Pop Goes the Anniversary

Henderson’s Pop Up Art House celebrates its first year with a show that bridges the coasts

Pop-up art galleries have recently emerged as alternative art spaces, occupying otherwise vacant commercial buildings. Artists benefit by getting a place to show their work, and desolate urban areas get a vibrant shot of life. A pop-up gallery may open for just a night, or linger for a more indefinite period of time. This month marks one year for Henderson’s Pop Up Art House—a relative eternity in art ephemera.

In that much time, the Pop Up Art House has established itself as one of the premier art venues in town. Gallerist Shannon McMackin fetes that feat with an outstanding anniversary show, Rory Devine & Carter Potter: CA / NV / NY. She says the exhibition confirms “the maturity of the gallery” and gives her a chance to “celebrate … with old friends” from the art world of the early ’90s. However, don’t expect a sentimental journey, since artists Devine of N.Y.C. and Potter of L.A. subtly rework traditions and send them off in unexpected directions.

Devine’s paintings often have a cartoon-like, apocalyptic pop sensibility, and some of his work recalls industrial landscapes. In this show, his paintings feature text, colorful abstraction and figurative elements. For example, one piece consists of vertical gray stripes over which the words “The Health and Happiness Show” are inscribed in block letters. Others are completely abstract, and range from colorful bands of varying contours to flat circular shapes that look like a proliferation of bubbles across the picture plane. Particularly engaging, “Untitled (Birds)” has an ominous, grayscale cityscape along a low horizon line. It is dominated by what resembles a symmetrical whirligig made up of squares and rectangles. Perched on top of these geometric “structures” are assorted birds rendered in black silhouette, resting mid-migration.

Potter’s works are comparatively spare abstractions made from L.A.’s indigenous refuse: film stock, which he then wraps over wooden stretcher bars that remain clearly visible. These hybrids of sculpture and painting beckon the viewer with their glossy and woven/wrapped texture. Several are covered with milky-white test film punctuated by contrasting filmstrips in blue, yellow, red or black combinations. When viewed at close range, small, captivating details emerge from the film, such as color variations and cryptic notations left behind by film technicians.

In this show, Devine and Potter’s complementary practices carry on a visual conversation through their respective approaches to abstraction. This is emblematic of McMackin’s milestone anniversary, highlighting her demonstrated ability to orchestrate art exhibitions that spark dialogue in a reclaimed patch of vacant real estate.

For her part, McMackin sees more opportunities around the corner and has plans to take her gallery “on the road, capitalizing on the pop-up concept.” In the meantime, Rory Devine & Carter Potter: CA / NV / NY provides a scenic byway worthy of a trip to Henderson.

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