LOS ANGELES — The title of the exhibition How to Remove Stains seems to be lifted from an article in Good Housekeeping — blemishes, quelle horreur! But at Del Vaz Projects — an apartment gallery outfitted with the sparkling, clean lines of a newly built development — stains are welcome, and particular, funny reminders of the people and objects that define a space. The show marks the first Los Angeles foray for New York-based artists Jessi Reaves and Sophie Stone, who both manufactured their artwork in situ — mostly in the unit’s designated parking space — as part of their residency.
While visits to Del Vaz Projects are by appointment only, experiences will always be shaped by the magnanimity of proprietor-curator Jay Ezra Nayssan, who orchestrated an encounter featuring Thé Joséphine and sticky dates when I arrived. We lounged on the floor. “This is definitely my speed,” I purred, reclining on Stone’s “Untitled (carpet with pink border)” (2016), which stitches and reweaves mats purchased in Chinatown, mass-manufactured textiles from Pottery Barn Teen, and cheaply printed Persian-style rugs.
When Del Vaz Projects exhibited at the Paramount Ranch art fair, Stone’s carpets traveled to the former movie set where they were unceremoniously laid on the dirt ground and lolled upon while the hair of willing volunteers was snipped away by Lydia Hwang in a chair of Reaves’s design. With the assistance of Patrick Steffen, Nayssan, uninterested in the commercial hubbub associated with fairs, generated a spontaneous hangout spot that incorporated the gestures of hospitality instead, emphasizing the organic collaborations that occur when intimacy blooms in unexpected spaces.
Prior to our meeting, I had attended the opening reception, which felt like a party I tried to crash but was instead absorbed into. The space was crowded, with attendees spilling out onto the balcony for a smoke, so that very little could prevent people from walking on Stone’s rugs or testing out Reaves’s chairs. I did notice, however, one young woman timidly hovering over Reaves’s “Life is getting longer/baguette chair” (2016), a solid armchair-like object that visitors at my follow-up appointment variously described as “salami-esque” and “putty-like.” “Life is getting longer” appears heavy, but its materials are startlingly light. Sawdust, wood glue, and upholstery foam are tamped down and bound, creating buttery waves and crusty textures that ripple across the chair’s surface.
On the quiet weekend morning I scheduled my appointment, a handful of us meandered about the living room, punctuated with dabs of rosy pink and minty green; we sprawled across the carpets, occasionally trying seats with Nayssan’s encouragement. As I lowered my bottom onto one of Reaves’s “His and Hers Ferraris (Ignazio Giunti),” I became concerned that the delicate, blush-colored netting would burst and tear open through the exposed framework. No crisis ensued as I sat tall, disciplined by the chair’s upright back. The chairs were arranged on top of Stone’s patchy rug, “Untitled (in-reverse #1),” which, flipped, once had life in another gallery exhibition.
While Stone and Reaves have been featured in group exhibitions simultaneously (both artists graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2009), Nayssan brought the two together for How to Remove Stains, intuiting a shared sensibility in their approach to art and design. And because the artists lived and worked so closely on production in the same space for three weeks, the resulting works appear especially complementary. On the floors and walls, Reaves’s curvy shelf-like sculptures and Stone’s rugs-as-tapestries are displayed as functional design objects, highlighting the actual domestic character of the gallery.
Nayssan spoke about moving Stone’s “Untitled (carpet with silk edge),” which was splayed somewhat awkwardly in the hallway, half on the ground and half leaning against the adjacent wall. The effect wasn’t maddening, as it perhaps would be in what one would consider a tastefully appointed home, but comical — facetious and playful like its surrounding environment. After all, what’s the difference between feng shui and installation, anyway?
How to Remove Stains by Sophie Stone and Jessi Reaves continues at Del Vaz Projects (600 Westgate Avenue, Los Angeles) through April 15. Visits are by appointment only.
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