February 16–17 2019 1925 E 8th Street, DTLA

Review by Katie Kirk
All images courtesy of Samuel Morgan Photography

SPRING/BREAK Art Show, run by New York artists Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori, recently made its first Los Angeles appearance. SPRING/BREAK is known for engaging independent curators, artists, and gallerists to create installations in unconventional settings. The premiere LA version was presented in ROW DTLA, where thirty-two former industrial units were each transformed into a difference art experience. 

By the last day, a few of the curators seemed to have given up on pieces of their installations that weren’t cooperating. It appeared that there were many challenges with hanging on the metal walls. One space retired their heavy-duty magnets and resorted to leaving paintings on the floor—a charming reminder of the more DYI feel to the SPRING/BREAK show. Overall, the majority of the participants orchestrated generous presentations of work that touched on the fair’s theme of fact and fiction.

The most compelling booths were those that embraced the unusual environment and kept true to their LA roots. ARVIA, co-run by Anne Marie Taylor and Andrew Cortes, is an exhibition space, residency, and work/live space located in a backyard in Cypress Park. Their SPRING/BREAK show carried through this multi-function feeling and many of the objects presented served as artifacts of their LA space. In one section, a group of people sat chatting on the benches built by Anne Marie’s grandfather. In another corner, a pile of sandwiches waited to be eaten. The ARVIA fire pit, refurbished from the inside of an old washing machine, served as an anchor in the room for the crowds of people. 


The artists ARVIA presented in Pass The Stick thoughtfully examined the ritual of storytelling through objects, touching on themes of landscape, self-narrative, heritage, and community. It was sensory experience complete with painting, sculpture, installation, and even sound recordings by Christopher Wormald and George Jensen. 

Daniel Schubert’s paintings serve as physical documents of working through a personal narrative. Filled with hand-drawn markings, there is a sense that something is being written tracked, or counted in their making. Unstretched and floppy, the paintings could be flipped through and rearranged on the wall. They felt like pages from a giant notebook—the personal burdens and decisions peeling off the wall onto the viewer. 


Also exhibited, was one of Nicolas Shake’s large Polycaprolactone wall sculptures, created by melting pellets and molding them using tire tread and palm fronds. The work is a giant fossil of the peripheral that people leave behind. Liv Aanrud’s work also conveys a sense of recording time. Employing the method of traditional folk rag rug hooking used by her grandmother, Aanrud collapses different narratives into one. Histories of painting and craft meld into mythical stories and imagined landscapes. 


All together, the space felt intimate and familiar, and for a second, with the fiery glow of Shannon Roxanne Taylor’s neon sign, I almost forgot I’m not at ARVIA. 

JACOB’S WEST also thrived within the pop-up framework of SPRING/BREAK Art Show. Originally a project space that began in a garden as JACOB’S in Highland Park, JACOB’S WEST now functions as a nomadic pop-up. Off-Site, is the third show presented outside of the garden. 


Featured against the left wall, were two Spencer Carmona paintings that are part of his Santa Ana Sun series. They are obediently restrained, each a variation of the same horizon line and sun. But, the restricted composition makes the subtle color shifts and differences in paint application feel surprisingly extreme and expressive. Their simplicity creates a pictorial tension that let me hover between thinking and feeling, resulting in a constant tug of war between the real and unreal, the symbolic and literal. 

JACOB’S WEST also brought a little bit of its home base into the metal industrial units at ROW. The room had a casual, backyard feel, with succulents potted in Sara Bright’s ceramic planters sitting atop plywood pedestals. An Ocotillo and Organ Pipe cactus emphasized the landscape frameworks in the work and were also a nod to the plants in the original garden location. 

Several of the pieces in the show acknowledge the distinctive industrial environment. The repetitive, swift lines in Jacob Melchi’s paintings both mirror some of the structures in the room, but also provide skeletons for each painting’s compositional architecture. The drain grates on the floor, the corrugated metal walls, and the ceiling fan covers all of a sudden became more obvious. Melchi’s configurations felt unconfined and infinite, yet organized—a contrast to Bright’s more lyrical works.


Both Elizabeth Huey and Natalie Smith use a hunter-gatherer approach in their work. Pulling from a wide range of topics, Huey’s work depicts human activities and fluctuating states of being—gardening, loving, blooming, celebrating, and many more. Her source materials and physical materials vary, including photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, and collage. Smith also uses material and mark-making without hesitation—collaging, writing, twisting pieces of canvas. While it feels like Huey tells more complex, hypothetical narratives, Smith distills her stories into singular moments of the everyday. 


Overall, the 40-plus curated projects in the SPRING/BREAK Art Show were a refreshing alternative to the other simultaneous fairs. What was presented, extended beyond the confines of typical art fair week conventions. The less-than perfect installations, tangential themes, and diverse ways of making from VR to performance left me looking forward to next year.