Tales of the Flesh 2: Born Adversaries : Carole Caroompas / Patrick Lee / Aaron Sheppard

October 13 - October 24, 2016
Open Thursday through Sunday, 12:00 - 4:00 PM

Opening Reception Thursday October 13, 5:00 - 9:00 PM

4619 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016

Carole Caroompas Fairy Tales: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), 1989, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 inches

Carole Caroompas
Fairy Tales: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty), 1989, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 84 inches

Western Project is proud to present a group exhibition, Tales of the Flesh Part 2: Born Adversaries, featuring Carole Caroompas, Patrick Lee and Aaron Sheppard at FOUR SIX ONE NINE (4619 W. Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90016) Each artist works and lives in Southern California and has exhibited numerous times with the gallery. This special pop up exhibition highlights a second look at work that addresses the human figure as a narrative source. All three artists work with the body/figure as an origin of story telling for political, social, historical and/or erotic purposes.

Carole Caroompas is perhaps the most underrated yet influential painter of her generation, producing 30 plus years of hard-core figurative works unlike any other female counterpart. As an artist she is no Joan of Arc martyr of the early feminist moment, but more the Hindu Kali figure disrupting and fiercely reconfiguring ideas and images. Caroompas has never settled for simplistic questions or answers, and her work has never been polite. It challenges our notions of power and gender, and relationships between men and women, most often in large, epic scale works; monster-scale cosmologies dissecting our cultural assumptions of what is normal and/or true. Her use of collaged imagery creates a fragmented, non-linear narrative; on first glance appearing as the dream-like nature of the mind but is instead a highly organized composition. Her signature format is a visual and conceptual overload: a Surrealistic collage aesthetic on steroids.

Included in this exhibition are works from the series, Fairy Tales (1988 - 1990), and Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman That Knew Too Much (from 1991 - 1994).  In these pieces Caroompas reworks our assumptions - as she has written “to deconstruct sexist and authoritarian perspective in order to retell and reconstruct the narrative”. It is a kind of gleeful (and theatrical) remapping or rewriting of cultural binary norms: scripting alternate histories and myths as incisive new sets of possibilities. In both the Grimms’ Fairytale series and Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much, the artist uses a heavy dose of humor to cajole the viewer through her kaleidoscopic imagery. Violence, sex and humor become a lethal combo, echoing the exciting and disturbing films of Russ Meyer or Quentin Tarantino. The difference is, she is not kidding. In the same way science fiction can talk about psychological and ethical issues (a la Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein), Caroompas’ tales evoke hopes of a new world; outlaw at first glance, ultimately as romantic as the Sex Pistols Here Comes The Bullocks. In our age of seven billion plus hall monitors, it is remarkable to witness conviction without compromise.

Patrick Lee Deadly Friends (Bullet Chain), 2014, graphite on paper, 16 x 1

Patrick Lee
Deadly Friends (Bullet Chain), 2014, graphite on paper, 16 x 1

The drawings of Patrick Lee have for twenty years dealt with the poignancy of human experience. Creating immensely detailed portraits of real people found on the streets of America, his work has a profundity and presence not typically found in academic portraiture. Quite possibly because he is interested in people on the fringe of American culture: the poor, addicted, abused or unlucky. His graphite drawings are typically one and a half size larger than human scale, producing a monumentality unassociated with depictions of the downtrodden. Using photographs of his subjects as well as long interviews, Lee is able to conjure a likeness that has tangible feeling more than pure accurateness. He is fascinated with ideas of masculinity: how it is acquired and developed for power and sex, along with its shifting qualities. His interest in the outer edges of society are its’ reflection; appearances mask the vital essence of our humanity. Unlike the bleak realism of Ingmar Berman’s films, Lee’s images are perhaps more similar to the humanist film work of Jean-Luc Goddard. Lee’s images point only to the subjects, not the artist or the art world. His drawings emanate a kind of dignity and respect that is not romanticized or illustrated. It appears only in the minds’ recognition of a tangible ‘us-ness’ of his images. They are us and we are them: scarred, tattooed, drugged and impoverished. But simultaneously magnificent.

