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.


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!


AV Arts Convo: Museology by Larissa Nickel

AV Arts Convo – featuring museology – art, design and display – by Larissa Nickel

Presenting Museology – Art, Design and Display – by Larissa Nickel

SATURATION 2.0: The Arts in Conversation project at Antelope Valley Arts is an ongoing, weekly publishing series: Local artists (painters, poets, photographers, fiction writers) have been invited to submit art and partake in a conversation on artistic influence and inspiration as the print arm of Antelope Valley Arts goes digital.

Museology is a term that Larissa Nickel uses as part of her description of what she is up to as an artist, what she is looking at and looking through.

I create works and collective projects that address the museology process as more than just a container of materialism, but also as a conceptual space with performative qualities that activates object theatre and expressive curiosity.

A long time advocate for local artists, Nickel is a professor and museum scholar with ties to KCET through arts projects like Hinterculture that emphasize a creative and ecologically-sound relationship between locals and the local landscape. In an article for KCET, Nickel quotes artist David Hockney describing “the process of looking” as a focal interest in the creative experience, as well as the experience of viewing art. Nickel’s museology approach is seems bound up with this notion of “the process of looking” and so becomes as complexly intellectual as it is frankly aesthetic.


Who is your favorite writer? How does he or she influence your work?

I don’t necessarily have a favorite writer, but there is a common literary thread in theme and device that is influential in my work. Specifically narrative and storytelling concepts such as nonsense literature and the visual/sound devices in Alice in Wonderland, and the wider genre of science fiction such as Frankenstein or Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer have influenced my work including ideas in bioengineering, and nanotechnology. I love magical realism such as Love in the Time of Cholera, and recurring issues of utopia/dystopia which have been in my work for some time. My projects and research on the utopian/dystopian community of Llano del Rio, and dystopian/utopia of illegal dumping in the eco-art project DEHSART (trashed backwards) address our preconceived ideas and the speculative future of these nonsensical binaries.


Who or what are your major artistic influences?

Life is probably the biggest influence, but that can be considered more specifically as the transdiciplinary reach of the arts and humanities. Art, design, philosophy, literature, music, science, film, architecture, new media, etc are all influential factors as well as curiosity, memory, and my muse the museum. Theorists such as Donna Haraway, and Elizabeth Grosz, have weighed on my ideas in many ways, as well as aesthetic and conceptual connections with the visual art practice of Hannah Wilke, Louise Nevelson, and Marcel Duchamp. The history of technology, and the cabinet of curiosities are things I am constantly wondering about, as are mapping, surveillance, and theories of place/identity such as in Lucy Lippard’s critique and explorations. I’m also engaged in the hybridized identity of artist, curator, educator, and activist and how those entities coalesce and divide in our evolution, and ethics as yet another approach to understanding/influencing our future selves.LarissaNickel_Alice

Keep up with Larissa Nickel and find out more at her website – larissanickel.com.

More from the AV Arts ConvoArts Blog


Larissa Nickel, Exitutopia & You

Larissa Nickel, artist and museum guru of the Antelope Valley, is headed on a journey to DC to study Interaction, Technology & the Museum, to put it broadly, and she’s invited you along via her new blog – EXITUTOPIA

Here’s a snippet from her blog, pointing to some of the ideas Nickel will be investigating in Washington:

“Today, new media is everywhere in museums–in the form of hand-held information devices, information kiosks, installation art, display supports, and archiving systems, as a means to reorganize working practices, and to keep track of visitors. The increasing ubiquity of systems of information manipulation and communication presents particular challenges to art institutions. At one level these challenges are practical: how should arts institutions take advantage of the new means of dissemination and communication made possible by technology? How do arts institutions compete as a medium for cultural practice in an increasingly media-saturated world? How can arts institutions engage new artistic practices made possible by new media? On the other hand the challenges are theoretical: how can arts institutions redefine themselves through service, social space, activism, interactions and relationally?”

Follow the journey at EXITUTOPIA.

Antelope Valley Artists on Video

Antelope Valley artist Edwin Vasquez has embarked on a project to publicize and video the work of other artists of Lancaster, Palmdale, Lake Hughes, Lake Elizabeth, and the greater Mojave area.

The AV Arts Blog shares the publicizing part of Edwin Vasquez’ ambition! With more cameras on hand we’d probably share the whole thing.

Short of that, we’d like to show you Vasquez’ videos and in doing so introduce you (or re-introduce you) to the art of some exciting and engaging artists working and living in the Antelope Valley.

Below are several videos Vasquez has made in 2011 featuring the works of Larissa Nickel, Michael Jones, June Marie Milham, AJ Currado, Donna Weil, Forever Seven, and himself, Edwin Vasquez. (The list of names here isn’t matched to the order of the videos below.)


