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August Art Column

August 24th, 2016 by Temple City Tribune

 

Peter Alexander, “Big Red Puff,” 2015, 58 inches by 59 inches. - Courtesy photo

Peter Alexander, “Big Red Puff,” 2015, 58 inches by 59 inches. – Courtesy photo

 

By Jeff Davis

Peter Alexander’s “Sculpture 1966 – 2016: A Career Survey” is on exhibit through Sept.  2 at the Parrasch Heijnen Gallery (1326 A. Boyle Ave., Los Angeles). For more information, call (323) 943-9373. Exhibit is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

READ MORE: Sculpture 1966 – 2016: A Career Survey

There are over 20 sculptures dating back to the 1960s on display, including a number of the early works done in the once toxic cast polyester resin. Many of the older pieces are on loan from museums and collectors, so good luck getting your hands on one of those. However, there are a number of new and exciting works being shown.

The gallery entry room houses three of the Alexander’s very thin, tall, and transparent eight-foot high wedges (that I pray are cemented to the floor); they seem to sway as I walked around them. Continuing, you enter the larger main gallery and see a glowing candy red glossy “Big Red Puff” across the room.

The 58 inch by 59 inch work radiates energy and appears to float effortlessly on the wall, attached only by an invisible cleat clinging to the reverse side. It seems it could fall right off with a slight bump or gust of wind, shattering into a million pieces; the edges are razor thin, becoming translucent at the perimeter. I’m really tempted to touch the glossy liquid-like surface when no one is looking, but probably shouldn’t!

 

Peter Alexander, “Pink Blue Cube,” 1967, cast polyester resin, 8 inches by 8.5 inches by 8.875 inches. - Courtesy photo

Peter Alexander, “Pink Blue Cube,” 1967, cast polyester resin, 8 inches by 8.5 inches by 8.875 inches. – Courtesy photo

 

There are numerous other heavier wedges in every color, shape, size, and density on several raised platforms in the main space but I’m engrossed by a group of six muted color bars hanging together quietly against the white wall; they are screwing up my vision! The grey bar in the cluster will not come into focus despite my repeated efforts to adjust or squint my eyes. This is the exact same phenomenon that caused me to wonder if I was having a stroke when I was first saw Alexander’s memorizing “Waterfruit” painting series a number of years ago. Somehow he once again figures out what colors combinations and distance between the bars creates disturbances of the optic nerves. Not only is the grey bar irritating me but I really want to re-arrange the color bars on the left hand side as well. Alexander has intentionally placed three dark colors right next to each other to further push you out of your comfort zone. Make sure you have an eye plan along with your health insurance if you take this one home.

The most alluring of the resins from the 1960s are the small cubes with additional cubes or spheres of differing colors suspended inside them. The “Pink Blue Cube” from 1967 is a perfect example, the interior cube seems to float in the center of the surrounding square (no idea how he pulled that off). The top and side edges are easy to detect, however, the bottom seems indistinguishable unless one bends down to eye level and stares a bit.

Although it’s a bit of a schlep to downtown LA (I hate the 110!), it is certainly worthwhile. After the Alexander exhibit make sure you head over to the “Arts District” and check out the new Hauser Wirth & Schimmel Gallery located at 901 E. Third St. in Los Angeles.

The gallery focuses on contemporary and modern masters. The massive space includes multiple galleries (entire buildings), an “Artbook” store, Book & Printed Matter Lab, and the restaurant Manuela is opening soon. There is also a large, open-air courtyard to relax and view sculptures within. There is tons of development going on around the complex, including restaurants, additional galleries, housing, and retail.

 

Peter Alexander, “Whatcha Think?”, 77 inches by 71.5 inches by 1.5 inches. - Courtesy photo

Peter Alexander, “Whatcha Think?”, 77 inches by 71.5 inches by 1.5 inches. – Courtesy photo

 

Other opportunities:

Museum of Neon Art – the museum houses a collection of classic neon signs from LA landmarks, including the soon-to-be-revealed Brown Derby sign from the restaurant, a re-creation of the Diver sign from the Virginia Court Motel, The El Gordo Mexican Restaurant sign, and a large Winchell’s Donut House sign, to name a few. The museum offers an introductory eight-week course in neon sign sculpture starting in August where you can create your own sign. There is also Neon Cruise – a nighttime bus tour of neon signs, movie marquees, and permanent installations throughout downtown and Hollywood.

I need your ideas – if you have feedback or exhibits that I should review, please let me know by sending an email to: jeffdavis.2001@gmail.com.

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