LA Times

April 1987

San Diego Weekend: Art

Downtown’s Installation gallery has reason to celebrate. Tonight, the gallery known for its contemporary art installation- displayed for their content, not their salability- opens two exhibitions and a new 5,600- square-foot  gallery called Space Two at 930 E. St. the new space, with new director Dan Wasil, opens with a show of paintings and sculpture by 29 San Diego area artists, including Eleanor Antin, David Avalos, Manny Farber, jay Johnson and Deborah Small. A reception will be held from 7 to 11 tonight.

Next door, Installation opens a unique exhibition in the window of the architectural firm Archimatics, at 920 E. St. Co- curator Karen Atkinson wants to expand the notion of public art. It’s art that doesn’t have hours for viewing, work that anyone can see anytime. But rather than “plunking art on a street corner as sculpture,” Atkinson wanted to expand the notion of “static, permanent, public artworks” with a temporary show.  Passers-by can see the exhibition from dusk to 10pm and the works projected from the rear within the building will show on a 6-by-6 foot storefront window. Artists invited across the country, including New Work, Chicago, San Francisco, Texas, and Seattle, created works for the exhibition, working in film, slide and audio mediums. The images, many consisting of photos with text, ranging in length from one to 20 slides- will flash Wednesday- Saturday nights through May 2. 


San Diego Tribune

February 1987


By Isabelle Wasserman

What happens in a flower shop when the lights go out? If it’s the Bloomsbury City Flower Market, 8611 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, it becomes a gallery for works projected in slides, audio and film.  “Projections in Public,” a month long nighttime exhibition of works across the country, is being presented by The Foundation for Arts Resources and the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art. The projections are visible Tuesday through Saturday nights, 8 pm to midnight, from the intersection of San Vicente and Beverly Blvds. 


Artweek April 25, 1987

By Michael McManus

An Anxious Space

Projections in Public: San Diego is an ongoing and evolving “storefront- window projection project” that is on view in the street-level front window of the architectural firm Archimatics in downtown San Diego.  Curated by Karen Atkinson and Carol Hobson, the show is now in it second incarnation (its first was in February at the Bloomsbury City Flower Mart, Los Angeles, with sponsorship from the Foundation for Art Resources and LAICA). In San Diego, with Projected Light Collective and Installation as sponsors, the curators invited (or perhaps challenged is a better word) artists to produce works in 35mm slide format for rearview projection in an urban locale known for heavy nighttime foot traffic.  The result is an anxious, mediated, politicized public space- short on preciosity, long on engagement- that offers the viewer all of the awkwardness, fear and camaraderie of the American street and some of the solemn surprise and urgency that people may seek but don’t find in our contemporary art institutions.

Projections opens with a color TV frame by Connie Fitzsimons and Bruce Meisner bearing the word “Breathtaking” above the image of a young bikini-clad woman reclining in  shallow water. The picture dissolves into tropical mountains analogously configured.  This is followed by Debroah Small’s image of nostalgic, printed- cloth stitchery calendar whose top bears those sentimental, domestic- blessing prayers dear to the hearts of middle America.  The year is 1968. The month box is overlaid with a black silhouette of the famous photograph of South Vietnames police chief executing a bound Vietcong soldier with a snub- nosed 38- caliber revolver. A Display of Visual Inequity by Connie Hatch succeeds Small’s work. Hatch’s piece presents a montage of female smiles cut out of color magazines- signifying “emotional labor” and its division according to gender.  This is followed by montages of the areas of men’s faces that most men shave (chin, cheeks, upper-lip) and by various other funny/ serious permutations on this theme of inequity.

These diagrams of inequity are then replaced by Lorna Simpson’s dark, haunting portraits of black women. The first shows a young black woman in a wrinkled nightgown, viewed from the rear and bears the caption “is she pretty as a picture?” The sequence then reviews a series of standard beauty/ race clichés: black as coal, pure as a lily, sharp as a razor and so on. The great tenderness and sensitivity in the lighting and printing of these images is a stark contrast to the mug- shot, anthropological- study connotations of the poses.

Numerous other bright spots and dark intrigues occur in succeeding images.  Wendy Geller and Leslie Ernst display separate photographic essays that dissect the mystification of fashion advertising to expose the exploitatives (and silliness) of enslavement to mass culture.  Anna O’Cain and Michael Cuddington have combined the esthetics of the snapshot and of minimalism to produce a rather beautiful meditation on the banality of the Midwest and its forceful negative (but compelling) presence for many American artists.  Recent installments (read skirmishes) in their long- standing campaign against the exclusionary/ oppressive character of the US-Mexican border are screened by Michael Schnorr and Elizabeth Sisco. Schorr’s black and white photographs are deliberately bleak and downbeat; Sisco’s are dramatic- almost classical. Both are compelling. Elliptical social narrative are conveyed in discrete works by Louis Hock and John Weber.  Hock uses the pictographs of International Sign language to good effect in developing a rather dry soap- opera-like narrative. His filmmaker’s sensibility is impressively represented in this drastic reduction of a story. Weber recounts an utterly generic tale of a boring extramarital dalliance. With photograph and text he has produced an account that is notable for the enormous distance created between narrative and audience.

David Dye presents beautiful images of daily life in a Guatamalea street market.  Beverly Naidus’s drawings of figures and architecture combine with wry, societally  conscious slogans. For example, “We didn’t realize that we had a choice” is superimposed on a blanket (labeled “PURE WOOL”) that a figure is pulling over her/his own eyes. A comparison/ contrast theme of gorgeous product photography and double-loaded text us presented by Ruth Wallen in an Ironic comment in current ideals of standardization.  In a similar vein, Karen Wirth’s crisp collage images lampoon household-gadget fetishism and the modern obsession with quantifying loss and gain, progress and regression.

Projections in Public: San Diego also includes works by Ann Bray, Dennis Balk, Margaret Crane, and Jon Winet, Judith Hopkins, Nancy Floyd, Stephen Prina, Susan Silas, D. Matthew Smith, Erika Suderburg, Carrie Weems and Eleanor Antin. Jacye Salloum, a young San Diego artist, managed to “swallow” the entire show in  Finnegans Wake fashion with a set if roughly a dozen found concrete- poetry texts interspersed throughout the other exhibitors’ narratives and emblematic bursts.  There were many other successful and thought- provoking works in this show that space limitations prevent my discussing; perhaps they will be available for viewing in another incarnation of Projection. Atkinson and Hobson deserve commendation for this gritty, innovative “end- run” around the wretched economics of our contemporary art exhibition structures and the increasingly unpleasant start system it has spawned.