September 2010, Kori Newkirk @ Country Club

Kori Newkirk, Mayday, 2010
Cotton Particulate, Stainless Steel,168"x168"
Courtesy of the artist and Country Club


Kori Newkirk
Country Club
Buck House
Los Angeles, California
July 17 through August 21, 2010

The artist known for exquisitely engineered bead-curtains of LA’s skyline ablaze; giant thumbprints and helicopters executed in hair gel as room-dominating murals; and shopping carts and inner-city church windows conflated in sculptures with humor, nostalgia, and hipster irony, takes on the rigors of early Modernism with a body of site-specific works at the Buck House—a landmark Schindler residence and home to Country Club Gallery’s Los Angeles incarnation. The most ingenious site-specific elements Newkirk executed, in this most unique of locations, make excellent use of his signature penchant for exploring the plurapotentiality in the formal and aesthetic character of ordinary objects.

Boiler (2010, stainless steel, vinyl tubing, resin, 92 x 66 inches) is a remarkable thing to have done to a registered landmark. An interior wall technically within the boundaries of the kitchen and dining part of the home became the ground for a Donald Judd-esque bit of cheeky DIY modernism. A stacked row of wide, polished metal towel bars, with an interwoven braid of plastic tubes and hanging ornamental balls combines bravado with wit and whimsy—while performing the essential fine art task of depriving found objects of their functionality in order to reveal their expressive impact, replacing the hand of the artist with his or her mind and intention, locating art’s primary existence at the moment of the idea. But it’s Kori Newkirk, and so the hand reappears in the form of an optical trick that could only have been achieved by the artist’s manual labor.

Kori Newkirk, Boiler, 2010
Stainless steel, vinyl, resin

Courtesy of the artist and Country Club

Sonspot (2010, magnets, iron, enamel, dimensions variable) is a series of half-dollar sized magnets made of shredded metal whipped into delicate topographies; the artist compares them to those desktop metal-shaving games popular in the 1970s. Installed scattershot across a wall of glass doors and an upper row of street-facing windows, this simple device constructs a game of shifting optical planes. Inverting the indoor/outdoor division of space even more than a glass door already does, the viewer’s attempt to focus on any single Sonspot brings the actual receding space of a faraway outdoor landscape into the flat/interior picture plane on which the works rest. This in turn activates the rest of the room, bringing attention to the movement of the sun, and the existence of the outside world, inviting its intrusion into the inner sanctum. This is a trademark Newkirk gesture—the throw-away object that holds all the power.

Mayday (2010, cotton, particulate, stainless steel, 162 x 162 inches) is made from a trove of mass- produced tee-shirts of the kind readily available near Newkirk’s garment-district studio, worn during marathon studio-cleaning sessions, and thusly tie-dyed with a steely grey pigmentation of sweat and brownish dirt. The shirts are painstakingly organized into a floor-mandala evoking Robert Smithsons’ Spiral Jetty, James Turrell’s Roden Crater and other earth-work monuments. Both depicting, and itself embodying, labor in its various meanings—from the industrial grind to giving birth to exertions of craftsmanship—this cheeky pagan-modernist object imbues plain materials with narrative, history, and the power to communicate.

Kori Newkirk, Guest, 2010
Light jet, 77.5"x60"
Courtesy of the artist and Country Club

Shana Nys Dambrot

Shana Nys Dambrot is an art critic, curator, and author based in Downtown LA. She is the Arts Editor for the LA Weekly, and a contributor to Flaunt, Art and Cake, Artillery, and Palm Springs Life.

She studied Art History at Vassar College, writes essays for books and catalogs, curates and juries a few exhibitions each year, is a dedicated Instagram photographer and author of experimental short fiction, and speaks at galleries, schools, and cultural institutions nationally. She is a member of ArtTable and the LA Press Club, and sits on the Boards of Art Share-LA and the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, the Advisory Council of Building Bridges Art Exchange, and the Brain Trust of Some Serious Business.


Photo of Shana Nys Dambrot by Osceola Refetoff


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