La Rosa Social Club.
In association with Semi-Permanent
Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi
Staged as part of the Semi-Permanent creative festival, La Rosa Social Club, the pop-up art exhibition of Los Angeles-based filmmaker, art curator and cultural icon Aaron Rose, made its debut in the Middle East with a host of globally renowned contemporary art-makers. La Rosa Social Club is an experiment in social sculpture, expanding the parameters of what an exhibition can be. The idea being that the walls are broken down between the viewer and the artworks. Each participant interacting with and become one with the exhibition itself.
Contributing artists included Ryan McGinley, Kim Gordon, Tom Sachs, Barry McGee, Mario Ayala, Kahlil Joseph, Raymond Pettibon, Chris Johanson and Johanna Jackson, Cali Thornhill-Dewitt, Kenny Scharf and more. The first time an event was held like this in Abu Dhabi, the overall festival included creative direction by Los Angeles based studio Perron Roettinger and included a live performance by DJ/producer Mark Ronson.
Now & Then.
Beautiful Losers, Alleged Gallery and the 90's Lower East Side.
The Hole, New York City, Sept. 2018
This exhibition venerated the 10-year anniversary of the ‘Beautiful Losers’ documentary that made its US premiere on August 8, 2008 at the IFC center in New York. ‘Beautiful Losers, which captured the characteristic spirit of a community of artists affiliated with the Alleged Gallery in Manhattan in the early 1990’s. This history and the formative years of DIY and "outsider” art and its acceleration to the cultural forefront were revisited with this exhibition. Works included spanned the decades from the 1990's to present day and included paintings, photographs, ceramics, installations and film/video works. Additionally, the original storefront of the Alleged Gallery on the Lower East side was painstakingly reproduced on the Bowery by Alexis Ross and Mike Levy for the event. Artists included in the exhibition were: Aaron Rose, Andre Razo, Ari Marcopoulos, Barry McGee, Cheryl Dunn, Chris Johanson, David Aron, Deanna Templeton, Ed Templeton, Geoff McFetridge, Ivory Serra, Johanna Jackson, Margaret Kilgallen, Mark Gonzales, Mike Mills, Rita Ackermann, Shepard Fairey, Stephen Powers, Susan Cianciolo, Thomas Campbell, Tobin Yelland, and Tom Sachs. This exhibition was produced in conjunction with RVCA.
Sister Corita Kent.
Serigraphs: 1959 - 1979
NADA Miami Beach, December 2016
For the 2016 NADA Art Fair in Miami Beach, The Conversation partnered with The Corita Art Center, Los Angeles to present a rare commercial exhibition of the work of Sister Corita Kent. Rare works were pulled for the exhibition from the archives and presented as a re-interpretation of the artist's original studio in Los Angeles. A display was built from common metal pipe meant to represent the function of a traditional silkscreen drying rack. The booth also included life-size wall murals, a reading room and a film screening of works about the artist. In keeping with Cotita's passion for teaching, we partnered with local teen art/design program Design Lab Miami to produce a workshop inspired by Corita's work. The workshop included students re-interpreting the design of the original nun's habit, creating them on-site in the lobby of the fair. Additionally, the general public was invited to create their own protest signs which became part of an impromptu march through the fair. Many of the signs were understandably Anti-Trump which surprisingly led to various nasty comments from both visitors and gallerists at the fair. Guess the art world isn't as boldly progressive as everybody thinks? Just before the fair, I was offered to lecture at DASH (Design and Architecture Senior High School) and regardless of the negative reactions at the fair, the students there renewed my faith in the future of creative thought and practice. The kids are alright.
Imperfect Reality With Figures and Challenging Abstraction.
September 17 - December 3, 2016
The Conversation, Berlin
Imperfect Reality with Figures and Challenging Abstraction, was Chris Johanson's first solo exhibition in Berlin. The artist is renowned for immersive installations that depict the hope and despair of contemporary life as we deal with the crushing conformity of modern existence. His exhibition with The Conversation was comprised of new paintings and works on paper made with recycled materials. Most of the works are double-sided painting, then linked together to create at three dimensional maze for the viewer to interact with. While a good deal of Chris Johanson’s recent works have been firmly rooted in abstraction, for this exhibition Johanson shifted direction to more explore the figurative. Johanson is a keen observer of contemporary life. He views his practice as an exploration of painting as an artifact of how life is lived; and the notion of art as a nexus at which nature, culture, and self come together. Johanson’s artworks have a poetic quality, communicating moods or states of mind through his saturated palette. Whether abstract or figurative, his work expresses the artist's strong beliefs in environmentalism, compassion, and peaceful co-existence. The opening reception happened during Art Week Berlin, and included a very special live performance in The Conversation's rear courtyard by Manchester-based musician Irma Vep.
