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Mark Bradford Joins MOCA Board of Trustees

Mark Bradford

Mark Bradford

The Museum of Contemporary Arts announced today that its Board of Trustee had elected four new members, including Los Angeles artist Mark Bradford; art collector and lobbyist Heather Podesta; art collector and entrepreneur Cathy Vedovi; and banker Christopher Walker. These are the first new appointments since Philippe Vergne assumed the directorship of MOCA in March 2014.

No story about the museum’s Board of Trustees is complete without reference to Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger and Catherine Opie leaving in 2012. The only artists on the board, they left en masse to protest then-director Jeffrey Deitch’s firing of longtime chief curator Paul Schimmel. Deitch was out in July 2013, and Baldessari, Kruger and Opie soon returned.

Mixed media artist and MacArthur fellow Mark Bradford joins those other three artists — along with painter Mark Grotjahn, who was elected to the board in March — in what appears to be a signal of renewed trust in the museum’s direction.

“Yes, of course when the museum is having a difficult time, artists get anxious and trust might be challenged, but look where we are now,” Vergne told the Los Angeles Times. “We have five extremely important artists on the board.”

Tibetan Monks Create, Promptly Destroy Sand Painting

screenshot of the Mandala livecast [via hammer.ucla.edu]

screenshot of the Mandala livecast [via hammer.ucla.edu]

It’s been over 100 years since Kandinsky first published On the Spiritual in Art, however in the ensuing century, the contemporary art world has taken on an increasingly materialistic bent. In opposition to this trend, for two weeks recently a group of artists at the Hammer Museum has been working on a project that is all about compassion, enlightenment and impermanence. So much so in fact that when they completed the artwork this past weekend, it was promptly destroyed.

The artists are four Tibetan Buddhist monks and the artwork is a painstakingly intricate sand painting representing a Mandala of Compassion. This is their third visit to the Hammer, following a previous mandala creation in 2010 and a healing ceremony in 2012. They worked on the piece in the museum’s lobby gallery which was loosely designed to resemble a Buddhist temple, with a shrine, traditional Shambu fabric, and walls painted in a color scheme chosen by the lamas. Visitors were able to watch the piece slowly take shape as the monks added colored grains of sand with the aid of a copper funnel called a zangpur. A live simulcast provided a glimpse for online viewers.

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz
Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

When the artwork was finished on Sunday, it was on view for timed 10-minute entries between 11am-3pm. Following a dissolution ceremony, the sand was swept up and taken to the beach, where visitors joined the monks as they distributed the sand into the ocean.

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

The Western avant-garde has long been influenced by Eastern philosophy, whether it’s Rauschenberg’s and Cage’s experiments with the i-Ching or Yves Klein’s fascination with the zen-like void. We asked Allison Agsten, the Hammer’s curator of public engagement, how this ancient artform functions in a setting normally reserved for contemporary art. “Something that our visitors are always interested in is when they have a chance to better understand process, and certainly a lot of contemporary art is process based. Here’s a chance to actually get to see that process at work,” she said.

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

There is also a serendipitous relationship between the Mandala and an exhibition of work by Jim Hodges, also on view. “The title of the Jim Hodges show is Give More than you Take and the lamas are making a mandala that represents compassion. It’s supposed to inspire and imbue all of us with a little bit more compassion, so it’s easy to see how those sentiments are connected,” Agsten notes. “Also Jim’s work is known for talking simple materials and making something extraordinary. I can’t think of a greater parallel than this group of lamas working with sand to make something very intricate and complicated and something that is truly high art.”

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

Hammer Museum’s Mandala of Compassion Dissolution Ceremony, October 12, 2014, photo by Barbara Katz

Various Small Fires Re-opens in Hollywood

Various Small Fires' new Hollywood location [photo by Esther Kim Varet]

Various Small Fires’ new Hollywood location [photo by Esther Kim Varet]

Various Small Fires re-opens tonight in its new location on North Highland, making it the latest addition to Hollywood’s growing gallery cluster. The newly remodeled 5000 square foot complex will feature a main gallery space, outdoor sculpture court, and a sound corridor designed specifically for presentations of sound art. We spoke with gallery founder Esther Kim Varet about the new space, why she chose to relocate from Venice to Hollywood, and the origin of the gallery name.

