The golden barrel cactus -Mexico. ( Echinocactus grusonil)
Beside spending a lot of time in studio mode I have made visits to numerous galleries, museums and gardens here in L.A. The Hammer, The Getty Center, The Broad, MOCA, Geffen, LA Louver, Museum of Jurassic Technology, commercial galleries and the impressive Huntington Gallery/gardens. Ancient, historical, modern, contemporary and very live art is all to be found here in L.A. I have been lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time in an L.A studio and that time was spent productively looking at art, thinking about art, experimenting with art and making quit a lot of it in studio 3 at the 18th Street Art Center.
An open studio event was held on 14th September at the Art Center so a great deal of my L.A art activity was put up on the wall for the public to see alongside earlier pearl shell work from Broome W.A. A really enjoyable mix of people dropped by from many walks of life. One guy arrived rather late on an electric skateboard with a surprising name and title - Brother Somarge Embassodor Bishop, Doctor, James Councillette, the presiding Bishop of St James Holiness of the Church of our living Father and Christ which is the colour of the ground of the Foundation of Truth. He kindly gave Carolina a lesson on how to skateboard then skated off into the mysterious night.
A short essay from the Santa Monica studio
The US of A. What a strange and extreme part of the world. A heavily armed hi tech empire that is as rich as hell, heavily religious, somewhat fearful or possibly a little megalomaniacal. Simultaneously protecting world democracy across the planet while at war with its self. In 2018 there were almost 40,000 hand gun deaths in USA (60 % of these were suicides) The wild west is alive and well it seems and highly stressed out. This nation is polite but acts somewhat aloof. Extremely insular but fascinating without a doubt. American culture has rapidly spread globally from Hawaii to Antarctica. Across all continents in a very short period of time and further afield I believe an American flag is still planted on the moon! There is a great deal to like about the country and I have met many excellent people here so please regard this essay as the fuzzy generalisation about an impressive nation from the jottings of a brief alien visitor. What I see is - the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY, all on a very large scale. American culture including hard core capitalism has infected the planet. One example is Hollywood as nowhere seems immune to its entertaining influence. Cinema has been one of the popular tools for cultural dissemination and used successfully for decades. We recently watched two Hollywood movies set in Hollywood, about Hollywood and both impressively displayed the darker sides of the United States with a focus on Hollywood. Map of the stars (David Cronenberg) and Once upon a time in Hollywood. (Quentin Tarantino) As we watched these films I pondered the film industry and the USA as a nation. I realised that when I arrived recently into the USA I had similar feelings as I did the first time I landed in India some years ago which sounds a little odd. Why did I feel so? These two countries really have nothing in common or do they?
Strong colour and excitement are to be found in each nation and they both have enormously popular cinema industries. Hollywood is more globally spread than Bollywood but Bollywood actually makes twice as many movies and is watched by more people across the planet. Both countries are cosmopolitan and recently constructed nations thanks to the British colonisation process. Therefore both use English as the primary language to make communication smooth nationally. (although the USA will be a Spanish speaking nation by 2050)
There is noticeable ultra wealth and noticeable devastating poverty in each nation. Shiny mansions or palaces are to be found on hills offering fancy views while flimsy tent slums covered in dust are never too far away. A stratified class structure with monstrous jumps between those groups loaded with money, power and stuff and those groups with only what they can carry in bent shopping trollies or woven plastic bags. Both lands have huge populations of underpaid workers doing all the menial jobs. Illegals/foreigners in the USA and the low caste population in India. Both countries are diverse regarding religious activity and beliefs. India being more old style bizarre and broad in its debates and beliefs but the USA catches up with its many weird and wonderful new religious organisations/businesses. Most Americans are Christians and most Indians are Hindi and generally both populations of adherents respect and follow the required religious rituals/antics. We can also find many cults created in both lands which generate astronomical numbers of followers, none of whom seem to bother too much with intelligence, logic or facts.
In each nation unique people wander about the streets gossiping to gods or screaming at invisible demons, peacefully meditating, dancing with invisible pixies, chanting, praying, wearing elaborate attire, waving banners to warn or inform everyone about this or that unsound topic. Saddhus, schizophrenics, religious zealots, drug damaged dudes, psychos, happy clappers, ect. At times it is rather tricky to differentiate between who is who. All rather interesting characters, all with extreme stories to tell and all living in downtown Follywood. (wherever that is.) The inhabitants of Follywood do unusual things in public spaces that are either intentional or not or confusingly both. Frightening, sad or funny, meaningful or messed up. Informative prophets orating fuzzy beliefs or space cadets chattering in tongues can all be seen and heard on a long stroll in L.A or Mumbai. Help seems very faraway.
The population density in some areas of these lands is also frightening. Far too many folk packed together trying to live. All mega cities are crammed full of people and many are consuming snacks while watching either Hollywood or Bollywood on screens of various sizes. I sadly cannot muster myself to indulge in any Bollywood song and dance as the colour scheme of my personal wardrobe just wont permit it. Dark blue, grey and black are light years away from the gaudy fluorescent rainbow palette of the typical Bollywood style. Hollywood or Bollywood? No matter as everyone loves a good story told well and shot in lurid HD. When I sit mesmerised by a story on a screen I prefer to nibble on Indian snacks rather than American popcorn or hotdogs. I also prefer those extraordinary laws that permit cows great freedom as opposed to those extraordinary laws that permit great freedom relating to guns but thats another story…
S.E. Santa Monica. 15/9/19
We managed to do a road trip to Joshua National Park to escape the smog and all that big city fun. Trees, rocks, sky and very fine views. We even spotted a few wild animals and ate some fine BBQ ribs in the amusing Pioneertown. A fake Hollywood town in Yucca Vallery built by an actor in 1946 for making wild westerns which has now has actually turned into a town of sorts.
I was also very lucky to be in L.A when the Hauser and Wirth gallery presented this exhibition - Resilience Philip Guston in 1971. A huge show of work split into two major series. The Nixon Drawings (ink on paper) and the Roma series (small oil paintings on paper from the artists trip to Rome) I am a long term fan so the show was too brilliant to just visit once.
Other news -
- Block Projects gallery exhibited some of my LOST PILGRIM miniatures from Malaysia at the1883 art fair in Sydney.
- I exhibited a special mixed media work in the Shinju Matsuri art show in Broome W.A - titled - HOUSE AND GARDEN - LIFE IN AN AIRCON DONGA OVER A DRY WET WITH DRAGON.
- While in L.A I was interviewed for a podcast about the good old days in Antarctica when I was scooting about the Ice making art in a very different climate compared to sunny warm California.
Carolina is heading to San Francisco and I shall very soon follow her once I pack up the studio here and say farewell to L.A. Soon a productive two months will be completed. It has been very cool being here. I met many warm people and I must say I mustered up some hot new ideas as well.
© Stephen Eastaugh, 2019. All Rights Reserved.