Drawing Connections aims to trace the invisible networks between a selection of current artists in residence at 18th Street Arts Center, both from our 18th Street campus and our Airport hangar. The show highlights how artists from different backgrounds and whose practices range from traditional to experimental art can dialogue through one of the earliest and most fundamental tools for human expression, drawing. This process of mark-making reveals the initial creative impulse that may later take the form of a video, a performance, a piece of music, an art installation, a painting, or a drawing itself. This curatorial exercise intends to delve into the essence of the multivalent creative practices of the artistic community of 18th Street Arts Center.
Art historian Susan Power writes:
“Defined in art historical terms by its materials— works on paper in pencil, charcoal, chalk, ink, watercolor, and so on—drawing encompasses a broad spectrum of human activity across time and culture. Ubiquitous and perennial, drawing crosses the boundaries delimiting disciplines and geographies. Drawing connects us over the ages to our earliest human ancestors and our childhood selves. Even the etymology of the word, related to the verb “to draw” and deriving from Old English “to pull,” can have a plethora of meanings—drawing arms and drawing blood are two, which tragically jump to mind during these incredibly challenging times. Within the context of our current crises, the very premise of the 18th Street Art Center exhibition “Drawing Connections” takes on unanticipated significance, as do so many other activities often take for granted in our daily lives.
The first open-call cross-campus exhibition since 18th Street Art Center expanded its residency program to the Santa Monica Airport locale in 2019, “Drawing Connections” sought (seeks?) not only to showcase the fertile dialogues between work by all their artists in residence, whose practices cover a myriad of approaches, but also to encourage encounters and conversations among the artists and outside communities. Occupying the two wide corridors running the length of the former airplane hangar, the exhibition space invites circulation and exchange, luring artists out of their adjacent studios to mingle with fellow artists, art world professionals and enthusiasts, friends, neighbors and visitors from afar. But the ways we now connect have also undergone a radical shift with the existential threat of the pandemic. The participatory, experiential dimension of “Drawing Connections” was thus short-lived due to the sheltering-at-home orders in effect since mid-March.
The practice of drawing involves making connections—between the physical and the mental, hand or body and mind, concept and form, observation and imagination, perception and thought, interior and exterior. Reflecting on the conceptual underpinnings of the show, the exhibiting artists contributed work that engages with the medium in all its diversity, representing an astounding array of concerns. Together, the multi-generational group of twenty-five artists offers a remarkable cross-section of approaches running the gamut from traditional to experimental, from intimate and personal to interactive and collective. Together, the artworks converse across materials and techniques, complicating any notion of media-specificity, exploding any sense of unity inherent to drawing, and opening it up to endless possibility.”
Featured artists: Deborah Lynn Irmas, Dan S. Wang, Luciana Abait, Debra Disman, Judith Gandel-Golden, Gwen Samuels, Luigia Gio Martelloni, Julia Michelle Dawson, Lola del Fresno, Loren H. Harris-Heller, Joan Wulf, Doni Silver Simons, Pamela Simon-Jensen, Crystal Michaelson, Daniela Schweitzer, M Susan Broussard, Yvette Gellis, Encounter, Rebecca Youssef, Alexandra Dillon, Melinda Smith Altshuler, Nellie King Solomon, Rebecca Setareh, Ameeta Nanji, and Claudia Concha.
Featuring Participatory Performances by Doni Silver Simons and Encounter
During the opening on February 22, 2020, two durational, participatory performances involve visitors and artists alike in the creation of new artwork.
In Conversation…, an invited work by Doni Silver Simons is an abstract interactive project where participants are asked to respond to the visual utterances and markings initiated by Silver Simons. In this work, community is built on the essence of drawing – a single mark/a single line. In Conversation…, is being created adjacent to After Image, a completed interactive drawing of Silver Simons exploring evolution and devolution, communication and memory. In each of these works she recreates the emotional and physical process of marking and erasure forming an idiosyncratic tryst with each mark and each participant.
Simons is a cross genre artist based in Santa Monica. She creates visual and performative works that explore time, memory, and identity.
Simons also staged a performance in her open studio on February 22. “Reliquary: a meditation” is a durational performance that will be performed by Victoria Dombrowski with sound by Michelle Green Willner.
Invited by Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, a group of Los Angeles performance artists engaged in a public practice called Encounter on February 22, organized by Mariel Carranza. Encounter is a space where we encounter each other, ourselves, and the space itself. We perform with and for one another within given conditions. There is no preparation, no agenda (and generally, no “audience”). Things unfold on their own. We agree that there will be no idle observers; everyone is active in the space. This Encounter will result in a final object that will be enfolded into the DRAWING CONNECTIONS show.
Encounter is the practice of a constantly evolving group of artists including Allison Wyper, Mariel Carranza, Rochelle Fabb, Rebeca Hernandez, Carol McDowell, Rossen Ventzislavov, Samuel White, Dorian Wood, Douglas Green, Paul Outlaw, Marcus Kuiland-Nazario, and John Burtle, as well as international guests.