Diversions LA November 2018
Nature/Nurture at MASH Gallery
Curated by Andi Campognone, Nature Worship, at DTLA’s MASH Gallery through the 10th of November is a beautiful and enigmatic exhibition that is also innately accessible. It’s loveliness and grace are captivating; each of the artists has created resonant images of nature the remind us of the wonder of a forest, the perfectness of a flower or tree, and the fragility of our environment. It is a truly Californian show, in its palette, its light, its evocation of natural images that seem rooted in our wonderful and seemingly vast array of natural gifts, from Joshua Tree to mountain, from desert to sea, from forest to rock.
Artists include Kim Abeles, China Adams, Kelly Berg, Kimberly Brooks, Rebecca Campbell, Terry Cervantes, Samantha Fields, Sant Khalsa, Laurie Lipton, Haleh Mashian, Catherine Ruane, Allison Schulnick, and Lisa Schulte.
Antelope Valley Press November 2018
City hopes to attract more visitors with art
By JULIE DRAKE Valley Press Staff Writer Nov 18, 2018
LANCASTER — Last month local artists and those from around the world painted murals on the blank walls of buildings surrounding downtown as part of POW! WOW! AV.
The colorful murals —about 30 in all including murals from the 2016 POW! WOW! event — are now a part of the city’s landscape and a draw for visitors to the city.
City officials hope to build on that project with a more formal policy through the proposed Art in Public Places Program and Manual. The city council unanimously approved the program to establish guidelines and processes for public art provided by the public sector.
The proposed program, which will go back before the council for a public hearing, would draw 1% from new capital improvement projects to go toward public art projects on public property. The money could be leveraged toward grant funds. The goal is to create arts amenities and facilities in connection with all city capital improvement projects and establish guidelines and processes for public art provided by the private sector.
The policy was developed with input from more than 640 residents and local stakeholders including faith-based groups and social service organizations that participated in cultural workshops over the past several months.
“This program is going to formalize the process and provide structure for our preexisting informal arts in public places program that we already have,” Ronda Perez, director of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Arts Department, said during a presentation before the council at Tuesday’s meeting, according to a video archive.
Perez added that as the city continues to grow its program, it wants to ensure it has structure and rules to guide it.
Andi Campognone, operations manager for the Museum of Art and History, said public art is important not only to beautify a neighborhood and instill a sense of pride, but also to woo larger businesses and organizations to come to the city.
According to the guidelines, the public art would be limited to permanents works of art that include, but are not limited to, murals, mosaics, suite-specific sculptures, artist-designed streetscape features such as benches and bike racks, and earthworks. The public art shall be displayed in an outside area that is open and freely available and visible to the general public, or displayed within the interior of a building that is regularly open to the general public and in a location within the building that is freely available and viewable by the general public.
Public art should also be placed on the site where it will enhance, not detract, from the surroundings
Vice Mayor Marvin Crist said he would want to limit the amount of money for the program.
“We’re about to spend a little over $200 million on our transportation. That’s $2 million that we would be putting towards this; I’m not comfortable with that. I would be OK limiting it and then if it’s over that limit it could come back to the council.,” Crist said according to the video archive of the meeting.
Mayor R. Rex Parris said he did not necessarily want a default limit.
“But if it’s over $500,000, I want it to come to us,” Parris said. “I want sufficient time for us to intercede if we want to.”
Parris requested notification to each member of the city council if expenditures are anticipated to exceed $500,000 in a given year. The item would not go before the council for a vote unless a council member put it on the agenda. The council later approved the guidelines with a $500,000 trigger point to notify the council.
Parris also asked how the potential public art projects would be approved.
Campognone gave an example where if a business owner wanted to put public art on their property they would have to get a permit from the city similar to what happens with a sign.
After the application process is complete, the proposed art project would go before the Lancaster Museum and Public Art Foundation, which would ensure the proposed art is relevant to the community where it would be located.
“Nothing would be put up without that kind of procedure,” Campognone said.
Art projects that fall under the 1% would go through a similar procedure although without the permitting process.
Parris also asked that Campognone figure out what art projects would be appropriate for the Architectural and Design Commission to consider for approval.
To share your opinion on this article or any other article, write a letter to the editor and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Letters to Editor, PO Box 4050, Palmdale CA 93590-4050.
Art and Cake Magazine October 2018
Andi Campognone, Mechanisms of Change
By Gary Brewer
“All artwork is about beauty; positive work represents and celebrates it. All negative art protests the lack of beauty in our lives. When a beautiful rose dies, beauty does not die because it is not really in the rose. Beauty is an awareness in the mind.” Agnes Martin
It is through images and metaphors that we tell stories; they are a means to communicate the value we hold for something; a place, an idea or a people, and to engage others and express that these things are worthy of their respect and understanding. It is in the poetic power of images and metaphors to convey ideas and create myths that art can change the world.
How an image enters one’s consciousness – the conversation between different works of art and how a space is filled, the physical impact of scale and color, content and style – all add or detract from one’s experience of seeing and understanding art. To weave together a narrative through the subjective experience of different art forms is an art in itself. Andi Campognone is a curator whose professional arc through various venues and museums have helped to develop her ability to create powerful experiences that promote positive change and illuminate the power and value of art in our daily lives.
We spoke at length about her beliefs and passionate desire to have an impact in the world. “I believe that my actions can have a positive effect in my community. This is what gets me out of bed in the morning. It is not just my love of art that has guided my path, but the deep belief that art is the best mechanism for change in the world. To work in an institution like MOAH is a satisfying challenge; understanding the values and needs of a diverse region like the Antelope Valley and the opportunity to organize experiences that unite people, have been deeply rewarding.
Andi began her life in the arts as a photographer, before the transition to digital technology. Working with chemicals in the dark room and developing skills and techniques to fine-tune the final image required intense patience and practice. “It was this part of the maker process that clarified for me that I was less interested in the craft and more interested in the ideas behind the imagery. The object became the vessel for the idea and communicating ideas became my goal.” As her ability to organize ideas grew, so did her disinterest in making the static, singular image. The free flow of ideas and emotional content in curating a group of images or artists together was compelling to her. She became a storyteller, giving vision to her ideas and interests through the collective impact of grouping of artworks together to communicate ideas and to have a positive effect in the communities where she worked.
Her first mentor was Ardon Alger, who was both her teacher and employer. He was a photographer and professor at Chaffey College and a gifted curator. “Working with Ardon was a gift. He was so thoughtful in every aspect of the exhibit installation and made sure I understood each move and placement and how it related to the viewer’s experience and how the placement itself created a larger visual dialogue. I can honestly say much of my curatorial practice came from concepts I learned while working as his assistant at the Millard Sheets Art Center.”
It was here that she assisted annually on the New Photography Exhibit. Visually and physically processing over 2000 photographic images each year, both trained her eye and sharpened her wit. “This position gave me the opportunity to work with some of the top photographic gallerists in Los Angeles, like Stephen Cohen and Paul Kopeikin, and introduced me to important photographers like Robbert Flick and Sant Khalsa, who I remain close to both personally and professionally.” Andi went on to direct the photography department at Millard Sheets and to assist with curation in the exhibits that included other mediums such as painting and sculpture.
Andi worked briefly for the California Museum of Photography as a part-time assistant while raising her children, but eventually left both the CMP and Millard Sheets for a full time position as Exhibitions Curator for the Riverside Art Museum (RAM). “This was an exciting time to be involved in the arts in Riverside. The University of California at Riverside had moved their gallery to downtown Riverside, blocks away from RAM. They hired Tyler Stallings as its curator and started planning to build out what is now the Culver Center for the Arts. I think it was my experience at Riverside Art Museum that solidified my philosophy about the value of the arts in a community.”
It was also here that Andi began her professional relationship with art historian/critic Peter Frank. “We co-curated the exhibition Driven to Abstraction together which debuted at Riverside Art Museum in 2006, a concept that went beyond the stand-alone exhibition. Driven to Abstraction was a multi-organization event that celebrated southern California’s contribution to abstract painting from 1945 to 1980. It included exhibitions at commercial galleries, non-profit organizations and the Museum, which predated the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time exhibition.”
Andi left the museum world to pursue her own projects that included developing several arts related businesses in downtown Pomona’s historic arts district. “I started with a gallery/wine bar, and developed dba256 with wine purveyor and friend Ron Faris. I approached the art programming as if it were a museum space, developing an academic thesis for the shows and supporting them with artists from all walks and levels. The shows would often include historic work from blue chip artists, to small handcrafted items made by local emerging artists. My passion for the arts and ability to collaborate made me a good candidate to be the Cultural Arts Commissioner for the City of Pomona. I contributed to many public programs and helped create the City’s first Master Cultural Plan and was instrumental in the adoption of Pomona’s Public Art Policy.”
Two years later, she went solo and opened Andi Campognone Projects; an experimental gallery space and consulting service. ”My philosophy that the importance of an artist or their work shouldn’t end when the exhibit closes, launched my investment into artist’s films, books and collecting opportunities.”
It was during this endeavor that the confluence of preparation and opportunity would bring together the strands of fate and circumstance leading to her current position at MOAH. Andi said about this, “A client and friend Steve Eglash was engaged in a project to revitalize downtown Lancaster and was looking for consultation; it was a public/private partnership with the City of Lancaster. Eglash and his partner Scott Ehrlich, proposed to build a state of the art museum to bookend Lancaster Blvd with the already established Lancaster Performing Arts Center. At first I was reluctant, but after seeing the beautiful redevelopment project and understanding the city’s enthusiasm to foster arts and culture in Lancaster – how could I say no? I was hired as a consultant to get the museum’s construction finished, get it programmed and get it open. Everything that I had done up to this point had prepared me for this opportunity. It is a challenge that I love. Not only to build out exhibitions but to piece together all of the concerns of a varied community and bring them together through the arts and cultural experiences.” Andi was involved in every aspect of creating the beautiful ambiance of this light filled space and bringing subjects of interest to the region. It is an elegant venue and a cultural treasure for the city of Lancaster.
The first exhibition that Andi curated after the new museum space opened, was a show on the Finish Fetish and early Light and Space artists of Los Angeles. “Prior to my tenure at MOAH, it had largely focused on poppies and the landscape of the high desert; but there were bigger subjects that connected this community to the creative world. The development of jets and rockets and the technologies that had sent humans to the moon, had also created a new genre of art. At first folks just couldn’t see the connection that these artists, whose sculptures of super refined objects made of synthetic resins and plastics, could have to do with them. This exhibition was a way to show how many of the artists in the exhibit used materials and technologies that had been developed in the aerospace industries, and that several of them were engineers who had been involved with this industry. It was a way to bring the worlds of science, technology and art together and how this rich interaction between art and technology created a school of art unique to Southern California, and to the high desert. It expressed my interest in using art to educate and tell stories that connect people. It was a great exhibition!”
Andi believes that one way to uplift oneself and one’s community is in the power of ownership and representing the value you feel for it through the effectiveness of art. “To use your energy to communicate your personal vision, or the value you feel for a group, or an idea, is a powerful form of transformation. Art is the best mechanism of change and I believe that when people show others the values that they believe in, it can change the world. I recently curated an exhibition for Mash Gallery in Los Angeles titled Nature Worship. It is a group show of artists who use nature as a platform to express concern for the natural world. I was inspired by the native Hawaiian philosophy that from love and respect comes care and protection. This exhibition ​ examines the portrayal of nature beyond a system of religion and more as a means to celebrate the importance of all livings things. It addresses our current global concern for our environment without delivering a sermon. The works in this exhibit span from the literal use of the landscape in painting, photography and sculpture, to abstracted and subtle pieces that suggest a reverence to nature that are not so apparent. All of the work is highly conceptual and expertly crafted. ​It is my intention that this collection of beautiful, powerful work arouses the viewer and strengthens their desire to respect and protect the natural world. This artist lineup includes makers that throughout their artistic careers, have made a practice of incorporating nature or the landscape in their work; not as a passive background but as a bold contemporary subject.”
Art can be many things; the spiritual journey of an individual or the collective expression of a group. It is a language that projects ideas that shape and change the future, and it is a form of memory that is a record of the human journey. In the hands of exceptional curators and museum directors, art can bring people together. Museums are a physical and spiritual space where the collective consciousness of the human drama can be seen and felt. It is the curator’s task to map out these stories and to marry them to the interests and needs of the public, so that people feel that they are a part of it.
It is a gift to be able to channel the needs of many into a collective vision that makes everyone feel that they are a part of the journey. To realize this in the form of stellar exhibitions that contain the highest level of artistic achievement, framed in such a way that the community feels a form of ownership in the final outcome, is an accomplishment indeed. Andi Campognone is a gifted curator and Museum Director, whose abilities to find just the right threads and to weave together a story that connects people, is a form of art in itself.
On view through November 10: Nature Worship at MASH Gallery
1325 Palmetto St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Art Rabbit October 2018
Mash Gallery is proud to present Nature Worship curated by Andi Campognone, Museum Director and Curator for the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster.
Mash Gallery is proud to present Nature Worship curated by Andi Campognone, Museum Director and Curator for the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster. This exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, October 6, 2018 with a reception at 6pm. Featuring works by:
Kim Abeles, China Adams, Kelly Berg, Kimberly Brooks, Rebecca Campbell, Terry Cervantes, Samantha Fields,
Sant Khalsa, Laurie Lipton, Haleh Mashian, Catherine Ruane, Allison Schulnik and Lisa Schulte.
The term Nature Worship is defined as a system of religion based on the veneration of natural phenomena—for example, celestial objects such as the sun and moon and terrestrial objects such as water and fire. The exhibition Nature Worshipexamines the portrayal of nature beyond a system of religion more as a means to celebrate the importance of all livings things. It addresses our current global concern for our environment without delivering a sermon. The works in this exhibit span from the literal use of the landscape in painting, photography and sculpture to abstracted and subtle pieces that suggest a reverence to nature that are not so apparent. All the work is highly conceptual and expertly crafted. Andi Campognone states, “It is my intention that this collection of beautiful, powerful work arouses the viewer and strengthens their desire to respect and protect the natural world.” This artist lineup includes makers, that throughout their artistic careers, have made a practice of incorporating nature or the landscape in their work not as a passive background but as a bold contemporary subject.
Museum Director and Curator for the
Museum of Art and History in Lancaster
Link to all Artist Bios and Images available HERE.
Mash Gallery located in downtown Los Angeles supports independent curators to manifest their vision and a venue designed to create intimate conversations between those curators, artists, and the Los Angeles art audience. Mash Gallery places the commercial programming into the hands of an ever-changing rotation of curated exhibitions.
AV Press October 2018
Get ready for POW! WOW! AV
By Julie Drake Valley Press Staff Writer Oct 12, 2018 0
POW! WOW! AV is coming back to the city of Lancaster.
POW! WOW! originated in Hawaii, in 2011, as a week-long event. The festival has since inspired similar street art festivals in cities and countries around the world, such as Taiwan, Long Beach, Israel, Singapore, Jamaica, Washington D.C., Guam, New Zealand, Netherlands and Germany.
Lancaster did its first POW! WOW! in 2016, curated by POW! WOW! Hawaii.
“We were excited because we were allowed to incorporate a couple of Antelope Valley artists, which turned out to be a great project,” Andi Campognone, operations manager for the Museum of Art and History said.
POW! WOW! AV will celebrate its second year in Lancaster, from 2 to 6 p.m., Oct. 21.
Antelope Valley artists contributed to this year’s POW! WOW! as well: Tina Dille from Tehachapi and Nuri Amanatullah.
“We had more walls than artists in 2016 and so this year, everyone came out of the woodwork and said ‘We want a wall,’” Campognone said.
The original 12 murals will be joined by an additional 18.
The 2018 POW! WOW! AV artist line-up includes: Hueman (California), Super A (Netherlands), Lauren YS (California), Ekundayo (California), Jeff Soto (California), Christopher Konecki (California), Emily Ding (Texas), Amir Fallah (California), Mikey Kelly (California), Scott Listfield (Massachusetts), Carly Ealey (California), Andrew Hem (California), Aaron de la Cruz (California), Amy Sol (Nevada), Tran Nguyen (Vietnam), Julius Eastman (California), Dan Witz (New York), Jaune (Belgium), Slinkachu (Great Britain), Spenser Little (California), Darcy Yates (California), Craig “Skibs” Barker (California) and MOUF (Texas).
Only one of the murals from 2016 will be painted over — a graffiti-style “Lancaster” mural near the Arco gas station at 10th Street West and Lancaster Boulevard, that was the only mural from 2016 to be tagged.
By 2020 POW! WOW! AV will expand outside of the city’s downtown area, into residential neighborhoods.
POW! WOW! AV comes together with a block party on Oct. 21, that is free to the community.
“All the artists will be in attendance to sign autographs and we’ll have special merchandise. It’s a really fun day,” Campognone said.
There will be a car show along Lancaster BLVD, workshops including the POW! WOW! AV Print Lab hosted by this year’s artist-in-residence Amy Kaps, at MOAH: CEDAR, a workshop at Lancaster Performing Arts Center and special tours at the Western Hotel Museum.
Six bands are scheduled to perform on the MOAH stage: Vultures of Vinyl, from 2 to 2:30 p.m.; Lazy Beam, from 2:45 to 3:15 p.m.; Thanks, Weird Puppy, from 3:30 to 4 p.m.; Jimini Picasso, from 4:15 to 4:45 p.m.; New Character, from 5 to 5:30 p,m.; and Witchin Alleys, from 5:45 to 6 p.m.
