The highly stylized modernist work of Charley Harper got a highly stylized showcase with the opening last Thursday eve of the new Country Club exhibition space in Los Angeles. After a brief pop-up as gallery in a storefront on Fairfax Avenue, CC founder Christian Strike opted out of that conventional model and into one that would give the work an enhanced context and excite observers.
To that end, Christian opened up his home, at this time, the 1934 Rudolf Shindler address known as the Buck House, which he recently leased. A wonderful, unassertive, open space single-family digs in the Wilshire area, it proved ideal: Harper's honest, lyrical, sometimes darkly cheeky images of birds, beasts, spacemen and DNA strands fit right in with Schindler's architectural design and the current inhabitant's personal interior sensibilities.
Among his own limitless book collection (just about every room in the house featured walls of built-in bookshelves), Christian positioned the last few existing new copies of the colossal, comprehensive tome that L.A.-art publisher Ammo released in 2007, not long after Mr. Harper died. Designer Todd Oldham, a longtime friend and champion of the artist, wrote the introduction–and came out from New York for last week's opening party. As disarming as ever, he pointed out a few of his favorites before we all got deep into telling him about Gary Baseman's show a few months back, as Gary shared images off his iPhone.
The Harper-Country Club connection is also a long one. Both hail from Cincinnati (well, Harper was born in West Virginia but studied art at the Art Academy of Cincinnati where he was last based), and the outpost there has long sold Harper's work. We felt lucky to see so much of his iconic work under one roof here in L.A, even for a while and by appointment only (this new model means CC functions more as a private dealer).
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