In Conversation with Studio MOMÉ

xArtists Adam and Aaron Mostow at the opening of Studio MOMÉ_s first exhibition_photo by Zan Mostow
Studio MOMÉ; Photo credit Zan Mostow

In conversation with artists Adam Mostow and Eric Mesplé, co-founders of Studio MOMÉ

Written by Jenny Begun
More than 550 people came to Skid Row on a not-so-warm evening in May. Collective excitement was palpable in the air. Studio MOMÉ, co-founded by two artists, collaborators, friends and studiomates, Adam Mostow and Eric Mesplé, opened its doors to the public for the first time. Mostow and Mesplé, each a masterful creator and inventor in his own right, dedicated their grand opening to presenting a group show with artworks ranging from glass and metal sculptures, acrylic and spray paintings, and magical realism light boxes to murals, a taxidermy joystick-controlled sculpture, and ‘technology-mediated’ interactive installations.

James Haunt, who is widely known throughout Los Angeles for his signature avatar of a hot pink woman, greeted the many visitors with a mural on the front facade of Studio MOMÉ. The purple skull on the left side of the metal gate is an illustrated version of Mesplé’s interactive sculpture “Killing Time” that is on view in the group exhibition. The bright blue resembles the glasswork of Adam Mostow while the orange flames are based on a photograph of his blazing torch. The black and gray in the center beneath the MOMÉ logo represents the reflective surface of Mesplé’s “Full Metal Jacket” sculpture, also included in the show. Both works of art, “Killing Time” and “Full Metal Jacket” include glass elements from Adam Mostow. In his signature style, James Haunt effortlessly captured the collaborative spirit of the two studiomates.

After the grand opening, I spoke with Eric and Adam about their artistic practice, the beginnings of Studio MOMÉ, their current group exhibition and their plans for the future.

Jenny Begun: How did you two meet?

Adam Mostow (MO): I met Eric at Big Art Labs – multiple warehouses, subdivided shop spaces made up the “artist compound”. Our studios were a stone’s throw away from each other and we finally met about 2-3 years ago.

Mesplé (MÉ): I had just started working on a sculpture “Killing Time” and had thought to include a large resin hourglass until someone introduced the two of us. Adam brought the option of glass to the table. We had to work really closely together to make the metal support the glass seamlessly. We have been working with each other ever since.

MO: Killing Time pushed the boundary of art and technology as well as being the spark of our friendship and creative future.

JB: Eric, why ferrofluid? You’ve worked with it now for 10 years, does it still unfold its secrets to you?

MÉ: I’m still not sure if I found ferrofluid, or if it found me. 10 years ago, I read about it and was immediately drawn to its physical characteristics. The way it moves is atypical. I found that fascinating.

It has taken me a long time to figure out how to control the fluid the way I envision it. Usually I have an idea of what I want to achieve before I begin tests where I decide exactly how to manipulate the fluid. This is one of my favorite stages because I am constantly learning about new possibilities. The fluid still surprises me at times.

JB: What is most inspiring for you in your work? How do you develop your ideas?

MÉ: The most inspiring thing is to witness viewers having a sense of awe; like they can’t quite grasp what is going on.

I spend much time with my head down, working on the interior of the sculpture and its function. My goal is to combine different fields of study in ways we really don’t anticipate in this day and age. I want to create visual experiences that are more physical than digital. Science and technology involve so much research and development. I bring those principles back to art and apply them to my materials and that feeds into the concept stage of my sculptures. I’ve always thought in 3D and doing as much machining as I do now has amplified this. I am able to begin testing things in my head before I bring them to a physical space that’s more rooted in my studio practice.

JB: Adam, what about you, what fascinates you about glass as a material? 

MO: Wow, so many things…. First off, it would be her mystique. Man’s discovery of glass was originated accidentally on the sands of Mesopotamia dating back at least 3,600 years. After huge bonfires on the beach, scurrying through the ashes the next day, a new material was found. This molten sand helped revolutionize human’s existence.

JB: Your work is centered on natural elements and the ability for man to manipulate them. How do you balance the mediums of wood, metal and glass? What speaks to you about bringing them together?

MO: Since my undergraduate work 15 years ago, I’ve been creating with metal and glass together. With glass, there is a balanced harmony of finesse and strength. The fragile and delicate touch required while glass is in her molten state. Mass, heat, and the constant need to keep her spinning, or gravity sets in, demand from the handler a suave brute force.

Metal is totally the opposite of glass. I can pound on him, drop him, and zap thousand’s of degrees of electricity through him. Yet, sculpting metal, such as making two pieces seamless after the weld, calls for a sly and caressing hand found only on the patient craftsman. The raw and industrial textures of metal, paired with the soft, sleek and elegant make up of glass, lend itself to a natural balance. To me, these two mediums were meant for each other.

