For each of the past six years, the Lawndale Art Center has equipped three talented Gulf Coast artists with 24-hour studio space, a $500 monthly stipend, $1500 worth of materials . . . and then watches what happens.
Dedicated to fostering the creation of contemporary art throughout the region, the organization's Artist Studio Program places a particular emphasis on emerging practices. Well, the 2011-12 trio of residents certainly lived up to the challenge, offering up an exhibit that employs materials as varied as a vintage record player covered in dirt, a collection of molded plastic figurines and a triptych of disorienting video landscapes.
Titled Prospectors, this year's show has viewers entering the Lawndale's first-floor gallery looking for clues as to what the artist-residents have been mining in their private studios on the third floor of the art space.
This year's exhibit employs mat erials as varied as a vintage record player covered in dirt, a collection of molded plastic figurines and a triptych of disorienting video landscapes.
In a series of music-related works situated at the entrance of the exhibit, Anne J. Regan culls her own affinity for rock and jazz as a means to explore notions of memory and fandom.
For two pieces, the artist quite literally dug through the dirt around graves of Gulf Coast legends Lightnin' Hopkins and Sun Ra. Another work uses a grid of letters the artist unsuccessfully attempted to mail to deceased music icons like Woody Guthrie, Joey Ramone and Etta James.
With the short film Hurricane Allen Newscast, Seth Mittag delves into his own childhood memories of an emergency trip to San Antonio in 1980 during one of the strongest storms in recorded history. Placed around the Main Street side of the gallery are props, images and plastic characters from the video.
"I remember evacuating as a kid and was lucky enough to find these old news reports on YouTube," Mittag told CultureMap in a recent interview. "From there I just took the audio and made claymation around it. In a way, it's an experiment to see if people could form a narrative for themselves all from this one film and these props."
In a collection of video and photos from his series When You're Out There, David Politzer digs through the age-old traditions and tropes of landscape art to locate the role of contemporary art making in the eternal order of nature. Stuffed animals and artificial rocks clash with their real-life counterparts.
In Surfside, a high-definition television plays a video of a high-definition television on a beach . . . which shows a film of a beach.
Catch it while you can. Prospectors is on view at the Lawndale Art Center this week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with its final public showing from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Also be sure to check out Jack Eriksson's take on the economic downturn with a series of work in the second floor gallery as well as Leslie Mutchler's community-driven piece TrendFACTORY on level three.