Aaron Sheppard is an artist’s artist. His work traverses painting, sculpture, drawing, performance, and installation. The new Double Wide With Hydra, is his version of Dürer's Feast of the Rosary from 1506. Sheppard’s sensibility has always appeared profane, gritty and often taboo, but internally contains the humility of spiritual adoration. He thematically hopscotches across time, history and styles often using classical compositions as a trope to explore more fluid ideas about desire and sexuality. From the formal religious painting Feast of the Rosary, Sheppard has created a circus barge of characters:

“A Victorian mermaid queen with two vaginas allows Dante closer examination of her "second beauty". Baby Jesus fish crowns Captain Nemo while he himself gets crowned by the fangs of Leviathan. Eek the Geek waits in line to meet the Mer-Queen, as do characters from Alice in Wonderland, a pregnant Zulu princess, Judas, a dragon, a clown, a cannibal, Death...even Dürer himself. They flank her like kids at the mall waiting to sit on Santa's lap. A barker donning Gallagher's top hat hands out halos and urinates on the crowd."

Aaron Sheppard DETAIL: Double Wide with Hydra , 2016, mixed media, 90 x 216 inches

Aaron Sheppard
DETAIL: Double Wide with Hydra , 2016, mixed media, 90 x 216 inches

He often presents human biological variation as  gifted saints come to deliver a different message: life is all forms, and desires all forms. Mary as mermaid with two vaginas. Is this reverence, blasphemy or Bhakti? Is this a divine freak show? Dante is beguiled and bewitched by his desire as are all the figures surrounding the mermaid. This work addresses his question, “is it not possible to have earthly and heavenly delights simultaneously? Use and enjoy it all while still properly expressing love? Have your cake and eat it too (without losing/off with your head)?”

Sheppard’s enormous 20 foot painting is mural size, nearly identical to the scale of Ensor’sChrist’s Entry Into Brussels from 1889. Both share an expressionistic quality and energy; each event stylistically depicted with grotesque figures enhancing the pathos of human drama. Additionally, his paint quality is forcefully ragged yet calculated. It is a kind of pop or camp expressionism, able to suggest the emotionality and fervor of sex and desire; a fury of exaggeration in which Life is seen as flourishing.

The right panel of Double Wide may contain another moral tale: in a cave Hercules is battling the Leviathan threatening the mermaid, while his own penis is sprouting into the Hydra itself. Consumed by one’s own craving? It is perhaps the similar path.

Sheppard gives no answers except to suggest that the complexity of mortal life is to be enjoyed; variance is a gift, the pageantry is to be participated in, and living is immediate and vital. However in another moment, he writes, “I don’t know what it is all about. Fantasy and fish, piss and cherub cock…”


It is all good. 


Carole Caroompas’ work was recently include in, Romancing the West: A Legacy of American Images, William Roland Fine Art Gallery at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California and Lore and Behold: The Art of Carole Caroompas, at The Boone Family Gallery at Pasadena City College, Pasadena California. She has exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art in D.C. She has also been the recipient of numerous artist grants such as, National Endowment for the Arts (twice), The Esther and Adolph Gottlieb Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. 

In September 2016, Patrick Lee is the subject of a Solo Exhibition and Drawing Workshop at the Huntington Museum of Art, West Virginia. He has had numerous national and international exhibitions. He was included in, Drawings for the New Century, at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, B-B-B-BAD, an exhibition with attitudes, at Anna Kustera Gallery, New York, Male at Maureen Paley Gallery, London, UK, curated by Vince Aletti, and Lush Life at Salon 94, New York. He has also exhibited at Ameringer McEnery Yohe in New York, the Francis Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, University of La Verne, La Verne, California, Howard House in Seattle, Washington, and the Marc Selwyn Gallery in Los Angeles, California. He is in the collection of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the Georgia Museum of Fine Arts, Georgia, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. He is also a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation grant for 2006.

Aaron Sheppard recently appeared in the Nameless Skypeband performing at Sraatliche Akademie Der Bildenden Künste Karlsruhe (Academy of Fine Arts, Karlsruhe, Germany), performed and inaugurated Bearded and Shucked, 1st Annual Mermaid Parade, Joshua Tree, California. He is a recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation Achievement Award. He has had solo exhibitions at Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, Austria, Volume 1E Brooklyn, New York, and galleries in Tokyo, Beijing, London, Las Vegas and Washington DC. Sheppard has performed in “Conceptualizing the Body: Gaze, Masquerade, and Spectacle”, at SUNY College in Old Westbury, New York, the Fringe Festival in Australia, and shown video in, Maid in China(town), Chinese Biennale, Ku Art Center, Beijing China. His work has been written about in BOMB magazine, Artillery, The Huffington Post, Las Vegas Weekly, among many others.


