Friday, December 17, 2010

Juxtapoz on Date Farmers by Susie Lee

Thursday, 16 December 2010 13:30

By Susie Lee

Last weekend, we attended the opening of the Date Farmers' show at Ace Gallery Los Angeles. Today, we have an exclusive feature essay on the exhibition and the works themselves, written by contributing author Susie Lee.Juxtapoz Web Staff

It’s no secret that underground art is currently invading the high art world at an alarming rate. With Retna and Barry McGee being named two of Esquire Magazine’s top 5 artists to see at Basel Miami this year, it’s evident that galleries, museums, and collectors are scrambling to be the first to snatch up the underground scene’s next big thing. Low art is becoming high art, and what used to interest big collectors is now becoming a bit of the same old boring game.

One of the best examples of this changing of the guard was seen at the long anticipated Date Farmers opening this Saturday at Ace Gallery. Many were pleasantly surprised to hear that one of the biggest galleries in L.A. had picked up the street culture-inspired underground art duo. Ace Gallery is one of the longest running and most reputable galleries in Los Angeles, and compared to their star-studded roster of museum veterans, underground artists like the Date Farmers seem like quite the radical leap.

But upon taking a close look at the Date Farmers work, it’s not hard to see what it is about their art that appeals to a mega-gallery like this one. One of the duo’s signature elements is their use of discarded corrugated metal signs, found and brought over by the artists from across the border in Mexico. They seamlessly pair these hand-painted signs with found objects and their own text and imagery, creating humorous juxtapositions and altering its meaning, often with satire and subtle social commentary. Their use of found objects like bottle caps, children’s toys, hand-written notes, and newspaper cut-outs are not all that different from the Rauchenbergs you might see hanging in a museum. And their use of pop-culture imagery and corporate logos is reminiscent of the pop art of Andy Warhol, which you could see selling for millions of dollars at an auction house. In many ways, the Date Farmers have a lot more in common with these guys than some of their contemporaries.

But that alone isn’t enough to grab the attention of a powerful man like Ace Gallery’s founder, Douglas Christmas. The Date Farmers offer something new and enticing for a high art world that is catching on like wildfire to a burgeoning underground art explosion. They combine these historically influential techniques with elements of an underground culture that is far removed from the museums, auction houses, and higher echelons of art: street art, tattoo culture, comic book imagery, and of course, cholos.

But to people who are already familiar with underground art and culture, this is nothing new. There is a lot more to the Date Farmers that sets them apart from others in the scene. One element that is distinctly Date Farmers is their power to take you away to a foreign, yet familiar place. The found signs, their warm color palette, and their elaborately cross-hatched illustrations of desert imagery (snakes, tarantulas, coyotes, and skulls) invokes their hometown of Indio, as well as the desert landscape in Mexicali and Oaxaca, where they retrieve some of their found materials. They give you a feeling of being in a hot desert town that could be somewhere across the border or just down the street. El Mac, an Arizona native, flew out for the show and confirmed “they really capture the warmth and feeling of the Southwest.”

While the Date Farmers work can whisk you away, it also takes you to a personal place. Their common objects, hand-written notes, ticket stubs, and tiny religious images taken from churches glued to the canvas have a way of bringing you to a familiar, personal space. Something in their art may trigger a faint memory of something you once held in your hand but have long since discarded, making you feel like there is a piece of yourself on the canvas somewhere. There is an unmistakable genuineness to their work.

Even their identity as the “Date Farmers” is about as genuine as it gets. Their name is not a metaphor, or a joke, or a play on words. One of the artists, Armando Lerma’s family owned a date farm where Carlos Ramirez, the other half of the duo, worked picking dates. Marsea Goldberg of New Image Art, when asked about why she chose to give them their first show, she said “I chose to work with the Date Farmers because their talent. Their artwork had something very fresh and familiar at the same time. I loved their humor and passion straight off the bat and their anger which never stopped to push and question.”

“I think it’s our job as artists to do this kind of work,” says Armando Lerma. “It’s not art for art’s sake, it’s not meant to be pretty. We do have things that we want to say and… we feel this injustice and all that sort of anti-establishment stuff. That’s where we come from. Representing poor people, it’s just always been our culture. We didn’t ever want to be artists just to make art. It was the message that we wanted to against. And I’m not too sure what the message is but I think there are a lot of messages you can see in the artwork depending on your understanding of what’s going on in the world. But there are so many bad things going on in the world, and I think that we touch upon a lot of those things."

While everyone is wondering whether or not this recent trend towards underground art will have a lasting impact on the greater art market, Marsea Goldberg responds with a confident, “Yes, of course. It is the current wave and will last and find its place in art history. It is art for the people!” For the Date Farmers and all of us in the underground scene, let’s hope so.

More pictures of the new work and from the opening night here.

The Date Farmers

Judith Supine Hits The Streets of Los Angeles

Judith Supine came and left Los Angeles in a bat of an eye.
However --- before his departure he managed to attatch his beautiful images thru the city. Los Angeles based,vet. of the
streets, Skullphone showed him the ropes and took these pics before the rains....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Our Miami Show (Non- Stop Party People)

Fab photographer extraordinaire - Martha Cooper took the above and below shot. Thanks Martha!!!

