Ideas, if good enough, last forever—cogent concepts won’t rust, as Kelly D. Williams would claim. However, his latest work, now on display at DDR Projects, will rust eventually, and is presently. In fact, most of his pieces have been tarnishing and eroding since their start; rust, featured in several of his pieces, is the medium of choice. It adequately characterizes the various works in his show, “That Was Now, This is Then,” as part of a larger discussion on the inevitable degeneration of both cultural and art objects and the resulting demand for new and lasting ideas—in order that art might withstand the decay.
Two large 48-by-7- inch untitled mixed-media paintings hang near the front of the gallery. Made with acrylic, enamel and aluminum chloride (which accelerates the oxidation process), they look similar, with varying mottled grays and dripping muted colors. One reads in large, brilliant, white, rust text, “THIS PARTICULAR PAINTING IS NOT FOR SALE,” while the other reads, “THIS ONE IS FOR SALE FOR $1,600.99.” The two work like diptychs, implicitly referencing one another while bringing to surface issues of art value. It’s Baldessari-like in its ironic, self-referential nature, making tongue-in-cheek mentions of contemporary art.
Williams’ use of contemporary practices and mixed media—photography, sculpture, painting, drawing and text—mingled with his patented style, which is highly influenced by skateboard culture, makes this show one for art and aesthetic lovers alike.
Untitled (My Other Skull is a Hirst) is a smooth pencil drawing of a skull—with cut-out images filling in the sockets—on a sheet washed with a cherry-blossom pink watercolor. Above, in an outline-font type characteristic of Williams, reads “MY OTHER SKULL IS A HIRST,” wittily alluding to Damien Hirst’s infamous diamond encrusted skulls.
Relic: 1953 Chrysler is a corroded readymade piece. Unable to fit in the small gallery space, it subsists in the show through documentation as a C-print photograph hung on the wall. The automobile is like the rusting, red-orange, terracotta-colored skull, grenades and high-heeled shoes displayed at the center of the room which, originally new, were treated with aqueous iron sulfate, aluminum chloride, time, and even more time to appear fully rusted. They are tarnished, and will eventually reduce to nothing, bringing—as Williams states—“now and then, full-circle.”
THAT WAS NOW, THIS IS THEN: NEW WORKS BY KELLY D. WILLIAMS DDR PROJECTS | 3403 EAST BROADWAY | LONG BEACH 90803 | 562.434.8480 | DDRPROJECTS.COM | OPEN TUES-FRI NOON-7PM | SAT NOON-6PM | FREE | THROUGH APRIL 10 | VISIT KELLYDWILLIAMS.COM TO PURCHASE OR VIEW MORE OF HIS WORK
Maya Schindler has something to tell you
Forget that all the letters—save for the “V”—are inverted. The massive and spotless white styrene words—pinned up against a brilliant and vivid red-and-hot-pink wall—can be read clearly: “I HAVE A DREAM.” Originally displayed in a 2004 exhibition in Antwerp, Belgium, Maya Schindler’s reconfigured piece—also entitled I Have a Dream—makes its first appearance in the states at University Art Museum’s Schindler show, “Present Progressive.”
UAM is great for the installation, its bright lights reflecting against these amply saturated and sharp colors. And despite its transfiguration, the large phrase is instantly recognizable and wholly readable. These words are familiar to us; they’re deeply woven into the fabric of our collective memory. Perhaps it’s Schindler’s intent to point us to this very notion and to present, somewhat blatantly, the power of language, of text and of image. If that’s the case, she succeeds—the piece is powerful, not to mention unexpectedly urgent.
Dream expands across an entire wall and is broken up by two entryways, revealing a second site-specific installation: I Am Political. White vinyl police tape with pink type reading “I AM POLITICAL” sections off a vibrant blue center room and fills the space, creating a jumbled network of boundaries and barriers. You can’t enter because you are thwarted by all the tape; you can only look in. But the deep urge to cross remains for any viewer, creating a personal, physical tension.
“Saying ‘I am political’ is like saying everything, but also saying nothing,” Schindler declares. “It doesn’t mean anything unless you put it in a context.” Here, our context is a clear physical relationship with the piece, fusing the political with the personal. Schindler takes vernacular that’s so greatly proliferated within our society and brings it down to a more direct and individual level, where it can be analyzed differently and the words can be understood, even physically. Yeah, it’s personal.
MAYA SCHINDLER: PRESENT PROGRESSIVE UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM | CAL STATE LONG BEACH | 1250 BELLFLOWER BLVD | LONG BEACH 90840 | 562.985.5761 | CSULB.EDU/UAM | OPEN TUES-SUN NOON-5PM | FREE | GALLERY TALK WITH ARTIST MAYA SCHINDLER WED DEC 3 12:15-1PM THROUGH DEC 19
metalbox, electronic gauge, power, internet
This past weekend, Cal State Long Beach’s art department transformed itself into something like a meeting place for the masters (of art), hosting the opening reception for its fourth annual Greater Los Angeles Masters of Fine Arts Exhibition, more widely referred to as “GLAMFA.” Curated by several CSULB art students, the show is a large collaborative effort showcasing over 60 different works by graduate students hailing from art schools all over Southern California (and a wee bit beyond)—Cal Arts, Claremont, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UNLV, to name a few.
Every so often, if we’re honest, art-lovers feel a nausea deep in the gut—you know, the one that tells you maybe the art world has lost its spunk, its ingenuity, its creativity . . . that it’s moved out, moved on and sold its soul to . . . Louis Vuitton. Shows like GLAMFA serve amply as a remedy for that occasional indignation/indigestion. The many artists in the show jointly showcase works that, in various ways, challenge the political, social, historical and cultural landscapes of today’s world.
Set aside a good chunk of your day to see this exhibition. Photography, sculpture, painting, drawing, video—it’s all here, spread out across five different gallery rooms. Tim Schwartz’s piece, Paris, is a meter fixed to the gallery room wall which, via Internet feed, gauges which “Paris” receives more online hits: Paris, France or Paris Hilton. Kate Wall renders a digital C-print of downtown LA’s skyscrapers with correction fluid, literally “whiting-out” the particulars of a space. Liz Glynn’s California Surrogates for the Getty is a sculptural shelf display of objects made of California waste, showcased and fashioned to look like historic relics and artifacts.
Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Buoyant, a several-part installation, is both formally and conceptually astounding. A heap of life preservers, each swathed tightly with bands of blonde and dark synthetic hair, sits adjacent to two streaming videos, and a sign displaying satirical Pool Rules for Non-buoyant Swimmers. The work references the absurd social myths about the buoyancy of African-American women and, essentially, challenges the very haunting issues from which such myths materialize. It’s eerie, in all the right ways.
Featuring over 40 artists, there’s so much more to be seen at this show. The image for the “GLAMFA” show, a pan of casserole or lasagna (or enchiladas?), is not wholly fitting. If it were up to me, I would’ve chosen meat loaf—the kind my mom used to make from anything and everything we had in the kitchen. That’s what this show is like, a funky amalgamation of so many different things and you can’t help but love it.
The CSULB University Gallery is open Mon-Fri 12-5pm; Wed @ 12-7pm. The show runs until September 10th.