Artist David Gilbert’s studio feels like a private exhibition, an intimate installation for two or three to visit. Colorful yarn and torn fabric sculptures hang from the ceiling like ceremonial ornaments. Small sticks are placed on wooden painted planks reminiscent of forts built by children but in a pastel color palette. Smears of paint cover the walls which he has placed photos atop of, accents to a natural “mess.” There are odd items that draw you in, demanding you pay them their due attention: a dainty veiled box tacked to the wall, a precarious pair of scissors hangs at eye level, a tiny statue of The Blue Boy has a cardboard roll on its head, and shoe strings, paperclips, safety pins, parts of paint cans, and notecards feel like a chorus of joining tools.
The notecards feel most important. Some have instructive notes like “Paint This” or “Draw Me” while others are more cryptic, making political comments like “Public Execution” and “Boats.” They talk to each other and let you in on Gilbert’s process: a visitor to his studio feels like they are interrupting a conversation being had by a group of conversation hearts. It’s an exciting, dynamic space few visit.
Collage is an art form considered to be two dimensional. It consists of layering images to build a new image, a whole from many disparate parts. Rarely does collage enter different disciplines but elements of the practice can appear in music, film, performance, design, writing, and more. Cutting and pasting—the actions that make collage—are embedded into our culture now: we are all collage artists in our own way.
Then there is the work of Miwa Matreyek, an artist and performer whose work proves that collage is more than the couple of dimensions that we give it. Instead of cutting and pasting one piece of paper to another, why not cut a piece of paper and paste it to a sound? Why not cut a movement and paste it to a lighting effect? Why not cut a concept and paste it to an entire set of physical actions? This is how Miwa approaches collage: it isn’t an art form locked in a binary but is an entryway to experimentation.
Most people know Ashkahn Shahparnia by his first name. This isn’t an obvious statement of his having a first name, no, but instead alludes to his going by mononym: he is only known as Ashkahn. His solo name is intentional and is influenced equally by popular culture and Los Angeles.
“I was obsessed with Bijan and his billboards growing up,” he explains. “Seeing him with Michael Jordan and him with Bo Derek was the epitome of the California dream. He owned a big yellow Rolls Royce and had a store on Rodeo! He was so shameless and marketed himself as a person instead of a brand, saying that you are buying him instead of the name of a product.”
“That’s one of the reasons why I use my very Iranian name,” he laughs.
After three months, Morgan Alexander has declared 2014 to be a good year. “I’m laughing, ‘cuz in a lot of ways I’m a different person than I was when you first got in touch right before new year’s,” he says. “It was a big one for resolutions, which I never usually do, and somehow I’ve kept up with all of them! All sorts of stuff… I gave up meat, which I’ve wanted to do forever. I also cancelled cable, which instantly made me wonder why I hadn’t done it ages ago. I’ve been running and riding my bike consistently. I’ve even been flossing every night. And oh, hey, I just gave my notice at possibly the best day gig anyone could ever have.”
Atop of all of this (and arguably what’s spurred it), Morgan and his wife welcomed a daughter in September of last year. “I now possess an incredible amount of knowledge about giving birth in Los Angeles. This whole interview could be about that—but I’ll spare you! The reality is I’m turning into a walking talking thirty-something cliché.”
“You know how it is, the techno life.” He quips, realizing that our small talk has led us quite far afield from the initial premise of our chat.
Pearl C. Hsiung has been working on her latest body of work for almost four years. “I shot it in Yellowstone National Park in 2010!” she says with a laugh. “We shot ten hours of footage a day over four nights, five days, captured before daylight through sunset. It took a couple of years to digest it.”
The piece is called Yellowstoner and is a video piece that she debuted very recently at Human Resources. Looking around her Glassell Park studio a few days before the show, you could see bits and pieces from the project in the room. “The video—which is the main piece of the show—is pretty much ready to go: I am waiting for one final piece of audio and then I will be exporting it for looping,” she explains. She motions to works on her wall: “These are paper works that will go around the space. I had been painting these words and texts on watercolor paper: it was a good occasion to push that through and expand on other parts of my practice that don’t have anything to do with making a picture.”