“Land of the Smokes: Landscapes and Los Angeles” at LAST Projects
By Patrick Quinn
Artist Talk with Shana Nys Dambrot January 7th 3-5pm
Exhibition on view through January 12th with Closing Reception 7-11pm
The life of a visual artist is not an easy one. It requires sacrifice, commitment, passion, and a thick skin. These same challenges often define the people who champion the artist. That might be the optimist who opens an art gallery in a small Midwestern town. The art-school drop-outs that turned a rundown warehouse into an Art Collective. Or the spouse who pays the bills while their partner follows his or her muse. Semi-hidden in the heart of Hollywood, the LAST Projects Gallery has been quietly overcoming those challenges for the past three years.
Andrew Wingler and Ilona Berger originally came to Los Angeles from San Francisco. He’s a visual artist and she’s a film-maker. They both felt there was something missing from the L.A. art scene. An alternative to the formal “white box” galleries they found at Culver City and Bergamot Station. Back in San Francisco, there were unconventional spaces like Balazo and ATA. Venues that were open to any sort of show, whether it was an installation, performance, or just a happening. They decided to try and create that type of space here. So in 2013, they officially opened the LAST Projects Gallery. LAST standing for Los Angeles Social Tactics. The spot they chose was about as un-formal as you can get. Smack-dab on the center of Hollywood Boulevard. Encouraged by the success of LACE, their neighbor down the block, they took over a second-floor office space overlooking the boulevard. For those of you who miss the rough edges of the original Downtown art scene pre-food trucks and drink sponsors, the LAST Gallery is a blast to the past.
To gain entry, look for an industrial security door just to the left of a sketchy-looking lingerie shop. Don’t get confused, there are a lot of them on Hollywood Boulevard. You have to be buzzed in so look for the LAST Gallery on the building directory. There’s only a few other business listed including a private detective agency. Once you’re inside, head up the creaky wood stairs, bear right and head down the hall. The gallery itself is a single room with a tiny side area that serves as bar and kitchen with art from past shows jammed on all four walls. Which is convenient, because that’s why you’re here. To see some good art.
Currently showing is a group show titled Land of the Smokes: Landscapes and Los Angeles. The show was curated by Mario Vasquez who is behind the art blog Super Mario’s Art: Fine Art in the Fast Lane. Eleven artists have been invited to look at the landscape of L.A. as metaphor, allegory, and reflection. It’s a strong show with a few familiar faces. It is also the last show that LAST Projects will be presenting in this space. They have signed a lease for a space in Lincoln Heights and plan to open in March. Apparently the new gallery is bigger, with high ceiling and a large ground floor window, with nary a lingerie shop to be seen for miles. But this final show is worth making the effort to catch before LAST Projects closes its Hollywood doors.
There is also a monitor showing four videos by four different artists. The Premonition by Alice Konitz, A Lax Riddle Unit by Laida Lertxundi, Tears are Dry by Laida Lertxundi, and Los Angeles Times by Franco Castilla.
The show closes on January 12th and there will be a panel discussion led by Shana Nys Dambrot on January 7th from 3 to 5:00pm. The gallery is open Thursday through Saturdays from 3 to 7:00pm or by appointment.
They are located at 6546 Hollywood Boulevard, #215 Los Angeles, CA 90028
For more information, call 323/356-4225 or go to lastprojects.org