Water & Power @ Roadside Attraction
Saturday, Nov 10, 2012
Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, CA, is pleased to open Roadside Attraction, a new temporary outdoor gallery at 733 North Fair Oaks Avenue. Sited on a traffic-heavy, vehicular corridor, Roadside Attraction consists of three vinyl, 8 x 12’ panels mounted on a wooden framework, resembling an oversized, z-fold screen. The structure was designed to be visible to commuters and pedestrians moving north and south along North Fair Oaks Avenue, offering a friendly encounter with art along a public thoroughfare.
Over the course of the next year, Armory will install rotating exhibitions at Roadside Attraction, developed in tandem with concurrent exhibitions in the Armory’s Caldwell Gallery. The first exhibition, Water & Power, will be on display starting Monday, August 18, 2012.
Since 2008 Armory has mounted a series of environmentally conscious public artworks at 733 N. Fair Oaks Ave., a city-owned lot. To continue this trajectory, Armory has selected works by Whitney Bedford, Katie Shapiro, and Emilie Halpern, three artists included in the Armory’s upcoming exhibition Facing the Sublime in Water, CA, on display from October 7, 2012 – January 13, 2013.
About the artists in Water & Power
The works in Roadside Attraction’s first exhibition, Water & Power, represent the terror of the sublime, the dread a person can feel when facing the threshold of the uncertain.
The expressive, at times violent brushstrokes in painter Whitney Bedford’s lush canvases build up only to destroy underlying drawings of shipwrecks at sea. Updating a classic academic maritime theme, Bedford’s tumultuous, fraught imagery reflects aspects of the turbulent economic, political, and social climate of today. Here, her work Untitled Shipwreck (Seduction) serves as a votive for lost love.
Katie Shapiro’s Malibu Sandbags photography series explores the cohabitation of nature and humans on the prime beachfront properties of Malibu, California. This body of work is a topical response to current issues of economic struggle and environmental change. The sandbags serve to protect homes and, simultaneously, as a de-facto privatization the public beach. Shapiro’s project investigates class struggle and the dramatic environmental changes that affect social relations.
Emilie Halpern’s Nocturne is a day-for-night photograph of the Atlantic Ocean. Advertisers have been known to use the word “sex” as a subliminal message hidden within the ice cubes of a drink or the curls of a woman's hair. In this case, Halpern appropriates this Madison Avenue strategy by poking holes into the moonlight on the waves and spelling the word “love.”
About Facing the Sublime in Water, CA
This upcoming group exhibition offers metaphors for the hopeful notion that constraints and desperation can provide constructive applications and outcomes in a variety of social, political, and personal contexts. Whether accidentally or on purpose, constraints can make an idea, an action, or an object fluid. The conflict that arises from this idea lies at the core of Facing the Sublime in Water, CA.
The reference to the utopian locale of “Water, CA” in the show’s title evokes a hypothetical place where human needs are met humanely. Water itself is a highly contested resource in California and globally. The urgency of the environmental movement and the necessity for a sustainable and ethical approach to meeting basic human needs around the world, are characterized by very real constraints, palpable desperation, and persistent optimism.
The idea for the exhibit began as a response to a fascination with the California's largest lake, the Salton Sea – a geographic anomaly that was created by an agricultural blunder and is so immense that it is visible from space. This is what inspired artists Nicole Antebi and Enid Baxter Blader to explore water issues and create a project entitled Water, CA, a website that includes images and texts Antebi and Blader gathered from artists, environmentalists, and historians that address the history and representation of water and its use through the lens of artistic production. Curator Irene Tsatsos was later inspired to create an exhibition checklist that would become a page on their website, which has now been realized as the aforementioned exhibit. In addition to the work of twelve other artists, Antebi and Blader have been invited to bring their website to life in the form of an exhibition within the exhibition – a gallery dedicated to drawings, photographs, texts, books, and videos derived from their research over many years. The elliptical relationship between these platforms – the website, the exhibition, and the exhibition catalogue – reflects the fluid constraints at the center of the show.
In addition to Antebi and Blader, the exhibition will include work by Judie Bamber, Whitney Bedford, Roi Clarkson Colman, Harry Dodge and Stanya Kahn, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ger van Elk, Emilie Halpern, Luis G. Hernandez, D’nell Larson, Charles Long, Kate Shapiro, and Mineo Mizuno. The exhibition and accompanying publication are funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Steven B. and Kelly Sutherlin McLeod Family Foundation, and Helen N. Lewis and the Marvin B. Meyer Estate.
About Roadside Attraction
Roadside Attraction and its inaugural exhibition, Water & Power, have been organized by Irene Tsatsos with project management by Sinead Finnerty-Pyne. Funding for Roadside Attraction and Water & Power comes from the National Endowment for the Arts. Design support for this project was generously provided by Peter Tolkin Architecture.