Dear Leila Khastoo
Thank you for Khastoo Gallery. From the first show in November 2008 till the reading by Amir Mogharabi from “Non Optation” which closed the space this past St. Valentine’s Day you have presented some fourteen different and equally excellent exhibitions and performances and film events and readings.
When you opened on Sunset Blvd you joined a new Hollywood scene that was defining intellectual rigor among Los Angeles gallery neighborhoods and gaining international attention.
As I recall, it must have been Saturday, November 22, 2008 that David and I first walked into your space and saw “The Crack Up,” the inaugural exhibition in your then new space. I cannot believe it has been this long!
We were completely charmed by that first show, and indeed by your generous nature. As we spoke, you offered valuable insights to the work you were showing and suggested references for future investigation. I would characterize your manner that afternoon as “one who combines a scholarly depth of knowledge with the passion of a lover.” Clearly this new Khastoo Gallery would be a place to watch!
The work in that exhibition was by a fascinating breadth of artist talent, vintage and pursuit: Vito Acconci, Bas Jan Ader, Ronnie Bass, Hans Bellmer, Dan Estabrook, Ghazel, Pierre Molinier, Adam Putnam, Vahid Sharifian, Jack Smith, and Francesca Woodman. Eek. So many names! Heroes, strangers, and curious sounding artists who, when I spoke their names to my friends these friends’ eyes bulged and they became quite animated!
I’m going image heavy with this post because I want you to understand the sense of magic. From bleached brightness of Sunset Blvd we walked into a somewhat darkened space of the art gallery, expecting to find white walls and a desk and… art. Instead we entered an atmosphere that was slightly musty, with dated, vaguely French or Middle European middle class furnishings. Art was hung on the walls as it would be in a home.
I was driven to flights of fancy!
In my mind this installation had the preserved-in-amber feel of some elderly intellectual bachelor uncle’s rooms. Once upon a time, this gentleman’s apartment had been rather splendid, his life at University had showed great promise – coming under the influence, as he had, of several gentleman scholars of good repute; in his life after school he studied obscure art historical questions and collected widely from several cultures and times. Slowly he withdrew from society, the gilt-edged bonds that had sustained him in gracious comfort payed less and less and in straightened circumstances he began to think about retiring from society. The collection and the books intact, new, more affordable rooms were found and he and his friendly valet live, reading to each other from Ananda Coomaraswamy and Matthew Arnold and together translating Greek poets. Now, our friendly uncle opens his home to those curious and perceptive enough to enquire.
All of this, my friends, Leila Khastoo pulled off in several short days of installation and god only knows how many hours of searching, begging and filling out loan forms.
Tour de fucking force.
I missed Aurelian Froment’s performance in January of 2009 but I heard about it from friends. I hate missing things.
It is obvious to me that I could go on all night, uploading images and telling stories. What a wealth! I haven’t even mentioned Terri and Donna or Greg Parma Smith or for heaven’s sake June Wayne!! The Hollis Frampton Film Festival!! “The Alchemy of Things Unknown” which featured, among other wonders paintings by Aleister Crowley and a tall, narrow pyramidal sound sculpture chamber by….. for crying out loud I cannot recall. I think the sounds were Angus Maclise and possibly Austin Osman Spare made the pyramid. Dunno. It was fabulous.
I’m going to leave you briefly my friends, there is much more for me to tell!!! Tomorrow I’ll tease you with more great memories and also news of Leila Khastoo at Booth 966 at the Armory Fair in NY. I understand the special collector preview is on Wednesday, March 2 – count this as fair warning my friends, you want to visit this booth. Treasures await!