Hubby’s CoTour 2008

Artist Bettina Hubby

From the opening a capella number involving bird masks against the crisp backdrop of the Hollywood Hills to the charged exotic dancer writhing on the bus’s stripper pole and the folksy act inside Chinatown’s oldest bar, conceptual artist Bettina Hubby’s latest work was truly a tour de force.

On the Hubby CoTour bus.

Titled “Hubby’s CoTour 2008,” the work was a 10-stop expedition, each site carefully considered and chosen to collectively define the artist’s perception of her Los Angeles, representing her creative influence and, at least for the afternoon, serving as guerrilla gallery space. The tour was documented and will be chronicled in a book and film, thankfully.
Many of the 40 guests on board the chartered limo bus paid $250 a seat for the experience, and it was pretty evident by the end of the three-hour adventure that everyone, from Bettina’s devoted collectors to her champions such as Ed Ruscha, thought the ticket to ride was a bargain.
The stops were mostly public, all accessible to any one of us living or visiting L.A. They represented the daily life of Bettina’s adopted city, and reveal how we each have a very subjective idea of the cities we live in.

Consider this: If you were to choose the 10 favorite spots where you live, places you visit frequently and which hold some meaning, however prosaic, for you, the map would be different than the 10 sites your friends would choose. Each map would be as unique as a fingerprint.

Bettina pulled in a cast of artist friends to realize her neighborhood profile, a reminder that we never really fly solo. That we were also on a bus, at times getting off to witness whatever performance she lined up or staying on board and watching from behind the expansive windows, was also significant in a city where we are so dependent and defined by the automobile.

The angelic vocals of "Untitled Feather Chorale #1" on Olive Hill.

For Bettina, Sunday’s tour began at the Barnsdale Art Park, the hill that’s home to the first Frank Lloyd Wright building here, known as the Hollyhock House. There, collaborators Kelly Marie Martin and David Jones lead a site-specific composition called “Untitled Feather Chorale #1,” as we sipped tea from a mishmash of vintage china served up by Bicycle Kitchen. (Alert: I am still so overwhelmed by this experience that, yes, I am going to briefly detail it ALL here. But I hope you’ll read on, because the level of work that went into this project is truly awe-inspiring.)
Back on the bus with humorist and dandy Maynard Monroe keeping us tee-heeing with his commentary of the city and the sights, we headed to stop #2, Skylight Books on Vermont Avenue. There, writer David Cull appeared in a sports coat covered in his handwritten manuscript. We all received parts of the fictional work, printed on squares of cotton.

Skip Arnold and Kate Mayfield and their roll-away red carpet.

Another writer pal, Kate Mayfield, with performance artist Skip Arnold in tow, evoked vintage Hollywood actors at the next stop, the storied Vista Theater. Built in 1923, the beloved Vista has had spells playing silent movies, art flicks and pornos. It now mainly screens first-run releases. And all the trivia was embroidered in gold thread on red fabric strips that fluttered like fringe off Kate’s gown, which, like every fantastical look worn by the players on this tour, was conceived, stitched and styled by Bettina.

Dave Cull wears his writings on his sleeve and all over.

The chrome and mirrors and the stripper pole inside the black bus all made perfect sense when performance artist Peggy Pabustan strutted on board and, to the blare of a Rob Zombie song created exclusively for this event, started gyrating and peeling of her HubbyCo school girl outfit to reveal a bikini patchworked with the iconic cheesecake logo of Cheetah’s Strip Club. The bus had parked in front of the club for our fourth stop. Already buzzing from the Champagne filling our glasses, the party was on.

A little pole performance on wheels.
align=”center” class=”caption_container” width=”399″>Performance artist Peggy Pabustan in her Cheetah-kini

The scene was decidedly sweeter at Gilly Flowers at the Sunset Junction, where owner Neal Guthrie, known to locals as Gilly, presented a table covered in the most exquisite floral and lace accessories. Each was different and seemed more beautiful than the next, leaving us all gobsmacked as to which one to select for ourselves to wear out of there.

