SHē: Fierce and Feminine

Curated by Elizabeth Tinglof
Launch LA
on view through September 29th

BY GENIE DAVIS September 23, 2018

Kim Tucker in SHē at LAUNCH LA. Photo credit: Kristine Schomaker.

Kim Tucker in SHē at LAUNCH LA. Photo credit: Kristine Schomaker.

Curated by Elizabeth Tinglof, SHē is a powerful group exhibition on what it means to be a woman – and what society sees a woman to be. The show presents a variety of works in a wide range of media focusing on the implied standards of perfection for women, and the female body as both object and subject.

At Launch LA in mid-city through Sept. 29th, the show features the work of Kim Tucker, J Michael Walker, Douglas Tausik Ryder, Andrea Patrie, Deborah Martin,Cima Rahmankhah, Sara Alavikia, Kristine Schomaker, FLOAT (Kate Parsons & Ben Vance), Annelie Mckenzie, and Phung Huynh.

According to Tinglof, she first conceptualized the idea of the show in 2016, during her curatorial program at Sotheby’s in London. “One of the program objectives was to create a mock exhibition from top to bottom, and I was noticing that quite a few London artists were using historical references connected to portraying the female persona. Not just in painting, but in many mediums, so I suggested that we work with that as our concept. When I returned to LA, I wanted to see if the same imagery was occurring here. I began searching and then having studio visits, and I was fascinated to see that it was quite prevalent here as well.”

She adds “The use of the female form/persona is such an integral and iconic reference in not only art history but in modern culture. Contemporary artists are looking back to address poignant issues today. By using and yet altering these familiar images, it is creating a dialogue for what must still change as well as what has changed.”

For Tinglof, who spent almost two years finding the perfect pieces for the show, all of the works in the are deeply resonant. “The first piece I chose was Andrea Patrie’s ‘Homage Ingres,’ because I felt the anchor of the exhibition needed to be a reclining nude as the perfect iconic reference, but one that stripped away the traditional concept of the ‘gaze,’ positioning, and even traditional views of femaleness,” she says. The oil work has substantial physical depth, the paint seemingly carved into the canvas.

Tinglof was drawn to Phung Huynh’s ‘Three Graces’ which riffs on traditional “Chinatown” aesthetics, because the work “spoke to deconstructing ideas about beauty, specifically focusing on how plastic surgery westernizes the Asian female body.”

She notes that Deborah Martin’s ‘Elizabeth at Fourteen’ was chosen because her conversation used the history of painting and formal portraiture to talk about gender fluidity.” Elizabeth, an autistic child of fourteen, was already working towards transitioning from male to female when the artist painted the work.

Deborah Martin and Phung Huynh in SHē at LAUNCH LA. Photo credit: Kristine Schomaker.


“J. Michael Walker and Kristine Schomaker’s works on paper use nude photography from very different approaches, both revealing and exposed. Kristine was inspired by the beautiful curvy women of Reubens, and the gorgeous luscious bodies of Jenny Saville and Lucien Freud to create an autobiographical conversation in her piece, ‘Plus, A Private Residency,’” Tinglof asserts. Contained within the boundries of a rich ornante gold frame, the artist gives gravitas and beauty to her self-portrait nude. The flesh here glows, ample and divine. The work reveals perceptions of weight, shape, and excess through notions of history, objectification and control.

“J. Michael through his ‘Bodies Mapping Time’ series gave over 80 female artists of color and others who felt marginalized a way to feel empowered by deciding how they would like the world to see their image,” Tinglof notes.

Cima Rahmankhah’s “Ex Nihilo” series focuses on so-called neglected things. “By creating paintings that have a view of her feet, toes, and thighs, the images depicted are so flat they become abstract, and illustrate the body as the insignificant object and the luscious detailed fabric the subject.”

Tinglof’s selection of Annelie Mckenzie was based on the artist’s shaping of paintings which explore the feminine in art practice and art history. Here, she exhibits what appears to be a painting within a painting, an impressionistic landscape hung against a patterned painting of wall paper. The work is as layered as the concept of being female.

