Tag Archives: sculpture

MorYork Gallery presents WATER STORIES, a collaborative mixed media art piece

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The MorYork Gallery in Highland Park is a true wonderland of curiosities hidden in plain view. Its home is on a busy corner diagonal from locally famous Café de Leche on York Boulevard in Highland Park. A plain green wall lets the space sit unnoticed while walkers and drivers pass by. Behind the green wall is a portal into an otherworldly collection of art and artists collaborating and creating amid a large skating-rink-turned-art-space that is nothing short of epic in size.

Owner of MorYork Gallery, Clare Graham, talks with his resident artists underneath a hanging installment of dangling spines, fibers, and other oddities. An almost occult playfulness and innovativeness is apparent via copious sculptures, furniture, paintings, scientific concoctions, skeletal systems, and beyond.

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This has been Graham’s space since 1986, long before the hype of Northeast Los Angeles seduced the minds of Los Angelinos to come and rally in NELA for hip cultural gatherings. The wood floor still shows traces of basketball court painted lines and the wood vaulted ceiling is reminiscent of what one might imagine Noah’s ark would have perhaps looked like.

Graham’s work incorporates recycled materials, often cast aside unwanted. New life is breathed into each piece, as its corresponding elements work together to create larger than life works of art with radiating character. As one nears one of Graham’s pieces, it seems it comes more to life with the emergence of every detail. Up close, it can be seen that these large-scale pieces are frequently constructed out of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of tiny everyday mundane pieces. His work genuinely winks at the concept of power in numbers.

The theme at hand during this visit is water, leading to the forthcoming collaborative art performance which incorporates movement, sound design, textiles, and prose to portray WATER STORIES.

A series of workshops will allow the public to immerse themselves into the art by extending the opportunity to practice in a variety of media, ultimately contributing to the final product as a whole. The logic behind these sequence of workshops in concert with the final product results in a community minded experience where abstract concepts and philosophy can be pulled from applicable experience. It soaks the viewer in engagement, bringing them closer to a more acute understanding of the art piece rather than taking on the mere role of a spectator.

However, this does not exclude the less active audience member. Stephanie Zalatel, creator of the szalt dance company, works with her team to choreograph a deeply moving five-part performance for WATER STORIES. Movement appears to narrate a story set to the sounds collected by musician and composer, Louis Lopez. Audio clips collected from field samplings are set to bold tones with an ethereal ambience and subliminal humming reminiscent to the experience one might have submerged in water.

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Perhaps one of the most unique elements of the piece, aside from its already left-of-mainstream surroundings of the gallery, is the use of textiles and costuming. Fiber artist, Amabelle Aguiluz, incorporates her knitted clothing into the performance by creating abstract masks and dress-like coverings for the dancers as well as the landscape around them. The various patterns in the knit work resemble the natural patterns that might be found in nature within a bed of sea coral. While Aguiluz generally works with basic dark and light colors, this piece will incorporate a wider spectrum of color, amplifying the colorful and unpredictable make-up of water and all the connotations it possesses.

To round out the process, there will also be poetry about the performance constructed by poet, Julia Nowak. The poems will be featured in the programs at each performance, giving each audience member a memento to take home with them if they were unable to participate in one of the preceding workshops.

There will be several opportunities to get involved. The actual performance will have multiple weekends including April 22-23 (for VIP ticket holders) / 29-30, and May 6-7 /13-14.

Starting March 20, the workshops will be every Sunday from noon until 3pm. It costs $30 to register online, and $40 at the door. If you are interested in all four classes, you can get a bundle rate of $100. The first will be a textiles workshop, followed by sound recordings workshops, then a movement research class, concluded by a culmination workshop where all the acquired skills can be put to use in a cohesive piece. For more information please visit stephaniezalatel.com/class.html or e-mail Stephanie at szalt@gmail.com. If you know you want to purchase tickets, you can do so by going to waterstories.brownpapertickets.com.

The MorYork Gallery is located at 4959 York Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA, 90042.

Kyle Austin Dunn: Artist, Craftsman

The Whirling Girlish discusses technology and the struggle between artistic influence vs. artistic inspiration, and a talks with contemporary artist, Kyle Austin Dunn 

By Andrea Jackson

October 21, 2013

A Couple Dozen Affected Areas of Color Kyle Austin Dunn Artist Painting 2013

(A Couple Dozen Affected Areas of Color, 2013)

San Francisco Bay, CA—As a media and communications student, I’m constantly trolling the web for new stories, trending topics, and cultural happenings. My days are consumed in exploring content and seeking the “next big thing”. Much of my exploration takes me through the world of art, as I scroll through infinite pages of the internet squinting my eyes at the computer screen observing countless paintings, sculptures, installations, pictures of weird cats—you name it.

As of late, the world of contemporary art seems almost starved of pure originality. Instead it almost seems to represent a culture that fosters only certain fads, trends and styles which are accepted not only by the masses, but by the artists. So turns a revolving door of art work with uncanny similar aesthetic qualities. My Pinterest dashboard looks like a Basquiat festival gone awry, or like a small child has been wreaking havoc with a box of Crayola markers.

Where have all the craftsmen (or women) gone? Is this the death of the Avant Garde?

It would be foolish for me to sit here and pretend that I don’t fully support advancing technology, and that I think access to such tools as the internet, and social networking platforms aren’t important. They are. But as we progress, the line between artistic influence and artistic inspiration gets thinner and thinner. I have identified pros and cons with this. Positively, more audiences are able to access information on art and news faster than ever before. Resources are available to educate ourselves virtually 24 hours a day. Artists in particular, can communicate with each other, and stay current with the evolving world of their vocation. But everything has its limits.

