PAST WORK AND SHOWS
DADA Exhibition at the University Club in Downtown L.A.
“Corporate Garden,” fabric, gesso and graphite on plywood
In the summer of 1997, the Downtown Arts Development Association was given permission to take over a vacant five-story office building at the corner of 6th and Hope and transform it into an exhibition venue. Nearly 400 artists had their pick of 100,000 square feet of space formerly used as the University Club and the headquarters of the Bank of Tokyo.
I chose a conference room with curved walls and a giant central light fixture as the site for my piece, “Corporate Garden,” which suggested a stream bed with relics of humanity exposed by eroding soil. The plywood foundation mimicked the shape of the room, just as the conference table once did, and also had the same contours as the light installation suspended above it, shedding a soft, even glow like an autumn sun. Using remnants of fabric glued to the board, I created shapes of skeletal remains, gessoed them to give the impression of bleached bones, and then covered most of the surface with graphite, which created a cold, metallic finish. At once meditative and haunting, the installation presented a natural environment, a forest stream bed, forced into the confines of corporate culture, and strewn with evidence of the human devastation wrought by big corporations’ greed and arrogance.
Random Gallery, Highland Park, California
“Buddha on Moneybags,” enamel, latex, acrylic and collaged fabric on canvas
While preparing for the DADA exhibit at the University Club building, which had once been Bank of Tokyo headquarters as well, I came across some canvas money bags with logos for various banks imprinted on them. I cut them up into shapes that when attached to the canvas created images of seated Buddhas, skeletons and ancient Japanese stone figures. As I had done in earlier paintings, I sat lotus-style on each canvas and briskly white-washed the outline of my folded legs, creating a sort of butterfly shape. The paintings were then arranged on the floor of the gallery, inviting viewers to take part in the piece. A visitor could sit on one of the paintings and contemplate mortality, spirituality and art in the context of the overriding emphasis on commerce that our society places on all three.
“Fabrication” exhibition, Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University in Orange, California
“21 Zen Paintings,” enamel, latex, acrylic, spray paint and collaged fabric on canvas
Each of the 24” x 36” paintings in this installation was made up of smaller works collaged together in a mosaic pattern and mounted on a canvas. I then sat on each canvas, lotus-style, and brushed a wash of white enamel around the shape of my folded legs. The imagery on the smaller paintings was left exposed in the butterfly-like shape that resulted, and traces of the imagery and the texture of the paint and fabric were still visible in the whitewashed areas.
As in my earlier floor pieces, the visitor was free to either view the piece from the edges or actually sit on one of the paintings and contemplate the surrounding art works. Just as each of the 21 paintings was an art work in and of itself, en masse they created a collective identity. In the same way, each visitor to the gallery was free to interact with the paintings in his or her own way, but ultimately their choices became part of the overall piece, thereby illustrating the installation’s dominant theme of individual identity in the context of a group dynamic.
Uni Space at Random Gallery, Highland Park, California
“Spring Haiku,” enamel, latex, acrylic and collaged fabric on canvas
The Uni Space was a 10’ x 14’ room that exhibited only one piece of artwork at a time. For my exhibit there, I draped the walls with raw cotton canvas, creating a soft tent-like room, at the center of which was a platform with a painting 8’ x 10’ so it left only 1 foot of space around three edges in which to walk.
The painting depicted flower shapes on a snowy field of white enamel, under which were collaged pieces of scrap fabric in the shape of a human skeleton curled up in a fetal position. In the center of the canvas was a spot where I had sat cross-legged on the canvas and painted around the shape of my legs and body. The spectator could observe from the end of the room or walk on the painting and sit a spell to think about the eternal cycle of death and rebirth. The skeleton, buried but still visible, like in the ruins at Pompeii, reminds us of our mortality, while the vibrantly colored flower shapes that leap from the cold white ground evoke the new life and hope inherent in every spring.
Solo exhibition, Random Gallery in Highland Park
“1,440 Paintings,” spray paint, enamel and oil paint on fabric
In this solo exhibit, I continued exploring some of the themes I had earlier presented in “Pissarro’s Seed” at the FAR Bazaar, even using some of the same individual paintings in both pieces.
At Random Gallery, the pieces on the floor extended end to end to the edges of the room, so viewers did not have the option of walking around the work but instead were forced to step on the paintings. Some people trod with reckless abandon and kicked at the paintings with little regard for their worth as works of art. Others entered hesitantly and took their shoes off, tiptoeing gently over the carpet of images. In the gallery setting, I selected about 100 pieces to be separated from the mass on the floor and hung on the walls. There was nothing necessarily different about the paintings on the walls, but their treatment seemed to imbue them with more significance, to make them special because they were presented the way one expects works of art to be seen. The overall effect called into question the idea of individual worth amid a collective identity.
FAR Bazaar at the Bingo Building of the Brewery in Downtown L.A.
“Pissarro’s Seed,” fabric and paint
The FAR Bazaar, organized by the Foundation for Art Resources in 1994, took place at the Bingo Building of the Brewery complex in Downtown Los Angeles and featured visual, performance and media artists engaged in multiple activities simultaneously in the cavernous, raw space.
“Pissarro’s Seed,” my contribution to the event, was comprised of 1,440 small paintings arranged on the concrete floor in the rough shape of the United States of America. The paintings presented themes and imagery that my work has explored for more than 20 years, including fire, guns, graffiti, silhouettes, sexual imagery, sperm, skulls and text. With no barriers impeding the experience of the paintings, viewers were free to move over them or around them, and how the audience approached and treated the paintings became a part of the piece. The title, “Pissarro’s Seed,” refers to the way invading Prussian soldiers found a cache of paintings by the French impressionist hidden in a farmhouse, and not appreciating their artistic merit, spread them out to serve as carpeting on which they stomped and wiped their muddy boots. My paintings posed a similar quandary for the viewer: Do I revere this as a work of art, or crush it under my heel like a discarded piece of trash? From day to day during the three-week installation, the piece changed as paintings were kicked around, damaged and taken, until what started as an organized arrangement devolved into entropy.