In addition to the murals, the 2018 POW! WOW! will include temporary public art by artists who will hand-wire sculptures from telephone poles. Slinkachu, a London-based street installation and photographic artist “abandoned” little people on Lancaster Boulevard.
“He’ll be setting up these little vignettes everywhere on the boulevard.” Campognone said.
The whole project is curated like an exhibition between MOAH, Thinkspace Projects in Los Angeles and POW! WOW! Hawaii.
“The artists all know that we need to be positive in sending messages and family friendly, celebrating life in a positive way,” Campognone said.
Oakland-based artist Hueman (Allison Torneros) painted, on the Burns Pharmacy building on Genoa Avenue, off Lancaster Boulevard, a figurative and abstract mural inspired by renaissance drapery studies. She has contributed murals to POW! WOW! Hawaii previously and Long Beach.
“The street art community is really small, so when I do get together for these mural festivals, I end up seeing a lot of my friends,” Hueman said. “And it’s really cool because all these murals are going up at the same time and you get to go down the street and see just so much creativity happening at once it’s really cool.”
L.A-based artist Andrew Hem painted a mural of the giant robot Gundam on an Elm Avenue building, south of Lancaster Boulevard.
“I always wanted to paint a Gundam, so this is a perfect opportunity,” he said during a break from painting.
Hem grew up watching Gundam as a young boy.
“He’s like a hero in Japan, so if you go to Japan there’s like a three-story figurine of a robot, it’s pretty incredible,” Hem said. “While I’m doing this, there’s kids that will ride their bike by, or walk by and it’s pretty awesome that they know about it, too.”
He also has work featured in “The New Vanguard II” exhibition at MOAH, curated by Andrew Hosner of Thinkspace Projects in Los Angeles.
The highly anticipated follow up to 2016’s successful first iteration of The New Vanguard, on view in tandem with this year’s POW WOW! Antelope Valley, will feature special solo projects by artists Chevrier, Barker and Brooks Salzwedel. A sequel to what was, in 2016, the most extensive presentation of work from the New Contemporary movement in a Southern Californian museum venue to date, The New Vanguard II, in keeping with the first, will present a diverse and expansive group of curated new works.
Additionally, the exhibition will feature site specific installations by HOTTEA, Lawrence Vallieres and Hem, along with a group exhibit in the main gallery of more than 40 international, new contemporary artists.
Animation Magazine July 2018
Emmy-Nominated Artist Dave Pressler Gets MoAH Retrospective
ByMercedes MilliganPublished on July 16, 2018
Prolific artist Dave Pressler, known especially for his eye-catching robot characters, will be celebrated with a retrospective exhibit exploring his 20-year career at the Lancaster, CA Museum of Art History (MoAH) from August 4 to September 30. Dubbed “Idea to Object: The Art of Dave Pressler,” the show will open with a reception Saturday, Aug. 4 from 4-6 p.m.
The self-described “Blue Collar Artist” has been working for over two decades in every medium, including drawing, painting, sculpting, character design, stop-motion animation, animatronics, and even co-creating the Emmy-nominated Nickelodeon show Robot and Monster. “Idea to Object” will map out the narrative of Pressler’s career, divided into sections focusing on each different medium he’s worked in and how he made his ideas a reality.
“I don’t look at this exhibit as just a retrospective on all the work I’ve done,” says Pressler. “What I really want it to do is de-mystify the creative process and demonstrate to people that art is just doing the work to take the ideas in your head and bring them into the physical world. There is a way for you to create them for a living.”
“Pressler’s work appeals to audiences of all ages,” says Andi Campognone, Director of MoAH. “His work is a great example of the combination of strong contemporary concepts and expert craft, and we are so excited to exhibit his work for both the Lancaster and Greater LA communities.”
More information at www.lancastermoah.org and www.davepresslerart.com.
Big Island Now 2017
Donkey Mill Art Center Adds New Staff
By Big Island Now
May 25, 2017, 8:14 AM HST (Updated May 25, 2017, 8:17 AM)
The Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture has announced the addition of new staff members at Holualoa’s historic Donkey Mill Art Center: (left to right) Moriah Kramer, Andi Campognone and Kristin Shiga. Donkey Mill Art Center photo.
The Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture has announced the addition of new staff members at Holualoa’s historic Donkey Mill Art Center.
Andi Campognone has been hired as the executive director, Kristin Mitsu Shiga is now the facility’s new core program director and Moriah Smith Kramer has been added as a new member of the Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture Board of Directors.
Campognone’s six-month appointment was crafted by the board to capitalize on her skills and address the changing needs of the center. While splitting her time between Kailua-Kona and Los Angeles, Campognone has had a productive history as a Donkey Mill volunteer and activist. She joins the center with over 25 years of experience in arts management both in the commercial gallery and nonprofit sectors.
She was the principal at AC Projects and has worked as the photography coordinator at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts, associate director and curator of the Riverside Art Museum, museum manager and curator for the Lancaster Museum of Art & History, and served as the appointed cultural arts commissioner for the City of Pomona.
Campognone is an expert in the field of cultural arts, community engagement and social practice through the arts. She is an excellent problem solver who is known for her ability to match organizations with financial and service resources.
“I am thrilled to be serving the community of West Hawai‘i and to help guide the Donkey Mill into the future,” said Campognone.
Campognone is a professional curator and serves as a director on the Lancaster Museum and Public Art Foundation, an advisor to the Los Angeles Arts Association, an advisor to ArtLtd Magazine, serves regularly on granting panels and is an active member of ArTTable.
Most recently, she organized the 2016 Donkey Mill Art Center Kipaipai professional development workshop and is the executive producer of MANA The Film, which was shot on the Big Island and debuted at the Kona Surf Film Festival in 2015.
Originally from New York City, Shiga comes to the Donkey Mill Art Center after 20 years living and working in Portland, Oregon. Her various professional roles have included gallery director at Museum of Contemporary Craft, extension program director at Oregon College of Art & Craft and conference director for the Society of North American Goldsmiths. She currently serves as chair of the Board of Trustees of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Deer Isle, Maine.
Shiga comes from a long line of teachers, and has taught classes and workshops in various craft media and mindfulness practice around the world since 1992. She has established successful metalsmithing programs at art centers in Portland and New York, and is looking forward to returning to the metals studio at DMAC, which she helped launch during her Laila Twigg-Smith residency in 2015.
As a maker, she is deeply inspired by her participation in various collaborations, including the biennial EMMA International Collaboration in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; CollaboratioNZ in Whangarei, New Zealand; and Hawaii Artist Collaboration right here in Holualoa.
Her work is featured in numerous publications, including Art Jewelry Today, The Art of Enameling and several of Lark Books’ “500” series. She has shown her work internationally and is included in notable collections, such as the Kamm Artful Teapot collection and the Permanent Collection of the White House.
“Since I first walked in the door of the the mill in fall of 2015, I felt like I had come home,” said Shiga.
She is excited to officially join the dedicated team of staff and volunteers that makes Donkey Mill Art Center thrive.
As Donkey Mill Art Center expands it programming so does the need for community partnerships and fundraising. To aid in these efforts, Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture has appointed Kramer to the foundation’s board. Born and raised on the Big Island, Kramer is a passionate believer in the arts as a vital part of a healthy education and has been involved in the growing contemporary art scene in both Los Angeles and O‘ahu for over 17 years.
As vice president at Friends of Sunset Beach, she led a fruitful arts advocacy campaign which included fundraising to keep arts in the classroom.
“The Donkey Mill Art Center offers so many programs for children, a passion of mine,” said Kramer. “I feel that art is vital to a healthy education and should be elevated to a place of importance in every community.”
The Donkey Mill Art Center is located at 78-6670 Māmalahoa Highway in Holualoa.
Call (808) 322-3362 or visit www.donkeymillartcenter.org for more information.
ABOUT DONKEY MILL ART CENTER
The Donkey Mill Art Center is a community art center serving West Hawai‘i residents and visitors at its facility in Holualoa. DMAC staff also provide art education and experiences in local schools and throughout the community. Donkey Mill Art Center offers classes, workshops, and events for artists of all levels, and presents world-class art and culture exhibits year-round. The mill gift shop provides local artists with a venue to sell their work, and enables art lovers to support the work of local makers.
Citta Della Spezia August 2017
Casentini exhibits in California and turns a 500 into a work of art
The artist from La Spezia is the protagonist of a group show with Italian colleagues at the Lancaster Moah. In the coming weeks his "Drive in" will move to Milan and then to Caserta.
Casentini exhibits in California and turns a 500 into a work of art
La Spezia - For years he has worked and is appreciated in the United States, but Marco Casentini is in fact fragmented. He was born on the shores of the Gulf in 1961 and his cultural imprint is undeniably Italian, with work spent at the Academy of Fine Arts of Carrara and Brera.
In these days the Italian character of Casentini stands out in the collective exhibition "Italian Summer" which features six local artists at the Moah - Museum of art & history in Lancaster, California. With its traditional artistic language made of colors and shapes has in fact transformed into a work of art what for many in the world is already an aesthetic object of the highest level, a Fiat 500. We are not talking about that launched exactly sixty years ago, but of the most recent model. An electric specimen (not for sale in Italy) made spectacular by the intervention of Casentini that will remain exhibited in the museum until October 22nd, the day of conclusion of the exhibition, to then be exhibited throughout the month of November at the Hunter dealership Fiat / Alfa Romeo show Lancaster room and then put to the
"Two years ago I had worked on a Ferrari California, during an exhibition in Lugano, so the museum asked me if I could do some work on a Fiat or an Alfa Romeo and since the sixtieth of the 500 occurs I chose this car", tells Casentini at CDS.
The artist spezzino exhibits with his exhibition "Drive in" in the main gallery of the museum, then, from early October everything will be transferred to the Bocconi University in Milan and October 20 to the palace of Caserta.
"Drive in" is curated by the director of the Andi Campognone museum and will be featured in a catalog with critical texts by Luca Palermo, Federico Sardella and Andi Campognone.
A period full of satisfactions for Casentini, which will inaugurate another solo show entitled "Citylights" at the Brian Gross Fine Art in San Francisco on September 9th.
Saturday 19 August 2017 at 19:05:55
KCET Artbound March 2015
Antelope Valley Art Outpost: Building Community in the High Desert
March 13, 2015
In partnership with Antelope Valley Art Outpost: Antelope Valley Art Outpost is a creative placemaking project that supports regional vitality through artist-driven projects in the unincorporated California communities of Littlerock and Sun Village.
Tucked away between the San Gabriel and the Tehachapi Mountains, and straddling both Los Angeles County and Kern County, the Antelope Valley exists on the 2200 square miles of arid land at the outer crescent of the region's urban megalopolis. Best known for its blooming wildflowers and aerospace industry, as well relative geographic isolation and relatively high poverty rate, the County of Los Angeles launched a program to use art and public practice as tools to inspire development in the communities of Antelope Valley. The Antelope Valley Art Outpost is an attempt to foster and facilitate creative communities in unincorporated areas and, in turn, also to encourage a stronger sense of community in the area. In tandem with the Antelope Valley General Plan, the Outpost is a creative placemaking effort to use "artist-driven" projects to promote community development in areas such as Sun Village and Littlerock.
For this placemaking project, artists, residents, and "stakeholders" work together to conceive and realize projects and programs, with help from partners including the MFA Public Practice program at Otis College of Art and Design, the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH), the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance (GAVEA), the Department of Regional Planning, and the Office of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. The endeavor is managed by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the California Arts Council, and Metabolic Studio.
The two-year long project aims to affect the larger creative Antelope Valley community through the identification and support of community assets and local artists. It's designed in two phases: Cultural and Community Asset Research led by Otis MFA students in Public Practice, and the Artist-in-Residence Program in both Littlerock and Sun Village.
The Outpost project hopes to engage and empower residents to actively participate in the community development process. They promote the use of innovative approaches in planning and development in city and county issues, hoping to build social unity in the greater Antelope Valley and increase a sense of pride and positive community identities.
TEAM ANTELOPE VALLEY PROJECT: Amy Sanchez, Laurie Peake (Metabolic Studio Fellow), Tracee Johnson (Graduate Teaching Fellow), Misael Diaz (Cognate Collective with Amy Sanchez), Suzanne Lacy (Program Chair) and Robin Gilliam (Project Manager)TEAM ANTELOPE VALLEY PROJECT: Amy Sanchez, Laurie Peake (Metabolic Studio Fellow), Tracee Johnson (Graduate Teaching Fellow), Misael Diaz (Cognate Collective with Amy Sanchez), Suzanne Lacy (Program Chair) and Robin Gilliam (Project Manager)
Suzanne Lacy in front of her Three Weeks in January installation.Suzanne Lacy in front of her Three Weeks in January installation.
The Outpost activates the community in a two-fold process. During the first phase of the Outpost project, the Otis graduate students will work within each community to conduct research and host "Open Conversations," where visiting artists and Otis students will lead discussion, activities and technical assistance workshops, designed to identify local cultural assets. The second phase will consist of an Artist-In-Residency in both towns, in which the artists will develop projects based on findings of the Otis students' research. Director and Curator for MOAH Andi Campognone says that the two-part project will help local artists develop their professional skills and expand their practice. "As they are helping to professionally develop artists in the Antelope Valley, we will choose two that engage with the social practice artists that we are hiring to come into the community, to be Artists-In-Residences -- one in Littlerock and one in Sun Village," she says.
Through interviews with community members in Sun Village and Littlerock, the Otis public practice students identified core needs according to their responses. Henderson Blumer, one of the participating students looks ahead to the hundreds of fascinating possibilities they are brainstorming about, during their research and development stage. "Antelope Valley has a rich and complicated history my colleagues and I have only begun to experience," he says. "This is much different than the stereotypes about Antelope Valley, which I hope will break down the more we explore."
Museum of Art and History, LancasterMuseum of Art and History, Lancaster
Based on the student's interactions, they came up with five themes to be addressed in their engagement programming. The themes include: youth engagement; environment and habitat; economics; cultural identity; and art and culture. The Open Conversations workshops and lectures were developed that center on those five themes.
"I think this is the most creative way to engage the community," Campognone says, "talking about themselves and expressing themselves. Sun Village and Littlerock have subtle cultural histories that the county may not know about, and this is a way for them to have a say in implementing new infrastructure as a community."
At the helm of the social practice project is Suzanne Lacy, a well-regarded performance artist, and founding chair of the MFA in Public Practice at the Otis College of Art and Design. "Our task is to use creative ways to engage people in Littlerock and Sun Village, and to suss out what are the resources that exist there that might rise to the surface," she says. "There are about 18,000 people in this region, so what happens if you can get half of them involved? That's going to change the tenor of how the community envisions itself. It's just got to."
Andi Campognone at MOAH. Photo by Anne Marie Rousseau.Andi Campognone at MOAH. Photo by Anne Marie Rousseau.
Lacy spearheaded the nascent social practice art movement in the 1970s and 1980s, and continues to evolve her craft in communities today. In her 2013 "Between the Door and the Street" performance in Brooklyn, Lacy and a group of over 400 women and a few men spent a Saturday evening taking over 60 stoops in Brooklyn to have conversations. Conversations were unscripted but choreographed from questions forwarded by each group that revealed the extent of activist engagement in issues of gender, race, ethnicity and class. As the conversations drew to a close, tables set up in the center of the street and residents offered hot refreshments to the audience and the performers.
With the Outpost, she uses social practice methodologies to help explore larger political issues and inspire public engagement. At a recent lecture, she mentioned the four key concepts she considers with any social practice project: the use of hidden knowledge; supporting a plural voice in democracy; intersectionality; and placemaking. She says she's interested in engaging the residents of the Antelope Valley in a project that exists at the intersection of art, politics, activism, citizenship, community and public voice. "I think it's a great gift to work with an organization as progressive as the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, in terms of being willing to experiment with both a learning process and a community process," she says.
For residents of the Antelope Valley, Campognone says MOAH "has been the cultural hub for the Antelope Valley for 26 years," which makes it a good a convening location for the first phase of project. "Its role now," Campognone says, "will be hosting the professional development for the Antelope Valley artists. I think that's why the county looked to us for this project." Campognone says that they will also be working and facilitating the professional artists in social practice that they're bringing into the community. Devora Orantes, a Museum Aid at MOAH is excited about the opportunities this grant and project will bring this area. "We envision that through engaging the artistic communities, it will provide educational opportunities for artists in the Antelope Valley to grow and explore social practice, and also prepare them for the application process to the artist-in-residence program that will be the result of this, in phase two."
The next Open Conversations takes place on March 13 and 14 and features social practice artist Susan Leibovitz Steinman who will be hosting a brainstorming session and interactive workshop focusing around community gardens as a form of social practice art. Steinman has been collaborating with communities all over the world for 30 years now, creating large public installations that address ecological and social concerns, tailor-made to address community-specific needs and wants. Her projects focus on low cost, eco-friendly techniques that yield great results in many ways.
Steinman's project in the Antelope Valley will explore garden-spaces as a tool to build stronger communities and improve health and well being of the residents of the area. "More things are gained from a food garden than just healthy food," Steinman says. "It has economic and social benefits and can help beautify communities as well. By working together, people not only part of the process and learn the skills; they also take ownership of the project."
