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UTA Plans New Division to Rep Contemporary Artists

artourage

As the worlds of high art and mass entertainment grow ever more enmeshed, United Talent Agency announced plans last week to launch a new division dedicated to repping contemporary artists. Headed by art attorney Joshua Roth, UTA Fine Arts will be looking to take on some of the roles traditionally played by galleries – and presumably cut in on their market share. (Among other accomplishments, Roth represented the buyer of the most expensive photograph ever sold.) UTA chairman Jim Berkus told the Wall Street Journal that they won’t be selling or showing art, but will be involved with project financing, commissions and helping artists branch out into entertainment arenas like cinema. According to Variety, they will also work on “building licensing and endorsement relationships with luxury and other types of brands.” Get ready for that Ed Ruscha / Louis Vuitton collab.

Although this new model would seem to pose a challenge to the established gallery system, the implications may not be very wide-reaching. Steve Turner, who recently relocated his eponymous gallery to Hollywood, thinks the kinds of services a talent agency offers would only appeal to a small, select group of artists. “Maybe for a successful, big-earning artist who has ambition to do things in other realms, that’s where I would see that it might have some application, but that’s very few artists,” he told us. “Besides, those artists already have lawyers and business managers and investment advisors. You could count the artists this might apply to on two hands.”

Still, the artistic 1% makes a lot of money, so it’s not surprising that Hollywood wants to cash in on this ascendant multibillion-dollar art market. Whether or not they can break into the notoriously secretive insider’s circle of top art dealers remains to be seen.

“It sounds like an interesting idea, but it’s going to be super hard to pull off,” Arne Glimcher of mega-gallery Pace told the WSJ. “If you’re going to be an artist’s agent, you need to know more about their work, their prices and their collectors than their own dealer does—and no dealer will be induced to share that kind of information.”

Turner sees this new development as “a symptom of a hot market,” one that may not last. “It’s just because they read the big numbers, and some artists are making professional athlete or entertainer money. That doesn’t mean it will always be this way,” he said. “Good luck to them.”

Michael Asher’s UCSD Fountain Destroyed; Is A Disgruntled Street Artist to Blame?

Michael Asher, Untitled, 1991 (via stuartcollection.ucsd.edu)

Michael Asher, Untitled, 1991 (via stuartcollection.ucsd.edu)

UC San Diego lost one of its most iconic pieces of public art last month when a masked vandal destroyed Michael Asher’s untitled water fountain with a sledgehammer. It was the late conceptual artist’s only permanent outdoor public artwork in the US.

According to San Diego 6, the artwork was attacked on January 13th by an unknown assailant who also smashed eight surveillance cameras and spray-painted “YOU CAN PAINT OVER ME YOU CAN CATCH ME YOU CAN EXPELL [sic] ME I WILL STILL BE HERE” on a campus wall. Based on surveillance camera footage, police described him as a thin, college-aged man who may have a small mole near the inside corner of his right eye.

The 1991 sculpture was a replica of the kind of mundane drinking fountains often found in office buildings and schools, except that it was made of polished granite. In this way, it is typical of Asher’s interventions that grew out of the idea that “no individual art object has a universal meaning, independent of its institutional context,” according to the website of the Stuart Collection, of which the work was a part.

“The whole idea of his work is based on the site which was the center/headquarters of a military training camp, Camp Mathews, until 1964 when it was turned over to the University of California San Diego for educational purposes,” Mary Beebe, Director of the Stuart Collection told us via email. “There is a rock with a plaque commemorating this event. There is also a military American flag in the center of the site, placed there in 1943. The fountain connects with these two other elements in that when you drink from the fountain (cooled filtered water) the flagpole acts as a sight-line to the plaque. So the fountain is only part of his work and his idea.”

Beebe said that they plan to have the work “restored exactly to the millimeter” based on Asher’s original plans in the next few months. Mathieu Gregoire, the Collection’s Project Manager who was responsible for fabricating the work the first time, will be responsible and the original materials will be used.

