The Dhu Varren Barn – Photography by Rheagan Martin showing @ Sagebrush Cafe

“The Dhu Varren Barn” is a collection of photographs of a single barn in Michigan.

As Rheagan Martin has it in his description of his new photography show at Sagebrush Cafe, “The barn on Dhu Varren Road will not last long. When I moved into a house on the farmland, I had no idea that the barn was on the last undeveloped parcel of land in the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan. But as long as the reluctant city council denies plans for its development, the barn still stands.”

Dhu Varren Barn 1

The photos in this show capture the Dhu Varren Barn under different conditions of weather and light, inviting thoughts of the tension between continuation and change. 

In an age of rapid change, we tend to think that we are the non-permanent part of our landscape.

The world we were born into has been swept away by Twitter, by Apple and by Amazon. We’re half a hashtag away from a brave new world and we gleam in the cast off glow of our personal devices. We’re the blue-lit faces of the future, but in the whiz-bang of tweets and updates we hardly have a breath to wonder what’s next.

We are undergoing a sometimes torturous and sometimes joyous metamorphosis into a new society, which is difficult to acknowledge because we have never known what it’s like to be whatever it is we are becoming. We know, like the caterpillar knows, only where we’ve been.

The iconic Midwestern barn naturally symbolizes this sense of change. It is a literal picture of where we’ve been. But the barn – static, totemic, stoic – here is also suggestive of an idea that re-frames our sense that we are changing against an unchanging background.

The barn in spring offers another context. The barn in sunset too. It complicates the simple sense that we are changing against a permanent backdrop. Because our legacy includes the land – what we’ve done to protect it, to cultivate it, to store its fruits, to love it, in our way.

We have a legacy, but there is an open question as to what that legacy means today and what it will mean tomorrow.

Which light, striking an old barn on Dhu Varren Road, is the real light – the one that tells us the truth about where we’ve been and where we’re going?

 


 

This barn won’t last long, Martin says. The world is changing around it.

In an interesting turn of metaphor, the barn in these photographs becomes a double-edged symbol. It represents a changing world, standing here as the emblem of a past that has already been left behind. The distance between this Barn and Us – with our sense of being rushed toward an unknowable future – is wide, and getting wider.

These photos speak into that distance.

Dhu Varren Barn 4

“Eternity is in love with the productions of time.”  – William Blake

 

But the Dhu Varren Barn is also the vessel of a certain beauty – the kind we experience when we encounter an object outside of its time, an object that has endured. It is the past – still miraculously present. The past still intact and wholly itself.

When we hold an object like this in our hands now, or in our gaze, we feel that we are reaching back through time, and for many of us it becomes a moment of dumbfounded wonder. We don’t have words to put to this feeling of being stretched across time to touch the past, here, with our cell phones buzzing in our pocket and the news cycle chasing us like a shadow. But without words, we still feel the wonder. That’s why we keep going back to stand in the field and look at the barn. (At least, that must be why Rheagan Martin did it.)

So, the barn is a symbol of a part of the past that is still with us. It may feel fleeting and it may actually be fleeting, but for now it is still here. It’s part of our landscape, however anachronistic it may seem.


You wonder – How can this solitary barn be so active in its symbolism, so two-edged? How can it represent a changing world running full speed from any thoughts of an agrarian past while simultaneously representing the constance of that past, its ability to endure?

What should we say this barn means?

Is it a chance to reflect on a fleeting, pastoral American life, a message about how quickly and how far we’ve come toward changing into something new? Or is it a sign that even amidst all this change, something remains intact? Is it a link to a romance with the land that may flicker but never entirely fade?

Rheagan Martin’s photographs meditate on these questions, which spring to mind in the more poetic rooms of our brains, even if we don’t put these words to them.

“The Dhu Varren Barn” does the work of bringing us to a strange piece of land where the past and the present are hewn – together and apart.

 

The Dhu Varren Barn 

Photography by Rheagan Martin

Showing at Sagebrush Cafe in Quartz Hill, CA

New Antelope Valley Art Gallery Seeking Artist Submissions

Local artists and art supporters are getting together to do some work that should create lasting opportunities for showing and viewing creative work in the Antelope Valley.

