I met Mr. Steve Lambert in San Francisco a few years back, around the time he orchestrated changing all the “BUSH” street signs in the city to “PUPPET” (2001). He was always a public art troublemaker and funny as hell, but I didn't take him too seriously. My mistake. He has since gone on to accomplish many things in the name of art, including the creation of the “Anti-Advertising Agency,” wherein he recruits disillusioned agency execs to create fake ads and admonish the people responsible for stupid “real” advertising stunts. He is also known for the invention of “Add-Art,” a free computer program that, when installed on your PC, sneaks art into the ad spaces on your browser. Last year's highlight was a project that closed down every McDonald's in Manhattan via a ton of volunteers and simple, handwritten “closed” signs — followed by a phony press conference in Union Square, with a Ronald impostor going on about the benefits of vegetarianism. Nothing, however, beats his recent collaboration with the Yes Men — an unsanctioned July 4, 2009, “special edition” of The New York Times with the headline “IRAQ WAR ENDS.” A total of 1.2 million copies were distributed. CNN noticed. Lately he's been busy with a residency at the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology and various teaching gigs (and, honestly, planning such elaborate pranks takes time), but he has seen fit to hold his first four-walled show in years — it's his Los Angeles debut. “Everything You Want Right Now!” guarantees new work “involving regional signage unique to L.A.,” and investigates advertising's undelivered promises. But don't call him an activist. “That would be an insult to actual activists,” Lambert explains. “I just do art I think is effective and good.” Hopefully, the joke will be on us.

Wednesdays-Saturdays. Starts: April 25. Continues through June 6, 2009

LA Weekly