Bano Gallery Offers Welcome Relief- LA Weekly-- May 2012

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Bano Gallery Offers Welcome Relief

Commercial enterprises devoted to visual art and their sale generally adhere to a common formula, with  lighting racks, framed work and pristine white walls the common attributes of the average space .Yet a new West Hollywood based gallery, namely Bleicher Gallery's Bano annexe, is brazenly dismissive of these draconian concepts.

Embracing work that he describes as "high concept that defies contentious art ideologies," artist and gallerist Oram Bleicher, who runs two galleries in Los Angeles (Bleicher Golightly in Santa Monica and Caporale-Bleicher on LaBrea) is hoping to redefinine the conventional notion of what constitutes a valid exhibition space, by using the toilet of his Labrea space as a gallery, with the apt name Bano Gallery.

Bleicher says Bano's realization was a happy accident. "When we first were renovating the La Brea gallery, one of our team commented that the bathroom was so large you could have another gallery in there. "

"I joked around with a curator about it and it started to make sense that interesting projects could be created to adapt to a unique environment. There's fertile ground for experimentation, contemplation, controversy and humor."

Oram adds that  the space doubles as one for gallery interns to get more responsibility and explore some of their creative ideas. " It was a risky move but I bit the bullet and decided to start a fully functioning autonomous art gallery completely in the hands of gallery interns. Every two months a new intern is appointed Bano director and chooses their own curators and other Bano staff to find projects that fit the space. I give them advice but they are free to do whatever they are inspired to do in the space. "

Asked about people's reaction to the novel idea, Bleichers says most people are surprised and amused. "Often they think I'm joking and then when they take a peak they say 'there really is a gallery in there' and show their friends. Response to the art is varied as it would be to art in any gallery. Only a few people are dismissive of the location of the work. "

Currently on show in the space, guest curator Kathryn Gjerde, has a two person exhibit of by Iana Gaidarski and Joe Post. The exhibit comprises a set up of bathroom air fresheners on motion sensors under video stills from the UC Davis Pepper Spray incident. [The air fresheners spray in the same direction as the pepper spray in the photo and are activated when a viewer comes close to them.

When Occupy protestors were doused with military-grade pepper spray at north Californian UC Davis University last November, artist Joe Post, documented the incident with a still camera. He used these images as the centerpiece of his installation.

Talking to gallerist Bleicher about his Bano installation, Post revealed,  "In my tongue and cheek site specific installation, "The Incident",  each image captures the event at the precise moment before spray ejects from the canister"

Despite their seemingly inane positioning in these images in a gallery restroom, such placement of these controversial  serves to bolster their power. Removed from a familiar and comfortable setting the images are raw and engaging without any glossy or sanitized veneer.

Previously at Bano, Sophia Hogan curated a show of photographs that were strategically placed  to create the illusion the subjects were peeping at the viewer. Mounted at strategic points inside the Bano space, the images were cropped and sized to scale to reinforce the illusion.

Bleicher recalls another curatorial effort by Jarrod Jaccobus. Involved with Cal Arts 'Digi Reverence' collective, who specialize in the creation of digital work in an individual and collaboartive context.

"Jaccobus curated a show at Bano of abstract digital work that utilized the way that natural and unnatural light moved in the bathroom. This was achieved by harnessing  the source of electric lights and alternating between these and the natural lighting of the space's window. At various times of day, Jaccobus experimented with light sources and the use of shadows to compliment and distort the work."

Bano Gallery is located inside Bleicher Gallery La Brea

355 North La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036  Oram Bleicher -

Written by Craig Stephens

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