Steinman hopes to engage the artists in the area to participate and consider an alternative sense of art practice and help to build a better community in the process. "Artists have very special skills," Steinman explains, "they can think outside of the box; and that thinking outside of the box is really an amazingly critical tool that is actually very exciting when people work together, when they collaborate."
KCET Artbound January 2015
Being Here and There: Ambiguous Boundaries and Contested Terrains
January 6, 2015
Tony_MaherTony Maher, "Skinny Dipping with Christie at the Stafford's Pool, 1996, or, Swimming at the Malone's, 1985," 2008, Light Jet Photograph, 30 x 40 inches
"Landscape is not the ideologically neutral subject many imagine it to be. Rather, it is an historical artifact that can be viewed as a record of the material facts of our social reality and what we have chosen to make of them."
-Deborah Bright, "Of Mother Nature and Marlboro Men An Inquiry Into the Cultural Meanings of Landscape Photography," 1985
Sunshine and swimming pools are common visual ideals associated with the Southern California regional identity; a landscape depicted in photographs, postcards, and tourism campaigns where the watery theater for sub-culture rituals and background mirage of Hollywood dreams fuel the expectations of laid-back cultural atmosphere within an ecological paradise of Eden. Seen through a lens, place can be represented and misrepresented through the mechanical eye; a city's structures and streets -- and how they're depicted -- can create boundaries and implied identities about the spaces that may never find critical discourse like that of Thom Anderson's epic filmic tome "Los Angeles Plays Itself."
In the arid landscape of the Los Angeles County high desert, the Antelope Valley suburban sprawl and its exurban L.A. commuters replicate the So Cal lifestyle with even sunnier skies and individual artificial backyard pools, in spite of the drought conditions and stringent water restrictions that Reyner Banham reflects in "Desert Cantos," where "it is the desert that is truly ours, for we have made it so and must live with the consequences."1 While the representational destiny manifested in our visionary golden American West may be an idealistic paradise, "Being Here and There," a photographic landscape exhibition curated by artist Sant Khalsa at the city of Lancaster's Museum of Art and History (MOAH), features works by twenty-six artists whose imagery derives from their individual and contemplative experience of place -- specifically Southern California -- and depicts the landscape as riddled with contradictions and complexities.
Amir Zaki, "Coastline Cliffside 11," 2013,Framed Ultrachrome Archival Pigment Photograph with UV Coating, 35 x 60 inchesAmir Zaki, "Coastline Cliffside 11," 2013,Framed Ultrachrome Archival Pigment Photograph with UV Coating, 35 x 60 inches
As a medium, photography has continually evolved, weathering its own debate and dialogue about the purpose and place of depiction and reproduction. From the printing press to television, to video and computer technology, photography continues to challenge our ideas on the nature of our perceived realities having redefined the terms and conditions, relationships and transformations of other art forms while deconstructing established art values through photography's reproductive output and perceived scientific objectivity. In Deborah Bright's 1992 essay, "The Machine in The Garden Revisited American Environmentalism and Photographic Aesthetics" which addresses the dialogue of landscape photography "from the age of Manifest Destiny to the age of global warming," she suggests that we consider the socio-political, environmental, psychological, historical, economic and other kinds of questions we should ask of nature photographs including: "What images of nature are most potent for public consumption at a given historical moment and what ideologies underwrite them? Which publics are being addressed and why? Do cultural elites, including artists and curators, reinforce dominant myths about the relations between 'the human' and 'the natural,' or work against them?"2 In our desire to depict and capture time and space, how does photography implicate our need to memorialize or historically represent? Tom Turner's "The Color of Memory: Santa Monica Color Experiment," explores a single hour of the sun setting over the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, California questioning the process and behavior of memory mixing the Red, Green and Blue Color Channels from three different images to create an entirely new/false image where the real becomes the un-real -- or vice versa depending on our interpretation.
Tom Turner "The Color of Memory: Santa Monica Color Experiment," 2014 HD - 1080 x 1920 px Single Channel Video - 7:07Tom Turner "The Color of Memory: Santa Monica Color Experiment," 2014 HD - 1080 x 1920 px Single Channel Video - 7:07
"Being Here and There" curator Sant Khalsa, born Sheila Roth, is an artist/educator/activist and practitioner of yoga and meditation whose life philosophy is a hybrid of many Eastern beliefs such as Buddhism, Sikhism, and Sufism. An artist represented by the Kopeikin Gallery and educator at California State University, San Bernardino who has curated intermittenly since 1982, Khalsa describes curating "Being Here and There" in relationship to her own work as an artist which comes from her singular perspective where "ideas develop from personal experience of place, photographing, and living life with a focus on being present in the moment and finding meaning in the gift of 'being here'." Expanding on her subjective perspective as an artist, the museum exhibition format provided Khalsa an opportunity to articulate the individual and unique views of the So Cal landscape from twenty-six other perspectives chosen from her artist networks including friends, associates, and several emerging artists in order to share a multiplicity of ideas and visions while discussing photography as a medium at this present moment with the variations of analog and digital technology occuring in that dialogue.
"Being Here and There" installation shot at MOAH, 2014"Being Here and There" installation shot at MOAH, 2014
The city of Lancaster's MOAH was founded as the Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery in 1986 during an economic and cultural boom, and was recently relocated to a repurposed bank site in the again revitalized downtown boulevard in 2012. After the head curatorial position was vacated the previous year, the city contracted with Andi Campognone to bring her Pomona based AC Project artists, exhibitions, and books and films to the municipal museum and its Antelope Valley audience. Khalsa's "Being Here and There" is based on a previous exhibition in 2013 titled "Being Here" that Khalsa curated around the landscape of the Inland Empire for Campognone's AC Project gallery in Pomona. Khalsa and Campognone reprised the concept for MOAH, building on Khalsa's ideas from the previous show to focus more on the entire Southern California region including MOAH's Mojave desert landscape in the Antelope Valley. Thinking about the landscape photographer as "an explorer who is sensitive to their experience, skilled in recording their observations, and developing new ways to visually map the human of experience of being present in this place and time," Khalsa describes the artists in "Being Here and There" as "surveyors" a term that contests the mapping of territory, where "the geometric basis of surveying and cartography was simply not present before [Cartesian mathematics]. It is the understanding of political space that is fundamental, and the idea of boundaries a secondary aspect, dependent on the first."3 A sentiment that compounds John Brinckerhoff Jackson's thoughts in "Discovering the Vernacular Landscape" from 1984, "I suspect no landscape, vernacular or otherwise, can be comprehended unless we perceive it as an organization of space; unless we ask ourselves who owns or uses the spaces, how they were created and how they change."
Catherine Opie, "Untitled #26 from Freeways series," 1994, Platinum Print, 2 1/4 x 6 3/4 inchesCatherine Opie, "Untitled #26 from Freeways series," 1994, Platinum Print, 2 1/4 x 6 3/4 inches
"Being Here and There" is highly influenced by the discourse of the New Topographics, an influential exhibition about new landscape photography which featured unromanticized views of stark industrial landscapes, suburban sprawl, and everyday scenes that began at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York in 1975. The photographic discourse continued in its restaging as the "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape" exhibition, a collaboration between the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film and the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona which exhibited at LACMA in 2009, and San Francisco MOMA in 2010. This edition of "New Topographics" reassembled photographs by Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore and Henry Wessel Jr. from the 1975 exhibition, along with a new guard of photographers who had been converging to generate New Topographics photography which explored "a growing awareness of the exploitation of the American landscape, the rise of the environmental movement, the emergence of cultural landscape studies as an academic discipline, new appreciation of the commercial vernacular, epitomized by the 1972 publication of 'Learning From Las Vegas' by Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown."4 Khalsa describes "Being Here and There" as the next wave of the discussion, where there are a variety of techniques and perspectives from the "New Topographics" which bridge the pristinely beautiful landscapes of Walker Evans and Ansel Adams with the wider contemporary art scene and its ironic postmodern banality of the present land and urban planning issues.
Andrew K. Thompson, "Weed," 2014, Fabric Inkjet Print Accentuated with Thread, 10 x 8 inchesAndrew K. Thompson, "Weed," 2014, Fabric Inkjet Print Accentuated with Thread, 10 x 8 inches
The perceived dichotomy between banality and the romantic becomes subjected to personal taste as Khalsa writes, "the ideas of 'New Topographics' are present in the show but there is also work that is highly subjective and passionate, socio-political, environmental, psychological, imaginative, historical, etc. The ideas present in 'New Topographics' have collided with contemporary and conceptual ideas and new and changing technology." Expanding on the ideology of the questions surrounding the political, and the romantic interaction of humankind and the environment, several of the artists included in the "Being Here and There" exhibition also narrated their ideas on the discussion as part of the "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape" at LACMA including Catherine Opie, Mark Ruwedel, Kim Stringfellow, and Amir Zaki. Khalsa approaches the idea that "each artist's work in the exhibition is distinct in its concept, content, and approach, providing us with an opportunity to view and gain understanding of the significance of the everyday -- that which is extraordinary within one's experience as well as the ordinary and often overlooked." A concept apparent by way of the Los Angeles outskirts and desert regions that subculture writer Dick Hebdige explores, as "more from less than zero."5 In depicting place through through the medium of photography, the artists in "Being Here and There" create conceptual and mechanical systems of their relation to the environment, its divides, and its territorial boundaries.
Naida Osline, "Sacred Datura" 2010, Inkjet Print, 54 x 38 inchesNaida Osline, "Sacred Datura" 2010, Inkjet Print, 54 x 38 inches
Naida Osline's digital compilation, "Sacred Datura," connects the plant Datura Stramonium L. to its shamanistic ideas and historically ceremonial and sacramental use that is documented throughout the world, stating her interest "in how these plants may serve as teachers and intimate companions who are part of our deepest thoughts that potentially connect us to a higher state of consciousness." Datura Stramonium L. was named by Carl Linnaeus in "Species Plantarum" originally published in 1753, it was the first botanical work to classify and consistently apply the binomial nomenclature system that lists every species of plant known at the time. The genus was derived from the ancient Hindu word for plant, dhatura, and the species name is from New Latin, stramonium, originally from Greek, strychnos (nightshade) and manikos (mad).6 Also known as Jimsonweed, devil's trumpet, witches weed, moonflower and other ominous titles that reveal the mind altering intoxicant effects described as a delirium, the plant grows wild in warm and moderate regions, where it is often found along roadsides. The plant often contains high enough levels of toxicity to kill both animals and humans, and was used ceremonially by indigenous tribes.
Osline's datura pays homage "to important psychoactive plants that have contributed to global economies, challenged beliefs, caused violence, fueled addiction, promoted spirituality, raised consciousness, inspired art and generated legislation" which incidentally relates to the recent sale of Georgia O'Keeffe's "Jimson Weed, White Flower No. 1" which more than doubled the previous record for a female artist at auction at Sotheby's American Art sale in November 2014.
Nicolas Shake, "Collected Wreckage Colliding with a Constellation," 2012, Archival Inkjet Print, 32 x 48 inchesNicolas Shake, "Collected Wreckage Colliding with a Constellation," 2012, Archival Inkjet Print, 32 x 48 inches
Raised in Palmdale, California, Nicolas Shake returns to MOAH with a locally based desert photograph that expands his interest in the identity and experience of objects as previously displayed in the museum's 2009 exhibition, "4<40: Four Antelope Valley Artists under Forty." The experience of growing up wandering in a spacious desert backyard offered the empathetic discovery of the overlooked significance of desert existence giving Shake an appreciation for transforming objects with seemingly no intrinsic value or implied power into a shared human experience where the periphery and its perceived insignificance holds, as he explains, "the ability to be reassigned a new aesthetic value." In "Being Here and There," Shake states that, "exploring the outskirts of Los Angeles County, the Antelope Valley to be more specific, where suburban sprawl ends meeting parcels of desert, information is perceptually and tangibly acquired," which guided his art practice as an, "investigation of the politics of periphery, the aesthetics of the desert, and the trajectory of those objects that we once relished and have become remnants of late capitalism" including and implicating not only the objects depicted, but the hierarchy of the chosen art form itself, where his object subjects often move through painting, photography, or sculpture without boundaries.
Douglas McCulloh, "Google Image Search: 'Antelope Valley' -- Any Size, No Filter," 2014, Chromogenic color print facemounted on plexiglass, 80 x 48 inchesDouglas McCulloh, "Google Image Search: 'Antelope Valley' -- Any Size, No Filter," 2014, Chromogenic color print facemounted on plexiglass, 80 x 48 inches
Perhaps a more fitting title for Douglas McCulloh's, "Google Image Search: 'Antelope Valley' -- Any Size, No Filter," 2014 would be "Greetings from the Antelope Valley!" a collage of clichés rendered archetypes that this writer has yet been able to duplicate via the provided Google image search instructions. The work proliferates with the digital identity from the all-knowing Google, which presumably finds the Antelope Valley to be an amalgamation of meth addicts, nude fashion shoots, Zappa and Beefheart, off-roading, a conspicuous amount of depictions of the museum, and of course the economic drivers of the aerospace industry and tourist claim to fame the dwindling poppy fields which now compete for space with more economically invested solar fields. McCulloh's Google surveillance reflects artist Sol LeWitt's statement, "the idea is a machine that makes the art," where conceptual art occurs prior to the art object and the planning decisions are made beforehand intending to dematerialize the social and aesthetic aspects of the objects production. This underlying Google Cloud territory of new spatial and temporal models of politics and publics reveals the subtle surveillance now belonging to the internet State -- where reality and media only exist in the algorithm and programming of digitized information. Who or what controls the Stack is a database of networked structures that relies on hits or "likes" to propel information and disinformation rendered from anonymous Users to the top while the subversive non-curatorial decisions of the artist and his implicated User database are made visual. The artwork's photographic representation of the Antelope Valley may or may not have any historical basis or factual research involved in the representation such as the included image of Llano del Rio's not "Alice Constance Austin" from blog site Pasadena Adjacent, which depicts the historical figure as a contemporary parody of Baldessari-like absence. The question remains, will the audience User fill in the absences by participating through independent queries of their own?
Christopher Russell, "Aftermath #7," 2013, Pigment print scratched with a razor, 14 x 18 inchesChristopher Russell, "Aftermath #7," 2013, Pigment print scratched with a razor, 14 x 18 inches
In Vertov's "Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov," he describes the "camera as a kino-eye; more perfect than the human eye, for the exploration of the chaos of visual phenomena that fills space. The kino-eye lives and moves in time and space; it gathers and records impressions in a manner wholly different from that of the human eye. The position of our bodies while observing or our perception of a certain number of features of a visual phenomenon in a given instant are by no means obligatory limitations for the camera which, since it is perfected, perceives more and better."7 Similarly in "Being Here and There" the photographic intention is to remind us of the actions of our past histories and question the scars left on the land, where Khalsa positions the audience to view "people represented by their evidence rather then their physical bodies. It is a way of understanding how we construct place, community, and our own destiny. It is a way for the viewers to place themselves in the work, alone and contemplate their experience," a place where time and space coalesce and deconstruct the banal to the poetic and back again depending on the viewers own political position or understanding of social history wherever the map begins and ends. If topography, the territory, and the intersection of nature and the built environment is characterized by "populated urban clusters and suburban sprawl, congested freeways, crowded workplaces, malls, and amusement parks in contrast to the seemingly infinite ocean, towering mountains, expansive deserts, immense blue skies, and quiet solitude" then Khalsa's idea that landscape photography "capture the experience of 'being' present in this place we call home," elucidates the ambiguous dialogue around the historical boundaries and disputed terrains of our experiences of being here and there in our contemporary present by way of our contested pasts.
Huff Post January 2015
Classic Folklore Meets Personal Mythology In The Work Of Outsider Artist Andrew Frieder
By Priscilla Frank
The Outsider Art Fair is coming to New York on January 29, bringing 50 international galleries of folk, self-taught, and outsider art to Center 548 for four glorious days. The fair offers the rare opportunity for artists operating far outside the regulations of the art world — whether marginalized, isolated, incarcerated, institutionalized or psychologically compromised — a space to show the vibrant and singular artworks that don’t just reflect their worlds, but constitute them. In anticipation of one of our favorite art events of the year, we’re spotlighting a different outsider artist every day.
“It is strange to think one is a candidate for immaculate conception. But I sit and wait for some spirit to combine with me and lead to product.” Although this impassioned statement sounds like the words of an artist working perhaps centuries ago, they’re actually from outsider artist Andrew Frieder, born and raised in Lancaster, California, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, who passed away only last year.
The artist often weaved details of his own life with material from the most classic and universal narratives of them all, from the tales of Greek Mythology to the Old Testament. Beasts, serpents, skeletons and hybrid creatures populate his mixed media canvases, many of which were made by whitewashing acrylic gesso on charcoal drawings and machine-stitching the paper together. The images combine soft pastels and muted tones with sharp-edged textural intrusions like piercings and perforations, driving the works into what Good Luck Gallery calls “aesthetic submission.”
Frieder grew up fluent in French and proficient at fencing; he was a ranked tournament player. After suffering a fencing injury, however, he turned his attention to art. During his education at art school, Frieder experienced a mental breakdown, and continued to live with symptoms of schizophrenia for much of his adult life. Frieder was open about his experiences, channeling many of his observations regarding his condition into his work, splicing together his own story with those of Greek, Roman and Biblical lore to craft visual hybrids at once personal and universal.