The Neon Wilderness.
Voices From Los Angeles
The Conversation, Berlin
Featuring Peter Shire, Cali Thornhill-Dewitt, Chris Johanson, Rosson Crow, Geoff McFetridge, Amanda Charchian, Kenny Scharf, Johanna Jackson, Brian Roettinger, Alexis Ross & Deanna Templeton.
We can’t tell you the number of times we have heard the city of Los Angeles described as nothing more than and endless strip of concrete boulevards and suburban blight all strung together by a random smattering of convenience stores. This statement is usually presented in the context of some kind criticism and is usually spoken by someone who hasn’t spent much time there. There has been quite a bit written about art in Los Angeles over the past few years and while a good deal of it is interesting, from our experience, most of it barely scratches the surface. If you look hard enough, there are real treasures to be found there. Yes, some of it is being shown in the galleries and museums or are the products of the thrawl of hot young things spewing out of the city’s numerous art schools, but not all of it. In our opinion, the real beauty of the creative scene in LA exists outside of the expected venues. Artists across the city are bubbling up from beneath the
sheen of Hollywood (ignoring it actually), in favor of creating lives and art and music and design that exists strictly for the benefit of the scenes it affects. When you stop comparing Los Angeles to the rest of the world and see it for the flawed and beautiful wild animal that it is, the skies (and the boulevards) literally open up and suddenly there is a feast of inspiration that, in our opinion, is unrivaled in America.
La Rosa Social Club.
Alldayeveryday, Los Angeles
Potsdamer Strasse, Berlin
After many years of dreaming, I finally realized my vision of opening a bar that functions as a true artist's salon. Over four days in February during the 2016 LA Art Book Fair, La Rosa Social Club first opened its doors and offered a chance to experience a version of a bar as a conceptual installation. The installation then travelled to Berlin in April for Berlin Art Week. This collaborative project by The Conversation (Berlin) and Alldayeveryday was conceived as a combination of multiple three-dimensional installations and custom interiors to create an ambience that was a hybrid of “a Mexican dive bar, a 1960’s office building and an underground dance club" The La Rosa concept combines the traditional idea of a consumer space and injects it with an immersive, artistic experience. Everything in the space was designed by artists, including candles, wine bottles, cocktail napkins and more. Contributing artists included Barry McGee, Olivier Zahm, Alia Penner, Ed Templeton, Wyatt Troll, Stefan Strumbel, Deanna Templeton, Brian Roettinger, Lola Rose Thompson, Terry Richardson, Chris Johanson, Alexis Ross, Geoff McFetridge, Ben Baretto, Jesse Spears, Nate Walton, Gusmano Cesaretti and more. In both incarnations, each night featured experimental performances by DJ's and musicians including Tomorrow's Tulips, Money Mark, Sylvie Lake and Harmony Horizon. La Rosa Social Club will tour the world through 2017.
October - November, 2015
The works in TOTEMS deal with objects and feelings of desire, and how this relates to different aspects of spirituality (or artificial spirituality) that we as human beings use to get through the life experiment. Some of the works deal with religion and the tribal aspects of religious iconography, but not in a classical sense. The large faces in the works on canvas represent idols. They could be considered portraits of fictitious gods. The texts on each work relate specifically to various concepts of longing. This could be a desire for meaning, for inspiration, or for love, all of which are reasons that we as humans seek spiritual connection. A small suite of works on canvas depicting targets relate to alcohol and drugs, another form of spiritual searching. The repeated geometric imagery in each work is meant to represent the experience of intoxication, however these works contain a deeper message. In the center of each piece there is a target. In some ways these could be considered a homage to Jasper Johns, but in reality they are here to represent the unattainable goal. The target is an event on the horizon that we all strive for but rarely reach. It is for this reason that many find solace in spirituality. It fools us into thinking that there is sense in the world, and even though it may be a lie, like art, it’s quite possibly the one thing that humanity needs most.
