UCI at LCP “Nothing Comes From Nothing”
As usual, I digress.
I offer you a musical emphasis of the above sentiment: Billy Preston performing Nothing From Nothing in Belgium in 1981. Preston’s looking a little middle-aged in an embroidered yellow jacket with wide lapels and long profile. There’s a crazy enthusiastic half naked young guy in the beginning, waving his shirt at the audience and generally having a very visible good time.
For fun here’s Preston on Burt Sugarman’s “The Midnight Special” in 1973 looking much differently with a big ‘fro and hugely contrasting bright shirt and coat. The song is Will it go Round in Circles.
And because graduations are about change, and because indeed A Change is Gonna Come, here in 1981 Belgium again Preston sings Sam Cooke’s famous song. (Preston’s dedication of the song to “the kids of Atlanta, Georgia” is a reference to the years of serial murders in that southern city.)
Oh lord, I can’t stop. The master, Sam Cooke himself giving us his dream for change. Good god, he’s beautiful.
Off you go. But first, the University of California at Irvine Graduating Masters of Fine Arts.
Let me just begin, since I’m not able to find any group installation shots. Even our friends at Tryharder don’t have any. The Irvine grad show is closing this weekend, on Saturday, August 20. Las Cienegas Projects is the host of the show and you all know where that is, so I imagine you are jumping in your cars even as we speak and heading to the boulevard. For those of you who stay around reading and choose to go tomorrow, I’ll continue.
I’m always a little awkward visiting a group show of artists with whom I’m not familiar. And with grad shows such as this – away from the campus and meant to highlight the work rather than give deep insight to each artist’s practice – it is especially challenging to find a way in. Alexis Disselkoen provided the opening I needed. Her “Door for two,” (2011, mixed media installation, 4 feet x 7 feet x 6 inches. No image available.) is in fact a doorway, with three knobs and three locksets. Pretty inset glazing, too! I expected only one knob to work but to my surprise each was tricked out to open with a turn of the wrist. Playing with this piece broke the ice and the young woman gallery sitting and I chatted about it before I continued looking at the show.
Of much of this work I cannot speak, as some projects are not so clear on first viewing. I think pictures will give you some idea and perhaps when you visit you can talk with the artist in question. Yamin’s large collage, with its reference to the date of publication for the clippings and its intricate Islamic style tracery, speaks for itself.
Also in LCP’s front room were paintings by Marcus Perez.
I find that Perez has also shown paintings at Autonomie.
I want to start making qualitative and interrogatory gestures toward and about the work, but I can’t. It’s not fair even to describe a piece as beautiful – since I know that my own loyalties are toward painting first and this colors my initial judgments. Whatever – from what I saw and from the image above I’d say that de la Peña’s piece is lovely. The creased paper is mottled with blue paint and the image is lit with a blue light, although light is not present in the gallery due to electrical problems.
Amir Nikravan, below, is another case in my above point. The works on display are startlingly sublime. I want to be suspicious of them. I also want to go back and see them again.
Maura Brewer’s The Donner Party is playing on a screen and I was all ready to just be exasperated. It’s the Donner Party, there’s abstruse sounding scientific text being read, Brewer and her mom are playing… themselves? while Brewer reads from a diary from the fateful journey. At one point she’s eating a bucket of KFC and smacking her lips. Her mom, in sunglasses, drinks red wine and stares at her. I get too invested in characters and this pair annoys me. “Don’t smack your lips!,” I want to admonish Brewer. (I can’t distance myself from fiction, so mostly I avoid it.) But then I saw a passage showing the couple crouched on the carpeted living room floor. Mom rubbed sticks together in a pile of like sticks with a scatter of crumpled paper towels as though lighting a fire. Brewer warmed her hands and read of the freezing, starving young woman in the diary. Aftwerards, still with the mom in a bathrobe and sunglasses, the two lay spent on the couches, arms splayed and heads back with exhaustion.
Then I came home and found Maura Brewer’s website and had a blast looking around. Yay. See what contextual information does for one’s experience? Onward.
As with the paintings above and Yamin’s work in the front room, Minami’s architectural photographs seem to speak for themselves.
Sophie Lee is the young woman who was gallery sitting on the day I visited and my conversation with her illustrates again how important a voice can be to an initial viewing of the work.
There is a wonderful delicate quality to the painting on these architectural forms. Taking her shape from the pleasing Golden Mean, Lee then paints her not quite doorways in a manner that suggests things being done over time. They had me looking quite closely, peering in to appreciate the artist’s use of colors and the curious way she laid her colors in and around the surfaces. I sort of felt like I was dancing with them as I moved among and through the sculptures.
This is when I tell you to pick up a copy of the catalogue as you pass the front desk because right now, as you and I look at C. Ree’s work, you would be so sad if you only saw the portion installed at LCP. Nothing I say is meant to diminish the alarming and lovely dismantled suspended ceiling that is centered on the floor. The cross bars make nice broken grids and the mirrors reflect clear light and images all over the room. I had fun looking at it! But when I got home and looked at the booklet I saw the complete installation as you see imaged here. Pretty cool, huh? Go and see while you can.
From Josh Cho’s website:
“The sublime in the American landscape is diminishing as the result of externalities. My work investigates how nature becomes utilized in creating products for self interest. As a result the landscape is violently abandoned and replaced with man’s built environment.”
For this show at LCP, Cho is working with portraits. I have to imagine a connection between the diminishing nature of the sublime (due to a continual diminishment of nature, itself) and the nice people staring through urban windows while they cycle and stride. Inside a built environment that actively takes away from our natural environment.
As I mentioned at the start – this show at Las Cienegas Projects closes tomorrow, Saturday, August 20. It’s a good show and you will probably be seeing more from these artists in the months and years to come. You should become acquainted with them now.