Must See Before Christmas

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I want to talk, today, about two gallery exhibitions by artists who were, until recently, unfamiliar to me. But, the moment I stepped into these galleries, I was won over by their theatric presentation and dramatic personal stories shared through their work.


Installation shot: Aaron Fowler: Exceedingly and Abundantly Blessed. M+B Gallery. Photo by Edward Goldman.

Aaron Fowler (b. 1988), who lives and works in Los Angeles and New York, has an exhibition at M+B Gallery in West Hollywood. After a little research, I realized that I had seen Fowler’s work in the recent Made in L.A. biennial at Hammer Museum, where he had a big mixed-media wall sculpture of an El Camino car. It was one of my favorite pieces in the whole show.


Installation shot: Aaron Fowler: Exceedingly and Abundantly Blessed. M+B Gallery. Photo courtesy the gallery.

Entering the dark galleries of M+B Gallery, with its walls covered in broken mirrors, you feel as if you’re on a stage, surrounded by mysterious creatures. These creatures are phantasmagorical hybrids: large-scale assemblages that bridge the categories of painting and sculpture (M+B).


Installation shot: Aaron Fowler: Exceedingly and Abundantly Blessed. M+B Gallery. Photo courtesy the gallery.

Aaron Fowler sees this exhibition, titled "Exceedingly and Abundantly Blessed," as a tribute to his immediately family. And, indeed, his exhibition feels like you are enjoying a happy, rambunctious Christmas party with a few extra drinks. Be sure to see Aaron Fowler’s exhibition before it closes this Saturday, December 22.

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Installation shot: Tavares Strachan: Invisibles. Regen Projects. Photo by Edward Goldman.

The solo exhibition of New York-based artist Tavares Strachan (b. 1979) at Regen Projects feels like a major museum exhibition. The gallery walls are painted black, which makes his assemblages, sculptures, lightboxes, and neon works hold your attention in a particularly dramatic way.


Installation shot: Tavares Strachan: Invisibles. Regen Projects. Photo by Edward Goldman.

The artist was born in the Bahamas, which was once part of the British Empire. The title of the exhibition, Invisible, is a reference to two books – the Bible, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. The heart of this exhibition is a room with 15,000 entries from the artist’s own book, Encyclopedia of Invisibility. Stepping further into the dark space, one finds neon wall text, telling the story of Robert Lawrence, the first African-American to be trained as an astronaut. Unfortunately, Lawrence died in a plane crash and never realized his dream of traveling into outer space.


Installation shot: Tavares Strachan: Invisibles. Regen Projects. Photo courtesy Regen Projects.

Now, almost 50 years since Robert Lawrence’s death, Strachan has sent a 24-carat gold Egyptian-inspired jar with a bust of Lawrence into space on the most recent SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch. Yes, we are talking about cosmic space. On school buildings around the world, Strachan has placed a beacon to light up whenever the satellite with the artwork passes overhead, with the goal of sharing Lawrence’s story with schoolchildren. This space project is all thanks to LACMA’s Art + Technology Lab Artist Grant, awarded to the artist in 2014.

Strachan’s exhibition at Regen Projects is closing this Saturday, December 22, and you definitely don’t want to miss your chance to observe and taste the mystery and magic of his storytelling.

Credits

Host:
Edward Goldman

Producers:
Benjamin Gottlieb, Kathleen Yore