A painter, assemblage sculptor, conceptualist, performance artist, and a provocative practitioner of a lot of other random in-betweens, Jeffrey Vallance is also the founder of a sort of society — cult is too strong a word — united by appreciation of the fine persona and kitschy critique of a frozen Foster Farms chicken named Blinky whom Vallance laid to rest amid much fanfare at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in 1978.
This performative action spawned decades of subsequent works — collage, bricolage, paintings and more constructed from a trove of found objects and painstakingly augmented by hand. The works tend toward absurd but stylistically accurate take-offs on religious items and memorabilia — manger scenes, saintly reliquaries, altarpieces, pilgrimage mementos — creating a universe of intensely witty and desirable bespoke objects that is also a send-up of the art world’s deep commercialism and our society’s susceptibility to cleverness.
The project appealed to David Letterman’s sense of humor early on, and these clips from Vallance’s 1983 appearances on the show are art history and comedy gold. And now a fresh array of Blinky the Friendly Hen manifestations is arrayed at Edward Cella Gallery through January 4 (aka during the, ahem, holiday shopping season) bringing a breathtakingly eclectic assortment of vintage and new works across all mediums together. La Chapelle de Poulet (tr: church of the chicken) is complete with a souvenir stand and stained glass.
A densely detailed, abstract and nuanced counterpoint of refined color and intense mark-making flourishes in early works by Constance Mallinson that are on display in the gallery as well, and this weekend, the two artists engage in a sort of conversation swap, wherein they each interrogate the other’s work. Artist to Artist: Mallinson and Vallance in Conversation happens Saturday, November 16, 4pm.
The exhibitions are on view through January 4 in Culver City. edwardcella.com.