Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Sound of Change

I was introduced to Sofie Elana Hodara through Julie Weiman, a friend and Advisory Committee member; the two share a gallery in Boston. Sofie's work ranges from figurative landscape / still life work to abstraction through technological overlays. She initially proposed a project that involved capturing the local landscape and then developing patterns and other outcomes though the use of a technical process.

As our discussions evolved, Sofie modified her proposal to include collaborating with UBIQ, a publicity-shy sound artist that creates interventions in various settings. Their idea was to research the sound of Joshua trees slowly dying in the elevated temperatures now being experienced in the Joshua Tree National Park  - an alternative to documentation through imagery and a poetic approach to the issue.

Sofie wanted to start the residency with a research phase examining the  observable effects of climate change on the local environment. To this end, I connected her with Mark Wheeler, a respected expert on the area's biological processes, as well as with Danielle Segura, Executive Director of the Mojave Desert Land Trust. Mark took Sofie on an extensive field trip into the National Park and Danielle provided valuable input and arranged for Sofie to visit land the Trust had acquired and was conserving.


While synthesizing the information, UBIQ and Sofie took trips into the National Park, recording the trees in various locations.. Sofie was also moved to consider proper burial for the carcasses of dead trees, and she performed a Jewish ritual, draping a tree (outside of the Park!) with a simple white shroud and observing a minute of silence. In parallel, Sofie created evocative weavings using printouts of the imagery she was capturing.

For their open house, Sofie and UBIQ edited a sound piece and two videos as works in progress to share with the community. Sofie also displayed her paper weavings and the road map they had followed in creating their project. Sofie's artist talk was well received with its crafted mix of earnestness and humor. Many thanks to Sofie and UBIQ for coming to BoxoPROJECTS and creating this alternative approach to dealing with the effects of climate change in the Joshua Tree area.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Unrestrained Drawing

When Gosia Wlodarczak contacted me about returning to BoxoHOUSE for a fifth anniversary residency, I was truly gratified. In customary fashion, she told me I had 12 hours to decide before a Quantas seat sale expired. I had no hesitation whatsoever. Gosia was the first resident at BoxoHOUSE and her FROST DRAWING FOR JOSHUA TREE has become an enduring symbol of the program and the property.

Gosia told me that she would like to do a tunic project - making custom tunics for herself, for Longin her husband, for me and for some local friends, and then drawing on them. The idea intrigued me and I also let her know that I had proposed a booth at Art Palm Springs during the period she would be here. Gosia proposed doing a second project, part of her Shared Spaces series, at the fair and the residency was set.

Gosia and Longin arrived into LAX and I immediately whisked them off to a coffee and a percussion session with The Silk Road Project at LACMA. From there to the art supply store, then to Joshua Tree and the residency was off and running. 

And run it did. The first part of the residency involved three days of almost non-stop drawing in the BoxoPROJECTS booth at Art Palm Springs. Here Gosia kicked off both the Modernist Conversation piece and California Tunics. Modernist Conversation was a "shared spaces" project for which Gosia drew in one color and then switched colors when she was joined in conversation by others. It was begun at the art fair, continued in the studio and then completed at the open house. 


California Tunics  were a set of tunics handmade by Gosia and worn by her, her partner Longin, me, Jake the pooch and a couple of selected community members. Gosia drew on these tunics in various settings and the resulting pieces reveal the energies that imprint on our bodies over time.

These projects bridged the art fair to the studio where Gosia also set up a tunic workshop to create the tunics for Jake and the local tunic wearers, Diane Best and Tracey Fisher.


Gosia and Longin were here for the opening of DesertX and Randy Polumbo's fantastic event unveiling his galactic space station which eventually landed on Bombay Beach. Lots of local art and color to go around.

The residency concluded with a wonderful open house at which the final touches were put on the works and then they were complete. Many, many thanks to Gosia and Longin for coming over from Oz and for a highly energetic three weeks.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Frequency Hopping

Amanda Beech and I met at a panel discussion for an exhibition on sound held at the Torrance Museum of Art. It's interesting to me how chance encounters such as this manifest into residencies and others forms of project work....
Several years after our meeting, Amanda proposed coming to BoxoHOUSE to work on the beginnings of a new that looks at communications, specifically how the form of communication can shape its content. Amanda's projects are large and develop over time, resulting in high production videos complemented by sculptures, installation, print and painting.

