All Lit Up at Eastern Projects
Closing Reception August 25th 6-10pm
by Genie Davis
What’s All Lit Up at Eastern Projects? A terrific tour de force by four neon artists rightfully dubbed by Los Angeles magazine as artists to watch.
Running through August 25th, the show features a diverse collection of work that demonstrates both the versatility of neon as an art form and the collective glow that it creates. It is not just the actual light that the medium presents, it’s the inner warmth that it evokes. Perhaps we’re hardwired to love the luscious, rich look of neon, perhaps it has been programmed into our 21st century DNA, but the overall feel, vision, and textures of neon makes just about any subject both accessible and compelling. We are moths drawn to the flame of neon art.
Possibly the most “expected” utilization of neon in this exhibition is Michael Flechtner’s. He uses words, iconic images, and in certain forms, the language of signage within his work – but then he subverts all of it into unique, often funny, beautifully rendered pop images. At the top of his craft as a bender, he is also cutting-edge in terms of his subject and his wit. A white neon cow is perched over a lustrous red ‘Jesus Saves’ sign; the ‘Yes’ on its flank turns the ‘S’ into a $ sign. A glowing yellow circle proclaims the word ‘jerk’ – as in circle jerk. A large rat mounted on a board rimmed with electronic gear has the dream image of a maze swallowed inside it. Profound without being heavy handed, Flechtner has taken traditional neon and upended it.
Leticia Maldonado uses graceful, nearly abstract floral imagery in some of her pieces. Others are like the artistic spawn of alien lifeforms. Triple fine white neon lines define a delicate duo of roses; another double rose image beams in thicker, surreal burnt orange. A bee-hive of blue, pink, and lime neon swims within a fragile plastic shell; a glowing orb, “Inner Sight,” appears to be a slice of a planet, parts of it volcanic-lava red, others sea blue and deep pink.
Linda Sue Price works with a wonderfully graceful blend of abstract neon shapes paired with backgrounds that point to social, political, and environmental issues. Emotional and evocative, her combination of coils and colors, create a palette that often looks like shades of water or sunlight, and with her carefully culled backgrounds, mesh into one cohesive, compelling expression. Price occasionally uses words in her backgrounds as with “Turn left — when you exit the cave.”
Lisa Schulte, here collaborating with set designer Jason Howard, create a sci-fi world with a mixed media installation piece about the idea, ritual, and humanity – or lack thereof – in the compulsion of taking a selfie. A framed aqua neon work reads “No Selfie Control.” “It’s All About the Selfie,” reads another in hot pink. Bathed in that same pink, a series of smooth white mannequins stare at the phones in their hands. In violet, the sign “Me, Me, Me” more or less sums it up. With this vision of mirrors and faceless mannequins, we are confronted with the very visceral truth that selfies may make us less real, less human, than our own faces in the mirror of actual perception.
But back to my opening thought – even a truth as startlingly recognizable as Schulte’s goes down more gracefully in neon.
The warmth and color of the medium always gives viewers that glow, and that may be the ultimate message.
Eastern Projects Gallery
900 N Broadway Suite 1090, Los Angeles, California 90012