Slaves to the Visual

As a nineteen year old, I went to galleries with my high school friend Christopher Williams who was a painter of Richard Diebenkorn look-alikes. I was trying not to copy Richard Tuttle.

We used to take DeKooning labels from the walls of a fancy West Hollywood gallery and put them on car windows or take them home and put them in our notebooks.

We thought this was okay since Rauschenberg had previously erased DeKooning’s drawing in an act of love and aggression. The gallery director had said not to touch the art on the wall, to which Chris replied, but that was how my father told me to look at art.

Chris’s father was an amateur filmmaker who had blown himself up on the front lawn while making a movie. He had become my mentor in art without even knowing it.

When we toured galleries previously, the oppressive atmosphere of bourgeois conservatism was evident. The artworks appeared to be telling us to rebel, destroy, and defy conventions, and then demonstrate our worth by creating something of value.

After graduating from CalArts, Chris and I started exhibiting in various galleries, which led to me writing fiction and becoming friends with novelist Dennis Cooper. Shortly after, we were both hired to teach at Otis College and Art Center.

Strangely, Chris started displaying his art in the same gallery we had vandalized. As a result of exhibiting art, working with other artists, critiquing exhibitions, and publishing fiction in art catalogs, I was in a difficult and often hostile relationship with galleries.

As I aged, I became aware of the extraordinary service that galleries provided – they were able to sell art, something that had previously seemed impossible.

The gallerists, who looked more like morticians or the leaders of an unpopular faith, kept their walls white and their lights on.

They toiled tirelessly to promote ideas and objects they were not well-versed in, and they sent out press releases that did not cause embarrassment or distress to the artists. The collectors and curators they were attempting to impress were even more intimidating.

These activities very much resembled the ‘Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts’ that Donald Barthelme wrote about in his 1968 book. Similarly, George Bernard Shaw wrote: “I object to publishers: the one service they have done for me is to teach me to do without them.

They combine commercial rascality with artistic touchiness and pettishness, without being either good businessmen or fine judges of literature.

All that is necessary in the production of a book is an author and a bookseller, without the intermediate parasite.” However, it is not to say that all art-biz creatures are useless and should be assigned to the depths of hell. There are a few admirable exceptions.

No matter what, I always had faith that excellent art would end up being seen by the public.

The following pages contain documentation of the work of ten Los Angeles artists I find highly impressive.

The ages of these artists range from twenty-three to eighty-one, some having only just begun their solo shows, while others have been active since World War II and have been featured in the Whitney Biennial multiple times.

Despite this, they are still unknown to many. They may be deemed too cartoonish, not queer enough, too distant, too coy, too romantic with outdated references, or citing incorrect sources, but I still find them highly inspiring.

I am proud to promote these creative figures who possess a great talent for intellectual play and anarchistic freakiness.

The museums and collectors of Los Angeles have had a spotty history of not supporting local talent, leading to the need for local artists to travel outside of LA in order to gain recognition. Now, I am pleased to introduce these ten artists to you.

Tessa Chasteen (born in a year that is undisclosed) is absolutely infatuated with ships–primarily sailboats with the sails billowing, and no one on board, which she interprets as being the boat being an entity of its own, journeying the vast expanse of the ocean.

Boats are ideal for Ms. Chasteen to draw as they are so exquisitely shaped, the sails illuminated, and the rigging is a complicated lattice of lines.

Other than boats, she is known to draw other things, for instance, birds, and their interdependence with the water, wind, and atmosphere. Additionally, the locomotive is a source of fascination for her.

Ms. Chasteen, who hails from the vicinity of the Atlantic, confesses to being an inadequate yet passionate sailor. Her writing is mischievous and often features ants living beneath the surface, Abraham Lincoln and how to manage in the wild.

The drawing in the image was put together from an archaic landscape she made as a three-year-old, complete with small yet detailed watercrafts, transforming the blobs of color into wild, expansive oceans.

She is known to rummage through her closet and revisit old relics, never failing to keep a single scrap from her past. Several pieces of hers have taken close to a decade to finish, where she would work on the same piece front and back, allowing the ink to penetrate the paper and bind with it, resulting in an inky skin-like texture.