Among the sculptural works exhibited, Kim Tucker works in highly tactile ceramic forms. “Past Loves and Hates” is just one of many gorgeous sculptural works, bright with gold patterns, a two-headed creature that illustrates the idea of duality, and the divisions of the soul that those loves and hates can create. “From Everything and Now” gives us a woman with her arms upraised literally circling her. She appears strong, perched on a wall, and waiting. Other pieces are more whimsical.

Sara Alavikia offers works in wax and fabric to abstractly emulate the essence of what it feels like to be female with her “Beautiful Burden.” Her work is abloom, as if both floral and flesh. Douglas Tausik Ryder offers a substantial, rich, and voluptuous sculpture, “Myth of Beauty.” Tinglof describes this work as being about the intersection of universal human forms.

Float, the collaboration team Kate Parsons and Ben Vance – exhibit a video/AR piece that Tinglof says completes the connection between all the works. She describes it as “An overt example of contemporary artists working with modern technology to address antiquated ideas of what women have been and continue to be told” about how they should look and where their place should be in the world.

In this exhibition, their place is to shine.

SHē closes Sept. 29th with a Artist Talk + Closing – Sat, Sept 29, 3 – 5pm


170 S. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
Thursday – Saturday 12 – 6pm

Source: ART AND CAKE September, 23, 2018

Eggshells and Kim Abeles



Back in May (goodness, that feels like a lifetime ago) I participated in Mothers, Eggshells, and the People Who Birth Us, a show that artist Kim Abeles curated at Keystone Art Space that brought together the work of 92 artists, poets, and performance artists. Abeles asked artists to explore mothers, mothering, being someone’s child, and birthing in whatever form that took. The show was so poignent especially with the horrific family separations which have triggered deep emotions. (It's been over 100 days since the children were taken, and even court orders aren't reuniting families. I am losing sleep, feeling sick and helpless. I will never see silver emergency blankets the same.)

Kim Abeles at the entrance of the exhibition.

Kim Abeles at the entrance of the exhibition.


In her statement about the show, Abeles writes:
We tend to simplify our relationships with her, always referring back to an incident or series of effects that hang on the shoulder like a yoke. As adults, we imagine a chance to reframe a new portrait for her with warm and fuzzy edges. I am not asking the writers and artists in the show to address their ill-feelings in public, but I am thinking about complex connections that were forged in the past. In this way, we might observe a multi-dimensional impression rather than hiding out in our memories.

The show consisted of artworks in a range of media from video and photography, installation, painting and sculpture. In addition to individual works of art, Abeles asked 52 artists (ranging in age from 10 years old to 90+ years old) to participate in a collective installation: Mother - Portraits in Petri Dishes. The concept of the installation is: to make a portrait in Flint glass petri dishes to express a portrayal of the mother-figures who influenced our path with complex connections that were forged in the past. with the theme of mother and mothering.

It was a deeply moving exhibition. Anyone that knows me, know that I was deeply affected by my mother's death when I was 24. (It will be 29 years on October 23.) I started writing poetry to cope with her illness. Abeles brought together works of art that show the complexity of motherhood and go beyond the usual maternal stereotypes, whether that is the all-giving mother or mommy dearest. Just by the shear number of artists, there were 92 different portrayals of how mothers and birthing can manifest.

The opening reception was on Mother's Day. It was packed- over 300 people showed up- and it was inter-generational. (I loved seeing kids in the galleries and playing outside.) Poets and writers (myself included) gave a reading, most of the writers wrote new material. (See below for my new poem.) United Catalysts made delicious mandala pancakes. Abeles had patches made with the word "child" embroidered.

Throughout the run of the show, Abeles hung out in the space, and would add a new "mothering-like" activity each day, like serving cookies, or handing out advice. On the last day: I'm serving tea, cookies, apples, giving haircuts (I have no training, but I have new scissors), offering advice for any questions about your life, handing out tarot-style cards for healthy living, I will read you a poem*, and sandwiches with chips will be served -- while they last -- at 12:30pm (or bring your own lunch) *poems are by the poets who read at the opening.

Poet Gloria Enedina Alvarez reading at the opening

Daughter and mother Sandy Rodiriguez and Guadalupe Rodriguez stand in front of their paintings.

Detail of the painting Tooth Fairy by Sandy Rodriguez.