On January 31st, WAC Arts (formerly We Are Cedar) will begin a monthly, rotating, community arts showcase at The AV Art Gallery.

Separately, both WAC and The AV Arts Gallery have made names for themselves locally; as presenters and advocates for the arts. Now combined as one unstoppable creative force, we bring you our first communal exhibition.

This is a free form showcase to merely give you a sample of what both our fabulous local artists, and the gallery, can provide.

As the opening reception approaches, we will share some of the names of which artists will be showcasing.

But wait!! there’s more…

In addition to our wonderful exhibition, there will be a “Sound, Light, and Frequency” audio/visual experience.

Numerous projectors will be brought in and set up, to create an artistic visual presence like no other. While you vibe out to the presentation, there will be musical accompaniment provided by both “Mystery Whacker” and “Jiminy Picasso”.

Live art by: Magz Marz

Welcome to a new era of community art.

SUBMISSIONS
https://forms.gle/oe6hrKZUTRavhcm46
or
wearecommunityart@gmail.com

Take a look if you’re interested in pursuing the opportunity on offer and, as usual, look for chances to support the kind of creative work that you would like to see grow in our community.

New Paintings by Mari Hall

Mari Hall is at it again with new paintings. Check them out at her website, Art in the Key of Life.

“Filter in Spring Time”

The new work is textured and bright. There is a sense of specific place in these pieces, but that place in some of the work is clearly an internal, meditative place.

Suggestive geometries evoke certain energies that almost have a flavor about them. They are paintings you want to touch. Somehow, there are feelings in these paintings that refuse to be limited to the experience of the eye.

“Meditation 15”

Here are some excerpts from her artist statement to give you a sense of where she is coming from and where she is going with her art:

I think of art as one of the Universal Languages. It speaks of things that are difficult or simply inexpressible in words. It touches the hearts of everyone in one way or another, regardless of race, creed, gender or cultural background. Art is a reflection of our shared humanity. It is from this viewpoint that I create my art work.

The new millenium created dramatic changes on a global scale. Exhibiting on the internet is part of this transformation. We are dreaming developing drifting with a new tide of widespread change. These changes have become part of my artistic expression.

 

“As Seen on TV”

 

Take a look at more from Mari Hall at Art in the Key of Life.

Full Circle – Paintings by Stevie Chun @ Sagebrush Cafe

Does it sound paranoid to say that we’re seeing circles everywhere? No matter where we look – circles, and circles within circles. 63F40D16-0969-45D8-AA58-6D0E0A948240.JPG

They are in our eyes, double circles of pupil and lens. They are in the sky, one blazing sphere burning down at us by day as another struggles through the night, grasping always to be complete. There are circles made by man down here. There are children swiveling the hoola hoop until they let it fall at their feet. And it all repeats. Cycles. Circles within circles.

It’s all connected. It’s all about connection.

As Stevie Chun writes in her artist statement for the show:

The circles in “Full Circle” signify events in life. These life events are monumental in shaping who we are as individuals while connecting us to one another, all of them, big and small.

For this series, Chun is painting with ink and watercolor and attaching the paintings to wood. Each piece features a multitude of circles, which Chun describes as a “modest shape” but one that also “has many symbolic meanings across cultures. Circles represent the complexity and completeness of life. In this circular form we can all be connected – able to find common ground.”

A11F83B1-EB4F-4CE8-A2EA-4E94DB40B937.JPGAn ancient symbol of unity, the circle also evokes notions of the cycle of life, tying it to the most fundamental mythologies of origins – life emerging, cresting, blazing a fullness of being, and returning from whence it came.

The images here recall the feeling of first seeing deep space telescope images from the Hubble – bright galaxies wheeling reaching back toward beginnings too dim to recall.

But the brightness is what we see in those telescopic images. The fecundity of the cosmos…shining like a party in the distant corners of the sky. Each image, like each piece in Chun’s “Full Circle,” is a celebration of this well-spring, this energy.

