What Air Ordered – Photography by Gabriel Malikian @Sagebrush Cafe

“What Air Ordered” is a show of photographs by Gabriel Malikian that may put you in mind of journeying. But that is not because it is a set of exotic landscapes with pictures of far-flung places. It’s something else.

To put it one way, Malikian is giving us an invitation in “What Air Ordered.” The show is a collection of photographs inviting us to rethink the things we see every day.

If you have ever walked a street that you usually drive, then you know that the adjustment changes things, transforming a semi-conscious commute into a new experience. It’s not just the speed that changes. Somehow, it’s a different street.

The photographs in this show are not “domestic” images that have been reinvented through a camera lens. This is not a show about commuting – and that is not the point here. What the photographs are doing is capturing street-side, roadside and nature scenes in ways that emphasize geometry and color and manage to intimate meanings pitched just above the co-valence of the parts and their whole.

In a related way, there is an idea in this show that brings home the point that what we see is determined by how we look at the world around us. When we embark on a journey, we begin to look actively at the landscape in ways that we often don’t look at our own neighborhood. In drawing attention to this notion, you might say that “What Air Ordered” becomes a journey of ten images, images that consider both what we see and how we look at things.

As a photographer and writer, Malikian is probably more invested in this what/how relationship than most people. And this interest is certainly part of what you will see when you look at the show on display now at Sagebrush Café in Quartz Hill.

But there is more to it than that. To get at some of the other ideas that animate both the show and the artist, we sat down and asked Malikian a few questions:

Gabriel Malikian What Air Ordered
-Tell us about your experience taking pictures in Montana. Did the specifics of the region invite a different approach to compared to the places you have spent more time with a camera (like Los Angeles)?

Very much so. I was in Billings for work on a film shoot and I suffered a back injury a week into filming. I had to be replaced at short notice, which is no easy feat so far from LA. The agitation my injury caused around me informed my need to creatively get something out of me, so I made a point of walking around Billings with my camera and focusing on taking photographs. This also served to prove to myself that I wasn’t irreversibly injured (my work demanded a functioning body).

In doing so, I found places in the small city that were novel to me. Uniquely American and discarded. Uniquely hidden or protected. I felt the pioneer mentality play out in the places I visited and felt it move through me. I turned down offers from friendly strangers for a ride to wherever I was going – in favor of seeing what else was hidden from the roadside. I had read about the Terrain Vague movement around that time, so I wanted to find what about the city had been left for nature to reclaim and break down.

In Los Angeles, there is a knowledge I have of its various neighborhoods. They each have an aesthetic and feeling that I know well. I know that a photograph in Echo Park will emote one thing, while in Boyle Heights other feelings can be distilled. Nothing about my time in Billings was predictable.
-Are there any photos in your show that have a surprising story behind them? Any photos that you were able to get that made you feel really lucky?

I can’t say that any if the photographs have any special stories behind them, except perhaps those in Montana. I can’t really say I feel like those captured in LA or in the desert are less special to me either.

As far as luck, I think timing played out in interesting ways in almost all these photographs. I found myself in the right places at the right times. But, that happens when a person puts themselves fully into their work. Many other photographers have captured incredible images, and timing played a huge role. As a photographer, you have to explore and be curious or your lens won’t find those moments.
-In spending some time with the photos in “What Air Ordered” we were struck by the idea that the show seems to pose some questions about how we collectively try to move forward into new territory, mentally anyway, but we do so inside a physical landscape that is littered with yesterday’s artifacts. There is a sense that objects and scenes from mid-century America (and from last year) show us how flawed our ability to move forward may be – or, alternatively, these scenes comprise an ironic commentary on our tendency to get tired of things, set them aside, and let them just sit there rusting while we play with our shinier, newer ideas. Does this observation fit with your own sense of this collection? Is this sort of idea represented in your work more generally?
There is a generally pervasive attitude that abandons the troublesome older thing for whatever is convenient, flashy, and works. People have abandoned Detroit. Because of the ease of access to the next best thing, last year’s model is set aside. Sold back. Put out in the trash. It could be fixed, but why bother? Why even learn how to fix anything?

