May 31st - July 3rd, 2014
2642 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, Ca 90034
310 839 1840
May 31st, 6 - 8 pm
I think the press release says it best...
Walter Maciel Gallery is pleased to announce Maker, a solo exhibition of new work by Philadelphia artist J.A. Christensen. Christensen’s textiles, sculptures, and drawings reflect upon the history of early twentieth-century American manufacturing and the politics embedded in historical and contemporary forms of labor and craftsmanship.
For this exhibition, Christensen references a number of visual and textual sources from the earlier part of the twentieth-century, a time marked by rising industrialization, labor disputes, assembly-line production, the advent of prohibition and international conflict. Sweet Perfections consists of a series of round wooden signs shaped and hand-painted by Christensen, which appropriate the short jokes and maxims found on pinbacks included in cigarette packages from the early decades of the 1900s. Phrases like Oh! I Just Love Work and Don’t Give It Away are rendered in sign-painters enamel by a shaky hand that results in purposefully imperfect lettering. As such, their method and their image calls to mind the commitment of the individual maker and the conflation of his/her personal limitations with a then-developing (now established) culture of image and technology that promises efficiencies and standardization.
Christensen will also present ink drawings inspired by a Prohibition-era advertisement of animated liquor bottles careering out of control that then warned of the dangers of alcohol abuse. In Christensen’s drawings, empty bottles are stand-ins for people estranged from each other who either seek reconnection or confrontation: playing guitar (G-C-D), being arrested (The Arrest), and being fired from a job (We’re Going to Have to Let You Go). These interactions are drawn in a style that pays homage to George Herriman, Robert Crumb and Philip Guston. The large wall painting Safety....Is People Not Getting Hurt references a sign seen by the artist hanging in a decommissioned city transit garage. Its re-contextualization in the gallery as a mural poses questions about physical health in relationship to psychological health within the regulated and mechanical production of Capitalist enterprise, a system that includes and often subsumes art.
All of the works presented in Maker are marked by an intentional hand-made quality that Christensen calls “home-spun.” As such, they pay homage to this country’s history of working-class immigrant labor and point to the value of the individual’s unique contribution to the whole.
J.A. Christensen lives in Philadelphia. He has exhibited his sculpture and drawings at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, Rena Bransten Gallery, and the College of Marin Art Gallery, amongst other places. He is the recipient of a Eureka Fellowship Award, and his work is included in the permanent collection of the M.H. De Young Memorial Museum. This exhibition will be Christensen’s second solo show with the gallery.