Michael Asher's destroyed fountain (via Rubén Ortiz-Torres' facebook page)

Michael Asher’s destroyed fountain (via Rubén Ortiz-Torres’ facebook page)

The big question that remains is who did this and why? Was the assailant upset at rising costs throughout the UC system, a disgruntled former student of Asher’s, or was the fountain specifically targeted as an artwork?

We spoke with Rubén Ortiz-Torres, an artist and professor at UCSD, who thinks the destruction may be related to a recent crack down on graffiti within the school’s art facility. As in many art schools, there was a place in the building’s stairwell where graffiti was tolerated. Until last year that is, when security cameras were installed and the administration posted signs warning of consequences for graffiti, he told us. Then a few months ago, a bathroom in the arts building was also destroyed with a sledgehammer, in what he thinks is a related act. Artist Eric Wong expressed a similar suspicion on a blog post titled “When street art & conceptual art awkwardly meet #ucsd vandal.”

The irony, Ortiz-Torres said, is that the piece was a commentary on blind submission to authority, as using the fountain literally forced one to bow in recognition of the site’s military history. Presumably the vandal might feel some solidarity with this notion. Whether or not he took this into consideration however, remains to be seen.

Car Salesman Hawks Joe Sola Paintings at Tif Sigfrids ALAC Booth

Although they traffic in the rarified world of high culture, art dealers are essentially shopkeepers. In this sense, they have more in common with, say, car salespeople than with curators. This comparison was brought to life Thursday night at the opening of Art Los Angeles Contemporary, where the person manning Tif Sigfrids’ booth literally was a car salesman. Instead of being greeted by the gallery owner or staff, visitors encountered Brandon Gojcaj, a smooth-talking, sharp-dressed Lexus Delivery Specialist.

Joe Sola, "Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary" (2015)

Brandon Gojcaj giving the pitch in Joe Sola’s “Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary” (all photos by the author)

This was all part of a new work by artist Joe Sola, “Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary.” Like fellow art trickster Maurizio Cattelan, Sola often uses humor to poke fun at the uptight conventions of the art world. Previously this has involved feeding a Laura Owens painting into a wood chipper, inviting curators to his studio and then jumping out the window, or most recently staging an entire show of paintings inside Ms. Sigfrids’ ear. For ALAC, Sola presents darkly comic paintings that focus on how the word “rape” is casually thrown around in our culture, despite pervasive fears of actually talking about it. He has depicted the backs of cartoonish heads next to speech bubbles reading, “The IRS totally raped me” and “My lawyers will rape their lawyers.” In the booth the slick salesman and the small, simple, uneasy paintings provided a curious juxtaposition.

Brandon Gojcaj in Joe Sola's "Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary"

Brandon Gojcaj in Joe Sola’s “Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary”

It all started when Gojcaj got a call from Sigfrids recently after the Lexus dealership where he works staged a benefit art show for cancer research. A friend of the gallerist had met him there and recommended the salesman. “Before she even asked me if I wanted to do it I cut her off and I said, ‘you don’t even need to ask me. I want to do this 100%,’” Gojcaj told me.

Joe Sola, "Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary" (2015)

Brandon Gojcaj in Joe Sola’s “Car salespeople selling my paintings at Art Los Angeles Contemporary”

The dealer sent him material on Sola and arranged for a meeting with the artist, where Gojcaj says they connected right away. He had a welcoming air on Thursday night, reaching out to anyone who strolled by, eagerly explaining Sola’s challenging art. His pitch didn’t come off as a put-on, he genuinely seemed enthusiastic about the work. Although he’s only been selling cars for 8 months, the 19-year old aspiring actor has the confident ease of a veteran salesman. Nothing had sold yet, but a few people had expressed interest. “I’m not leaving until everything’s gone, that’s for sure,” he told me. Gojcaj will be at the booth through Friday, with another car salesperson covering the rest of the weekend.

Gojcaj sees parallels between the two forms of commerce, but says he prefers selling art, despite his limited experience. “There’s more characters, better stories,” he said. Overall, however, they’re both about making a connection between two people. As he told me, “it’s creating a lifelong relationship in two minutes.”

