Polly Apfelbaum Unveils ‘Rug-Filled Gallery’ in First Institutional Show in Los Angeles at The Ben Maltz Gallery

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The Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design is Pleased to Present the Exhibition ‘Polly Apfelbaum: Face (Geometry) (Naked) Eyes, September 24 – December 4, 2016

Polly Apfelbaum, Funkytown, 2012

Polly Apfelbaum, Funkytown, 2012

“I want to time travel from early Christian mysticism, to 1970's new spiritualism, to Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain in the space of a rug-filled gallery."

The Ben Maltz Gallery at Otis College of Art and Design is pleased to present the exhibition Polly Apfelbaum: Face (Geometries) (Naked) Eyes, on view September 24 – December 4, 2016, the artist’s first solo institutional show in Los Angeles. A public opening reception takes place Saturday, September 24, 4-6pm.

New York-based artist Polly Apfelbaum’s work has situated itself as a hybrid of painting, sculpture, and installation over a career spanning 30-plus years. Exploring the intricacies of color, Apfelbaum weaves her way, both literally and conceptually, through ideas of Minimalism, Pop aesthetics, and Color Field painting to blur the lines between two and three-dimensional art making.

For Face (Geometries) (Naked) Eyes, Apfelbaum has worked with a carpet artisan in Oaxaca, Mexico to design and produce four large, 13 x 25 foot, area rugs inspired by a Tree of Life mosaic she encountered in Otranto, Italy, as well as LA’s rich history in New Age spirituality, Czech Fluxus artist Sonia Svecova’s eye collages of the 1960s, and Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s mystical and religious film Holy Mountain (1973). The 12th century Otranto Cathedral floor mosaic is unique in that it depicts more than Biblical references, incorporating signs of the zodiac, as well as symbols from Greek, Scandinavian, and even pre-Islamic mythologies. For Apfelbaum, the use of eye imagery serves as a connecting icon, bridging belief systems, new-age and cult symbolism, and the idea of looking and seeking out spirituality. Apfelbaum has said this of the new work: “I want to time travel from early Christian mysticism, to 1970's new spiritualism, to Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain in the space of a rug-filled gallery.”

In addition to the new site-specific floor pieces, Face (Geometries) (Naked) Eyes will also include over 100 ceramic and wooden sculptures produced between 1987-2016, many of which have never been exhibited before, as well as handmade ceramic beads suspended on thread. Ceramics and weaving are ancient crafts that take us to many of these mystical and philosophical histories. Visitors will be invited to take their shoes off and spend time in the installation.

Public programming for this exhibition will include The Carpet Sessions, a series of conversations between Apfelbaum and invited guests including Chief Curator of the Hammer Museum Connie Butler; art critic and Professor of Art Theory and History at Claremont University David Pagel; and artist and Professor of Media Arts at UCLA Jennifer Steinkamp. In addition to The Carpet Sessions, New York-based curator and critic Bob Nickas will present the lecture 100 Paintings / 100 Years: 1915-2015 at 356 Mission Gallery.

Apfelbaum’s earlier floor-bound installations incorporate hundreds of pieces of velvet, hand-dyed in bold hues and often arranged in sprawling configurations that appear to be organically inspired or like abstract paintings that melted off the wall, forming vibrant puddles. More recent pieces have included an ongoing series of highly colored and tactile ceramics, elegantly draped pieces of synthetic fabric inspired by Baroque paintings, ephemeral arrangements of glitter, and vibrant hand-woven carpets.

Polly Apfelbaum has been showing consistently, nationally and internationally, since her first one-person show in New York in 1986. Recent solo exhibitions were held at 56 Henry in New York City; Be-Part in Waregem, Belgium; Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech; Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts; lumber room in Portland, Oregon; VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art in Carlow, Ireland; and the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, Missouri. Recent two-person exhibitions were held at Cohen Gallery at Brown University; Michael Benevento in Los Angeles; and The Suburban in Milwaukee. In 2003, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia organized a mid-career retrospective that traveled to the Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati and the Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri and was accompanied by a monograph publication with contributions by Ingrid Schaffner, Tim Griffin, and Irving Sandler, along with an interview between the artist and former ICA director Claudia Gould. The artist's work is in numerous museum collections including MoMA, Whitney Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.

Exhibition Programs:

Opening Reception
Saturday, September 24, 2016, 4-6pm

The Carpet Sessions: Polly Apfelbaum in conversation with Connie Butler, Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum.
Sunday, September 25, 4pm

The Carpet Sessions: Polly Apfelbaum in conversation with David Pagel, art critic and Professor of Art Theory and History at Claremont University.
Sunday, October 16, 4pm

Bob Nickas: 100 Paintings / 100 Years: 1915-2015
New York-based critic and independent curator Bob Nickas presents his musings on one hundred paintings, choosing one from each year from 1915-2015.
Sunday, October 30, 4pm
*356 Mission Gallery, 356 S. Mission St, Los Angeles, 90033

The Carpet Sessions: Polly Apfelbaum in conversation with Jennifer Steinkamp, artist and Professor of Media Arts at UCLA.
Sunday, November 13, 4pm

Admission: All events are free and open to the public.
Location & Parking: Otis College of Art and Design, 9045 Lincoln Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90045, unless otherwise noted*. Visitor parking in structure on La Tijera.
Hours: Tue-Fri 10am-5pm / Sat-Sun 12-4pm. Closed Mondays.
Gallery Contact: 310.665.6905, galleryinfo(at)otis(dot)edu, http://www.otis.edu/benmaltzgallery

ABOUT OTIS COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN

Established in 1918, Otis College of Art and Design offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a wide variety of visual and applied arts, media, and design. Core programs in liberal arts, business practices, and community-driven projects support the College’s mission to prepare diverse students to enrich our world through their creativity, skill, and vision. As Los Angeles’ first professional art school, visionary alumni and faculty include MacArthur and Guggenheim grant recipients, Oscar awardees, and design stars at Apple, Anthropologie, Pixar, Mattel, and more. The renowned Creative Action program has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for Community Engagement, and the Otis Report on the Creative Economy is a powerful advocacy tool for creative industries. The College serves the Greater Los Angeles Area through compelling public programming, as well as year-round Continuing Education courses for all ages. More information is available at http://www.otis.edu.

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