Film As Painting.
Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles
November - December, 2013
Painting and Film have a long and complicated relationship to each other. While their modes of distribution could not be more different (paintings expensive and for the elite / films cheap and for the masses), the two mediums still make great bedfellows. Contrary to popular belief, the practices of painting and film are actually quite similar. Both begin with an overall thesis, then creative minds are assembled together to make the final vision complete. For this exhibition, I proposed a very considered installation that explores these central themes. We presented a series of works by artists and filmmakers that span almost 100 years of cinematic and art history. Works ranging from early film experimentations from the 1920’s to films completed specifically for this project. My hope was that when shown together, relationships would emerge, where the static and moving image become one. An environment where the viewer can stand in front of a film and with a slight shift in perception, truly experience it as a moving painting.
Artists included: Len Lye, Marie Menken, Jeremy Blake, Mike Mills, Yvonne Rainer, Harry Smith, Jan Svankmajer, Wyatt Troll, Daniel Szczechura, Heino Pars, Wallace Berman.
September - December, 2013
In Los Angeles, the culture of celebrity practically runs in the water supply. My current studio space lies directly beneath the Hollywood sign and as I created this body of work, I would constantly hear police sirens going off warning tourists to stay away. This got me wondering about what power it is exactly that would compel a person to risk injury and arrest for the chance to get next to and touch a very simple structure made of metal and wood? The sign must promise something, it manufactures an association with something larger than life. Something that represents stardom, talent, dreams…the cult of celebrity. That got me thinking about the idea of Cults. California has a long history with cults. From the Merry Pranksters to Charles Manson, to Jim Jones to The Moonies, this culture runs deep. But it was not these cults that I found interesting. I’ve instead realized that there are small cults all around me, and in all of our daily lives. While to some, this word might evoke a negative connotation, I feel quite differently. My close friends, other artists, musicians, filmmakers and my even relationship with my family are all various forms of CULTS. The works in this show pay tribute to these groups. They are portraits of a social network offering glimpses of interconnections which we all experience in our own ways,
Known Gallery, Los Angeles
July 7 - July 21, 2012
In September of 2001, I packed up my New York life of over ten years, stuffed it into a U-Haul and moved to Los Angeles. The contents of that truck included all kinds of evidence and ephemera from my time as a gallerist in NYC. There were some really cool original pieces of art in there, but it mostly consisted of things like prints, posters, furniture, extension cords, cassette tapes, magazines, books, skateboards, and thousands of other random things that at the time I just couldn’t let go of. After a few months of being on the West Coast, the entire contents of that truck got dumped into an anonymous storage space in Glendale where it remained for over ten years. Each month I would diligently send a check to pay for this big black box of 1990’s memories. The idea of keeping all this evidence of my old life in storage no longer sounded attractive to me and there were some amazing things that I was sure people would like to have. So, back in 2012, for two weeks we staged a giant fire sale at Known Gallery on Fairfax. The installation was purely freeform and all the benefits from the sale went to fund Make Something!! art workshops for teenagers.
East L.A. Diary.
Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles
January - February, 2012
One night at a dinner party I was introduced to Gusmano Cesaretti and my life was changed foreverGusmano Cesaretti is an Italian immigrant who moved to Los Angeles in the 1969 and quickly became fascinated by East Los Angeles. Inspired by the colors, people and graffiti that populated the East Side, he began to capture the vulnerability and uncensored quality of this area. Always honest when shooting his subjects, Cesaretti presented things as they are: violent, loving, confident, scared, full of life. It is this energy and conflict inherent in those who occupy the edges of society that drives his photographic investigations. The main gallery of this curated exhibition featured work from the early period of Cesaretti’s career (1970s) in which he immersed himself in the East Los Angeles culture. His photographs of this era celebrated a sub-culture that had rarely been captured before. The exhibition included twenty-four vintage, unique prints that had only recently been discovered and were shown for the first time in Los Angeles. In the Project Space, Cesaretti visited a turbulent section of Colón, Panama. Approached with the same spirit and tenacity reflected in his previous works, these intimate photographs of children in an impoverished community offer a fresh perspective into this part of the world.