I checked back in with Gojcaj Saturday morning and he told me that although many people had expressed interest, he hadn’t closed any deals: “I had an unbelievable time, still telling everyone about it,” he texted me. “Every person who asked to purchase and said they would be right back did not return haha, but I was told many are coming back this weekend to finalize purchases.”

Welcome to the art world, Brandon.

Show Me the Money! Museum As Retail Space to Open in DTLA

Museum As Retail Space [via marsgallery.net]

Museum As Retail Space [via marsgallery.net]

Further evidence that the lines between the commercial and the curatorial continue to blur, a new gallery, Museum as Retail Space (MaRS), is set to open next month in Downtown Los Angeles. The connection between money and museums is nothing new, with collectors donating work and money to institutions and having wings named in their honor. Museums need money to function obviously. It has long been a goal, however, to at least attempt to keep them separate, to keep financial interests out of the curatorial realm as much as possible. MaRS makes no pretense of aspiring to this ideal, stating so quite clearly in its name.

The brainchild of Robert Zin Stark (“a sales wunderkind” states the press release), MaRS will occupy a 6000 square foot space, formerly a Prohibition-era distillery, which was renovated based on Stark’s study of ancient temple architecture (from which ancient cultures isn’t clear). According to the press release, the curatorial program will be guided by “a consumer-constructivist model, positing that one creates meaning in present society through consumptive participation, intended to empower collectors and future collectors as being intrinsic to the canonization of art.” Money talks, and if art sells, it must be good. It is the heretofore disenfranchised collectors who deserve to have a say in which artists get canonized. (Just a guess, but they’ll probably pick artists whose work they collect.)

Similar to Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, another mega-gallery set to open nearby in 2015, MaRS will have a bookstore and smaller retail space, aptly titled “Shop!” (subtle they’re not). It will offer 72 items, for some reason, providing something for everyone (to buy).

The gallery will officially open in two weeks with its inaugural exhibition I’m in A Story, a solo show of work by Raúl De Nieves, whose colorful artistic output spans performance, painting, sculpture and garment design. His work draws on a wide range of sources, from fashion and club culture, to Mexican and Catholic symbolism.

Before that however, MaRS will host a reservation-only performance by Emily Mast titled The Stage is a Cage this Friday. Mast will produce a series of drawings during the performance that will be part of her upcoming exhibition at La Ferme du Buisson in France. Fittingly, as the press release informs, this is Mast’s “first commercially available performance piece.”

Art Fair at the O.K. Corral

Photo by GregManninLB

Photo by GregManninLB

Along with the set of M*A*S*H, the Paramount Ranch is a big stop for show biz-minded hikers and explorers in the Santa Monica Mountains. The ranch has served as a set for loads of movies and TV shows, including Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, The Cisco Kid, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, The Fall Guy, The A-Team, The Dukes of Hazzard, CHiPs and Firefly.

Now it’s the location of another art fair, Paramount Ranch 2, which takes place next weekend and will feature installations in the brush and exhibitions in the Old West-style buildings.

“It’s going to be a little big vague and mysterious, to be honest with you, because that’s the modus operandi,” co-founder Alex Freedman told ARTnews on Tuesday.

Meaning (we take it) that visitors’ own modus operandi should be to take full advantage of the setting, suspend any disbelief they have about art fairs and/or Renaissance Festival-style fake backdrops from ye olden tymes, say fuck it, and show up dressed as Bo, Luke, Daisy or Boss Hogg. Hopefully at least the art will be decent — the exhibitors include some pretty good venues (see below).

