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Studio visits and commissions from visionary talents, with insider coverage of the art calendar’s premier events

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July 27, 2014

Summer School: HVW8 Gallery

Art Lessons and Dance Sessions in the Californian Desert

From the brazen imagery of Amsterdam’s Parra to the internet-inspired visuals of the Kanye West-affiliated Canadian artist JJJJound, LA gallery HVW8 cultivates an international collision of pop culture and graphic design in a contemporary art setting. “We allow someone that might not be familiar with the artists we exhibit to see them in a lineage of El Lissitzky or Roy Lichtenstein, who to me are examples of fine graphic artists,” says HVW8 co-founder Tyler Gibney. This month the gallerist took psychedelic artists Erin D. Garcia, Teebs, Jean André and Alvaro “Freegums” Ilizarbe on a desert road trip for Summer School, an art and music weekender at Ace Hotel in Palm Springs featuring sun-kissed West Coast bands such as dance-punk duo De Lux. “I grew up with a Bauhaus education and I love the idea of artists teaching and exposing their craft,” says Gibney of the hands-on experience of Summer School’s workshops. Founded in 2011 by LA new music champions School Night and Ace Hotel, the micro-festival’s inaugural line-up included cult mobile letterpress studio Movable Type, and Chris Johanson of the Mission School art movement. “I approach my drawings as a viewer, I want to understand why a choice is made and the reason behind it,” says Garcia, who took on collage class duties while Cali locals Teebs went cosmic with Japanese tie-dye alongside Ilizarbe’s infinity patterns, and Paris’s André showcased poster techniques. “I think there's an elegance in a simple idea that's communicated well.”

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The Foundry

Step Inside the Workshop Favored by the Art World’s Most Venerated Sculptors

When on the hunt for bronze, lead or stainless steel for one of their large-scale creations, Gavin Turk, Anish Kapoor and Marc Quinn turn to the southeast London specialist AB Fine Art Foundry. “We are facilitators and custodians of a craft that is thousands of years old,” says manager Jerry Hughes. “It needs to be kept and passed on. Most of our staff have been to art college. They empathize and are passionate about what they do.” The industrious premises of the respected craftsmen are documented here by French photographer Franck Sauvaire. Taking a tour of the foundry, he uncovered pots and pans flowing with molten wax, as well as objects being covered in yellow silica to be burned at 1000 degrees. A nearly-completed sculpture by Jake and Dinos Chapman, “The same thing only smaller, or the same size but a long way away”, sits in one corner while a segment of Bill Woodrow’s “Sitting on History” is waiting to go into the kiln. All around, men and women in protective boiler suits strive to help create objects of wonder. According to Hughes, the Cuban artist Yoan Capote recently went to a Gavin Turk show and the first thing he thought was, “I want to know where this work was made.” The answer: the magic happened here.

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Spotlight

Dust

A Hyper-Camp Drama for the Digital Era from Casey Spooner, Adam Dugas and Michael Stipe

“I have a spa fetish, and this scene is based on a honey treatment I did at Liquidrom, an amazing coed naked spa in Berlin,” gushes Casey Spooner of today’s clip of Dust, the feature-length that he wrote and directed with his creative and romantic partner of 13 years, Adam Dugas. Spooner, frontman for electro-pop duo Fischerspooner, and Dugas, co-founder of performance troupe The Citizens Band, envisioned their debut film as a Skype-age re-telling of Chekov’s Three Sisters, with cohabiting dysfunctional siblings colluding and colliding as they wrestle with their individual dramas. The cast includes Ssion’s Cody Critcheloe, artist and photographer Jaimie Warren, and fashion designer Peggy Noland, plus Warhol superstar Holly Woodlawn as the family matriarch. “In the tradition of early John Waters and the films Warhol made at the Factory with Paul Morrissey, Dust defines its own era by reveling in and rolling around in the 21st century’s sadness, audacity and flashpoint laugh-out-loud directness,” says R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who produced the tragi-comic collaborative effort. Based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where they live with their cats, a Douglas Coupland painting and a Dracula lithograph, Spooner and Dugas have previously helmed documentary portraits for ImagineFashion and contributed to The New York Times’ T Magazine. Premiering at Art Basel Miami 2014 this evening, their feature will be digitally streamed on multiple platforms powered through Dust.VHX.tv.

How did you come to cast superstar Holly Woodlawn?
Casey Spooner: I got a message on Facebook from Holly Woodlawn saying, “I love your work, will you be my friend?” Adam was like, “Oh my God, Holly should play the mother!”

Adam Dugas: She was in her apartment in West Hollywood as we filmed her. She never actually met any of the other actors. We were Skype communicating.

CS: She’s acting to a blank screen with voices coming out. It’s like Hollywood glamour via new digital technology. The new soft focus is digital break-up.

How did Michael Stipe get involved in the film?

CS: We knew the technical side of things but we had no connections to PR, financing, release, legal, distribution. We thought, “Who do we know who knows about the film business?” So we reached out to Michael. He was very discouraging when we first approached him. He was like, “Don’t go into the film business. It’s over, like the music business. Give up. Retreat.” We sent him a rough cut anyway.

AD: A couple of months later he came back to us saying, “Oh by the way, did I tell you that I finally saw your film? I think it’s amazing.” He said he really wanted to get involved. 

You recently made the video Subliminal Alchemy for Modern Weekly China with photographer Asger Carlsen in advance of a new Fischerspooner album. You shot with a real snake, right?
CS: An Albino Burmese python named Banana that was 10 feet long. It was my brilliant idea. Cyril Duval, aka designer and artist Item Idem, asked if I wanted to do a shoot for them. The new album is very erotic and I sent through a bunch of Tumblr images as references, some pornography—basically all about the male form, and a lot of nudity. One of my references had this big snake. Cyril was like, “Let’s do the snake.” I had shot with a snake before for New York magazine and had a great experience. This snake had never been on set before and the handlers were inexperienced. So, I had kind of a grumpy snake experience.

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