"Star Montana: I Dream of Los Angeles" and "Circle Chairs, Triangle Chairs" Press Release
Images: (left) Star Montana, Mayra, 2014, courtesy of the artist; (right) Alice Könitz, Study for Circle Chairs, 2017, courtesy of The Main Museum of Los Angeles Art.
Los Angeles—Beta Main, the test site for The Main Museum in Downtown Los Angeles, pairs the work of two L.A.-based artists this summer—Star Montana’s rich photographic portraits of life in East L.A. and South L.A. in Star Montana: I Dream of Los Angeles, and Alice Könitz’s experiments in museum seating: Circle Chairs, Triangle Chairs. Montana’s 12 portraits, eight of which will be shown for the first time, will span the walls of Beta Main, while Könitz’s geometric seating configurations, commissioned by the museum, will be sited throughout the space for contemplation and conversation. Programming related to the work of both artists will take place throughout the run of the exhibition.
Montana, a Boyle Heights–based photographer whose work chronicles life in East L.A. and South L.A., will present an exhibition of intimate portraits that tell the story of her community. Unlike her past bodies of work that have primarily focused on family and friends, _I Dream of Los Angeles_will also feature portraits of strangers Montana encountered in daily life and via an online open-call process. With honesty and sensitivity in equal measure, Montana endeavors to give visibility to those who are not often represented in art or art institutions.
“Her ability to connect with her subjects, many of them who are strangers, in a true and human way is evident in the distinct combination of power and vulnerability emanating from the subjects in each of her portraits,” said The Main director Allison Agsten.
Montana’s devotion to her community and desire to amplify the voices within it are even more apparent in the narratives imbued in her photographs. To complement and reveal Montana’s dialogical process, which typically involves a lengthy conversation just prior to shooting, excerpts from a conversation between the artist and Agsten will accompany each portrait. Montana, who began her artist-in-residency tenure at The Main in November 2016, will present for the first time six works that were created during her residency. Montana’s engagement with The Main represents the museum’s central mission to engage the art and artists of L.A. through a residency program that provides studio space and other forms of support.
Alice Könitz’s new models of museum seating will be placed throughout the gallery and reconfigured periodically during the exhibition, providing sculptural furniture in the space that will be activated by participation. Könitz was commissioned to develop ideas for new types of seating that Beta Main—and soon, The Main—can permanently use in its galleries as an alternative to standard light wood benches. Two prototypes that pair the artist’s signature geometric and modular aesthetic with approachability were selected for production: Circle Chairs for the intimate environments they create both for looking and conversation, as well as their sculptural beauty, and _Triangle Chairs_for their many possible configurations and ease of use in the space.
Könitz’s work, which is oriented in the physical object as well as the social space it creates, values model-making. In siting prototypes within the prototype of Beta Main, the museum has a unique opportunity to learn directly from visitors what may or may not be working in the museum-making process and, more specifically, to better understand the experience of interacting with the seating in a gallery setting.
“Alice’s work speaks to the core ethos of Beta Main,” said Agsten. “Just as Beta Main is a space for testing and learning in anticipation of the creation of The Main—including everything from gallery seating to museum hours to the size of wall text—Alice’s work focuses on interrogating norms through art and design to discover new outcomes and solutions.”
Star Montana: I Dream of Los Angeles and Könitz’s Circle Chairs, Triangle Chairs will be on view at Beta Main from May 7 to July 23, 2017 (Wednesdays–Sundays, 11 a.m.–7 p.m.). Admission is free. Beta Main is located at 114 W. 4th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013.
Public Opening Reception: Star Montana and Alice Könitz
Sunday, May 7, 2–5 p.m.
Free | RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Artist Walk-through: Star Montana
Saturday, May 20, 1–2 p.m.
Free | RSVP: email@example.com
In this intimate gallery talk, Star Montana shares the stories behind her portraits of friends, acquaintances, and strangers in East L.A. and South L.A.
Sketching with Alice Könitz
Saturday, June 10, 3–4 p.m.
Free | RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org
Join Alice Könitz for a guided afternoon of sketching in, on, and around her sculptural seating. All skill levels are welcome.
About Star Montana
Star Montana (b. 1987) is a photo-based artist who lives and works in Los Angeles. She was born and raised in Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles, a predominantly Mexican American neighborhood that serves as the backdrop to much of her work. Montana’s imagery deals with class, social environment, and identity within the personal and her family. Three dots and Tear drops—a long-term project with her family that has dealt with fragmented histories, loss, and the hope of the next generation—was recently on view at the Vincent Price Art Museum and the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. Recently, Montana has begun work on her themes within a larger scope of Los Angeles residents via portraiture and video. Montana received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2013.
About Alice Könitz Alice Könitz (b.1970 in Essen, Germany) lives and works in Los Angeles. She is the founder of the Los Angeles Museum of Art (LAMOA), an experimental exhibition space that she describes as a “platform for an organic institution that lives through participation.” In 2014, LAMOA was included in the Hammer Museum's biennial Made in L.A. 2014, winning the Mohn Award. Könitz had solo exhibitions at Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; Galerie Nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Vienna; Wall House, Groningen; LAXART, Los Angeles; Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects; Hudson/Franklin, New York; University Art Museum Long Beach; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; boom-editions/Shane Campbell, Chicago; and Luis Campaña, Cologne; among others. Her work has been included in group shows at the Wilhelm Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg; mumok, Vienna; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles; Villa Arson, Nice; Kunsthaus Dresden; London Institute; Midway Contemporary Art, Minneapolis; Tirana Biennial, Albania; and others.
About The Main Museum
The Main Museum’s mission is to engage the public with the most important ideas of our time through the art of Los Angeles. With a residency program at its center rather than a collection, The Main forefronts artists in its work and supports wide-ranging practices from artists at all stages in their careers.
When complete, The Main will include a variety of exhibition galleries, additional studio spaces for its artist residency program, a rooftop plaza featuring an amphitheater and cafe, and a restaurant. The Main Museum of Los Angeles Art is an exempt, nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(3).
Beta Main, the test site for The Main, runs in tandem with the development of the rest of the museum. By way of Beta’s programs, exhibitions, and opportunities to connect with the community, The Main will learn by doing and, in turn, refine its vision and methods to make the greatest positive impact as a cultural catalyst in Los Angeles.
Visit www.themainmuseum.org for the full schedule of related programs and follow The Main on social media for the most up-to-date information.