“It’s naive, there’s a lot of figure in it,” Andi Campognone, Museum Manager and Curator at Lancaster’s Museum of Art and History explained to The Huffington Post. “There was a lot of printmaking involved. And then he would go in and rework pieces with paint and stitching. He was really drawn to the texture that stitches made. For him it was a security thing because his grandparents were in the garment district, so it was something familiar to him.”
Not only were Frieder’s final products artworks worthy of attention, his various tools, mostly handmade, were just as astounding. “He hand-made about every tool he used,” said Campognone. “His house was an installation in itself. There wasn’t a bedroom and dining room and a living room, but a sewing room and a tool room and a printmaking room. He would go to thrift stores and garage sales and turn these found objects into tools he would use. He built his own presses from scratch, all made from things discarded from other people. He felt every tool could be used a second time.”
Aside from being a fine artist, Frieder fancied himself a barber and cobbler too. He was a tireless thinker and proponent of self-taught art. Although private and reclusive when making art, Frieder was a regular at his local art museum, Lancaster’s Museum of Art and History, and often shared his opinions on art history and theory to museum goers and staff. Although his schizophrenia caused him great pain for years — he destroyed his entire body of work three times over as a result — for the final two decades of his life Frieder experienced peace of mind, a healing transformation he attributed largely to art-making.
“He was very generous with his time and his materials,” Campognone summarized. “He donated a lot of his work that he hand-framed to our museum store and modestly priced them so people could afford them. We value the work because it is so raw and it was so sincere. He really dealt with the human situations that others in his situation wouldn’t have dealt with.”
Frieder’s work will be on view courtesy The Good Luck Gallery at the Outsider Art Fair, from January 29 until February 1, at Center 548 in New York.
Itali@magazine May 2015
Da Los Angeles a Napoli, surfisti d’arte sulla cresta dell’onda
Lidia Monda29 Maggio 2015Arte,
Il mare è unico e bagna chiunque allo stesso modo. È l’habitat più democratico che ci sia, poiché si concede, ma non prima di aver parificato tutti, riportandoci con una certa neutra severità alla nostra dimensione di bipedi inadatti al nuoto. Il mare insegna l’umiltà, ed è pura filosofia.
Il mare è MANA, “forza vitale” che lega dieci artisti e surfisti californiani che, a un certo punto del 2013, si sono riuniti alle Hawaii, e attraverso la sapiente regia della direttrice del Museo MOHA di Lancaster, Andi Campognone, hanno infuso vita ed energia a quest’avventura d’arte e sport.
dieci surfisti d'arte e due napoletani “California dreaming: tra Surf e Arte” è, infatti, il titolo di una mostra che si terrà dal 28 maggio al 10 giugno a Napoli, presso Villa di Donato. Curata da Cinthia Penna e dalla stessa Andi Campognone, la mostra ospita dieci artisti: Craig Skibs Barker, Casper Brindle, Ben Brough, Alex Couwenberg, Ned Evans, Steve Fuchs, Eric Johnson, David Lloyd, Ken Pagliaro e Alex Weinstein, che interpretano il tema del mare, ognuno a suo modo, con fotografie, dipinti cubisti o installazioni translucide. A essi si affiancano anche due artisti-surfisti napoletani, Rosario Guida e Dario Correale che cavalcano quest’onda con le loro opere.
Protagonisti anche di un docufilm ‘MANA’, proiettato in loop ieri durante la serata inaugurale della mostra, questi surfisti d’arte giungono a Napoli, planando con le loro tavole da surf dalle onde della California fino alla nostra città, dove ci entusiasmano con la loro variopinta “Gioia di Vivere”, proprio come il celebre quadro di Matisse.
La mostra, inaugurata ieri sera a Napoli, si terrà dal 28 maggio al 10 giugno presso Villa di Donato, a ridosso del bosco di Capodimonte. Raccoglie opere coloratissime dai forti colori pop, moderni e informali che si mescolano in un meraviglioso ensemble con l’atmosfera settecentesca di Villa di Donato, un’impensabile perla nel centro storico di Napoli, ex casino di caccia borbonico una volta annesso al bosco reale. La location non è casuale, è, infatti, sede dell’Associazione culturale Art. 1307, che si occupa di promuovere l’arte a livello internazionale, creando un vero e proprio centro di smistamento di idee e ricerca. Un mecenatismo che promuova il nuovo in base ai meriti, e che non si basi sulla notorietà degli artisti è qualcosa che in questi tempi miseri non solo per la crisi, diciamolo, lascia piacevolmente colpiti.
E l’insieme di mostra e film lascia il segno, perché si respira l’odore del sole sulla pelle e il calore dell’amicizia trentennale che prima di tutto lega i dieci protagonisti di quest’avventura. Ma si spinge oltre, fino a tracciare una weltanschauung comune costruita sul valore dello sport e dello spirito di gruppo, sui temi del mare e della condivisione, sul senso del colore e della rappresentazione visiva. E come accade tra amici, in cui ci si ritrova su una piattaforma condivisa di valori profondi, così anche in questa mostra ritroviamo un comune basamento di valori, ognuno dei quali però interpretato poi in modo diverso da ciascuno dei dieci artisti, secondo la propria personalissima prospettiva.
Un’energia in costante fluttuazione. L’individuo che dà voce al gruppo. Il gruppo che dà voce all’individuo. Un movimento che viene e che va. Proprio come le onde del mare.
WhiteHot Magazine 2014
The Artists of the Film MANA
Lancaster Museum of Art and History
June 21 -- August 31, 2014
By SHANA NYS DAMBROT, AUG 2014
It’s pronounced “MAH-nah” -- an untranslatable Polynesian concept that refers to an elusive but ubiquitous sense of awe-filled connectedness to the patterns and powers of natural forces -- especially the ocean. The current exhibition at Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH) highlights the work of ten visual artists whose lives and studio practices are defined by the presence of mana in their conciousnesses and on their canvasses. They are the same ten artists who are featured in the new documentary film MANA, directed by photographer Eric Minh Swenson, which unpacks their individual relationships to the ocean as an allegory for creative momentum.
Popular Jungian-style analysis of water as a stand-in for the subconscious makes a lot of sense; you dream of a roiling ocean, a placid lake, an icy woodland brook, etc. and an emotional match is easy to grasp. And surfing as a metaphor for riding the creative wave is just as straightforward. The artists in the film speak insightfully about the operations of intuition, focus, and clarity in a personal sense -- and equally passionately about the magic of surface qualities, scale, the role of color, the play of light, luminosity, transparency, undulation, and reflection in a formal sense. Not everyone in the movie is currently an avid daily surfer, though all either are or have been, and all are at least enamored of the oceanside culture, living in either greater LA or on the island. MOAH for its part is dedicated to its geographical region and its particular spirit and history, and committed to a curatorial embrace of the current cultural moment across all media, valuing individual visions of a shared place, like a real-time time-capsule. And there is a quality about this show (and film) that is in perfect alignment with this mission, speaking to the diverse expressions of this waterlogged community.
Most of the work technically exists within the boundaries of traditional genres like painting, sculpture, and photography -- within which arenas they each succeed in defining their own territory, articulating an eclectic array of stylistic, narrative, and material-driven work along the abstract/symbolist/conceptual continuum. As a group they explore the shared topic at hand in as many stylistic modes as there are artists -- in fact, more, as several artists exhibit work in more than one medium. Ned Evans shows both painting and dimensional resin works for the wall, demonstrating the power of light and both saturated and diffuse color in two and three dimensions. While the radiant, gradient orange of the painting invokes the honey-drip of the setting sun despite its geometrical arrangement, the cluster of smaller cast resin drops and puddles come closer to being water than to depicting it. Similarly, Alex Weinstein’s painting is an abstraction, more gestural and expressionistic than Evans’ but no less evocative of the low-hanging sun. Weinstein’s concrete cubes are topped with a layer of wave-motion like frozen riptides; blending hard surface with soft algorithms in a way that again, more embodies than depicts the water it represents. Casper Brindle makes paintings whose shimmering horizon-line vistas seem to change their surface qualities with the directionality of ambient light and viewers’ movements -- sometimes literally changing color due to his use of dichroic pigment. Again, though stylistically singular, we have an example of evocation both rather than and in conjunction with depiction in regarding the sea. His sculptural installation (a school chair on a slightly raised, highly reflective dias, the whole awash in a ceiling-mounted projection of cosmic, nebulous, sparkling light) is both captivating and witty, and refers it seems to time spent staring out the window at school, dreaming of the surf to come.
Evocative quasi-documentarian photographs by Ken Pagliaro portray surfers doing their various alone and together things, paddling out en masse as a memorial gesture, ebulliently riding their chosen crests, contemplating the stunning natural perspectives only available out on the water. They are eccentric, experiential, archetypal, and personal. Restrained, conceptual oceanic topographies are also Steve Fuchs’ happy place -- except rendered in milled wood as topographic patterns that express the fractal quality of ocean water as bas relief drawing made with precision and patience.
There is a decided prevalence of specific materials which tether the group to specific Los Angeles history and art history -- stencil, collage, spray paint, digitalism, resin, foam, fiberglass, automotive paint, surf wax, light & space, finish fetish. Notable is Eric Johnson whose undulating, glimmering, glass-like, watery resin works are simultaneously abstract paintings and natural-sciences style dimension rendering of wave form, not unlike Weinstein’s sculptural blocks. Johnson achieves both solidity (mass) and luminosity (refraction), and by hanging them on the wall, the cast shadows discover their own part to play in the sculptural experience of the work. Alex Couwenberg makes paintings that also have a slightly sculptural aspect to them -- in that the multiple layers of textured pigment used to construct his engineered supernovas are build up off the surface, so that the interplay of color, style of mark making, and a physicality of the surface elements not usually associated with the kind of hard-edge abstraction he practices all have a role to play in his explosive engineering of a rich, luscious tertiary palette.
Painters Ben Brough and David Lloyd each take on certain kinds of specific imagery, cultivating versions of the laid-back surrealism fostered by the topsy-turvy visual culture in Surflandia. Across Brough’s rough and tumble bleached color fields are scattered emblems of the people and their habits in a deceptively simple style that seems sparse but contains multitudes. Lloyd creates a multidextrous jumble that through contemplation resolves its unique deployment of trompe l’oeil, geometric hard-edge, and splash-bangs into a proper picture. Some of the most engaging work across the show deals with the overall sensibility of the time and place -- beyond fine art, embracing the attendant culture of music, film, fashion, youth, and sun-worship. That’s where Craig “Skibs” Barker really comes in, with an impressively elaborate installation so unique, quirky, eclectic and exuberant that it threatens to steal the show, but instead contextualizes the whole in a veritable chapel to nostalgia, pop art, and pretty girls. Amid a sprawl of vintage objects (mannequins, knick-knacks, old TV sets playing expertly collaged video clips juxtaposing the sweetness and subversion that characterized the OG surfing generation at the pinnacle of its dope-friendly good life, high-heel shoes, hand-painted signs, copies of Vargas drawings made by the artist’s grandfather, and ads for hosiery only Don Draper could love) by turns collected, appropriated, inherited, and transformed -- amid this orderly tumult one finds large and small paintings in their proper context of vintage, salt-taffy sex appeal.
This post is dedicated to the memory of skate and surf legend Jay Adams of Zephyr and Lords of Dogtown fame, who died suddenly on a surf trip to Mexico during the time of this writing. He went out doing what he loved the most -- chasing mana.
KCET by Evan Senn
Walking up the repurposed bank that now exists as Andi Campognone Projects in downtown Pomona--passing the ominous and creaky glass doors, something evocative and huge comes into view, just past the title wall; it's a large photograph of a very banal-looking building. It sits calmly, unmoving. The colors are muted, and the building seems eerily familiar. Perhaps it is a restaurant of some kind, with lights on inside, and a gaggle of balloons tied to a newspaper dispenser outside its front door. The signage is mysterious and doesn't allude to the inner-workings at all. The inference of humanity is put upon this seemingly empty place, but no human activity is recorded. Next to it is another seemingly abandoned building, a beautiful and forgotten gas station, with a style that suggests the visual kinesis of art deco, which now has become dilapidated and calm. The composition demands a long stare from a viewer; these gorgeous old and empty photographs only hint at humanity, and seem to act as more of a relic of our presence.
The photographs of Amir Zaki portray a vacuous spirit of the Inland Empire; subjects look as though they were once full of life, but now appear abandoned, spacious and slow. For as long as I can remember the IE has been like these photos, a vast space full with emptiness. The photographs of Amir Zaki show that side of the IE without judgement; instead, they provide loving attention and just enough human reference to make them evoke story-telling a time long forgotten. Zaki takes the buildings out of the recognizable setting of any city, and objectifies them. "They are more peculiar, almost portrait-like in their insistence on foregrounding the eccentricities that make each structure and the surrounding landscape unique," he says. The theme of personified buildings runs through the entire exhibition. Work by Naida Osline, Lewis deSoto, Sant Khalsa, Robert Flick Tony Maher, Julie Shafer and Thomas McGovern all show these banal yet intriguing parts of the IE -- from a variety of perspectives, but composed in such a way you can't help but feel a narrative aspect, a human presence left lingering in details, full of intrigue. The photographic works in the exhibition developed from each artist's creative impulse to visually articulate their independent experience of being here.
"Untitled (91)" by Amir Zaki | Photo: Courtesy of Andi Campognone Projects.
The Inland Empire was one of the first areas settlers flocked to during the California Gold Rush, as it was a luscious and supple green valley area, with a natural water source running through the heart of it -- the Santa Ana River. The wide expanse of the Inland Empire became home to hundreds of thousands, just 50 miles east of the metropolis of Los Angeles, this area had the convenience of being close enough to the major cities of the area, without losing that quiet and spacious attraction that the area was known for. Nowadays, the same rings true. The difference is that somehow over the years, some people started regarding the IE as a wasteful area of nothing. Abandoned homes, buildings, garbage -- even the Federal and State government treated the IE like it was a wasteland. Even though the luscious green valley is now more of a boulder bed of mountains and desert, the IE is still one of the few places in California that has a natural water supply -- the only problem is that now, instead of benefiting our own areas, it is pumped into other cities and areas that do not have a natural water source.
"Self Portrait with the Santa Ana River" by Sant Khalsa.
The nine artists included in the exhibition, "Being Here" are all local artists -- either they were born in the IE, work in the IE or spent time growing into themselves in the IE. These artists are touched or impacted by their location, and in "Being Here", they are able to express their emotive inspiration about the IE.
"Each of their creative works provide us with a unique view and perspective of life in the IE, a place close enough to Los Angeles to have the advantages and challenges of a major urban environment yet still a sufficient distance away to develop its own individual character and identity," says curator Sant Khalsa.
Douglas McCulloh's piece in the exhibition is a giant wall piece; an abstract composition that is comprised of over one hundred images that come up in Google when searched for "Inland Empire." McCulloh uses our contemporary technology and modern-day reliance on machines as a means to create a truly contemporary reflection of what people think of when they think of the Inland Empire. "Who needs a camera when Flickr adds 46 million images per month and Facebook serves 1.2 million images per second? The online image world provides deeply layered, remarkably resonant views of every subject imaginable--every place, every culture, every object, every idea," says McCulloh.
"Being Here" Installation Shot, Dougals McCulloh, Lewis deSoto, Julie Shafer | Image: Courtesy of Andi Campognone Projects.
"Being Here" Installation Shot, Thomas McGovern and Amir Zaki | Image: Courtesy of Andi Campognone Projects.
Based on an idea by Sol LeWitt, "The idea is a machine that makes the art," McCulloh not only informs the viewers of the stigmatization of the IE, but also reminds the viewer of the insane reliance on digital media-technology, and helps to reinforce the gap between reality and media.
Just next to the giant Google search, Lewis deSoto's Agua Mansa, meaning "Gentle Water," shows an entire wall of a perfectly photographed image of the car-sea in the ghost town of Agua Mansa, only the cemetery remains, it once was the largest settlements in San Bernardino County. deSoto's photograph is 24" by 128," and every inch of the photograph is a 300 dpi version of that inch, giving every single part of the image a complete and in-focus attentive quality. All of this area is important to deSoto--he relates this artwork to a sea of water, of rising and disassembly of nature. This sea of cars and car parts not only reflects a relic-graveyard of human manufacturing and excess, but in this ghost town, this is their sprawling sea, unmoving, unchanging, with a slight and distant sound of crows and a rush of water through the Santa Ana river reeds.
Naida Osline hones in on another important aspect of the experience of being here in the IE, the psychedelic magic of the desert. Many great artists, writers and musicians have found peace as well as inspiration in the transcendental desert experiences. Whether it is mind and body-altering or just imaginative, the IE desert lands give way to incredible creativity. "The local sky is a constant concern for me," says Osline. "I have been acutely aware of the air pollution, since moving to Riverside in 2010, and obsessively check the air quality for times that it is safe to go outside and take a deep breath. The air quality in the Inland Empire is alarmingly bad and the most damaging pollution for our health is that which is invisible--fine particulate matter. In essence, the sky where I live is both beautiful and toxic."
"Backyard High No. 2" by Naida Osline (Image Courtesy of Andi Campognone Projects)
"Being Here" Installation Shot, "Christmas Flood, 2003 #3, Day Two" by Tony Maher | Image: Courtesy of Andi Campognone Projects.