Showing Now:

Full Circle

Paintings by Stevie Chun

at Sagebrush Cafe

42104 50th Street West

Quartz Hill, CA 93536

Reconciling the Horizon – June Marie Milham

There is a school of thought that says we can only know the world through the senses. What we see and hear and feel is not just an impression of a more objective world – what we see and hear and feel is the world.

But what happens when the senses are confronted by contradiction? What happens when we aren’t sure what we’re seeing or hearing or feeling? How do we reconcile the facts that seem to say that the world is not one thing, but several things at once?

June Marie Milham’s current gallery show at Sagebrush Café wades into questions like these, using vibrant colors, mixed media, and complex geometries to approach the concept at the heart of her show – “Reconciling the Horizon.”

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

The work in “Reconciling the Horizon” brings to life a line from Allen Ginsberg:

Detach yrself from Matter, & look about

At the bright snowy show of Iowa

Earth & Heaven mirroring

eachother’s light

This isn’t Iowa, but Milham’s art evokes Ginsberg’s very intentionally as a means of exploring the ways that the horizon is a location of collapsed concepts, a place where earth and heaven are no longer distinct but instead become blended into one sensory experience.

There is an emphasis here on elements of composition. There are tricks of colors, weighted one against another. There are layers of paint (and language too) that play like memories within the moment of each piece, just like memories inhabit each moment of our own waking lives.

2694D189-5574-46DC-9292-7EA175D9FE0B

In her statement for the show, Milham talks about how the horizon is a site where things that we usually see as opposites actually meet, pushing us to reconsider the relationship between present and past and between emotion and intellect.

At the horizon, we see that these notions really do mirror one another. Opposites, yet somehow complicit in the very essence of that which exists on the other side of the line.

But there is a high and a low. There is a sky and an earth. These opposites cannot stand together. They must stand apart. Our senses tell us this is our reality. But the theory that our world is only what our senses tell us won’t suffice as a full explanation of what happens along the line of the horizon, that site where opposites collapse into one another.

Milham’s new work takes up this idea as a focus and offers a fluid set of responses – some joyous, some calm, some challenging and wild – and she invites us to reflect with her on this strange place of division that, by some magic, is also a place of reconciliation.

 

Showing at Sagebrush Cafe

42104 50th Street West

Quartz Hill, CA 93536

A Special Art Show: Hosted by Bravery Brewing & Sagebrush Cafe

Bravery Brewing and Sagebrush Cafe have teamed up to craft a beer together. To celebrate the event, Bravery is throwing a beer release party with an emphasis on collaboration and the arts.

Two local small businesses, bringing their strengths together.

And you can be a part of it.

IMG_9092

Artists  interested in displaying art at the event should send in their work (following the guidelines listed on the flyer) before May 5th.

The show will be held on May 11th at Bravery Brewing.

It’s going to be a blast. If you don’t get a chance to submit and participate as an artist in the event, you can participate by coming out to celebrate the artists of our community as well as a couple small businesses that are known for showcasing local talent in the Antelope Valley.

Cheers!

RAVENSONG  – Call for Creative Writing & Art Submissions

Sagebrush Cafe is looking for your creative work – creative writing and art submissions – to be published under the project banner –  RAVENSONG.

RAVENSONG 4.JPG

Theme: PUTTING DOWN ROOTS

What to submit?

  • Flash Fiction. Poetry. Visual Art. Essays. Philosophical musings.
  • Send it in.
  • Attach a brief bio (a couple sentences would be great).
  • Deadlines:
    • First Cut – February 20
    • Second Cut – April 20

RAVENSONG  – Call for Creative Writing & Art Submissions

We’re hatching a scheme to publish an alternative to the traditional arts magazine, keeping things low key and posting creative work monthly on our blog page. Twice this year, we will also send out an omnibus creative newsletter featuring selected submissions.

We want to see what people are getting up to, thinking about, creating and exploring. And we’d like to see if we can help share the product of that creative work.

Sagebrush Cafe is turning ten years old this year, so our theme is PUTTING DOWN ROOTS, but we are accepting work on any subject.

mug_a_front.jpg

What song are you singing?
Send in your work to art@sagebrush-cafe.com.

 

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. 


 

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.

Nickel_llano_title

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!