One calls himself a tinkerer. One likes the public anonymity of his day job. One calls his creations “a manifestation of obsessive compulsive order”. All are artists who delight in detritus and dabble in discards. Travel around town to meet these kings of controlled chaos.
Clare Graham and MorYork Gallery: Astonishing is the only word for Clare Graham‘s elaborate creations assembled from the artist’s collections of things small and usually overlooked. Graham’s not-for-profit MorYork Gallery is a fixture on the NELA 2nd Saturday gallery crawl (This Saturday, see artist Jason Manley‘s concrete sculptures). When MorYork visitors make their way back to Graham’s cavernous studio (a former Safeway market and a roller rink), jaws drop at the expansive emporium of artful effluvia. Chandeliers of soda pop tops and buttons drip with eerily organic form from the ceiling next to flying skeletons. Furniture assembled from tin cans huddle beneath towering sculptures created from yardsticks and Scrabble tiles. Graham’s collection of found objects, such as doll’s heads and tiny skulls, are displayed in glass counters around the room, which underscores the feeling of being inside a giant Cabinet of Wonders. Graham was a senior art director at Disneyland for years…but the Haunted House has nothing on the MorYork. Go to see: a genius unleashed on the everyday.
“Trash is the failure of imagination” according to Aaron Kramer whose first solo show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum underscores his assertion with its mix of the stately (elegant gourds and soignee vases), the functional (a spunky chair constructed from corks), and the whimsical (the “Little Boy Machine”, which consists of a frame, a crank, and a darning egg with extreme personality). The artist-inventor, who spent a year riding around the U.S. on his bicycle while making collages, describes his work as a combination of “Fine Craft” and “extreme basket making”. “Part-time alchemists” rejoice: on August 29, Kramer will lead a “Kinetic Kreations” workshop (one of CAFAM’s “Curiosity Sessions”). All you need is $40 ($30 for CAFAM members), a tin can, and two wire hangers. (Joan Crawford be damned!) Go to see: a playful, impressively skilled artist with an inspiring message of sustainability.
Recycled, Reclaimed, Reinvented: the Neon Art of Bill Concannon @ the Museum of Neon Art.
Bill Concannon, who has been teaching, speaking about, and creating neon (both as art sculpture and commercial signage) for decades, has assembled “Bill’s Bottle Shop”, a recreation of an old roadside stand, for MONA‘s Recycled, Reclaimed, Reinvented. Concannon utilizes corrugated metal, cupid’s heads, plastic bags, and vintage glass bottles to compelling effect; the contrast of the installation’s rough materials and lush, inviting light are simultaneously seductive and unsettling. Concannon, who consistently creates with discarded objects, says, “…for a long time, it’s tickled me that glass is at once a very precious (pound per pound) fine art medium and also a thoughtless, throw-away material: no deposit – no return.” Go to see: a found objects master at the top of his game.
Ready? U Know U Want 2 Go Go….