Thursday, September 26, 2013

Night Gallery, The Box, Actual Size

Parking in Los Angeles is not fun. With that said, it's worth the trouble when there are galleries like Night Gallery, The Box, and Actual Size. Our class was able to both view the galleries and speak to the people that ran them (very cool). Let's take a look at what we saw/heard:
Located on 16th Street in East LA (on the fringe of the warehouse district), Night Gallery is an alternative gallery space. The inside of the space used to be painted all black, with moody lighting and a theatrical feel. The name Night Gallery stemmed from the fact that the gallery was open late nights only, but due to both the issue with working late nights and the commercial promise that the white cube held for the gallery owners, they made the logical switch to white walls and daytime hours. With the leap into the world of the white, the gallery found itself attracting a different group of people-collectors and buyers that may not have attended the late night events. The move to a bigger space also allowed the owners to run shows with bigger works and the effects continued onto the artists themselves, who are now able to produce larger pieces and do so more often. The gallery represents artists who often help curate the shows themselves; the current show focusing on the artistic elements of Aliens. Interestingly enough, H.R. Giger (the artistic director of the film) has a piece shown at the gallery which served as inspiration for many of the other showing artists. The exhibition, titled Culm, features several of the artists represented by the gallery on and around the many labyrinth-like walls of the space and includes but is not limited to  video and sound installations, sculptures, and paintings.
The Box can be found in the Arts District of LA and is your standard (but very large) white cube gallery. The current exhibition, Birth of the Universe is a solo show by Judith Bernstein. Her giant paintings are in-your-face portraits of feminism-vaginas birthing space itself. Her florescent expressions of the Big Bang, nuclear explosions, and the rage of the vagina itself serves as a shocking and visually stunning exhibition. The energy in the paintings radiates around the entire gallery as every wall reverberates with themes of death, pain, pleasure, and power. 
The gallery itself tends to show a younger generation of artists who push the definition of contemporary art by playing with potentially problematic concepts and themes. Maura McCarthy (who runs the gallery) mentioned that she views art as education, and taking risks by showing radical and dynamic young artists is necessary, even if the work does not sell. The Box continues to show work as work rather than potential profit, which I think is admirable and daring. I look forward to seeing future exhibitions there.
The one-room gallery is located in Chinatown in a small storefront. Two artists run the space and spoke to our class about the gallery (with an awesome powerpoint to supplement). One thing they mentioned was that they try not to be too predictable with their aesthetics, constantly working to change their and their audiences' relationship with their space. Though Actual Size doesn't represent a group of artists exclusively, they do work with artists for extended periods of time in order to get their ideas across successfully. One really great aspect of the gallery is the fact that in addition to every show is an event supplementing the exhibition in some way. Their work in breaking the division between performance and the audience and artwork and objects is exemplified in their alternative events such as a "junk sale" of artist -made and found pieces, an open invitation to their neighbors to sit in chairs in the gallery, a 24 hour sound experience in which bands rotated inside and outside the gallery for an entire day, and a birthday party for the gallery itself for which artists decorated the space however they chose. The concept of a gallery as a white cube in which paintings must be shown is shattered by Actual Size and I love that about it. 

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