The Hooper Projects: a few steps away from Skid Row hustlers and artists are trying to make it happen

While New York’s aggression keeps squeezing the artists who are trying hard to find space, money and time in order to survive in the Big Apple, Los Angeles and its sunshine/palm trees/ tacos triptych, is responsible for the explosion of the L.A art scene and consequently, for the many artists who grab the chance and move to L.A – as long as there is enough space – to work, fail, and evolve.


For now this is a win-win situation: the artists are less troubled, the city’s tycoons are excited with their new hobby – as a collector told us during a dinner on our last visit there: “I am very happy that we have you here, there was only Hollywood to talk about before.” – and the New York galleries set foot in the city to open new spaces, so that they won’t have to share their artists with the local ones.


It comes as no surprise that for some people, the incentives of moving to La-La-Land are not the purest; there are many of them that just showed up for the party, and gradually hustlers and artists are starting to form the new art scene of Los Angeles.


One of the new private initiatives that are taking place in Los Angeles is Hooper Projects, a residency program consisting of a team of art advisors and collectors inviting young artists from all over the world to work in the place and present a group show with their works. HP’s team includes Artemis Baltoyanni and Stanley Hollander.


Conceptual Fine Arts was there at the last opening of Hooper Projects, a group show titled Permanent Vacation, featuring works by Schuyler MaehlΒen Wolf Noam, Mario Nubauer and Bruno Hoffmann. During the opening we managed to push the participating artists in the corner and ask them a few things about their work, their thoughts about Los Angeles, and their plans from now on.


Schuyler Maehl


Would you tell us a few words about your work, what are you showing here?


I am showing a series of sound based paintings; good sounds, weird sounds, beautiful sounds, long sounds, short sounds, annoying sounds, I think that’s it.


So does the notion of synesthesia play any role in your work?


Basically yes, when I am making music I imagine all these colors and shapes moving and smashing with each other and I am trying to map this process on a painting. I would really like to make a score to the paintings where there will be visual and sound connection at the same time. I have done this in various ways before; I did a show last year where each painting almost looked like those shapes of the paintings you see here, and I also did a soundtrack that was looping at the entire show. I am getting to the point where I want each painting to be a song, and when I say song I don’t mean the music but lots of those different sounds flashing to each other, this kind of thing.


When did you come to LA, how was your time here?


I arrived here at the beginning of October, I am having a great time here. When this residency ends I will go back to Chicago, this is where I come from.


What about the art scene in Chicago?


Chicago has a smaller art scene with lots of really good artists. There is a community of many artists that are doing very nice things and there is a dialogue happening there, for me this is the most important thing.


You are also having a performance tonight with the gelitin.


We used to work together, I am a satellite Gelitin for 10 years now, working for them and doing shows and stuff… it’s nice that they are here now to support.


Βen Wolf Noam


Since you have been spending your time between New York and Los Angeles for the last five years, would you like to share with us your thoughts about the art explosion that has recently been happening in LA?


I think that Los Angeles has an infinite potential, and that a lot of artists are going to come here, specially as space in New York becomes very difficult to find. In the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s all the artists wanted to move to NY because there was a lot of space and it transformed into this amazing art metropolis. Now LA has the potentials to do that. It is already creating opportunities for young artists and this is why Los Angeles is a great place for them to be right now.


What are you showing here?


I am showing a geodesic dome with twelve paintings on canvas that have been stretched over it. I am transforming those two-dimensional paintings into an architectural intervention. I am thinking about how a painting can become an architectural skin. For this reason I used a very loaded subject, the utopia that Buckminster Fuller invented, a sphere that it is made out of triangles, forming the ultimate utopian eco-friendly form of the 60’s.


Fuller believed that everybody was going to live in the dome because it was very energy efficient, providing the least amount of surface area for the most amount of volume. Today this architectural form is being used by places that gather big crowds, like museums. In my work there is this combination of painting and the history of architecture, something that used to be utopian now symbolizes the nostalgic view to the future through the prism of the past.


What are your plans for the future?


I am going to stay here for a while, keep drawing and making art.


Mario Nubauer


Would you tell us a few words about the works we see here?


I show a lot of paintings here, characteristic of my style that I call “urban gray landscapes”. The canvases are consisted of many layers, symbolizing the social structure of the society, where the most powerful are in charge. As in the society so in my paintings the stronger layer prevails. It does not eliminate the layers underneath, but stands out thanks to them, while being responsible for the entire work. This whole situation reminds me of the prevailing conditions in a society and that’s something I learned by growing up. Basically whatever.


I also present here a series of works where the main reference is Giotto. I made those works when I figured out that the backgrounds that Giotto used in his frescos are similar to my contemporary layers. I also added some little traces and fragments of what Giotto did. Although now those drawings look like comics, back at that time they were the most realistic representations.


What do you think about Los Angeles?


This is my first time here in L.A, I am more twice sold out and this is ok. I am like a machine when I am painting. I have an exhibition in Moscow, and after that I am going back to Vienna, but everybody is inviting me and wants to have me here, so I will be back.


Bruno Hoffmann


Would you tell us a few words about the paintings that you show here?


All the paintings that I show here comment on the traces that humans leave of the surfaces of the city, the environment they live in. The canvases are representations of walls that are marked by posters glued on them. People put the posters, the state tears them down, the same circle keeps going on leaving marks behind, until you get a totally random composition that can be the most beautiful thing and even if someone would try to produce the same wall, they would fail.


What do you think about Los Angeles?


What I really like about L.A, is the openness of the city. People are very friendly here and you don’t have to be afraid of everybody. In Vienna if you want to have a little chat with somebody, they will probably think that you are crazy or that you are going to rob them. I really like that everybody is smiling here.


What are you going to do after this residency?


I will go back to Vienna and I plan to visit here again soon, although I don’t think that I could live here.

February 2, 2015