Egyptian Art & Antiques sits on the second floor of an office building in Beverly Hills. A friend invited me to check out their first show in November 2015, Tiny Masters. Up a winding staircase, down a hallway is a small room set between a limo service, a talent agency, and a law office. The room was packed with visitors, weird, and wonderful. The show consisted of drawings, paintings, sculptures, and even a Joe Montana signed football card. All work was under 12 x 12 x12 inches and the show included a cooler full of miniature liquor bottles. I had to know more. The founders of the gallery are Spencer de Gauthier and Danny Bowman. Eight months after my first encounter with Egyptian Art & Antiques, I got the opportunity to sit down with them and finally understand how this place came to be.
Install shots of Tiny Masters
After running into Spencer and Danny at a bustling opening at another gallery, I asked if they would be interested in meeting with me to tell their story. They agreed. Suggestions of where to meet were shouted back and forth over the bubbly hum of the crowded gallery. Only half-jokingly they suggested the iconic Jumbo’s Clown Room, an old Hollywood porn theater, and a soju bar in Koreatown. Soju it was, and the date was set. At this point, my only impression of the two was that they were Beverly Hills antique watch dealers who had some extra money to open a small art space with a seemingly misleading name. I was incredibly mistaken and discovered their story was so much deeper.
We met at Toe Bang Cafe in Koreatown and immediately ordered two large plastic bottles of creamy Korean alcohol. They then began to tell me the magnificent story of how they came to open Egyptian Art & Antiques. Both attended UCLA but did not meet until they were studying abroad in Egypt. Spencer as an archeologist and Danny studying Sociology. Danny also spent much of his time painting. They became friends and collaborated on each others’ works as they shared an interest in Atlantean studies. Yes, Atlantean studies as in the mythical lost city of Atlantis. Egyptian culture is rumored to resemble that of the fabled city so they were in the right place. After returning to Los Angeles Spencer enrolled in fashion school and Danny continued to paint. They organized their first art show in December 2012. The show was called The Golden Triangle and consisted of works from many of their UCLA colleagues. Spencer and Danny wanted the show to force a disruption of the normal way of accessing a show. They blocked the entrance with a Lincoln Town Car with a chauffeur in the driver seat and a man in a tuxedo in the back. With this obstacle the audience had to navigate around the car in order to enter the show. Spencer and Danny wanted to force the visitors to look at art in a certain way by crafting their experience before they even entered the show.
Their next group show, Three Act Time Play was a journey through time as the the audience was led through three rooms representing the past, present, and future. The first room was candle lit, and rather than written titles, the work’s information was announced by Spencer one at a time. Patrons were led from one room to another by Danny cutting through large canvases with a saber in order to access the next space. The room representing the present was normally lit and served as the control. The last room was small and the lighting was uncomfortable, this represented the future. Each artist in the show had a piece in every time period so that the audience could view the work in each differing context. The two continued to produce shows which introduced people to alternative spaces.
Another show landed Spencer and Danny in New York. They decided to have a video show in order to avoid having to transport work across the country. Their first show on the East Coast used projectors to show pornographic work by several artists. Spencer decided to stay in New York and continue to have art shows, one show consisted of all blue works, appropriately titled, Blueology. At this time Spencer was also working at a high-end luxury textile merchant. Danny returned to Los Angeles and briefly worked as one of Sterling Ruby’s many assistants. After meeting a friend of friend involved in antique watch dealings Spencer was convinced to move back to Los Angeles. Reunited, Spencer and Danny decided to get a more permanent space to have their art shows, which brings us to the creation of Egyptian Art & Antiques. The name was chosen through a combination of history and convenience. They also received guidance from their friend, mentor, and spiritual guide Alexander Meadows. They described Meadows as having an old Atlantean soul and have shown his work in their space. Danny already owned the LLC Egyptian Art & Antiques, in the form of an antiques commodity trading operation located in Connecticut, so this became the obvious choice. But Spencer and Danny also made it clear that the name isn’t what matters, it is what they do with their shows that carries the meaning of what they are trying to accomplish.
My night with Spencer and Danny continued on to Gaam for more Korean liqueurs. Surrounded by overly stylized Korean music videos we indulged in shots with the bar owner. An Uber to Boyle Heights landed us at a pop-up art show, where Spencer and Danny floated around from group to group seeming to know everyone. As the night creeped towards the early hours of the morning we found ourselves on the rooftop of a Boyle Heights apartment building, cooling off with some La Croix and staring out over the city.
Through taking chances, meeting strangers, and absorbing every moment as if it’s the only one that matters, Spencer and Danny strive to make the most out of life. They are truly addicted to living, and this is the drive for them to have art shows that are more than just presenting visitors with decorative art. To be rattled out of comfortability and expectation is the goal. With their shows they wish to subvert a stagnant life and encourage a more engaged and conscious life. Without giving away too much detail they let me know that the next show would really focus on this aspect of their practice. They encourage those around them to shift their perspectives and grasp the world in variable fashions.
Since their first show in the space November 2015, the guys have hosted five shows. These shows have consisted of an array of paintings, found object installations, chemicals that induce crying, fan art, clothing, cardboard window bars, dangling objects, and hidden works. In the performance of the piece, Twin Weather Study, Spencer and Danny even made it snow in their Beverly Hills alley way. Their plans for the future include expanding into other rooms in the building. This will allow them to create multiple worlds with one show, giving patrons unique experiences in each space. I am excited to see what they have in store for the future. Egyptian Art & Antiques is without a doubt a place to keep an eye on. Look forward to their next exhibition, “Our Masters”, on Saturday September 17th, 2016!
Install shot from Turtle in the Rug
Install shot from HUNKS
Install shot from Tear Blower 1: 50 Shades
Install shot of The Space Born
Install shot of Bird’s Eye View
To see more check out their website : http://egyptianart.la
By: MP Knowlton