Hilary Baker: Colossalalia
There will be an opening reception for the artist on Sunday, December 6 from 2-5pm and a closing reception on Sunday, January 3 from 2-5pm.
The exhibition will run concurrently with Where Am I Today? Self Portraits by Jayme Odgers.
One of Offramp Gallery’s main tenets is that when it comes to art, bigger is not necessarily better. Artists stretch their work to fill vast gallery and museum spaces, resulting more often than not in spectacle, at best, and visually insipid conceptual vacuums at worst. However, in the case of Hilary Baker’s new paintings, bigger is definitely better. (Bear in mind that “bigger” in Offramp Gallery’s intimate spaces is still not huge.) As the scale of the hybrid objects depicted -- objects evocative of water towers, scaffolds and monuments from another time and place, somehow familiar and tinged with nostalgia, yet at the same time strange and slightly unsettling – increases, so does the impact of their presence.
“As a native Angeleno, I have vivid memories of the city and I carry with me two particularly indelible images from childhood: The storage tanks of the Los Angeles Gas Company, and ‘The Leg.’
“The L.A. Gas Company supplied natural gas from a distribution center located just east of downtown. The tanks loomed silent and large, ominous structures whose black sheathing rose and fell at different times during the year. The enormous leg (documented in an iconic photo by Max Yavno) sat atop the Sanderson’s Stockings building on Olympic Boulevard in West LA. It was a 30 foot tall hosiery model, on its toes and severed at the thigh. As a young child it so terrified me that, as our car approached, I would duck down below the dash until we passed by. The tanks and statue were demolished years ago, but remain etched in my memory.
“The Colossalalia paintings are a rogues’ gallery of old Los Angeles neighborhoods. They serve as visual signposts to a landscape vaguely recalled, or no longer extant. As neighborhoods change through neglect, destruction or development, these paintings remain as souvenirs of a world systematically being erased.
“The water towers are examples of a specific function resulting in unintended beauty. My towers are concocted, hybrid objects, and are painted as if constructed solely of the raw materials first used to build them: wood, metal and stone. The buildings (apartments and hotels) are envisioned in the same manner, refashioned from their original slabs of stone and timber.”
Hilary Baker received a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an M.F.A. from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. She lives and works in Los Angeles.