Of her painting, Tooth Fairy, Sandy Rodriguez says: "I created a Mexican magical realist vision of my mother [painter Guadalupe Rodriguez] as a tooth fairy. The oil painted scene depicts an exhausted tooth fairy reclining on a tooth throne sitting at a tongue table waiting for the rest of her colleagues to return from picking up teeth for the night."

Detail of Pañuelos, Patricia Yossen, Porcelain

This work of art by Patricia Yossen is part of a larger project. Yossen has been working on a body of work around a woman, Lola, from Yossen’s birthplace, a small town in Argentina called Recreo. Lola gave classes in embroidery, sewing, making lace, knitting and other handcraft to young women in the town. The classes became a refuge where they could talk about taboo subjects such as sex, politics, abuse. Yossen’s mother was Lola’s student and Yossen sees her own artwork as following Lola’s lineage. The work in the exhibition, “Pañuelos”, are handkerchiefs her mother made with Lola which Yossen cast in porcelain. She says: “Pañuelos” son inspirados en la obra que Lola hizo con mi madre. Ósea, es una triangulación entre Lola inspirando a mi madre y mi madre a mi. Pañuelos (Handkerchiefs) are inspired by the work Lola made with my mother. That is, a triangulation between Lola inspiring my mother and my mother inspiring me.

Installation shot: Mother-Portraits in Petri Dishes

Alan Hiroshi Nakagawa , turkey wishbone, wood from a fig tree, wheat. And my feet..

Alan Hiroshi Nakagawa’s petri dish portrait contains a turkey wishbone, wood and wheat. The word ofukuro, written in hiragana, appears on the cover and is repeated inside. On the bottom of the dish, Nakagawa painted a California desert sunset scene. Ofukuro is a term of endearment that an adult child calls their mother. Nakagawa says that his Japanese is childlike so he used the phonetic form of the Japanese alphabet, although he is addressing his mother as an adult. The wishbone, Nakagawa likes the shape and the symbolic meaning of wishes and hope, is from a past Thanksgiving, when his family gathered. The wood is from a fig tree in Nakagawa’s backyard that his grandmother planted. Nakagawa lives in a house that has been home to four generations-Nakagawa’s grandparents, parents, himself, and his children. (Wow- who says angelinos don’t have roots here!) The wheat circling the edges symbolizes the change in Japanese diet after wheat rations were sent to Japan by the United States after World War II. These items tell a tender story of Nakagawa’s family by conecting his ancestoral homeland to his current homeland.

On one of the days that I dropped by Keystone after the opening, I met Elizabeth Tinglof who made a petri portrait that encompasses both being a daughter and being a mother. The piece includes grapefruit seeds and unstrung pearls resting on beeswax. The grapefruit seeds are from the fruit harvested from a tree Tinglof planted in memory of her son. Tinglof found that she was unable to throw out the seeds and has been collecting them. The pearl necklace belonged to her mother. There is something so tender in the pairing of seeds and pearls. They are similar in shape in color. I imagine holding them in my hand, noticing the differences between them, weight, solidness, texture.

Elizabeth Tinglof, grapefruit seeds, unstrung pearl necklace, on a beeswax bed

Elizabeth Tinglof, grapefruit seeds, unstrung pearl necklace, on a beeswax bed


I'll end with a thought about eggshells. Eggshells keep a living being safe while they are vulnerable. If all goes as it should, the little one can break out when they are ready. And there's the catch, how often does life go the way we think it should? So we just have to figure it out with either a shell that broke too soon, or one that we can't break out of. Perhaps that is the spark to make art.

Source: Translucent Matter, July 19, 2018

Palm Springs Life Magazine - Vive La Résistance

A High Desert exhibition is an artistic response to the border wall.


Source: Palm Springs Life Magazine, 2018

It finally took its toll, the president’s repeated call for a border wall. And like any thoughtful artist and curator worth her salt, Elizabeth Tinglof felt compelled to do something. So she drove from her Los Angeles home to Joshua Tree to find the empty plot of land she had purchased 40 years ago and started working on a plan.

The desert is good for this sort of thing: Go to the open land, stare into the horizon, and get some perspective. Only then can you begin to imagine a better way.

