Notes on Looking, August 5, 2010

Swap Thing announcement, WPA. This event will feature 15 WPA artists each exhibiting one artwork. These works are available to the public for trade. Exchanged artworks will be immediately installed as part of the exhibition and subsequently available to the public for further exchange. Follow link to site for more info.

Swap Thing announcement, WPA. This event will feature 15 WPA artists each exhibiting one artwork. These works are available to the public for trade. Exchanged artworks will be immediately installed as part of the exhibition and subsequently available to the public for further exchange. Follow link to site for more info.

Hello my friends,

I’ve been thinking about posting more often and compiling the week’s worth in my Thursday email for publication by FOCA and by For Your Art. Here’s my initial foray into immediacy. I’m excited! Check back during the week – I’ll be adding posts, images and links as I come across things. If you don’t already receive my emails contact me at [email protected] or FOCA at [email protected] or For Your Art at [email protected] (Here goes!!)

[But first a brief break in the 4th wall of the Internet. I’m going to be away for a week or two. The pancreas and kidney transplant I had in March 2008 needs a tune up. Nothing to worry about, but it does mean time off. Which is definitely not my style…)

I spoke with Pam Jorden and John Pearson (both members of the WPA team) about Swap Thing (closing Saturday, August 7 at 9 pm). True to its title this exhibition, or rather series of exhibitions (more about this later), began on Saturday, July 31 with 15 works hanging, one by each of the WPA-ers: Bart Exposito, Adam Janes, Andrew Hahn, David Hughes, Charles Irvin, Pamela Jorden, Michael Minelli, Rachel Neubauer, John Pearson, Terri Phillips, Fil Rüting, Amy Sarkisian, Henry Taylor, Ryan Tomcho, and Tyler Vlahovich. Each of these paintings, drawings and sculptures were (and their successors still are) “available to the public for trade” and although the work of each artist may be pretty distinctive there is no list with names and places. Each work is offered anonymously. For trade. To anyone. “Value is determined by the trader.”

Bart Exposito, Swap Thing exhibition. Link to WPA. You could or coulda traded for this!

Bart Exposito, Swap Thing exhibition. Link to WPA. You could or coulda traded for this!

Is your first thought “Gee – I can trade a can of beans for a something by Henry Taylor or Terri Phillips!”?

Think about how we attribute value to objects. (You’ll have to confront this if you choose to participate. It’ll be fun I promise!) Also consider that typically when we trade or purchase we do so from someone. A person. WPA have designed a slippery variety of commerce in which we must trade with an identity-less institution: the gallery space. And we do so in an eerily value-free conceptual marketplace. Questions form themselves in my mind already! (How do galleries place value on art anyway? If prices aren’t listed are they contingent on something? On what? If prices are listed must one pay the listed price? Who pays what price?) You’ll also be faced with the history of each of the 15 spots on the gallery wall. WPA are photographing each traded piece as well as the original pieces. The resulting photographs when viewed in sequence will tell the visual story of each spot, giving identity to an otherwise empty place on a white wall;  briefly filling with a narrative of value, aesthetics and judgment the void that is gallery-space.

Have you reviewed the list of names? You do know how many other great artists live in our city, don’t you? And  you know that artists trading work has a long history. Can you imagine what may be waiting at WPA for you to take/share?

And what will you trade? If you trade a thing you made then are you trading a part of yourself? If you trade something you consider valueless are you giving something about yourself away?

There’s a lot to think about in this exhibition, and of course a lot to look at. Spend some time with Swap Thing at WPA.

New work is posted to the WPA site each day a trade is made. GO LOOK! And btw – the original work is of really high quality and the night I was there people were bringing in large oil paintings and other great stuff. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Nice.

WPA, 510 Bernard St., Chinatown, 90012

Charles Irvin from the exhibition Swap Thing. This one's been traded for a great painting by a mysterious trader from Actual Size. Maybe it's still there! Link to WPA

Charles Irvin from the exhibition Swap Thing. This one's been traded for a great painting by a mysterious trader from Actual Size. Maybe it's still there! Link to WPA

More soon – we just got back from Kinkead (opening tonight), Susanne Vielmetter, Specific (totally amazing place. Thanks to Robert Olsen for tipping me off to it. GO SOON. 7374 Beverly Blvd.  LA 90036), Regen Projects and more. Heading to Chinatown tonight. See you there?

I’m rushing so I won’t post more about the above except to say Vielmetter has a group show opening this weekend with work gallery artists. What do I remember? Nicole Eisenman, Tam Van Tran, Martin McMurray, Alice Konitz and more I don’t recall.

While we’re on the subject of artists who work with Susanne Vielmetter, remember the recent Shana Lutker exhibition? On the final day of the show David and I visited again and… bought a copy of Lutker’s video. Are we excited? Hell yes! What lucky souls we are.

