Photo by Michael J. Armstrong
There's no pomp and circumstance at Ice Gallery. From the gallery's early days in North Park, to its current home inside the Bread & Salt building (1955 Julian Ave.) in Logan Heights, it's almost as if curator and co-founder Michael James Armstrong goes out of his way to be the most artful contrarian. He goes out of his way not to throw schmooze-y openings and there's an intentional, if not understated, point not to have the usual art show offerings. No wine. No cheese. No pretense. Just art. And the art has been amazing. Along with Armstrong's own work, there have been brilliant, site-specific exhibitions from Christina Hendershaw, Tom Driscoll, Thomas DeMello and, most recently, graffiti artist Saratoga Sake. There's something to be said for making an appointment and taking these shows in on your own time. Patrons might find that they have a better appreciation for the work when they're free of the trappings that come with other art openings. There's an eerie and comforting feeling that comes with viewing art on your own. It's as if you're seeing it the way the artist intended. Clear-eyed and with no distractions, you're finally free to be patient and soak it all in one moment at a time.
Photo by Addison Stonestreet
A SHIP IN THE WOODS
North County's A Ship in the Woods is a lot of things: party house, art collective, music venue—I hear they're even building a recording studio and residency program. So the word "gallery" doesn't even begin to encapsulate what goes down on the multi-acre Escondido property (3007 Felicita Road). That's not to imply that the art is an afterthought at Ship events, but rather that the art is often a reason to throw big parties for hundreds of your friends. There's almost a sense of decadence when attending one, as if you're Nick Carraway walking into one of those lavish West Egg parties that all the cool kids are talking about. And the artists and bands they curate for these shows are legit. They manage to bring in some excellent local and international talent, some of which create site-specific works that you won't see anywhere else or ever again. The four-person collective's work off-site, such as their Convergence exhibition at the Cabrillo National Monument and the traveling "RHODOPSIN" light installation piece, only further proves that this group isn't content with simply throwing a cool art party. They want the party to be art as well. A performance piece where the set design and soundtrack are just as important as the dialogue.
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