Romancing the West: A Legacy of American Images : Featuring work from Carole Caroompas

Romancing the West: A Legacy of American Images

William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art

On view: June 10–July 11, 2016
This exhibition predominantly features work from the William Rolland Art Collection. Including paintings, sculptures and drawings, the exhibit highlights how Western-themed art influenced ideas about what America is, abroad and at home. Beginning with images of the late 19th-century frontier and early 20th-century works, the exhibition tracks the social, political and cultural implications of these images, while showcasing gorgeous examples of modern and contemporary works.

Artists featured include István Benyovszky, Carole Caroompas, Nicholas Coleman, Cyrus Edwin Dallin, Glenn Dean, Tracy Felix, David Grossmann, Logan Maxwell Hagege, Frank Tenney Johnson, Roy Kerswill, Jeremy Lipking, Albert Micale, Billy Schenck, Harold Shelton and Oleg Stavrowsky.

Source: https://rollandgallery.callutheran.edu/201...


JAUS: 11858 La Grange Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90025
Through April 24, 2016
Featuring work from: Daniel Brice, Tim Forcum, Beverly Fishman, Dion Johnson, Joe Lloyd, John Schlue, Christian Tedeschi, Wayne White

Western Project @ JAUS - Group Show - Opening March 19, 2016

Western Project welcomes 2016 @ JAUS with new work from:


March 19 - April 24, 2016
OPENING RECEPTION FOR THE ARTISTS: Saturday, March 19 4:00 - 8:00 PM



JOE LLOYD, Slant, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 56 x 96 inches

JOE LLOYD, Slant, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 56 x 96 inches

BEVERLY FISHMAN, Untitled (depression), 2016, Urethane Paint on MDF, 38 x 2.5 inches

BEVERLY FISHMAN, Untitled (depression), 2016, Urethane Paint on MDF, 38 x 2.5 inches


Regular exhibition hours: Thursday - Saturday 12:00 - 4:00 PM



JOHN SCHLUE, TYPHON, 2015, acrylic felt on canvas over panel, 102 x 102 inches

JOHN SCHLUE, TYPHON, 2015, acrylic felt on canvas over panel, 102 x 102 inches

DION JOHNSON, Sonic Sky, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80 inches

DION JOHNSON, Sonic Sky, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80 inches

WAYNE WHITE, Fuck That Shit, 2015, acrylic on offset lithograph, framed, 28 x 40 inches

WAYNE WHITE, Fuck That Shit, 2015, acrylic on offset lithograph, framed, 28 x 40 inches

Carole Caroompas: "Lore and Behold: The Art of Carole Caroompas" Exhibition Installation

October 7 - November 6, 2015 The Boone Family Art Gallery, Pasadena City College.

All photos: Richshell A. Allen

CAROLE CARROMPAS - Installation view of LORE AND BEHOLD: The Art of Carole Caroompas (Photo: Richshell A. Allen)

CAROLE CARROMPAS - Installation view of LORE AND BEHOLD: The Art of Carole Caroompas (Photo: Richshell A. Allen)

Margaret Griffith in: PAPERWORKS at the Craft and Folk Art Museum

Fifteen contemporary artists use paper to construct sculptural works and large-scale installations at the Craft & Folk Art Museum

September 27 2015 - January 3, 2016
OPENING RECEPTION: Saturday, September 26, 6:00 - 9:00 PM

This exhibition features the diverse range of contemporary artists who use paper-cutting techniques to create large and small-scale sculptural works. Curated by Howard Fox, LACMA Curator Emeritus of Contemporary Art.

