Twenty Seven Seventy Nine Broadway is a week-long exhibit featuring a hefty lineup of rising Los Angeles based artists Kutay Alkin, Rema Ghuloum, Sam Kyser, Christina Mesiti, Brittany Mojo, Lester Monzon, Farzan Sabet, Stacy Wendt, and my husband, Chas Schroeder.
I roll up to the exhibition at 2779 Broadway in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles with four raucous teenaged boys and a five-year old girl in tow. Nestled in a commercial space next to a defunct Mexican restaurant, the spot is easy to miss. It’s the opening night for what seems, at first glance, a modest show. But look closer. Giant bumbling Mylar numerals lead the way. Lanky, hormonal teenagers now flank walls. A pint-sized “painting party” princess doles out sour gummy animals. Would you deem this space glamorous? Could it more fittingly serve as a local Philippine church potluck? Does anyone see that the white support beam taking a central position in the room is not only leaning precariously but is also itself an object with its own history, failing function, and aesthetic value? Who invited all the fucking mosquito hawks? God these fluorescent light striations, am I at Costco or an art opening? The ceiling is commercial grade drop style, pass me a pencil, let’s stick!
Here on display is a refreshingly themeless, agenda free, idiosyncratic cobbling of ideas and styles. The cumulative result is something so hometown, so effortlessly poetic, so odd, so touchable, so pretty (yeah, I said that), so fashion forward (yeah, that too), so haphazard (smartly so), so interactive, so inclusive and so playful that I forget all about the currently shitty world we are dealing with. The sophisticated kids who put together Twenty Seven Seventy Nine Broadway know how to keep it real. Let’s step into their office for some fresh air-
Kutay Alkin toys with propriety and mystery in his sculpture titled Can Touch This. In this normally look-but-don’t-touch arena, the mere fact that Alkin has created a work that advocates for a tactile experience, is to be commended. Because art can and perhaps more often should, aim to enlist several senses. So, what exactly is the substance that the viewer is invited to touch? Curious alchemies are caused by everyday accidents and the artist is well advised to be on the lookout for them. A pool of wood stain (accidentally) left exposed to the air yielded an upper stratum of fluid, forming a sheath that appears impenetrable but when touched yields to prodding. Having a memory, it bounces back. But there is danger here, a too heavy hand may burst this figment and the still wet stain underneath the may leak through this counterfeit barrier. And it did, a little. Run with those metaphors. Also admire the torched wood slabs, beautiful in themselves, go ahead, smell them. Do what you will with this alien construction, because sometimes, in a generous display of trust, you can touch it.
Sam Kyser probes into the hypnagogic realms while exposing the imperfect nature of material and photographic replicates. We see the place, and know it as a rocky shore, but we are barred from entering fully. Or conversely, the shore is barred from us. The inside/ outside feeling is provoked here, and I am gladly trapped in that bizarre place. He pays respect to warpage by manufacturing, either by chance or by choice or more likely a wizardly both, the ripple or bend in an atmosphere, the kink of a scene, the mar of recognizable history and place. The not-so-perfect veneer on his uncomfortably griddled work demonstrates a calculated mating of order, nature, color and mess. That swimming pool blue sky though, I die.
Chas Schroeder, in his conceptually loaded three-piece display titled c, The New West, invites the viewer to congregate around a “fire pit” composed of a hyper colored light projection of a gravel pit (courtesy of google image) that once provided material for freeway paving. Surrounding the “fire” is amorphous blobs of wrinkled concrete that were created by enveloping wet cement in silver emergency blankets, an absurd sculptural action that the artist discovered by accident as he toyed with leftover cement from a patio paving project. The painting too employs materials that have undergone manufacture and packaging for human use, such as Miracle Grow soil and the notoriously popular Orange Peel Textured home interior spray. He concerns himself with land use and its privatization, and attempts to open the conversation in regards to the positive and negative effects of this loss. Even if the commodification of nature polluted our view of the stars above, the orange peel moon still asks us to hope.
Farzan Sabet shows us how to dabble in the surreal with his piece titled Black Hole composed of ceramic, soft bricks, mirror and a rose. In times of heightened sociopolitical strife, the poets will rise, and his faux-naive exploration of everyday materials, techni-candy colors, romantic flora, the still life and optically illusive narratives stole my heart the way an injured stray animal or gay bad boy might, I mean, those are the feels I get in this one’s presence, and feelings are a right good thing.
Stacy Wendt (#hi) is this delightful painter’s signature tag and it’s breezy and friendly vibe is well translated on her canvases. Perusing her piece feels like receiving an air hug, an invitation to take a joy ride, punchy colors frolic on her surfaces which are littered with primitive patterns, free form line work and carefully nebulous nods to the entire history of painting. Wendt’s mastery of the possibilities of the brush all serve to demonstrate how images may dominate spaces like heavy hitting socialites. Painting as fashion. Fashion as salve. In these tumultuous times, stuffy wallflowers cannot compete with her rich pigments, fun details like the graphic tape slabs, adolescent flowers and freewheeling arcs. Remember when making art was fun and anything could go? Wendt never forgot. (#helloback)
Okay, so what’s the takeaway?
While these works may appear disparate, closer inspection reveals that in each work, lives a demonstration of joy and embrace of beauty, an allowance for accidents, a nod to tactility, an awkwardness which charms and disarms the viewer. We need more spirited collaborations like this in the art world, where children and the teen set are welcome, and to arrive in stained pajamas would not offend, where “making the scene” has not overtaken what rests at the heart of this condition of being an artist, with its chronic compulsion to want to make something where there was none.
We need more migratory shows and challenging pop-up shows, we need garage party shows, and backyard flea market shows, hobo shows and group therapy shows, web shows and long dinner table shows. We need less theming and more scheming. Less patchouli and more bonfires. We need accessible activism and genuine inclusivity. We need… gluten. This desire to experiment and then commune with others- just to see what happens, is a lucky kind of arrested development. It’s preschool without the rules. The artist at 2779 Broadway have tapped into that, so let’s play.
Rema Ghuloum, The Day After (2017)
Christina Mesiti, Text WALK LOG to 323-744-8807 (2017)
Brittany Mojo, Soccer Mom/ Trophy Wife (2017)
Lester Monzon, an untitled formulation of things that have happened in 3 parts
By: Caroll Sun Yang