Chet Glaze, Thick Slick (2019), Scuzzy Drip (2019), VW Driveway (2020), Tramp Camp (2019) installed on Silver Lake Drive in LA
Over the past three months, as they have remained closed to the public for safety, US galleries and arts institutions have struggled with how to connect with their audiences during a global pandemic, turning to online exhibitions and streaming events. And even as parts of the country start to reopen, art spaces are grappling with how to safely welcome back the public. In Los Angeles, several projects have popped up that prioritise real-life art experience—even if that might be mitigated by social distancing or viewed through a car widow.
Over the course of two weekends in May, dozens of artists all over Los Angeles exhibited work outside their homes or in other public spaces for Drive-By-Art. The project was organised by the artist Warren Neidich, who saw the detrimental effect that the pandemic was having on the art community. “Artists depend on exhibitions, otherwise theyre isolated,” Neidich says. The West Coast edition was preceded by one in early May on the South Fork of Long Island in New York. Given the success of the East Coast version, Neidich enlisted the help of three Angeleno art-world figures—artist Renee Petropoulos, and curator/writers Michael Slenske and Anuradha Vikram—to help mount the project in LA.
On the projects first weekend, from May 23-25, drivers criss-crossed neighborhoods east of Western Avenue, from Koreatown to Highland Park to Pasadena, following an online map that located works of art in front yards or on street corners. These included abstract works by Chet Glaze and John Knuth hung on the chain link fence of the Silver Lake Reservoir, an augmented reality drawing by Nancy Baker Cahill that viewers could experience via an app on their phone, and Kori Newkirks Fith — an interruption, ribbons of black mylar suspended between two buildings in a downtown LA alley, fluttering in the breeze. A few pieces were on view at night, like Jennifer Wests film about the recently demolished 6th Street Bridge projected onto a screen above her Echo Park studio.
Artist Yrneh Gabon directly addressed police violence in his sidewalk performance, which ended with him sprawled out on the concrete, sputtering “I Cant Breathe!”
For Neidich, the physical connection between artist, artwork, and viewer, even from within the bubble of the car, is a key part of the project. “Its very important to bring the body back into the picture, to reactivate the body,” he says.
The second weekend, focused on the area west of Western, saw some artists postponing their installations in response to the protests that had swept LA in the wake of George Floyds killing by a Minneapolis police officer. Artist Yrneh Gabon directly addressed police violence in his sidewalk performance, which ended with him sprawled out on the concrete, sputtering “I Cant Breathe!”
Luciana Abait, Peaks (2020), and Yvette Gellis, Sacred Spaces (2020), installed on the Lime Green Building in LA Courtesy of the artists
A concurrent project that views the entire LA basin as one big gallery is We Are Here / Here We Are, mounted by artist collective Durden & Ray. Spearheaded by D&R member Sean Noyce, the exhibition features over 100 artists, and takes a scrappier, less polished approach than Drive-By-Art. “Why not take it to the streets and the sprawl? Why not let it be ephemeral?” asks Noyce. “We encouraged folks to engage in the neighbourhood, to contribute work that was not too terribly precious, because if it came to it, stuff might be stolen.” As opposed to two discrete weekends, the exhibition is on view until 20 June, making it hard to secure every work in a public space. Olga Lahs installation of lawn flags resembling a field of California poppies disappeared from a Long Beach park after a couple of weeks, while Helen Chungs tacked up drawing in West Hollywood went missing, only to be returned later by someone who had been interested in buying the work.
“The response has been touching. Some people have said,Thank you for providing the show, its given me something to look forward to again,” Noyce recounts. He says it has also opened up new ways of thinking about sharing artwork. “It really shows you dont need these structures to show art. Well see things loosening up, barriers dissolving,” he says. “Thats the hope anyway.”
Meanwhile the Parker Gallery, located in a stately residence in Los Feliz, decided to use their ample front yard to exhibit work safely. They opened a three part show,Sculpture from a Distance, with the final part open now through 13 June. The Read More – Source