Monday, August 3, 2009

Art openings galore

Saturday was a busy evening for me.

First stop was Sharyn Case's for a party of "theatuh" people--mostly from the now-defunct Rude Guerrilla Theatre Company (RGTC) and fodder for the soon-to-debut Monkey Wrench Collective (MWC). MWC leader Dave Barton is putting together plans for one new production--of the Jacobean play The Revengers Tragedy (on Facebook over the weekend he was putting out a call for actors willing to "die" on stage), and a revival--of RGTC's production of the Mark Ravenhill play Shopping & Fucking. They are still seeking a venue at this point, with the likelihood of using a temporary industrial space in the Huntington Beach area until they solidify a longer-term location. Longtime RGTC actor Jay Fraley updated me on his plans to split his time between Laguna Beach and Austin, Texas where theatre is thriving (plus he has family in the Lone Star State).

Then it was off to Whittier Law School on Harbor Blvd. in Costa Mesa, where Engard Arts has mounted a small group exhibition in the library foyer. It was well attended, but the cramped quarters and the "checkout counter" made it feel more like a shop than a gallery, which is not inconsistent with Engard's commercial nature.

I arrived at Santa Ana's Artists Village just when the crowds were peaking--the pedestrianized street was teeming with art lovers, street artists and performers, and the restaurants were full. After a cocktail at Lola Gaspar, I skipped past the Grand Central Art Center (I had already just been to their R. CRUMB UNDERGROUND exhibit opening) and headed across the street to the OC Center for Contemporary Art for Jeffrey Crussell's exhibit DIRECTIONS.
A year ago, Crussell invited a number of artists to participate in a project he called "DIRECTIONS"--in which each artist was required to embark upon a sort of creative magical mystery tour, following a set of 56 precise directions invented by Crussell, involving explicit dimensional parameters, scavenger hunt-like waystations they were to visit at specific times, and benchmark dates for the progressive delivery of their work.

How well did these artists "follow directions"? You'll have to see for yourself. As for me, I found some did better than others in freeing themselves from their traditional work and embracing the adventure of new directions. But it was a typically worthwhile visit to OCCCA for this to be sure.

Finally, I swung by The Artery in Costa Mesa on my way home. This exhibit space is comprised of some corrugated metal container units placed next to The LAB Anti-Mall on Bristol Street south of the I-405. The limitations of the space are actually rather liberating in a way, keeping the focus on the art. This one-night-only exhibit, "I Hate Everyone But You," seemed to have little to do with the attention-getting title. The show included the works of two artists, Tim Biskup and Matt Goldman.

Tim's work reminds me so much of 1950s era decorative art, but more vivid in its color palette and occasionally twisted in a way that suggests "Ren and Stimpy!" I found it hard to take my eyes off his neo/retro prints (silkscreens, I believe). Matt's also rooted in traditions: rock album covers of the 1970s, "Day of the Dead" imagery and Shepherd Fairey's work (Fairey's signature "Obey" face appeared verbatim in one of the prints). Some works were samples of his concert posters.

It was great ending the evening on such a refreshingly high artistic note!

No comments: