Works Gallery
Artist Information

Dust

Jovi Schnell, Nick Makanna, Terri Friedman

&

Turbo Nectar

Willy Reed

Opening Reception: Saturday, August 5th, 2017, 6:00pm – 9:00pm Exhibition Dates: August 5th – September 2nd, 2017

Dust–that byproduct of fragmentation, of disintegration and decay, of death and regeneration. Space dust, wood dust, soil, pigment (color dust), coal dust, pollen, dust from degrading skin and hair, architecture and infrastructure. As an exhibition, Dust focuses on the exploration of systems of growth and decay, as they filter through personal, social and imaginative realms. Whether it’s Friedman’s dizzyingly complex weavings that channel anxieties stemming from our current political turmoil, employing the timeless technology of the loom to mediate the existential dread and essential optimism that are poles of contemporary survival. Schnell’s frenetically composed paintings and vibrant interstellar imaginings or ”Space Gardens”, that feel particularly vital given our slowly besieging climate catastrophe. Or Makanna’s spindly ceramic structures which call to mind medieval gothic ruins and modern industrial prisons which, much like the other artists, channel a particular levity through vibrant surfaces and anxiously playful dispositions. In a sense then, Dust is more an exploration of balance–of remaining both realistic and unwaveringly hopeful amidst our constant strife and ever-increasing assortment of doomsday scenarios.

Los Angeles-based artist Jovi Schnell describes her recent painting process as, “the cultivation of Space Gardens, as overlays of variegated mark making and swaths of color form mesh-works or plots of energy for potential growth within an entropic lattice”. Much as the boundlessness of space allowed musician Sun Ra the liberties to stretch out his utopian and musical imaginations untethered from earthly racism and mental constraints, Schnell’s “Space Gardens” find a similar imaginative freedom. The artist finds a particular correlation between these new works and Patabotany–a study of plant life embracing myth, magic and sensuality as a means of breaking these subjects from the reins of contemporary economic frameworks and use-values. Within the paintings there lies an inherent hopefulness, the viewer’s eye and spirits buoyed by bucolic colors and the playfulness of the artist’s floral forms, however classical garden scenes these are not.

Schnell’s “Space Gardens” do not seem of this world, they are technical and technological, psychedelic and psychological, and therein lies the sinister realization that within this warped realm what has happened to our terrestrial green spaces, and what catastrophe would necessitate said “Space Gardens”?

For decades artist Terri Friedman has investigated abstract painting through a variety of means including kinetic sculptural installations, yet in recent years the artist has delved fully into weaving, creating incredible works rich in texture, color, content and the rich history of the medium. The artist’s most recent body of work, The Smell of Gasoline, was made amidst and in response to the incendiary climate that followed the 2016 election, all the while being met with a mixture of emotions following the passing of a close friend. Friedman at times began to introduce the urgent language of protest signs: “SOS”, “awake”, “wrong way”; meditations on this type of immediacy through the long-form intentionality of a weaving. The process’ allusion to a “social fabric” is a connection the artist fully embraces, inviting the awkward and unhinged tensions as natural fibers and colors are placed next to those of a mass-produced artificial variety. As the artist puts it, “color can mirror the insanity and unraveling w are feeling.  Color is both confrontational and comforting … The yarn paintings are patchworks of words, color, and abstraction, and ultimately they are memorials of light coming through loss or even danger.”

Much as Terri Friedman found the process of weaving to be an expanded field through which to explore the central issues of abstract painting, San Francisco-based artist Nick Makanna found the same potential in the humble medium of ceramic in bringing to life the architectural forms that he explored through his paintings. Oscillating between rough and craggy to glassy fetish finishes, sumptuously colored to raw earthtones, and forms that flow from awkwardly weighty to delicately confident–Makanna’s ceramic structures revel in their own contradictions. The artist’s ongoing titling of works as “runes” functions as a wordplay on the post-industrial ruins that serve as inspiration–dilapidated warehouses that populated the eastside of San Francisco where the artist grew up, while also suggesting the vaguely linguistic and temporally fractured shapes and forms that compose these emotive structures.

“Turbo Nectar” is the sassy surname for a fruit juicer made by the Philco Corporation destined specificially for their Brazilian market.  Turbo Nectar is also the title of a solo exhibition by San Francisco born and Los Angeles based artist Willy Reed, who through the primordial material of clay negotiates the saturated aesthetics of CrazySexyCool that so often predominate conversations surrounding “California”. What better material to meditate on the elements that compose a vivid California imaginary than clay–that primordial sludge that enmeshed itself within the state’s 60’s counter culture and 70’s Funk Art movements, and which continues to be embraced and fetishized as a direct antithesis to our increasingly cloud-based existence.  Yet minimal nostalgia remains within Reed’s expressive and intensely humorous forms. A glance over the vivid tableaux created through these sculptures yields innumerable questions.  Namely, how does a ceramic MacBook Pro both operate and archive within a place that leads much of the world in artistic and technological thought, and what is the function of a ceramic laptop in any sense? Just like driving countless miles through a smoggy LA summer for a verdant green juice and shot of Wheatgrass at your favorite raw juice bar, it’s Willy Reed’s peculiar contradictions that propel Turbo Nectar as a reflection and examination of our strange and colorful California imaginary.