"Sunset Hotel Fire" by Tony Maher. (Image courtesy of Andi Campognone Projects)
Tony Maher utilizes staged photography with hand made diorama-style scenes of real life events that took place in the IE, the Sunset Hotel Fire from 2002. Maher's photographic practice is obsessively drawn to the concept of memory. Photographs, like the sense of smell, have keen magic to evoke memories in viewers/smellers. The objectification of a life event has the capability of recalling more than just the event itself, and Maher plays on that. His works "deal with the issues of remembrance and the representation of locations in my past, from childhood to adult," he says. "The models I create and then photograph become simulacra for the places I once lived, visited or simply hung out. They tend to offer more than the recreation of the original experience as well, often conjuring up more than just the one original memory of that specific life experience."
Each of the artists in this exhibition bring a totally different view on their amorous ideas of what this land holds. "Being Here" has little to no reference of the human figure in the works, but the impressions and relics of imprinted humanity on the environment is notable and intriguing. The artists involved are esteemed photographers in our contemporary SoCal art scene, and the exhibition may be expanded on later next year, but this well-rounded portrait of an underrepresented area is thought provoking and insightful, without people or words to help. An honest observation of the reality of this area results in the creation of highly conceptual and beautifully captured systems of relating to their environment.
"Being Here" at Andi Campognone Projects, 300 W. 2nd Street, Pomona. . Through April 27. Admission is free.
Exploring the IE through an amorous lens
Discarded car lots, abandoned gas stations, the sprawling expanse of tract homes, and dried-up river beds…Welcome to the Inland Empire, an oasis for those willing to look just a little closer. Andi Campognone Projects in downtown Pomona presents the work of nine artists in a revamped bank building to bring a photographic exhibition of impressive affect to the Inland Empire. Derived from the experiences of living and/or working in the IE, this group of artists creates imagery directly related to their own perspectives of life in this region. Characterized by individual views of the valley, and an unprecedented roster of heavy-hitting artists, this curation of traditional film and non-traditional digital photographs gradually dispels any myths or stereotypes that may permeate the Inland Empire. “Being Here” is a celebration of a little known secret: this place rocks!
So why here? Home is where the heart is, or your heart is where your home is, either way, IE is where their hearts and their homes are. For an artist “place” greatly influences the production and process of one’s work and this show aims to illuminate just how the IE has developed in the works of this group of exceptionally talented and successful photographers. Their strong ties to this region are reflected in the artworks of Lewis deSoto, Robbert Flick, Sant Khalsa, Thomas McGovern, Naida Osline, Tony Maher, Douglas McCulloh, Julie Shafer, and Amir Zaki. Some came and never left, others grew up here, however they settled they each have something in common, they choose not to leave. This could be the principle thread running through the show, a deep appreciation that marks these works as much more than photographs of the landscape. The entire show could be rearranged, and still this commonality would radiate, distinguishing the source of their connection and what sets these images apart is the essential passion these artists feel for this specific region.
Aside from the self-portraiture shadows seen in Khalsa’s work and McCulloh’s digital montage highlighting a Google image search of the Inland Empire, there is an overall absence of “figure” in this show that is almost entirely overlooked and a bit mysterious. While evidence of people can be observed throughout, in the waving balloons and diner lights of Zaki’s images, or the Sunset Hotel engulfed in flames by Maher, the content in these images create such a depth of character that the lack of an actual figure almost goes unnoticed. Rather, the focus becomes reserved for the spaces between, the spots void of conventional attention, hinting at the passage of time, the divides, and the boundaries. An honest observation of the reality of the place these artists are in, results in the creation of highly conceptual and technical systems of expounding their relation to their environment.
As many of the participating artists are also professors at local So-Cal universities, show their works nationally and internationally and have been featured in such institutions as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Whitney, and The MET, it comes as no surprise there is also a striking appreciation for the representation of space and time in the physical techniques ranging from traditional photographic prints to contemporary digital manipulation. Lewis deSoto creates images of extreme resolution by stitching together over 80 detail shots to create a panoramic image using a highly sophisticated digital process, while Shafer transformed a trailer into a giant pinhole camera to create Silver Gelatin negative images of the landscape.
Not just a mirage on the sweltering asphalt, the illusion of this show is that there’s no illusion at all, it’s all right there for the taking, you just have to look! This exhibition offers a peek into a region underrepresented on a multitude of levels. Through a powerful curation of photographers and artworks, there is already talk of a possible expansion of this show in the future. Come catch a glimpse of what these artists have seen for years.
“Being Here” at Andi Campognone Projects, 300 W. 2nd Street, Pomona. www.andicampognone.com. Through April 27. Admission is free.
Being Here | The exhibition features photographic works by 10 extraordinary artists whose imagery derives from the experience of living and/or working in the Inland Empire (IE). Each of the their creative works provide us with a unique view and perspective of life in the IE, a place close enough to Los Angeles to have the advantages and challenges of a major urban environment yet still a sufficient distance away to develop its own individual character and identity.
The IE is characterized by the strong contrast of suburban sprawl, shopping malls, freeways, and small urban centers against open space, towering mountains, immense blue skies, and quiet solitude. For many artists, 'place' greatly influences their ideas, process, and production, and this is reflected in the artworks of Lewis deSoto, Robbert Flick, Sant Khalsa, Thomas McGovern, Naida Osline, Tony Maher, Douglas McCulloh, Susan Rankaitis, Julie Shafer, and Amir Zaki. Their vision is diverse and vast like the nature of the environment -- the landscape and people of the IE. Each artist's work is distinct in its concept, content, and approach, providing us with an opportunity to view and gain understanding of the significance of the everyday -- the ordinary and often overlooked. The photographic works in the exhibition developed from each artist's creative impulse to visually articulate their independent experience of being here.
Being Here opens February 9 at Andi Campognone Projects
HuffPost April 2013 by Mat Gleason
Painter Gary Lang has enjoyed a celebrated career worthy of his keen talent. Free of the burden of conceptual angst that plagues most artists of our era, he penetrates optical space in his large circular paintings that defy the nihilism of both Duchamp’s mechanical spinning wheels and Jasper Johns’ targets. Far from mechanized, these are exercises in concentration and close inspection sees an ever-present hand in the almost precise brushstrokes.
A separate body of work unlocks the poetry of language within the aesthetics of text. In today’s specialized art world this is fodder for two separate artists, but Lang is unabashedly poet and painter.
I have been a fan of his riveting painted surfaces for two decades and was excited to make the hour and ten-minute drive from Los Angeles to Lancaster’s Museum of Art and History. That is a quicker drive than downtown to the beach in rush hour, so on the Los Angeles cosmic odometer, MOAH is closer to many parts of Southern California than MOCA.
The MOAH space and curation of the show of Lang’s new work rewarded the Lang fans in attendance, a nice slice of the LA art world and plenty of locals. Lang creates a space for a universe beyond space to exist, to incite the retina as a pipeline to a deeper place within. The trend in art this month seems to be away from actually looking and especially from making things to be looked at. Philosophically, “to be looked at” is quite far from “to be seen.” As the artist explains on camera in the recent Eric Minh Swenson directed video, Brave Gestures, “This painting... really removes me from myself and brings me right back.”
Some have dismissed his painted discs as a rehash of the target-like circular paintings of Kenneth Noland. Yes, they both paint round circles. That is where any similarity ends. The Noland comparison is the most superficial read as the artists’ concerns are almost at a polarity. Noland was painting surface to emphasize the materials and formal nature of painting. Lang is creating ocular space to transform consciousness. The comparison speaks more about a jaded, dismissive art world than it does the subject matter of Noland or Lang.
Lang’s poetry speaks of a wounded wanderlust, a lamentation of the ills of the present, no way out and yet the poet unbending in saying what he sees. The artworks he creates of these urgent stanzas achieve what language rarely does — instead of asserting concept, the words are undermined by their very letters, forming rhythms all their own. Without spaces in between the words, Lang illustrates the primacy of the image even in pictures made entirely of literate source material.
The main gallery of the museum is a serene, vast square cube that emphasizes vertical space. Designed by Mark K. Lahmon at PSL Architects, this stark nature of the cube heightens Lang’s Circles to obliterate any notion of horizon and to truly function as painted portals to a pictorial beyond. MOAH Chief Curator Andi Campognone pointed out “it’s not only the ability of the scale of Gary’s pieces to be fully realized in the space but the right angles of our very modern space compliment the nature of his circular shapes.” Geography also triumphs, as she underscored, “Of course we’re fortunate to have the illumination of the natural desert light in our galleries.”
The easy drive to a stunning location housing an underappreciated master painter adds up to an important exhibition of an artist many, myself included, have long championed.
Review in the Huffington Post by Peter Frank:
Megan Geckler has been realizing her webbed multicolor installations around the country and even world of late, but less frequently has she shown small individual pieces. What these frontal objects lack in physical embrace they make up for in visual pizzazz. Geckler’s compositions, fabricated like the installations from flagging tape stretched over tubular steel supports, resemble lawn chairs somehow mutated into Bauhaus tapestries. The tape, gloriously hued in its plastic sheen, describes networks of regularly or not-so-regularly alternating color – or, as frequently, black on white, or even black on black. (As evidenced by this body of work, at least, Geckler experiments incessantly with sometimes surprisingly nuanced color, and non-color, combinations.) Varying the width of her tape, the density of her weave, and/or her palette, Geckler realizes a surprisingly broad formal vocabulary. She also realizes a surprisingly painterly art out of paint-free materials. (Andi Campognone, 300 West 2nd St., Pomona CA; closed. www.andicampognoneprojects.com)
- Peter Frank
ARTltd Magazine January 2012
Megan Geckler: "A Fraction of the Sum" at Andi Campognone Projects
by christopher michno
With the creation of eight new works in "A Fraction of the Sum," Megan Geckler foregoes the engagement of architectural space so characteristic of her large-scale installations in favor of a more intimate conversation. Consistent with the hybridized nature of her encompassing installations, which incorporate both painterly and sculptural concerns, the works in "A Fraction" --all constructed from flagging tape interwoven along two axes between wall-mounted stainless steel supports--indicate her interest in the literalness associated with the vocabulary of Minimalism and the phenomenological concerns of Light and Space art. Yet, she also resoundingly signals her enthrallment with abstract painting.
The works in "A Fraction," aside from a few minor changes in depth, essentially operate on two dimensions; as a result, it is a conversation more intensely focused on painterly concerns. Geckler playfully, almost flirtatiously, tweaks optical receptors, in a serious engagement of visual sensuality. The interwoven squares within the repeated cruciform structure of Red, Yellow, Blue exhibit a quality of visual flickering reminiscent of hard-edge abstract painter Karl Benjamin, specifically, his "checkerboard" canvases and "V/C" paintings. But Geckler is also enamored with progressions of numbers, logic, and possibilities, which she rifles through, forward and backward, as demonstrated in Warm/Cool and Cool/Warm, works which exhibit an affinity with Josef Albers and his use of mathematical relationships to structural composition. Visually, Warm/Cool and Cool/Warm also reference Frank Stella's Double Scramble (1968), one of myriad paintings of concentric squares which Stella generated in multiple color progressions and gray scales, evoking the illusion of a double ziggurat either receding into the picture plane, on the one side, or protruding from it, on the other.
While Geckler alludes to the paradox of painting as a medium of flatness that speaks to the illusion of depth, she also embraces the zeitgeist of the digital age as the milieu in which culture increasingly exists; the manner in which she interweaves flagging tape results in a mimesis of digitized pixilation. Only the on/off signal in the abstracted digital world becomes, for Geckler, discrete squares of color, winking and flashing, on the surface of her construction. Instead of a simulacrum of the literal world, Geckler creates a concrete experience that engages physically, offering perceptual stimuli that vibrate and dance before our eyes.
Andi Campognone Brings 20 Years of Artistic Leadership to MOAH
February 2nd, 2012 by Peggy Hager
The city of Lancaster has announced they are contracting with Andi Campognone to be the curator for the new Lancaster’s Museum of Art and History (MOAH). With more than 20 years of experience as a curator and arts administrator, Campognone appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the artistic expansion of Lancaster’s central corridor.
“It is exciting to work for a city that is so forward thinking that its leadership understands the power of the arts in redeveloping its community,” said Campognone. “MOAH’s staff is passionate and enthusiastic and has big plans in the coming year for both the local art community and the greater Antelope Valley.”
Brought on board near the end of 2011, Campognone’s primary responsibilities include managing the grand opening of MOAH; assisting the Lancaster Museum and Public Art Foundation in their fundraising efforts; and garnering community involvement in the emergence of what will be one of the most progressive cultural elements in the Antelope Valley region.
Andi Campognone currently fills the curator position on a contract basis, while also serving as the Cultural Arts Commissioner for the City of Pomona. Andi is committed to administering the preparation, opening and launch of MOAH. Her experience co-authoring Pomona’s Cultural Arts Master Plan, as well as contributing to the city’s Public Arts Ordinance gives her a well-rounded and versed background in arts management, which is sure to be an asset to MOAH’s development. Eventually, a full-time curator is expected to be hired to manage MOAH on an ongoing, permanent basis.
Campognone is also the owner of Pomona-based AC Projects, a gallery specializing in curatorial projects of the highest museum quality with emphasis on California’s contributions to the arts, post-war. Her previous experience includes serving as the Exhibitions Curator and Associate Director of the Riverside Art Museum, where she developed and implemented community-based programming and was instrumental in infrastructure improvements. Prior to her post with the Riverside Art Museum, Campognone functioned as the Coordinator of the Annual New Photography Exhibition at the Millard Sheets Center for the Arts for 12 years.
A member of the prestigious ArTTable organization, as well as advisory board member of the Los Angeles Art Association and Art Ltd. magazine, Campognone brings a wealth of professional knowledge and personal passion to her new role at MOAH. She has spent the past two months getting up to speed on all aspects of the new museum’s development and anticipates the grand opening will take place in May of this year. She notes the pending unveiling as a one-of-a-kind experience which will exalt key attributes in the origin and evolution of the Antelope Valley.
"We are very pleased to have someone with so much experience leading MOAH through this exciting phase of its transformation," said Ronda Perez, Director of the Parks, Recreation and Arts Department.
For more information regarding Lancaster’s Museum of Art and History, call (661) 723-6250 or email inquiries to email@example.com.
IE Weekly Best of the IE 2011
BEST ART GALLERY
Andi Campognone Projects
Local champion of visual arts Andi Campognone opened AC Projects two years ago. This repeat winner has claimed the Best Art Gallery title since the category began appearing in our reader’s poll, and fittingly so. Housed in a former bank, the gallery has continued since its inception to feature artists of all mediums. (Lynn Lieu)
ARTltd Magazine March 2011
Review by Christopher Michno
Steven Poster: Still
A cinematographer whose film work includes the 2001 cult hit "Donnie Darko," Steven Poster proves himself to be a witty observer and opportunist in his recent show of photographs, titled "Still," at Andi Campognone Projects. His works mark the influence of Henri Cartier-Bresson, delighting in capturing fleeting moments, the oddly unique, and the improbably mundane as the world careens by. Employing a fluid, extemporaneous sense of composition that also characterized Cartier-Bresson's work, Poster also successfully incorporates lessons from the Pictorialist School and the Photo-Secession Movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in organizing the compositional elements of his photos and in mastering the density of his prints.
Poster's photographs show a range of values, visual depth, and a tactile sensuality that relates to the richness of drawing; they are beautifully shot and lusciously printed on Hahnemüle Etching Paper. This is especially notable in works like Halloween Hollywood, in which Poster creates an air of mystery; in this nuanced photo, figures emerge from a shadowy ground and are seen processing into a brightly lit haze. This scene has the solemnity of a funereal march, washed in an otherworldly twilight, yet Halloween Hollywood also brims with celebration.
The mood of Poster's photos is alternately restive, engaging, vibrant, and pensive, with subtly concealed hits of longing. But the artist is also capable of revealing a wry wit when examining his subjects; in Carnival Booths, Poster has photographed two carnival booth attendants, who, absent customers, are bored out of their minds, but not enough to notice the photographer. He is funniest when observing folly. In Wonderland, we see a street corner with a sign that marks the intersection of Wonderland Avenue and Wonderland Park. Attached to the street post are two handwritten signs, one which reads “"Divorce" and another which reads "Wedding Guests," each pointing in a different direction. His work is an essentially humanist endeavor, exhibiting moments of reverie, as seen in Sortie, in which a young, elegantly dressed woman on the metro platform in Paris looks up, studying a sign; her momentary stillness in the surrounding bustle of the Paris metro stands in contrast to the other individuals in the photo who are blurry with motion. She is emblematic of Poster and his urge to capture the world in his lens.
ARTScene December 2010
Dean DeCocker: New Work
One doesn’t need to possess a love of aircraft or flying to appreciate the exceptional concepts and aerodynamic construction of Dean DeCocker’s sculptures. Using an array of forms and colors, most culled from planes and race cars, DeCocker uses precision and minimalist structure to create multi-dimensional works that are both elegant and playful. Black cones softly floating out on white rods, twiggy steel sprouting earth-tone circles, and clusters of striped and solid wings and propellers transport us into recognizable worlds, but which are keenly and cleanly filtered through the artist’s penchant for the parts and pieces of mobile machines. Possessing unique anatomy and hue, DeCocker’s creations take us to both the inner and outer destinations (Andi Campognone Projects Downtown Center, Pomona).