Family Books, Los Angeles
November - December, 2011
On November 28, 2011, myself and Brian Roettinger put together an exhibition at Family books in Los Angeles. The exhibition served as a book and record launch party for Collage Culture, the book of criticism I wrote with Mandy Kahn. Creating exhibitions around books or any kind of printed matter in general are notoriously difficult. In response to this, Brian and I decided to try something a bit different. Instead of just displaying selected pages from the book, we photocopied the whole thing and displayed it in its entirety on the walls of the gallery at Family books. In addition to the book, we released a 12" vinyl record by No Age where they created the score and different people read selections from the book. The packaging on this book (also done by Brian) was spectacular so we installed the record sleeve in all of its parts. There was a portable record player attached to the wall as well where viewers could listen to the record. A monitor hung on another wall playing a video piece that accompanies the book.
Art In The Streets.
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
The Geffen Contemporary
April - August, 2011
Art in the Streets was the first major U.S. museum survey of graffiti and street art. Curated by MOCA Director Jeffrey Deitch and Associate Curators Roger Gastman and Aaron Rose, the exhibition traced the development of graffiti and street art from the late 1970s to the global movement it has become today. Concentrating on key cities such as New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, and Sao Paulo, where a unique visual language or attitude has evolved. The exhibition featured paintings, mixed media sculptures, and interactive installations by 50 of the most dynamic artists working in the genre today, with special emphasis on Los Angeles's role in the evolution of graffiti and street art, Additionally, special sections were dedicated to seminal local movements such as cholo graffiti, lowrider cars and skateboard culture. A comprehensive timeline illustrated with artwork, photos, video, and ephemera provided a unique historical context for the work. With attendance well over 250,000 people, Art In The Streets proved to be the most well attended exhibition in the history of the Museum of Contemporary Art, and opened the museum experience to countless people who never would have visited an art institution before.
Cafe Legs #2, Los Angeles
Alexis Ross' one-man exhibition Leg Life was one of the most fun exhibitions I've ever put together. After many years of gallery installations, this one was so off the regular track it served as a total breath of fresh air. The show was on display for one night only, at Cafe Legs, a private space that sat behind the RVCA store on Fairfax Ave. A space originally concieved as a gentlemen's club, the doors were opened for a night to showcase a body of work Alexis had been working on. Location aside, at first this still might have seemed like a regular exhibition, but there was a catch. Like a conceptual caveat of sorts. At the artist's request, I was established in the venue in character as the "dealer". Anyone who was interested in one of the works had to come to me to discuss. When approached I had a set of questions that I asked each patron. Once their seriousness had been established and we had negotiated a price, I informed the collector that the pieces could not be bought...only given away. They were to receive the work free of charge. It was the perfect commentary on the hilarious nature of the art market and the politics of desire. Photos here are by Joshua White.
For this show, my first solo exhibition in Berlin, I had a particular obsession with painting on suitcases. I had been working on different objects for some time, but it was at this point that I focused exclusively on one type of shape. Suitcases from the 50s to 70s were manufactured in such interesting color palettes, there were all these incredible browns, mustard yellows and army greens. I now call this series of works (some of which were stuffed with surprise goodies for buyers to walk away with) "object paintings." The works were displayed on hanging chains wrapped with fresh flowers that had to be replaced weekly. I must confess that he whole idea was executed in the spirit of Duchamp, but art historical references aside, the show’s conceptual slant is mostly psychological, personal even. I consider each one of these works a completely literal and three-dimensional illustration of "my baggage". That is where the title, Trouble comes from. The exhibition was very much a confession of what all my problems were/are. Whether thsat was immediately obvious to the viewer is another question, but that wasn't really my motivation. This exhibition was a purge.
Monster Children, Sydney
March - April, 2010
For many, the very nature of artists editions evokes something that is somehow “lesser than” the original. I have always felt differently about it. When I was young some of my first experiences in “art appreciation” happened not in galleries, but in local record stores. Not only were the record covers beautiful, but pretty much all of the stores I would frequent had swinging racks of posters. I remember standing in front of those racks for hours, flipping through image after image of weirdo bands and psychedelic black light posters. I did not care whether I was looking at an original piece of art. It made no difference to me. French social theorist Jean Beaudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right. I tend to agree. A visual is powerful simply because it is…regardless of it’s context. This exhibition is my attempt to share with viewers the relaxed joy of casually flipping through images…taking the formality out of the art viewing experience in favor of a pure appreciation of the fantastic.