“I moved from NY to LA four years ago. We landed on Abbot Kinney in Venice. The name of the gallery came out of Ed Ruscha’s 1964 conceptual art book. The art community then was very much centered around Venice, and in homage to that legacy, I named it Very Small Fires,” explains Kim Varet. “We realized over the past four years that the traffic in LA had gotten so bad. We were always able to get artists, curators, collectors out there, but I felt that going forward it was going to be very difficult to get people to come back over and over again to Venice, especially with these traffic issues. I figured out that it was not a sustainable place to be for a commercial gallery.”

Kim Varet opened her last Venice show in late 2013, and began looking for a new location. “I considered Culver City, but a lot of people are decompressing from Culver and moving away. Downtown was very attractive because it’s so cheap there, but I felt like that wasn’t right for me either coming from a smaller space and working with emerging artists, and I didn’t want to all of a sudden go into a warehouse situation where the cavernous space would just eat up the art. Hollywood was always on top of my list for where I wanted to be. A lot of galleries who I respected were already moving in this direction: David Kordansky, Kayne Griffin Corcoran, Michael Kohn, Overduin & Co. There was a lot of positive energy here.”

Kim Varet found a building in Hollywood, and after winning a frenzied bidding war, she began a ten-month remodel with local architects Johnston Marklee. “I really wanted to have the ultimate solo presentation space a gallery could offer. I didn’t want it too big for one artist or too small. Sizewise it was perfect,” she says.

Visitors will enter the new space through a long alley which has been outfitted with a hidden speaker system. Kim Varet plans to host year-round audio programming, focusing on both historical sound art from the DADA, Surrealist and Fluxus movements, as well as commissioning younger artists to create work specifically for the space. “Building a sound corridor is reflective of the spirit of what I hope VSF stands for,” Kim Varet says, “which is a spirit dedicated to pushing the boundaries of visual art production, representation and conception, thinking of art in expanded fields, not just things that hang on a wall.”

The gallery will open with solo exhibitions from Amir Nikravan and Scott Benzel. Nikravan’s abstract paintings are created from a labored process of construction, erasure, and representation. The end result is an illusionistic “painting of a painting about painting” that definitely needs to be seen in person to be fully appreciated. Nikravan uses paints that were originally designed for use on animation cells, providing a link to the history of the film industry in Hollywood.

Scott Benzel will inaugurate the sound corridor with a piece that mixes abstracted segments from a Beach Boys song with LA street recordings. He will also present a series of architectural models based on the spire atop the Capital Records Building, which is itself a replica of a record needle. As with the actual spire, Benzel’s models will featuring a blinking light that spells out “Hollywood” in morse code – a fitting tribute to the gallery’s new home.

Border Blaster Brings Back the Music Video Show

MTVUnless you’re a millennial, you remember a time when music videos were played on TV. There used to be two entire channels (on basic cable!) devoted to showing nothing but videos, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And there were actual themed video shows: Yo! MTV Raps for Hip-Hop, Headbangers Ball for Metal, and 120 Minutes for what we used to call Alternative Music. These shows introduced many kids like myself to all sorts of music they would never have seen or heard otherwise. This was before low-brow reality TV took over and videos found a new home online. There’s infinitely more videos on the web than were ever on MTV, but now the question is how do you find the good stuff if you don’t even know what you’re looking for? Me, I’ll take recommendations from Fab 5 Freddy over Youtube’s algorithm any day.

the video for Fitness Forever's song "Cosmos" is a retro vision of real Italian Italo Disco. [via KCET.org]
the video for Fitness Forever’s song “Cosmos” is a retro vision of real Italian Italo Disco. [via KCET.org]

A new show on KCET aims to bring back the music video show with an international twist. Border Blaster, which premiered Tuesday night, presents “music videos from around the world, transcending national borders, and exposing viewers to the cross-fertilization of musical styles and genres defining contemporary music.” Since this is 2014, there is also an online component where viewers can vote for their favorite videos and create their own mixes, which will be broadcast the last week of each month. The first globe-trotting mix put together by the Border Blaster team features Rajasthani folk group Barmer Boys, rediscovered Nigerian electro-funk legend William Onyeabor, South Korean indie rockers Thornapple, Chilean hip-hop from Ana Tijoux, and French Sudanese duo Débruit & Alsarah, who sound a bit like an East African Stereolab.