Chris Sanchez, aka Kas Infinite, brings found materials to his sculptural installation like a derelict trailer.

Chris Sanchez, aka Kas Infinite, brings found materials to his sculptural installation like a derelict trailer.


“There’s something about this place, something that shifts in the air,” Tinglof says. “The visual plane is so different. It’s serene and kind of desolate, but in this lovely, calming way. You take a long drive and hit those places that are quiet and open, and that’s when contemplation comes in, and you’re on autopilot. That’s how it is for me.”

Works by Chris Sanchez, aka Kas Infinite, are a metaphor for the Mexican immigrant experience.

Works by Chris Sanchez, aka Kas Infinite, are a metaphor for the Mexican immigrant experience.

“It’s like a puzzle. The artists 
came together with this 
idea in mind, and they each added 
their unique element.” Elizabeth Tinglof

After all these years, her raw parcel, populated by creosote bushes, prickly jumping cholla, and any number of interloping creatures and critters, would have a purpose. Tinglof decided to invite a group of artists to build a “lighthouse” on the property. Not an actual building, but an amalgamation of artworks conceived in the spirit of what a lighthouse represents.

“The idea of the lighthouse is the opposite of the wall,” she says. “It’s inviting, it draws you in.”

So does Available to All, as the exhibition is titled. It’s the first site-specific presentation by Rough Play Projects, a spinoff of Tinglof’s L.A.-based Rough Play Collective. “The idea stemmed from my feeling of deep sadness that our country has come to a place where we’re building a wall when we’re supposed to be inviting,” she says.

Available to All uses her land as a welcome mat. Tinglof bought the property, on her mother’s suggestion, when she was 18. “My family was always into the concept of land. My grandfather was a wildcatter who sniffed the ground for oil. For me, it was a good way to learn responsibility. If I hadn’t made the payments every month, I would have lost the property.”

For the exhibition, she called Rough Play co-founder Ashley Hagen and Sky Valley artist Deborah Martin to collaborate as co-curators, and they selected five artists to create works on the site: Adam Berg, Kellan Barnebey King, Chris Sanchez (aka Kas Infinite), Aili Schmeltz, and Stefanie Schneider.

“It’s like a puzzle,” Tinglof says. “The artists came together with this idea in mind, and they each added their unique element.”

Coachella-based Kas Infinite brings the full breadth of his practice to his sculptural installation, drawing mostly from found materials — a derelict trailer, Spanish palms salvaged from a Thermal wildfire, and lights like those he sees on farms near the Salton Sea — that reference place and his Mexican heritage.

A rendering of a work by Aili Schmeltz shows how her installations appear to create a void in the land.

A rendering of a work by Aili Schmeltz shows how her installations appear to create a void in the land.

Schneider, a photographer of dreamy, fictional High Desert narratives, wants visitors to frame and capture their experience on the land. Her work, The Big Picture, consists of hollow, Polaroid-like picture frames that can be positioned in front of one’s camera. “Your placement of the ‘big picture’ is key to the story, giving the meaning, context, and authorship,” the Morongo Valley–based artist says. “Some use it to reveal and some to conceal. You never know: Does it tell the whole story?”

Stefanie Schneider’s  The Big Picture  welcomes visitors to tame and frame their surroundings.

Stefanie Schneider’s The Big Picture welcomes visitors to tame and frame their surroundings.

King draws from childhood memories of the Point Vicente Lighthouse in Rancho Palos Verdes, “a calling point at the edge of the world cast in light, both inviting in its brilliance and dangerous in its purpose,” he describes. In the desert, the L.A.-based artist was drawn to collapsed Joshua trees, comparing them to cattle bones littering the desert floor in so much Western fiction. For the exhibition, he cast the branch forms in polyurethane resin, blurring the distinction between the original and the copy. He supports the “skeleton” in a cube structure inspired by the desert’s minimalist aesthetic.

Berg, also from L.A., takes interest in the climate, ecology, and sustainability. He constructed Lighthouse Tree with tall steel poles, stainless steel rods and spheres, solar panels, and lights to mimic the shape of a tree. “The image of the desert alpine timberline looks from the distance to be a severe line in the landscape, but in reality it is a gradual change,” he explains. “It is the point in an environment where the soil is too dry and the elevation too high for tree growth to occur, and yet the Joshua tree, unique and otherworldly in its appearance, flourishes.” Solar power illuminates the sculpture at night.