EXHIBITORS

356 Mission / Ooga Booga
186f Kepler
Artist Curated Projects
Artists Space
Bed Stuy Love Affair
The Box
Carlos Ishikawa
Chantal Crousel
China Art Objects
Chin’s Push
C O O L
Dingum
Evelyn Yard
Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club
Freedman Fitzpatrick
Freymond-Guth
Gasconade
Green Gallery
Green Tea Gallery
Gregor Staiger
Hacienda
Hannah Hoffman
HHDM
High Art
Jenny’s
Lulu
Kai Matsumiya
Karma International
Kendall Koppe
Maccarone
Mandrake
Marbriers 4
Mathew
Michael Thibault
Misako & Rosen
Neue Alte Brücke
Overduin & Co.
Paradise Garage
Project Native Informant
Queer Thoughts
Rob Tufnell
Shoot the Lobster
Shanaynay
Supportico Lopez
Tanya Leighton
Thomas Duncan
Tomorrow
Truth & Consequences
Vilma Gold
Wallspace
Young Art
White Flag Projects
What Pipeline
XYZ Collective

OUTDOOR PROJECTS & PERFORMANCES

Ei Arakawa & Karl Holmqvist
Julien Ceccaldi
Kate Costello
Liz Craft
Marquita Flowers
Richard Hawkins and Friends
KAYA
Pentti Monkkonen
VR/DM8H943 & Odwalla88
P ’N’ P & Ruby Neri
Amanda Ross-Ho
Secret Circuit
SFV Acid
STRAUTCHEREPNIN
Oscar Tuazon
Pae White
Haegue Yang
Amy Yao

Hard Edge Painter June Harwood Dies at 81

Abstract painter June Harwood, whose crisp, geometric compositions made her a key member of the West Coast “Hard Edge” movement, passed away earlier this month at her Studio City home at the age of 81. Her death was confirmed in an email from her gallery, Louis Stern Fine Arts, where an already-planned exhibition of her work will open on Thursday.

June Harwood, Colorform (Orange, Green, Violet), 1965, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches (via louissternfinearts.com)

June Harwood, Colorform (Orange, Green, Violet), 1965, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches (via louissternfinearts.com)

Harwood’s early paintings consisted of rigid, flat planes of color and interlocking forms – pure abstraction with no representational content. She often painted with acrylics (then uncommon for an artist), and used tape to define the edges of her shapes. “My paint application was uniform, that is to say that no brush strokes were evident, creating impeccable, flat surfaces. Thus there would be no distraction from the intent, which was to create an interplay of ‘colorforms.’ Jules (Langsner) used this term to mean that color and form are one,” she said in a 2011 interview on Geoform.net.

Born in Middletown, NY, Harwood moved to California in the mid-1950s, shortly after graduating from Syracuse University. In Los Angeles, she connected with a small group of like-minded painters that included Lorser Feitselson, his wife June Lundeberg, John McLaughlin, Karl Benjamin, and Frederick Hammersley. In 1959, Harwood’s future husband Jules Langsner curated what is considered the first hard edge show, Four Abstract Classicists at LACMA, that featured Feitselson, McLaughlin, Benjamin, and Hammersley. While Harwood was absent from this show, she was part of another seminal hard edge exhibition also curated by Langsner, California Hard-Edge Painting, held in Balboa, CA in 1964.

June Harwood, Network Series (blue and yellow), July 1967, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 inches (via louissternfinearts.com)

June Harwood, Network Series (blue and yellow), July 1967, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 60 inches (via louissternfinearts.com)

Her work evolved to include curves, loops, and networks of lines that flirted with Op-Art, sometimes painted with metallic paint to accentuate the play of light on the surface of the canvas. In the 70s, her large, discreet forms began to break apart, as she became interested in kinetics and motion. In the 90s and 2000s, her edges softened and her brushwork became more painterly in works that recalled simple landscapes. Recently, she had returned to the hard-edged forms that she began exploring sixty years ago.

Throughout her long career, similar aesthetic concerns ran through all her work. “First instilled in me long ago as an undergraduate at Syracuse University, formal, classical, structural composition has remained the consistent theme in my painting throughout these many years,” she told Geoform.net. “Much of my painting develops intuitively and sometimes accidentally or serendipitously. But in all cases, the result should be to make all of the pieces fit, that there should be a ‘sense of rightness’ about the total configuration.”

June Harwood – Splinter, Divide and Flow: Works from 1967-1977 opens on Thursday, January 22, 5-8pm, with a tribute to the artist at 7pm, at Louis Stern Fine Arts, 9002 Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood.