Although the show doesn’t have a host as charismatic as Downtown Julie Brown, it does provide a window onto a vast array of music that would otherwise be floating around the digital ether, waiting to be discovered.

Border Blaster airs every Tuesday and Friday at 10:30pm PST on KCET, and on LinkTV every Monday at 8pm.

Baldessari Puts Dots on James Franco’s, Miley Cyrus’ Face

[via Visionaire's facebook page]

[via Visionaire's facebook page]

Baldessari collectors on a budget, rejoice! The latest Baldessari-themed issue of upscale art magazine / downscale art object Visionaire has just hit the stands. Visionaire 64 is divided into three color-coded limited editions – Red, Green, and Blue – each featuring a different set of ten loose 12 x 18 B&W celebrity portraits, overlaid with the conceptual artist’s signature colorful forms. Fans of the overhyped will want to pick up the red edition which includes James Franco, Miley Cyrus, and Marina Abramovic, along with Ed Ruscha and Pedro Almodovar. The green issue features actors Julianne Moore, Scar Jo, and Neil Patrick Harris, as well as Yoko Ono, Drake, and John Waters, while the blue has Lupita Nyong’O, Ai Weiwei, Catherine Opie, Michael Stipe, and Psy (we assume this was conceived of during the height of “Gangnam Style”).

It's Miley! [via Visionaireworld.com]
It’s Miley! [via Visionaireworld.com]

For those unfamiliar with Visionaire, it was founded in 1991 as a platform for artists, fashion designers and other culture makers to push the boundaries of what a magazine could be. Previous offerings include a set of pop-up artist books, vinyl LP’sscent vials and flavor strips, as well as the world’s largest magazine, weighing 18 lbs. and measuring 4 ¾ x 6 ½ feet. Although each issues carries a heavy price tag (most are a few hundred dollars, although a Hermes-themed issue in a leather case retails for $3000), they often rely on corporate sponsorship to cover production costs.

Dustin Hoffman a la Baldesssari [via Visionaireworld.com]
Dustin Hoffman a la Baldessari [via Visionaireworld.com]

This latest issue is no different, having been created in partnership with Samsung, who presumably see this as an opportunity to convince people to take more selfies with their products (if that is even possible). Although Visionaire didn’t return emails or calls regarding the project, their website states that they view this collaboration as combining the “current ease of digital and emailable self-portraits with the time-honored craftsmanship of printmaking.” Although he erroneously conflates selfies with self-portraits (or just pictures of people, really), Baldessari notes, “I’ll probably be most remembered for putting dots over people’s faces, so it’s funny to do an issue devoted to selfies of famous people.” It’s worth mentioning that in almost all of the images we’ve seen, the celebrities are clearly recognizable, saving you the trouble of explaining to dinner guests that there really is a picture of Cameron Diaz under that squiggle, honest!

[via Thethingquarterly.com]
[via Thethingquarterly.com]

If this all sounds familiar, it’s because collectible art object publisher The Thing Quaterly recently released their Baldessari edition. Issue 22 consists of two pillowcases with a silkscreened meta-image of a woman clutching a pillow. Although these meant-to-be-used objects lack the celebrity caché of the Visionaire issue, we can’t think of a better way to wake up than with your head on a Baldessari.

 

356 Mission Needs Help with 590 Dots

Little DotLarge-scale works, such as those of Christo and Jeanne-Claude (R.I.P.), often require hundreds of helpers, laboring away for love and minimum wage. Such is the price of collaborative art.

Kudos to 356 Mission for increasing the pay scale this month for anyone who wants to participate in Jonathan Horowitz’s 590 Dots, a monumental painting project that needs 590 helpers. Stop by the space during regular hours and you can make $20 for 30 to 60 minutes of collaboration. Factor that out over 40 hours a week, and you’d be making $80K a year, player.

We reached out to 356 Mission for more information.

“Once participants arrive, they are given a specific set of parameters,” says gallery director Ethan Swan. “We really stress that everyone has to do their best job, but that we also understand it as an impossible task. Ultimately, participation should be a relaxing, almost zen-like experience. For some people it produces a lot of anxiety but that’s interesting too, I think.”