Schmeltz, who divides her time between L.A. and Yucca Valley, offers her Object/Window/Both/Neither series of matte black sculpture that appears to recede as a cutout of the landscape, the negative space obscuring the figure-ground relationship.

A sixth artist, Sarah Vanderlip of L.A., added an installation for an Earth Day event with Mojave Desert Land Trust. Her steel mirror sculpture relates to CA Truckheads, which she created in 2003 for High Desert Test Sites.

All the works will stay on-site through 2018 or until they succumb to the desert’s wind and temperature swings.
“You have to expect [the art] will change, and that might be a lovely aspect to it,” Tinglof says. “You can visit it multiple times over the months, at different times, in different light.”

Martin, the co-curator, says the art will leave no trace when the exhibition ends. Rough Play Projects followed Mojave Desert Land Trust guidelines outlined in Reading the Landscape, “a conscious artist’s checklist” for creating on-site. “We’re all respectful of the land,” she says. “The environment has to be taken care of so it’s still here to welcome you.”

Available to All is located a couple blocks off Highway 62 at 60461 Chollita Ave. in Joshua Tree. Tinglof exudes a measure of pride because so many site-specific artworks in the desert — Lucid Stead by Phillip K. Smith III, Social Pool by Alfredo Barsuglia, and the “ghost cabins” by Rachel Whiteread — unfold on private or distant properties inaccessible to most people.

A rendering shows how Adam Berg’s  Lighthouse Tree lives off the sun.

A rendering shows how Adam Berg’s Lighthouse Treelives off the sun.

“This is open to everybody, and it’s easy,” she says. “We involve the entire community, visitors, and locals.”

They probably have no chance of stopping the border wall, if its proponents get their way, but they will have done what art so often does: express the mood and emotions of people in a precarious time and place.

A sixth artist, Sarah Vanderlip of L.A., added an installation for an Earth Day event with Mojave Desert Land Trust. Her steel mirror sculpture relates to  CA   Truckheads , which she created in 2003 for High Desert Test Sites.

A sixth artist, Sarah Vanderlip of L.A., added an installation for an Earth Day event with Mojave Desert Land Trust. Her steel mirror sculpture relates to CA Truckheads, which she created in 2003 for High Desert Test Sites.





Wrapping up the season of art fairs, surrounded by big and shiny events with Hollywood celebrities and art stars, name recognition and shock value are wearing thin. Bright and over-sized displays from all over the world have been shoved down our throats hoping to amaze viewers with something new and better. It is rare to actually be impressive and inventive in a world where innovation is commonplace, extraordinary is expected. We live in the dilapidated experience of artistic innovation where masses of art spaces are trying to one-up each other. There is hope. Enter the FAR Bazaar.

The Foundation for Art Resources (FAR) produces the FAR Bazaar, an alternative art fair and art collective festival. This year is the fortieth anniversary of FAR, one of the oldest non-profit arts advocacy groups in Southern California. FAR has helped to produce some of the most significant alternative art events in Los Angeles. From the monthly Art Talk Art lecture series of the 1980s to the massive FAR Bazaars of the 1990s, FAR has dedicated forty years of service to inspiring and supporting innovation and taking chances with passion on the ever-evolving Los Angeles contemporary art community.

The FAR Bazaar, taking place at Cerritos College on January 28th and 29th, is a breath of strange and fresh air in the art fair arena. As a non-commercial alternative art fair, this special event highlights the significant presence that art collectives, artist-run spaces, and local art schools have had and continue to have in the SoCal art scene. The FAR Bazaar aims to get the various art communities that are physically spread far and wide across the Southern California artscape to come together to celebrate and exchange ideas in a creatively conducive environment. The boundary-pushing innovation in non-profit, pedagogical art spaces, and artist-run spaces is of the utmost importance to FAR, which makes the FAR Bazaar even more distinctive. The emphasis is not on sales.