As of recent I have started adding wood and plants into my work. Nature has been a big inspiration and teacher since I was a child. The rare wood burl and succulent specimens I have acquired, give an earthy grounding to the metal and glass. I feel the life and neutral tones of these elements warm up the vibe of the composition.

JB: What made you decide to start Studio MOMÉ together?

MO: After a solid 8 years at Big Arts I was ready for a change. I felt a new chapter in life unfolding. Making some big key decisions in life and career choices, I decided it was time to go for it and put art making as my priority. Eric was on that same page and the same exact time…. So the story begun.

As studiomates now at MOMÉ, ideas and the execution of these ideas are happening fast. With each other’s feedback from material use to concepts to “does this look good here?”, our artistic relationship grows everyday and I’m in complete gratitude to have a new brother on this voyage.

MÉ: After a few years of knowing each other, we really wanted to see what would happen if we were both under the same roof. We learned more about each other’s medium and wanted to expand on that and try new stuff. I think Adam and I have really opened up new mediums or new techniques with different mediums. Bringing all this together when we brainstorm is when things tend to kick up a notch. I’ll have an idea or he will, we’ll get to talking and by the end of it we’ve found so many different layers that we can tweak to heighten an affect or conceal a mechanism. It’s been fun to see where things have led just by having one another around to bounce ideas off of, let alone act on them.

As for the space, Skid Row held the right energy for us. The space was a bit raw, but we knew it was special. It took us several months to move in and be ready to share MOMÉ with the public, but we gained a lot of momentum in that time.

JB: What has been the most exciting thing about opening your own studio? 

MO: I would have to say that most exciting thing about the opening has been everything leading up to it. Relinking with my boy James Haunt after several years to bless the front gates of our building was a rockstar session. We laughed, engaged with our community on the block, and reminisced of back in the days at The Spring Art Towers, “5th and nickel.” Adventures of D.T. in the early 2000’s were told over many beers and toasts to where we’ve come. And then, our new buddy Nychos and the Low Bros, who happen to be in town from Germany, caught wind of our wall and Allstar line-up opening going down at MOMÉ. The boys crushed our yard’s wall with a collaborative mural that’s as raw and sleek as the art that lined the one’s inside. The vibe fit perfectly with what we had going on and the excitement peaked, pre show, with blackened hands turned to blurred, yet unforgettable memories.

MÉ: Honestly, I’ve shown my work across the country and MOMÉ is the first place that I was able to really do that on my own terms. Connecting artists directly to their audience is really important to the industry and Adam and I really wanted to seize that opportunity. Having it touch the community downtown has been so fulfilling. We’ve been conceptualizing more programs for the Studio so we can continue to grow that relationship between people and art right downtown.

Having the extra space beyond the workshop area allows us to support other artists. Pretty soon that grew into what you saw at the opening in May. It was about creating an environment that really made each other shine. The variety of disciplines in the show – sculpture, painting, photography and everything else – is something I think we all feel proud of.

Witnessing the energy that came from this hyper collaborative show was really inspiring. The week before the opening was like a chaotic storm of pure creativity. I haven’t been around anything like that in years and knowing it came from something Adam and I dreamed up is rewarding to say the least. We’re really looking forward to what MOMÉ grows into.

JB: At Studio MOMÉ, what are your short- and long-term goals, what projects are you planning for the future?

MÉ: The grand opening really proved our concept of having a gallery space be a part of Studio MOMÉ. We hope to do events like this a few times a year and in the meantime are considering offering glass and metalworking classes, as those can be hard to come by. We know we build a magnetic pull to MOMÉ and what we do with it now will play off of the response we have received so far.

MO: Right now we are open by appointment only and have scheduled the finale of this exhibition to coincide with the LA Design festival on Saturday, June 22. Be sure to expect some big surprises that weren’t there in May!

Eric and I plan on hosting other badass artist’s solo and group shows in the future at MOMÉ.

Stay Tuned…

Studio MOMÉ, an art gallery + workshop in Skid Row
720 Ceres Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021
(310) 795-0977 / @studiomome

Artists included in the current exhibition:
Adam Mostow @adammostow Sculptural metal and glass
Mesplé @mesple Technology-mediated art and sculpture
Cryptik @_cryptik_ Fine Art painting
Saturno @saturnoart Fine Art painting
James Haunt @jameshaunt Spary Pain on Canvas
Jim Embrescia @blowsomeglass Hand-blown sculpted glass
Allison Bagg @abagg Manipulated photography
Doyle @doylehuge Found object sculpture
Aaron Mostow @sum_in_one Spray paint, acrylic

To attend the closing night of the current exhibition at MOMÉ, get your tickets here.

Video from the opening night of Studio MOMÉ
(Credit: Catapult World)

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