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Freeway Studies is a multi-year, multi-exhibition curatorial endeavor organized by Meg Linton, Director of Galleries and Exhibitions, with the assistance of Jeseca Dawson, 2012-2014 Curatorial Fellow, at the Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design.
We have given ourselves the task of surveying the Los Angeles art scene one studio at a time beginning with the immediate vicinity of Otis’ Main Campus located in the area known as Westchester and working our way outward. Some might say (ourselves’ included), this is an impossible task since Los Angeles County spans 4,038 square miles and is home to 88 individual municipalities, multiple unincorporated areas, and two off-shore islands, Santa Catalina and San Clemente.
We see this project as a curatorial dérive—an attempt to break out of or go beyond existing preconceptions and knowledge. Our self-imposed geographic parameters combined with word-of-mouth referrals, has us ping-ponging our way from studio to studio in order to expand the existing conversation, creative network, and rolodex. Instead of a Situationist’s walking exploration of the urban environment, we are stepping into artists’ physical work spaces to discover their ideas and modes of production from first-hand experience rather than relying on a mediated experience. We see our process as a mash-up between a dérive, to expand an analog network between curator, artist and institution, and an idiosyncratic Grand Tour on a micro-regionalist level.
Our strategy is simple, yet our commitment is vast. We have plotted and charted our directive into manageable quadrants by using the freeways as borders for this investigation of art being made in this diverse and complex metropolis. Negotiating the freeways and traffic are a part of life in Los Angeles. In 1939, the expressways were originally envisioned as a way to alleviate pressure on existing public transportation until the rail system (we’re still waiting) could be completed. However, today they are more like natural borders such as rivers, ravines or mountain ranges because they have become both physical and psychological barriers for people engaging in daily life and the vast cultural offerings of this region.
In addition to dividing the city into manageable segments by the highway system, we have limited our “research” phase for each area/exhibition to a 6-9 month window for conducting studio visits. We know we can’t get to every artist studio and we can’t include every artist in the resulting exhibition because the Maltz Gallery is only so large. So, in the interest of inclusion and transparency, we created this blog to document and share every studio visit along the way. We will continue to add to the list as we find more artists in the quadrants we have already surveyed so that this blog becomes a living resource for the community.
The following are the first three designated areas/exhibitions:
Freeway Studies #1: This Side of the 405
This area is defined as: West of the 405, North of the 105, South of the 10 and the Pacific Ocean. Dawson and Linton conducted studio visits July 1- December 7, 2012. The exhibition is on view April 13 – June 1, 2013.
Freeway Studies #2: Inside the Quad
This area is defined as: East of the 405, North of the 105, West of the 110, South of the 10. Dawson and Linton will be conducting studio visits June – December 2013. The exhibition is scheduled to be on view June 28 – September 6, 2014.
Freeway Studies #3: Inside the Loop
This area is defined as inside the 10, 110 and 5. Studio visits will be conducted June – December 2014. The exhibition is scheduled to be on view June 27 –September 6, 2015.
Meg Linton is the Director of Galleries and Exhibitions, Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Recent exhibitions/projects include Doin’ It in Public: Feminism and Art at the Woman’s Building as part of the Getty’s initiative Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980; Meticulosity, co-curated with John David o’Brien; Revenge of Phantasmagoria a site-specific installation with Mark Dean Veca at the Instituto Cultural Cabañas in Guadalajara, Mexico; and In the Land of Retinal Delights: The Juxtapoz Factor for the Laguna Art Museum.
Jeseca Dawson is the 2012-2014 Curatorial Fellow, Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design and a recent graduate of the MFA Public Practice program at Otis College of Art and Design. She is a video performance artist and photographer who explores issues around systemic violence in American culture. Her recent work, Home of the Braver, questions the blind patriotism of our time, focusing specifically on class, patriarchy and xenophobia. Her social justice advocacy began with the Multicultural Experience in Leadership Development (MELD), part of Wayne State University’s Center for Peace & Conflict Studies in Detroit, MI and The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond-Undoing Racism.
Image above is taken from Thomas Guide 2007, page 702.