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. 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Stonewall - The Landmark Edition

Following the success of last year's inaugural Stonewall event, Larry Lane and Randy Polumbo decided to hold continue the tradition this year. Politically, the timing was excellent with President Obama about to designate the Stonewall Inn as a national monument.

Larry and Randy invited me back to curate another exhibition, this year in two galleries following Art Queen's expansion. I turned to John Luckett again both as artist and curator. With China Adams about the return for a residency at BoxoHOUSE, it seemed opportune to have a show of her work featured along a new installation by John for the Annex Gallery on Hiway 62. John then suggested a Steve Craig's Machine Empire for the metallic gallery inside the Art Queen compound. And so, Active Resistance was born.

China put forward work from a past exhibition titled White Flags and Silent Chimes which had been held at Steve Turner gallery in LA. The work had to do with environmental concerns and transformation and, formally, provided the opportunity to take a break from the current atmosphere of nationalism, corporatism and prejudice that is in the air.

John installed found images of drag queens alongside another painting in his Search and Rescue series as well as an image of a colorful character that John captured on Hollywood Boulevard. 

An opening was held on June 11 for the exhibition in the Annex Gallery. The Stonewall event itself took place on June 25, now both celebration for Stonewall Inn as well as commemoration for the Pulse Orlando. Steve Craig installed his amazing automated drawing machines, a working crane and a solar-powered fountain for the event. With movie screenings, a fashion show, a surprise appearance by performance artist Aaron Sheppard and the wonderful music by several local bands, another wonderful Joshua Tree evening of community, warmth, fun and remembrance unfolded.

Many thanks to John, China, Steve, Larry, Randy and the Art Queen team.

French Press

Antoine Vigne is a novelist, a friend and a member of the BoxoPROJECTS Advisory Committee. We first met when I was at Judd Foundation and he was a partner at Blue Medium, the art PR agency.

I relocated to Joshua Tree to begin the residency around the same time as he left the PR world to focus on his wriitng. I was very glad when the timing worked for him to do a writing residency at BoxoHOUSE. He is writing a novel that deals with immigration into the US and which utilizes the desert both as place and as metaphor.

Antoine arrived in early May from Tucson where he had been doing research. He was interested in just being in the desert, working daily on the writing while absorbing the moments that would become texture in the novel - the daily occurrences taken for granted by us desert dwellers. He is also a keen astronomer and was interested in the night skies.

While here, Antoine took in the local and regional cultural highlights - the Integratron, Noah Purifoy Foundation, Garth's Heaven on Earth, the exhibitions at Roy's Motel in Amboy and the Gay Rodeo in Banning amongst others (such as the Joshua Tree Saloon and Pappy and Harriets).

He was hoping for some heat however we had an amazingly temperate May. He was also hoping for some snakes and I was hoping he would find these off site....Antoine took to working outside, moving the outdoor table at the artist's residence between the two patios as the sun passed overhead.  He was thus able to give me updates on the young couple who took to living in a cave behind the house for several weeks.

We had an interesting discussion about the open house. Antoine writes in french and so the question - should he read from the manuscript? Translating didn't make sense as it would not convey the artistic sense of the work unless done by a professional and an editor. In the end, Antoine decided t give a talk about the novel's background - a romance set against the backdrop of Central American immigration into the the US - and about the process of writing the novel. His partner flew in from the East Coast and also brought two books that Antoine had written - one on space and the notion of the infinite and another on errors in architecture.



The open house delivered on all fronts - an interesting talk with lively q&a: cold rose, soft cheese and crispy crackers  and record temperatures hovering at 115. Luckily, no snakes were in evidence. That evening we went on to dinner in 29 Palms and an evening of star gazing at Sky's the Limit observatory - a fitting ending to an engaged residency which laid the ground for more writers and other non-visual arts practitioners. Thanks Antoine!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Transformational Energy

I first met Nicola Ginzel at an open studio for Austin Thomas at the Elizabeth Foundation in NYC. We got talking about Joshua Tree and  the residency, then in its early days, and then we both moved on. Nicola was clearly inspired though and she stayed in touch over several years, sharing developments in her practice until I managed to organize a studio visit on one of my trips to New York.


In her studio, which was also her living quarters at the time, Nicola shared with me her meticulously transformed objects - found detritus of one sort or another worked and worked so as to become precious and significant objects. The process itself and the installation of he objects in neat rows on the wall, on the table and in boxes all drew me in. As we spoke, Nicola talked about how the process of working on these objects was also a self-transformation and that she believed the objects became imbued with this energy. Ultimately, she hoped the energy could be transferred to people who came into contact with these artworks and that they could be a channel for healing.

As I am always interested in connecting artists to expertise that resides in the Joshua Tree area, I introduced Nicola to Susan Jordan and David Zimmerman. Susan and David are friends who offer many modalities of energy work from tai chi classes to soul retrieval sessions. Nicola shared the next steps she'd like to explore in her learning and experiences, it became clear that they could all work together. And so, we devised a plan to have Nicola come do a residency, work with Susan and David and make work that incorporated the resultant energy shift.

Nicola arrived March 1, set up in the new guesthouse and was very soon working with Susan and David on some intense personal shifts. She brought with a trove of material to transform including some baggage (literally!) and clothing that she had inherited from her father. She had an initial session and then several follow ups and starting working intently. As her work is more contained in size and material, Nicola started out working in the guesthouse and using the studio as a way to look at the work as it developed and to find the relationships amongst the various pieces that were emerging. As this process continued, she told me that she felt a freeing force and that her work became somewhat looser and larger.

Toward the end of the month, we held an open house to share the work and the process and many interesting discussions began around the objects themselves and their presence. And then Nicola was off, back to NYC and the urgency of a show about to open there. Many thanks to Nicola for taking on, and sharing, this exploration and to Susan and David for working with another my of the residents.