Sweet HarvestJuxtapoz // Sunday, 25 Sep 2005
Ert O'Hara goes on the road from SF to LA to attend eight art shows in one weekend
There were a grip of amazing art shows in Los Angeles last weekend, and feeling the urge for a six hour drive on a dusty highway that smells of cow poop, I decided to head down from San Francisco and try to go to all of them. When most people go on a road trip, they consult a map. Even when you know the way, you give it a cursory glance, right? Well, I sort of did. I got out my atlas and put little post-its all over LA in an effort to map out how I would make it to seven art shows on Saturday, as well as the Raffle for Relief on Friday night at Gallery 1988. I didn't look at the route to get there though, and as you might guess, there were problems.
One of my problems is that I'm from Washington state. I thought that in order to get to Interstate 5, the arguably fastest way to traverse the length of the west coast, that you had to drive east to Sacramento and then go south. Turns out that's not the case. You can pretty much drive south from San Francisco, and it's about a six hour drive to LA. If you drive all the way to Sacramento to get on I-5, you add about two hours to your total driving time. And, even though a gallon of fuel costs more than a fast food dinner right now, Friday afternoon traffic still sucks and added about another hour to my trip.
About 200 miles north of LA, I realized I wasn't going to make it to Gallery 1988 any earlier than 11pm. At first, I was peeved, but it occurred to me that my former-fellow Fecal Face columnist Pirate Cat had written in his blog that he would be at the show AND he'd just bought a digital camera for such occasions. Rad! I called him up and interrupted his evening to beg him to take pics for Juxtapoz. He said sure. Such a cool cat.
I gave up driving about an hour later and got a room at Motel 6 in *beautiful* Lost Hills, CA. It's a truck stop. The motel was awesome though - a two-story jobber wrapped around a lovely pool and frequented by strange men who inquire what you're having for dinner and offer to come into your room and taste-test it for you, lest it be poisoned or subpar in any way. Thanks anyway, Yogi. I'll test my own pic-a-nic basket.
On Saturday, Hollywood's La La Land Gallery was having an unusual art opening called Hot Lunch. Starting at noon, the gallery would be serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and mimosas while exhibiting customized lunch boxes by some seriously hot artists. I got there early and took photos of all the boxes, but there was no crowd at that hour, so I went in search of a Sprint store to charge my depleted cell phone. I drove along Santa Monica Blvd, through Beverly Hills, and on to Century City only to find the alleged Sprint store was no more. With nowhere else to go until later, and no way to call anyone, I drove back to the gallery hoping that I would run into someone I knew there.
After about an hour of sitting in my car, getting progressively more discouraged about my trip, I saw him... like an angel from heaven... Pirate Cat! Woohoo! Back in the gallery, a crowd eventually formed and I got pictures of the kind of gaiety that can only come from eating nothing but PB&Js and drinking champagne all day.
Pirate Cat introduced me to many fine folks at the show. I met Ron English, Tim Biskup, Thomas Han, Anthony Ausgang, Gary Baseman, and Shawn & Andy Hosner who run the LA art community website Sour Harvest.
The Hosners are so awesome. Since I didn't know my way around too well, they kindly invited me and Pirate Cat to ride along with them on their art show going adventures that night. Before the shows though, we went over to their house for dinner. Have I mentioned how awesome Shawn and Andy are?? They are beyond. Their house is a small Louvre of underground/outsider/fucking cool art. Seriously, you can't really take in all the art in one day. They gave me a tour and I took a few photos, but they really don't do the place justice. In addition to owning pretty much every art toy that's been released in the last few years, they also have art by many of my favorite artists. Just a few of the artists whose original works they own: Sas Christian, Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Brendan Monroe, Neck Face, Liz McGrath, Camille Rose Garcia, The Date Farmers, Lesley Reppeteaux, Faile, Jeff Soto, Jeremy Fish, Lola, Barry McGee, Clare Rojas, Joshua Krause, Thomas Han, Doze Green, Mars-1, Bigfoot, Damon Soule, Dalek, Shag, and so many more.
After pizza and art chat, we headed out to the first show of the evening, a group show called Minds Wide Open at Light Space Gallery. I wouldn't know if I liked any of the art inside because it was too crowded to see it. I got one picture inside and quickly escaped to the yard outside. And there was Robert Williams. Yes, the man who founded the magazine I now work for. I totally nerded out and could not bring myself to interrupt him and introduce myself. Ugh.
Next up, we headed over to Bergamot Station in Santa Monica for The Blab! Show at Track16. Another big group show, at an even bigger art complex. There is nothing like Bergamot Station in SF. It's a vast expanse of conjoined galleries that branches out in all directions and goes forever, believe me, I checked. I got plenty of photos at The Blab! Show, but when the Hosners weren't ready to leave, I wandered over to Other Possibilities, another show in Track16's labyrinth of galleries. I got to see Andrew Schoultz's huge detailed medieval/futuristic line drawings. There are three other artists in the space, but Schoultz steals the show.
Much like this story, the night kept going.. and going. After that grand affair, we went to the Merry Karnowsky Gallery for Shepard Fairey's solo show Manufacturing Dissent. Yet another mob scene. I could barely get in there to take photos. And, all the edgy fashion made me feel tired. The art in that show was truly gorgeous though. That guy... apparently there is just no end to what you can put the word OBEY on, and no shortage of ways of putting it on things, yet he keeps relatively the same palette all these years. That red, black, and cafe au lait brown he always uses, in recent years a bit of gold, a little blue, but that's pretty much it. Lots of people have opinions about Shepard Fairey because he's built a bit of a commercial empire on the foundation of revolution and street art, and that's good. We should all form opinions. My opinion of his art and his expansive body of work with a fairly limited arsenal of imagery is this: rad.
Finally, just when I thought this night would never end, it didn't. I was begging off, "Please, no more art show, I sleep in car, sentence structure... disintegrating..." But no, my friends encouraged me, "Come on Juxtapoz! It's only 1am!"
If my ass wasn't attached to my body, I would have had to literally drag it behind me into Hangar 1018 for the highly anticipated Cannibal Flower show. At the earlier shows, I overheard several people say, "So, see you at Cannibal Flower later?" The place was pretty packed, but still there was air to breathe. I'm glad I made myself go in. Apparently, CF is the show that displays real up and coming artists, people you're going to read about soon, not people you've already read about ad nauseum for the last ten years. Here is where I really got a good look at the art of Lola. Her art is the kind that I, personally, get excited about. It's stylized, but not formulaic. There's imagery but it's twisted around and unique to her hand. It's fanciful, but not precious. There's no gross over-symbolism going on, at least on the surface.
About an hour after the completely unnecessary bondage and discipline show *yawn*, and a visit from the Los Angeles Fire Department, we all headed home. Thanks to everyone who helped me through the weekend: Shawn & Andy Hosner, Pirate Cat/JP, Sylvia Ji, Kii Arens at La La Land Gallery, and Motel 6 for leaving the light on for me.