Ms. Chasteen prefers to use inferior paper and supplies such as markers, colored pencils, crayons and ballpoint pens, which art-academy traditionalists are quick to vilify.

These lowly materials go against the grain with gallerists and collectors who would rather have archival works that can be sold and won’t deteriorate. Artworks, as they see it, should outlive their creators.

— Blood type: AB positive; glove size: 7. Enjoys: Phosphorescence, foghorns, turbulence, union suits, and popsicles (a.k.a. icy poles in Australia). Fascinated by: Scent of wet wool. Also has an affinity for: Swimming in clothes. Collects cherry stems. Fascinated by: Bulldozers, jackhammers, tractors, cranes, wrecking balls, scaffolding, and train trestles. Also captivated by jellyfish, eels, and the spaceship from Close Encounters.

Mindy Shapero, born in Louisville, Kentucky, 1974, is an artist who has a penchant for drawing on objects. Her imaginative style is likened to that of a mythical creature, and she makes use of the most basic materials.

In her sculpture, Fog, Shapero has depicted the barely visible mist with stilts instead of fishing wire, reminiscent of Carl Sandburg’s poem. In her work Headless Giant, the eleven-foot figure of shredded white paper with scattered pieces of paper around it symbolizes abandoned ideas.

Collectively, Shapero’s titles have a surrealistic quality to them, such as Blue Waterfall Slipping Eyelid, A Non-Existent Day and Everything is always becoming; Birds and Ink Falling Out of the Wall. Her art is a reflection of the vulnerable dream-state.

— Quirky traits: “I often gaze off into space for a while when someone is speaking to me about something I should be paying attention to. I have an odd habit of taking a whiff of the inside of a cup or glass before I drink out of it.

I also have a penchant for sniffing things. Another strange thing I do is curl my eyelashes while my eyes are open and then try to look around to feel my eyes differently. ”

Things she likes: Fur, spirals of fur, slow-moving animals, reptiles, light during the day and dark during the night, the blur of something going so quickly you can only see the motion, examining things upside-down and in reverse, and closely scrutinizing plants with a magnifying glass and then pretending to be so tiny that it is a whole new universe.

“I enjoy getting to the point where I am so far away from myself that I recognize I am not me, merely inhabiting this body, and everything I see has multiplied in distance and I attempt to make it last.”

Film that best portrays her artwork: Steve Martin’s The Jerk.

Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn both completed their studies at Bard College, with Harry graduating from the film school and Stanya from the creative-writing program.

For the last twelve years, they have both been producing performances, and have been collaborating together on short videos since 2001. Moreover, Harry creates sculptures, drawings, and installations, while Stanya writes short stories and essays.

When Stanya was very young, her parents separated and she grew up in San Francisco. Her mom was an electrician at the shipyards and her father taught Chinese history.

They had quite the interesting decorations in their household, including a poster of Frank Zappa on the toilet and Huey Newton with an AK-47. Her mother’s boyfriend was a kindhearted drug addict who was always being arrested.

Since many of her parents’ friends were militants, the FBI would show up and search their house. Stanya started smoking marijuana at the age of four and was an avid reader.

At fourteen, she thought she was going insane, so she hopped on a Greyhound to San Diego and stayed with a beachside quaalude dealer. He lent her Jonathan Livingston Seagull. When she was 25, she moved to New York City.

At the age of thirty-eight, Harry had spent her childhood in a suburb outside Chicago. This area was composed of new housing developments that bordered a mini-mall and cornfields.

Harry was in many schoolyard brawls and usually spent her afternoons alone in the woods, constructing reading havens. In addition, she was an avid reader.

One day, near the Navy base, Harry and her friend were attempting to pick up sailors and she encountered a man who claimed to be Eddie Money’s brother and said he could make her orgasm with one finger.

When she was 16, she snuck out of her house with a broken arm and drove to the town’s gay bar. As Gloria Gaynor’s song played, Harry felt a sudden sadness, realizing that the people she’d been seeking were wearing flannel and denim.

