Interview by Alberto Cuadros
Alberto Cuadros: Let’s talk about the last show. The first show and it’s not the last show, but it’s the one that just happened. We’re in Beverly Hills right now, technically, but it feels like we’re in Hawaii. In this dilapidated old shack and palm trees and blue sky. A back yard. All I see out the window is a vine creeping in, and trees, and sky. Who was in the last show and why did you choose them?
Jake Eisenmann: Patricio Morales and Augustus Thompson. Patricio was in the show and Gus was on the wall outside. I think that was a little bit my baby.
What was the show called?
JE: Nothing. It was called the Shed Show Number One. It was the first show, it was called what it was.
And it was a cool garden party, the opening was outside.
JE: That’s always how they are…Gus and Pat are two of those people that I don’t always know why, but I just really love their work, they both really touch me, they really do, I can’t lie.
So Gus made a mural, outside.
JE: Yeah, Gus made a mural, no paint. We went to the shop and got these big, blue, plastic panels, 8 by 4 foot panels, and there are three of them, and made the 12 foot by 8 foot wall you see outside.
Paige Marton: The experience with Pat was funny because I feel like he knew for a very long time this was happening. We would go to his studio and talk for five minutes and sit for a longer amount of time and not talk, until the show.
PM: What were you saying about Gus, I’m sorry.
JE: I don’t know. I was saying the other thing was just flat black matte black vinyl.
A Matisse-type thing. And then in the shed space, Pat had work, were they paintings?
Jake: They were paintings. Most of them were leather, stretched, fake ostrich skin, I was looking at it later as I was taking it down. If you stand very far away you can discern the pattern of fake ostrich. But it’s very subtle, a tiny optical illusion, and its hard to stand far away in the Shed. Other paintings used a thin plastic colored fluorescent skin. It functions because of the time that he waits between layers. As if each of those moments of silence is laid down like a thin layer of frosting.
So what’s coming up next?
JE: We’re doing a show, it’s going to be July 20th, the artist’s name is Peter Linden . He’s from where I’m from, but he moved to New York and now he’s just moved here.
PM: And he did his residency with Still House, I think…
Still House, the group out in Red Hook, Gus knows them too…so do you have plans to transform the space in any way? The floor and the wall?
JE: We have a floor and we built a wall.
You built the floor?
PM: Jake, do you still have that romantic idea about the roof?
JE: I have so many romantic ideas, but I also have an idea about the garage. But the roof, definitely! That’s for sure going to happen. A rooftop garden. With those—they’re spread out really tightened amoebas from the tops of—to provide shade—shade sails.
PM: You don’t want to paint again.
JE: No, I like it. I fight a lot of people about this daily.
JE: Painting this shed white. I don’t want to do that. It’s got so many colors, it’s got a lot of white, but oh there’s some orange over there.
It’s kind of in a way it’s own painting. This space. Or your painting now that you’ve built the floor. So it’s kind of limiting in that way, but maybe you’ll just show work from people who want their work to be seen with this? In this setting?
JE: That’s the thing. A lot of people get a little scared or something, because people are so reliant on putting their thing on a, in a —what they would consider— a “neutral space”, gridded up white space where they feel comfortable either making it look awkward or at home. And they also know how to photograph it. It’s very difficult to do that in here. This thing is tiny, you need a skater to use a fisheye lens. Paige, get your little brother in here to document our shows. That would be so sick! Oh my god.
PM: He has all the fisheye lenses, yep.
JE: Okay, so the next documentation we can get your brother and all his friends and they do a walk-through of the work and he documents it and perhaps can offer some commentary. Okay, good.
Sounds like we have a lot to look forward to.
JE: Thanks Alberto. I just don’t—
I like the mural as a kind of barrier. Sorry, can w talk about the mural a little bit?
JE: I like the way it follows the front of the Shed, but I was thinking of taking all this out (points to the outside wall) and making this all blue concrete back here and the stairway up to the garden on the roof. There’s definitely going to be a hole here (points to an interior wall of the gallery), cut, just a hole to the garage and that becomes the primary gallery and the shed becomes the atrium.
PM: That’s a nice vision. You can do all that when I go to school. Yesterday I found the deed to the house in a suitcase behind a palm tree filled with water with a bunch of trash.
JE: I hope you saved it in its entirety.
PM: I took a picture, so I’ll give you the deed to the house and you can do all those things when I leave.
Where are you going?
PM: I’m not going anywhere. I mean if I apply to grad school and get into grad school. If.
Maybe you can just start a grad school.
JM: Yeah Paige! Piero might get upset. When I was in the hospital Nicole was like—because I had my polo all cut up and my silk pants cut up because they cut me off the motorcycle— she said you can make art with them, but I probably shouldn’t.
Did you guys both work for Piero (Golia), has that somehow tied into this?
JE: He was building a place called the Chalet for a long time. That’s a big project, a bid for monumentality, I am thinking now in hindsight that maybe I wanted to do it kind of the opposite, create a tiny monument, miniature institution that really does become an institution, I hope.
PM: Separately, we did talk about the de-privileged space when we first started the Shed.
JE: It is pretty de-privileged, which can mean a handful of things. It’s almost de-privileged mostly in the sense that you don’t have the privilege of just a white gallery. The artist doesn’t have the privilege. Which makes it sound a little bit mean. Sometimes you have to beat up artists a little bit.
What do you mean by that?
JE: I just mean that sometimes you’ve got to prod and you’ve got to flex them. Flex the artist.
Ok, lets back up a little.. so a big part of this project is that it’s located in Beverly Hills, but it’s a shack.
