As far as alternative art spaces go, Night Gallery pretty much could sit right next to the word in a dictionary. The gallery used to call a couple of small rooms in Lincoln Height home but now takes up a slick, roomy interior downtown. This past Saturday, the gallery hosted its first group show in the new place, “Made in Space,” a conglomeration of art that proves that despite the chic new digs, the gallery's alternative side is still very much intact.
For one, the group show spans a number of mediums and a fresh approach to curating (thanks to the creative minds of Peter Harkawik and Laura Owens). When you walk inside the gallery, a central space opens up into little pockets that hide art objects waiting to be found. Works hang from the ceiling and occupy the floor at gallery-goers' feet. The works themselves seem to organically take over the entire space so visitors never know what they'll stumble upon next.
It's impossible to box the artists in under one particular aesthetic style, and that range greatly contributes to the show's success. Most group shows tie artists together under one theme but the press release of “Made in Space” kept the show enticingly cryptic, presenting only a list of 13 short narratives, mostly about strange occurrences. Like how a person watched two movies on separate screens while someone forgot their wallet in El Segundo and another person (probably the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis) thought about his lonesomeness under a bridge.
That means free reign for interpreting the works both alone and in relation to surrounding objects. Patrick Jackson's simply titled Blue Mug shows a number of little sperms on its exterior, which houses what look like white ice cubes inside white liquid. Liz Larner's aluminium tube sculpture, high-strength, encourages the viewer to walk around to take in its many sides; it seems impossible to gauge where the many cylindrical objects meet in the middle as they twist around each other, their tentacle-like ends extending towards the viewer.
Mungo Thomson's mirror creations — two 74-by-56-inch mirrors with a red border and the word “TIME” emblazoned across the top — stand across from each other on opposite walls of the same room and create a strange sensation of being forever trapped inside a TIME magazine cover.
Whether a collage, photograph, piece of furniture or series of objects, each creation within “Made in Space” invites viewers to look more closely and explore a number of possible meanings. Even the more comical pieces seem to make some sort of commentary that's not fully clear but somewhere within reach. It's the type of show where it takes some sinking in before a meaning comes through and if one doesn't, well, even better. No one said this was your average art show, anyway.
Night Gallery is at 2276 E. 16th Street, dwntwn.; “Made in Space” runs until April 15