Monday, June 15, 2009

China Art Objects 1999-2009

It would be nice to say we check out everything that we are told. We don’t. And last week we did jump the gun. An email yesterday from Steve Hanson of China Art Objects tells us that, like Mark Twain, the news of its death has been greatly exaggerated. As Steve says, “These rumors go around pretty quickly, and having to confirm your health continuously gets a little tiresome.” Which in the circumstances was restrained (Thanks for that Steve). China Art Objects has always been special for us - we've seen some great work, had some great times and got to know a fascinating part of Los Angeles. Guess that makes us contrite and delighted at the same time.
(22 June 2009)

Sometime late in 1998, or maybe it was early 1999, Giovanni Intra emailed to say he was opening a gallery in LA with four friends (Steve Hanson, Peter Kim, Amy Yao and Mark Heffernan). It was going to be in an old shop that sold China Art Objects (hence the name) in a back alley in Chinatown. Thinking about Teststrip, another space Giovanni helped start with a bunch of friends in Auckland, we assumed it would be a small artist gallery catering for an equally small audience. Not so. China Art Objects Galleries started a rush of dealer galleries operating out of Chinatown, and for some years was the place to be on a Saturday night after an opening. The space was small but it also boasted a low-slung basement full of crates and an even smaller night club composed of a ring of bench seating and, from memory, a roulette wheel. We only visited now and then but remember some great work by Michael Stevenson, Jon Pylypchuk, Laura Owens and a full sized ass by Eric Wesley, its back legs activated via a garage door lifting mechanism. The idea was that the ass would be exhibited near a wall and it would systematically kick it to pieces during the show. Sad to hear almost exactly 10 years after it opened in March 1999, that China Art Objects Galleries is to close. It had changed over the years doubling in size and installing a fuck-off reception desk (we liked to think it was satirical), but it was still China Art Objects, and that counted for a lot.
Image: Giovanni Intra in the China Art Objects Galleries basement storeroom