F For Fortissimo, Cassette Release Event
ODD ARK -LA, Los Angeles
By Patrick Quinn
The Oxford Dictionary has two definitions for the term “Happening”. The first simply describes it as an event or occurrence, but it was the second definition that came to mind during a recent event at the ODD ARK-LA Gallery: “A partly improvised or spontaneous piece of theatrical or other artistic performance, typically involving audience participation.”
ODD ARK-LA recently opened in Eagle Rock and is the brainchild of Dani Tull and Yvonne Bas Tull. Though only less than a mile from hipster-fied Highland Park, this tiny space has already established itself as a venue that takes art seriously. If your idea of a great opening is food trucks, free cans of Tecate, and a DJ spinning Kanye, then keep driving.
The couple had originally intended to use the space as a secondary art studio. But then decided to convert it into a performance space and gallery. In the early 1990’s, Dani was the Director of the Parker/Zanic Gallery on La Brea which gave him a strong background in curating. Once the decision was made, it wasn’t long until they were hosting their inaugural show, Market is Done, an exhibition of film related works by Berlin-based artist Andy Hope 1930.
But it was a different chapter of Dani’s past that led to the gallery’s second event, a cassette-release party for the art-rock band, F. Along with artists Marnie Weber and Doug Harvey, Dani was one of the band’s founding members. Long-time members of L.A.’s music and art scene will know of Marnie’s other band, The Spirit Girls, as well as Doug’s thirteen year stint as Art Critic for the L.A. Weekly. The other members of the band’s current line-up are Daniel Hawkins and Kane Lafia on percussions. The band’s motto is “Simplicity Through Noise”. This approach is rooted in improvisational ensemble playing using electric guitars (played with rubber mallets and other techniques) and vintage synthesizers.
The night of the event, a small crowd gathered as the setting sun cast palm tree shadows across the parking lot. Guests drank canned wine from Trader Joe’s and listened to a battered vintage cassette player debuting the band’s new release F For Fortissimo. Inside the gallery, a table was set up selling cassette tapes, CD’s, and vinyl albums, each one with its own custom artwork created by members of the band. Across the room, the band’s equipment was already set up.
A cacophony of vintage instruments, speakers, and other odds & ends. Dressed mostly in black, the band mingled with the crowd until it was time to start the show. Half the crowd pushed inside while the rest were content to stay in the parking lot and watch a live projection being shown on the window. Bathed in red light bulbs, the band improvised through a forty-five minute set as psychedelic images were projected on the wall behind them. The music was an unbroken improvised piece of industrial non-melody that seemed to live somewhere between Brian Eno’s Music for Airports and avant-garde composer John Zorn’s classical works. The crowd, as they used to say, seemed to really dig it.
The term ‘Happening’ was coined by artist Allan Kaprow who was a student of John Cage. If he were still around, Mr. Kaprow might have been quite content to sip a can of wine and check out the band’s set.