AV Artist Interviews


A ntelope Valley Arts has been lucky enough to interview two local artists on matters of their work and what they think of the art scene in the Antelope Valley.

Larissa Nickel and AJ Currado could not be much further apart in their assessements of AV art and yet they both express accurate visions of the AV art world.

The two artists work in very different ways. Their methods and subjects are discussed in detail in the interviews.

Read their interviews here:

Antelope Valley Artist Interview: Larissa Nickel

Antelope Valley Arts blog recently posed a set of questions to Antelope Valley multi-media artist Larissa Nickel.

Describe the AV “art scene” in a few words.

Isolated, disjunctive, decorative, but full of potential.

What has been your personal experience with shows in and around the Antelope Valley?

As an arts patron, I’ve felt that shows in the Antelope Valley have been very redundant. The same themes appear over and over with poppies, antelopes, landscapes and aerospace being the major representations. It’s AV kitsch-without being acknowledged as kitsch. It interests me to challenge the AV art scene to figure out the concept behind these themes, rather than a concrete representational portrayal of objects or imagery. For example: the aerospace industry was incredibly influential in the development of the California art aesthetic in the 1960s, devising new materials and methods for artists—such as Craig Kauffman—to envision unique and individually Californian artwork. Those developments occurred specifically in this region and within our dominating aerospace specialty. I’ve always wondered why the AV arts have never taken pride in that accomplishment or development. It should be an exciting example of the possibility for finding and establishing an intelligent and thoughtful identity or niche within an existing art scene- a mirror for the development of an art community in the AV just outside of LA.

As an artist working in the AV, I’ve had trouble finding venues willing to exhibit my work. The censorship quotient is very high and presents a variety of roadblocks for artistic expression and arts development. I’m very proud to have been a small part of the artist lofts opening show, which actually exhibited my work freely and with respect to my vision. Amanda (from the Arbor Lofts) is amazing to work with and completely understood my artistic perspective in a way that hasn’t been appreciated out here before. Without her involvement, the arts wouldn’t have had the push that they did, and I’m extremely grateful to her for driving that initiative, displaying leadership and belief in what the arts can accomplish.

As an arts professional working at the museum, I’ve tried to uphold four values that I believe in as an artist: idealism or thinking about the ways things could be-not simply what they are, and striving towards actions in that vein; intimacy or communication and quality of contact between people, artist’s, the arts and social responsibility; depth or being thorough and complete, thinking, questioning and reflecting with an understanding of the value and purpose of a museum; and lastly interconnectedness-between community, the environment, organizations, and humanity. These are very personal goals that I also feel a museum as an establishment should strive towards as well. Professionally, the exhibitions, programs, fundraising, museum identity, and arts relationships that I’ve tried to accomplish have all been geared towards demonstrating these ideals and beliefs.

Will you be submitting works to the juried show at the LMAG this year?


What are some specific challenges to showing art, producing art, etc. in the Antelope Valley?

There really is no art market in this area. As an artist, it makes very little sense to show in the AV, especially with LA right next door. There aren’t any art buyers here, there aren’t any ways to build your reputation or get noticed by galleries or curators, there is a lack of support for artistic expression, and it takes so much work to actually get a show in this area, plus many venues aren’t professional. In terms of producing art, there aren’t any art supply resources; there isn’t a strong community of artists to interact with, and the shows that are being exhibited lack an interest or knowledge in art history and theory making it difficult to engage with, or find inspiration in any meaningful way. The AV is definitely an artistic challenge.

What are some specific benefits and opportunities to showing art, producing art, etc. in the AV?

There exists in this area, an incredible opportunity to build a thriving art scene that seeks to build a more complicated, meaningful, engaged, and enriched experience for everyone. Due to the lack of a strong definition of art in the region, there is free territory to explore what that definition would be or consist of-it is a freedom unknown in other areas. There are endless possibilities for building and influencing this community in a very positive way. It’s both exciting and frustrating. The shows I’ve participated in have all been reflections of my belief that art can have an impact in this area. My hope is that the AV will begin to engage with the larger art scene, and develop an intelligent artistic community that assists this area in overcoming its negativities or artistic challenges.

How has the AV influenced your art in terms of subject?

My subject matter has always been geared towards an investigation of identity and the self through personal narrative. As an artist working in the Antelope Valley, the AV has been an integral part of my experience and therefore my art. The people I meet, the frustrations I feel, the road blocks I encounter are all expressed in my work. I’ve noticed that the subjects of loneliness or wandering have made a strong appearance in my work since I’ve moved here. One particular component that has been developing through my AV years is this role of place, space, and relationships in personal identity.

