Linda Sue Price and Michael Flechtner Shine in the Historic Fine Arts Building in DTLA
By Genie Davis
On view through March 5th
Art + Science + Craft III is the latest incarnation of neon alchemy with Linda Sue Price and Michael Flechtner. The 13-story Fine Arts Building makes the perfect art deco setting: the lobby features glass enclosed display cases in which each glowing neon jewel is placed. Constructed in 1926 as the location of studios and galleries for artists, the gorgeous retro building is an artistic installation in and of itself, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and featuring the decorative tiles of Ernest Batchelder and murals and paintings by A.B. Heinsbergen. Entering the space is somewhat akin to entering a cathedral, with the exhibition positioned on both sides of the lobby like religious artifacts.
Price and Flechtner have both exhibited here before. The current show, running through March 5th is dazzling. Price works with abstract shapes, the poetry of a written word, and images that shimmer with a slippery incandescence. Using bent, free-form shapes without a pattern, each tube is different. Viewing change as a constant, Price takes this concept and translates it into her neon curves and sinews.
Flechtner deals in more recognizable narrative shapes from animals to gun imagery. He is drawn to symbols of technology and language and their influence on pop culture. Whether creating a red rooster head or cool lime green handguns, his work will stop the eye cold.
Together, the two artists’ contrast and complement each other, and show the wide range of neon art, and both its delicacy and its strength.
Flechtner’s “A-Mazed: Doing our level best!” gives us a rat with a maze inside the golden outline of his body. It’s an internalized constraint, exemplifying, perhaps, the “rat race” and the human condition. The three dimensional red, white, and blue pulsating sculpture of “Shotgun Shack: Living the American Dream” gives viewers a look at the all-too “All American” gun culture. More thought proving still is the red image of a handgun with its barrel curved into a “u” shape, titled “Elephant Gun: For those who are about to murder.” Twin flaming ears are titled “Gossip,” their shape and color evoking a Catholic Church image of the Sacred Heart. Just how sacred is gossip in our culture, anyway?
On Price’s side of the lobby, we see images such as the flower like “Imagine Peace,” in which a half blue, half yellow neon flower surrounds the word “Imagine,” itself close to boxed-in by an open ended rectangle, half glowing red, half moving and pulsing liquid-looking red. Her “Joy Ride” is completely evocative, a pink, red, and lime green image of sensually loopy lines, like the coupling of alien life forms. “Curves Ahead” reads the verbal description in the upper right hand corner of a mass of glowing lemon yellow curves partially surrounded by a bright lime green section of lines and sharp angles around it
Both artists design and create all their own neon work, including the bending of their neon tubes. Rather than being emblematic of a bygone era, these neon works are captivatingly fresh, both artists conveying the art form of neon in a unique, exciting way.
The Fire Arts Building is located at 811 W. 7th Street in DTLA.