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Los Angeles
Otto Youngers
LA Artcore Brewery Annex
650 A South Avenue 21, Los Angeles, CA 90031
November 1, 2008 - November 30, 2008

He Got Me At the Smell

The first thing that hits you upon entering Otto Youngers' exhibit at the LA Artcore Brewery Annex, is the smell.  Just a nanosecond before my eyes were filled with the wonder of Youngers' incredible installation, my nose recognized the earthy, spicy smell of wood.  Hints of cedar and pine transported me back to my youth in the Northwest.  I call this out because the presence of wood is relatively absent in our LA existence and I didn't realize how absent until I was faced with this room full of wood sculpture.  Not to worry, Youngers' work is created entirely from recycled and reclaimed wood gathered from construction sites.

But enough about my olfactory reverie, that was an unexpected bonus.  The real story here, is the work.  Titled  "Flora, Fauna, Viruses... OR Trees Make Better People" (the annotated version of a much larger tome) is heady and humorous.

I was pulled to attend this exhibit by the image on the postcard advertising the show.  In it, three hybrid AK-47-esque weapons  sport a shovel, a pitch fork and a pick-axe on their shafts.  Referring to the 'swords to ploughshares' concept where tools of destruction are transformed into beneficial use, his iteration is fantastic.  He has created nine "tools" that hang on the wall adding a broom, wrench, mop, and hoe among others.  Residual paint and handwriting from the woods' previous use are visible on some of the pieces.  This tension between destruction and creation appears to be a theme throughout most of the show.

Universal Theory of Chaos is a suspended piece.  Missiles created from formed logs, flying violins, brains and skulls soar over a pile of detritus.  Bones and body parts form almost a reflective shadow below yet in and amongst the destruction, a flower grows, or a beetle crawls, the cycle of nature constantly in question.

A giant virus appears to spawn smaller viruses that skitter throughout the exhibit.  Eight humongous bird characters stand sentry throughout the space in a loosely formed conglomerate titled "Bird Brains and Other Evolutionary Tails." 

The back room is a singular installation titled "Queue."  This piece has a different feel than the rest however the material usage, style and sense of humor are unmistakenly Youngers.  Stantions complete with gracefully curved ropes (made from wood) create a maze in which many pairs of shoes stand in line.  These shoes are both realistic and fantastic.  They represent humanity and span eras and cultures by their design.  The line is circular, going nowhere.  Pairs are situated as if in conversation or in impatience.

This show is provacative and fun.  And as I said earlier, smells good.  What more could you want? 

Posted by Artswriter on 11/8/08

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