Recently I’ve been looking towards relationships or connections between people and places as a way of mapping identity or connecting. The vast and isolated space of the desert area, which sits right next to a major urban city, is an interesting juncture and influence and represents a type of void, paralysis or death in a way.

How has the AV influenced your art in terms of style?

Stylistically, the Antelope Valley hasn’t had much impact on my philosophy or work outside of the influencing the experiences or subjects that I display. The philosophy of my work revolves around a concept of reclaimed data archive which allows me to freely explore any medium, style or time period that suites my interest through an awareness of the internal and external impulses that I experience. In my investigation of identity, I view the self as devising a singular perspective or viewpoint patched out of the many influences, memories, interests, ephemera, etc. that is recorded through personal experience. All the works I create are focused in this direction, yet the medium, the look, the style change between each piece relying on the concept to create coherence between outputs. My experiences in the AV are just one portion of a much more abstract journey.

Set B.
What is the artist’s role in society and how does that relate to the community/society of the Antelope Valley?

Artists are the visionaries, the inventors, the risk takers, the challengers, the questioners of society. They are observers, able to experience and appreciate things outside of themselves. Artists propel and drive society forward through their unique ability to envision and invoke change, challenge existing norms, see the unseen, investigate the overlooked, collaborate with a community, etc. Particularly in an area such as the Antelope Valley-that is attempting to engage and harness an artistic perspective-the community of artists needs to expand, evolve, and develop the attributes of intuition, empathy, collaboration, leadership, and strength.

Artistic strength is not commonly spoken of, but is one reason that the arts are such a necessary force for the development of societies. Existing simultaneously outside and within the political system in order to comment, address, and illustrate ways of progressing, thinking or being is incredibly difficult and requires the artistic impulse to overcome the political dimension, or the lack of vision. Although politics exist in any given situation, there are many different ways of maneuvering within that system. Caving to a traditional politically organized commodity system conveys a lack of ability in understanding the myriad of means to an ends. Mutual respect is a much better answer-especially when it creates synergy. That synergy between two opposing groups is what grows an intellectual mind and the arts are like the flame to the rocket of that synergy.

In your opinion, what role does art play in the AV?

The current art scene in the AV lacks any real depth. Engaging with the work is very difficult and not very fruitful. The statements are very basic-the desert is beautiful, the flowers are beautiful, the animals are beautiful. There really isn’t much being said. For that reason, art has not played much of a role in the Antelope Valley so far. It decorates the walls of spaces, but isn’t providing any content for growth, questioning life, fulfillment or spirituality or social cause. Where is the vision, the commentary, the risk-taking, the questioning?

There have been a number of people working outside these boundaries, but the infighting, political climate and control have not embraced the artists who are saying more in their work, and sadly they simply withdraw from the scene or escape to LA. Embracing a new vision and a new artistic perspective gives this area an incredible opportunity for growth. It will be interesting to see whether the true support and respect needed to obtain success will be understood and valued enough to make any gains in the artistic arena. The current role for the artist’s in this area is to challenge and create an evolution in this community that truly impacts people’s lives and invokes curiosity in the world around them-a world outside of the AV.

How has the artist’s role changed in the last fifty or one hundred years, if it has changed?

Artists have become more entrenched in a new form of social public art that appreciates and requires artistic insight and impulse in the redevelopment and revitalization of communities and social spheres. Art that exists outside of museums or galleries, and relies on the participation and interaction of people has grown from Fluxus and performance art movements, and has been driven by an increasing technological globalization and demand for social media and worldwide interaction.

The interactive approach has driven public art into a wide-ranging opportunity for art to integrate into its urban environment. Contemporary art, installation art, participatory art, have allowed artists to involve themselves in many areas of society. The role of artist has been merging with architecture, graphic design, and public space becoming an engaged encounter with the world around us. Art embraces you.

Is art important? How?

Of course, it’s essential. Art is like your soul—unless you’re a sofa, you might need one.

Can you compare the profession of painting to any other professions or forms of art?

Painting translates in many ways to other professions or other forms of art. The ability to visualize an end result and work towards that vision through the difficulties and unexpected occurrences is universal between art forms, general business, and in life. My work involves experimenting with other forms of art in order to reinvigorate the meaning of painting or art by exploring the concepts integral to these other forms. Incorporating the cinematic or time based component, concepts of installation, performance, the recording mechanism of drawing, the dimension of sculpture, concepts of categorizing, archiving or curating, the joy of music, the thought of poetry/literature, all develop into a wide-ranging philosophy or artistic vernacular that keeps me interested and invigorated.