From second-skin mash-ups in a downtown alley to the lyrical bronze totems installed in an Eagle Rock vault, there is much to love and covet from two of L.A.'s rising star artists, Bettina Hubby and Gordon Bowen, whose latest works made the drive out to see them worth every mile.
It's true that we count the both of them among our friends. It's also true that a) we cannot always make it to the shows of our dearest friends, regardless of their talent or how much their work thrills; b) not everyone in our wide and highly creative circle makes art that warrants any attention. So consider this posting not an endorsement to see a friend, but to experience the work of two individuals whose artwork deserves consideration.
Gordon Bowen, like many artists, had these ideas living in his noggin' for years. In his case, however, it took building a foundry of his very own to actually realize them.
"Xenotropi" at the MorYork Gallery in Eagle Rock is Gordon's first exhibition of bronze and aluminum works he poured and cast out of his workshop at his nearby home. But these are not the efforts of some amateur hobbyist. The sophisitication in both craft and execution of these pieces reflect a faculty that make these sculptures and the thought of future works so very exciting. (Yes, this is the Gordon who cast Nina's feet and hands.)
The showpiece among the six on view is a massive, mechanized mobile that involves what resembles a music box roller with pull strings on one end of the gallery endlessly rotating knobs strung with thread. The threads run upward and across the ceiling to the other gallery end where they are each anchored by a bronze form that resemble something between pants and a sharly pointed tooth. Dozens of these sculptures dangle above another series of duplicates, these single points of aluminum jutting from the concrete floor.
A smaller version of the dangling "pants" hang nearby, while the other four works are more classic in terms of composition (a sculpture on a base), but no less sublime.
Artist Gordon Bowen
Bettina Hubby's flights of mixed media and performance are always a trip, and they are always so much more textured than first glance allows. Two installations this month—an ongoing one in Santa Barbara and the one-night affair this past Friday night at the Post gallery in one of downtown's dingier districts—demonstrate she's on a roll.
Friday night's "Honest Mystique" show was part of the month-long "Kamikaze" series at Post, where each night the space is invaded by a different group of artists and a curator. Bettina both exhibited and curated and, with all due respect to her fellow artists, it's Bettina's work that far stood out.
Artist-curator Bettina Hubby
Collage above and its blown-up vinyl "reflection" below.
The stylish collages Bettina began focusing on last year were blown-up as removable vinyls, as well as duplicated as a kind of cross-hatch shadow. She fully utilized the cavernous warehouse space, plastering one of the dual images just-so from the other providing eye-bending perspective. Bettina is never terribly precious about her work, which belies the complex consideration that actually goes into it. To wit, she pulled a corner of one of the figures and ripped it off the wall, then just as quickly, slapped it back into place to show off the durability of the vinyl material.
A poke at the line drawn between commercial and fine art? In a similar spin on the notion, this weekend, Los Angeles Times art critic Christopher Knight noted that Bettina "opted…for the tensions between public display and private interests" with her work in "Home Show, Revisted" for the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. New works were created for private homes around the city and then open for public consumption.
Of the 10 artists invited, it's Bettina's curtains—colorfully silkscreened with images of the artist at seemingly innocent domestic tasks and covering the windows of a prosaic suburban home—that the critic most rhapsodizes about.
The review appeared Saturday, a total surprise to Bettina and everyone, and turning the already celebratory mood at Gordon's show up a notch.
"Xenotropi" by Gordon Bowen runs through August 1 at the MorYork Gallery, 4959 York Blvd., Los Angeles (Eagle Rock), 323-348-7249.
"Home Show, Revisted" with Bettina Hubby runs through July 17 throughout Santa Barbara. Stop at the Contemporary Arts Forum space in downtown's Paseo Nuevo mall for pass and map, 805-966-5373.
All Photos by RA except image from "Home Show, Revisted," courtesy of HubbyCo.
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