A Festival of Rare & Hard To See Films
Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles
January 16 - February 20, 2010
An offer from Roberts & Tilton to curate something for their project room resulted in Projections: A Festival of Rare and Hard To See Films. There are few things that move people as much as seeing a great film. As the organizer of this festival I used the term “film” loosely as I did the word “festival”. Because in this gallery context, I do not necessarily refer only to feature films. In fact some of the most inspiring films I’ve ever seen have been under five minutes long. Projections was a celebration of these types of works. While the focus of the collection was mostly on young filmmakers, I also chose to include some masters from the past who, for many reasons, have created works of cinema that have moved me in some way. Additionally, it was my hope that by removing all these films from their usual theatrical setting, and instead presenting them in an art gallery context, that people would perhaps look at them a little differently. Not just as entertainment, but as the works of true artists, who have contributed greatly to the visual culture of our times. Filmmakers included: Sadie Benning, Roman Coppola, Bruce La Bruce, M. Blash, Bernadette Corporation, Brent Stewart, Matt Clark, Miranda July, Bill Daniel, Cheryl Dunn, Jean Luc Godard, Liz Goldwyn, Spike Jonze, Jonas Mekas, Alia Raza, Mike Mills, Sarah Flicker, Maximilla Lukacs, and Harmony Korine.
April 9 - May 30, 2009
Circleculture asked me to arrange a Spring show for them, so I decided to put three of my heroes together in one room. The exhibition served to focus on the then recent artistic output by three underground heroes from the different worlds of surfing, skateboarding, graffiti, and punk. Even though each of these artists had firmly established themselves in the world of contemporary art, there are still common themes between them that hail back to their subcultural roots. It could be described primarily as an overriding sense of concern for and representation of the downtrodden, the outsider, the anti-hero. McGee’s sad, sullen faces and neon-colored geometric panels reflect the archetypal image of man overpowered by omnipresent media, Templeton’s portraits of suburban youths perfectly illustrate the harsh alienation of teenage life, while Pettibon’s drawings and paintings focus sharply on issues of personal/social unrest, life during war and the constant power struggle between a man and his destiny. The fact that this is the first time an exhibition has featured all three artists in such direct proximity to each other will be an interesting statement not only on each artists’ individual style, but also the unique similarities that run through all of their works.
Passion for the Possible.
The Work of Sister Corita
Monster Children Gallery, Sydney, CircleCulture, Berlin & California State University, Northridge
2008 - 2010
This exhibition spawned a relationship with the work of Sister Corita that has now lasted almost a decade. If you're not familair with her, Corita Kent was a an artist, a teacher, and a nun. She was one of America¹s most celebrated serigraph artists. creating works that won her international acclaim from the 1950s until her death in 1986. As art professor at Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles in the turbulent 1960's, Sister Corita¹s hallmark mixture of captivating images and provocative texts delivered messages of hope and joy to a troubled world. She captured the national imagination by making art that influenced a generation of Americans and it was my true honor to mount this retrospective exhibition in different incarnations at venues around the world. While this show focused on Corita's pop works from the 1960's, there were also examples of earlier works shown, alongside various films and publications from throughout her career. In addition, we organized creative workshops to coincide with each which included classes on flag and banner making, magazine collage, kite construction, perception excercises and more.
Born To Cry.
Hope Gallery, Los Angeles
January 17 - February 11, 2009
My first solo exhibition in Los Angeles at the now defunct Hope Gallery in Echo Park. Though short lived, Hope held some amazing shows and it was an honor to be part of that history. For many years I have been painting different objects. I always thought that the dimensionality of a suitcase, a guitar or a lamp allowed so many more narrative interactions than a simple canvas. The way color and form interact on those surfaces was inspiring to say the least. It's something I'm still yet to figure out now that I have been working primarily in two dimensions. Born To Cry was the result of a few years of work on what I called my "Object Paintings". I could single-handedly credit this exhibition with jumpstarting my painting career again. I had been curating other people's work for so long that I had really let my practice falter. This exhibition, though quite small, was a turning point. It allowed me to take my work seriously again. I only wish I had better photographs of the installation. These were shot with my phone and really don't do it justice.