It wasn’t until she moved to San Francisco at eighteen that Harry ate a fresh, unprocessed vegetable.

Stanya’s latest project is a seventeen-minute collaboration video entitled “Let the Good Times Roll” centered on a woman named Lois, who has been channeled by Stanya in other pieces.

She finds herself in the wrong place for a desert concert, accompanied by an invisible Harry, the cameraperson. Lois expresses her grief over the anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death, in a gentle yet articulate manner.

She talks about fisting a guest at a wild party, saying that it was like her knuckles were Edward Lady Hands. There is a scene where a French guest is heard repeating the phrase “that is so bizarre” which Lois mishears as “that soapy czar”, which leads her to think about a sudsy head of state.

This comedic routine could rival that of the Marx Brothers.

Born in 1965 in Montreal, Canada, Francesca Gabbiani relocated to Switzerland in 1969 and earned her MFA from UCLA in 1997. Utilizing the simplest of art supplies — construction paper and glue — she creates pictures of unusual scenes.

Through her painstaking practice of cutting up minuscule pieces of colored construction paper and gluing them onto other pieces, Gabbiani has produced images of peculiar local businesses, a room of insects arranged like genuine specimens, and the interiors from well-known horror films.

She re-examines the places where notorious movie violence took place, eradicating any life and air from them. This impartializing effect is peculiar and distressing, as though it is peaceful yet it is not. Recently, Gabbiani put together a nine-foot collage of a vast wooded landscape on fire, constructed from construction paper, gouache, and airbrush.

The orange and yellow fires inside of the brown trees and earth seem like sneering, smiling mouths. Something incredibly marvellous and mysterious happens when Gabbiani makes use of her specific methods of cutting and pasting.

The near-lifeless quality of colored paper, similar to hair dye and pancake makeup on a corpse, brings out something inherently melodramatic and uncomfortably noiseless.

When she was a kid, she sometimes experienced something she called “THE ELASTIC,” which prevented her from walking in a normal way and she didn’t want to introduce it to her friends. She loves the accordion as it elicits different reactions from different age ranges.

Additionally, she is a fan of Rene Daniels and his artwork. Comparing her work to the song “My Love Is a Flower” by Jonathan Richman is how she would like to describe it.

At the St. Thomas home for wayward girls, Jennifer Pastor was born in Hartford, Connecticut, at the age of thirty-eight. She is a sculptor who puts a lot of research into her material, making everything from cartoon-like seashells to hyperreal moths to enlarged snow-dome scenes.

Pastor has been featured in prestigious art events such as the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial. Her works are intricately crafted with references to popular phenomena, and often explore the conflicts between man and nature.

The Perfect Ride is a three-part installation which includes a large sculpture inspired by the Hoover Dam’s water system, a magnified sculptural rendering of an inner and outer ear, and an animation of a cowboy riding a bull.

Things I Hate: “I despise the smell of unwashed swimmers that seeps into my lane like an oil slick. Additionally, debates for president make me shudder. Recently, I had a nightmare that the Grim Reaper himself accosted me and choked me. 

I was disappointed to find out it was only an impersonator.” Things I Love: “A short show at the Met was very impressive to me–drawings from the Weimar Republic. I also appreciate running up hills at night. Additionally, the artwork of Diane Arbus, the Princehorn Collection, Robert Smithson, and Q-tips all make me smile. 

I am looking forward to reading Marcel Mauss’s _The Gift, _The Dr. Seuss Archive at UCSD, a videotaped interview with Truman Capote talking about writing In Cold Blood , Tally-Ho (dog), and a 1948 book by Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder on perceptual space in children.”

At the age of thirty-two, Matt Greene hails from Atlanta, Georgia, a source of inspiration for countless headbangers. He is a testament to a life of eccentric feminist girl-truth and billions of hours spent drawing.

His works share similarities with those of the 16th century painter Pieter Bruegel, the Elder, the first artist to ever depict snow, as seen in The Adoration of the Kings in the Snow (1567).

Mr. Greene’s immense drawing of 666 girls playing guitars brings to mind Bruegel’s large scenes of people skating and partying on frozen lakes and wearing codpieces.

