Somewhere on a Desert Highway
The JK Gallery is pleased to announce Somewhere on a Desert Highway with works by Eben Goff, Alexandra Grant, Jeff Lipschutz, John Outterbridge, Ben Patterson and Melanie Schiff. Somewhere on a Desert Highway is a show about LA-the aura, the land, the mythos-and the strategies developed by six artists in response to it.
The work highlights our city's diverse material culture; its relationship to natural resources, like water; its connection to migration and work patterns; its linkage to California outposts such as Joshua Tree and Eagle Mountain. A conversation in the language of texture takes place among the artists and unfolds like a road show: raw wood plays against black and white photo grain, as sand shot through a video membrane plays against thick, geological oil paint. The collective sound generated by these textures is what I'm interested in.With his assemblage Remnants of an Apron Lost former director of the Watts Towers Art Center John Outterbridge approaches the female body with an African sensibility, and refigures it as an abstraction of found wood, human hair and rag. In so doing, he repositions the LA object as something enigmatic, rooted obliquely in identity, time and labor. In response to the rich tradition of art on 107th street (Outterbridge, Simon Rodia, Purifoy) Alexandra Grant presents two Love sculptures. Embodying the hand-made aesthetic we associate with early Oldenburg, Grant's deeply expressive text-based bronzes refer to her larger undertaking: "the Love House," a plan for a life-sized Love sculpture atop the Cerant residence on 107th street (part of Watts House Project). Approaching the city from a different angle, Melanie Schiff's large-scale, black and white prints record roadside LA forms, uncoupled from standard reference points. Her strikingly distilled images read as primordial traces, rather than meanings as she reframes southern California's thorniness, accident, and endless improvisation as something unknowable and ancient. Eben Goff's large-scale wood sculpture references the LA River, and the odd elliptical stanchions that hold it up. Goff's work, a meditation on southland geography and water use, relies in part on a minimalist engagement with the earth, an interest that links up with the concerns of pioneering Fluxus artist Ben Patterson. Currently based in Germany, for his video Fluxus Hot and West, Patterson takes us to the California desert, nominating its spare setting as the natural analogue for the minimalist aesthetics of early Fluxus performance. Out in Joshua Tree National Park Patterson restages six "classics," including La Monte Young's Draw a Straight Line and George Brecht's Drip Music. The Mojave Desert is also the source for Jeff Lipschutz's large-scale triptych 4 U Only. This panorama of isolation refers to the ghost town of Eagle Mountain, CA. Once a booming mining town that Lipschutz grew up in, Eagle Mountain is now abandoned, hostage to the whim and romance of ruin.