Destiny Floyd at Gilly Flowers.
Flower Power at Gilly's.
Laura Dye models Hubby CoTour

From Gilly's, we cruised by the Trader Joe’s on Hyperion, picking up a couple suited up in clothes pieced together with swatches and trim with the Trader Joe’s logo. Lensman Mike Slack and his publishing partner Tricia Gabriel each carried a bedazzled TJ tote (all, again, created according to Bettina's handstitched directives), from which they…

Tricia Gabriel is Miss Trader Joe's.

passed out foil bags filled with TJ-signature chocolates and fruit rolls.
The tour turned scenic from there, as we made our way passed undeveloped swaths of park and developed swaths of pavement to downtown’s Chinatown. Artist Jennifer Rochlin greeted us with a basket filled with fortune cookies bearing HubbyCo messages and a head covered in a hat—made of fortune cookies! It was outrageous, and the group went mad for it. We were then lead past the landmark Wishing Well to Hop Louie. Bartenders Sean Wa and Bill Ng were good sports to don Bettina’s altered shirts, and painter Erin Trefry dazzled us all in her second-skin, collage of a dress and tray of sake (yes, it’s a taste of Japan in this manufactured throwback to China kitsch!).

Jennifer Rochlin in a hat made of real fortune cookies by Emile Heckel
Erin Trefry in a sizzling patchwork HubbyCo number.

As we drank up, musicians Mr. Banjo and Tif Sigfrids entertained us with a folksy tune that summed up our afternoon tour. Which wasn’t quite over yet…
The bus headed back to Silverlake, with drive-bys at Urth Yoga and the Silver Lake Dog Park, where we picked up a couple more of Bettina’s confederates in this mobile theater of the absurd. At Urth, yoga teacher Anna Bruce boarded, modeling the HubbyOm capsule collection Bettina launched with this event. Anna also embroidered the hydrant images on the product at the A+R pop up. But more on that soon.
Bettina’s pooch Bellmer and her four-legged pal Muggs Jones donned leashes that were attached as decorative trim to dog walker Tricia Dunn’s denim dress. Hands-free dog walking!

At Hop Louie, Tif Sigfrids and Mr. Banjo pick a few ditties.

Finally, the tour culminated a few blocks down the road at stop #10, A+R. This is where Andy and I first met Bettina in 2006. We’ve since become friends, fans and, with this CoTour, collaborators of sorts. We spent much of Saturday evening and Sunday morning with her delightful sister Bolyn, her mom Barbara and her pops Ben, emptying out the store and setting up the HubbyCo Hydrant shop and the CoTour after party in the adjacent parking lot.

Site map for Hubby CoTour 2008 by Aardvark Letterpress
Super-sized Hubby CoTour Hydrant fabricated by Gordon Bowen

A larger crowd of friends and curious strangers joined us for dinner from Mama’s Tamales, delicious French and Spanish reds from Silverlake Wine, cocktails of Izze sparkling juice with Belvedere vodka, and a rip-roaring set by DJ A. Sun (which did bring out the cops just 30 minutes shy of our closing time of 9 p.m.!). The star, however, had to be the 200-pound letterpress that the dear guys at Aardvark Letterpress hauled over, so they could print—live!—maps of the CoTour for anyone to take home. (A few maps are left and might be made available at the store.)

Scientist Erika Brockman poses as HubbyCo Tamale Maiden
Artist Karen Lofgren is dressed to the wines.

As the day’s players, many still in costume, and guests ate, danced and hula hoop’d, others checked out the merch inside the store: from Bettina’s slashed-and-stitched one-off suit jackets and dresses, to the limited collections she created for this installation. The city-specific CoTour was just one of Bettina’s art projects on view. Bettina’s 15-year fixation with hydrants, from shooting them on her world travels to tattooing a sizeable one on her left shoulder, finally culminated with the showcase at A+R. There are one-off pillows paneled in the digital prints of her colorful photographs of hydrants. There’s a collector’s poster dotted with all of the images. There are dresses, men’s motorcycle shirts and totes embroidered with hydrants. There’s an intricate quilt also stitched in hydrants. There’s an oversized replica coated in pink and constructed by artist Gorden Bowen. And there’s a fuzzy, stuffed hydrant knitted according to Bettina’s instructions by Mother Hubby.
It’s truly mad, truly genius. And it will all be available during the run of the HubbyCo pop-up at A+R Silverlake through November 2.
Andy and I are still blown away by the day, a journey so thoughtfully staged,
so creatively executed and so perfectly planned out (we were on time at every stop!), that we wish so many more could get on the bus.

Detail of Gilly Flowers living jewelry.
Hands-free pooch walking! Dog runner Tricia Dunn in Hubby CoTour
Narrator Maynard Monroe assists a passenger.
Bolyn Hubby models a Gilly necklace.
Tea time for 20 at Barnsdall Park.
Designer-yoga teach Anna Bruce models HubbyOm.
Bettina and Bellmer (in Hubby CoTour, natch).

All Photos by Tyler Boye and Rose Apodaca

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