Art Insider Feb 4: Instruments in gallery walls, ceramics in the garden, and art in a plumbing store

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Naama Tsabar. Untitled #3 (from the Double Face Museum Series), 2016. Dye sublimation print, polished aluminum frame and chrome guitar. Photographer: Kris Graves. Courtesy of the Artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles.

An artist collaborates with musicians to perform her sculptures; ceramic sculptures are made with radio antennas and air filters; and three brothers exhibit in their family’s former plumbing supply store. 

Naama Tsabar at Shulamit Nazarian


Naama Tsabar,
Inversions, installation view. Image courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles. 

At Shulamit Nazarian Gallery in Hollywood, large monochrome felt wall works are not as they seem. They appear to be austere, minimal color field works, but they are in fact instruments embedded with mics and attached to amplifiers, awaiting musicians or curious gallery-goers to activate them.

Inversion #1 take this one further, embedding one of Tsabar’s custom instruments (culled from guitar, banjo, harp, and violin parts) directly into the gallery wall. A set of tuning pegs protrudes from the wall next to two cavities that invite brave participants to blindly feel around for strings to strum (like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday tentatively sticking her hand into the Mouth of Truth). 

This week, Tsabar and her five collaborators are holding a closed workshop in the gallery, together experimenting and uncovering the potential of her staged instruments, which will culminate in a set of performances in the gallery where the six will activate the sculpture-cum-instruments. 

Space is limited, so RSVP is necessary, or you can check out the gallery another time, and play the musical sculptures for yourself. 

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Going into this week’s workshop with her performers, Tsabar admits that she really doesn’t know what the destination will look like. 

“It’s such a learning curve for me,” Tsabar explained to me recently. “It’s nerve-wracking, but I learn a lot about the work. … I’m more interested in forms and the relationship to the performer’s body rather than the sound it makes. The visual predates the sonic. And then when its done, that’s when we explore. Every form that’s [in the exhibition] has not been performed on — we haven’t figured it out yet.” 

As Tsabar talks about the process of the workshop, she uses words like “uncover, discover, learn.” 

Although the performance is under the umbrella of her artwork, she does not direct the performers towards a predetermined outcome. 

She explains, “It’s all-female and gender non-conforming musicians, so it’s sort of about mastering and learning, but not in the obvious gender when it comes to mastering an instrument. For me, the fragmentation is key. It’s many sources of power rather than one central one.” 


Naama Tsabar. Melody of Certain Damage (Opus 3), 2018. Broken electric guitar, strings, microphone, screws and amplifier. Image by: Eyal Agavayev. Courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles.

On view: January 10–February 29, 2020
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Kathryn O’Hallaran at Bozo Mag


Kathryn O’Hallaran,
Self Reliance is Not a Thing, installation view. Image courtesy of the artist and BOZO MAG. Photos by Walker Olesen.

Walking down the garden path into Kathryn O’Halloran’s exhibition at Bozo Mag, a small gallery nestled into a back-house garage, it’s hard to distinguish where exactly the exhibition begins. Ceramic works sit amongst cacti and orange trees throughout the yard. Urn, a tear-dropped and thumby ceramic form sprouts flowers out of its sides and a burning incense stick out of its pointed top. 

As the exhibition unfolds into the gallery space, the show title, Self-Reliance is not a Thing, seems like a misnomer. Throughout, O’Halloran’s idiosyncratic ceramic forms mingle with air filters, silver leaf, radio antennas, and reflectors, suggesting DIY prepper-type constructions, outfitted for some unknown use.

Although always hemmed in by a delicate ephemeral touch, it is unclear how exactly these works might provide some kind of post-apocalyptic function. Instead, they exist as modern trophies to our anxious time. 

On view: January 1–March 1, 2020
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Don’t Think: Tom, Joe and Rick Potts at POTTS


Don’t Think; Tom, Joe and Rick Potts (installation view) (2020). Image courtesy of the artists and POTTS. 

At POTTS, an artist-run space set in a former plumbing supply store in Alhambra, the gallery is hosting its last show before closing. Fittingly, the exhibition features the three Potts brothers who ran the plumbing store (also called Potts), and still have art studios in the back room. 

The exhibition highlights the experimental nonchalance of the three and makes little distinction between “Art” with a capital-A, and other types of creative output that are less-often elevated to the gallery walls. 

Doodles are collaged across steel file cabinet doors (like a child’s artwork put up on the fridge), and a previously functional storage rack made of pipes sits center stage in the gallery space, like a minimalist monolith. 

The exhibition is light-hearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Although it is a show of art objects, art seems beside the point. Tom Potts, who made the functional pipe sculpture, explains in the press release, “For me, it is all about acquiring assorted pieces and putting them together to make something new.”

On view: December 8, 2019–February 16
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