JE: It’s located in pretty much the center of Los Angeles. I’m serious. Very, very close, within three blocks of the center of Los Angeles.
JE: No, literally the center. I did the mathematics and the center of LA is on Aerodrome, and I don’t remember the other street, but it’s very close. Here, it’s also really quiet… (long silence). I feel like whenever I’m trying begin to explain the space to people, I always want to say first that it’s noncommercial. I feel like that’s also one of the first questions people have.
Is it a project space? They have project spaces in commercial galleries too.
JE: Yeah, like “how are you going to sell this.”
But I don’t know, maybe sometimes it’s just that elusive bait and switch it around for the viewer, but I don’t necessarily think that’s what’s happening here at The Shed, why is there an emphasis on not wanting to sell stuff? Or why does that matter to you enough to make that distinction?
JE: Well I think mostly because to me when I’m talking to other artists, if you’re trying to sell them they distrust you immediately.
On what level?
JE: People already think of it like they’re trying to—even somebody that’s not commercial, they’re trying to further their career, but we’re not interested in that at all. I hope this is about something else we can do.
I’ve noticed that at a few galleries that I’m close with or whatever, they will kind of just not emphasize that side of things even though they do sell stuff, they probably don’t sell stuff very much because they use their space more in the vein of a project space where it’s like stuff that people are taking more risks on. And that’s kind of nice. Because I feel like with selling things there’s an element of wanting to keep it in line with something or—
JE: You mean in line with the way things are already going.
Or just in line with a trend or interest that might make it easier to buy.
PM: This is more of an experience for the artist that we work with. I definitely do it as a collaboration and when you mentioned making the distinction between curating and our practice I don’t really even see a line that crosses between those two things. At least for me. I think especially with the first show with Gus and Pat.
JE: Sometimes I think about it as almost some kind of strange, non-portable, pre-assessment test. Have you ever seen the way, when company is in the process of producing a psychological test, where maybe they are having you playing blocks or you’re matching photos, it’s not really giving you a quantitative output in the end, because this is not the final test yet, but a test for the test, they are just writing notes and timing it. It’s not testing someone for any purpose, but just to produce a result. Now I’m thinking I like the idea of timing what goes on here.
I think that still happens—I guess I’m trying to get to the root of how a commercial space functions and differs from how you define this space.
JE: I would like to give money to the artists.
So it’s sounding more like it’s a residency type thing.
JE: It’s hard to say. Project space, commercial gallery or residency.
Or it could encompass all of the above depending on what the artists want to do, or what you want to do. So it’s sort of still being established. It sounds like you’re sort of like working through it by actively doing, without necessarily projecting a grand concept on the space. And then so like what’s the mural component? Is that going to be a consistent thing?
JE: The idea was to continue the line of the Shed out to create a bigger façade with nothing behind it. But I’m not sure if it’s going to continue.
Well let’s maybe just talk about how the space came to be and sort of how it evolved into being this undefined art space.
PM: Well, my grandpa died and this had always been this weird, vacant space that was left perfectly the way it was since the last day he used it.
JE: It was his office, his work space, but there were also like naked pictures, like Playboy models, everything, you saw it—VHS’s and everything. But it was left the same as the day that he died, the same post-it notes, notes he took the day he died, pack of cigarettes open, like three cigarettes missing, the day he died.
It was like left intact. So then you moved into the house eventually.
PM: I renovated it with my dad over summer, but for some reason we didn’t touch the Shed. I think we both just realized it didn’t have potential, which is funny now. And then you kind of lived in the Shed too… [to Jake].
You set up a Tom Sawyer’s island kind of a bedroom in here, once you cleared out all your grandfather’s stuff, and had like a chaise lounge bed and a huge Nike Swoosh, and a desk to work in, so it was your studio office. You were kind of living here. So you have a connection.
JE: And then, thank god, I moved out and we said, well now its time to be a gallery and we put in this black marble floor.
PM: I honestly think we started by joking about starting a gallery here. It still is a funny idea. I think there’s a lot of humor to it, but somehow something happened.
JE: Basically we wrote a grant and then we got it.
Who did you write the grant to?
JE: To Feed Us Fund Us, they have this organization that hosts dinners and it costs a little bit of money and they give mini grants out to artists.
Cool. And now that you’re in this kind of collaborative or like curatorial collaboration, are there any emphasis for either of you in terms of what you want to show, or what you want to have to work on? Any kind of specific—like an individual art type of person or something.
JE: You mean what kind of people are we looking for, is that what you’re asking?
Artists or a type of work.
JE: I’m looking for the things that I love, but don’t understand why I love them. Those things that can be happy changing history or completely forgotten.
PM: I never thought about it like that. I always thought about people and work individually rather than like an idea, which I also think is why we’re not really curators is because—to me it’s a much more natural selection than an intellectual one.
JE: It is a natural selection.
PM: It’s the natural selection.
JE: Speaking of which, keep this very quiet. I want to have a group show in here, but everyone’s using live animals. In fact, this is a call for submissions and proposals, but please, quietly.
PM: What? Live animals.
JE: Every piece has a live animal in it. It can be an insect. But it can be—
There’s probably some insects here now.
PM: We already having that show…
JE: Mostly down here under the floor, under the trap doors, there are the bugs playing and making art. (lifts a trapdoor) These things are funny though, I think somebody could get under here…
It’s like a secret space.
JE: Yeah, these won’t be utilized every show, but whenever an artist wants to, they are mini-galleries. I was thinking about doing a Richard Jackson retrospective in here. From the back of the OCMA I got three of the used paint buckets, red, blue, yellow, and they fit perfectly, 1, 2, 3. Have a little subterranean retrospective.
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