Throughout the two-day event performance art, installations will be activating soon-to-be-demolished spaces in the current Fine Arts complex. The event, open to the public, will engage the temporary physical space and stimulate it one last time, with intention and love. The artists and collectives that are contributing to the FAR Bazaar takes risks. They are hopeful and passionate about art in a way that can transform viewers, reshape outlooks and bring some real emotion and new ideologies into an area and a season that are rife with pretension and dishonesty.

In the digital photography lab, Improvised Alchemy will activate the space by having a three foot tall disembodied floating holographic head called the “Grand Turk” that will interact with visitors exploring issues of artificial intelligence and colonial “othering.” Meanwhile in the journalism classroom, Biomythography will transform the editorial cubicles into confessionals complete with videos exploring blackness in the media and issues of toxic masculinity. Rough Play will feature various artists examining the multiple meanings of a ‘vessel’ from a vase to a ship to the human body—as a container for asoul—in the ceramics lab. The Association of Hysteric Curators will explore the history of gendered pedagogy and the necessity of sustainable living in a project titled #homeeconomics in one of the general classrooms.

In the Cerritos College Art Gallery, Otis MFA students will be hosting an exhibition called ‘”restage/reimagine,” that will consist of 24 SoCal female artists that was actually held at the Cerritos College Art Gallery exactly forty years before the Bazaar, in January of 1977.

Esteemed L.A. artist Devon Tsuno of the Concrete Walls Projects will open two temporary pop-up restaurants in an exhibit called “Dear Jonathan Gold” (consisting of 100 Tacos and Arepa Where Am I) that will host five artists (Pablo Estrada, Juliana Lujan, Phil Nisco, Kristofferson San Pablo and Mick Weldon) that will work together to create the smells, tastes, spaces, and music that Los Angeles Times food critic Jonathan Gold says, “In a lot of ways . . . is starting to take the place in culture that rock-and-roll took 30 years ago.”

Some of the evocative performances that will be held at the FAR Bazaar include Claremont Graduate University MFA student Lara Salmon will be doing an endurance performance each day called Blue Lips, where Salmon will walk around kissing the walls of the soon-to-demolished building with blue lipstick, leaving a trail of love behind on the building that helped shape so many young artists’ lives.

KCHUNG will be broadcasting ongoing programming from a room throughout the run of the two-day event. There will also be a group of performers from the FA4 Collective, calling themselves Dragon Rising, will be doing a fire dancing performance on Saturday night. CalArts will be hosting an exhibit with 27 different artists, Otis is hosting live musical performances during the event, and there will be many other special, experimental, and provocative performance and shows going on during this extra ordinary bazaar.

Other participating collectives and artist-run spaces that will be participating in this unique event include: Association of Hysteric Curators, Ave 50 Studio, Biomythography, Boys of Summer, Concrete Walls, D-Block Projects, DH Arts Collective, Durden & Ray, Elephant, FA4 Collective, Finishing School, Hinterculture, Improvised Alchemy, JAUS Gallery, LA Freewaves, Machine Project, Monte Vista Projects, Motherboy, Rough Play, Shed Research, Six Pack Projects, Slanguage Studios, South Bay Contemporary, Summercamp’s ProjectProject, Tilt-Export.

Graduate student artists from universities that will be involved in this event include: Art Center, CalArts, Claremont Graduate University, Otis (Fine Arts and Public Practice), UC Irvine (Critical/Curatorial Studies and Fine Arts), UC Los Angeles (Design Media Arts and Fine Arts), UC Riverside, University of Southern California.


Source: Art and Cake


Channeling Whistler’s ‘Peacock Room’ at Launch LA

by Genie Davis

Without Design or Sketch The Story of The Room, Launch LA (Photo Credit Emily Sudd)

Without Design or Sketch The Story of The Room, Launch LA (Photo Credit Emily Sudd)

Without Design or Sketch: The Story of The Room at Launch LA through October 1st is an immersive experience. Organized by a trio of curators called Rough Play, the rich and fascinating, fully transformed galley features work by Alex Anderson, Beatriz Cortez, Krysten Cunningham, Ashley Hagen, Carla Jay Harris, Jane Hugentober, Malisa Humphrey, Janna Ireland, Cole James, Shoshi Kanokohata and Taidgh O’Neill, Annelie McKenzie, Thinh Nguyen, Joel Otterson, Christopher Reynolds, Jackie Rines, Emily Sudd, Christian Tedeschi, Elizabeth Tinglof, Kim Truong, Axel Wilhite, Robert Wilhite, Emily Wiseman, and Kim Ye.

