The Origins of Cool

Billy Shire, owner of La Luz de Jesus Gallery, Los Angeles CA

Last Friday evening the legendary La Luz de Jesus held an art opening  for artists Scott Hove, Dennis Larkin and Max Grundy  (April 2 – May 2nd ). The art opening also celebrated the expansion of La Luz de Jesus, and the closure of their Culver City location, Billy Shire Fine Arts. The reason for the closure is unfortunately all too familiar: plummeting art sales due to the stagnant art market. No facet of the art world is resistant to the weakened economy.

Artist Max Grundy in front his art from Out of Order

The art exhibited at  La Luz de Jesus reinforced Billy Shire’s reputation as the “King of Lowbrow Art.” Max Grundy’s graphic propaganda posters from the series Out of Order, epitomize the very definition of Lowbrow Art, its origins in underground comix world, punk music, hot-rod street culture, tattoos and other subcultures. Each image by Grundy is infused with a sense of rebelliousness, conflict and impending doom. It makes sense that subcultures darkest icons Sunny Bargar, the founder of the Hells Angels and James Hetfield from Metallica are collectors of his artwork.

Scott Hove in front of his exhibit Iced Out

Scott Hove exhibited his morbid collision of confection and carnage, Iced Out from the Cakeland series. The sculptures on display appear to be as saccharine as any pink frosted princess cake, but are actually inedible. The sculptures are formed using polyurethane foam and plywood, and various found objects (sharp knives, fangs and eyeballs). Frosted using traditional cake decorating tools and accessorized with fake fruit. These creepy confections turn our sweet tooth against us, as venomous creatures live inside the cakes.

All Photographs © Juan Madrigal

Max Grundy and Scott Hove are undeniably visually gifted and well educated individuals who could have been players in the mainstream art world, but for what ever mixture of reasons, decided to forgo the cultural cachet and complex protocol of the blue chip art world and peddle their skills directly to the mass-media marketplace. In spite of arts primary function as a luxury object for the wealthy, the art world still affects a surface disdain for commerce. Max Grundy and Scott Hove, like most the lowbrow world, are unabashed capitalists, placing their trust in the marketplace as the only fair arbiter of aesthetic quality.

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