When you hear that Joel Heflin is working on a master's in theology, everything clicks into place. "Found Measure Project" is godly work—just as haphazard, with just as much inattention to detail, and with as little reason to do it as the son of a bitch who created black lung, the banana slug and the beautiful mind of Barbara Bush.
Heflin goes out to the desert, to pitiless landscapes of dirt and scrub, and finds long-abandoned trailers and shotgun shacks. Then he paints them, with a long roll-on brush, in Easter hues of lavender and sunshine yellow. You know: and salmon. He's gilding the lilies of the field, if the lilies of the field were extruded aluminum boxes crammed with kitchen farms and tattered issues of Oui, and for no other reason than that they could use a little sprucing up. He doesn't spruce them up particularly well, though. He doesn't tape off the trim or paint the slats that show through the gaping holes in the siding. It's the epitome of slapdash, exactly the way I once painted my living room on the hottest day of the year, except that Heflin's palette sadly lacks the jewel tones of Pepto-Bismol and aquamarine.
It's Martha Stewart, guerrilla-style. It's the underachiever's take on Christo, or Robert Smithson of Spiral Jetty: it doesn't need a lot of lead time, much orange sheeting or an environmental impact report, just a pan of paint and a camera, but the landscape is changed once Heflin's been through. The sky is bluer, the ground more forgiving, and the mean little cactus less of a threat and more of an ecosystem, if one home to few things besides rattlers and speed freaks.
In one "after" shot, nimbus clouds shoot out from behind a newly periwinkle shack like a corona of God's favor. Sure, it's all Potemkin: on the inside, the joyless, desolate boxes are just as rotted through and filled with plague and mouse droppings as they ever were. But the outside? Well, doesn't that make you feel a whole lot better?
"FOUND MEASURE PROJECT" AT THE OFFICE, 5122 BOLSA AVE., STE. 110, HUNTINGTON BEACH, (714) 767-5861. CALL FOR HOURS. THROUGH FEB. 10.