By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
It would seem the only concerns surrounding such a straightforward medium would be practical ones: What reads from the street and what doesn’t? Pettibon, however, is only minimally distracted by such questions. “The truth is,” he says, choosing his words carefully, “that I don’t really have the kind of mind or the patience to really put that much into those concerns in a self-conscious way. I’ve never self-consciously thought of my audience when I’m doing my work at all. That’s not to say that it’s not there in some way.”
When Undefeated launched the billboard project back in summer of 2002, Rose selected Angeleno artist Geoff McFetridge to start things off with an intricately designed 3-D collage. After that came a tagged-up photo by San Francisco–based graffiti guru Barry “Twist” McGee, followed by a Dennis Hopper photograph of Martin Luther King Jr., and then an absolutely shocking-pink panel inhabited by a lone mermaid alien, done by artist-filmmaker Thomas Campbell of Santa Cruz. The project was originally conceived to draw exclusively from West Coast artists, but that’s about to change. Says Rose: “The idea was to really promote West Coast art . . . A reaction against all of the focus that’s been given East Coast artists. Kind of a turf thing, I guess. But the project’s matured. And we’ve had so much response from around the world that it’s just been overwhelming, which has enabled us to mentally re-engineer the project. We’re seeing it now more as an exchange of ideas between artists and the public than anything geographic or regional.”
In March, the billboard project is looking to extend its talent pool with Tokyo-based artist-musician-designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, whose abstract graphic imagery and overall aesthetic has him pegged as the primary tastemaker for Japanese youth.
“His work is so different from anything we’ve done so far. It just opens the whole thing right up,” says Rose. “It’s like we’re breaking our own rules, which is a really fun thing to do. Looking back now, I’d have to say that by putting restrictions on who/what we would feature on the billboard, we were limiting ourselves and the potential of the project.”
Regardless of the aesthetic direction the Undefeated billboard project takes from here out, more than likely it’ll remain a welcome addition to the city’s skyscape.
Ed Templeton's Big NothingNude & rude: Templeton draws the line.
Two years ago, artist and professional skateboarder Ed Templeton won the “Search for Art” young-talent contest for his photo series “Teenage Smokers,” a 24-image installation that explored the aesthetically seductive and simultaneously vile relationship between kids and their cigarettes. The contest was sponsored by the Italian clothing manufacturer Mandarina Duck, and part of the prize included a solo show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The show “The Essential Disturbance” — which also traveled to Rome — consisted of no less than 320 pieces and encompassed every aspect of the artist’s work: painting, drawing, photography, collage works. It also included a skate expo and a limited-edition book titled The Golden Age of Neglect.
This weekend, the Huntington Beach native returns to Southern California with a show at Roberts & Tilton Gallery called “The Prevailing Nothing.” The show’s theme by default, says the artist, “is a visual life diary illustrated with photos, with or without writing and/or artwork on them, paintings, drawings, collages, etc. I don’t work within a frame, I probably should, but it really is sort of a splatter of everything.”Teenagers and cigarettes. . . like chocolate and peanut butter.
To witness a wonderfully chaotic installation of Templeton’s work is to understand that, clearly, the mixture is a substantial part of the message. Exhibit walls teem with work. Each image, while often arresting in its own right, is only a piece of the artist’s potent ensemble. Even on a singular piece, an added story, a caption from a journal or even additional figurative marginalia scrawled across the surface of a canvas or photo prods the synergy, heightening the ultimate realization of Templeton’s message. Not that the artist writes all over everything. Some photos are left blank, some drawings relatively sparse, some paintings simple, all depending on the artist’s mood at the time of execution and the particular image itself.
“When I first started making art, I only chose photos that I thought could stand on their own, but then I started shooting and choosing photos that maybe needed a small push after printing so they’d pop in the right way,” Templeton explains, despite professing apprehensions about sounding too formulaic regarding his process. “I’m afraid that people will look for some type of pattern in my method, and really there is none to be found. I do whatever comes at the moment of doing it.”
Process aside, whether he’s painting an eloquent nude of Deanna, his muse and wife since he was 19, or shooting photos of young skater kids wrestling half-naked in hotel rooms amid spilled beer cans, the world as rendered by Ed Templeton well captures the angst-ridden urgency, joy and vitality of young American life: a kind of coming-of-age pilgrimage rife with the gut-wrench and heartbreak that inevitably vaults most all of us out into the world wounded and only partially prepared for what follows.