BLAM: ‘Shift and Fade’ Building a Collective History

Fran Siegel, Photo courtesy of the Artist
Fran Siegel, Photo courtesy of the Artist

‘Shift and Fade.’ Large and Small. Art that digs deep into the personal

by Kristine Schomaker


The curators of “Shift and Fade” at BLAM didn’t want an exhibition that could be easily forgotten. Not by the people who saw it, and especially not for the artists involved. So Alanna Marcelletti and Dani Dodge invited artists they admired to be part of the show and asked them to create something new. And to dig deep.

“Explore material as a metaphor for personal history,” they said.

The suggestion made Pasadena sculptor Vincent Tomczyk pause, and then go back. Back in his memories.

“I remember the tight dryness in my throat from breathing in my father’s cigarette smoke,” he said. “I wanted to blame him for stunting my growth. My mother tried to get him to stop by lighting up herself, long slim cigarettes — the kind you put in a deep narrow coin-purse-like thingy, with the lighter all nestled up front.”

His work, created from his trademark material, paper, resembles an ashtray.

The opening reception for “Shift and Fade” is 3 to 6 p.m. Oct. 8, 2016. The show will be open noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and by appointment. The show closes Oct. 30, 2016, with an artist talk moderated by art critic Shana Nys Dambrot from 2 to 4 p.m. BLAM is located at 1950 S Santa Fe Ave. #207, Los Angeles, CA  90021. For more information and to add ‘Shift and Fade’ to your calendar go to the Facebook event.

“Shift and Fade” will incorporate two major components: large-scale installations and a collaborative project titled “Curiouser and Curiouser.” Twenty-one artists, including Tomczyk, will contribute to “Curiouser and Curiouser,” each presenting an object, no larger than 12 x 12 x 12 inches. Each piece tells the story of who the artist is and where they’re from.

Vincent Tomczyk, Photo courtesy of the artist
Vincent Tomczyk, Photo courtesy of the artist

“The beauty of curating at BLAM is we have the opportunity to show work that otherwise might not be exhibited or even created,” said co-curator Marcelletti. “Some of the sculptures in our collaboration will be from artists who have worked solely in a 2-D format up till now, and so I look forward to seeing the results of their experimentations. To me it’s fascinating to think that all of these artists are creating works related to their individual histories but ultimately the piece will become a collective history.”

BLAM, which stands for “Brooklyn Los Angeles meet,” is an artist-run gallery with locations in the Los Angeles arts district and Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. The curators try to incorporate artists from both coasts into their shows, and this one is no different. Several of the artists in “Shift and Fade” are from Brooklyn, including Beatrice Wolert, who will create an installation for the show.

“Dani Dodge visited my studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a few months ago and was interested in the diversity of materials used and had a strong emotional response to them,” recalled Wolert, who is deputy director at CUE. “She expressed interest in a couple of studies I had hanging in my studio that were cut and dripping. We decided that I would create a custom piece for ‘Shift and Fade.’”

Beatrice Wolert, Photo courtesy of the artist
Beatrice Wolert, Photo courtesy of the artist

Wolert’s creation, “Offering #1 2016,” is a time-based kinetic wall and floor piece made of cake decoration piping bags filled with enamel and acrylic paint.

“On the night the show opens, the bottoms of the piping bags will be cut, activating the paint to be released to drip down the wall and pool onto the floor covering,” Wolert said. “’Offering #1′ explores the spirituality of materials. The work looks at the fluidity and ephemerality of paint. As the paint drips from the wall to the floor, the viewer is asked to consider both the physical properties of paint in different states as well as the complexities of the giving and receiving aspects of an offering.”

The connections between Los Angeles and New York run deep for the artists of “Shift and Fade.” Los Angeles artist Fran Siegel, who will have an installation in BLAM’s project room, had her most recent solo exhibition in New York at Lesley Heller Workspace in the spring. (She has upcoming Los Angeles exhibitions at the Fowler Museum at UCLA and ACME.)

Her work in “Shift and Fade” utilizes additive (collage, layering) and subtractive (cutting) forms of drawing.

“It is informed by urban architecture,” Siegel said. “There will be several layered, woven drawings included in a composited installation. One piece, ‘Terre,’ is an elaborate drawing about ancient fences and walls near Marseille, France, and another, ‘Shukhov,’ is about a utopian tower in the former Soviet Union.”

The contrasts in “Shift and Fade” exceed location and size by pushing the boundaries of light and dark. “Shift and Fade” allows for the juxtaposition of Hugo Heredia Barrera’s light in the form of a massive glass installation to occupy the same space as the dense black materials of Camilla Taylor. The title “Shift and Fade” is based on the poem “The Secret of Light” by James Wright.

Los Angeles artist Alexander Kritselis said the invitation to the show prompted him to start a series of small sculptures that branch off his large-scale installations “Places and Travelers of Glow and Sorrow.”

“With these new works I continue to examine sites around the globe where human activity has left an indelible mark on our contemporary psyche,” Kritselis said. “I began this series with a sense of urgency as domestic and global environmental, political and identity challenges began to unravel, causing deep fissures in the social construct. My journey is to find the threads that hold the ‘pieces’ together, and the tears that have been exacted on nature’s fabric.”

Alexander Kritselis, Photo courtesy of the artist
Alexander Kritselis, Photo courtesy of the artist

The series of small sculptures under glass bells combine small-scale 3-D forms with miniature monitors — static with moving images.

“These 3-D sculptural vignettes operate as a metaphor for a world made of fragments. They are assembled in context as we respond to the physiological properties of the diverse mediums,” Kritselis said. “Moreover, in my personal search for meaning, each work comes together, apart, and together again over time in revised narrative forms — to essentially address the human stories in new ways for a new time.”

Artists creating installations are Hugo Heredia Barrera, Kio Griffith, Erika Lizee, Fran Siegel, Camilla Taylor, Beatrice Wolert and Alison Woods. Artists of “Curiouser and Curiouser” are Nadege Monchera Baer, April Bey, Arezoo Bharthania, Debbie Carlson, Paul Catalanotto, Jennifer Celio, Dani Dodge, Tom Dunn, Jenny Hager, Pete Hickok, Alexander Kritselis, Alanna Marcelletti, Bhavna Mehta, Kristine Schomaker, Delbar Shahbaz, David Spanbock, Jesse Standlea, Vincent Tomczyk, Joe Wolek, Lena Wolek and Steven Wolkoff.


Kristine Schomaker, Photo courtesy of the Artist
Kristine Schomaker, “Ode to a Lost Love.” Photo courtesy of the Artist

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