Corey Helford Gallery's 10th-anniversary show, which opened Saturday, isn't a typical gallery exhibit. Think of this more like a museum exhibition, a mazelike journey through a cavernous space filled with an almost overwhelming amount of art. Each piece requires the viewer's extended gaze; the whole thing could easily warrant a second visit before the show closes on Sept. 24.
The more than 130 works in the show constitute what the gallery calls “new contemporary,” which isn't a genre so much as a mishmash of street art, pop-surrealism and other influential movements that complement one another, all within the massive downtown space. There is an eclectic collection of big names in the show, including Shag, Gary Baseman, Risk, Camille Rose Garcia and Olivia de Berardinis. There are also plenty of lesser-known artists viewers will want to see more from in the future. Pip & Pop, aka Australian artist Tanya Schultz, creates sugary-sweet worlds with materials like candy and glitter. Riikka Hyvönen, a Finnish artist whose current works are inspired by derby players' injuries, contributed to the show a bruised butt made from acrylic, glitter, MDF and leather that appeared to pop off the wall.
There are a lot of attention-grabbers in the exhibit, including the installation from British artist D*Face, which features the front half of a classic car jutting from a wall as if it just crashed through but managed to do so unscathed. The couple in the front seat seems to be in the midst of an argument; she's crying, he's stoic. It recalls “Going Nowhere Fast,” his 2011 solo show at CHG's old Culver City space, which featured on the side of the building a mural of the same speeding couple.
It's not just the big pieces that are eye-catching. “Atrium” by Amsterdam-based artist Handiedan is only 15.75 inches by 19.7 inches, but the intricate digital and hand-cut collage prompted passersby to step in for a closer look.
Eric Joyner, the first artist to have a solo show with the gallery, painted a courtroom scene presided over by Judge Chamberlain Haller from My Cousin Vinny. Perry Mason makes an appearance, too, as well as a robot being sworn in on a box of doughnuts. “Believe me, I have no serious message, but if somebody wants to read something into it, it's OK,” says Joyner.
In the past decade, CHG has played a big role in helping establish a number of L.A.-area artists, like Korin Faught and Natalia Fabia, both of whom have been showing with the gallery since its early days and were in attendance on Saturday night. Faught recalls her reaction when CHG first got in touch with her. “I found the gallery that I could really vibe with,” she says. “They get me.” Her next solo show at CHG opens Oct. 1.
Fabia showed two pieces as part of the anniversary exhibition, one a portrait of her daughter, the other of a friend. “Both of them represent what the 10 years of Corey Helford mean to me,” she says, “one being more experimental and one being more personal and meaningful.”
The show is more than a celebration of 10 years of showcasing art. In showing the development of artists who've worked with the gallery for a long time and incorporating a slew of fresh names, it's an optimistic look into CHG's future.