
I cannot help thinking about the price of the pieces, the prints are so big! And there are a lot of them!

Kaz Oshiro
Rosamund Felsen Gallery
We had a blast at Oshiro's show. At first sight, one cannot really see anything. The hollow sides of the objects (trash cans, luggages) are turned to the wall. So you first see two trash cans.

But then you go around. In the trash can, the structure is made of stretcher bars and canvas... We spent some time to look every detail. From the outside, the structure is so "real" you wonder how it is possibly made.

Same thing for the luggage. The objects are completely re-made to look on the outside like the real thing.

And then there are the "paintings". Monochromes, but with pieces of tape on top. It took a long time to decide if the tape was fake, and it is - in the end I asked the gallerist (to be sure!). Taking the time to look and enjoy the details was a funny experience. We talked to a couple who was doing the same thing: wondering about everything.

Amy Bennett "At the Lake"
Richard Heller Gallery
A completely different world in Bennett's work. A series of extremely detailed paintings, all of them talking about the same place, the same lake, different places around the lake, different people... The artist constructed first a mockup of the lake with all the people, houses, boats, trees, cars... Then she painted different views of the lake. In the series, you can see the same houses with different angles, closer or farther. A very silent world where a lot of mysterious things are happening.

D3 Projects Gallery
I did not note the name of the artist who shows his work right now and I could not find it on D3's website either! (if someone knows, please!) It is at D3 that I saw the very enjoyable show "Dissociate" by Vanessa Matthews. We entered D3's space and there were 4 large prints in huge black frames. Talk about a work that you have to store once the show is over! Hopefully a museum will buy the pieces soon! A long table in the middle, with chairs and a carpet. The ping-pong table was there for Vanessa Matthews' show so I guess they never remove it! On the entrance desk, there is a binder with info about the people represented in the frames. Fake old police files. The frames are wired and apparently at night the prints are lighted. It was of course too early so unless we go back there at night we will never know how it looks. But it is already very impressive as it is.

Arnold Mesches "Coming Attractions"
Santa Monica Museum of Art
Not far from D3, we visit the Santa Monica Museum of Art and the first show we see is Coming Attractions (in the two small spaces). Very interesting work, which instantly makes us think about Jean Lowe's.


Elias Sime
"Eye of the Needle"
Then in the large space, we discover an artist from Addis Ababa: Elias Sime.

Paintings, sculptures made of mud and straws (a traditional African technique), armchairs (made of wood, skulls, shells, leather), compositions made of all sorts of materials including recycled materials (clothes, peanuts, paper, plastic, newspapers, bottle caps). The plastic and paper are found in the streets, tainted, torn. Everything is sewed together by hand by the artist. There is an important collection of goatskins filled with straw and decorated with colorful stitching. The goatskins take me back to the south of Algeria, where we were using one of these to conserve and drink water while staying in the desert for a few days. But our goatskin was certainly not that beautiful!

Elias' house in Addis Ababa

The most beautiful part of this exhibition is certainly the video made in Addis Ababa with commentaries by guest curator Peter Sellars. We see Elias in his everyday life, talking to neighbors, walking in the streets, interacting with children, working on his house, going to his studio, showing the materials he works with. He does not speak much in the video but his presence is very strong. The way he looks at people and at things is very strong. And the commentary by Peter Sellars is a delight. His view on this African contemporary artist is fascinating. He does not speak about the contemporary art scene, he does not compare Elias to other artists. He says what he sees in him. He describe Elias' energy and passion in a country where life is far from being easy for the majority of people. Refreshing commentary.
It is not possible to buy the video, but I hope that soon it will be on YouTube for everyone to enjoy!

Inside Elias' house

detail of the decoration of Elias' house in Addis Ababa, made of mud and straw

Elias prepares the mix of mud and straw

The making of the outiside decoration

A very enthusiastic Peter Sellars talking about Elias' work.

With Elias in Addis Ababa's streets

Next to the museum, the wall with the art pieces made by Elias Sime with the children of the neighborhood. The project is ongoing.


A visit to Hiromi Paper International, Inc., to see some extraordinary handmade paper. A Japanese Ali Baba's cavern.

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef
by the Institute For Figuring And Companions
curated by Margaret and Christine Wertheim
Track 16 Gallery
Ah! The Hyperbolic Crochet Reef! What a project! Many many people participated and more will participate. A growing beautiful monster, a delight for the eye. Something different. "One of the acknowledged wonders of the natural world, the Great Barrier Reef stretches along the coast of Queensland Australia, in a riotous profusion of color and form unparalleled on our planet. But global warming and pollutants so threaten this fragile marvel that it may well be gone by the end of the century. In homage to the Great One, Christine and Margaret Wertheim of the Institute For Figuring have instigated a project to crochet a handmade reef, a woolly testimony that now engages thousands of women the world over."
We stayed in this hypnotic world quite a while, enjoying the exquisite details of the pieces. I like the idea of a project which travels, which is never the same (always growing), and collective. The theme is quite serious - the awareness of one of the world's wonders being destroyed by the effects of the global warming - but the treatment is poetic and free. No lesson here. But I can feel (and see) hope, love, compassion and humor, all of which we desperately need. Also a feeling of humility, despite the size of the installation. Maybe it is because of the thought of all the woman around the world giving their time for this collective but somehow anonymous work.

Harriet Zeitlin "All hands on deck"
Track 16 Gallery
In the same gallery, in the space opposite The Coral Reef, the exhibition by Harriet Zeitlin. For me it relates directly to Elias Sime's. She uses a lot of different fabrics, sewed together. A wind coming from Africa's coasts is blowing here. She is here, and Richard talks to her. She is petite, her eyes twinkle, she has a clear laugh. She is 80 years old. I forgot to take pictures of the work. The small boats with their colorful (patchwork-like) sails seem to come from some ancient tale. Very poetic work. When I ask her if she met with Elias Sime, she says not yet. Elias is here today, somewhere in Bergamot, visiting.

We are starving and we decide to go to Bergamot Cafe, before leaving for Culver City.

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