Working around her academic schedule at CalArts, Amanda chose the end of year break as a time to focus on this new project. As her interest extended to games and strategy, and how communications shape them, Amanda asked about the possibility of getting on the nearby USMC base in Twentynine Palms. Having worked with the public affairs folks there before, I enquired and was very pleased that they agreed to arrange a tour for us. This tour took place ahead of the residency, in October, 2017, and was a very comprehensive look at some of the amazing training areas including the large simulated Iraqi village and the video simulations for armed vehicles.

During the residency in December, 2017 Amanda did some test shooting in areas around Joshua Tree, extending out to Amboy, with a view to returning here with a full production team when the final video will be made. She also spent a lot of time writing for the project and completed a web commission for the Remai Modern Museum in Sakatoon, Canada.
Amanda ended her residency with a very well received artist talk presenting past projects and talking about the groundwork on the new project. Many thanks to Amanda, her husband Matthew Poole and Blaise the dog for sapending time at BoxoHOUSE.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Turtle Time

Yassi Mazandi, based in Los Angeles, is a sculptor, known for her complex ceramic forms, who also works in several other mediums. Yassi came to BoxoHOUSE to create ceramic pieces related to mythical creatures that might have lived in the local Coyote Dry Lake when it was teeming with life. Working with a low fire clay, she fashioned stylized shells of turtles that might have swum the local waters as well as creating evocative nautilus-shaped pieces and a series of patterned watercolors using fabric dye.

On a tour of Andrea Zittel's A-Z compound, Andrea offered the use of her brand new kiln to Yassi and the work was fired there. On Sunday November 13th, 2016, Yassi hosted an artist's tea program organized through the partnership with JT Lab and led an enthusiastic group through drawing their spirit animals. many thanks to Yassi and to the local community that supported her residency in various ways.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Active Resistance

With the stage set of the Stonewall Inn to become a national monument, Randy Polumbo and Larry Lane continued the newly established tradition of a commemorative event. I was again approached to curate an exhibition and again turned to John Luckett for a cooperative effort.

As China Adams was coming to do a residency at BoxoHOUSE during this period, we invited her to bring work related to the idea of self-expression and taking action/non-action. John had been wanting to do an installation of found imagery along with some of his own work and was delighted to pair with China. And so, Active Resistance was created (see images and statement here).

The exhibition opened on June 11 with a reception including music, and a good crowd gathered to enjoy the evening. The Stonewall event was held on June 25th, and we invited Steve Craig to install his "crazy" machine empire in the west gallery adjacent to the stage - art made by humanly controlled machines as another angle on self-expression.

Again, a good crowd gathered to see the exhibition and for a fashion show after which the bands played on. Finally, Stonewall the Movie was screened and another successful Stonewall event was concluded.

Many thanks to Randy, Larry, China, John, Steve, Shari, Tim and Victor.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Unrestrained Drawing

I don't usually accept residencies in the summer - too hot for the uninitiated and too hot for me. On exception is China Adams, who was amongst the first group of residents in 2012 and who is a regular visitor to the desert in the summer after the academic year is over.

It was a pleasure to welcome China back for her second residency. This time she was focused on a relatively new drawing practice - meditative, intensely dense pen ink drawings that find their inspiration in nature. The forms of the recent drawings allude to tree rings, water and fungus. 

China's practice is to get into the studio, tune out the world and draw for hours on end. Her walk to the studio took in the rock walls behind BoxoHOUSE and very soon they began to appear in the drawings. As they gained momentum, China began to feel that this was the beginning of a new series - drawings that are inspired by rock walls in various locations in California and potentially New Mexico.

Alongside her residency, China was generous enough to provide work for the Active Resistance exhibition curated by John Luckett and myself for Art Queen, Joshua Tree in conjunction with their annual Stonewall celebration and commemoration event.

We opened the exhibition on June 11 and then held China's open house on June 18 - a wonderful burst of activity which culminated in the Stonewall event itself on June 25. China's open house was another record hot day and we welcomed a keen group to view the work, enjoy some cold refreshments and have a chat with China. Many thanks to China for her presence here this month and looking forward to future projects together.