Who: Steven Bankhead, Sarah Cromarty, Martin Durazo, Katie Herzog, James Krone, Christopher Russell, Jason Yates
What: Stable Mates a group show curated by Christopher Russell
When: Opening Reception October 1 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Where: Da Vinci Art Gallery,
Da Vinci Hall
Los Angeles City College
855 N. Vermont
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Commercial galleries establish their identities through group-shows that offer a sample of the artists they represent. Arts organizations offer group-shows in which a curator attempts, in some way, to identify the zeitgeist. But it's often the case that the most exciting shows come about when young artists make their first/best efforts, trying to get their voices heard through the din of ideas circulating about the art world. These shows are alive with possibility and struggle, reacting against perceived limitations with a fury for freedom. But most of these shows evolve from friendships and mutual respect.
The artists in this show don't fall into the latter category; they are not young and struggling, though their work buzzes with intelligence and irreverence. They don't have to shout to get their point across because they have already found a sympathetic audience, and their names have already become shorthand for a specific type of work. The artists in this exhibition have moved beyond that initial step and now exhibit as a means of making intellectual stands, or reaching specific audiences. But they've each given agreed to a final fling, the thrill of showing the work of a chosen peer group, because they want to show with people they know, whose aesthetics they are sympathetic to.
It's from this perspective that I've chosen 6 artists with whom I've once shared a gallery and consistently admire. These artists are as individual as they are fearless, experimental and curious. Each achieved a level of recognition for exactly those qualities. There is a shared sensibility that is difficult to identify, but ranges from bookish to destructive, the most concrete relationship between us is that we were once represented by the same gallery; we were Stable Mates.
About the Artists
Steven Bankhead's work has ranged from meticulous drawings of Xeroxed collages, a trompe l'oeil in which hours of labor create faithful reproductions of cheap mechanical reproductions. But Steven's work has moved on to process oriented production giving a nod to favorite painterswhile making paintings through unique means such as "bleeding" paint and smashing painted foliage against the canvas creating something that is an undeniably accurate yet undeniably abstract representation.
Sarah Cromarty cuts and assembles in the manner of a collage artist, though her works are larger, and often have three dimensional elements. She has regularly used poster size found material, but more recently has been using photographs created specifically to create grand narratives of shaman and wizards, and created intricate and dramatic portals into other worlds. She fuses kitsch to the mythical world of William Blake in inventive visions of luscious fantasy.
Martin Durazo uses painting and found imagery to weave intricate conceptual threads that range from narco trafficking to S/M sexual practices. Materials in Martin's paintings always serve double duty, placed for their formal qualities as well as their intellectual associations. Using a mirror as a canvas might provide a visual shock yet it also makes an oblique reference to cocaine. Martin is known as much for his painting as for his party environments, complete with black lights and bongs, undermining the sterility associated with the art world.
Katie Herzog has created numerous bodies of work that involve the layering of dreams, recollections and intensive study—frequently based on her experiences as a librarian, a wilder-than-expected environment. Most recently, she has made work about information sciences, creating pictorial interpretations of stories surrounding the development of computer technology and more recently pointing out the specific history of transgendered people in science and letters.
James Krone's work treads a large territory, extending from an intellectual investigation rather than a style of paint application. He has addressed with a wry and knowing wit in pieces such as "trickle down ergonomics" or a "shooter's chair" referencing both masturbation and the assassination attempt made on Ronald Reagan. More recently, his work is involved with process, paintings that are created by reversing the canvas on the stretcher, so that the traditional back side of the canvas becomes the painting on view, or ritualistically burning the canvas as a means of making a painting.
Christopher Russell has a sprawling practice that involves literary production, bookmaking, drawing and photography. He is best known for pieces in which he scratches drawings through the surface of photographic emulsion, leaving a textured white image over the flat surface of the photograph.
Jason Yates cuts into flat drawings to create 3-D effects, uses reflective Mylar where one expects to see canvas, combines paint and dimensionality to transform seemingly simple line drawings into complex objects who refuse categorization, blurring the lines between media in stylistic nods to cultural touchstones. The optical effects of his repeating patterns of hatch marks are undercut, and literally cut, into a waving forest of semi-circular shapes that is ultimately an abstraction of punk aesthetics, refusing representation in favor of highly controlled visual chaos.