11 YEARS - Anniversary Group Show: December 6 - 23, 2014

11th year Anniversary Exhibition

Ron Athey / Josh Bolin / Daniel Brice / Thomas Burke / Carole Caroompas / Cole Case / Alec Egan / Samantha Fields / Bob Flanagan and Sheree Rose / Tim Forcum / Eric Freeman / Sush Machida Gaikotsu / Margaret Griffith / Dion Johnson / Ali Kheradyar / Patrick Lee / Joe Lloyd / Zachari Logan / Bob Mizer / Matthew Penkala / Nancy Riegelman / Chad Robertson / Joe Schmelzer / Nicolas Shake / Aaron Sheppard / Arne Svenson / Christian Tedeschi / Tom of Finland / Mark Dean Veca / Wayne White / Jessica Wimbley

Western Project proudly presents our 11th Year Anniversary Exhibition marking a decade and a year of programming. As one of the pioneer galleries of the Culver City arts district, the show will include gallery artists and some special guests; each an irregular, unruly and often impolite force of nature, all burdened with the disease of individual thinking and a call to find a greater depth of human experience. We celebrate with abandon and humor, knowing our job is yet unfinished.

MARK DEAN VECA :EVERLAST: Paintings and Works on Paper - October 18-November 29, 2014

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Western Project is proud to present the third solo exhibition at the gallery by Los Angeles artist, Mark Dean Veca. His new body of work, EVERLAST, is comprised of seven new paintings and twelve works on paper. Veca grew up around the San Francisco Bay Area surrounded by words; words in the sky, words on the streets, words on the billboards, on trucks and grocery stores, liquor stores – everywhere – an environment of language, letters and images. For this work he writes:

Particular street signs and logos started to jump out at me as perfect combinations of subject matter and composition. I'm not picking words or images at random, but those that I find have some kind of resonance personally as well as universally, be they mundane or iconic, and are redolent of my 1970's California upbringing…

For years now I've been interested in the negative space in and around letterforms, particularly logos in a certain script, like the Fender logo. When I see these spaces I get an urge or compulsion to define and articulate them, to make them the figure, not the ground.

It is the atmosphere which seems to have won out as an undulating miasma or vapor, enveloping the signage from neighborhood stores (LIQUOR MART), to international corporate logos (EVERLAST and Zildjian). Perhaps they recall the brown smog atmosphere from the 1970’s in LA, along with the Pop culture explosion of the era; his paintings reek of immersion in a climate of billowing energy, a charged atmosphere where background shifts to and fro:

Duality seems to be a consistent theme in much of my work. In these word paintings the eye wants to flatten the text, especially from a distance, but upon closer inspection the forms flip. The atmospheric quality that fills the letterforms heightens the effect of creating depth and contrast to the crisp linework defining the biomorphic abstraction surrounding them.

Veca’s paintings are indeed icons; not ironic, but psychedelic celebrations. FENDER is enveloped by a surging purple ooze (or is it haze?) while BREAKFAST BURRITO is a crazy trip down the street at sunrise; both seemingly familiar visual sensations. And what’s that funk of adolescent testosterone wafting around the paintings? His deft and masterful drawing skills give the works a tremendous gravity and visionary exactness; think Keith Haring, R. Crumb, and Warhol. It is an un-academic rigor compounded by immaculate craftsmanship. The logo paintings are punctuated by early Warner Brothers Looney Tunes characters: Tweety Bird (created in 1945), and the Tasmanian Devil (1957). Each image is an historic cartoon favorite known for their wacky and cunning charms. Having survived endless cliché and a million bad tattoos over the years, Veca’s images are now more sirens luring contemporary audiences to reconsider an un-snarky and daring, new attitude in the 2010s. FLY UNITED is a sexier side, from an image recycled from a 1970’s underground poster; the image is a wink and a nod to human desire (the mile high club), stealing back the method of corporate advertisement into mainstream erotic humor. Perhaps this is the covert messaging of the artist – employing logos more as flavors, manipulating corporate identity into notions of pleasure, emotion and imagination. The words become formal playgrounds for both the artist and audience to reinterpret experience and memory as subjective space. Taking back an age of greed to a realm of personal exaltation.

Veca will be included in the upcoming Turn the Page: The First Ten Years of HI-Fructose @ Virginia MOCA, Virginia Beach. His work was recently acquired by the Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California. The monograph, Mark Dean Veca: Twenty Years, was recently published by Zero + Publishing. He has exhibited at the Instituto Cultural de Cabanas in Guadalajara, Mexico, a career survey at the University of California, San Diego, site specific Phantasmagoria at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles and Raging Opulence at The San Jose Art Museum, the 2013 California-Pacific Triennial at OCMA, Newport Beach, California, plus numerous other exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Berlin and Bern, Switzerland. He is the recipient of the 2010-11 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship as well as grants by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts, plus residencies at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, and the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Veca has created designs/products for both Nike and Burton Snowboards.