Psychologically, many people do the same thing. Maybe this will fix my aching heart. Maybe if I just travel the world I will understand. If I just had that, I’d finally be happy. Conversely, to celebrate and repair the broken and forgotten brings a genuine sensation of achievement. I once watched my friend puzzle over a broken camera from the 1920s. She fixed it. The film we found inside was incredible and we marveled for a month over it, wondering what the story must have been. If we just threw the thing away (it was only worth $10) our imaginations and her accomplishments would have been cheapened.

I see yesterday’s artifacts as both beautiful reminders of hardiness, as well as living history. From a material point of view, we don’t make things as long-lasting or as physically heavy as we once did. This makes these items and scenes feel foreign, but one could say the same of our forward progression. Plastics replacing steel sheeting. Engineered obsolescence. The next firmware upgrade.

The weight of these old things informs, emotionally, the tone of my photographs. I feel it stops me in my movement and forces me to reflect on what was, both internally and in a larger sense.

There is indeed an irony in our charging forward to fix yesterday’s problems. I think there is ample opportunity to stop moving and study the past, of what has been. Perhaps in a literal, visual sense, my photographs utilize sparse scenes and older items to provoke a movement inside, and back in time. It may be that the happiness or fulfillment we want is not in a new house or car, it might just be in understanding that which has already happened. To meditate on a certain nothingness (a seemingly barren landscape, actually a space of huge mental potential energy) or the nothingness of the carcass of an old building, can have more impact on our lives and mental wellbeing than keeping abreast of the eternally shifting contemporary.

Every photograph is a piece of history, so it’s fine to get stuck in the past.


 

Take a look at a few more thoughts on “What Air Ordered” over at Sagebrush Cafe’s blog page. 


 

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Llano Art Project Set for Release

Special notice contributed by Larissa Nickel:

The rural Los Angeles County high desert region of Llano, California has historically been defined by innovative people willing to explore and define a new sense of place. “Yestermorrow Llano: An Artist’s Field Guide to Llano, California” introduces the past, present, and future narratives of Llano including its relationship to the local, regional, and global contexts of place—and their own yestermorrows.

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Yestermorrow Llano: An Artist’s Field Guide to Llano, CA

Date: Saturday, July 7, 2018

Time: 10 am-12 pm (noon)

Location: Blue Sky’s Bistro

12822 Pearblossom Hwy,

Pearblossom, CA 93553

Throughout the feminist geography field guide are cultural references, historical clippings, an artist’s archive, educational prompts, and collaborative activities to activate your sensory and artistic experiences of Llano. Create perfume, form a book club, make a recipe, or discover, map, architect, and construct your looking glass connection to the high desert by envisioning a geographic imagination and aesthetic experience of place through Llano’s cultural memory, collective present, and social futures.

Visitors at this release event can stop by the courtyard at Blue Sky’s Bistro to receive a free contemporary wallpaper design of Aldous Huxley’s “Crows of Pearblossom,” discover more about Llano, including its sights, sounds, tastes, and smells, and play a speculative design game of New Llano utopography to reveal the futures of your own experimental utopian communities.

“Yestermorrow Llano” is supported by the Los Angeles County Arts Commission and the Antelope Valley Arts Outpost creative placemaking initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council with support from Metabolic Studio.

Outpost partners include: the Otis College of Art and Design MFA Public Practice program (Otis), the Lancaster Museum of Art and History (MOAH), the Greater Antelope Valley Economic Alliance (GAVEA), the Department of Regional Planning, and the Office of 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

Yestermorrow is a platform for cultural innovation and collective public engagement designed by Larissa Nickel to present new museological and archival perspectives to our past, present, heterotopian, and future experiences of place. Her work can be found at larissanickel.com


This article was contributed by the artist behind the project, who has been involved in a number of projects highlighting the art and ecology of our desert region: DEHSART & Hinterculture and others.  Take a look!

Mari Hall – Electric Moon Baby

Antelope Valley painter and writer, Mari Hall, exclaims a “world view, personal, eclectic and electric, is an art lens uniquely shaped by growing through a spiritual,
cultural and technological revolution.”

Her paintings offer a perspective that seems to play on the tenets of both folk art/folk tales and science fiction, fusing a striking and particular modernism with a sense of the universal.

