When the director and owner of ASHES/ASHES set out to find a space, he knew he wanted to be near an area with both architectural and civic clout.
“On the corner of Wilshire and Park View is this sort of modernist building,” the gallery’s director, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains. “It was built in 1964 and carries the type of architectural details that draws nostalgia and promises of idealistic fixtures.” Within a stone’s throw is MacArthur Park, already a prominent place of intrigue for the city. “I wanted to situate the space in something that was already a destination, or maybe one that just needed rediscovery.”
Upon entry, there’s this sort of canopy that extends out onto the ground level public space and into the lobby; which, quite noticeably, hasn’t been updated any time recently, making it “like a remnant from the ‘60s.” Down the hallway, you arrive at ASHES/ASHES. Opening up into a fantastically tall space, a detailed copper ceiling caps the room. Concrete-cast pillars supply support throughout the building, offering a sense of depth and grandeur—a match made in heaven for the experimental nebula that is ASHES/ASHES.
After opening in June of 2014, the gallery has hosted 10 shows thus far in its short tenure. Focused predominantly on the real-deal untapped realms of contemporary art, ASHES/ASHES explores that which the glossy-paged art world struggles to digest. Take, for instance, the gallery’s seventh exhibition, BODY PARTS I – V.
“We started with Cheryl Donegan and showed her first video from 1991,” the owner recounts. “It was essentially her, sitting in a chair, hands behind her back, holding a piece of bread between her legs. The video begins with her nibbling at the top of this baguette and working her way down, basically to the limits of her flexibility. When she reached that point, the video ended. It was all about a medium which could extend longer than the capabilities of a physical action.”
The gallery’s most recent exhibition, TH+, marks the LA debut of Detroit-based artist Tony Hope, a recent graduate of the MFA Sculpture program at Yale. “He has an interesting aesthetic; it’s not at all slick or polished, so it’s not really in favor as far as being in line with your [Jeff] Koons or [Damien] Hirsts,” he says. “The work is very personal, however. It deals directly with his family, and essentially, growing up and growing apart.”
For the installation, the space was drastically altered. “We took out all the lights, the windows that used to open and overlook the city street are now covered with an opaque film and the show is actually only viewable at nights for a short period of time.”
With each exhibition, ASHES/ASHES acts as a vehicle to facilitate in a more grand art discussion—one more prone to delve into the inner workings of existential crises than be concerned solely with appeasing the status quo. With any space similar to ASHES/ASHES in its intentions and execution, you kind of have to be there to let the scene set in—then you can analyze the vibe, supply your own critique and make your own calls on where insinuating baguettes will subside.
Photography by Ruben Diaz courtesy of ASHES/ASHES
ASHES/ASHES will unveil a new show beginning January 14
2404 Wilshire Blvd. #1a