The artist team responsible for the exhibition sensation of 2008 Art Basel Miami Beach, Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe, are doing a major project at Country Club gallery’s Viennese Modernist 1934 Rudolph Schindler designed Buck House in Los Angeles in September of 2010. We were in Miami and got to see the astonishing show the artist team did for Miami Basel that was part of a larger exhibition called The Station, curated by Shamin Momin and Nate Lowman. The project was shown in a not yet completed condo tower in Miami. Their project was created and shown at Ballroom Marfa. It was then shown in Miami and finally at Deitch Projects in New York.
There was blog press claiming that the project was sold to a European collector. This clearly is not the case, as note below in the NYTimes article, that the project is in storage. But the installation was still out-of this-world great.That I can recall, there has never been a project like this in Los Angeles. The NYTimes was blown away by it. I also remember the project was supposed to generate another project for last year’s Miami Basel. That didn’t come through either, but Country Club gallery found a way to have this superb artist team create another hypnotic fantasy world as they did in Miami and Marfa and New York City at Deitch Projects.
I’ll say it again. There has never been a project like this in Los Angeles. This follows another project whose level is new for young LA galleries, which I would call the Miami Basel level. The Mike Kelly and Michael Smith exhibition in the Farley building in Eagle Rock is also a knockout exhibition. There has never been a show of this level that was not in a museum in Los Angeles. The Farley building is a vast empty warehouse and its also Mike Kelly’s studio. From these two projects it looks like LA’s artworld has reached another level entirely in 2010.
The other important aspect of this advance press is that it too is a first for LA. Country Club is a commercial gallery based in Cincinnati and Los Angeles. They are members of the NADA Art Fair and have a publishing concern. There has never been advance press in the NYTimes of ANY commercial gallery show in LA that I can recall. Maybe there was in the Sixties. The second aspect of this advance press means that the show will get NYC and international press coverage. This alone will also be groundbreaking for a young LA commercial gallery. There is bound to be as much press coverage as there was for the earlier fantasy world creations by the artist team involved. There is a video online showing many, many assistants helping them produce their projects.
Don’t forget that the Paul McCarthy show opens at the new L&M Arts Los Angeles gallery in Venice in September 2010 too. This was projected to be the most important opening of the fall art season in LA. Country Club’s show will no doubt be an artworld sensation. There have never been two exhibitions as highly anticipated with as strong an advance interest as these two in LA’s artworld.
I met Christian Strike at last year’s NADA Art fair in Miami Beach and congratulate him on bringing an exhibition of this caliber to LA.
The July 29, 2010 New York Times article by Carol Vogel reporting this story is below:
“The New York artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have been creating wild and creepy installations — rabbit-warren-like spaces in which they construct what appear to be burned-out methamphetamine labs — around the country, from SoHo to Marfa, Tex., and Miami Beach. With each installation there are variations on this extravagantly dark side of America. And each intricate environment started with essentially a blank slate, a characterless space.
But this fall the artists are taking their dystopic drug-addled scene into a bastion of high modernism. From Sept. 17 through Oct. 30 they will be transforming Buck House, a 1934 L-shaped Rudolph M. Schindler house on Eighth Street in Los Angeles, into what they are calling “Bright White Underground.” The installation will create a story from both real and imagined history, loosely based on the life of Dr. Arthur Cook, who lived in Buck House for a time and began his career as a practitioner of LSD psychotherapy.
In the late 1950s he practiced psychiatry and later headed the C.I.A.-financed Pacific Psychiatric Institute, which pioneered research into psychotropic compounds’ potential for social control. By the early 1960s Cook was forced to work underground because of his controversial practices.
When Christian Strike, owner of the Country Club Gallery in Cincinnati, expanded to Los Angeles and rented Buck House as gallery space last year, he decided to ask Mr. Freeman and Mr. Lowe to create one of their environments. “This house has so much history and context,” Mr. Strike said by telephone. “And their work is so much about the environment and counterculture. The artists are notorious for their projects that create faux environments, but here they have the chance to create something in the context of a historic house.”
Mr. Strike said the installation would be for sale, though he has not priced it yet. Another one, “Black Acid Co-op,” which the artists showed at Deitch Projects in SoHo last summer, is sitting in his Cincinnati storage space with a price tag of about $250,000. “We’re talking to an institution about buying it or restaging it,” Mr. Strike said.”
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles
Vincent Johnson is an artist and writer in Los Angeles