To view the Grad Show Monday through Thursday, please fill out the following appointment form https://forms.gle/epiizYLqx5fdxE5YA
Matt Brugger https://mmaatt.carbonmade.com
Coby Cerna https://www.cobycerna.com
Matthew Chan http://matthewxinchan.com/san-gabriel-valley
Tirsa Delate https://www.tirsadelate.com
Alicia Bad Heart Bull https://www.aliciadianne.com
Erin Eleniak https://www.erineleniak.com
Anja Honisett https://www.anjahelihonisett.com
Adrienne Kinsella http://www.adriennekinsella.com
Jake Martinez https://jakemartinez.org/
Hanna Miller hannamiller.org
Lauren Moradi https://laurenmaryammoradi.com
Matthew Nespor https://www.matthewnespor.com
Garen Novruzyan https://www.garennovruzyan.com
Michael Roman www.michaelboydroman.com
Stephen Sariñana-Lampson http://www.stephensarinana-lampson.com/portfolio/
Christopher Taylor catart12.weebly.com
Elizabeth Weber ElizabethMaryweber.com
To be an artist requires imagination, which is defined in the dictionary as “that faculty of mind that forms and manipulates images.” Artists are expected to generate original, never-seen-before images, as if from out of the blue, but only as if, because images wholly untethered to the facts on the ground of the real and existing world risk becoming something other than art—products of “Imagineering,” in the language of the Disney corporation. The artistic imagination is granted a great latitude to stray from things as they are, but outright fantasy marks its limit. The images it gives us to see, even when they take on the guise of castles in the sky, must still be ones that we could conceivably inhabit. Habitation is an underlying theme of this exhibition. It bears the title In, On, and Around as a prompt to consider the works featured within it in terms of spatial positioning. These words suggest differing degrees of proximity to or remove from a common center, which might be designated in the broadest sense as “home.” All that falls within its compass—familiar environments, intimate architectures, the furnishings of domestic life, items of everyday use, etc.—is insistently recalled here. What these works share is a fascination with the commonplace, so easily overlooked in the course of our daily routine, and therefore also potentially extraordinary when subject to sustained observation.
Architects furnish their clients with imaginative renderings of their prospective homes, generally in the form of floorplans and elevations. Elizabeth Weber’s paintings suggest that these two views—overlooking and straight ahead—permeate our experience of domestic space and remain put in mind even after this space has been left. These are paintings of memory as much as space. “My work is not pre-visualized,” Weber informs; “the generative processes of drawing and painting influence the outcome.” In other words, it is painterly space that she is concerned with above all—a space that stops at the edges of the canvas. Yet those brushstrokes that subdivide the interior into a perplexing maze of high walls may still be seen to follow familiar paths set by habit and stored in muscle since our earliest days.
Three photographs by Matthew Chan offer a succession of views of the artist’s hometown of Monterey Park that transitions from the street to a residential parking structure to the interior of a home. These un-peopled pictures are suffused in a generic pall, yet here and there one can make out certain culturally specific signs of occupation and, moreover, of a deeply experiential investment in these various sites, which are known to the artist through and through. A banal intersection assumes a haunting aspect when filtered through the memory of one who once raced through it, timing the stoplights to negotiate a blind corner.
Jake Martinez’s landscape photographs of the Antelope Valley strike a vaguely disquieting balance between factual reportage and the picturesque, their romantic aura offset by forensic attention to the minutia. In their strict framing and expansive depth of field, these pictures hint at the artist’s ingrained understanding of the terrain under observation. Originally experienced as a child and then returned to in adulthood, these “old haunts,” scrutinized through a sharp lens, disclose traces of growth and decay, of human occupation and natural reclamation, the rise and fall of a region’s economic fortunes.
Stephen Sariñana-Lampson has long been concerned with documenting the changes occurring in the East LA neighborhood where he grew up and still resides. Included here is a work from a series of photographs that flirt with the freedoms of painterly abstraction without renouncing their hold on the often-baleful social facts that underwrite the dynamics of urban blighting and redevelopment. Taken across the river from Lincoln Heights in the industrial zone that borders the so-called Arts District, his picture is entitled The Invisible Man after the figure stenciled, black-on-black, on the warehouse wall depicted therein—a figure summoned by Sariñana-Lampson to speak to the brutal logistics of ethnic displacement and erasure.
Two near-black paintings by Garen Novruzyan evince the reductionist zero-degree of modernist formalism, but this impression of severity is only available at first glance. Peering deeper, the eye is assailed with a superabundance of detail. The title of one of these works, Decayed Wall off Kingsley Drive, VII (For Jack Whitten), inflects its ostensibly freeform gestural play with a representational content that pertains to that sense of place only felt by a longtime resident. “My upbringing in LA informs my fascination with surface textures,” claims Novruzyan, thereby grounding his somber abstractions in passing views of buildings layered in grime and graffiti, their sidewalk shadows punctured by the iridescent glow of petals falling from trees blooming nearby.
Matthew Nespor’s film Autoluminescent is a montage of old and new media, Super-8 celluloid footage intercut with cellphone capture, grain colliding with pixel. Grandparents and infants chase each other’s tails through cozy interiors and sun-bleached gardens on fragile home movie snippets. The depth and scope of family life is conjured up by its generational bookends and set to a sensitive rendition of Misty on the living room piano. As the music fades out, it is replaced by a more incidental order of sounds: the room-tone; field recordings of birds, passing cars and rain; wind whipping against the mic; the click and whirr of electronic mediation. Onscreen, the frayed imagery of analog recollection is joined to the clean-rinsed impression of a hand stirring through water, as though tracing the ebb and flow of memory from a point that is always right now.
A series of isolated figures, silhouetted against saturated sunsets, move in time to a music we cannot hear in Tirsa Delate’s video collectively dancing alone in the landscape. Only the faraway ambient sounds of the idyllic environs—Ascot Hills Park in El Sereno as night approaches—reach our ears. And then, captured more closely, there is also the rustling of the bodies before and behind the camera, joined in a ritual of disinhibiting communion. A circle of friends is convened one at a time, lone individuals sutured together on a screen that glows somewhat sadly as the only available alternative to social distancing.
What could be closer, more intimately within reach than one’s own body? And, at the same time, what could be more foreign than this thing that we glimpse only in reflections, in pictures, through the eyes of another? The body as locus of dysmorphic fantasy is the perennial subject of Anja Honisett’s paintings. Kate is emblematic: the portrait of a young woman caught in the act of self-portraiture, which increasingly implies the surrender of appearance to auto-correction. Here, though, the mask of algorithmically determined perfection is deformed by the hand. Features are set adrift in a face that opens neither inward nor out—the body banished to the desolate topography of its “second life.”
To say that an artist is “in dialogue with painting” often leads to evasion, but in regard to the work of Christopher Taylor, the expression might gain some sharper contours. What we find here is not an approximation of the painterly by other means—whether sculpture, photography, video, installation, etc. Rather, this artist turns to drawing, an essential component of painting, as a means of addressing the painterly “from the inside.” What becomes of the delimiting line within a field of de-differentiation, where depth vies with flatness and figures must dissolve into their ground? Etched in charcoal, the vaunted “push and pull” of abstracting gesture unfolds as a drama of adaptation, assimilation, passing. The curious organism at the center of The Tempest is merging with its environment of pattern and decoration, and of course we know this only because it has not succeeded.
Coby Cerna carves painting into pieces, odds and ends that reflect on the economy of a studio where nothing is wasted. The singular masterpiece lies on the far side of these multiplying scraps that can be endlessly reconfigured. They derive strength from their smallness, which is not simply a matter of material size but of experiential scale. That the steam rising from coffee cup chimes in with the pattern of a loud pair of socks might not amount to a philosophical epiphany, but it is worth noting. Painting is here a means of note-taking, of sorting through “the run of the mill,” selecting and collecting fragments that only become meaningful when we connect them.
The realism of Adrienne Kinsella’s painstakingly rendered color-pencil drawings is undermined by their translucent ground of mylar, which lends to every one of her images a wraith-like quality. The standardized modernist chair and collapsed figure of a woman in evening dress depicted in the works Location Not Found and Communication Error show through to each other and, when juxtaposed, enact a scene by turns tender and estranged. Like all chairs, this one is shaped for our bottom, but here instead it cradles the head, as might the lap of a loving partner. That furniture is readily anthropomorphized comes as no surprise; more unsettling is the reverse perspective, where persons are objectified. In Kinsella’s work, the relation between the living body and its inorganic supports and accessories is equalized at a point of dynamic polarity, psychic currents running back and forth unimpeded.
Lauren Moradi’s chairs are scavenged from thrift stores and the side of the road. They have been dismissed from their proper place and denied their privacy, and yet in this forlorn state acutely recall the sense of having once belonged somewhere. Moradi seizes on this disjecta, administering “fixes” that, in the end, only serve to exacerbate the problem. Do her two indigent chairs lend support to each other or mutually confirm their precarity? And what of the quilted textiles that swaddle the frame of another, protecting and simultaneously weakening it? Buckling under its own weight, this chair has received a jerry-rigged form of emergency care that can also be read as caustic parody of the trials of domestic upkeep.