Steve Turner Hangs Out His Shingle in Hollywood

Space Program, Installation view, Steve Turner, January 2015. [image via steveturner.la)

Space Program, Installation view, Steve Turner, January 2015. [image via steveturner.la)

Like a tide of hopeful, wide-eyed actresses lured West with dreams of making it big, the migration of galleries to Hollywood’s burgeoning gallery district rolls on with no signs of stopping. The latest gallery to make the move is Steve Turner, who will be opening their new space on Santa Monica off Highland this Saturday evening. Located across the street from Regen Projects, it occupies the site of a former concrete warehouse, remodeled by architect Richard Prantis. The new location features a 2500 square foot main space, project room, viewing room, and rooftop deck.

Steve Turner's new location [via steveturner.la]
Steve Turner’s new location [via steveturner.la]

We asked Steve Turner himself why he chose to move from his former spot across from LACMA, and how he picked Hollywood over other areas, like the growing downtown gallery cluster. “We did not actually decide to move. That decision was made for us as our previous building is slated to be demolished to make way for the advancing subway,” said Turner via email. “Once we accepted that fate we looked at properties near our old space on Wilshire Blvd., in downtown and in Hollywood. Downtown was appealing in some respects, but the long daily drive ultimately was its undoing. At the same time, I found my current space…It was exactly the sort of space that I wanted. It has high ceilings and a flat roof to accommodate a roof deck. It is close to the areas where most local collectors live. Other good galleries are already here and more galleries will surely be coming as there are many other great buildings nearby.”

Proximity to other galleries and collectors were not the only considerations however. “It also helps that Pizzeria Mozza is down the street,” he said, referring to Nancy Silverton and Mario Batali’s top notch pizza joint.

The inaugural exhibition will be a group show featuring nine gallery artists from all over the world. The works on view range from Yung Jake’s and Rafaël Rozendaal’s explorations of technology and the internet, Maria Anwander’s institutional critique, and sculpture by Pablo Rasgado, who twisted the remains of the space’s columns after they had been removed during renovations. Instead of organizing the show around a single theme, the exhibition celebrates this new opportunity to assemble so many artists from the gallery’s program in one space, hence the title Space Program.

Steve Turner will open their new space at 6830 Santa Monica Boulevard on Saturday, January 10 from 6-9pm with their inaugural exhibition, Space Program.

The Autry Invites Submissions for Public Art Project

Your art here. [via autry.org]

Your art here. [via autry.org]

Nestled into a corner of Griffith Park, The Autry National Center of the American West keeps a low profile compared to flashier LA museums like LACMA, MOCA, and the forthcoming Broad. More than just cowboy culture, however, their singular commitment to art and artifacts of the West ranges from exhibitions like “California’s Designing Women,” a century-long survey of the prominent role of female designers in the state, to “Route 66: The Road and the Romance,” a show dedicated to Americans’ peripatetic search for freedom through movement.

The Autry is now hoping to increase their engagement with the greater LA community by soliciting submissions for a public art project, High Five Art. Artists are invited to submit designs for a 49’ x 19’ banner that will reflect or comment on contemporary notions of the American West, “whether it’s community and diversity, freeway culture and the built environment, or elements of light and space,” according to Autry Chief Curator Amy Scott. The banner will be hung on the Autry’s back wall, visible to the 5 Freeway as well as the Los Angeles River. This puts the project in line with other recent initiatives to revitalize the LA River, such as Play the LA River and SPARC’s Great Wall and Green Bridge Projects.

Submissions are due February 1, after which time a selection committee will choose three finalists. Between March 1 and April 15, the public will vote, with the winning banner being installed in May. The winner will received $2500 and the two runners-up, $500 each. The banner will be up for at least a year.

The project sounds like a promising way to increase the museum’s visibility, but the choice to install a digitally-printed banner instead of a traditionally-painted mural is curious, especially since it’s going to be up for year. The cost and difficulty of painting something this large in a high location are certainly considerations, but given California’s strong mural tradition, it would seem to be a natural fit for a museum celebrating the heritage and material culture of the American West.

