Hubs & Hybrids is an ongoing series of interviews with those at the helm of some of L.A.'s most compelling artist-run and experimental visual and performing arts spaces.
It was already dark by the time I walked from Hill St. through Chung King Road on my way to Favorite Goods. Most of the storefronts on Chung King were closed on this Sunday night. Ambient light, flowing out across the 40-foot-wide alley, emanated from still-active residents quietly buzzing about inside their apartments. A small boy laughed and ran back and forth between his mother and father, passing time as they waited for a table to open up at Foo-Chow Restaurant.
The same walk on an opening night can be a downright different scene. Historically, this street has been a place, recalling Black Dragon Society and International Art Objects (née China Art Objects), for artists to experiment and try out new things. A number of galleries call Chung King Road home and the pedestrian thoroughfare turns into a lively party during exhibition openings as people inevitably spill out of the white cubes into the night. This northeast corner of Chinatown, "New Chinatown," has maintained its status as a thriving art locale since the late 1990s, at the turn of the millennium, when vacant storefronts were converted into studios, live-work dwellings, and galleries.
As I arrived at Favorite Goods, co-founder Audrey Moyer led me up a flight of stairs to a pristine gallery space displaying artworks as part of Surface Area, Favorite Goods's current exhibition curated by Lauren Christiansen. We spoke in a dim meeting room, Chung King road in our periphery. Moyer explained that she had decided to move to Los Angeles because of its reputation as an affordable city. Los Angeles was somewhere she could imagine running a space like Favorite Goods while still being in the center of an international art scene. Moyer and Ryan Fabel (Fabel is no longer involved with Favorite Goods), founded the gallery after being in Los Angeles for a few months, drawn by Chung King Road's history and the feasibility of living in the space.
At Favorite Goods's core is a commitment to breaking down geographic barriers and bringing international artists to Los Angeles. This effort has helped Moyer build a continually growing, evolving international network of practitioners. The logistics of showing international work and the costs associated with those goals -- shipping costs, travel costs -- has been an interesting balancing act for Moyer. She explained Favorite Goods' role in the globalization of the art world, emphasizing the exchange of ideas and the gallery's ability to introduce an artist to a new audience. Sebastian Jefford, for example, is from England, and Surface Area is his first exhibition in the United States.
An example of Favorite Goods's ability to bridge multiple networks and bring people together is Trouble Rainbow II, the second installment Trouble Rainbow Triology. The first installment opened at Galleria Marie-Laure Fleisch in Rome, Italy, and the third installment opened in Zurich. Moyer collaborated with over 30 people for Trouble Rainbow II. The exhibition involved a full transformation of Favorite Goods's gallery space; curtains enveloped the space and beds were installed, creating a venue for multiple performances and events, including a "Sleep Concert" that occurred throughout the duration of the show. Favorite Goods published a collection of writing about sleep in conjunction with the spatial manifestation of the work, engaging and coalescing multiple platforms. Another example of Favorite Goods's international endeavors is "Exposing: The Guest Rules," Aude Pariset's first solo exhibition in the United States, which was part of a city-wide cultural exchange initiative entitled Ceci n'est pas, Art between France and Los Angeles.
This October marks the second anniversary of the space, and as Moyer considers a new expanded program and direction for Favorite Goods, we took a moment to look back on the gallery's origins.
What is your role in Favorite Goods? What other things beside this space are you engaged in?
Audrey Moyer: I am the only person running Favorite Goods so I do everything: curating, installation, press. Besides Favorite Goods I work for an artist and make art too.
What was the impetus for starting this space? (when, where, how was it incorporated, who is involved?)
AM: Favorite Goods opened its first exhibition in October 2011. It was started by myself and Ryan Fabel (who is no longer involved with the space). Ryan and I moved here in the beginning of 2011 with the intention of opening a space because it was something that we both shared an interest in doing. The desire, at least for me, comes from a need to be interacting and engaged in a community. That was something I had wanted when I was in college and didn't find, so I decided why not build it for myself?
How do you conceptualize the program for the space?
AM: Favorite Goods is an exhibition space that works with a contemporary international roster of artists, curators, and creatively minded people. There is a framework for the programming, but if I were to conceptualize it too much it wouldn't leave room for exploration and experimentation. I am interested in cultural exchange and building a global community and so I work with a lot of European artists. As well, I am always trying to support my fellow women artists.
What are the different types of things that happen and why?
AM: The space presents mostly group exhibitions. I worked with French Berlin-based artist, Aude Pariset, on a solo exhibition that was funded in part by Ceci n'est pas[a Los Angeles/France art exchange initiative] this past April. This summer I started a screening series that I will continue to present between exhibitions. Favorite Goods has hosted all night concerts of music for sleeping, done full on installations of the space, and produced a few publications.
Who are the people involved?
AM: Just myself and everyone I collaborate with.
Who are the programs for? And who shows up?
AM: The artists that I work with, people in the art world, young people, old people, passersby on the street, and people on the Internet.
How is the location of the space and its surrounding context pertinent to its program/existence/operations?
AM: Being in Chinatown is great. I really love it there and being on Chung King Road is so fun and weird. It's an adventure to come visit Favorite Goods. The neighborhood is not really considered when programming exhibitions, but also, in a way, it is. The history of the street is one of experimentation and fostering emerging artists, which is what I'm doing. There are a lot of really great galleries in Chinatown that are organizing thoughtful engaging shows with young artists: Thomas Solomon, Jancar Jones, Actual Size, Metro PCS, Young Art, Human Resources.
What do you consider success? Or is that not a consideration?
AM: Success in relation to the gallery is really based on how everyone involved experience was. I'm not typically making sales, so it's not based on that. Sometimes it's based on sales, but a successful exhibition is not based on if I make a profit or not. I've received a few grants and that has made me feel some sort of success. Everyone who is involved (artists, guest curators, etc) has a different thing that they want to get out of the collaboration, and for me it's producing another exciting show. If money comes from it, that's cool, but I rather create new interesting relationships with people. Success is also based off the gallery's audience's reaction. It's very rewarding to organize an exhibition that people respond to. I remember at one opening, which was the same night as all the openings in Culver City, a person came up to me who had just gone to Culver City. They told me that by far that exhibition was way more exciting than anything they had just seen.
What do you consider failure?
AM: Failure for me would be not finishing what I set out to do. It doesn't matter if it didn't happen the way I planned for it, but to not accomplish a goal would be frustrating. So far I don't have any feelings of failure related to the gallery.
Do you feel this space is fulfilling a need or contributing to a lack? Why and how (or not)?
AM: It is most definitely fulfilling a need. Favorite Goods and other spaces like mine allow young artists, and older, the opportunity to produce work outside of the confines of creating a "good" for sale. It also provides exposure for artists, usually leading to other opportunities. As well, in Los Angeles, it can be hard to meet up with people and I provide a social space, a meeting point, a place for conversation, a place for new connections.
Top Image: "Love and Resources" Timur Si Qin and Michael Jones McKean
January 12 - February 16, 2013 Sculpture by Michael Jones McKean | Photo Courtesy Favorite Goods.
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