20 Years of American Youth
New York - Los Angeles - Miami
February - December, 2008
The camera never lies and that is why photography is the best way to capture raw, unfiltered authenticity. “Being True” was an exhibition presented by Nike that I co-curated with Emma Reeves. Bringing together 22 photographers we focused on creators who’ve used their cameras to capture a moment in time when a subject, completely devoid of pretense, expressed him or herself honestly and truly. Whether it was a stylistic statement; or a look of joy, feelings of thoughtfulness or anguish; or a physical movement, these young faces represent American youth culture in its purest form. We sorted through entries from over 100 photo-graphers and settled on a diverse go-to group. The exhibit reaches back 22 years and included established, as well as up-and-coming photographers (and anything in between), What they have in common, and what makes their images so impactful, is that they’ve managed to capture, in the blink of an eye, a visual manifestation of “Being True.” Photography featured from: Tim Barber, Angela Boatwright, Kenneth Cappello, Poppy De Villeneuve, Cheryl Dunn, Naomi Harris, Alex Hoerner, Drew Jarrett, Alain Levitt, Jeaneen Lund, Ari Marcopoulos, Dan Murphy, Jason Nocito, Patrick O’Dell, Mike Piscitelli, David Ransone, Terry Richardson, Jamel Shabazz, David Perez (Shadi), Brent Stewart, Ray Potes, Tobin Yelland.
Dancin' In The Moonlight.
La Foret Museum, Tokyo
The show was produced for the theatrical release of the Beautiful Losers documentary in Tokyo. While smaller in scale than the full-scale Beautiful Losers exhibition, it still included original art by some of the prominent artists represented. Works by Margaret Kilgallen, ESPO, Jo Jackson, Josh Lazcano (AMAZE), Barry Mcgee (as Ray Fong), Chris Johanson, Geoff McFetridge, Shepard Fairey, Harmony Korine, Mike Mills, Thomas Campbell, and Ed Templeton, hung alonside installations by Alexis Ross of the Gents of Desire and sign-painter Sean Barton, A series of "Make Something!" workshops were hosted including Alexis Ross (Homemade Tattoos), Aaron Rose ( Zine Making), Sean Barton (Sign Painting), and Jo Jackson (Paper Mache Heads of World Leaders) and gave the throng of eager Japanese art fans something to do with their idle hands and deviant minds. The entire museum space was built out from scratch using disused shipping palletes and a full-service sign shop painted by ESPO was set up in the center of the space. The galleries themselves, before the artists even went in were amazing to behold. There are some photos here of the space being built out.
Stussy World Tour
Various International Locations
April - December, 2008
Kaws, Todd James, KR, Futura, Jim Phillips, Eric Elms, Pushead, Neckface, Geoff McFetridge, ESPO, Mode 2, Skate Thing, Ben Drury, Mark Gonzales, Andy Jenkins, Mister Cartoon, Brent Rollins and more...
For the 20th anniversary of Stussy's first t-shirt, I was asked to organize a touring exhibition to celebrate a tribute project. A group of over 40 artists were handpicked and invited to do their rendition of the World Tour T-shirt. They were graphic designers, graffiti artists, clothing designers and comic book artists. Their unique hand writing style and artistic vision were specifically chosen to fit with our ethos and identity. The t-shirts were released in small groups starting in March 2006 and new designs were dropped throughout the next years. To culminate the project we designed an installation that included examples of all the shirts (displayed on a mechanical dry cleaners rack), then surrounded them with works of original art and site specific murals and installations. At the Venice Beach location KR filled fire extinguishers with paint and proceeded to bomb the entire front of the house. I still remember the looks on tourists faces on the boardwalk when thay came upon it.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.
