Solo exhibition at visitor welcome center 2018
ALAN NAKAGAWA SOLO EXHIBITION @ Visitor Welcome Center
January 20 through February 24, 2018
A new multi-sensory installation; "dreamers; Cornell said birdhouses are dreamcatchers/ for Shizue Yamashiro" and a survey of eight artist residencies (2015 through 2018)
VISITOR WELCOME CENTER, 3006 W 7th Street, Suite 200A, Los Angeles CA 90005
Schedule of related event where:
January 20, 5-9 PM Opening
January 24, 12-1 PM; Widdling Wednesday #1; an hour of widdling pieces of wood from the Butterfly Sanctuary, talking and sharing snacks.
January 26, 7 PM; Movie Night #1; Stranger, Gina Napolitan
January 27, 2-4 PM; Guitar Maintenance Saturday #1; so many people have a guitar in their closet they hardly ever play. This was a chance to get it back in shape so one could start playing again. Participants needed to bring a pack of new strings with their neglected guitar.
January 31, 12-1 PM Widdling Wednesday #2
February 2, 7 PM Movie Night #2; Untitled-1, Nisa Karnsomport and Dodeskaden, Akira Kurosawa
February 3, 2-4 PM Guitar Maintenance Saturday #2
February 7, 12-1 PM Widdling Wednesday #3
February 9, 7 PM No Surprise Movie Night #3; One Day Pina Asked, Chantal Akerman
February 10, 2-4 PM Guitar Maintenance Saturday #3
February 14, 12-1 PM Widdling Wednesday #4
February 16, 7 PM L.A. Premier of Episode 3, KOKO's Love, Yoshie Sakae and Emperor Tomato Ketchup, Terayama Shuji
February 17, 12-2 PM, K Town Plein Air Day; Participants were invited to bring portable art-making kits and a folding chair. We set up on the roof of the building and made art and ate snacks and shared internal conflicts.
February 17, 2-4 PM; Guitar Maintenance Saturday #4
February 21, 12-1 PM; Widdling Wednesday #5
February 23, 7 PM; Movie Night #5; Patriotism, Yukio Mishima and Sorceress, Suzanne Schiffman
February 24, 2-5 PM; the final Guitar Maintenance Saturday and the Closing of the show. At 5 PM we did the drawing for ENTER TO WIN; a custom mummy portrait. Alan decided to give away two so we drew two names.
INFORMATION ON EXHIBITION:
Events; I see this exhibition as a collaboration with David Bell, director of Visitor Welcome Center. David invited me to first be part of a group show and so I created "dreamers; Cornell said birdhouses are dreamcatchers/ for Shizue Yamashiro", which I completed in November 2017 but then I was given a solo show in January so we decided to also show the works that were generated from the various artist in residencies I participated from 2015 to 2018. We wanted to go back to his original idea, a visitor's welcome center. He felt that the place had become a gallery, which is great but what about this idea of a welcome center? He asked if I'd be interested in doing any programming and I jumped on that.
I approached the events as if it were a dinner party of sorts, in terms of welcoming. We went through the various interests I had; watercolors, drawing, guitar maintenance, a DVD collection, a butterfly sanctuary and went from there.
dreamers; Cornell said birdhouses are dreamcatchers/ for Shizue Yamashiro, around the time David offered the show, I was on my way to Chicago for a meeting. I had just read that Joseph Cornell was an early inspiration for Betye Saar, both artist I adore. I knew that the Chicago Art Institute has the largest collection of Cornell's boxes so I decided to draw them while I was there. It took me almost three days to finish but I did. There's a microscope like attention that happens when you draw like that and I felt like I was uncovering the sequence of his construction. The room they are displayed is dark but they're spot lit behind glass. The room was often empty, I the only one in there but occasionally there would be a crowd of students with sketch pads drawing frantically and then leaving as quick as they came. On the final day, I was stressed that I wasn't going to finish so I continued to draw with no break; no bathroom and no water. Apparently, I became dehydrated. In my right ear, a man's voice said, "Birdhouses are dreamcatchers". Made sense to me. There are so many references to birds, butterflies and birdhouses in Cornell's work. In fact, I connected his work to my butterfly sanctuary at home and felt really good with this coincidence. Anyway, this voice, astute as it was, came out of nowhere because when I looked, there was no one in the gallery. Did I miss the guy? Was I hallucinating? Ghost? Bicameral mind? Who knows? I had work to do so I continued to draw and I did finish. later when I was back home in L.A., I saw that I jotted that down and drew what would become the installation.
During this period of time, DACA was heavily in the news and I found out my first art teacher of six years had passed away the previous year. Shizue Yamashiro was immigrated to the US from Japan and started an art school in her apartment for kids, I being one of them. DACA in the media is about the Latino immigrants but the issue of immigrants and certainly how they are used as the scapegoats for the conservative political machine goes back to the beginning of our Nation. The poise of the word "dreamers" is used as a metaphor for "better" and I saw the attack of DACA as a gesture saying dreams of some are less than dreams of others, which is ridiculous and hypocritical.
So this work uses dreams as a gestural point for individual and collective equality, driven by the aesthetics of Cornell and what Shizue Yamashiro taught me both in terms of art making and what it meant to immigrate to the U.S.A..
The perfume inside, "Cornell" is a portrait of the artist. I developed it at the Institute of Art and Olfaction in L.A.'s Chinatown. I had the image of an attic; musty, mysterious, mystical and earthy.
The birdhouses along the walls are from my butterfly sanctuary. We decided to put them on the floor as to subtly changing the scale of the room and alluding to flight and home. Inside the two portals/masks/dreammachines is a view alluding to a view from inside a birdhouse and infused with "Cornell" the perfume and laying on ear pillows, I was hoping you'd fall asleep and dream. The paper wall is for participants to write down their dreams.
Survey of eight artist residencies from 2015 to 2018
Including art made at:
MacDowell Art Colony
University of Barcelona
Smithsonian Museum of American History
Los Angeles Department of Transportation
Hiroshima Atomic Dome/ Wendover Hangar
Echo Park Film Center