For Mr. Greene, the outdoors is the perfect setting to feature his girls in various states of undress. He is drawn to elements like leafless trees, giant mushrooms, and other fleshy fungi.

When asked what inspired him, he replied with a laundry list of things:

“poisonous plants, Frank Frazetta, Leg Show , hairy hippie girls, pubic hair, old growth forests, the cover of Black Sabbath, Vol. 1 , LiLiPUT, bondage/fem-dom themes in Wonder Woman , witches using datura and a broomstick, Fourier’s utopian phalanx, decapitation, Halloween, log cabins, fungus, girls with tools, the first KISS album, Alice Cooper, trolls, elegant gothic Lolita, the color palette of the dawn of the dead, Pushead (illustrator), pot, plants, agriculture, dogs, the scene in The Song Remains the Same with Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park , egalitarian societies, and the New York Dolls.

He believes women should stay in their underwear for as long as possible while they are being painted, while most men in his imagery are decapitated (with the exception of wizards).

To him, skull bongs, swords, phantasm, Stonehenge, sludge metal, and Oedipal rock all make for exciting topics.”

From fourth to eighth grade, Mr. Greene pored over the 1980 encyclopedia, A-Z. He subscribes to Mushroom journal. He is particularly fond of psychedelic lesbian vampire movies, his favorite being Deviant Droolers.

Hates: “Male and female genital hair removal of any kind, corporate rock, snakes, eggs, malls, lap dancing, and kitschy eighties paintings…I’m in favor of a gradual shift from fuzziness to sleekness in the nether regions, recognizing the nuances of the whole area.

I used to fantasize about misplaced vaginas, such as on the back of an arm or leg.” Collects: Mini books.

“I own hundreds of volumes smaller than 3 inches.” Miscellany: “I’d like people to be unclothed more often, and for botany to be showcased in art galleries. Displaying art alongside peculiar carnivorous plants would be cool.”

Charles Garabedian, 80 years old from Detroit, Michigan, has never been the center of the hipster spotlight.

Throughout his career he has been painting abstractions with emotion, recognizable figures and characters, and during the late 70s when the New Image painting was popular, curators were shocked at what Garabedian was doing and he was included in two Whitney Biennials.

His use of the colour red has made his paintings powerful as it brings out violence and gore in a tender manner, depicting it in petals, hair, fabric, dolls and more. In the sixties his themes were tough and chaotic – sexual, violent, moral, comical, and comic-strip like.

This led him to the lumbering, melodramatic Greek and Roman figures and architecture, showing philosophic distance.

— Mr. G.: “My beloved spouse has an affinity for opera, which I too have grown to appreciate. My goal is to achieve a primitive style, yet the outcome is often far from naive.

 I began with the art of Masaccio, then worked my way up to Giotto before working my way back down. I believe that my strength as an artist lies in my impatience and lack of understanding. 

I am quite fond of manifestos. Now that I am nearing eighty-one, my favorite tune is ‘September Song’ sung by Walter Houston. Eating in dark restaurants is not my cup of tea. A photo of a cheerful Louise Brooks from the _Lulu _movie stirs up some sensual recollections. 

I have three grandchildren, aged five, three, and two, who are quite a handful. In the long run, mankind is indestructible, unfortunately. 

My most intense moment came during a flight over Halle, Germany, in 1944. And I have also had some unpleasant experiences with food poisoning. I love smoking, and if Emily Dickinson were still around, I would contemplate stalking her.”

Tom Knechtel, born in 1952 in Palo Alto, California, has notably tattooed himself with a salamander around his left ankle, the horse from the Lascaux caves on his right hip, a flying rhinoceros beetle on his left shoulder, and a circle of three moths on his chest.

He has a boisterous laugh that can be likened to a mix of Vishnu, Buddha and Ethel Merman, and is known for creating graphic pictures with a playful, honest and passionate tone.

His artworks hint at his interest in bodily matters, and often invoke the feeling of innocence, admiration and love. His pastel drawings of animals, wrestlers and muscle men in hoopskirts experience a transformation similar to Rembrandt’s style.

