The Thirteenth Grade, curated by Mary Anna Pomonis, PØST, July 26, 2011

The cheerful deconstruction of art, art exhibitions, and the artmaking process continues apace in Los Angeles. Following on the heels of Telephone, Tel-Art-Phone, Unfinished Paintings, and Chain Letter—all of which posed engaging questions around the exhibition of art rather than providing the standard answers—artist Mary Anna Pomonis organized The Thirteenth Grade, a two-hour, live-action group drawing event involving a mix of established and student artists.

Thirteen sheets of fresh drawing paper were affixed to the walls using blue painter’s tape. In addition, 13 Flip cameras were borrowed from the Levi’s Film Workshop and set up to record the action on each sheet. All the invited artists were told to have at it; the only condition was that they each try to contribute something to every sheet in the gallery.

The room buzzed with energy as artists moved from station to station, adding marks and motifs, making adjustments to previous work, drawing over things they didn’t like, complaining about the repetition of certain images. It was entertaining to watch the canvases evolve, and interesting to find the work improving as the layers accumulated. In the end, most of the work was fairly muddy and mediocre, but a couple of them crystallized nicely.

Pomonis’ intention was to question “notions of academic value and authorship” by mixing proven and untested artists, so to speak, to create a hybrid product that falls “in the academic gap between high school and college, art history and popular culture.” Authorship and value were certainly obscured here, as each work in the room was touched both by anonymous college students and artists who can command thousands for their paintings on the market. If you can discern a known artist’s style in the midst of other random scribblings, how much ascribed value is each supposed to have?

It was interesting that the drawing action leapt from one discreet canvas to the next, thus distinguishing this exercise from a collaborative mural. It was tempting to try to follow themes or styles from canvas to canvas, much as we watched the evolution of ideas across a set of works in the Tel-Art-Phone show. But ultimately, all marks made were assembled into whatever life had decided to reside on each individual canvas, in a sense erasing all of them into a fractured blur.

At the end of the night, each artist was given a random finished drawing to take home, determined by lottery. Participating artists were Kristin Calabrese, Christine Guyiangco, Hazel Handan, Anaeis Ohanian, Stas Orlovski, Ben Tegel, Sabina Ott, Jason Pinsker, Max Presneill, Justin Stadel, Guilia Tassius, Allison Stewart, Jessika Wood, and Eve Wood. This show took place as part of PØST’s July Kamikaze one-night exhibition series.

4 Responses to “The Thirteenth Grade, curated by Mary Anna Pomonis, PØST, July 26, 2011”

  1. Special thanks to Justin Stadel who helped conceive of the piece and created the accompanying video project.

  2. trudonna Says:

    great process! wish I was closer would have loved to participate. I’ll be in LA 8/23 – 8/30, anything happening?

  3. There’s always something happening! Check my blog that week and also check ArtCards and For Your Art (llnks on the right side of my home page). Cheers!

  4. Handan Castagneda Says:

    Proud of ya sister Hazel Handan !! ❤ art is in our veins!

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