ARTScene December 2010
HATS OFF -- Collaborative works by Amy Bystedt and Sally Egan
Curated by Andi Campognone Projects
Paying artful reverence to some of the 20th Century’s great photographic masters, in “Hats Off” Amy Bystedt and Sally Egan expertly recreate a host of famous images that mirror the originals almost down to the molecular level. But imitating conceptual portraiture from the likes of Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman and Richard Avedon is not the central aim of the artists. More significant are the images they’ve chosen – John Baldessari’s “Wrong,” for example, which challenged the notion of artistic rule-making – that make their homage not just consideration of what is historically significant, but a vehicle for perpetuating such examinations. Over it all hovers the idea of what it means to recreate art by other artists – the challenge of which can be significant – together with how this mimicry might serve as a gateway through which the layman is exposed to greatness (La Sierra University, Brandstater Gallery, Riverside).
IE Weekly October 2010
BEST of THE IE
BEST ART GALLERY
Andi Campognone Projects
Unlike Morrissey, we actually love it when our friends become successful. And one of those successes is longtime local champion of the visual arts Andi Campognone, who has recently opened the doors on a brand new location for her gallery. Housed in a former bank right in the heart of the Pomona Arts Colony, we can count on Campognone to keep her space loaded with some of the coolest lookin‘ creations in the area. (JC)
Andi Campognone Projects, 300 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 629-4500, www.andicampognone.com.
IE WEEKLY September 23, 2010
Roland Reiss: Selections from the 1960's
by Matt Tapia
Roland Reiss is a bad ass. Or, as Andi Campognone Projects calls him, “one of Southern California’s key living artists.” His hybridization of painting and sculpture made him a cause célèbre—and suddenly rather ordinary materials like polyurethane and Plexiglas looked interesting and were suddenly elevated to rarefied heights once Pomona native Reiss got his artistic hands on them. Pushing the envelope of art during the late 1950s and 1960s became an essential feature of the objects the artist was creating; objects in which surfaces and contours and shapes became paramount and prompted deeper investigation by viewers, critics and even casual observers. There’s a lot of Reiss shows and tributes going on around the area, but the “Selections” show at Campognone Projects is showcasing distinct works such as “New World” and “Red Shift,” smooth fiberglass and resin gel coat constructions. In the end, you’ll see how Reiss was indeed a paradigm-shifter through his contributions to conceptual art and a tremendous influence on sculpture and abstract painting.
Letter from Los Angeles — Part One
Posted on 21 September 2010
LA in the fall is a joy. The air is clear. Days are comfortably warm, nights are T-shirt cool, and the galleries and museums, however battered by economic stress, seem determined to put their best foot
forward. I’ve spent most of my life disparaging LA. But now, at a riper age than when I first visited, I love LA for all the reasons I once hated it. Its relentless car culture, its celebrity-youth obsession, its obscene
displays of wealth and pervasive kitsch now seem like comforting reminders of better times. Looking at the sprawl of it all against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills, it’s easy to see the appeal. LA, despite its flaws, is a great and wondrous city.
What drew me south were three exhibits honoring Roland Reiss. As an
instructor at the University of Colorado and as a hands-on chair at Claremont Graduate University (1971 to 2001), Reiss shaped two generations of artists. At 81 he continues to work innovatively and prolifically. He recently unveiled ten new paintings from his Flora series at CGU, along with fiberglass-and-resin works from the ‘60s at Andi Campognone Projects in Pomona. A third show, also organized by Campognone, features Reiss alongside former University of Colorado students and colleagues at OBJCT Gallery (located in the space previously occupied by the Claremont Art Museum). The latter, Navigating Boulder: Connecting with Roland Reiss, includes Joe Clower, Jack Edwards, Merion Estes, Judith Hudson, Connie Jenkins, Tom Jenkins, Joan Moment, Jim Richard, Clark Richert and thenvisiting
professor William T. Wiley. I took the opportunity to bask in the
glow of these events and survey as much of the LA scene as I could over a long weekend. Another show, For Roland, at Bunny Gunner in Pomona, featured more than 300 works from CGU grads.
This I did from a base near the intersection of S. Robertson and W. Pico, a neighborhood dominated by orthodox Jews and populated with tacky (and sometimes wacky) storefront shops, most of which seem to
always be closed, Sabbath or not. For me, the scene brought to mind the Tom Waits song Eggs and Sausage. At a nearby Starbucks, actors, homeless men, students, soccer moms, business types and wi-fi moochers of all stripes could be seen ordering coffee and conversing with each other in Hebrew, Spanish, English and Farsi.
Befitting the onset of Sukkot, my own harvest was just as diverse. In addition to the Reiss events, I took in retrospectives from Arshille Gorky (MOCA @ Grand Ave.), Arte Povera pioneer Alberto Burri (Santa
Monica Art Museum), Steve Roden (Pasadena Armory) and a huge show of John Millei’s paintings (Ace Gallery). At Bergamot, we happened upon the first U.S. show of German sculptor Ewerdt Hilgemann (Samuel Freeman) and a retina-scorching exhibit of paintings from Heather Gwen Martin (Luis de Jesus), neither of whom I’d heard of previously. At the Hammer, I checked out selections from the museum’s
contemporary collection, which included head-spinning work from Mark Bradford, Llyn Foulkes, Nayland Blake and Kara Walker among others. (I’ve have more on all the above in a separate posting.)
As for Reiss, his place in the firmament of LA art isn’t always easy to locate. His most distinctive trait is mutability. It’s kept him vital as an artist and a pedagogue of legendary status for nearly 50 years. In 1991, when the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park mounted a 17-year retrospective of the autobiographical dioramas he calls
“miniatures”, Reiss had already quit sculpture for painting. In the years since, he’s reinvented himself continuously in that medium, with paintings that modulate between pure abstraction and glancing representation, and between his competing desires to make
paintings that “don’t allude to anything outside themselves” and an equally strong urge “to engage viewers directly” by purposefully
allowing “the presence of landscape” and other recognizable elements to enter into the work.
In the Flora series, realistically painted flowers float over twisted grids that vaguely allude to an urban archeological map. They sit directly on the picture plane atop intertwined ziggurats that seem to come
from everywhere and nowhere all at once. Some of the works contain buildings; others have backgrounds that appear to be littered with grit and dirt. Overall, the feeling runs from elegiac (Fleur Du Mall II, 2008)
to heraldic (Anthurium in Space, 2010). Apart from light, which has been a central concern, Reiss has never, to my knowledge, explored nature in much depth. He favors either pure abstraction or allusions to the
“built environment” rendered in pigments laced with industrial ingredients to maximize transparency and reflectivity. Thus, Flora is markedly different. Yet in another respect – the use of artificial flowers as models –
demonstrates a longstanding interest in the artifice of his immediate environment. In a floor installation called A Garden for Sally he displays 375 of those flowers, stationed upright on circular wire stands.
It’s tempting to read Flora as an ode to mortality – and, quite possibly, a bid for immortality (since flowers do resurrect each spring). Short-term, I’m betting that the 15 fiberglass-and-resin works Reiss has on view at Andi Campognone Projects will do the job sooner. In the Light-
Space and Finish Fetish movements Reiss was a pioneer. He began working with plastics and shaped fiberglass while he was in Colorado in the late ‘50s – well before hot rod-influenced aesthetics took hold in Southern California. (De Waine Valentine, for example, was a former student of Reiss’ in Colorado. But by the time Reiss relocated from
Boulder to Claremont to run CGU’s graduate program, he’d moved on to the miniatures, and so this work remained unseen in California until now.) Made between 1962 and 1969, it reflects the wide range of his experiments with convex and sometimes ragged-edged shapes that he coated with outlandish finishes: luminescent oranges, candy-apple reds, and metal-flake textures and glazes inscribed with Asian-inspired and camouflage-like forms. Newport collector Gerald Buck snapped up two of the pieces, opening the possibility that the work will turn up next fall in the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time, a traveling exhibition that will draw heavily from Buck’s collection and place Reiss’ work from this period
alongside that of Valentine, Craig Kaufman, Larry Bell, Robert Irwin
At OBJCT’s Navigating Boulder show, Reiss’ former students and
colleagues display a diverse selection of current and past works. Wiley
submits a tapestry based on his epic painting, Alchemical Lion Tortured
with Abstraction, which recently toured the U.S. as part of his Smithsonian retrospective; Reiss features one of his miniatures, Castle
of Perseverance from 1978, a send-up of minimalist interior design; Merion Estes offers a fiery, quasi-surrealist landscape built from collaged swatches of combed paint; sci-fi inspired painter/sculptor Joe Clower serves up a tin city set inside a hand-made vitrine whose supports look sturdy enough to withstand an earthquake; and Joan Moment submits two paintings that overlay op-ish circular forms against super-saturated topographical grounds. The biggest surprise was the Southern California debut of New Orleans artist Jim Richard whose work skewers homes of the rich and the tasteless. He gathers pictures from magazines and books to create electronic mash-ups. These he commits to canvas using multiple perspectives which make the scenes freakier and more claustrophobic than they probably are in real life, proving that it pays to bite the hand that feeds, provided you do it skillfully. If there’s a message embedded in all this, it’s that fierce individuality begets the same when proffered by an enlightened pedagogue who practices what he preaches. From Boulder to LA, Reiss cuts a wide swath, and so do his progeny.
–DAVID M. ROTH
Claremont/Pomona: Celebrating the Legacy of Roland Reiss
by Chris Michno
Given the way that he continuously and relentlessly looks forward, it seems strange for Roland Reiss to look back. Reiss makes objects that are smart and conceptually driven. He morphs periodically--and lately, at an increasing pace--changing media while reexamining his interests. Throughout this evolution, Reiss has consistently conveyed his desire to incorporate the world of ideas and experience into his practice as an artist and as an educator. Critic/educator Chris Miles, who calls Reiss a changeling, says that Reiss sets an important example, embodying a sense of permission for contemporary artists to pursue multiple interests and multiple aesthetic codes. "He is one among many artists and educators who opened up that kind of possibility for an artistic practice which wasn't about being enslaved to a style or a look for the duration of a career," Miles says. Reiss has "maintained his curiosity and allowed himself to change over time. And he's taken the risk of putting that out there in his work."
In addressing a major shift in his early work, Reiss stated in the 1991 catalogue for his survey at the Los Angeles Municipal Gallery that his move from vacuum-formed plastic work in the 1960s to his miniature tableau in the 1970s grew out of reflection and a sense of dissatisfaction with his direction. This September, Reiss will be looking back on his career again. This time, his impetus for reflection is the announcement of the Roland Reiss Endowed Chair in Art at the Claremont Graduate University (CGU). Over the weekend of September 10-12, CGU will commemorate Reiss' thirty years in the Art Department, an accomplishment which Miles, who chairs the Art Department at Cal State Long Beach, considers remarkable. "When I think about the many years that Roland spent chairing the graduate program at Claremont, it's staggering," he muses. "That he did it for so long and maintained his practice at the level of intensity and integrity that he did... I think it is fair to say that it is unparalleled."
CGU will announce the Roland Reiss Endowed Chair as a part of "Familiar Grounds: Celebrating Roland Reiss and Imagining the Art of Tomorrow," a multi-day symposium which will examine Reiss' legacy as an artist and an educator. The symposium will take place at CGU and a number of other venues in Claremont and the nearby Pomona Arts Colony. It includes a day at CGU--open studios; a panel discussion with CGU core Art faculty David Amico, Michael Brewster, Rachel Lachowicz, and David Pagel; a Q&A session with Roland Reiss and Chris Miles; and a public announcement of the Reiss Endowed Chair. A number of galleries in the area--notably, Andi Campognone Projects and Bunny Gunner in Pomona, Andi Campognone Projects/OBJCT Gallery at the Claremont Packing House, East Gallery and Peggy Phelps Gallery at CGU--will tie into the symposium with shows of Reiss" work and the work of many of the artists that he influenced over his career.
According to Danielle Segura, Director of Development for the School of Arts and Humanities at CGU, when she initially approached Reiss to discuss a public event, Reiss hesitated. Insisting that anything that happened had to be about more than just him, Reiss expressed an interest in using the creation of the Endowed Chair to promote the Art Department at CGU and engage in critical dialogue about art. Reiss suggested gathering friends, colleagues, and CGU alumni, and the idea of a symposium came into play. In the same way that Reiss seeks to encapsulate the world in his practice, Reiss' desire to open up the world to himself and to those around him has been a hallmark of Reiss' pedagogy as an educator.
In the same 1991 catalogue in which he ponders the evolution of his work, Reiss refers to himself as part of a collective intelligence. This comment provides a framework for his commitment to discourse and insistence on a certain type of decentralized democracy in his pedagogy. Max Presneill, the curator at Torrance Art Museum who organized the recent show, "Set Theory: Roland Reiss," has observed Reiss' approach to open dialogue for a number of years. While he has known of Reiss' contributions to developments in painting in the Los Angeles area, Presneill became increasingly aware that Reiss exerted as much influence through informal conversations with other artists as he did through the objects he made. Those conversations represent "a core aspect of Roland that has impressed many artists--the engagement with art itself and the art and ideas of others, peers or not," says Presneill.
The kind of critical dialogue that will take place at "Familiar Grounds" forms the fabric of Reiss' pedagogy as an educator. According to David Pagel, Reiss believes in open discussion and independent opinion, and this outlook affected the educational culture in Claremont when Roland arrived to expand the program in 1971. The things that attracted Pagel to Claremont--that it does not adhere to a particular look or style; that it is an open program which cultivates discussion and engagement with ideas; that everyone talks "across media, disciplines, genres, subjects, areas of expertise... has a great deal to do with how Roland set it up," Pagel explains.
Reiss' contribution to artistic practices matches the significance of his contribution to pedagogy. Chris Miles considers Reiss important to developments in assemblage, conceptual art, sculpture and installation, in addition to helping reinvigorate abstract painting in Southern California. "He has had an impact in multiple areas an artist, and also as an educator." In celebrating the legacy of Roland Reiss, who turns 81 this year, "Familiar Grounds" marks an important milestone in Southern California art; it promises to provide a unique look at the practice of an artist and educator who has influenced generations of artists.
IE WEEKLY May 13, 2010
Headlock and Load
Inside a San Bernardino wrestling school, only the strong survive
By: Arrissia Owen Turner
Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” pulses through the sound system. As the Rocky theme song pounds, zealous fans circle as Empire Wrestling Federation members Spandexed to the max mingle in the incongruous setting of a Pomona art gallery, Andi Campognone Projects.
The artistic element of the wrestlers that come through the ranks of Jesse Hernandez’s School of Hard Knocks is finally getting the mainstream appreciation they crave, and it’s through the lens of award-winning photographer Thomas McGovern. This past weekend, the gallery hosted a book release party with McGovern’s poetic photographs displayed.
What started as a leisurely bike ride through his new hometown, the urban sprawl known as the City of San Bernardino, turned into four years of documenting the Inland Empire wrestling scene with his camera and pen. The result is the recently published book Hard Boys + Bad Girls. McGovern’s work has hung in collections in the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Library of Congress. His photos graced the pages of The Village Voice, and the book Pandemic: Facing AIDS.
The Cal State San Bernardino art professor rolled up on the funky, little storefront totally by chance. The strange noises coming from behind the school’s windows lured the storyteller in him through the doors.
So Many Times It Happens Too Fast
“I heard this ‘boom boom’ coming out of the storefront,” McGovern recalls. He stepped inside the aptly titled wrestling school. “I introduced myself as a photographer and within seconds they dragged me inside.”
For the next couple of years, McGovern captured the angst, ambition, pride and joy of the School of Hard Knocks crew. He became enthralled by the wrestlers’ fantasies of greatness and their pull-themselves-up-by-their-boot-straps mentality, their discipline, drive and sophisticated awareness of their characters’ strength mixed with sexuality.
“They express the zeitgeist of our times—sex and the obsession with fame,” McGovern says. “They are not just enmeshed in those issues, they are engaged in them . . . It might just look like kids flying at each other, but it’s not . . . There is this mythic struggle between good and evil. You get to see this beautiful story that is more Marvel Comics than Aesop’s Fables.”
Rising Up to the Challenge of Their Rival
Jesse Hernandez teaches a hybrid form of wrestling, part American and part Mexican wrestling, the latter known famously as lucha libre—Chris Jericho even looked to Hernandez for lucha libre training before heading south of the border. One thing Hernandez tells everyone—Jericho or a newbie—is to always posture for the camera, whether flash bulbs are lighting up or not.
“From the moment they step forward through the curtain, they need to be photo ready, or they could look weak,” Hernandez says. “They are always posing. It’s like bullfighting. It’s in the way they stand.”
Every picture tells a story. Most of the wrestlers come from humble backgrounds, a perfect setting for fantasies to unfold. Their day jobs range from serving in the military to a funeral home director to a nightshift convenience store manager and plenty other vocations in between.
“They get to pretend to be someone else,” Hernandez says. “And the fans get to scream and yell and get out their aggression.”
Little old ladies with walkers have been known to get vicious.
“We’re athletic actors,” says Eddie Mattson, who also wrestles as the persona Icarus Eagle. A lifelong wrestling fan, Mattson can rattle off every one of the early matches that sucked him into the world of wrestling as well as his first times in front of an audience.
