Notes: On Sitting and Finding

On Sitting and Finding

I’ve been in Los Angeles for a few weeks building out a new retail project. Checking in with a friend in my home base of San Francisco they asked if I could recount any special experiences that I have had during my stay here.  

Immediately I thought about my recent stop to the new Hou Yee Chan Gallery in Mid City where my friend made me an appointment to check out Grant Shumate’s Easy installation. The visit on reflection has been characteristic and inspiring for my entire visit here in LA.

The exhibition asks that visitors reserve a thirty minute “session” at the gallery. Sessions are shared between 4 and 6 other participants. On arrival one is greeted by a host and asked to sit in a dojo type sitting circle. Water, cold sake, cigarettes, joints, beer, magic lotions with juniper, arnica and other herbs are offered by the host to reset and become attuned to the immediate surroundings.  The ultimate effect is to use this sitting time and space the host explains to reset and let go of influences of day and experience the exhibition with a clear mind, focused view and fresh awe.  Typically art gallery visits are superficial, rushed, where outside thoughts permeate as one engages the art. Here the host’s exerts a guiding effort on resetting a sense of calm and shared community to access the art. The outside world stripped as cars pass, we are invited to partake and explore the rest of the gallery.

Clear and not familiar with the artist nor the space, and not really having any preconceived expectations, we walked through Shumate’s installation to find a collection of modern tonics, and modern representations of classic mandala type paintings. It all may sound stereotypically new age, “California” superficial spiritualism, but reflecting now I couldn’t help but realize how the entire “resetting” that the show invited was a model on how one should probably best interact with the city of Los Angeles and maybe new experiences in general. This was the piece then the artist offered, not just the paintings or sculptures but an engagement in a modern world to step back and breathe before diving in.

We ended up sitting nearly 2 hours with the host, laughing, and sharing stories of the day. A community was created in a temporary space and an energy was felt through the art and space across a diverse group of people. The gallery offered a new interaction for a traditional gallery experience,  and maybe being of the zeitgeist of the city a representation of the new renaissance and energy that is emanating in Los Angeles. 

Special then answering my friend’s original questions has been this reminder that the best way to interact with the new is with a calm of reflection and a sense of “now” and awe.  

It’s refreshing that in Los Angeles one can discover these little moments of joy if one is open and looking.  There is a new energy that is palpable here in LA, a shared feeling that small projects are possible, that these projects are being done by ordinary and diverse people and there is a community and response to these projects. 

I think I’ve always had negative expectations of Los Angeles that shadowed the magic that is breathing through the city. The gallery reminded me to strip away that lens and interact without expectation and to be more open, allowing me really engage and enjoy my time in Los Angeles.

Raising new questions, open to new possibilities….  There is something special happening here in LA. One needs a open mind to access its current. I invite you to jump in.

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