New Book on Robert Irwin Finally Gets It Right

Robert Irwin: Projects & Exhibitions 2012 – 2013, all photographs by Philipp Scholz Rittermann

Robert Irwin: Projects & Exhibitions 2012 – 2013, all photographs by Philipp Scholz Rittermann

85 year-old artist Robert Irwin has been something of a chameleon over his long career. Beginning as a painter, Irwin came to prominence as a light and space pioneer in the 1960s, and since the 70s he’s focused on landscape projects and site-specific installations. What unites all his work, however, is the importance of the physical experience, not just the visual. For this reason, it has been difficult to capture the true sensation of standing before, or in, one of his works through photography alone. “For the longest time he wouldn’t allow his work to be photographed, because as he said, a photograph captures nothing that the work is about and everything that it’s not about, it captures the image and not the presence,” said Lawrence Weschler, whose classic 1982 book Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, traces Irwin’s artistic journey.

IRWIN_BOOK_MG_7618

Robert Irwin: Projects & Exhibitions 2012 – 2013, a new book published by Quint Gallery in San Diego, sets out to change that by chronicling two dense years of projects from the tireless artist. After years of being unsatisfied with different photographers, Irwin has finally found one who is able to capture his work successfully. “Philipp Scholz Rittermann is really one of the first photographers to get Bob right,” said gallery director Ben Strauss-Malcolm. In addition to Scholz Rittermann’s insightful eye, the photographs in the book are coated with a spot-varnish, which makes them seem to jump off the page, according to Weschler. Strauss-Malcolm notes that it gives them the impression of being illuminated from behind, fitting given that light is such an important part Irwin’s work.

IRWIN_BOOK_MG_7601

The twelve projects featured in the book jump around the globe from Italy to Austria, New York to Texas to San Diego. They also include a range of media, from fluorescent light pieces to scrim installations and landscape design. What unites the work is a sensitive consideration of each work’s relation to its site. “The book is a statement about what he’s been about his whole life, that the work is conditioned by the site,” Weschler said. “You respond completely differently at different sites, and no medium is out of bounds.”

IRWIN_BOOK_MG_7611

Art You Can Afford + Love at the 5 Car Garage Sale

5 car garage sale. Pictured work by Bari Ziperstein, Kayla Hansen, and Max Maslansky [via 5 car garage's instagram]

5 Car Garage Sale. Pictured: work by Bari Ziperstein, Kyla Hansen, and Max Maslansky [via 5 car garage’s instagram]

With the art market on a seemingly out-of-control upward spiral, the idea of collecting art may seem unrealistic for all but a select few. Santa Monica-based gallerist Emma Gray is aiming to change that with her second annual 5 Car Garage Sale.

Gray founded her gallery, 5 Car Garage – literally a converted garage – as an appointment-only exhibition space in February 2013. Her first garage sale last year included affordable works by about twenty-five artists, allowing both collectors and Gray herself the opportunity for exploration with little risk. “The garage sale is a nice way to feel out an artist’s work and it’s a way for me to feel out a new relationship with an artist,” she says.

For this year’s sale, she’s offering work by a smaller, tighter group of thirteen artists. This is also the first time that the sale will be both in the garage and online. “I feel like the online wrinkle needs to be investigated and I thought launching the garage sale is a really good way to do it. It’s an experiment. I don’t want to grow up and be a real gallery,” Gray jokes, “so the best way for me to expand is virtually.”

Some of the works for sale include Mark A. Rodriguez’s ceramic plates of spaghetti, Kyla Hansen’s found object assemblages, and Max Maslansky’s over-painted magazine pages. Prices range from $10 to a few thousand dollars, with many works available for under $1000, making it possible for visitors to acquire a “smaller version of a future very important, big artist’s work,” says Gray.

The sale will take place this Tuesday from 11am–12:30pm, and Saturday from 4-6pm, or by appointment. Although the online shop includes most of the work at the gallery, some pieces that will only be available on-site. Email the gallery for directions.