“It’s fun getting to be different characters,” Mattson says. “It’s just like Al Pacino playing a different character in different movies. We use different gimmicks, different names . . . It’s just another form of entertainment.”
You Must Fight Just To Keep Them Alive
Nearly all of the Hard Knocks wrestlers can think back to the moment when, as children, wrestling took hold of their imaginations.
“It’s such an improbable dream,” McGovern says. “But they’ve always been driven by this idea that they have to work hard to achieve what they want and that everything they will earn in life they will have to earn through focus and dedication.”
The Hard Knocks gang does not reach their goals alone. Hernandez, who has worked as a professional wrestler, referee and coach for three decades, serves as their coach, mentor and protector. He’s like a father to the wrestlers, Mattson says.
“Jesse constantly nurtures the idea of them all taking each other’s well-being into account,” McGovern says. “It’s interesting this nurturing part of it, yet they’re doing their best to be brutal.”
Setting your sights on becoming a professional wrestler seems as plausible to some as, say, becoming a professional baseball player or a circus clown. The declaration doesn’t always go over so well. Detractors may even be sure to say that the pie-in-the-sky dream sounds sort of silly. But what each wrestler who makes it through the School of Hard Knocks has is a relentless reach for the stars.
“If you peel back the bravado, they’ll say, ‘Maybe I won’t make it,’” McGovern says. “They take shit from their friends. But they all believe that if you aim high, there is a chance you might have something happen for you. If you don’t aim for the top, you sure as hell are not going to get there.”
You Trade Your Passion for Glory
Some do make it though. Hernandez’s graduates have wrestled in the World Wrestling Federation, which became World Wrestling Entertainment, and the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling. Many of his students stayed with the Empire Wrestling Federation.
“Anyone who gets in my ring and starts trying it, it gets in their blood,” Hernandez says. The limelight is addictive, he says, the adrenaline intoxicating. DK Murphy, an Irish brute of a wrestler, spent time on the outside of the ring while recovering from a nearly fatal wrestling accident.
“That was the worst time of my life,” Murphy says. Once he got past worrying about actually dying from his neck injury, his obsession transitioned to getting back in the ring. The thought of not wrestling again was the most crippling part of his injury.
Watching the 2009 Mickey Rourke movie The Wrestler depicting an over-the-hill, achy has-been was a little too real, Murphy says. “I can’t watch that movie too much,” he says. It’s too close to what he knows is a possible reality since he can’t imagine ever not wrestling.
Face to Face, Out in the Heat
While the stories are made up, the physicality of the sport is real. Career-ending injuries as well as untimely deaths are not uncommon in the sport. But wrestlers are innately crowd pleasers, and they go to great lengths to work the room.
The fans drive the performances.
“Unlike theater, where there isn’t all that much direct interaction with the audience, wrestling is deeply involved with the audience,” McGovern says. “They are putting on a play with their body.” One wrestler described it to McGovern as a ballet with blood and guts.
The wrestling matches get determined by fans. If the personae don’t enthrall the crowd, they change. If spectators lose their zeal for a match, someone is pinned quickly. The twisty narrative feeds off the fervor of the fans.
“You have to have the crowd behind you, whether they are booing or cheering you on,” says the green-Spandexed Mighty Mike Mountain. He loves delving into the psychology of the crowd interaction. “We get away with being jerks, talking smack to the kids. At the end of the day, it’s all about what the people think.”
Have the Guts, Got the Glory
Some people might think the female wrestlers are basically eye candy, the requisite T&A in an overly masculine field.
The women will tell you you’re wrong.
Hurricane Havana grew up with 14 older brothers beating her black and blue. When the modeling agency she worked for asked her if she was interested in trying out for a wrestling casting call, she didn’t hesitate. “Once I started, I couldn’t live without it,” she says.
Hurricane Havana loves escaping into her tough persona and lives vicariously through her character. “It’s a relaxing time for me even though I’m getting beat up,” she says. “And it’s empowering. It teaches men there is no way to mess with tough women.”
Her rival Sexy Starrlitt’s snotty spoiled rich-girl character is tough on the outside, but the performance is a stretch from her real self. The stay-at-home mom confesses to being quite shy, and she hasn’t yet told her 4-year-old son about her moonlighting. “I don’t want him to think it’s OK to hit women,” she says. Hurricane Havana and Sexy Starrlitt both wrestle men and women.
They’re Rising Up, Straight to the Top
Hernandez instills a sense of pride in his students, men and women, which translates to other areas of their lives. And for the younger wrestlers, he encourages their parents not to let them come to practices if their grades aren’t up to snuff.
The Friar, a lucha libre-style 14-year-old wrestler, is at the mercy of his report card. To emulate his famous Mexican wrestler uncle Adonis, the Friar must hit the books. His father, Alfred Uribe, says the four years of wrestling his son has experienced boosted his confidence.
The Friar doesn’t tell his school friends about his other life in the ring, but his cousins know the deal. They had no idea he ran with such a hip crowd. “I’m impressed,” says 10-year-old Nicholas Samaniego, who attended the exhibit with his mom and brother. “He put in a lot of work.”
As admirers roam through the gallery, the wrestlers work the crowd. While they indulge fans by putting them in headlocks or threatening to smack their frappuccinos from their grips, they break character occasionally to marvel in the glamour of becoming art exhibit-worthy.
While they are used to the performance art aspect of the gig, hanging in frames and having their faces immortalized in books available through Amazon is an all-new type of high.
“It’s good for the business and good for what we do,” Mighty Mike Mountain says. “This is awesome. I’m in total shock and awe,” he says looking around at the scene, getting a little choked up. “The Mountain is moved.”
Thomas McGovern’s “Hard Boys + Bad Girls” solo exhibition at Andi Campognone Projects, 558B W. 2nd St., Pomona, (909) 629-4500; www.andicampognone.com, www.thomasmcgovern.net. Thru May 29. By appointment only. For more info about Inland Empire wrestling, go to www.empirewrestlingfederation.com or call (909) 886-5201.
ArtScene May 2010
“Hard Boys + Bad Girls” isn’t nearly as kinky as it sounds, though it’s not entirely without eroticism. The title belongs to both the show and Thomas McGovern’s new book, an exploration of a youth-dominant professional wrestling culture seen through the prism of the School of Hard Knocks in San Bernardino, the city the artist also calls home. Female wrestlers range from the fetish/bondage-clad Desire, to Sweet Candy, in a jumpsuit and pigtails, to Sexy Starrlit, who’s somewhere in between, vacillating from tough to come-hither to slightly cherubic, depending on the moment. In a marginalized sport, these young women account for the marginalized gender, and their presence is perhaps the series’ greatest revelation. They evoke a hint of roller derby, but then again something quite apart. Female pro wrestlers’ exposure has been so limited over the years that even though they’re still in the minority here, they breathe a disproportionate amount of life into the sub-cultural whole.
McGovern stumbled upon the School of Hard Knocks on a bike ride and was immediately invited into the subculture’s confines, to the extent that he became somewhat of a collaborator: many of his subjects have relied on his photographs to evaluate and in turn make alterations to their evolving personas. The collection of portraits and action shots ultimately add up to neither the ridiculous nor the sublime, but instead an elegy to muted blue-collar dreams, dreams that are heroic in scope but modest in execution.
We are inclined neither to laugh at these would-be superheroes, nor to be concerned for their well-being; they both writhe in pain and call out for attention simultaneously (though there are exceptions: in a shot of one woman being pinned by another in an outdoor ring, the victim [pinned woman] can’t quite suppress a grin, as she appears to be half-heartedly reaching her hand out for help). The theater of the School of Hard Knocks, as seen via McGovern’s lens, is devoid of the over-the-top caricatures one tends to associate with Vince McMahon’s WWE; even as their costumes are at times garish, their surroundings are decidedly less so, instantly bringing them back down to earth. Several of the portraits feature the wrestlers posing amidst their drab urban surroundings, consistently reminding us that we – and they – are a long way from the Staples Center.
The most intriguing scenes are also the most fleeting: the subculture’s fans. A large photo (36” x 48”), “Steve Masters, Master of Pain, and his #1 Fan,” features a homely woman in a white sleeveless top reaching out in rock star-like worship towards Masters who, glaring towards something off-camera – as if in a break from the action or possibly about to enter the ring – appears to be only a couple of feet away from his fan, and yet looms like a giant. In the background, a young girl looks on in glazed wonder; a young man with a hand-held video camera films from the corner of the frame just behind the #1 Fan; and another young man, a beefy youngster with what appears to be a still camera, crouches in some kind of deference behind Masters. The frame captures passionate fan-hood, but on a blue-collar scale, where the stars, though much nearer, are still just out of reach.
Another standout, an “Untitled” (2002), features no wrestlers but possibly wrestlers-to-be: four youngsters of about six or seven, three boys and a girl, who all seem rather non-committal in their approaches to wearing the authentic wrestling masks that have somehow come before them. A relatively immense teenager in below-knee-length jean shorts and a black t-shirt flanks them to the left, looking on with a complex smile that evokes pride, pleasure and perhaps just a touch of his own insecurity.
This is the cultural legacy the kids have been bequeathed, for now, and they seem to begrudgingly embrace it for a lack of any alternatives. The Inland Empire they were born into, and how their own take on the pro-wrestling subculture evolves over time, goes to the heart of “Hard Boys:” however much the sport manages to hold their interest, any fantasies they may entertain about becoming wrestling heroes will be noticeably tempered by the need to keep one foot in reality – a day job to go along with that masked hood and tights.
- Michael Shaw
ArtScene April 2010
Curiosities of the Curio is an outstanding small delight of a group show at Andi Campognone Projects in the Pomona Arts District. The exhibit is an ensemble cast of local artists featuring small, quirky pieces resembling both the scale and eccentricity of the curio cabinet’s contents from 19th century travelling shows. Carolie Parker’s map pages mounted on plaster have a sculptural rigor straight out of arte povera. Her twist is adding geopolitical concerns. The countries she has torn from the globe are countries at war that, she observed in conversation with me, “are for some reason always colored pink on the map.” Tuan Phan paints mapped surface streets and interstate highways on human forms whose torsos morph into an intense tangle of wires before their heads can develop. Susan Sironi alters flower arranging books by physically removing most of each photo in order to reveal a composite flower arrangement made of one small aspect of each photograph in the book. Denise Kraemer uses melted glass application techniques to mimic sign painting in two raw yet exquisite small wallworks. Like the curio cabinets of yore, the rewards here are in the details of this expertly crafted work. A-List gallery names like Moira Hahn, Sant Khalsa and Sandow Birk contribute small works in their signature styles that add a heavyweight art world presence Ms Campognone knows the growing Pomona scene needs. Equidistant from Orange County and the Inland Empire, Pomona has a gaggle of galleries operating as co-ops, framing shops and alternative spaces. After ten years of being on the fringe there is an established art scene here, nascent though quite fertile, like a petri dish from which one just has a feeling some great and memorable experiment or two will break out over the next few years.
IE WEEKLY December 2009
“Edenistic Divergence” examines the human impact on perfection
By: Stacy Davies
Environment has always played a crucial role in the world of an artist—if not directly represented in a work as landscape or dwelling, then always as a filter through which any emotional representation is seen and felt. Such artistic resonances take on many forms and themes, and when that environment is in chaos, the depictions become more fantastical and heated. Such is the case with the Riverside Art Museum’s newest show, “Edenistic Divergence,” guest curated by Andi Campognone through her curatorial service, AC Projects.
Culling some of the most breathtaking and outwardly chaotic interior landscapes from artists Lisa Adams, Rebecca Niederlander, Kimber Berry and Hollis Cooper, Campognone has put together an awe-inspiring show that depicts not only our divergence from a fabled Eden of perfection, but a recreation of that utopia in relationship to outside modern forces—most specifically, as mentioned in the show’s statement, of “pollution, global warming and genetic tinkering.”
Adams’ work makes an instantly recognizable connection to these powers. Her large oil on panel pieces of landscapes are our trodden grounds—surreal lands with birds and trees, fish and flora. But the beauty of these offspring of nature is capsized by the fact that they are floating on an Earth in upheaval. In Convocation, for example, delicate yellow birds perch high on gnarled branches of a tree submerged in water and tar-like runoff from a serenely smoking volcano in the background. The sky is blue and the water (perhaps from glacial meltdown?) lovingly reflects a truth—one that has been ushered in by destruction. In Given That All Things are Equal, there isn’t even a volcano—just water—but nothing is actually in that water. Instead, images of birds and a flower float above it. Even a ghostly fish and, ironically, a water lily, won’t be tempted by the darkened sea and are instead suspended in the air.
Sculptor Rebecca Niederlander offers up a vision of environmental overgrowth that might be expected in some future Eden when the earth returns to its natural form. In There is a Nova in the Bed Next to Mine, cascades of vellum paper blossoms pour down from the sky creating a jungle of purity that eventually empties into a pool of soft, white petals. It is melting and recycling without destruction. The motif is continued in A Certain Amount of Narcissism is a Good Thing, a mobile maze of white, pink and blue electrical wires turned into whirling dervishes of energy and motion—much like the tempests we both create and fear.
This subtlety is exploded, however, by Kimber Berry’s monumental Liquid Landscape Environment—an astonishingly detailed metamorphosis of combustion and expansion that sprays up the gallery walls and then bubbles back down them, meandering into corners and filling them with electrified colors from across the spectrum. Utilizing acrylics on PVC and vinyl to create this primordial celebration of purple waves crashing and twisting greens creeping, Berry has outdone herself with this organic, other-worldly experience.
Transmuting this wild abandon into a more fixed, yet no less exciting form, Hollis Cooper’s installation, Proteus, continues the colorful ride into what appear to be cities of the cosmos—structures that are recognizable as skyscrapers of a metropolis, but that are clearly located in another dimension, perhaps, even, in a more perfect parallel world of our own. Shooting across the back walls of the gallery, the neon buildings jut into spikes and suddenly roll down into loops and curves, sending us careening up and then blasting down a warping boulevard at sonic speed. It is a world where architecture is not hindered by gravity or zoning, and the pure beauty of structure can be imagined as if nature herself had designed it—a fitting end-piece to this visionary exhibit that pays tribute to man, and his undoing.
“Edenistic Divergence” at the Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, (951) 684-7111; www.riversideartmuseum.org. Open Mon-Sat, 10AM–4PM. $2-$5. Thru Feb. 20.
Curated by Andi Campognone, the group show “Edenisitic Divergence” examines the role of an ever-changing landscape through the critical and diverse lens of female artists Lisa Adams, Kimber Berry, Hollis Cooper, and Rebecca Niederlander. As the title suggests, the art’s visual rhetoric suggests a departure from an idyllic world and an entrance into one tainted by pollution, global warming, and destruction. Upon entering the exhibition space the viewer is consumed by a feeling of other worldliness as Niederlander’s contorted wire sculptures that drape the museum space like a nether world jungle - the wires twist, contort and nearly collapse onto themselves as they dangle from the exposed ceiling. Berry’s installation of shiny, technicolor paint creeps off the walls and along the floor. But perhaps the most arresting works come from Adams, whose large scale panels “Convocation” and “Given that All Things are Considered Equal” are the largest works the artist has ever created. The overlapping paint swatches weave a visual tapestry, which plays with the figurative renditions of aviary and plant life. On the surface Adams’ works are beautiful, delicate, and provoke a sense of wonder. Each is consumed with nature, but while “Convocation” is quite cinematic, “Given that All Things” presents a bird, fish and lily pad in their own, suddenly more symbolic space. The driving narrative in her works may be that life is driven to persist despite the destruction imparted by the hand of man and decay of nature, but the vision of life will change from one moment to the next (Riverside Art Museum, Riverside).
- A. Moret
IE WEEKLY November 2009
"The New Irascibles"
At the Andi Campognone Projects, Sat, Nov. 14 Thru Jan. 2
By: David Jenison
A grand opening deserves a grand exhibit, and that’s what the Andi Campognone Projects assembled for its new exhibition space in downtown Pomona’s Arts Colony. Campognone, the former associate director and exhibition curator of the Riverside Art Museum and former owner and director of the dba256 Gallery Wine Bar, debuts her new space this Saturday with the group show “The New Irascibles.” The opening exhibit pays tribute to the Irascible 18, a group of painters from the late ’40s who protested the Metropolitan Museum of Art for its apparent bias against Abstract Expressionism. Their well-publicized efforts helped abstract art and other modern methods achieve mainstream acceptance. “The New Irascibles” pays homage to this moment in art history while showing that abstract painting can still be relevant and innovative in today’s concept-driven art world. The exhibit includes works by Philip Argent, Daniel Brice, Max King Cap, Alex Couwenberg, Jimi Gleason, Robert Kingston, Andy Moses, Thomas Pathe, Roland Reiss, Greg Rose and Mark Zimmermann and a critical essay by noted art writer and critic James Scarborough.
“The New Irascibles” at Andi Campognone Projects, 558B W. Second Street, Pomona, (909) 629-4500, www.andicampognoneprojects.com. Grand opening reception Sat, Nov. 14, 6-9PM. Thru Jan. 2.