The heterogeneous assortment of small items that Rory Nestor has reproduced in ceramics is bound by narrative threads that remain suggestively loose. Quotidian, though by no means banal, these are the sorts of things that stand out from a background of normalcy to sound a note of alarm. A sheet of paper (folded, bloodied, desperately soliciting a reader), a pharmaceutical container (tipped over, its contents spilling out), and a pair of handcuffs (locked with no key in sight)—each is worrisome enough on its own and all the more so when taken together. In life, they would open onto those zones of privacy from which we tend to recoil, though not here. Remade in this material that faithfully conserves the imprint of the artist’s hand throughout, they come insulated in artifice. Like pieces on a gameboard, they rouse the viewer to imagine the very worst outcome in a spirit of play.
Matt Brugger makes ceramic objects with movable parts, suggestive of tools and machinery. Obviously, the work Gearbox is dysfunctional; it nods to utility from an aesthetic arm’s length that renders its title absurd. However, on second thought, this antithetical formulation of art and technics will not hold. Although routinely confined to the realm of the homey crafts, ceramics, we are here reminded, can also be linked to the very origins of industrial manufacture. This, then, is a contemporary work of art that doubles as a fossilized artifact of technological life, as if drawn up from the depths of an archeological dig. It projects the present into a distant future, where it will be greeted as ancient history. Our hands still know what to do with the handle that graces Brugger’s Gearbox, but already we can imagine a time when it will appeal to eyes only, as nothing more or less than a gestural flourish.
The female and male figures foregrounded in Hanna Miller’s paintings Bouncy Little Girl and Sleep with One Eye Open and a Bat Under Your Bed bear an evident stylistic affinity with those of Max Beckman in their roughly hewn statue-like bearing. Yet they are engaged in that quintessentially American sport that we tend to associate more with Norman Rockwell than any German Expressionist. This is not to deny the pathos in baseball, nor its allegorical dimension, which begins with the idea of the home plate as both a point of departure and destination. The woman wears a glove and holds a ball, the man grips a bat with both hands. Even if we were not told that they are siblings, we could still make out some trace of their kinship in these works. The artist portrays herself and her brother as friendly rivals, perhaps playing on opposite sides of the game, but still cheering each other on through every base to safety.
Home comes first and it is followed by a succession of homes-away-from-home, “halfway” houses” that one can only try to make whole. Among the most resistant of these is the hospital, which is programmatically designed to erase every last trace of our occupation. In Patricia Lauletta’s photographs of her mother’s last days, however, these are saved for the record. Our gaze follows that of the camera as it alights on a privacy curtain, a tray table, a glowing monitor, a hat perched on the back of a chair. The rites of visitation are commemorated through a whole host of details that, precisely because they are so unprepossessing and ephemeral, leave a lasting impression.
In Michael Roman’s installation The Pipeline, a single bed, wrought from heavy steel without a single accommodating curve, serves as a reminder that, for too many among us, home is something routinely broken. Salvaged from a local youth detention center, this forbidding piece of furniture conforms to a one-size-fits-all standard or mean that nevertheless tends to be disproportionately reserved for a particular demographic. Above it is pasted a collection of news reports, want ads and propaganda posters that throw such biases into sharp relief, warning of crime-waves instigated by “super-predators” automatically identified by economic status and color of skin. Included as well are a series of portraits, drawn from the archive of the incarcerated and rendered in the artist’s own hand, that inject some measure of humaneness into these brutal proceedings. The carceral enclosure here doubles as monastic cell, a place where suffering and grace—“the ordinary grace of the contemporary black man,” as Roman puts it—are inextricably intertwined.
A couple of bright-eyed Western missionaries is driven toward an African village in an excerpted segment of Alicia Diane’s multipart graphic novel Jaydi’s Story. They are traveling far afield, on an adventure, not yet aware that they might be invaders. Expressions of joyful anticipation turn panicked as they are met with suspicion. Soon enough religious leaders will lock horns, but in this moment of leadup, the rules of engagement remain open. The reader as well is met on the threshold, a precarious place, but before anyone here can be defined as an other, there are only hosts and guests.
Due to Covid-19, masks are required and appointments must be made in advance or you will not be admitted.
There is a CSU Vaccine mandate starting September 30th.
Everyone who attends the gallery starting September 30 and later must have proof of vaccination. Visitors must have their physical card or a digital copy with them to show at the door. For Children under the age of 12 (because they are ineligible for the vaccine) they must present proof of a negative covid-19 test from their school within the week of attending the gallery or proof of a negative test within 72 hours of attending the gallery. Children under 5 will not be permitted.
Here are the types of masks that are acceptable:
On the day you are attending, you MUST fill out the Covid screening form at this link: https://csun.sjc1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_4UYv08Fu1kfqvv7
You will then receive a confirmation email. In order to be admitted, you MUST forward your confirmation email to Erika Ostrander.