I’m afraid of bees. I don’t mean that lightly. I can’t hear their buzz or see them on TV or see a picture of them without my heart racing.
So imagine my sudden shock as I hear the sound of bees buzzing right when I’m searching for the entrance to an art show. I find it in the shape of honeycomb, the opening to a long tunnel a video projects the sound of the buzzing creatures. As I continue walking, I see their little bodies bunched together. I’m ready to walk right back out, my shoulders tensing and my heart racing a little faster. Eventually, I convince myself I’m safe and that what I’m about to see proves worth the surprise fear factor. I’m walking down one of the coolest installations I’ve experienced done by a street art group I highly respect – CYRCLE.
The group’s new show “Organized Chaos” welcomes viewers with this unique experience before letting them in on even more surprises. The group does a fantastic job of engaging viewers into their work and – unfortunately for me – incorporating the idea of the beehive. Even the drinks were honey-infused.
Many of the works broke through the usual gallery conventions by inviting the viewer to play with the art. Yes – you could actually touch it! Giant works made of blocks invited viewers to move the square pieces around. Everyone from adults to cute kiddos went up to the works and altered those works which included parts like sliding pieces – such as my favorite,“Queen Hive Layer” – as well as. That work even included a mirror portion so you could see your own reflection as you changed the composition of the piece.
But even the works that you couldn’t touch or didn’t move displayed the group’s artistic talent and knack for creating their own aesthetic style. Works like “Cubix Study 2” brought a sense of movement through the juxtaposition of various patterns that made the work really pop out from the wall. 3D pieces like “Symbiotic Cube” take the same themes onto a many-sided surface, inviting viewers to move around the work and take in all its sides.
CYRCLE. does a great job of repeating images – flowers, flower skulls, hive-like geometric shapes, words like CHAOS and ORDER – yet approaching their art-making in unconventional ways. The group, now a two-person effort, recently added a huge achievement to its career. If you’re in Echo Park, swing by Bedrock LA to see an 11,000 foot mural called “Magic is Real” which the group recently completed.
Inside or outside, CYRCLE. understand the importance of really pulling the viewer in. “Organized Chaos” lies far from your typical gallery experience because of the interactive elements in many of the pieces and, most importantly, for the solid grip the groups holds over its identity. As the group’s second solo show, “Organized Chaos” proved a tour de force of playfulness, creativity and confidence. One wall even showed a number of trinkets that made it look like the group’s workspace. From a plastic bag with the word NOTHING to doodles and everything and between, the wall further emphasized CYRCLE.’s desire to really include the viewer in the process of artmaking and have them share in their experience. No part of the show felt like a cold, gallery experience – it felt like you walked into the group’s workspace and got an invitation to create your own work by moving some of the pieces around. The bee theme carried on through a lot of what the group did for the show especially the sense of frenetic, worker-bee-like energy that came across in their detailed, carefully-planned work. CYRCLE. and the art viewers came together as if in a hive mentality, all understanding the repeating images and themes of the artwork around them. The exhibit united viewers through its interactivity and showcased the bee-like unity of the CYRCLE. collective.
So I suppose bees are pretty cool after all. At least when they inspire quality gallery works like the ones CYRCLE. create.
Top: detail of the work space-like wall in “Organized Chaos”
“Organized Chaos!” runs until December 16 6608 Lexington Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90038 Tuesday – Sunday 11 AM to 6 PM Friday and Saturday 11 AM to 9 PM Closed Mondays