This is what happens to my brain as I wait to enter an art show at a nightclub. There are two lines in front of Playhouse, but it seems that the 2 door-girls and 3 security guards have different opinions on who should be in which line.
About an hour later, I see my friend Walter Mazzarella who invited me to RAW artists Hollywood. Walter, an Italian artist trained at the Accademia di belle arti di Bologna, has last-minute adjustments to make to his display inside, but after he pops out of the club to buy a drink, he is sent to the end of the longest line by an expressionless security guard who doesn’t seem to appreciate that artists don’t normally buy a ticket to see their own work on display.
RAW, which has chapters across the U.S., selects young up-and-coming artists, performers and creatives to gather and socialize at a single show in a prime venue. This event, “Illuminaire” is being held at the nightclub Playhouse, and features a fashion show, music performances, a visual arts showcase and a cash bar. With its dim lighting and seriously bored-looking cocktail waitresses, Playhouse is not the best place to actually see the art. Judging from the setup the lighting is probably designed for crowded parties where more than one person wants to hide a dancing-related cocktail stain. However, the setup works for one of the prime goals of RAW – networking. A half-hour after the doors open, the skylit lounge area is packed as people mill around the artwork.
Hung on a staircase landing, Walter’s pieces are some of the standouts in the show. Titled Fragments, his series is distinct because it creates an intimate narrative through non-figurative means. Taking pieces created, but not necessarily finished, over a decade of artistic activity, Walter sliced his way to a mosaic-like visual autobiography. Cut apart, then recomposed, these shards of past works create striations of moving light that appear as harmonious waves of color from afar, but also evoke the chaotic temporality of personal experience.
Among the artists whose work we admired the most, Becky Sapp definitely deserves the Ganzo label. Perhaps her whimsical images appeal to us because as strangers (Italians) in a very strange land (L.A.), we enjoy how humor is used to capture the detachment that comes from living in a beautiful-perfect, but sprawling, city. Becky used to be a wedding photographer on the East Coast, but now chooses her models from a mannequin warehouse. What is most impressive is how the bodies, or sometimes just limbs, of these inanimate subjects communicate intention and personality through her carefully composed images. After talking with Becky we were happy to discover that she is not only talented, but also half-Sicilian.
Overall RAW was a “raw” event in the sense that it was unfinished. Compared to the super-polished gallery shows, these rough edges made it an interesting place to recognize and interact with fresh talent. I just hope that next time I get to see Walter and Becky’s work it will be without the reflected glare of a disco ball.
Check out the video interviews with Walter and Becky: