I always think of Brody Condon and Robby Herbst, with their progressive and quirkily experimental practices, as quintessential LA artists. The truth is, however, that Herbst grew up on the East Coast and still has professional ties there, whereas Condon, who got his MFA from UC San Diego in 2002, divides his time between New York and Berlin (although you wouldn’t know it, given the amount of production he does in LA). Both artists are currently the subject of solo exhibitions in the New York area. I went to both shows, and also did some wandering through the Lower East Side, currently the hotbed of happening art in New York.
Robby Herbst, New Pyramids for the Capitalist System, Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn, February 10–April 8, 2012
Back in January, I used my guest stint on the Art21 blog to organize a two-week occupation of the blog by my fellow LA–based writers and artists. Herbst was one of ten people who contributed written works that reflected on aspects of the Occupy movement in LA. His essay, Human Pyramids and the Capitalist System, briefly evoked a history of American class mobility through his grandfather’s affiliations with socialist clubs and mutual aid organizations in the early 20th century. The support systems that enabled upward mobility in those times have largely been erased by an increasingly right-wing capitalist society, and hopes for prosperity in the new generation have been erased along with them.