Duke Ellington once said, “I don’t need time. What I need is a deadline.” Those words came to mind when hearing artist Tara Zanzig (Tararchy) and curator Lindsey Meyers talk about a whirlwind 36 hours in September that saw one show collapse just ahead of its opening, thereby creating space for a serendipitous connection to set the stage for a new show, hi-low.
Left hung out to dry by a late cancelling artist, Meyer’s had with a giant blank wall three days before an opening. She sought advice from a friend with plenty of experience putting art up on walls (presumably in a hurry), bold-paletted local street artist Melon. His suggestion that Tararchy might be a good fit for the project has turned out to be a complete understatement; The piece that Zanzig conceptualized and created over those quick hours in September has given birth to hi-low, a layered collaboration with abstract artist Natasha Kohli.
Meyers’s pairing of Zanzig and Kohli has been what she calls a “harmonious connection,” and taking in the show confirms the statement. It is interesting to see how both artists exhibit dramatically different styles. Zanzig’s work combines elements of pop, street, and found art over a variety of medium, while Kohli’s paintings and photographs juxtapose order and disorder while running the gamut between geometric simplicity and wild explosions of colors and lines.
While both artists have an affection for neon (and a keen eye for where to unleash it over black and white), that aesthetic similarity isn’t the harmony on display. The harmony is in the contrast and the focus on said contrast. Kohli’s work is a constant exploration of balance- between dark and white, color and monotones, hard lines and electric drips. Her paintings, whether examined for representation or simply absorbed, demand an introspective reaction. Zanzig steers the conversation outward by constantly playing with and manipulating context.
When we spoke, she was eager to point out one piece in particular. It had seen life as a paste-up on newsprint that was then photographed, fiddled with on Instagram, printed back on to plain newsprint and framed. The end result was not only visually stunning, but steeped in an urgency not often found in art. You can view a painting in a museum and safely assume it’ll be there for future generations to enjoy. This, on the other hand, is art not built to last.
Like Melon, Zanzig is no stranger to putting up work in public places. That comes with knowing that after a piece is finished, the next day is never guaranteed. The mural that spawned hi-low itself is temporary. It will come down at the conclusion of the show on November 21st. A photograph of the mural though, or some other incarnation, could live on for as long as Zanzig sees fit. Such is the case with the aforementioned piece on newsprint, which the artist described as having “an expiration date.” That mortality creates an immediacy that hums both in her work and the gallery.
Beauty & Brawn would seem to be the perfect kind of place to ask the kinds of questions that hi-low is asking. When discussing the power of creating something indoors that would otherwise exist in public, Zanzig mentioned being eager to “address the disconnect between the roles of artist and curator,” as well as an artist’s ability to be accessible to the public. In this case, the show couldn’t have found a better home, as Meyers has fostered an excellent partnership in a space already focused on engaging the neighborhood and new audiences.
hi-low will have an Artist Reception on Saturday, October 24th at Beauty & Brawn Gallery and Think Space (6pm, FREE, All Ages). The gallery is located at 3501 W Fullerton Ave and the show runs until November 21st, 2015. RSVP on Facebook.