In the 11 hours of anticipation while we where whizzing across the skies on our way to LA, we could not have even begun to imagine what a turning point this exhibition would be for the LA art scene and for the London Art Box artists.
Our adventure has really only just begun, but there is much to report back on, with so many important connections made and discussions held that I am going to give a condensed version below as a starting point…
At FLAG STOP in Los Angeles we have met many inspiring people who we have already gained a lot of insight from. With one of our main aims being to share and report back from this LA adventure, I have arranged to talk more in depth with several key figures and will be writing more here about their artistic practices and perspectives in the coming days and weeks. Later today I am on the panel for a discussion with Bill Moreno, prominent art figure and the board of LACE, where I will be representing Debut Contemporary and the innovative mentoring platform that it is. More on this to come!
So what’s going on in this exciting slice of the London Art scene that has landed in California?
We’re here in the London Art Box – a London ‘micro-gallery’ in which 13 of London’s most exciting and ambitious emerging artists have been invited to prepare a special exhibition for the landmark LA event, FLAG STOP.
The trip seems to have turned into a rather epic journey – particularly as we have spent much time doing loops around the road system guided by our ‘quirky’ Tom Tom… We visited the OCCCA museum (Orange County Centre for Contemporary Art) where we have been selected to exhibit this December, and we explored the amazing space, capturing it on film for the other artists who were unable to visit in person. Lots of research was done followed by our reward of touring the artists village and gorging ourselves in the yummy Gypsy Café – a quick refueling and a glass of celebratory beverage before driving back to FLAG STOP.
We have had a great meeting with the charming Joella March – OCCCA curator – who was very excited and animated about the Debut Contemporary artists and our work. She introduced us to Argishti Musakhanyan – a San Francisco gallery owner who one of our artists, Kimi Wylde is driving up to visit this week. Meanwhile, myself and Abigail Box will be going on a tour round some LA galleries and with her on Monday.
The first few days have involved much discussing and mulling over of the London Art Box interactive ‘concept’.
It has evolved and become very much a grouping together of our original ideas plus new curatorial directions which emerged having seen the space and context – plus of course working out the practicalities. What’s the most effective way to get interactive with the visitors? The best way to curate the work of the 13 Debut Contemporary artists? and of course…. can we achieve it in time using only our bare hands, sheer willpower and a massive amount of coffee??
The micro-gallery space is not at all like the static, white-wall gallery of institutional convention. Rather, we are providing an interactive, performative presence: staging impromptu discussions, creating dialogue about the 13 artists works, and the curation of them. We’re here representing a lot of talented people from Debut Contemporary Gallery, so we’ve had a lot of fun researching and really delving into the work of our fellow artists with our visitors, as well as answering questions about our own practices.
Whilst busy encouraging a dialogue about contemporary art we are also regularly re-arranging the space and inviting visitors to help curate the space. We have a salon style approach on two walls which form our ‘pick and mix’ area, with our ‘white square’ at the far end, our visitor curated space – which is both prompting and resulting from all the exciting conversations and observations.
Visitors are writing down their comments, opinions, and own perceptions of the work and the dialogue between the works – we’re building up a great collection of comment postcards which are being pinned and strung around the micro-gallery –building up an organic web and visual representation of the discussions, perceptions, and energy in the space.
During the event, I will also be as orchestrating an interactive performance element myself, as my word collection project extends across theAtlantic to collect words from our American neighbours.
Whist it’s barely been any time at all there is so much more to tell:
Other highlights include a personal invitation from Nick Lisica, associate director of FLAG STOP, to visit his home for dinner. We viewed his own fascinating personal art collection and talked about linking his gallery, Hudson Linc, with Debut Contemporary. Lisica is a very interesting and proactive art figure, and – sneak preview – an interview about directing his own gallery and curating pop up exhibitions will be published on here in the coming weeks.
LA is overwhelmingly positive about London Art Box, and we have already been introduced to the key figures here who are also very excited about our work, the space, and the concept – more to come on these inspiring and influencial characters: Tm Gratkowski – FLAG STOP DIRECTOR, eminent curator Howard Fox, prominent artist Bob Zoell, Joella March influential art figure and curator at OCCCA, the curators of Torrance Art Museum, Peter Frank art critic, the distinguished Bernard Fallon from the FLAG STOP board, and the charming LA Journalist Bondo Wyszpolski who has already published articles on flag stop.
Naturally, the people of LA are enjoying our ‘Englishness’ (yes we’ve suddenly become exotic rarities), and considering that The White Cube gallery is London based, they are also enjoying the re-mixed and alternative version of the ‘white square’ existing within the London Art Box micro-gallery. It’s wonderful to see visitors so engaged with choosing the pieces of work to curate together and discussing the possible dialog between the artworks they’ve juxtaposed.