ArtDaily New Pomona Gallery Highlights Southern California Artists
POMONA, CA.-Downtown Pomona gallery dba256 is building on the success of its inaugural show Inland Emperors with its brilliant follow-up exhibit Liquid Light, a collection of paintings chosen to highlight the significance of Southern California artistic innovation. Featured artists include:, Lita Albuquerque, Dawn Arrowsmith, Alexander Couwenberg, Jimi Gleason, Andy Moses, Roland Reiss, Gregg Renfrow, Michel Tabori, Sharon Weiner, Patrick Wilson, and Suzan Woodruff. Shana Nys Dambrot, notable art writer, editor of “Flavor Pill Magazine,” and contributing editor to “Art Ltd Magazine” and other significant art journals, will provide the thematic essay accompanying the show.
Liquid Light was organized to honor the James Turrell installation at Pomona College and the recent Ephemeral: Explorations in Light exhibit at the Claremont Museum of Art. Gallery director Andi Campognone, who resigned earlier this year as Associate Director of the Riverside Art Museum, has chosen to build on the thematic precedence set by these other Inland Empire exhibition spaces, as well as on dba256’s ambitious and highly successful inaugural show, Inland Emperors.
Inland Emperors, whose first reception hosted over twelve hundred people, commemorated the historical impact of significant Inland Empire innovators on the LA art scene, and featured pieces from Karl Benjamin, Paul Soldner, John Divola, Alexander Couwenberg, Doug McCulloh, Sandra Rowe, Susan Rankaitis, Larry White, Robbert Flick, Tim Ernst, Thomas McGovern, and Sant Khalsa with poetry by B.H. Fairchild.
Liquid Light is a collection of engaging paintings that embody the glow, pulse, and finish of the organically Los Angeles “Light and Space” and “Finish Fetish” movements. The beauty of the work in Liquid Light soulfully suggests varying elements of the Mecca of artistic inspirations that are so characteristic of Southern California.
In looking at these abstract paintings, one senses the presence of the mountains and desert, the roar of hot rod engines and crashing ocean waves, the blur of smog and glow of sun. These are the elements that spawned the Light and Space and Finish Fetish movements¾the elements that inspired artists to create beautiful pieces of art that served as an alternative to New York’s Minimalism and brought focus and philosophical significance to the aesthetic beauty of Hollywood and Los Angeles.
dba256 is an ideal space to show California inspired work, as the Pomona gallery is approaching cultural education in an inspired way by combining two of California’s finest creative products: art and wine. dba256 is the only serious art gallery/wine bar in California, and those who visit can enjoy boutique California wines, or taste flights and micro-brews while they absorb the beauty of the shows. The gallery also displays the work of local, emerging artists, such as Sally Egan’s photography and Tom Pathe’s figurative paintings. Pathe’s work will appear in the 2007 Pacific Edition of “New American Paintings.” Liquid Light runs through December 1st.
POMONA, CA.- What distinguishes the art scene east of the 605 – okay, the 57 – is less its variety than its longevity. The Inland region is one of the cradles and incubators of California art from the inception of “hard edge” painting to the subsequent course of sculpture’s “ceramic revolution”. Inland Emperors, an exhibition celebrating this longevity and innovative artistic activity opens at dba256 Gallery September 8th and runs through October 27th. Inland Emperors is the inaugural exhibition for dba256 Gallery which is located in the heart of downtown Pomona’s Arts Colony.
Inland Emperors will feature work by internationally recognized inland region artists known for their major contributions both historically and conceptually to contemporary art. Karl Benjamin (painting), Robbert Flick (photography), Susan Rankaitis (photography) and Paul Soldner (sculpture) are all residents of Claremont. All four of which have made additional contributions in the community as leaders in art education as professors at Claremont Graduate University, University of Southern California and Scripps College respectively. Documentary photography by Sant Khalsa (San Bernardino, Chair of the Art Department of Cal State San Bernardino) will be accompanied by poetry by award winning writer B.H. Fairchild (Claremont). Thomas McGovern, also a resident and professor in San Bernardino, will present new photographic works on decorative ceramic plates. Riverside’s John Divola (University of California at Riverside, photography), Doug McCulloh (photography) and Sandra Rowe (installation) are also included in this exhibition. Larry White (Upland), long time assistant to woodworker Sam Maloof, will present new sculptural works in clay. Alta Loma resident Alexander Couwenberg’s large abstract painting on Birch panel beautifully marries process with materials. Tim Ernst of Idyllwild will present a painting of contemporary landscape. This exhibition will be accompanied by an essay by art writer/critic and Senior Curator of Riverside Art Museum, Peter Frank.
Two receptions will be held for this exhibit. The Inaugural reception will be Saturday, September, 8th 6-10pm and a second reception will be Saturday, October 13th 6-10pm. Both receptions will be during the monthly Pomona Art Walk which takes place on every second Saturday of the month.
dba256 Gallery is dedicated to presenting quality thematic based exhibitions supported by academic theses. Gallery Director, Andi Campognone plans to run the gallery much like a museum space, showing mid-career and established contemporary artists. To support emerging artists in the community, Campognone will dedicate one wall in the gallery and offer site specific installation to local artists in the small adjoining space THE PO@256 on 3rd.
Fine Art and Fine Wine in Pomona by Pat O'Brien 2007
Fine Art and Fine Wine in Pomona
10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, September 6, 2007
By PAT O'BRIEN
When dba256 Gallery opens in Pomona on Saturday, it could well be the first-of-its-kind -- a fine art gallery, offering top-end art for sale, within the comfort of a boutique wine bar.
"I've never come across anything like it," said Andi Campognone, who is opening the gallery with partner Ron Faris. "I've been in several wine bars that have art on the walls, but it's not art of museum quality, certainly not a full-blown gallery."
Campognone should know. She is formerly the associate director of the Riverside Art Museum and has worked as a curator in commercial and nonprofit sectors for 20 years. "I think we are a step ahead," said Faris, who is co-owner of VinNostro, an independent boutique wine label.
He plans to have a wine cellar with 600 handcrafted wines from single-vineyard wineries, primarily Californian. Eventually, he wants to have about 30 types of cheese, as well.
The look is upscale, sophisticated but homey. The walls are exposed brick. Huge sofas invite lingering.
"One of my complaints going to a gallery show is there is nowhere to sit," Campognone said. "We don't want it be some intimidating museum space. We have about four spots in the gallery where you can sit and enjoy the exhibition with your glass of wine."
"Inland Emperors," the inaugural exhibition, features a jaw-dropping number of artists from the region who have national, even international, reputations.
"I feel honored that my opening show would be filled with such talented and important art makers," Campognone said.
They include Karl Benjamin, whose hard-edge abstract expressionist painting is now a chapter in art history.
Benjamin's "Moon Person" and Alexander Couwenberg's "Operator Electric" caught Campognone by surprise when she saw, side-by-side, the paintings made 53 years apart but sharing a similar palette and shapes.
"You can definitely see the influence between the 1954 and 2007 paintings," she said.
Peter Frank, an art critic who writes for The Village Voice in New York and is senior curator for the Riverside Art Museum, writes in an introduction to the exhibit:
"The Inland region is one of the cradles and incubators of California art, and has been since the California idea of hip art was plein air landscape ......
"Indeed, the Inland art scene has arguably been more sophisticated for a longer time than its L.A. counterpart, even anticipating and influencing southern California models for educational and patronage structures. It was out here, after all, that a confluence of artists and critic-curator-historians came together fifty years ago to cultivate and identify a new sensibility, a 'hard-edged' response to abstract expressionism."
Other works in the exhibit include "The Death of the Heartland," a series of landscape photographs by Sant Khalsa with an audio of B.H. Fairchild reciting poetry
Thomas McGovern contributed 10 ceramic plates with black-and-white photographs reminiscent of Greco-Roman images.
There are clay sculptures by Larry White and Paul Soldner.
Doug McCulloh created a piece by doing a Google search of "Inland Empire" and selecting images.
"He has sewn them together digitally. It is a fabulous piece," Campognone said.
Sandra Rowe is making a four-piece sculptural wall installation for the show. Other works come from John Divola, Tim Ernst, Robbert Flick and Susan Rankaitis.
Campognone expects the gallery to serve both artists and collectors.
"In the whole Inland region, there isn't a high-end commercial gallery. There's certainly a great art community but not a commercial gallery to support that," she said. "I think a lot of people who live here don't realize how many important artists live in the inland region, stellar individuals who are major players."
Don't Start the Revolution Without Me by Stacy Davies 2007
If you ever have the chance to sit down with Gallery Director and co-owner of dba256 Andi Campognone as I did, be prepared to walk away with one hell of an arts education--perhaps even indoctrination into artistic and capitalist rebellion. Though Campognone could no doubt talk about patina or acrylic, or how to draw a nose, she leaves that up to the painters, woodworkers, and sculptors, instead focusing on her new gauntlet--an impassioned dedication to revitalize and uplift the struggling art community of the IE. Struggling not from lack of creativity or invention, but from lack of funding, awareness and credit. There are many pockets of these IE communities, in fact. And much of what you see of the arts outside of the IE actually came from and is currently produced here. The hell you say? Read on.
As I spoke with her at the still under construction corner gallery and wine bar in the Pomona Arts colony this past weekend (a gorgeous, hip thing, with full brick walls and black leather sofas) even I, a self-proclaimed artsy type, was astounded by how much I didn't know about artists in the IE.
I didn't know (though I wasn't very surprised to find out), for example, that there is a serious lack of cultural support available to most artists in our dusty bowl--few commercial galleries if any, and even fewer art fairs. I also didn't know (but was surprised to find out) that hardly any of the well-known working LA artists live in LA anymore--they live out here or in San Pedro, though they show their work in LA. This adds to the illusion that the LA bastion of egocentricity is the true purveyor of cutting-edge art, even though it couldn't be with such high rents. In truth, most LA commercial galleries seem to be supplying little more than market demand and decorative art these days. Besides, artists--the edgy, pushing the envelope kind-- usually lay on the outskirts of towns, at least the ones who create regardless of the latest trends. In fact, it is these folks who usually start those trends--pre-capitalist filtering.
Constructing a viable support for these creators is the dream that finally came to land for Campognone--and she stresses that her gallery is not your run-of-the-mill nonprofit. She's definitely in it to make a profit, but to do so with artistic honesty and integrity. That means she seeks out art that expresses the highest ideals in composition and form. It's not just about the image, for Campognone, it's about how that image is constructed and what it means on multiple levels. Therefore, trendy doesn't mean fly at dba256, and name artists are welcome only if they can truly make the grade--just if their agent says they do. In the gallery's inaugural show, Inland Emperors, Campognone hand-picked major and up-and-coming artists from the IE--people who actually live here, work here, and make up the burgeoning fabric of the creative scene.
Featured in the show will be uber famous Karl Benjamin, whose abstract oils sit in many public collections including the Whitney and San Francisco Museum of Art and has been adding his colorful layers of expression to the world's art scene since the 1950s. Documentary photographer Sant Khalsa, chair of the Cal State San Bernardino art department and who lives here but shows mostly in LA (including a recent exhibition at LACMA), will exhibit her Kansan landscape photos in a collaborative project featuring essays from award-winning IE writer B.H. Fairchild. UCR's John Divola also displays his famous photography and Alex Couwenberg's improvisational acrylic abstracts on the mid-century modern sensibility (now showing at Peter Blake Gallery in Laguna Beach) is a stand-out--with one particularly huge orange and brown piece on birch that really needs to be in my living room. No, really.
A host of IE artsy celebs--most who have shown multiple times around the world and have works in public collections in every major US art museum--are spotlighted as well. Scripps College's Fletcher Jones art chair Susan Rankaitis and the college's ceramic master artist Paul Soldner display their latest work, and the woodworking of Sam Maloof adds another dimension entirely to the varied lineup.
But don't get the rebellion wrong. This is neither ghetto shock art nor a grandiose fireworks spectacular. It's about depth, precision, ideas and craftsmanship. It is not "decorative" art, used merely to pretty up a room or fill space--Campognone notes you can get that stuff at the mall. This art asks you engage in a dialogue with the piece itself, to think and explore it. To come with it on a journey on its own terms. It's some of the classiest and most intriguing stuff around--and at their first show this Saturday, you can see it for yourself. Have a glass of wine, open up your brain and pour in the layers, detail and stories around you. You've been dehydrated, you see--you just didn't know it.
Big Boobs by Phil Fuller 2007
Andi Campognone isn’t the type of woman who’ll have her vision compromised. She’s a staunch advocate of free artistic expression. As the associate director of the Riverside Art Museum, she lived at peace with her ideological underpinnings as she strove to provide challenging, contemporary art to the Inland Empire. That is, until a few weeks ago when she was giving a panel discussion at the museum. Afterwards, while candidly talking about art censorship among people who had attended the talk, someone called Campognone out.
“He told me that the (Riverside Art Museum) engages in censorship, and that they had seen some works covered up with plastic bags. I was so embarrassed! I couldn’t believe it,” Campognone says.
The questionable piece, entitled “Little Debbie” and displayed in the museum’s current Material Girls exhibit (which closes Saturday) is an embroidery by New York-based artist Orly Cogan, who stitched a woman sitting on a blanket in the nude enjoying some Little Debbie cakes. While the woman’s naughty bits are clearly visible, the piece doesn’t exude sexuality so much as it tries to offer vague platitudes on the feminine body image. The Material Girls show celebrates women’s achievements in the arts, offering as many different perspectives on femininity as there are contributing artists.
“(The embroidery) shows a girl who’s dealing with her own body issues, it’s not some super detailed air-brushed porno piece or anything,” Campognone says.
Despite the fact that we live in an age where it’s acceptable to expose children to images of violence in movies and on the local TV news (remember the freeway chase ending a few years back that cut into kiddie programming on KTLA just in time for throngs of youngsters to see the guy set himself on fire, tear off his pants, then shoot himself in the head with a shotgun?), the subject matter was deemed by RAM higher-ups to be much too challenging—and much too naked—for younger children attending the museum, and was covered up with plastic bags.
Campognone recognized the sheathing as an act of blatant art censorship, and brought her concerns to the museum’s executive director, Daniel Foster, who didn’t promise her that the museum would stop censoring nudity.
“I knew that nothing was going to change, so I handed in my resignation,” Campognone says. “I guess Riverside is still too conservative to deal with progressive art.”
She was at the RAM for two years, bringing artistically and academically important works to the IE. Before Campognone’s arrival, the museum primarily housed pastoral, traditional-style works that featured a lot of landscapes—not exactly cutting-edge fare. Campognone’s vision was to turn the museum into a forum for progressive art and artistic dialogue. She also wanted to educate people on the area’s historical significance in the art world, and managed to round up exhibits that showcased important SoCal artists—especially those who worked in the IE—from various other museums and private collections.
“I wanted to show people that (the Inland Empire) is full of culture and important artistic creating,” Campognone tells the Weekly.
Although he declined an interview, Foster says in an e-mailed statement that the work was covered so that second grade students—most about 7 years old—could view the exhibit. Some of the other installments in the show deal with female sexuality and non-sexuality in less graphic terms.
Though Foster says it’s the museum’s policy to not discriminate against artists for producing questionable, provocative work, the RAM makes a special exception for field trip groups of young children. The museum doesn’t cover works automatically, but they will alter an exhibit—plastic bags and all—when they get a request (and apparently, they did). In the same e-mail, Foster calls “Little Debbie” an “important element to the overall curatorial vision and thesis of the exhibit.”
The RAM isn’t the only Riverside art venue that covers over pieces so as to not to offend the delicate sensibilities of young museum-goers (or, more accurately, their parents). Leslie Brown, a gallery coordinator at Riverside Community College, also has to hide work from children’s groups that depict people in various states of undress. They’re currently hosting a figurative exhibit with nude figures.
“Unless parents have consented, it’s a slippery slope, especially when they’re there through the public school system,” Brown says. But unlike Campognone, Brown thinks that censorship isn’t necessarily endemic to conservative Riverside, but is indicative of a larger social phenomenon.
She contends that the problem stems from sexual objectification in society. It’s a bit hypocritical to expose children to a barrage of Victoria’s Secret ads and other titillating, erotic material, yet censor the artwork that they’re allowed to see as being sexual when they aren’t. She attributes this to painting’s absence of spontaneity and expendability.
“Everything in our society is seen as potentially sexual,” says Brown. “We’re not perverts. We see the nude form as beautiful and awe-inspiring.” Her own child has been exposed to painted nudes since birth, presumably without any adverse effects.
“He knows the difference between art and pornography. I think we have it backward in the U.S.—we censor art and not pornography. How will we ever have our children see the human form as beautiful, and as a godly creation, if we cover the art and not the pornography?”
Not all galleries in the area are forced to cover their artwork in order to satiate many parents’ desire to protect their children from dealing with the complex issues that come with adulthood. The University of Riverside galleries frequently host racy, daring exhibits featuring nudity aplenty, and don’t receive complaints about their nature. Division 9 Gallery owner Cosme Cordova is also in the habit of hosting provocative exhibits, such as the sexually-themed Libido. He doesn’t hear protests about his shows, either.
“Overall, I think this community is on the conservative side,” Cordova says. “But now that we’re showcasing contemporary works here, a lot of the pieces are a little more edgy. It’s something that the community is going to have to grow into.
Campognone isn’t waiting for a mass evolution of free-thinking. She has plans to open up her own gallery in the downtown Pomona arts colony. “The city of Pomona is really opening their arms to me,” Campognone says.
As for the Riverside Arts Museum, even though they’re minus one idealistic, uncompromising associate director, they still promise to expand their contemporary exhibitions, and anticipate “more challenging programming in the future.”
Even if it has to be covered up with plastic bags.