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Frames are the art
Collaboration between West Hollywood arts council and a gallery brings video traffic to Sunset Strip.
By Jess Holl, Times Staff Writer
When dusk slips over the Sunset Strip, lights blink on, neon buzzes and video billboards gleam in the waning light. Bombardment by advertisements is nothing new to traffic along the boulevard. The images meld into the scenery, visual stimuli that pass with barely a blip.
Three years ago, the West Hollywood Arts and Cultural Affairs Commission collaborated with Gallery 825 to add a new element to the barrage: an annual showing of art videos. These works appear on free-standing Jumbotrons across from the Hyatt Hotel and on the Key Club façade's video billboards, spaces usually reserved for advertising. This year's works, collectively titled "Sunset 3.825," have introduced four artists and five video art projects to the Strip's traffic.
The featured artists condense longer works down to one-minute editions that run on a scheduled loop. The resulting pieces provide "a curious interruption from overt commercialism," said Alison Maxwell, economic development specialist for West Hollywood.
One such interruption is D. Jean Hester's "Queens Rain," showing across from the Hyatt along with Anthony Goicolea's "Under Tow" and Matthew Konicek's "Protect Your Family's Health." (Karolina Sobecka's "Sign Movies" completed a run there earlier.) One of the videos plays every six minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In Hester's piece, stoplights blink reds, yellows and greens through a driving rain in Queens, N.Y. Taped through a window, the glass, puddles and precipitation distort flashing colors otherwise familiar on Sunset. The effect is enough to give an arid Angeleno pause.
Down the street on the Key Club's façade, the Konicek and Goicolea pieces show, along with another Goicolea work, "Act of Contrition." All three videos play at the hour and half-hour marks and come up after a brief introduction by way of Gallery 825's logo and that of West Hollywood's "Art on the Outside" public art program. Goicolea's "Under Tow" begins as a rock drops, sinking into water. Tied to it by a length of rope is a young man, swimming and struggling in a dance to the surface. More rocks and victims follow, and a pattern of strokes and kicks emerges.
The works on display are chosen by the Cultural Affairs Commission from artists selected by Emenegger. Not surprisingly, she said, a debate often ensues over whether to select a piece that gives a subtle, even subliminal, impression over one with instant, eye-catching effect. A flash of color or a bit of movement may distinguish a work in a way that allows it to register as something other than a product pitch.
The video works in "Sunset 3.825" offer a welcome visual respite, if even for a subliminal minute. Amid the blips that pass through the synapses each day, maybe one aesthetic moment exists, not for selling but simply for art's sake.
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