Artists: Enrique Castrejon, Lecia Dole-Recio, Francesca Gabbiani, Tm Gratkowski, Margaret Griffith, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, Soo Kim, Chris Natrop, Rebecca Niederlander, Chris Oatey, Echiko Ohira, Minoru Ohira, Phranc, Susan Sironi, Tam Van Tran

Made possible by the Pasadena Art Alliance, the Claire Bell Fund, the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, and the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs.
— http://www.cafam.org/exhibitions/


WAYNE WHITE: Art Is Supposed to Hypnotize You or Something - Art and Culture Center, Hollywood, Florida

Who is Broward County named for and what would he look like if three-time Emmy Award-winning artist Wayne White made a giant puppet of him?

Find out this summer when White creates a supersized puppet of Napoleon Bonaparte Broward during a 10-day residency at the Art and Culture Center. For his first exhibition in Florida, the Los Angeles-based artist will create a gallery fun house that also features his witty “Word” paintings, new drawings from recent artist residencies in Key West and Captiva, and a collection of whimsical puppets made from found objects.

Read More


Cool, As a Ticking Bomb

by Tucker Neel · 

May 5, 2015 · in FeaturesMay 2015

For 11 years, Cliff Benjamin and Erin Kermanikian have co-owned Western Project in Culver City. Together they exhibit work that’s consistently challenging and boundary-breaking, representing artists like Tom of Finland (before he was MOCA-acceptable), Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose (whose work is the best kind of shocking), and Ron Athey (who Benjamin accurately describes as “Promethean”). Kermanikian’s unflappable youthful insight compliments Benjamin’s experience, and their dedication to the art and artists they love is palpable every time they talk shop.

Benjamin isn’t like most gallery owners. His arms are covered in tattoos and his attire is often more leather bar than Moet VIP lounge. He’s as queer as can be, a walking assault on normalcy, and that’s just part of what makes him so compelling. He’s also been an artist, professor, art dealer, gallery director and gallery owner. For nearly half a century he's been part of LA’s cultural identity, making him a kind of griot, always ready with a story about something people forgot, don’t know, or refuse to talk about. That’s why I’m waiting for him in a Silver Lake cafe to ask for a story or two.

Cliff Benjamin at gallery with artwork, photo by Joe Schmelzer

Cliff Benjamin at gallery with artwork, photo by Joe Schmelzer

Artillery: Tell me how LA has changed in your lifetime and what do you think about the art world today? 
Cliff Benjamin: I never think of this as a competitive business. I didn’t when I was an artist, and I don’t now as a gallerist. Most gallery owners don’t come from a teaching or a working artist background. I taught off-and-on for six or seven years, and I always liked teaching. I think teaching is more about giving people permission. So I think my background lets me go into a studio, and if an artist is stuck, I know. I get it, and we can talk. I also like that I get to help artists be self-sufficient. I personally know how hard it is; being an artist is the hardest job in the world.

What do you think has been the biggest change in the LA art world?
The biggest change is the illusion there’s a big collector base here. All these galleries move here, and they think they’re going to do this and that. But they can’t make it. Unless you’re from here, you just don’t get it.

Why is that?
LA is so much about lifestyle and unless you understand that endemically, you won’t understand this climate, this culture. If Pace Gallery couldn’t make it—well… .

What do you think people fail to remember about LA’s art world? Who gets left out?
LA has zero memory. So, for instance, the Getty’s PST show had ad nauseam talk about the Ferus Gallery. You would think there would have been an equally huge chapter on Nick Wilder. He was barely mentioned! He was enormously influential. He showed Nauman, Twombly, Alberto Burri, John McLaughlin, David Hockney and so many more. And Nick had these famous openings and crazy lifestyle.

Carole Caroompas, Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much: The Couple Who Had No Umbilicus, 1994, Private Collection, Los Angeles, California, courtesy Western Project

Carole Caroompas, Before and After Frankenstein: The Woman Who Knew Too Much: The Couple Who Had No Umbilicus, 1994, Private Collection, Los Angeles, California, courtesy Western Project

So why do you think he was so absent from PST?
Because it just didn’t have the same buzz as Ferus. Ferus was a press machine.

In terms of artists, who do you think deserves more historical attention?
I will say that PST did a great service to the artists from the late ’60s and ’70s who haven’t been part of the general dialog. But I’m going to be biased. It infuriates me that Carole Caroompas is not in the same dialog as Mike Kelley. Her work is just as crusty, incisive, beautiful and crazy as it ever was. She’s never flinched. She’s taught at Otis for almost 30 years now, and she’s been as influential a teacher as John Baldessari. But because she’s a woman—there have been so many women and people of color who haven’t been put in that hopper. It’s tragic.

Carole Caroompas, Uncle Lenny: Right as Wrong/Wrong as Right: Straight Men, 2010, courtesy Western Project

Carole Caroompas, Uncle Lenny: Right as Wrong/Wrong as Right: Straight Men, 2010, courtesy Western Project

In so many ways, there’s so little honesty and kindness in the art world. That’s what we need to cultivate. To do otherwise just seems like too much work to me. I mean, if you’re interested in power then maybe, but not me.
That drive for power, for being cool, is just a cover-up, a hungry ego. The whole notion of being cool is a ticking time bomb. Being cool is the booby prize. It really is.

DION JOHNSON: Chromatic Momentum - January 8 - February 14, 2015

De Buck Gallery / 545 W 23rd Street / New York, NY 10011See on De Buck Gallery Website


De Buck Gallery is pleased to announce an upcoming exhibition by Los Angeles-based painter Dion Johnson, entitled Chromatic Momentum. The exhibition will be on view at the gallery from January 8 – February 14, 2015. An opening reception in the presence of the artist will be held on January 15 from 6-8 PM.

Dion Johnson does stuff with color that other artists don’t even dream of, much less deliver. The L.A. painter makes color fat, like the belly of the Buddha, at least as it appears in many sculptures of the half-naked sage, whose beaming smile and twinkling eyes suggest a kind of enlightenment that is whole-bodied, pleasurable and an end in itself. Johnson also keeps color taut, like a sail in a gale, stretched to its physical limits in gracefully bulging curves that are elegant, functional and forceful. There’s a sharpness to Johnson’s tangy slice of the spectrum, whose astringent kick gets echoed in the crisp edges of the snuggly abutted shapes his colors take. Their sizzling intensity is similarly keyed up by the lovely weirdness Johnson generates with their out-of-whack juxtapositions, which should be queasy, even garish, almost vulgar, but somehow come off as even more gorgeous for their oddball precision.

Despite the evocative heat that radiates from Johnson’s radically saturated paintings, there’s an implacable cool to their bands and swoops of color: a type of synthetic iciness that avoids the sting of nature’s coldness, the harshness of psychological withdrawal and the anaesthetized deadness of emotional detachment in favor of the ravishing extravagance of an unnaturally enhanced palette—a range of tints, tones and temperature that all seem to be on especially friendly terms with neon and plastic and all manner of artifice, the sexier the better. The razor-sharp lines pin-stripers apply to customized low-riders also lie behind Johnson’s compositions, in which the thinnest sliver of some strange tertiary expands gradually to become a kind of slender penmanship that then morphs into an aerodynamic shape with so much muscularity that it seems to be three dimensional:  an idiosyncratic building block locked together with others in ways that make them feel as if they’re adrift—freely flowing left and right, up and down, forth and back, as if they were not merely breathing but abuzz and ahum and apulse with a rhythm no less palpable for its silence.

- David Pagel

CHAD ROBERTSON - The Long And The Short Of It: New Paintings and Works on Paper - January 10 - February 14, 2015

Western Project is proud to present a new body of work, The Long and the Short of It, by Los Angles artist, Chad Robertson. Two years in the making, the works are visually dense and highly detailed narrative constructions; pictures of epic natural and human events.

The Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote:

"There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good- will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us."

In accordance, Robertson writes:

“I am interested in how the contemporary human mind makes associations with visual recognizable information and our instinctive, inherent need to draw narrative conclusions which are motivated by our desires, obsessions, prejudices, and world views…To find and construct a story using random information.”

Using images from travels in India, the news, Internet, film and popular culture, the artist layers and weaves his subjects into dream-like states, mirroring scientific concepts of simultaneity and constant flux. From political rallies, rogue waves, cyclone fences, to bees flying in the wind, these are pictures of contemporary life, of our current interconnected global condition. Compositions play out ideas of balance and chaos, order and accident. Robertson presents operatic histories ripe for interpretation; mirrors, or mind traps baited for our own enamored thoughts. Meaning is the end game and paradox is the grist and grit for understanding.

Chad Robertson has exhibited previously in Munich, Stockholm, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and at Sixspace in Los Angeles.