The images become surreal, with a horn turning into a leafy vine, a spot of tea triggering a monkey-ass explosion and a headless goose spurting ribbons of blood. All of these elements form a nature porn cartoon channel with lots of wrestling, where fruit bats sing hallelujah.

Mr. Knechtel is fond of Indian painting from Basohli, crows, water buffaloes, the memoirs of St. Simon, Fats Waller, wrestlers, drag queens, dinosaurs, James Merrill, puppet theaters, the films of Karel Zeman, kabuki and Jean Marais in Beauty and the Beast, while disliking Ernest Hemingway, Wagner and automobiles.

His collections include Indian paintings and drawings, Guatemalan masks, art by his contemporaries, Venetian glass animals, Pogo and Krazy Kat comics, various implements for the serving of paan, toy theater sheets, zoological prints, and ugly animals which his sister collects for him at swap meets in North Dakota.

At the age of twenty-four, Nick Lowe has produced some remarkable drawings which are full of intricate details and strange elements.

His artwork has a mix of violence, comedy, folklore, and unease. For example, one of his mountains has living and dead climbers lying around, with sheep and goats being the only witnesses.

His painting called The Piper has the flute in a rather eerie spot above the chin and below the lower lip. Lowe’s creative space is small and resembles the environment in which Ween created their first album while they were ill.

Furthermore, Lowe is also a talented fiction writer and rapper who collaborates with artist Ry Rocklin to produce some wild rhymes. Nick has recently shifted his focus from drawing to painting, remarking that he finds it “exciting” to explore color and texture.

— Nick, who is low-key about his lifestyle, exercises by rowing machine and watching the entire Harry and the Hendersons series on DVD. He doesn’t own a car, but instead opts for the bus or biking. His culinary expertise is limited to cooking noodles–though he prefers the term pasta.

After confessing that his favorite dessert is plain chocolate ice cream, Nick declared, “That’s where I’m heading with my life.” His favorite artist is Hieronymus Bosch, who he went to high school with and noted, “Hierony was cool.”

At the age of forty, Thaddeus Strode, who was born in Santa Monica, California, is extremely successful in Europe but has hardly been noticed in L.A. and N.Y. in spite of the numerous exhibitions he has been a part of in both cities.

His works of art include sculptures of disembodied heads, dioramas of miniature characters engaged in peculiar activities, and drawings and collages which are substantially inspired by Buddhism, surfing, punk and metal music, and the concept of being stranded on a desert island, incorporating the figure of Kurt Cobain in a few of them.

His art is characterized by an absurdist point of view, portraying mute, disabled monsters, heavily influenced by comics from the seventies, vintage printing methods, gothic folk stories,

The Norwegian being called Nakken, who lurked in lakes and waited to catch and devour its victims, mysterious voyages between dimensions, the other side of mirrors, messages in bottles, blind psychic surfers, Italian Giallo horror films,

Lee Harvey Oswald, gorillas on desert islands praying like Zen monks, big and somber figures, genies, sumo wrestlers, kitty cats, samurai assassins, Bruce Lee, Vikings with tremendous swords, as well as balloons, bubbles, oceans, bathtubs and foam.

The artist in question is currently riding a 9 ′ 6″ Lance Carson Noserider surfboard, and has attempted a ten-footer at Todos Santos, though he did not fare well and almost drowned. He keeps two wooden stakes by his bed in case vampires attack. 

His favorite food is blood sausages and he is a fan of grease. He is known to have eaten brains and puppy poo, though the latter was an accident. 

After viewing one of his video installations a collector remarked to Mr. Strode, not knowing he was the artist, that she wanted to “rustle up a machete and chop off the arms of the guy who made that piece.” ✯

It is clear that a large number of individuals are unaware of the implications of excessive use of plastics and its effect on the environment.

Many have not taken into account the long-term consequences of the production and disposal of plastic materials, which can cause serious damage to the planet.

Consequently, it is necessary for people to become more aware of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution and take action to reduce its impact.

Our writing staff is varied and passionate about arts, literature, film, travel, music, and entertainment.

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