As soon as I was asked to cover “High Five”, the fifth anniversary group show at C.A.V.E. Gallery, I started asking myself some questions. Like, what is it that sets C.A.V.E. apart from its peers? Why is it consistently one of my favorite places to see art? There were some easy answers, sure; Patrick and Tanya maintain a warm, friendly atmosphere, always taking time to say hello to everyone (even while juggling a hundred other duties). C.A.V.E. openings are always fun, often with live painting demonstrations and crate-digger DJ’s. But some of the answers are a little trickier. While C.A.V.E. occasionally shows some of the same artists (JoKa, Anthony Ausgang, etc.) seen at La Luz De Jesus, Copro, or like-minded galleries, you can’t pigeon-hole C.A.V.E. as a lowbrow, or pop surrealist gallery. While they’ve shown well-known street artists such as Shark Toof, Max Neutra, and Mear One, I don’t see C.A.V.E. as falling into the overtly trendy category of “Graf Gallery” either. So, why is the C.A.V.E. experience so unique? What makes them different from everything else that’s out there? After tossing it around in my head quite a bit, I can tell you the conclusion I’ve come to, I just can’t tell you how they do it. You see, I think that the C.A.V.E. vision is just a little more ‘grown-up’. Which is not to say lofty, or esoteric to the point of being elitist. No, I mean that you walk away from C.A.V.E a little more adult than you were when you went in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the other galleries. There’s a dear place in my heart for aggressive, deviant, jokey, Mad magazine inspired art, but I’ve never left C.A.V.E. Gallery feeling like I needed a Silkwood shower afterwards. The art at C.A.V.E. is just a little more refined, far less jarring than most galleries in this vein. There’s no shock for mere shock value here. The deep rooted pessimist within me cringes as I write this, but I find the art at C.A.V.E. to actually be, er, hopeful.
After the giddy chaos of Saturday’s opening reception, I caught up with Patrick the next day to talk about that vision, and the galleries storied history:
How did this all get started?
C.A.V.E. Gallery really started in September of 2001, as a series of art events that would happen once a month, at different venues in Venice. C.A.V.E. is an acronym for Center for Audio and Visual Expression. Basically, when we started doing C.A.V.E. we would have visual artwork, performance art, short films, bands, deejays, anything creative, and it lasted for about a year. Then I started working with a guy named L Croskey, and he was doing something called Cannibal Flower. So I took a break from C.A.V.E. and I helped L Croskey. Then I started meeting way more artists and musicians and deejays, and I just realized this whole underground art movement in Los Angeles was just so awesome, and exciting, and taking off. Again, this was like eleven years ago or so. I live in Venice and a space opened up. This very small space on Rose Avenue, and Rose Avenue, five years ago, was still kind of rough and tough, and as some people used to say ‘edgy’. We moved in there, painted the walls, tried to plug the leaks in the ceiling, and started throwing art shows. As time went on, we realized our neighbors didn’t appreciate the audio aspects of C.A.V.E. and we slowly just moved into, more predominantly the visuals. So, C.A.V.E. kind of became a more traditional and formal art gallery. In 2010, C.A.V.E, moved out of its location on Rose because we basically outgrew the space, and we moved to where we are now, on Abbot Kinney. We were very lucky, the space is huge, it’s an older space. Historically, it’s been a creative space. Our landlord was an artist, and lived here in the seventies. It’s a much busier street. Abbot Kinney has a lot of boutiques, high-end and what have you, but it’s unique in the sense that it’s not like the Third Street Promenade. It’s funky little independent shops. It’s a great opportunity for us, and it gives the artists great exposure to a wider audience.
So this weekend we’re celebrating our five year anniversary. What we try to do every May, is a group show with artists that we’re working with that year, or the coming year. Some have been with us the whole time, like John Park, others are new to us like Amanda Marie, Tom French (top photo), and VINZ, etc. So we have a bunch of artists to thank and support, as well as a bunch of new artists we can’t wait to work with.
Tell me about C.A.V.E.’s aesthetic. How do you manage to separate yourself from the pack?
What we’re finding is the vision, or the direction that C.A.V.E. seems to be going is — we appreciate so many artists in this so-called new contemporary art movement, like, I like street artists, I like the illustrators, I like the dark artists, I like the pop surrealists, I like the lowbrows, I like all of these different types of artwork but I didn’t want to necessarily get lumped into just showing dark art, or just showing street art. There’s so many of these artists that we are drawn to, and I don’t want to necessarily be lumped into some sort of category. Basically it’s artwork that we really love, and artists that we really want to support, and have a great time working with, or just being friends with. I’m finding our direction, and I don’t know if it’s subliminal or not, it’s kind of moving in this direction where it can be very expressive with a painterly feel, a lot of bold brushstrokes. I guess energy and movement is a good couple of terms to explain the artists we’re working with.
Thanks Patrick, and Happy Anniversary man!
“High Five” is on view through June 2nd, 2013
1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA. 90291
Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12pm to 6pm
or by appointment