High Beams 3 Strikes High Notes in Outdoor Art Exhibitions
Written by Genie Davis
High Beams 3, Laser Snake, which took place for a single night April 17th, was an unabashed occasion of art joy. Fun, lively, COVID-safe with both drive and masked walk-through options, this was a mighty collection of images converged in a parking lot adjoining the Bendix Building in the fashion district.
Like previous High Beams exhibitions, the show featured the work of a variety of art collectives. In this iteration, 515, Acceptable Risk LA (ARLA), Durden and Ray, Last Ditch, Level Ground, Museum Adjacent, Noysky Projects, O’ Project Space, and Tiger Strikes Asteroid (TSALA) were all represented. Featured artists included Rob Brown, Carly Chubak, Chris Collins, Tom Dunn, Serena JV Elston, Scott Froschauer, Jamie Hamilton, Chiho Harazaki, Ricardo Harris-Fuentes, Marina Heintze, Hannah Hughes, Jorge Mujica, Hagop Najarian, Sean Noyce, Max Presneill, Kari Reardon, Kyle Patrick Roberts, Stephanie Sherwood, Beverly Siu, and Surge Witrön. And of course, they could not have done it without the work of resourceful, clever, and naturally, visually stellar curators Carl Baratta, Chelsea Boxwell, Chance Calloway, Dani Dodge, Coffee Kang, Alanna Marcelletti, Rebekah Neel, Sean Noyce, Jordynn Nusz, Louise O’Donnell, Katie Shanks, Katya Usvitsky, and HK Zamani.
The exuberance and pure fun of the exhibition is not to be underestimated, but as purely enjoyable as it was to see art and art friends, it is the quality of the work that deserves the most recognition. There were individual pieces such as the mysteriously other-worldly wooden pyramid by Serena JV Elston, “Jubilee,” and the industrial spider of Max Presneill’s assemblage “WEB” that incorporated exhaust pipes and a disco ball to shape a robotic arachnoid.
Other pieces were mystical, such as Sean Noyce’s lovely swirling vortex/portal, with a pyramid of cords connected to a pool-like mirror and a triangle of candles, “They Will Always Haunt Me.” Both a heritage to one’s ancestors and an incantation to spirits, the work is haunting indeed. Marina Heintze’s “The Glow Up 101” evokes Aztec gods, strange and radiant beings suspended upside down, as if headed straight to the underworld. Using fluorescent gaffer tape, Chiho Harazaki created “Buddha,” a prayerful, many-armed deity also recalling da Vinci’s “Renaissance Man,” and the form of mandalas. This beautiful but all-too-timely Buddha is praying for an end to gun violence, with a broken automatic weapon clutched in uplifted hands above his head. One of the most dazzling works in the exhibition was the group installation “CONSPIRITUALITY” from Rob Brown, Ricardo Harris-Fuentes and Jorge Mujica. It’s a magic mix of color and form that vibrated with illumination and color and could be viewed as a reverential pantheism worshipping nature.
Scott Froschauer contributed three lovely separate pieces, each his signature style of positive and spiritual messages presented through familiar styles of signs. Parking restrictions were replaced by messages of peace that began with the words “IF THERE is to be PEACE…,” highway markers reminded viewers to “Breathe – All we have is NOW,” and “Relax – UR OK.” And perhaps best of all was a lovely, rainbow colored “One Way” neon work that pointed the direction down a small alley and out of the exhibition.
Other installations included enamel and acrylic pieces from Stephanie Sherwood, combined with soft fabric and polyfill figures from Carly Chubek; elsewhere there were glowing, fragile-looking metal sculptures illuminated with golden light created by Chris Collins, and a surprising silvery peacock from Kari Reardon. A lit shadow-screen allowed guests to create their own, ephemeral art moves, too.
And there were performance art pieces. While musicians Hagop Najarian and his daughter Evy performed vibrant, danceable music behind it, Tom Dunn and Surge Witron created artwork on a 4 x 8-foot plastic window that served as their personal and jubilant response to the music, filling the viewing spot with color.
Separating the wheat from the chaff literally, Hannah Hughes and Jamie Hamilton threshed barley grain and offered individual pearls in exchange for bitcoin purchase.
And O’ Projects’ Louise O’Donnell set up a hilarious, pure-LA piece – an SUV turned on its side, tipped with a winch at the start of the evening, around which an interactive comic performance about the “freeway accident” took place. Faux police and paramedic questioned viewer “witnesses” to the scene, and a talking green Hollywood Freeway sign held forth through a bull horn. All the performances, crash victim Amanda Walker a.k.a. Glen Parks, EMT Juliet Deem, officious cop Brett Malone, and Kyle Patrick Roberts doing a star turn as the Hollywood freeway sign, were hilarious, and the tossed car – including the necessary work involved in tipping the engine-less vehicle – added up to the ultimate site-specific outdoor experience.
Named for the line of cars snaking through High Beams’ inaugural exhibition back in September, High Beams 3 Laser Snake was playful, imaginative, and above all, terrific visual art that fit the location as well as the community zeitgeist. Watch out for the next art traffic-stopper.