Marella Gallery, Milan
February - March, 2007
Barry McGee, Ryan McGinley, Clare E. Rojas, Raymond Pettibon, Mike Mills, Ed Templeton, Ari Marcopoulos, Phil Frost, Deanna Templeton, Matt Leines
In the choice of artists for this exhibition in Milan, I focused on my desire to send a positive signal in a historical moment in which the world around us seemed sullied by negativity and violence. My hope, however, with this show was to get away from the rhetoric of empty slogans to concentrate on performative acts that can actually help to change the course of events in a positive way. When I started searching for a possible answer, I thought about the sense of community. As the title of this exhibition suggests, some of the artists in this collective group had behind them an important and long exhibition curriculum, while others had at the time more recently appeared on the art scene. However there are deep connections between this group that transcended geographical boundaries and their careers. In each of the works presented by the artists in this exhibition there was a clear underlying confidence in the power of the heart. A supreme belief that art is not only called to make the world around us, but by simply getting the community can help the world become a happier place to live.
Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles
April 21 - May 26, 2007
Rita Ackermann, Gusmano Cesaretti, Daniel Higgs, Becca Mann, Ryan McGinley, Daido Moriyama, Jockum Nordström, Raymond Pettibon, Gee Vaucher
As the title suggests, Other Scenes presented an eclectic group of emerging and established artists who worked at the time somehow outside of what were then current art world scenes. Now many have gone on to established carers, but at the time it was a show about outsiders. Works ranged from Ryan McGinleys portraits of wild adventurous youth, to Rita Ackermann's multi-media installation using projections over paintings, to Gusmano Cesaretti's touching portraits of East LA youth, to the 1980's collage work of Gee Vaucher, known best for her designs for the British punk band Crass. A small catalog from the exhibition was published by Swiss company Nieves. Los Angeles band, No Age played a 45 minute instrumental set in the middle of the gallery at the opening reception. All of the artists included in Other Scenes share disturbing yet romantic visions of the world. In these artist's works, a discreet form of protest exists; a desire to find love amongst the ruins, beauty in the shadows.
New York, Los Angeles, Miami
August - December, 2007
The “Re-Run’ project was a comissioned exhibition by Nike to celebrate the re-release of their most iconic 1970's running shoes. I based the installation on this 70’s book I had been into at the time called “Build Your Own Living Structures.’ It was a bit of a hippy manual on how to make sheltter from really simple materials. Apart from creating the installation, I worked with the artists on concepts, doing the fake “70s playboy-style photographs and designing all of the graphics with Keith Scharwath. I got to go into the Nike archives (which few people gain access to) where I pulled shoes, photos, etc to put in the show. The show included graphic and drawing imagery from artists Scott Campbell, Tracy Nakayama, Dan Monick, Andrew Jeffrey Wright, Kime Buzzeli, Steven Harrington, Jesse Spears, E-ROCK, Mike Pare, Jo Ratcliff, and Alexis Ross. The exhibition was first presented at the Boredoms "77 Drummers" performance in Brooklyn, then in Miami during Art Basel fair in collaboration with ANP Quarterly. It included live performances by New York art rockers Gang Gang Dance, plus Soiled Mattress and the Springs, White Wiliiams & Car Clutch. DJ Semen spun records for the post party. Despite the capacity crowd of mostly L.E.S. hipsters and a queue running round the block for the better part of the nite, it was a great way to participate in the fair.
SUNY Purchase College, New York
January 22 - March 9, 2007
Infobabble included works by Cynthia Connolly, Brian Donnelly (KAWS), Shepard Fairey, Mike Mills and Stephen Powers (ESPO).The modern world is structured in such a way that our senses are almost constantly subjected to a barrage of stimulation from a variety of sources. Television, films, radio, newspapers, billboards, magazines and the internet come at us from all sides and hit us in all corners—each and every one trying desperately to sell us their “message.” What this situation creates is a general numbness within the culture. As this numbness takes hold, the “message-makers” try frantically to break through this anesthetized state, finding consistently more clever and subversive ways to get into our collective psyches.If an artist’s primary job is to make sense of our culture and the times in which we live, then considering the current situation, how do they find a voice? How does an artist break through this wall of mass media noise and image? Once they do, what do they say? They most definitely have their hands full. This is the subject of Infobabble. The artists featured in this exhibition all work hard, against what are sometimes tremendous odds, to speak their truths.
