Tami Demaree / April Totten / Sky Burchard

Main Gallery
Noa Noa, Yes Yes

Sunsets, Sand, Nativism and Savagery. Tami Demaree’s solo exhibition Noa Noa, Yes Yes is a love story, a quest for paradise and a story of an artist finding himself through a muse. The show takes the form of an installation focusing on the romantic relationship between Paul Gauguin and Tehemana, his Tahitian lover. Through paintings, collages, sculptures and sound, Demaree creates an environment that attempts to prove her hypothesis that Gauguin made his best work while in love with his muse.

When Gauguin returned from Tahiti he wrote Noa Noa, which somewhat fictionally chronicles his luminous experiences on the island in 1891. In this self-published journal he romantically describes being inspired by “savage” Tahiti and, more importantly, his deep love for Tehemana, who functioned as a true muse not only as point of inspirational beauty but also as a teacher in the native ways and culture. Noa Noa literally means “fragrance, fragrance” but Gauguin used it to describe the intoxicating scent of the Tahitian women.

The work in the show ranges from the historical to the comical all while trying to tell a story about love and the artist. The installation includes a full-scale replica of Gauguin’s grave, large photomural collages, tikis and historical images of Gauguin, all in the midst of palm trees and sand. Demaree attempts to re-mythologize the “myth” of the artist using her own unique visual vernacular.

Tami Demaree has presented her work in a wide selection of solo and group exhibitions both nationally and internationally.  Recent solo shows include Half an Inch of Water and I Think I’m Gonna Drown (2008) and A Searing Lesson Every Girl Should Know (2006), Steven Wolf Fine Arts, San Francisco; and I’ll Cross My Fingers But I Won’t Hold My Breath, Angstrom Gallery, Los Angeles (2006). Demaree (1978, Huntington Beach, California) received an MFA from Otis College of Art and Design in 2003 and a BFA from UCLA in 2000.  The artist lives and works between Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Project Space
Out of Order
Out of Order (studio view), mountain sculptural element, 2010

Las Cienegas Projects is pleased to present Out of Order, a multi-media installation by April Totten. Totten works between the lines of personal and historical memory, particularly the fissures between psychosis, reality and fantasy. Through memory work Totten explores different aspects of psychosis from individual experience to psychoanalytic theory.

Due to her mother’s chronic and unmanaged mental illness, Totten grew up in a succession of low-budget motels situated between Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm. The artist’s work draws inspiration from the contrast between the hyper reality of the theme parks and her very real life in the working class areas of Southern California shadowed by the growth and power of these parks. Out of Order recreates the geographic schema of the artist’s childhood, juxtaposing a motel and elements of an amusement park.

In Totten’s film Blast View Motel, a model of a motel is destroyed in slow motion and edited in a loop that allows us first to witness, and then examine its destruction. Profoundly affected by Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1970 film Zabriskie Point, Totten pays homage to the film’s final sequence in which a home in the California desert explodes over and over again, blurring the lines between documentation and fetish.

The film is presented with a large-scale diorama, Out of Order, that evokes the Matterhorn attraction at Disneyland. Totten’s corrected Matterhorn, however, is skirted by a wishing well in which float mysterious and magical coins. If the architecture and landscape elements that make up Disneyland are a replica of some sort of fantasy reality, Totten’s sculptural elements are replicas of the replicas.

April Totten lives and works in Santa Paula, California. She received an MFA from CalArts in 2009.

Back Room
Trail of Broken Hearts
Unrequited Love Object #12 & #13 (Ladder and Magic Key) and Unrequited Love Object #10 (Magic Book), 2009. EPS foam, steel, Lucite, enamel, dimensions variable. Detail view, Wignall Museum of Art.   Photo by Jan Bolz

In his installation Trail of Broken Hearts, Sky Burchard makes the request: Show me the princess! Trophies earned along the journey to save the princess become tokens of unrequited love, the product of intense loneliness and longing. An artist who explains his work as “an interpretation of the relationships we form with the things which we can never attain”, Burchard has spent the past seven years focussed on the content both in (on the screen) and around (fan culture) video games. Here Burchard has chosen various pieces of treasure from the video game “The Legend of Zelda”.

Burchard’s objects each begin as a pixelated screen shot and are then isolated, magnified and taken into the third dimension using various 3D modeling software. After undergoing a rigorous process of analyzing this information, taking clues from shapes, shadows, textures, patterns and outlines, he is able to piece together a cohesive object. Using the computer model as a blueprint he “builds”, in cubes of foam, the finished sculpture. In this latest iteration of the artist’s work, the objects have been displayed in plexiglass boxes as precious objects, reiterating the desire that initiated their creation, and representing them, once again, as beyond our reach.

Burchard has shown extensively at Circus Gallery, Los Angeles and has had solo shows at Dangerous Curve, Los Angeles; Wignall Museum, Rancho Cucamonga; and More York, Eagle Rock. He has participated in various group shows in and around Los Angeles held at Black Dragon Society, The Smell, Raid Projects, Yutaka Sone’s Backyard, Domestic Setting, The Attic, Guggenheim Gallery, Torrance Art Museum, Long Beach City College and Cal State University Los Angeles.

Sky Burchard was born in Hollywood, California. He received his BFA from UCLA in 2000 and MFA from USC in 2002. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.


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