Art of War and Peace
ART TALK - KCRW, Edward Goldman discusses Sledgehammer.Bullet.Bomb. exhibition

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Los Angeles’ art scene continues to burst with high profile museum and gallery exhibitions. But today, I want to share with you a few intriguing and delightful discoveries I made somewhat off the beaten path.

At Manhattan Beach Art Center, which is only a half hour drive from LA, there is an exhibition with a name that stops you in your tracks: Sledgehammer. Bullet. Bomb. With what’s happening right now in the world, this exhibition by LA-based artist, James Gilbert, makes a particularly strong statement about “human aggression” [leading to] the loss of art, architecture, and historical sites.”

Gilbert creates sculptural artworks that manifest tension between elaborate, precarious wooden structures and what looks like a multitude of sandbags. Some of the structures seem ready to collapse under the weight of the bags. Others lean against each other in a game of push and pull.

Two specially commissioned artworks communicate a sense of destruction and protection. With a sledgehammer, the artist broke through the walls, left the debris on the floor, and then packed the hole with dozens of stuffed canvas bags. For me, all of the above evoke memories of attempts to protect major cultural sites around the world not only in the past, but in current military and political upheavals as well.

at151124Gilbert1-EG       at151124Gilbert2-EG       at151124Gilbert3-EG
photographs by Edward Goldman

Sledgehammer.Bullet.Bomb. at Manhattan Beach Art Center
November 19 - January 9

A solo exhibition features nine new sculptures, two site-specific works and a video that address destruction of architecture, intentional actions that destroy architecturally important and significant cultural heritage sites. The labor-intensive process of hand sewing and hand-dyeing hundreds of visually dense canvas objects that weigh upon or support fragile wood structures that remind us of relief carvings, elaborately designed doors, buttresses, architectural joints and bridges. Two site-specific works will be built directly into the architecture of intentionally destroyed gallery walls.

Natural disasters and accidents are inevitable but it is human aggression where we experience the loss of art, architecture and historical sites that are neither designed nor intends to be destroyed. To deliberately eradicate identity is to eradicate art and objects of symbolic meaning. We have witnessed systematic destruction of heritage as an attempt to destroy cultural diversity through religious or ideological reasoning, political agenda, activism or cultural curation. The sledgehammer, bullet, bomb, water or earthquake perform the destruction – I wanted to reimagine an object that is simultaneously a symbol and protectant. When building barricades for fortification in front of and around culturally significant objects and architecture they then become the new identity and description for the object they are protecting. Through the use of common art making materials: canvas, marble and wood, they are reinterpreted as devices to defend, deter or lessen destruction but also form a new autonomous work to be visited, viewed and contemplated

Manhattan Beach Art Center
1560 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 802-5410

Opening Reception, Thursday, November 19th, 6-8pm

A Historic Point of Interest and other Landmarks on Titan Road 2015, 75 x 103 x 76 inches, hand-dyed canvas, polyester rope, wood, metal
A Historic Point of Interest and other Landmarks on Titan Road 2015, 75 x 103 x 76 inches, hand-dyed canvas, polyester rope, wood, metal