Their exhibition is an homage to James Abbot McNeill Whistler and the Aesthetic Movement. To fully appreciate it, a little history lesson is important.

The event that inspired this exhibition took place in 1865, when the Aesthetic Movement in Britain held forth the idea that art should be divorced from any motive other than visual beauty, James Abbot McNeill Whistler was one such artist who fully embraced this concept. In Whistler’s view, the creation and interpretation of art was the responsibility of the artist, and art should improve even upon nature itself. Aestheticism was the precursor of early modern art and Art Nouveau.

Vividly portraying Aesthetic Movement dictums, Whistler’s painting La Princesse du pays de la porcelain was commissioned by shipping magnate Frederick Leyland, for his London dining room. Both Leyland and his home’s architect trusted Whistler, and allowed him to work without supervision. Free of constraint, Whistler created a large work in a blue and gold palette, going far beyond the limits of his commission. Whistler proclaimed he painted without design or sketch, but was sure that his work would please his patron. But alas, it did not, Leyland refused to pay his bill, although he eventually paid half. Whistler’s response was to add another element to his work: a mural of two peacocks confronting each other with coins at their feet. This portion of his work he titled twice, as Art and Money or The Story of the Room. Whistler’s complete dining room artwork itself has subsequently been referred to as Harmony in Blue and Gold: the Peacock Roo


With that in mind the Rough Play turned Launch Gallery into their own version of the room, following Whistler’s lead with the idea of creating without design or sketch. They have even re-painted the gallery walls in blue. It’s an awe inspiring exhibition, packed with gorgeous pieces, including Ashley Hagen’s cabinet constructed of glass and wood, miniature bricks, stuffed animals, foam, and gold leaf, a decadently beautiful piece, I See Myself In You. Kim Ye’s delicate blue Entice to Ensnare also captivates, its pattern mesmerizing, its form a kind of artistic Venetian blind covering an imaginary window. Carla Jay Harris’ blue and white china bowls are mounted on a wall, each featuring images such as a duo of paired guns. Co-curator Elizabeth Tinglof’s gold-leaf covered folding chair sits in perfect juxtaposition to Thinh Nguyen’s delicate pink flowers flowing in strands from the ceiling. Kim Truong’s single-planed portrayal of fine china – an ode to the china Whistler’s patron had envisioned his dining room as holding – is white on one side, blue on the other, creating a wonderful visual dichotomy, and a play on dimension. Encased in Plexiglas topped by light bulbs, Christian Tedeschi’s green plant takes on a whole new dimension, one that implicates time and space.

The installation is both lush and functional. Viewers are invited to go beyond simply looking, and have an involving, interactive experience. They can sit on the gilded folding chair, walk on the rug beneath those delicate pink paper flowers, recline on an embroidered, ornate circular bench.

According to Rough Play’s Tinglof, the artists’ took over Launch – with gallery owner James Panozzo’s full permission – and had“a completely different outcome than that experienced by Whistler and his patron,” she laughs.

“We started with Whistler’s Peacock Room, and the idea of artists’ taking over and not having permission. Whistler really felt that artists could make art more beautiful than reality. He coined the expression ‘art for arts sake,’” she explains. “We are still asking many of the same questions today as those posed in Whistler’s time. Is it okay to make something beautiful, do patrons have valid decisions, is it okay to create a piece of art without permission? Whistler was very contemporary in his ideas.”

Although following in Whistler’s footsteps, Rough Play formed their own aesthetic. “We decided to have many artists, not just one,” Tinglof says. “It was very untraditional to just take over the space, all of us creating, but it was a successful journey. There wasn’t any ego involved. Some of the artists here even arranged each other’s art, they exchanged pieces and put pieces together.”

The warmth and lushness of this exhibition absolutely offers a deeply cogent and winning argument for “art for art’s sake.” Enter this room and engage.

You can still see Without Design or Sketch: The Story of The Room at Launch LA through this Saturday, October 1st.