November 13, 2000
The Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions program at Plymouth State College presents L.A. Under the Unfluence by Los Angeles curator Chris Acuna-Hanson, December 8 through January 27 at the Drerup Gallery. Acuna-Hanson will speak about the exhibition at a gallery lecture at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, December 7. An opening reception for the exhibition will be from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Friday, December 8.
Curator Chris Acuna-Hanson, owner of an L.A. gallery admits, “Any attempt to define the sprawling mass of new art coming out of Los Angeles is bound to be problematic.” However, contemporary L.A. artists appear to be less wary than their predecessors of Disneyesque Hollywood cultural manipulations. In fact some of them acknowledge that culture as informing their work. The predominance of art schools in Los Angeles also influences the artistic culture, with faculty who are working artists teaching new generations of artists. They directly influence the art scene while providing a consistency in both the theoretical and practical production of artwork. Amidon says, “It is not uncommon to find young artists defining both themselves and their peers through the often self-produced image of the schools they attended.”
Several themes are notable in the new exhibition.. Society’s desire for physical perfection and the implications of that desire are explored through a variety of approaches. Works allude to the concepts of female roles, fashions, eating disorders, and the images of people like Steven Hawkings and Christopher Reeves whose celebrity can be attributed in part to their imperfect physicality. Silicon implants, not very attractive as singular objects, cause us to question our perception of the advances of social movements such as feminism when presented in connection with a stack of 1970’s men’s magazines.
Humor and childhood are also topics in the exhibition. Simple black and white drawings play on the genre of children’s book illustrations to point out the childishness of adult behaviors. Images from children’s books set in a new context in an attempt to examine the foundations of some of our earliest visual knowledge.
The exhibition also includes pop elements. Stephen Shackleford presents pop-influenced constructions of PVC tubing, electronics and silk flowers as well as witty juxtapositions of the iconographic California palm tree with the commodified oh-so-hip culture epitomized by Starbucks. Martin Durazo uses black-edged aquariums and colored liquids to provide a Mondrianesque sense of structure to build upon as he adds samples of the detritus of contemporary culture. Julie Zemel uses images that have been reproduced as puzzles, then pieces them together to create fantasy imagery with a basis of reality.
Acuna-Hansen says, “The art produced in Los Angeles, as represented by the artists whose work appears in this show, defies traditional methods of categorization, and yet it seems unmistakably similar, like siblings of an extended family.”
The Karl Drerup Art Gallery is housed in the Draper and Maynard Building on North Main Street in Plymouth. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, noon – 5 p.m.; Wednesday, noon – 8 p.m. The gallery is closed Sundays and PSC holidays. For information call the gallery at 603-535-2614.