By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
Following a lucrative gig in 1997 curating art for an Australian version of Lollapalooza, Rose returned to New York with some money in his pockets and some time on his hands. In rapid succession, he met his soon-to-be wife, designer Susan Cianciolo, and completed a business course at NYU. The business course came in handy when he decided to put together a plan to open a new Alleged Gallery — this time up on Prince Street just east of Soho — that he would launch with a show called "The Independents." Works by Phil Frost.Photos courtesy Roberts & Tilton Gallery
"The Independents," which opened on Halloween of 1997, was another, even bigger, hit. Rose was gaining momentum, primarily curating shows at mostly underground galleries around the world as well as a show for New York gallery legend Holly Solomon called "City Folk," which he co-curated with Carlo McCormick. Even the high-brow art world was starting to take notice of the then still-in-his-20s Rose and the rogue artists he showcased. When Rose's sublet on Prince Street finally ran out, he decided to make the leap to Chelsea, where many of the Soho galleries were migrating to escape skyrocketing rents. Looking back now, Rose believes it was a move that would precipitate the beginning of the end of his New York run.
"We definitely lost a big chunk of our core group that used to just kind of hang around. And things weren't just happening anymore either. I was forcing them, trying to make stuff happen. And when I started losing artists to the bigger galleries, I had trouble accepting what I believe now to be the truth, which is that what happened at Alleged — that feeling that you're in the epicenter of this amazing thing — it's a fleeting state of being. Things like what we had at Alleged exist to incubate talent, and ultimately it's impossible to continue them or to compete with the establishment galleries. And I kind of killed myself trying to do that, I think."
Feeling like a pit bull on a chain from the combination of Manhattan rents, a waning marriage and a too toxic taste for the good life, Rose soon decided to return to his SoCal roots in search of sanctuary.
Initially the plan was to open a project space in L.A.'s then-nascent Chinatown art scene. Compared to Manhattan, it would require decidedly less overhead, which, in turn, would liberate Rose from having to pimp and hustle to keep up the pace. "But right away, I began to battle with all those same feelings again," recalls Rose. "Not much had changed other than the city I was living in. The move itself just wasn't enough of a departure from what we'd left."
Complicating matters further was the fact that Los Angeles gallery foot traffic was dubious at best, leaving Rose even more time than ever to sit idly glancing back and forth at the angels and the devils that had taken up residence on either shoulder.
Finally, as Rose minded the empty shop one day, the epiphany that it was over turned out to be the only customer to come through the door. "It was wild," Rose says, sliding a Marlboro red out of his shirt pocket. "It was a Saturday afternoon and Brendan and I had been sitting around, and it had been like two hours since anyone had walked in, and we both just kind of looked at each other and we just knew."
Less than a year later, looking out over the crowd at 6150, it feels like Rose made the right call. As much an "experience" as a show, S&S offers a glimpse at a creative universe parallel to, but generally not a part of, the typical gallery-hopping excursion. To take the whole "experience" premise another step further, Rose and Roberts enlisted the design collective alife out of New York to install a store in the gallery that specializes in "art products." Also, Fowler has produced a companion, 150-page zine entitled 3D Poster Set.
It's getting late, and the pre-opening show for friends and family is officially over, but hardly anyone's leaving. Instead, groups of three and four at a time take turns jumping inside McGee's flipped-over delivery-van installation. A security guard watches over the installation, because some of McGee's more ardent fans have a tendency to steal his work, which is understandable, if not forgivable, since the thing about graffiti is that it generally lives out in the world, free from the confines of the clean, bland cube.
McGee and his righthand man, AMAZE, have already painted — legally — a large panel on the side of the 6150 complex that faces Wilshire. The mural contains, among other things, a trademark Twist hobo face as well as "Eat shit George W" scrawled lovingly through the middle of the piece. McGee's made it well known lately that he has certain apprehensions about his current trajectory: Primarily, he's worried that as the establishment art world's embrace grows, the actual audience for his work shrinks. "Even this show, you know, it'll more than likely be the same 200 cool kids," McGee reckons. And for the most part, he's probably right. Although by Saturday, the day of the public opening, Bennett Roberts has already begun fielding calls from all over the country about the show. Word's out.
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