XYZ at Durden and Ray

XYZ. Durden and Ray. Photo credit Kristine Schomaker

XYZ at Durden and Ray

by Genie Davis

on view through August 26th


At Durden and Ray through this weekend, XYZ is all the art alphabet necessary to shape a terrific show of sculptural art. Curators Ed Gomez and Brian Thomas Jones have created a fully engrossing exhibition featuring artists Lana Duong, Martin Durazo, Ed Gomez, Brian Thomas Jones, Ruben Ochoa, Alison Petty Ragguette, Jaime Scholnick.

This is a show that is at once artistically lyrical and politically subversive, built around an edgy resistance to the cultural warfare of our time. Thematically, the show is based around an article written by art critic Germano Celant in 1967, Arte Povera: Notes for a Guerilla War. His belief that artists must question the status quo is perfectly realized here, in work that uses decidedly non-traditional materials to symbolically upend tradition.

The show’s title refers not to the alphabet but to the concept of three dimensional space, and to these letters frequent use as an anonymous substitution of a name, location, or object. Working primarily with found materials here, the materials themselves are on their own usually average and unseen, anonymous in their own way until they are reimagined as art. Gomez notes “This process of making unwanted trash into art had historical parallels that I was interested in investigating.” Jones adds “…the curators wanted to explore today’s political upheaval and how that relates to choice of materials.”

The curators’ also note that they selected artists and works that “…relate to the resistance to and the reconfiguration of the art exhibition model in the era of art commodification — through the emergence of artist-run spaces and collectives such as Durden and Ray.” But enough about the concept behind the show – it is the raw, stimulating, and utterly engrossing nature of the work which comprises it that is its own rebellion: vital and exciting, the pieces are best viewed repeatedly, and from all sides, with the viewer engaged in each work’s dimensional aspects. This is interactive art in a way – viewers react to it and absorb it.

Take Allison Ragguette’s terrific site specific work “Rejects and Residue.” Shards of ceramics and porcelain lie like desecrated bones in a heap on the floor while luminous pink silicone spills from stripes on the wall into shiny splashes on the pieces. It’s a ghostly image, like pale blood faded in the sun, over artifacts bleached white.

Or look at the vibrantly purple-lined, patchwork kimono coat suspended from the ceiling. Jaime Scholnick’s work is lustrous, a-bloom with images from orange florals to helicopters silhouetted against a blazing sunset sky. In the center is a smiling girl with her head supported by her hands. This is the military industrial complex, and this is its alternative, both inextricably interwoven.

Artist and curator Jones has a terrific piece with a mound of soil as its base, a grid of large, cocked metal pieces, both fence and geometric halo, circling two boulder-like forms.

Martin Durazo’s mixed media sculpture includes a rainbow of multi-colored fake fur and a disco ball; a traffic cone, a hexagonal mobile. It’s like the 70s embodied, reborn into a storm of chaos and creativity.

So many beautiful sculptural works here – connect the dimensions of XYZ and you have a plethora of art and meaning. With a variety of site-specific works that will be altered if presented elsewhere, works created from detritus and shaped into embodied dreams, it’s important to savor it this weekend.


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