When the six artists behind the newly founded THIS Los Angeles gallery space launched their inaugural show in February this year they decided to open with a rather large bang. Inviting over 100 artists mates, including Geoff McFetridge, Maya Hayuk, Jim Houser, Alex Prager, Estevan Oriol, Jason Lee and Andy Jenkins, the Highland Park-based community/performance/art space kicked off with creative aplomb. A collaboration between photographers Claire and Jeremy Weiss (aka Day19), Dan Monick and Aaron Farley alongside designers Luis F Farfan and Justin Van Hoy, THIS is set to be an inspiring pillar in the east LA art community. Following These Friends with a collage art show where Leo Fitzpatrick’s minimal style was mounted up next to Danny Gibson’s sublime collage paintings, THIS is currently hosting a beautiful show entitled Transplants – a photography exhibition with 10 award winning LA artists who were born and raised outside of the city, whose work radiates the sprawling, diverse and surreal life of Los Angeles.
Dazed Digital: How did THIS launch?
Jeremy Weiss: Claire and I were in Australia to speak at the Semi_permanent conference and really enjoyed listening to people tell stories about how they got to where they are. That same trip we met the folks at Monster Children magazine who run this great mag, have a gallery, have kids, and have freelance careers as well. We were like, ‘Fuck, we need to something cool that brings all of our talented friends together!' and started looking for a store front in our neighborhood. We signed the lease three weeks after getting back from Australia, before we thought about it too much and changed our minds. Farley came up with the name THIS which is pretty perfect.
DD: Highland Park has this sort of old town Cali vibe to it, right?
Justin Van Hoy: Wikipedia says it’s one of the oldest in Los Angeles. The space is on Figeuroa Street, which is part of historic Route 66.
Luis F Farfan: The strip of Figueroa has been an art mecca on and off since the early 1900s and it is so rich with LA history. It is ‘mind blowing’ as Dan Monick would say.
DD: How was working with 105 artists for your opening show?
Luis F Farfan: Extremely easy to work with everyone, and a lot of work to hang. We had 75 per cent of the work a week before we were hanging it. Everyone was awesome and invited all their friends, packed the whole side of our block for the opening and made it a legendary night. Plus we sold enough stuff to pay for our wall that we built and the lights we put up. Killer all around.
DD: What was the seed that sprouted the Collage show?
Luis F Farfan: About a year ago Aaron and I had started on separate collage projects. His project revolved around a monthly subscription to The LA Times that an ‘at risk youth’ sold him in order to stay off the streets. My project started after finding a trunk full of LIFE magazines from the 1940s to 1960s in my attic. I figured I should attempt to revive the great images I found within these mags.
DD: What do you love about the aesthetics of collage art?
Luis F Farfan: It's populist in its inception. It's layman art, it's not exclusive, rather completely inclusive. You don’t have to have a degree in fine art, or know how to paint, or draw, or be a good photographer or anything. It’s an art form for the masses, you can literally have absolutely no concept or grasp on modern art and be able to make a collage if you wanted. Appropriating images to reinterpret as you see fit.
DD: What’s next for THIS?
Luis F Farfan: A showcase of children’s book illustrations, the Day 19 polaroid project with Jason Lee also contributing his polaroids, a Latin American Design showcase. Of course we will continue to add new content to the website, a video series of artist’s studio visits that Aaron and I are starting, as well as more live performances (some very special ones in the works) plus about 500 other things that are developing daily. It's a good thing there are six of us.