Zen or anxiety? Which will it be for you? Regardless, be sure to wear clothes for painting.

The call for participation is open until October 25, but you might want to head there sooner than later, lest you become that 591st dot.

356 Mission is located at 356 South Mission Road, just across the L.A. River from downtown. The space is open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

 

 

Machine Project Re-Animates Historic Gamble House

Gamble House with work by Jessica Cowley (l) and Patrick Ballard (r) (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

Gamble House with work by Jessica Cowley (l) and Patrick Ballard (r) (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

 

For a city that is often characterized as lacking a historical memory, Los Angeles has a lot of love for its iconic architecture. Whether it’s modernist residences by Schindler, Neutra, or Lautner, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock and Ennis Houses, or scandal-tinged Greystone Mansion, Angelenos have a strong appreciation for these landmarks nestled among our strip malls and freeways. Pasadena’s Gamble House, an Arts and Crafts masterpiece designed by Greene & Greene, is one of the most beloved, and for two weeks non-profit arts space Machine Project is offering new ways to experience this century-old gem.

Completed in 1909, the house was built for the Gamble family (of pharmaceutical giant Proctor & Gamble). The Greenes meticulously oversaw every aspect of construction, from the sourcing of multiple kinds of wood, to the hand-rounded edges on every beam, to the use of the family’s crest, a rose and crane, in detailing throughout the three-storey home. These labor-intensive, old world methods were paired with then-modern technologies, including electricity, central heating, and hygienic, tile-lined bathrooms and kitchen.

Work by Emily Joyce in the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)
Work by Emily Joyce in the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

Anyone who has been on a tour of the building knows that it is an impeccably preserved period museum, which makes Machine Project’s house-wide contemporary intervention all the more striking. As part of the Pasadena Arts Council’s AxS Festival, Machine Project’s Field Guide to the Gamble House aims to “reveal the history and visual ideas behind the Gamble House in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.” In addition to visual art, there will be performances, workshops and even a secret restaurant. We spoke with Machine Project’s Mark Allen to get the low-down on the project.

Work by Anna Sew Hoy in the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)
Work by Anna Sew Hoy in the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

“I really think we do our best shows when we have the most context, that’s what I really liked about the Gamble House.” Allen says. “You’ve got all this history, it’s a weird space, it’s like this futuristic house of 1909. I’m always interested in technology that’s like old tech or weird tech or things like that. It’s also something you couldn’t make now so it’s almost like a time machine in terms of what kind of wood is available and the economy of it and the craftsmanship. All that stuff becomes really rich to kind of dig into and make the show about.”

Work by Laura Owens at the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)
Work by Laura Owens at the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

What started as an idea to commission ten artists to create work quickly expanded to include 57 artists. “My process was to go over there for tours. I went on 14 tours, and every time I would go I would think of another artist I wanted to invite and to be honest I’m still thinking of people I wish I had put in the show. With more time it would have been 70 artists instead of 57.” Some of those visual artists whose work will be on display in and around the house include Cayetano Ferrer, Katie Herzog, Emily Joyce, Laura Owens, Jessica Cowley (full disclosure, she’s my girlfriend), Anna Sew Hoy, and Ricky Swallow.

Work by Patrick Ballard at the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)
Work by Patrick Ballard at the Gamble House (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

As an historic landmark, the Gamble House presented challenges for how to install work. The most challenging was Patrick Ballard’s The Swirling Mess Below the Sleeping Porch Soon Solidified into A Crest of Phantasmagoric Weight that Creaks Between the Doors, the Floors, and a Form that Could Never Be a House Again, a 300lb, 2-storey rose cone from which a crane emerges. “How do you hang a 300lb sculpture on a house where you can’t touch anything?” Allen asks. “We built an entire platform that covers the whole surface of the front porch to keep it safe, and then attached to that are these aluminum trusses, and it’s basically a deck, and the weight of the deck provides a counterweight to cantilever these aluminum trusses with the cone attached to it. So we did have to come up with some creative solutions to a lot of these issues.”

Matthew Au's Gamble House roof sculptures double as lawn furniture (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)
Matthew Au’s Gamble House roof sculptures double as lawn furniture (Photo by Ian Byers-Gamber)

The Field Guide runs through October 5, but this Saturday from 12pm-10pm is the first of two days when the house will be free and open to the public, with performances and activities throughout the day. Some of these include a puppet show in Ballard’s piece, Annie Danis’ archaeological dig, Bob Dornberger’s secret restaurant, a lightshow by Animal Charm, dance performances by Nick Duran and Milka Djordjevich, closet poem readings, bed conversations and more. For a complete list of activities, click here.

What about the projects that didn’t make it? “Ballard’s original ideas was a 2 story blond puppet head that we were gonna order 400 wigs from china for and weave them together,” says Allen. “His idea was ‘oh this house is such a brunette it should have a blonde on it,’ but when we really got down to getting 400 wigs from China, it was prohibitively expensive. A lot of the projects evolve, that’s kind of a normal process for us.”

 

 

Can the LA River Be Something More Than a Concrete Trough?

[via playthelariver.com]

[via playthelariver.com]

The L.A. River has long been the butt of jokes, with many viewing it as little more than a dry, concrete-lined trough, but with renewed interest in the river as a natural site for recreation, and a $1 billion revitalization plan in the works, that is poised to change. Embodying this attitude is Play the LA River, a 51-week project organized by arts collective Project 51 that “invites Angelenos to enjoy, explore, reclaim & reimagine the mighty LA River as a grand civic space that can green & connect our communities.” It all kicked off on September 13 at the newly expanded Marsh Park, and continues until next September with almost a year’s worth of events, performances and activities located along the river’s 51-mile stretch. The calendar seems pretty thin now, but perhaps it will get filled in as the program gets rolling.

Play the LA River card [via playthelariver.com]
Play the LA River card [via playthelariver.com]

A central part of the project is a card deck featuring 56 sites along the river with suggested activities to do there. They come as a physical deck or can be viewed on a computer or smart phone on their mobile-friendly site, though when we tried it on an iPhone 5, navigating was a bit clunky. Some of the activities could be more well thought-out (a “rain dance” at Water Reclamation Park, really?), but the cards do a good job of identifying the many different kinds of sites and the types of adjacent paths (pedestrian, bike, and horse), as well as providing a bit of history.

Play the LA River sites [via playthelariver.com]
Play the LA River sites [via playthelariver.com]

As for how the arts relate to river revitalization, Cathy Gudis, one of the project organizers, recently told KPCC: “”The arts have had a longstanding role in drawing public attention to the fact that, one, we have a river and, two, that it is a river.” She sites Frank Romero’s Anza Mural, which is just one of a number of artistic interventions that have helped to define the river as vibrant, communal space, open to all and full of possibility. Whether or not you’re a fan of the card deck’s gamification of river exploration, it’s hard to argue that a year-long program drawing attention to one of L.A.’s greatest natural resources is not worthwhile and long overdue.

 

 

Sexy Beast Gala Enlists Art to Benefit Planned Parenthood

SexyBeast_napkin

The art world is often portrayed, rightly or wrongly, as being insular and self-absorbed, cut-off from the everyday concerns of real people in the real world. In contrast to this detached stereotype is Sexy Beast, an upcoming benefit and auction that aims to harness the power of the artistic community for a specific cause. All proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood of Los Angeles, which is especially timely given the multiple upcoming threats to reproductive choice across the country.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Stay/Go), 2007, pigment prints, 74 x 100 inches, ed. of 10 [via paddle8.com/auctions/plannedparenthood]
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Stay/Go), 2007, pigment prints, 74 x 100 in, ed. of 10 [via paddle8.com/auctions/plannedparenthood]
Alex Olson, Untitled, 2014, Oil and modeling paste on linen, 24 x 18 in [via paddle8.com/auctions/plannedparenthood]
Alex Olson, Untitled, 2014, Oil and modeling paste on linen, 24 x 18 in [via paddle8.com/auctions/plannedparenthood]

 

“It feels really good to use our commercial chops for another means, and for something that is outside of the art world and effects change in a daily and quantifiable way,” said Mieke Marple via email, who, along with her Night Gallery co-partner Davida Nemeroff, are Sexy Beast event chairs. “Davida and I actually approached Planned Parenthood Los Angeles about doing an art auction fundraiser,” she explained. “Without knowing us or knowing anything about the gallery, PPLA was very receptive to our idea.  After that, we assembled a great planning committee, since we didn’t really know what we were doing, and then a great production team, who is making this ambitious event possible.  Lastly, we got an amazing group of emerging and established artists to donate significant pieces that don’t feel like ‘charity art.’”

