Jeffrey Vallance: The Medium is the Message

Hosted by

Jeffrey Vallance's serious work as a artist, which began while still attending high school in the San Fernando Valley, is defined by a consistency within an extremely varied and superficially innocent collection of drawings, sculptures, books, performances, videos and life adventures.

Jeffrey Vallance, "Duchamp Spirit Readymade" (Mother of Pearl Cuff Links), 2015
Found brass reliquary; glass; velvet; cufflinks
12 3/8 x 7 5/8 x 5 5/8 inches
Courtesy cb1gallery

His current line of inquiry came from the fact that his grandmother, Nina Vallance, was a clairvoyant with a psychic shop in Long Beach. His exhibition at CB1 Gallery, The Medium is the Message, was inspired by an actual seance the artist had organized to take place by professional mediums at the 2010 Frieze Art Fair in London, which I happened to see. Before a packed auditorium, the mediums channeled the spirits of dead artists ranging from Leonardo da Vinci to Andy Warhol. I distinctly remember Jackson's Pollock's remarks from grave, complaining that everything was beige.

Jeffrey Vallance, "The Medium Is the Message; Spirit Photo: Jackson Pollock," 2012
Archival digital photographic print on cotton rag paper
52 x 42 inches; 1 of 4
Courtesy cb1gallery

For this exhibition, Vallance created "spirit photographs" similar to those concocted in the 19th century that purported to capture otherworldly presences that could not be seen by mortal eyes. In large black and white photographs, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp and others are depicted in the presence of mysterious cloudy auras and symbolic aspects of the artist's life or art. Texts with observations from the original sceance are posted next to each photograph, a demonstration of faux objectivity. Ostensibly inspired by the findings of the seance, Vallance created relics for each artist including a reliquary for Duchamp containing pearl cufflinks. Like the best of satirists, Vallance's work is often rife with questions and observations that can be experienced as possibly sincere and possibly mocking.

Jeffrey Vallance, "The Medium Is the Message; Spirit Photo: Jeffrey Vallance" 2012
Archival digital photographic print on cotton rag paper
52 x 42 inches; 1 of 4
Courtesy cb1gallery

This is not Vallance's only inquiry into the afterlife. In what is possibly his best known work, he purchased a chicken at the grocery store, named it Blinky, the Friendly Hen, and gave it a worthy funeral and imagined procession to the afterlife in a video with Bruce Yonemoto and Norman Yonemoto. More recently, Vallance published his own version of the Bible. And throughout his career, he has made art around the customs and rituals of various tribal cultures including birth, death and the afterlife. Vallance uses a tongue-in-cheek approach to disguise or deflect attention from his sincere approach to serious matters. Also on view is Emily Davis Adams' carefully executed, yet quietly droll painting of the enormous rock of Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass at LACMA. On view through September 5.

Nancy Jackson, "Oval Hoop," 2014
Hand-dyed & sewn wool felt, thread, lenticular images, plastic interfacing, wood support, cotton backing 36 x 46 3/4"
Photo: Grant Mudford, courtesy of Rosamund Felsen Gallery

Meanwhile, at Rosamund Felsen Gallery adjacent to CB1, dyed and hand-sewn felt pieces by Nancy Jackson incorporate her usual detailed drawings but rendered as small lenticular discs. One represents images of women, with eyes that open and close, embedded in a design that references cosmology. Others are abstract symbology. It is a wonderful show by an eccentric but always interesting artist. Also on view are the unexpected pleasures of paintings by veteran Les Billar. On view through August 8.