They Gave at the Office

A great gallery closes, and it’s partially your fault

Here's yet another thing to hate George W. Bush for: The endlessly imploding economy is wreaking havoc on the fine-art market, and a lot of wonderful galleries around the nation are being forced to close their doors for good. For we art-lovers who aren't stinking rich, it's easy to forget that for a gallery to stay open, somebody actually has to buy that stuff. Just going in there to ooh and ahh about how pretty everything is, and then leaving, won't pay the rent.

But if any local gallery should've been able to make a go of it, it's the Office in Huntington Beach. Started four-and-a-half years ago by Chris Hoff, the Office was a side project to his successful staffing company, Two Roads Professional Resources. Hoff brought a more solid financial foundation to the project than a lot of gallery startups enjoy, as well as a fine curatorial eye and a commitment to giving some of our most innovative and underexposed local artists the showcase they deserved. In recent months, the gallery has featured everything from Matthew Price's Goth cutie-pie paintings to Mindy Cherri's naughty dinner plates to performances by the oddball art troupe the League of Imaginary Scientists. It's one of those galleries where you're pretty much always guaranteed to find something worth your time.

And now it's going away. And it's all the President's fault. Well, it's also your fault, for not buying anything there. But what the hell, let's just blame W. God knows, everything else is his fault.

The folks at the Office are hoping to reopen someplace else in OC, but, failing that, "Re-Perspectives" will be their final show. They hit you with a thick blast of artspeak about the show's unifying theme, but we gather that theme is basically using modern sensibilities to look at the past—an act of fittingly bittersweet nostalgia.

Audrey Chan's Boomerang is the piece that will really haunt you. It's one of those installations in which you step inside a little dark room to watch TV—but what bracing and sometimes horrifying TV it is, featuring some fairly graphic footage of war atrocities and Chan's own, dark commentary. After a harrowing experience like that, Seth Price's more modest video work, Romance, comes as sweet relief. It's based on the text adventure video games of the late '70s and early '80s and will be a real kick for gamers who are just old enough that they're starting to get a touch of osteoarthritis in their thumbs from all those years of hitting X-triangle-O until dawn.

The problem with performance pieces is that when they're over, it's like they never happened. Video can preserve something of a piece, but the real power of the thing is often lost. Ana Teresa Fernandez has come up with a novel way around this: She did a performance in which she writhed around all sexy-like on an ironing board, and then she chronicled that performance in a pair of lavish oil paintings, To Press 1 and To Press 3. The technique is more interesting than whatever message Fernandez is getting at (frankly, they kind of look like illustrations for an article in one of your more high-class porno mags), but Robert Hollister's Career Opportunities for Young Women, 1974-2007 is more effective, using photos to capture working women through the decades. The lesson learned? The working world sucks, has sucked and will continue to suck for the foreseeable future. Although it must be said that the very '70s-looking Kodak photographic salesgirl seems to be having a pretty fine time.

You have to love a show that can include a punch in the gut like Boomerang and a geeky libido tickler like Gioj de Marco's WWII: Dog Fighting Mode. Basically, it's a photo of Wonder Woman's ass, seen from below, seemingly squished against a pane of glass. It took us a while to figure out what's going on: She's flying over us in her invisible jet, engaged in a furious air battle. Yeah, maybe it says something about patriotism or America itself—like, it's a naughty peek up the skirt of our national arrogance or something. But let's not try to intellectualize this too much: It's a great big, beautiful photo of Wonder Woman's ass, in her satin tights, fighting for our rights.

For that alone, the good folks of the Office deserve our gratitude.


"RE-PERSPECTIVES" AT THE OFFICE: AN ART SPACE, 5122 BOLSA AVE., STE. 110, HUNTINGTON BEACH, (714) 767-5861; WWW.THEOFFICEART.COM. CALL FOR HOURS. THROUGH OCT. 12.

 
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