Sexy Beast Auction Paddles designed by Alex Israel [via Night Gallery's Instagram]
Sexy Beast Auction Paddles designed by Alex Israel [via Night Gallery's Instagram]

Some of those artists include Sam Falls, Barbara Kruger, Christopher Williams, Joe Reihsen, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Alex Olson and Andrea Bowers, among others. In addition to the auction, there will be a performance by indefatigable choreographer / dancer Ryan Heffington, and an award presented to actress / comedian Jenny Slate. If that’s not enough, the auction paddles are designed by Alex Israel, and the whole event will be hosted by funnyman Jack Black. Single tickets cost $550, but if you can get a group of 6 or more friends together, the price drops to $467 each. This may be steep for some, but if there’s going to be a gala art event you can’t afford to go to, shouldn’t it benefit a good cause?

Sexy Beast will be held from 7-10pm, on Saturday September 20 at the Ace Hotel Theatre, 929 S. Broadway, Downtown Los Angeles.

 

 

Daniel Rolnik Gallery brings Positive Vibes, Wizards to Santa Monica

Daniel Rolnik  - can he become the World's Most Adorable Dealer? [via danielrolnik.com]

Daniel Rolnik – can he become the World’s Most Adorable Dealer? [via danielrolnik.com]

Daniel Rolnik, who calls himself “The World’s Most Adorable Art Critic,” will open his eponymous gallery in Santa Monica on Sept. 18 with its inaugural exhibition, Smile Isle. In addition to contributing to dozens of publications, the 25-year old impresario co-owns Intellectual Property Prints, runs Youtube channel For the Funk of It, and writes for artist interview series Underpainting. We reached him by phone and asked him about his motivations for starting a gallery, what his program will look like, and what visitors can expect.

“I wanted to create a space where the quality isn’t sacrificed by having a lower price point,” Rolnik explained. “So to do that, any piece in the show that is like a very expensive painting, is paired with a print of the same piece or something similar, so that there is an access point for everybody.”

“I feel like Napster in a weird way,” he went on, referencing the early-aughts file-sharing service, hailed by many (especially Metallica) as the beginning of the end of the music industry as we knew it, “cause they unveiled that music can be free. I’m unveiling fine art that can be accessible.” Unlike Napster’s Sean Fanning, however, Rolnik assured us that all his artists will be paid.

As for his program, “it’s gonna be really, really, really fun and about positive vibes and having fun and making people smile,” Rolnik gleefully announced, echoing no art dealer ever. It will focus on art from “the Americas. North and South, I have this love for America, I don’t know why, I think it’s cause I’m half first generation…it’s still the Wild West out here which I love, I’m gonna have a lot of Wild West-themed things.”

Graham Curran, Cargo, 36 x 24 inches, acrylic on wood, 2013 [via danielrolnikgallery.com]
Graham Curran, Cargo, 36 x 24 inches, acrylic on wood, 2013, on view in Smile Isle [via danielrolnikgallery.com]

Rolnik’s gallery follows in the footsteps of other critic-run spaces like Matt Gleason’s Coagula Curatorial, located across town in L.A.’s Chinatown. As with dealers who moonlight as museum directors, there is the potential here for a conflict of interest when the line is blurred between arbiters of taste, and those who benefit financially from their pronouncements. Rolnik dismisses these concerns, saying “that’s only with shady people, I’ve surrounded myself with good people.”

He’ll begin the space with a three-month stint, noting “if it’s going grand and smooth we’re gonna keep the train rollin’, even taking it on the road.” In a couple of weeks, he plans a visit from artist and “magician/warlock” Gabriel Shaffer, who will perform a drought-ending ceremony in the space. “It’s always cool to have wizards on your side,” Rolnik exclaims, with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of an 8-year old.

The Daniel Rolnik Gallery will open with Smile Isle on Thursday, September 18th from 6-10pm. It is located at 1431 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401.