This overload of information has created a mentality in artisans to toss out traditional methods and follow the path paved by others, a safer path. They are also paths that seems to exude extremist ideals. There is a lack of balance between pure and profane, minimalists and maximalists. We have become so accustomed to adapting ourselves to these trends, that actual revolutionary, contemporary art has in fact transgressed less and less over time.

A recent article written by NY Magazine contributor, Jerry Saltz, calls this act of conformity “Neo-Mannerism”. A notable tone of irritation radiates through his words as he paints a clear portrait of artists today. He refers to these artists as wannabe “junior post modernists”, and “generic”.* After reading his article, I sat back and thought, “Ouch, he actually said it out loud.”

But there is truth to Saltz’s comments, and I can empathize with his frustration. I wanted to find an exception to that trend. It would mean coming across an artist that didn’t fit “that” mold. It would mean an artist which has accepted technology’s place in our society, and learned to appreciate and understand stylistic fads and trends, but from a safe distance. Perhaps even an abstract artist, whose work wasn’t exclusive to small Diasporas of existentialists, but rather work which might be pleasing to anyone. I knew I would be pushing it here, but I even wanted to find an artist dedicated to perfecting their skill, and increasing the quality of their art (call me old fashioned, no don’t).

But I found one!

Kyle Austin Dunn is the future. His art is, anyways. I had the opportunity to speak with Dunn recently. He’s an East Coast transplant living in the San Francisco Bay area, and a recent Master of Fine Arts Graduate from the University of California, Davis.

Wiggle Kyle Austin Dunn Artist Sculpture 2012

(Wiggle, 2012)

There is a unique quality to his work. At first, a viewer might see his paintings, sculptures, and installations, as fun and nonsensical concoctions. But a closer analysis proves otherwise.

Meticulous precision and a skilled hand produce works which one might think could only possibly be rendered by a machine. A futuristic graphic quality emerges from the neon paint, spread thoughtfully and methodically on diverse surfaces.

Pretty Camouflage Kyle Austin Dunn Artist Sculpture 2011

(Pretty Camouflage, 2011)

“I struggle with allowing any sort of emotive response”, says Dunn in regards to the inspiration which generates his work. Perhaps this is what I find so appealing.  Each piece is a break from an influx of loose, gestural and often just plain bizarre compositions. His work is a product of vision, and skilled execution.

But perhaps there is actually more of Dunn in his work than he thinks. While he might not flick paint at a canvas amidst a spell of angst or frustration, there are pieces of his personality which translate into his work. This becomes clear after speaking with him.

A career in the arts was not always the only path for Dunn. His early collegiate career was faced with a decision between an education in art, or science which would lead to medical school. I’ll let you guess which one he picked…

Good guess!

It’s safe to say choosing art was a solid choice on his part. But I think that decision goes to say something. There is an underlying structure and science in each of Dunn’s paintings while a bold and almost humorous exterior surfaces. During my conversation with Dunn, it was evident that this is the case in his art. It is fun, and created solely for aesthetic pleasure, but is built upon a foundation of purpose and well-practiced exercise.

Balled Up Lines and Color Kyle Austin Dunn Artist Sculpture 2013

(Balled Up Lines and Color, 2013)

When I asked Dunn where he drew his inspiration from, if not blog surfing, then where? We discussed the “rapid fire” of image processing and the inevitable dwarfing of art images, hindering viewers’ overall experience. While he admits, it is important to stay current; he finds most of his inspiration simply comes from daily life. Dunn continually strives to produce work which he has never seen before, carefully straying away from anything overridden with hype. Successfully, he creates pieces which still exude contemporary ideals and aesthetic appeal while staying true to his self.

Dunn’s installation A Bunch of Heavy Lines composed of tangled PVC pipe obstructs a stairwell, challenging viewers’ ideas of utility, form, and function. Dunn’s sculptures and paintings disguise different plastics as other materials like metal and wood, inviting the observer to examine the piece more closely to make sense of its disposition.

A Bunch of Heavy Lines Kyle Austin Dunn Artist Installation 2013

(A Bunch of Heavy Lines, 2013)

When I looked at his painting Sections Form Categories I began to create relationships between the objects and figures present on the canvas. I grouped together the forms within the four quadrants of the painting, and supposed associations that I began to realize may not even exist to begin with. I had become so enthralled in deciphering the meaning of the title, that I had lost sight of the painting’s purpose—a mode of practice for Dunn to perfect his skill, and to be something nice for people to look at. It was suddenly okay to just stand and appreciate his tactful manipulation of spaces and shapes.

Sections Form Categories Kyle Austin Dunn Artist Painting 2013

(Sections Form Categories, 2013)

Even I can’t escape my extremist tendencies to build romantic and existentialist tales about things, I guess.

“I think titles are possibly the best way to incorporate text into art”, said Dunn. Yes. I agree. Today it seems that a painting or sculpture without bold Helvetica letters tattooed on it is a novel gesture.

I can feel a movement starting, constituted of people craving quality and innovation. People will want to see more art like Kyle Austin Dunn’s. There is something magnetic about art which stands shamelessly and unapologetically on its own.

Dunn currently resides in San Francisco with his wife, Rachelle, and their dog Maia. His residency is at the Headlands Center for the Arts.For more information about Dunn and his work, you can visit his website KyleAustinDunn.com or click here.

* For more information about Jerry Saltz’s article on Neo-Mannerism, click here.

All images used in this article are copyrighted to Kyle Austin Dunn, Artist Inc., and have been granted permission from the owner to publish on The Whirling Girlish website.