Art Insider May 5: Relief fund for arts workers, interactive virtual landscape, paper city to make at home

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A new grassroots relief fund was initiated by art workers for art workers. Image courtesy of L.A. Art Workers Relief Fund.

A new grant is raising funds for art workers who’ve been affected by COVID-19. A virtual gallery allows viewers to explore an offshore art island. One gallery features sculptures on their front yard. Chris Burden inspires an at-home art project about building a paper city.

A new relief fund is geared toward art workers

Many art workers are facing uncertain financial futures during COVID-19. They play vital roles in the art world: art handlers, shipping coordinators, administrators, educators, writers, fabricators, security guards, and docents. Most are freelance, part-time, and without benefits. 

The L.A. Art Workers Relief Fund, which was initiated by three art workers, aims to  raise $250,000 to distribute in $1000 grants to those affected by COVID-19. 

“Whether you’re an established artist or art collector with a big heart, a gallery director who values your team, a museum board member interested in righting the ship ... we cannot do this without you!” urges their GoFundMe page

The initiative is a project of the Fulcrum Art’s Emerge Program, and is supported by the Women’s Center for Creative Work and the Los Angeles Artist Census. Recently, mega-gallery Blum & Poe stepped up to support, as well as Josh Baer (of Baer Faxt) and the art packing company Cookes Crating

From a Blum & Poe Instagram post: “[Art workers] are necessary to a healthy ecology of the global art industry. In recent years, art workers have directly contributed to the rapid expansion of a huge variety of art and cultural venues across LA County.” 

If you are in a position to do so, consider supporting the most vulnerable in our art community. 

Donate to the fund

EPOCH Gallery is part viewing room and part video game


Installation view of “End Demo” at EPOCH. Image courtesy of EPOCH Gallery.

As an art critic struggling with the new reality of looking at art virtually, I was a bit skeptical when a new digital gallery popped up on my Instagram feed. 

After visiting EPOCH Gallery’s website, I breathed a sigh of relief. This is not your average viewing room. Artist Peter Wu has created a virtual landscape — a white wreckage floating off the shores of a nondescript city. Zigzagging walls are sprinkled throughout the virtual island, with works of five LA-based artists hung around the maze-like gallery. Viewers can navigate the space like a video game, clicking on each piece to see a larger image and details. A Legend of Zelda-like map in the top corner illuminates your path as you move through the maze, while a soundtrack of ocean waves plays. 

Wu explained to me in an email, “When the quarantine started, I set out to create a virtual gallery to provide artists an engaging platform to experience their works. EPOCH is an artist-run not-for-profit, and all sales go directly to the participating artists to help support them during this time.” 

This exhibition, titled End Demo, is more than a cohesive group show. In this time of digital fatigue, EPOCH entices the viewer with an interactive experience that feels irreverent, like navigating through an art fair in the apocalypse. By offering small discoveries around every corner, Wu gives us a reward for looking, and reminds us why we love to go see art in person: We are hoping to be surprised. 

Enter the exhibition

Parker Gallery takes its new exhibition series outdoors


Installation view of
Sculpture from a Distance at Parker Gallery. Image courtesy of Parker Gallery.

Parker Gallery has come up with a unique solution to safe, socially distant, in-real-life art viewing. They are hosting a series of exhibitions on their front lawn. The gallery, which operates out of a manor house in Los Feliz, will present three two-week outdoor exhibitions, featuring a total of 19 LA-based artists. The series is aptly titled Sculpture from a Distance

The first exhibition — on view now — includes a floppy soft sculpture by Hannah Greely called Lazy Sun, splayed out across tightly mowed grass. A stately aluminum Matt Paweski sculpture stands next to Anna Helm’s line of steel bananas strung between two ad-hoc posts, like a strange and sagging badminton net. A bodacious Ruby Neri ceramic work and a totemic Paul Salveson sculpture straddle the brick entryway. The series of exhibitions will be on view through June 13, with daily viewing hours of 12 to 6 p.m. 

Each two-week show of the series is on view between May 1 and June 13.

A new Los Angeles gallery platform might help smaller galleries weather the storm


The home page of galleryplatform.la. Credit: Gallery Association Los Angeles.

Gallery Platform LA is a new initiative spurred by gallerist Jeffrey Deitch. It’s a hub connecting 60 Los Angeles galleries on one central website. Last week, I talked to Steve Chiotakis about how this effort will help smaller galleries weather the pandemic. Small galleries put in the work of giving artists their first show, discovering new artists as they build a career and name for themselves. 

I explained to Steve, “You can’t just jump straight to a blue-chip gallery like Gagosian if they haven’t heard of you already.” The gallery platform is a clear acknowledgment from the larger galleries of how vital small spaces are to the art ecosystem of the city.

“I like to think we’re the little guys who till the soil,” Ben Lee Ritchie Handler of Nicodim Gallery explained. Lee Foley of Bel Ami, a small gallery in Chinatown, told me over the phone last week, “It’s incredibly encouraging to see the directors of larger galleries defend the diversity of LA’s art scene, with all its quirks and character. I think that’s what gives this town its vitality, and I like to think we can help each other.”

The platform will launch on May 15. Even after stay-at-home orders are lifted, it’ll continue as a gallery association that will coordinate events, gallery maps, and charitable activities. 

Listen to the on-air segment here

Build a paper city inspired by Chris Burden’s Metropolis II


LACMA teaches you to build your own paper city. Photo courtesy of LACMA.

This week’s craft comes from LACMA. The museum staff has been posting weekly tutorials from their teaching artists. The project is inspired by Chris Burden’s Metropolis II, a piece in LACMA’s collection that features a bustling city. 

Materials: 

Paper (printer or lined)
Scissors
Tape (clear tape works well)
Cardboard

Instructions: 

  1. Look around your neighborhood for inspiration: palm trees, cars, buildings, houses. 
  2. Cut out a cardboard base about 12 x 16 inches.
  3. Watch LACMA’s tutorial video for tips on rolling paper to create palm trees, making curly leaves for trees, folding zig-zag mountains, and constructing a 3D car.
  4. Arrange your city pieces together on your cardboard to create a composition that is filled with the busy energy of the city. You can tape some down using the method in the LACMA video, or leave some loose so you can play with the pieces and make your city come alive.