BY JEFF CAIRNS
BY ANDREW RIISKA
APRIL 26TH – MAY 24TH, 2014
RECEPTION: SATURDAY, APRIL 26TH, 7-11PM
Running concurrently, the exhibitions juxtapose Riiska’s sensual wood pieces, as much temptations to touch as they exist to be functional works, with Cairns seemingly primitive figurative paintings, more like drawings, really, frequently of animals, that mesmerize profoundly.
Seen adjacently, the improvisational quality of Cairns’ watercolors are reinforced by the nature of Riiska’s extensively treated furniture—carved, fitted, finished. Yet, in selecting their subjects both men often toy with humor. An early Cairn’s evocation, a mandog and an oversized, waist-high bird were positioned back-to-back as they pondered the universe beyond with the same quizzical expression. While Riiska once, laughingly, produced a 69-leg table, and named it that.
Each of the shows express the gallery’s intent: to present new visions by accomplished self-taught artists as an alternative to the current art school schema. For decades Riiska and Cairns have removed themselves from conventional career trajectory while privately pushing themselves to master the tools of their expressions.
BY JEFF CAIRNS
Jeff Cairns’ small-scale works are painted on scrap gathered at the lithograph shop he works at. His subjects are scraps too. Stray dogs, crows, birds–that often look more forlorn than free—the occasional skeleton and monkeys. Employing watercolor, or more rarely gouache, Cairns evokes these characters so sparely that he describes the work as drawings. The color palette is muted–grays, browns, blacks, an occasional aqua , or maybe when he’s going full bore a whole scrap painted in variations of a rich hopeful blue. But most often the creatures are left with no landscape, or very little. They themselves are bewildered, aliens in their own environment: the dogs crouched, often defensively, or positioned awkwardly, hesitating, often bemused. Where to now. Perplexed, quizzical they look out, leaving the viewer no choice but to look within, they’re remnants of cartoons that tell a novel. Even a flock of birds, each depicted differently, are lonely in their separateness.
Cairns grew up amongst a small crowd, a set of five brothers that, like he, painted through childhood. What drove him to Los Angeles, however, was music. Cairns quit college when his band was signed by a label, landing within the formal art world only when he needed a job and a musician friend got him work as an assistant. Those responsibilities eventually led him to the scrap he works on and with. But he will tell you, he had “never given up the brush.” The Good Luck Gallery is proud to present his first solo show.
BY ANDREW RIISKA
Designer Andrew Riiska has employed the underside of a wooden table to carve a hidden field of mounds, revealed to the viewer fully only once they were seated, knees and hands brushing up against the nubs. His furniture, which encompasses elements of design, woodwork, sculpture and art, are tactile journeys of discovery, invitations to participate. “I’m trying to get people to interact with the work,” he says. Such are the series of Riiska chairs in Wood Works, in which his mastery of the material and simple, time-consuming organic finishes fans out to assemblage and deepen his conceptual bent. The ephemeral bubble wrap that is entwined in the use of one such object, prompts the user to consider our everyday wrap-and-waste as they must pull, tear, and discard with each sitting. Though Riiska has occasionally dwelled in the world of computerized modeling systems to define his forms, here, he returns to “the world of the analog.” The table saws, planers, chisels and hand saws of his youth.
The artist has been compelled to forge objects since he was four-years-old, literally. When, equipped with a set of plastic tools in a kid’s tool belt, he marched out to build a barn on his family’s property only to be turned back by the carpenters that had been employed to do so. He settled by coaxing a jewelry box for his mother from the men’s scrap. At age eleven, he would enter an apprenticeship in building with a neighbor, the industrial designer Tom Bush. While Riiska often acts as a designer and/or manufactures multiples, his process and works, as easily, enter the realm of art. End function, form, size, tone, touch, guided by the reclaimed wood that is, other than his hands and the viewer’s interaction, Riiska’s basic material. Andrew Riiska has been exhibited in galleries in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles and was featured in the 2010 California Design Biennial at Pasadena Museum of California Art. This will be his first show at The Good Luck Gallery.