We had an amazing time in Miami at Cafeina. Here are some pics from our party.
More soon. Special shout out to our friends at Primary Flight and Nike. Naheed and Victoria thank you for
helping us with taking down the show. No simple feat!
The fantastic photographers of "Now I Remember" minus Neck Face.

Curtis Buchanan up and coming photographer and friend.

The Machado sisters of Miami and LA and friend.

Mike and Books of Primary Flight made Miami happen!
Where is Typo?
Martha Cooper and Gustavo.
Party Time!
It's Party Time and Spanky.
SF artist - Push of Known Gallery fame.
Naheed Simjee, Retna and Brandon Coburn
The one and only Martha Cooper doing what she does best!
Amber,Richard Colman and Medi

Jeffery Deitch,Jen Reynolds and her sister
Big thanks to Osgemeos for making it happen and doing the show!

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Huffington Post

Date Farmers at Ace Gallery

Ace to Show Street Art
Doug Chrismas is not one to rest on his laurels and he pulled me through a crowd of vodka sippin' collectors at Saturday's Jeff Colson opening at Doug's Ace Gallery Beverly Hills locale to meet The Date Farmers (Carlos Ramirez and Armando Lerma), the infamous street art duo who will be opening at Ace Gallery's Miracle Mile space in late November. They are being given the entire east wing of the gallery, a sizable piece of real estate equal to about half of MOCA's Grand Avenue space and almost as prestigious. Doug of course sees the writing on the wall -- what with Jeffrey Deitch hectically preparing a survey of street art for MOCA's Geffen wing for 2011, a whole lot of recent high art history is about to be erased from the canon to make room for what has been going on outside the museum walls for the past two or thee decades. And it has to be pointed out that, like every street artist of note to pass into the fine art sphere, the duo are alumni of Marsea Goldberg's New Image Art gallery, the seminal Los Angeles intersection of street and culture.


New Image Art in LA Canvas Magazine Page 17

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mr Brainwash Knows How to Party - Today in The Economist

Mr Brainwash, street artist

Con or can do

What to make of Thierry Guetta, hyperactive Frenchman

Nice work if you can get it

THE relationship of street art to the commercial art world has always been a tricky one. In the past few years, as street art has exploded from variations on fat- lettered graffiti to sophisticated murals and stencils, works by its top practitioners have sold at auction for hundreds of thousands of dollars: a far cry from such art’s usually subversive origins. But whereas many street artists now create work expressly for galleries, starting out—and, often, continuing—in the trenches of “outside” art is what gives them credibility and, ironic as it is, market legitimacy.

Which is why one of the most famous street artists is also one of the most controversial. Thierry Guetta, aka “Mr Brainwash” or “MBW”, got his start by befriending and filming some of the world’s top street artists, including Banksy, an elusive Brit famous for hanging spoof paintings at the Tate Britain and painting whimsical scenes on Israel’s West Bank separation wall. At some point Banksy suggested Mr Guetta do some graffiti of his own. As chronicled in “Exit Through the Gift Shop”, a documentary that Banksy subsequently made about Mr Guetta (using some of Mr Guetta’s own footage), the French artist moved quickly from pasting up stencils on walls to paying a large team of elves to churn out pop art en masse. The film is now on the longlist to be nominated for an Oscar. Mr Guetta’s good connections helped his first show, in Los Angeles in 2008, attract massive crowds and ring up prodigious sales; his second, in New York, buoyed by the film, stayed open for nine months. Last October one work sold at auction in London for £75,650 ($118,513), including commission and taxes, nearly four times the top estimate.

Earlier this month he held his third show in Miami. A few minutes walk from the Art Basel fest, he rented a disused building taking up an entire city block on Collins Avenue, the main drag, which he filled with giant collages, man-sized aerosol cans painted like Campbell’s soup tins, Victorian portraits retouched with Batman-style masks, psychedelic Warholian prints of Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy, and other outsize kitsch. With the doors opening in the evening and closing in the small hours, it was as much a party as a show or, as Mr Guetta himself proudly called it, “a circus”.

Street artists, who themselves had put up Art Basel fringe shows, in the less glamorous inner-city neighbourhood of Wynwood, tend to take a dim view. “Thierry might be the only one who’s in this because it’s about money and fame,” says Michael “R.J.” Rushmore, the editor of Vandalog, a blog about street art. “I think it’s a funny footnote,” says Marsea Goldberg, a Los Angeles gallerist who has nurtured many street artists. “It’s great performance art…it’s not maybe the deepest thing, but the whole thing is entertaining.” And the high auction prices? “A lot of people that are into hype, [who] just love silliness.”

Debating the merits of his work is easy, and somewhat sterile. Explaining his motives is more complex. Mobbed by enthusiastic visitors to the show—some of them other artists—Mr Guetta revelled in not taking his work seriously, chuckled at people who were intensely scrutinising an array of upended buckets that he had created to serve as seats and tables, and took sheer delight at a child riding a bicycle over one of his exhibits. One of his mottoes is “art for the people”, and while quoting a healthy six-figure price to an inquiring collector, he seemed to care about the money chiefly as a symbol of his success at upstaging the conventions of the art establishment. “I believe my art will be worth millions of dollars. Like Andy Warhol? It will go even bigger than that.”

Friday, December 3, 2010