 

“Magnificat, Opus in Power”    
African American Folk Art
 “Foon”

 

 

 

 

 

And this makes sense when you find out that Mari Hall is also a science fiction writer. Her 2017 novel, The JuneNoon Effect, “is a thrilling ride through modern America. Set in the not-so-distant future it is a tale of modern life in an age of extravagance.”

 

The JuneNoon Effect cover imageReviewing the novel, Chazz Clarence Ross write that The JuneNoon Effect “espouses Mari’s intricate command of scientific unknowns in the sphere of political subversion and spiritual antagonism. Like a backwards, Halloween ride on Colossus, you will relish Mari’s sudden twists and turns in this potent, sultry journey that smirks the secrecy of Area 51, 911 and other supernatural enigmas.”

Find out more about Mari Hall at her aptly named website, electricmoonbaby.

 

Between You, Me, and the Joshua Tree

The idea behind this show is almost straight-forward, close to simple. The images selected for these collages are drawn from our local landscape here in the Mojave (and from ideas inspired by that landscape). So the art is a celebration of the natural world around us.

Between You, Me, and the Joshua Tree

Mojave Inspired Collages

by Eric Martin

Showing at Sagebrush Cafe in Quartz Hill starting February, 2017

But it’s also a recognition of the sublime that exists within that natural world, the silent substrata of the Numinous that infuses all things. It’s a way of taking a long pause to look again at the sights we learn to take for granted (and so stop seeing) and to find something sacred waiting there in the space of that intentional breath.

 

June Milham says that we may be losing sight of the sacred in today’s world. We may be too immersed in the details of our material lives, in our posts and tweets and updates, to take that necessary, intentional breath and let ourselves be surprised again at what silently waits for us in the desert, the ripeness of the natural world, each moment’s gravidity, pulsing with something that we recognize but cannot name.

And this is, technically, an image of the sublime – that which exists beyond the reach of our apprehension. It’s something built into our surroundings, just around the corner of what we can put into words.

These collages are little meditations on that idea, trying to be that breath, for a moment, where we see again the things that we have learned not to see. Making a brief celebration of our desert landscape.

Desert BeingnessThere are maps used here that sometimes play the part of the sky, a two-dimensional ground tilted up to imply something equally expansive but far more porous.

There is some idea here also that this palimpsest of texts – images, book pages, maps – might mimic the way we are forced to look at the world through all the words in our heads. There is something that comes between us and the Joshua tree we may happen to be staring at.

And we want to step past that mediating field of words and abstractions to approach the sublime, which is, in its way, both the ultimate abstraction and the ultimate reality. We want to take that Joshua tree and remove it from its background and see it for what it is.

Between You, Me, and the Joshua TreeBetween You, Me & the Joshua Tree

Mojave Inspired Collages

by Eric Martin

Showing at Sagebrush Cafe 

42014 50th Street West

Quartz Hill, Ca 93536

http://www.sagebrush-cafe.com

 

About the Artist: Eric Martin is one of the owners of Sagebrush Café. He started participating in gallery shows with his collage art in 2010. Martin is also a writer and English instructor and the editor of this site. You can see some of his essays at Pop Matters, the Write Launch and Steinbeck Now.

Celebrating the Desert – Edwin Vasquez

If the Mojave Desert is an oasis of natural and stubborn quietude set next to the traffic and the hubbub of Los Angeles, it is an oasis that also contains oases – a sort of Russian doll of harbors set within harbors.

Artist Edwin Vasquez sees this desert ethos and puts it into action too, as he is known to pick up hikers in Tehachapi and help them reach their next stop on the Pacific Crest Trail. Vasquez becomes, in a way, an oasis of humanity for the intrepid hiker who has been alone in the hills among the calls of ravens and the buzzing bees.

Stepping down into the desert, they might see some of what Vasquez sees and celebrates in the Antelope Valley environs.

Celebrating the Desert is a series of posts here at AV Arts dedicated to showcasing Mojave Desert-inspired work by local artists. Today’s post features the work of ever-active Antelope Valley artist Edwin Vasquez, who has been featured on the pages of AV Arts before.

