Keystone Gallery: BroadCasting Art for Art’s Sake
written by Genie Davis
At the Keystone Gallery, located in the Keystone Art Space in Lincoln Heights, art is not something to be bought or sold. It is not a commodity but an act of pure creation as seen in BroadCast, on display until September 19th.
In the show, artworks take on a wide variety of forms, from spoken word and performance art to the digital; from sculpture, prints, paintings to new media. A swirl of art experiences, the show is presented by artists including:
Margaret Adachi, Jerri Allyn, Karen Atkinson, Harold Balazs, John Baldessari, Joan Bankemper, Cory Bluemling, Anne Bray, Ben Buchanan, xtine Burrough, Diane Calder, Libby Clarke, Robbie Conal, Jill D’Agnenica, Margaret Ecker, Samantha Fields, Diane Fine, Jack Lewis Forkey, Dana Fritz, Todd Gray, LouAnne Greewald, Micol Hebron, Robert Hirsch, Rev. Myoshin Kaniumoe, Niku Kashef, Dennis Keeley, Deborah Lawrence, Bonnie Lee, Helen Lessick, Monica Lidman, José Lozano, Thomas McGovern, Kathryn Miller, Sean Miller & Connie Hwang, Susan Mouchette, Beverly Naidus, Alan Hiroshi Nakagawa, Sheila Pinkel, Liese Ricketts, Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Susan Silton, Pamela Wells, Michael Yamamoto, Jody Zellen.
Artist Groups and Collectives participating include: Auntie Em, Barbie Liberation Organization, Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, DS Institute (Caitlin Foley, Misha Rabinovich, Zach Dunn), Ear Meal, Freewaves, League of Imaginary Scientists, men of the world, Poetry in Motion, Repohistory, Ron Finley Project with Toons One, SeedBroadcast, Students of Wildwood School and Central High School Mar Vista Gardens, Yes Men. Additionally, spoken word and musical performances are created by Gloria Enedina Alvarez with Learsi Marie Martinez, Laura Alvarez & Evan Hartzell, Rod Bradley, Peter J. Harris, Beverly Lafontaine, Kelly Marie Martin, Alicia Vogl-Saenz.
If the list of participants alone seems overwhelming, then walk into the work of BroadCast’s unusual, inspirational, and sometimes mysterious art. The artists broadcast, or disseminate, their works in this fascinating exhibition organized by Kim Abeles and Ken Marchionno. While many pieces in the collection were originally in exhibitions curated by Abeles in the 1990s, others are of the immediate moment.
According to Marchionno, the pair decided to mount this exhibition to support the idea of artwork presented for free, where the primary focus is not to be in a commercial gallery, but simply presenting art in a thought-provoking fashion.
“In the 90s when Kim put together a series of shows called BroadCast, there were people out there who simply put work out for free, work that was not commercial art but came from a passionate place within. We decided to put this show together because we wanted to generate discussion and appreciation, to show that are still people doing this type of work, and to show the different mediums they are using, including social media,” he explains. “Our own work is often made public in this way. I post my work on Facebook for example. I have a certain audience who celebrates in that way.”
Marchionno adds that the current exhibition was designed to be political and social, and that they were eager to have certain artists participate in the show. “We really waned the Barbie Liberation Organization to be here, for example. They’re an activist group who bought 300 Barbies and GI Joes and switched voice boxes, then put them back in the stores. They were playing with the notion of art being something that’s out there in the world, making a statement.”
Performance artist Diane Calder, a.k.a. Auntie Em, certainly makes hers. For a $1 donation she writes a customized supportive letter on a card that either she or the donator selects. The card is then mailed to someone in need of recognition or support. “I’ll write a letter based on what I am told is distinctive in a person, I’ll mail it to them in a particular time period. My work is always directed at helping some specific person get over a bump in their life, or overcome uncertainty,” she says.
The support is anonymous, but the character she inhabits who writes these letters fills a role “as if you had a real Auntie Em in your life.”
Dressed in character in a costume apron, Calder has been working with this concept since the 1970s, basing it on the kindness of her Illinois-born husband’s family and friends in his small town. “People were so kind to me even if they didn’t really know me. I really appreciated it. My work here reflects that, and contrasts what it’s like to be an artist and what women are known to do – be supportive of others.”
Other stand-outs in the exhibition include Karen Atkinson’s talking parking meters, and José Lozano’s paper-doll, Victorina, a combination modern career woman, mother and masked wrestler, distributed through children in the community.
Dana Fritz’s tagged tumbleweeds are returned to the desert in her Project Amaranthus albus.
Procured in 1993 and 1994, 100 aluminum tagged tumble weeds were collected, tagged and photographed – released only to continue tumbling. Collected throughout the state of Arizona, they were distributed again in the dry bed of the Salt River in Tempe. One spun in delicate display at the BroadCast exhibition.
In the interactive “Dis…Miss” by Freewaves participants select one of nine images from their postcard rack and respond to them; they’re allowed to keep the free postcard they select in exchange for their responses. The project is designed to explore current gendered images and messages created by 20 LA visual artists.
According to Vera Makianich, “Freewaves is a group of organizations and a non-profit website. This project is set to last two years.”
BroadCast’s curators are also creating a data base of broadcasted art. The website, http://www.broadcast-art.org, will be on-going both during and after the exhibition.
Be a part of the broadcast: Keystone Gallery at Keystone Art Space is located at 338 S. Ave 16, Los Angeles