Contemporary Art & Street Culture
Various International Locations
2004 - 2009
Beautiful Losers included works of sculpture, installations, photography, painting, film, and performance, all showcasing works by artists who have mostly emerged from subcultures such as skateboarding, graffiti, punk, and hip hop. The exhibition launched in 2004 at the CAC in Cincinnati. It then traveled around the US (Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, Orange County Museum of Art) and also went to Europe for a few stops through 2009. I co-curated the show with Christian Strike from Strength Magazine. It was my first major museum exhibition and assembled works by many of the artists I had worked with at the Alleged Gallery. It included a large and diverse group including Spike Jonze, Shepard Fairey, and KAWS, Barry McGee, Thomas Campbell, Terry Richardson, Todd James, Os Gemeos, Tobin Yelland, Ryan McGinley, Margaret Kilgallen, Evan Hecox, Clare Rojas, Jo Jackson, Geoff Mcfetridge, Chris Johanson, and more. There was also a historical section which inclded works by Keith Haring, Jean Michel Basquiat, Craig Stecyk, Futura and Glen Friedman. At each stop on the tour, we included selections of local artists works that were inspired by street culture. An extensive hardcover catalog for the exhibition was published by Iconoclast/DAP. The exhibition also inspired the production of the feature documentary which we released in 2008.
Mister Cartoon & Estevan Oriol
Blue House, Venice, CA
October - December, 2004
Cultura was a multi-media exhibition mounted at the Nike Blue House in venice Beach, California. It celebrated a unique and creative slice of Los Angeles Latino culture with a particular focus on two artists, Mister Cartoon and Estevan Oriol. It was held in conjunction with the release of a specail Nike Cortez shoe that Cartoon designed. Cartoon is one of the most revered tattoo artists in the world. In addition to tattoos, his art extends to many different media such as sign painting, airbrush on lowriders and graffiti. Cultura displayed his range of art projects, including tattoo work, illustrations, car murals, album covers. This exhibition also marked the debut of his customized Ice Cream Truck, a project ten years in the making. In order to install the truck in the house we had to remove the entire front of the structure and insert it by forklift. Estevan Oriol is a Los Angeles photographer, best known best capturing the raw essence of street life. Unique and authentic, his images were featured in a side room gallery showing works that document the culture and landscape of the urban Latino community. For the opening reception we filled the adjoining parking lot with a lowrider car show.
Scribble & Scripture
Barry McGee, Phil Frost, Thomas Campbell
Roberts & Tilton, Los Angeles
February 15 - April 15, 2003
The act of scribbling. Arguably the purest form of creative expression and often times the first manifestation of children's art. It is always a talisman of the subconscious, unpredictable, insane and undeniably authentic. Thomas Campbell, Phil Frost and Barry McGee could be considered the torchbearers of this tradition for the current generation. All three are artists whose works have spawned from the culture of the street. Campbell from skateboarding, Frost and McGee from graffiti, all of which are erratic, dangerous and many times illegal acts. By necessity each of these artists has had to learn to act quickly to execute a gesture and achieve a desired effect. For this exhibition, both Campbell and Frost created installations inside the gallery, while McGee chose instead to display his works inside a flipped over truck in the parking lot. The gallery had to hire 24 hour security to sit outside and guard the truck when the gallery was closed. Architectural firm Otto Design Group provided the really unique exhibition design, creating an entire environment. Alife boutique from New York installed a small store in the project room selling inexpensively priced books, magazines, records, toys and other artists' ephemera.
Made In L.A.
Blue House, Venice, CA
December, 2002 - February 2003
A photography exhibition I co-curated with Karen Kimmel at the Blue House in Venice Beach. The idea behind the show was to create a photographic history of California subculture from the 1950's to 2000's. To achieve this, we dug through thousands of images from the collections of the Los Angeles Times and Public Library and cherry picked the best we could find from a treasure trove that was vast to say the least. In addition, we reprinted images from iconic Los Angeles photographers such as Glan E. Friedman, Dennis Hopper, Julius Schulmann and Craig R. Stecyk III. The exhibition was designed to be hung from the ceiling off a series of cables arranged in a design to evoke the curvature of freeway intercanges. One room was set up as a do-it-yourself catalog room, with a book designed by Stephen Kinder design partnership (who also designed the Beautiful Losers catalog a few years later). It was a public school room looking space, where visitors could sit and assemble pages of a book in any order they chose. The pages contained stock images of freeways, sunsets, and multi-tonal pages of color fades reminiscent of LA street posters.