The Difference

Montreal vs. LA in Long Beach

Call it a gallery show with the guts of a wrestling match: we see what they got, and they see what we got, and to the victor go some modest commissions! This Montreal vs. LA exhibition (curated by the unbeatable Mariko Jones) trades work between local LA artists and a Canadian collective called the Young Peoples Foundation, giving young artists an early shot at an international showing and giving local audiences a shot of pride (or shame) when they see what the visiting team comes up with.

And so the first half of this Montreal vs. LA exhibition—the second half, which includes the LA team's work, opens July 14 at the Jeff Electric Gallery at 3022 W. Sunset Blvd. in LA—is dedicated solely to loose works from the YPF, a 14-member mixed/multimedia collective that delivers here a very jittery sort of show. These kinds of way-post-Basquiat stream-of-consciousness snapshots wouldn't have looked too out-of-place in a back corner of "Beautiful Losers," but there's still a certain—not shallowness—but flatness? Most of the YPF art is as simple and instant as a Polaroid shot, something that might be one of the hallmarks of the collective: one previous show had each member cranking out an original piece every 24 minutes for 24 hours. That's impressive—they topped like 40,000 square inches total—but it doesn't leave much time for contemplation.

Pieces like Eric Shinn's chess constructions (geometric designs derived from chess movements) or Tyson Bodnarchuk's detention-hall doodles or Milena Roglic's sine-wave op-art don't push much past what-you-see-is-what-you-get. The standouts instead are the artworks with a little more foundation. Aaron McConomy's spiral-leafed tree and depantsed TV set posters are subdued second cousins to the oversaturated graphics of Montreal's SeriPop, and Danijela Pruginic's twin photos of women (printed through reverse-silhouetted cutouts of tree leaves) have a depth and warmth that pen-and-ink chicken scratch just can't match, unless that chicken scratch comes out of Raymond Pettibon.

In fact, there's a noticeable enough LA influence in the YPF—besides Pettibon, psyche-doodler Florencio Zavala might find some strange resemblances to his own work—that it saps some of the vigor from this little wrestling match. Without the tip-off on the advertisements, the YPF's artwork could have come from . . . right here. Which is probably exactly what they'll say about the LA team's debut in Canada: "Hey, guys, this looks just like Marcel Dzama!" Except doesn't Dzama live in Silverlake now? So we win!

MONTREAL VS. LA WITH THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S FOUNDATION AT OPEN BOOKSTORE, 144 LINDEN AVE., LONG BEACH, (562) 499-OPEN. THROUGH AUG. 6. FREE.

 
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