Go to Musee Los Angeles on Sunday. Don’t ask, just go. Also check again the website because Lesley Moon and other artists are adding and changing content all the time. Remember always that anything curator Mieke Marple does is worth paying attention to.

Katie Herzog, Informel at Actual Size. If I get back to a computer soon I’ll say more but until then it must suffice to tell you Herzog is a great painter and Actual Size is a great space.

Susanna Maing, from Specific Merchandise. Link to Specific

Susanna Maing, from Specific Merchandise. Link to Specific

A-Plus Chairs by Chad Peterson and Dakota Witzenburg as TODOSOMETHING. Link to Specific Merchandise

A-Plus Chairs by Chad Peterson and Dakota Witzenburg as TODOSOMETHING. Link to Specific Merchandise

About Specific: this retail design shop also carries work by artists you absolutely know or need to know. Nice people work here. VISIT. Susanna Maing, Chad Peterson and Dakota Witzenberg as TODOSOMETHING, Mark Roeder, D’Ette Nogle. Much more. Brooks Hudson Thomas will be happy to help open your wallet for objects such as paintings and sculptures we readily understand to be art as well as artist-made furniture (and a bed spread to two) that transcend the rather forced distinctions we draw between art and useful objects.

Jacaranda Music have firmed up their 2010-2011 season. Beginning on September 27 at the Skirball with the Calder Quartet playing music of Thomas Ades, Igor Stravinsky and Conlon Nancarrow. Have you ever heard Nancarrow’s terrifically complicated piano music? Eek. We heard Ades playing some of these pieces (that were originally composed for player piano as human hands were supposed to be unable to play them) at a Piano Spheres concert several years ago. We cheered then. Join us in cheering now with this quadruple treat at Jacaranda.

The entire Jacaranda season looks pretty spectacular so don’t scrimp and regret it later. Buy season tix! (For instance I know that Grammy winning pianist Gloria Cheng is having  harpsichord made to join in on Elliot Carter’s Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello and Harpsichord (Part One and Part Two) and we’ll also be presented with the LA Premier of David Lang (of Bang on a Can) Pulitzer Prize winning The Little Match Girl Passion. Click here for Lang discussing this works connection to Bach.

Public art seems often to be the first part of an architectural program to fall victim to “value engineering.” Sadness mostly prevails. Here at the new UCLA Hospital I wandered the aisles in search of… art of course. The various lobby’s haven’t much and while I’m told there’s an interesting Pae White installation somewhere I haven’t found it. I find wall work on the eighth floor where my room is – the east wing has architectural artistic photographs while the west wing offers original works and prints from the 1970s and 1980 by artists such as Ed Moses, Ron Davis, Sam Francis, Ann Thornycroft and other CA artists.

This all is ok but hardly inspiring and I think the hospital missed a chance to make a statement. Not about the therapeutic effects of art on patients or visitors but about surrounding intelligent, thinking, emotional people with art that shares these qualities. A nice picture is nice, but a work of art that pays our attention back by surprising us and inspiring us to think and feel really does the trick.

(Yes, David brought his laptop to the hospical, so I could complete this post. He is wonderful, isn’t he?)

Cheers and see you soon,

Geoff Tuck

P. S.
 
Now I can elucidate my recommendations from above. Do go see  Picture Industry (Goodbye to all that) at Regen Projects. Curated by Walead Beshty. Well curated by Walead Beshty. (I think he’s taking on the Met show from last year. Walead aims high. And though one can always argue with the results – intellectual pursuits are so deliciously debatable – Beshty usually hits his mark.)
 
Apropos Walead Beshty and intellectual debate also buy a copy of Words Without Pictures, Alex Klein and Charlotte Cotton’s text documenting the online and live series of symposia from 2007/2008 at LACMA. Finally, now that I’m inside all day I’ve taken time to read the many fascinating essays. And then read them again with pen in hand. Eek.
 
UCLA scholar George Baker in his essay Photography and Abstraction rather interestingly posits a tie between the current practice of photography (and in fact of contemporary art in general) and economic history and practice. Abstraction in economics, i.e. disuniting capital from territory or enterprise by basing the value of money only on speculation on the value of itself = a recent interest in and the efficacy of abstraction in art, more particulary in photography as art. Not entirely the same old Marxist argument.
 
Independent scholar and curator Kevin Moore wirtes a helpful history of Formalism in photography and gives us hope that photography is not after all going to die a digital death. Nor is form or beauty.
 
Each essay inspires a healthy debate from scholars of art and photography, artists (I will not make a distinction between photographers and artists here, it would be silly) and audience members. All in all this is a fun book and one I hope to return to again and again. And you know I’ll be looking all these people up on the Internet!
 
Now I’m going. Thanks for paying attention.
 
Geoff

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