Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Love Letter To Grand Central Art Center

Grand Central Art Center celebrates its 10 year anniversary this weekend.
What Grand Central has accomplished over those 10 years is nothing short of amazing.
I have had the privilege and pleasure of being involved with GCAC in one capacity or another for close to 7 years now.
The first time I visited Grand Central was the Mark Ryden opening in Jan 2002. I remember walking in the gallery, seeing the crowd, the artwork and the amazing setting and thinking, "what IS this place"?? I could not believe it had not been on my radar before. The crowd was a mixture that any event or party would DIE for, the perfect mix of greasy rockabillys, tattooed latinos, cool college kids, familes(!), artsy downtown types and a few suits thrown in with everyone having the most amazing fashion sense. Perfection casting. And then there was the artwork. Mark Ryden was just starting to blow up and you could feel the excitement and the tension in the room, the sense that everyone there was in on some big secret. And they were, look where Ryden is now and the influence he has had since then.
I then was asked by GCAC president Greg Escalante to put on a show of my "Found Surf Art" paintings I had been collecting for years. The show went up in the Project Room in Feb 2003, we got some $$ from Quiksilver to produce a small booklet (designed by Tom Adler, thanks!). Greg asked Jim Shaw, the ultimate thrift store painting guy, to write an essay for the show. And he did! Jim Shaw was (and is) one of my all time art heroes, and here Greg just calls him up and gets him to contribute. To. My. Show.
That's how it goes at Grand Central. People WANT to be a part of what goes on there.
Everyone at Grand Central treated me with the utmost respect and professionalism, they really had an act. And again, the Found Surf Art show was one of those purely magical surreal moments that could only happen at.....Grand Central Art Center.
Shortly after, Greg asked me to join the board for Grand Central Art Center, where I hold the title of chairman. Wow.
To have had the experience of visitor, artist and board member has given me some insight and perspective to the workings at Grand Central, all of it good.
And the hits at Grand Central have just kept coming, from "100 Artists See Satan", to the Jeffrey Vallance show to "Aspects Of Mel's Hole" show to the Camille Rose Garcia show.....and on and on and on.....
Grand Central has shifted so many things: artist's careers, the Santa Ana community in which it resides, the Southern California art scene, the list goes on.
The "approval" from Grand Central in the shape of a show or a book has a reach and influence that few can grasp. When you walk into Soap Plant and see all the Grand Central Press books out on the shelves, and then you see all the people there who are buying and reading them, THOSE people are the "influencers", they are the ones shifting popular culture, and it turns out Grand Central is the one who is "inluencing the inluencers". Gulp.
And I really think the success of Grand Central lies with its staff and the board, these guys make stuff happen. Andrea Harris, Mike McGee, Greg Escalante, Mitchell DeJarnett, Jon Gothold, John Gunnin, Jon Webb, Julie Perlin, Marcus Bastida, Stuart Spence, Robert Redding, Gil Marrero, Chris Hoff, Mary Ellen Houseal, James Hill, Wendy Sherman, Dennis Lluy, Teri Brudnak, Diana Donaldson, Dennis Cubbage the list goes on and on, everyone there has talent and vision and charisma galore. They have to be, they sit on the board at Grand Central!
Board meetings are an honor and privilege to attend and I am extremely proud to be a part of Grand Central's success.
My favorite description of Grand Central comes from the LA Weekly art critic Doug Harvey, who dubbed Grand Central the "Paris of Orange County"
I'll say.
Here's to another 10 years.

1 comment:

20/20 HEART said...