West Room: JESSICA WIMBLEY: The Belle Series - New Works on Canvas

ArtScene October 2013: Continuing and Reccomended: Mark Dean Veca

Mark Dean Veca: 20 Years - Selected Works from the New Monograph; September 2013

Mark Dean Veca’s lines squirm across the familiar image of the American icon in "Flag 2." It’s as though he squished a small intestine within the iconic symbol and allowed it to ooze and melt like cheese falling off the side of a toasted sandwich. While the exhibit is not large, this small survey of his work jumps off the walls. The exhibition was organized to celebrate a recent monograph published by Zero + Publishing. "Just Win" is one of the most impressive pieces. It’s a menagerie of iconic symbols that are tied together through an organic green cloud. In between this floating glob, we see cartoons, detached eyes, and a range of notable pop culture symbols. From the logo of the Oakland Raiders, whose late owner’s (Al Davis) motto for the team was “Just win baby,” to a radiant Rabbit sculpture in the center by Jeff Koons, who is best known for auction records. Mixing bright colors, excitable forms, and a knack for cultural touchstones, the result is a pop surrealism explosion that doesn’t disappoint (Western Project, Culver City).



Mark Dean Veca - "Forest Frieze" Spruce Street School at New York By Gehry

MARK DEAN VECA - Forest Frieze, 2010
Acrylic on walls, 7 x 112'
Site: Spruce Street School at New York by Gehry, Lower Manhattan

Commissioned by the NYC Department of Education and the NYC School Construction Authority Public Art for Public Schools Program, in collaboration with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program

Collection of the NYC Department of Education

Mark Dean Veca: When The Shit Hits The Fan / New Paintings / 2010

For immediate release:

Mark Dean Veca : When the Shit Hits the Fan/ New Paintings September 18 – October 23, 2010 Reception for the artist : Saturday September 18th, 5-8pm

[gallery link="file" columns="5"] Western Project is proud to present an exhibition of paintings by Los Angeles artist, Mark Dean Veca. The body of work, When the Shit Hits the Fan, chronicles the end of one American era and the beginning of another; the dissolution of the ‘American Dream’ amidst the collapsing economy and the lost dominance of America in the world order. His images come from American pop culture: the board game Monopoly (which came out during the 1930’s depression), the Warhol dollar sign, Big Daddy Roth drawings and Walt Disney cartoons and characters from the 1950’s, and the US presidential seal. Veca uses these images to meld the past and the present; Uncle Scrooge McDuck (Donald Duck’s rich uncle) is portrayed against a green background as a big game hunter; his foot resting on bags of money, his eyes created with hundreds of small dollar signs; a riveting indictment of contemporary corporate America. A counter point is Veca’s Mr. Pennybags, a Monopoly character who confronts the viewer with his empty pockets extended in a blazing red background.

When the Shit Hits the Fan, is the presidential seal reconfigured, reminiscent of the Ramones punk logo, the text of E Pluribus Unum replaced by the unexpected title – done in stark black and white, the symbolic eagle appears mutant echoing the BP oil spill in the gulf of Mexico.

Veca’s impolite paintings are both fast, and immensely slow to reveal themselves. His monochrome backgrounds hold an atmospheric tension, while the figures upon close inspection are created with thousands of lines as festering and decaying shapes, giving them a palatable presence. Drawn with India ink by hand (no digital overlays or screening), the rich details reinvent the characters as both humorous and poignant. Mirroring our cultural attitudes of greed, violence and rampant materialism, the paintings also invoke the tradition of history painting and the genre of social portraiture. In line with Goya’s court paintings and William Hogarth’s scathing satirical works, Veca points to a culture gone wild; his Armor in Command uses Big Daddy Roth’s Viet Nam era hot rod imagery to evoke a war machine run amok, and Warner Brothers’ beloved cartoon graphic, That’s All Folks! as a cancerous colon/void for the post 9/11 world.

But the slowest aspect of the works is it’s intrinsic devotion to truth – his immaculate craftsmanship is a passionate hat tip to the punk ideal (Never Mind the Bullocks was a romantic scream) of a better world ahead; destruction unearths something better ahead – and jostling the funny bone helps along the way.

This exhibition follows Veca’s installation, Revenge of Phantasmagoria at the Instituto Cultural de Cabanas in Guadalajara, Mexico, a career survey at the University of California, San Diego, Phantasmagoria at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, exhibitions in New York, Tokyo, Paris, London, Berlin and Bern, Switzerland. He is the recipient of the 2010-11 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship as well as grants by the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts, plus residencies at Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, and the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Veca has created designs/products for Nike and Burton Snowboards.

Western Project - The First Six Years / Group Show / 2009

November 7 – December 30, 2009 Opening reception Saturday November 7th 5-8pm.

Jason Adkins, Oliver Arms, Ron Athey, Tanya Batura, Heimir Björgúlfsson, Daniel Brice, Thomas Burke, Carole Caroompas, Cole Case, Exene Cervenka, Kris Chatterson, Justin Dahlberg, Michael Dee, Tom of Finland, Eric Freeman, Sush Machida Gaikotsu, Martin Gunsaullus, Ellina Kevorkian, Patrick Lee, Bob Mizer, Michael Reafsnyder, Nancy Riegelman, Chad Robertson, Joe Schmelzer, Aaron Sheppard, Arne Svneson, Vincent Valdez, Mark Dean Veca, Wayne White, Eve Wood, Yek

Western Project is pleased to present, The First Six Years, an anniversary exhibition of the gallery and its artists. Thirty one artists are included with new or recent works. The exhibition is also a celebration of the founding of the arts community in Culver City; Western Project being the third gallery to open its doors in November of 2003.