 

From Edwin Vasquez:
The first photograph is from Apollo Park, near the General William J. Fox Airfield. It is an amazing community park. This is one of the three man-made lakes for fishing and boating. It is like an oasis in the middle of our desert.
Apollo Park
The second photograph is in the Piute Ponds, a group of ponds about 10 kilometers southeast of Rosamond. This large marsh is an important stop for migratory birds on the Pacific Flyway.
Piute Ponds
Thank you to the artists who to the artists who have participated in our humble initiative to celebrate our landscape with art.

The call for submissions in our Celebrating the Desert series will remain open until January 1, 2018.

Send in some of your desert-inspired art and a brief bio to AV Arts (poeticwax@rocketmail.com). Also include a link to your website if you have one.

Celebrating the Desert – Midge Haggard Burthe & Marcy Watton

Celebrating the Desert is a series of posts here at AV Arts dedicated to showcasing Mojave Desert-inspired work by local artists. Today’s post features the (amazing!) work of two Antelope Valley photographers – Midge Haggard-Burthe and Marcy Watton.

The photographs these two artists sent in demonstrate a simple and sometimes profound fact: Every landscape is a mirror. Like other mirrors, we almost always find what we expect to find in a landscape, we see the things we set out looking for.

These artists must have set out looking for beauty…

There is something important in this expectation. Because to go into the desert on the look-out for glory is to say something profound about where you live and who you are.

Seen in one way, these are expert photos of a photogenic landscape, one worth celebrating. Seen in another way, they are a testament to a remarkable and important underlying ethic, one that makes celebration possible in the first place.

From Midge Haggard-Burthe:

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This is near Devil’s Punchbowl in Juniper Hills.

My name is Midge Haggard-Burthe and I am a hypnotherapist, psychologist, and disabled Navy veteran who has lived in the Antelope Valley for most of the past 28 years.

From Marcy Watton:

Fairmont

Thank you for this opportunity for artists to share their work, and especially work that is inspired by our lovely desert.
These photos represent my favorite things to do: take photos of my explorations of the desert while riding my horse.
I graduated from UCLA with a degree in Fine Art.  I teach photography and art at a local high school. I’ve been creating art and riding horses my entire life, and feel so very lucky to be able to continue to do the things I enjoy the most and share what I have learned with the next generation of artists.
avsunset
A big thank you to the artists who have participated in our humble initiative to celebrate our landscape with art.

The call for submissions in our Celebrating the Desert series will remain open until January 1, 2018.

Send in some of your desert-inspired art and a brief bio to AV Arts (poeticwax@rocketmail.com). Also include a link to your website if you have one.

Celebrating the Desert – Lori Antoinette

For artists in the Antelope Valley, the Mojave Desert is more than just a background. It’s a source of inspiration, a place to let ideas wend and wander among the Juniper and the Creosote.

From California Poppies to Joshua Trees, artists of the Antelope Valley are gifted with enough iconic imagery in the desert landscape to rival almost any other part of the world.

Of course, natural beauty and interesting images can be found anywhere if you just look for it, but the sometimes drastic, often surprising, and usually wind-swept landscape of Antelope Valley just makes these things easy to find.

AV Arts recently put out a call to local artists who can attest to this.

One of those artists is Lori Antoinette, an artist working in multiple mediums and who seems to find different ways to “hear” the desert in her art. The work she sent in takes the form of an energetic response to some of the Mojave Desert’s most recognizable figures.

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Q: What is your artistic background?

My earliest memories are drawing with my Mom (who is a wonderful painter) at around  three years old. I had always taken some kind of art or craft classes growing up.

My degree is in Fine Art from Univ of MD and I also have a certification in textile design. I always loved painting people and architecture, but my degree is actually in abstract. After college I went back to figurative.

av nature

In the 90’s I belonged to an art collective called DAKO Vanguard. We shared a gallery space of the same name in the downtown LA Arts District for a time. I also had my own wearable art business selling at events and tv and movie sets.

I’ve been doing street art (chalk) for 25 years now, but since retiring from the airlines I have really been working hard to hone my skills. Life is always a work in progress…

Find out more about Lori Antoinette here: