Los Angeles in the year 2008 is a place where many people face emotional challenges. The economy is at the forefront of our collective consciousness and the prospects of uncertainty due to recent developments in monetary markets that are further fueled by media forecasters reporting a future that is bleak. Ironically, this situation comes after a recent growth in home ownership that the country has never witnessed before. The nation’s increase in property ownership created an inferred wealth, resulting in an intoxicating deception. This structure unfortunately appears to be more of a pyramid scheme made popular in the late 80’s in which the sellers’ only prospect of success depended on the feeding upon of more gullible buyers. We now face an economic meltdown, or is it possible that it is more of an economic correction? Whatever the situation, meltdown, correction, a redistribution of wealth, or the Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle*, the task of survival in the face of great despair and negativity must be generated. As our community gasps for a viable construct to maintain our collective sanity, the answer is often written on the wall.
In the late 70’s the graffiti persona SAMO©** scribed social commentaries on Lower-Manhattan walls. One such quote is the inspiration for this exhibition, “PLUSH…safe he think”. The exhibition explores the idea that a fragility of affluence exists, and in acknowledging this possibility that inequities are shadowed with a sublime equality. This is a new construct in which the “haves” are feeling naked yet their nakedness is obvious to themselves due to the fact the “have-nots” exist at an even more depreciated level. Despite this social construct, artists manage to persevere whatever the current air appears to be.
In Los Angeles artists exist in the shadow of the Hollywood film industry. However they take inspiration from this dynamic, developing a culture and style that is uniquely their own. In investigating the polemic for this exhibition, artists are challenged to explore and discover the themes of optimism, hope, and surprise. Moreover, the works shown are infused and flavored with the multitude of ethnicities that also inspire many creative survival modes. The title PLUSH evokes other visions, if overlooked, would be to ignore funny, silly, and degenerative implications that the images of plush toys and costumes infer. With this fervor, artists share works that will humor, inspire, and create further contemplation.
PLUSH features drawings, sculpture and video by artists: Michael Dee,
Joey Crawford, Shane Edelman, Rafael Gallardo, Ichiro Irie, Dion Johnson, Heidi Kidon, Anders Lansing, Tucker Neel, Ruby Osorio, Robert Miller, Max Presneill, and Emily Wagner.
PLUSH is curated by artist Martin Durazo. From 1995-2003 Durazo co-founded and directed Miller Durazo Contemporary Artists Projects while a graduate student at UCLA. In that time Miller Durazo organized over 100 solo and group exhibitions including participation in Art Frankfurt in 2000 and 2001. In 2007 Durazo established the yearlong project, Empathy Design Company, hosting experimental art projects. Other curatorial efforts have included Midas at POST, and most recently Panopti(con) at Bank. As an artist Durazo has exhibited nationally and internationally with solo exhibitions at POST, Otis College of Art and Design, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, and the Mark Moore Gallery.
*The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle (1980) A rather incoherent post-breakup Sex Pistols "documentary", told from the point of view of Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, whose (arguable) position is that the Sex Pistols in particular and punk rock in general were an elaborate scam perpetrated by him in order to make "a million pounds." IMDB
** The SAMO© Graffiti appeared in New York at the end of the Seventies and beginning of the Eighties, in two phases. The second phase was solo work by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The first phase was an anonymous effort by the team of Basquiat, Al Diaz, and Shannon Dawson. Basquiat was the team's driving force.