Posts tagged with "Jai & Jai":

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Never look at skyscrapers the same way after seeing Jai & Jai Gallery’s latest exhibition

Hot On the Heels of Love: Sensational Speculations, an exhibition by John Southern and his firm Urban Operations currently on view at Jai & Jai Gallery in Los Angeles, attempts to collect almost 10 years’ worth of research surrounding the spatial and functional aspects of the skyscraper into one quasi-retrospective. The exhibition aims to enliven the tower, a “spatial manifestation of the sociological and psychological experiences exacted upon the modern individual within the territory of the contemporary metropolis,” by viewing tall buildings—loosely defined and subject to the tendencies and extremes of late-stage global capitalism—as more than simple aesthetic statements. Instead, the collected works are showcased as multifaceted ruminations on not only what tall buildings have been and can be, but also as a collection of sensational projects produced as cultural artifacts in their own right, representative of the times in which they were created.

Hot On the Heels of Love: Sensational Speculations by Urban Operations Jai & Jai Gallery 648 North Spring Street, Los Angeles Through January 2, 2017

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Endemic Architecture reimagines the Victorian turret at Jai & Jai Gallery

Oakland, California–based Endemic Architecture’s most recent exhibition, Mind Your Mannerisms, at Jai & Jai Gallery in Los Angeles, examines the existential meaning behind San Francisco’s variant of the Victorian turret, what the firm refers to as one of many “architectural darlings” that populate our world.

For the firm, “darlings” consist of fundamentally architectural symbols that convey meaning in built form universally, like the column, the pediment, or the chimney. These “darlings” are the elements that are both widely understood by laypeople as words used in architecture’s formal language and simultaneously deployed (or subverted) by architects themselves to say, “this is (still) architecture.”

In Mind Your Mannerisms, the selected “darling”—turrets—is poked, pinched, and puckered in an effort to not only lend a sense of intellectual rigor to its whimsical forms, but to also induce new layer of new meaning and understanding resulting from the anipulation of its symbolic, anachronistic geometries.

The firm utilizes collections of contextual photography showing the diverse manifestations of the turret typology in San Francisco’s built environment as a starting point in order to generate generalized drawings of particular, observed tendencies. In the process, the darling gets redefined from an object made up of discrete architectural components into a collection of quasi-digital surfaces where a series of formal maneuvers have been applied to two disparate objects: the turret itself and the so-called “Victorian” building to which it is attached.

The firm uses these guiding considerations to generate interventions enacted upon a handful of existing and observed turret types, focusing on these aspects of each and amplifying or deforming their found conditions. These interventions are initially explored through a series of beguiling, shaded line drawings, side-by-side comparisons of found and manipulated elevation views displayed in gold-painted frames. The turrets take on the formal ambiguities of M.C. Escher drawings, as cornices become tangent to and sweep around rounded corners, conical roof forms loft to meet simply sloping ones and sections of walls are deleted or extruded up and down the form. Shingles and siding are along for the ride, too; they are scaled, alternated, and shifted accordingly.

The drawings are then taken into three dimensions via three large, ambiguously-scaled maquettes. Two of these objects are installed directly on the gallery walls, which have been painted with the black silhouettes of generic Victorian building forms. A third form is freestanding, its bulbous and rumpled masses sagging in an exaggerated, Pablo Escobar–style paunch. The turrets are lent a scale-less distortion by the firm’s use of repurposed, full-scale turret windows salvaged from recently-demolished structures in the models. The relic windows, one with panes fritted, the other with a set of secondary, chamfered interior surfaces located just inside the window frame, again obscure the true nature of these sculptural objects. Is each one actually a turret-shaped building? Are they one-to-one mock-ups of diminutive turrets? It’s hard to tell, but that’s partially the point. This transformation from orthographic drawing to object-in-the-round gives each turret conflicting, multiple meanings, as the physical properties of their material components clash with one another. One wall-mounted turret is clad in sheets of woodgrain veneer, cut out and styled so their ends curl up. The freestanding turret is topped with a tiara of faux-fur.

And if we can look past the Seuss-ian  forms the turrets take and look at them for what they are—geometric abstractions—something clicks into place: Thenhaus and his team are using San Francisco’s turret as a learning tool. By imposing an order and then manipulating that order, working to generate new forms that still fit the decided upon definition for what a turret is, the designers lend clarity to something that is otherwise shrouded in mystery. The question is: Are the new creations Victorian turrets, still?

It’s hard to tell because Victorian architectural forms juggle many considerations simultaneously: They are typically proportioned in accordance with light and air, are aggressively ornamented, and do a great job of breaking down massive buildings into pleasant  agglomerations of cute things like cornices,windows, porches, and yes, turrets. Victorian architecture makes no sense at all, however, from the point of view the rationalist, diagram-driven, methodology of contemporary practice that has been applied to its formal existence here.

By subsuming the particularities of the Victorian ecosystem of styles in this way, the researchers point out the barren lexical memory of their profession and the ways in which building components, once discrete, measurable and observable objects, have been replaced in contemporary discourse with digital modeling processes and “if, then” reactions, in which collections of dots, lines, and planes are swept, lofted, tweened, and booleaned to generate form. In both cases, meaning results from the processes undertaken in order to generate form and not, as is the case with Victorian architecture, from the symbolic and physical properties of the forms themselves.

Viewed through this lens, the works presented in the exhibition can be seen not merely as generative, architectural by-products begat from architecturally-focused observation, but as a part of that conversation in their own right. That is, Endemic’s turrets, with their quizzical proportions, jiggery-pokery of material, and side eye toward playful formalism are as helpful in Endemic’s attempt to define the turret typology as the observed turrets themselves.

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Architecture Lobby opens Los Angeles branch

The Architecture Lobby, an advocacy group of “architectural workers” that includes designers, principals, educators, and writers, and has announced the launch of a new Los Angeles chapter. The group, according to a press release announcing the new chapter, “advocates for the value of architectural work within the general public was well as within the discipline.” The lobby was formed three years ago as a decentralized, nationwide organization. It currently runs chapters in New York City, Chicago, Tampa, Denver, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and the San Francisco Bay Area. To commemorate the launch, the new Los Angeles chapter is holding a kick-off party on Friday, October 21 at Jai & Jai Gallery. The launch party will include a screening (Re)Working Architecture, a film created by the organization from a performance put on by the group at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. The party will also focus a discussion on the group’s book, Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice. The tome, first launched at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennial, is currently being featured in the Lisbon Triennial. On Saturday, October 22, the Architecture Lobby will also host a so-called “Think-In” panel event at University of California, Los Angeles aimed at broadly discussing critical topics in the field and profession. The panel discussion will be facilitated by Nancy Alexander. Panelists will include:
  • Frances Anderson, KCRW (DnA, Design and Architecture)
  • Wil Carson, 64North, UCLA
  • Peggy Deamer, Yale University and The Architecture Lobby
  • Jia Gu, Materials & Applications, The Architecture Lobby
  • Tia Koonse, UCLA Labor Center   
  • Elizabeth Timme, LA-Más
  • Mimi Zeiger, critic and curator, Art Center College of Design, The Architecture Lobby
  • Peter Zellner, ZELLNERandCompany, USC, Free School of Architecture
Both events are free and open to the public. For more information, see the Architecture Lobby website.
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Jai & Jai Gallery becomes an essential hub for L.A.’s young artist-designers

Jai & Jai Gallery, a 350-square-foot exhibition space sandwiched between a barbecue smokehouse and a former vintage music store in Los Angeles’ Chinatown neighborhood, is a beacon in the city’s bustling young architecture scene. Whereas older generations strove for the empty warehouses of Culver City and Santa Monica, a new generation of designers is looking toward the inner city as a place to make and exhibit art and design, positioning galleries and art spaces like Jai & Jai as loci of experimentation for the city’s foremost millennial makers. This scene at Jai & Jai is typical of an opening night: As a heavy mix of creative young professionals gossip about their latest projects, Jomjai and Jaitip Srisomburananont, the sisters behind the gallery, hold court with potential buyers, guide new visitors toward wine, and play host to what often has more in common with a low-key San Fernando Valley house party than any staid Westside art gallery opening. Jaitip explains to The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) that though the gallery’s social importance is somewhat unintentional, it reflects a deeply personal part of who they are as individuals, saying the transformation from art space to social hub “mostly happened organically; [our events] always have that ‘Jai & Jai vibe.’ It’s just like how we treat our family: You come to our house, have a drink, see some art. Thankfully, it’s echoed through our business as well.” The Jais, as they are known by the ever-expanding social scene surrounding the gallery, keep a frenetic pace at these openings, and if you manage to grab their attention, it’s usually only for a few minutes. Mid-conversation, if you’re, say, discussing writing an article about the show at hand, Jomjai will pull out her iPhone to tap out an email (to you). She’ll then pivot to someone who looks like a prospective buyer and deliver him or her to the featured artist before moving on to someone else, maybe an intern snapping photographs or someone potentially cooking up the gallery’s next show. The Jais do this for hours, until the gallery shuts down and the party moves to one of the nearby dive bars. By the time you get home that night, you’ll likely have another email waiting for you and maybe even a press kit. It might seem cliché to focus on this aspect of the gallery first, but it reflects a larger and equally obvious truth of the Los Angeles art and architecture economy of today: It takes a lot of hard work to make things happen. This tendency is something of a common denominator for the Jais, the resident social patrons who frequent their gallery, and the exhibited artists themselves. Of those two latter groups, many are early-on in their careers and necessarily run art and design practices parallel to their 9-5 jobs. They also use their exhibited artworks to fund or support client-based commissions for their own independent practices. Many other are fresh out of school, having recently launched their own practices, or are teaching at an area architecture schools. Jomjai describes the gallery as, “More of an open forum” than an incubator, where the sibling gallerists “allow an opening for new ideas.” According to the sisters, the gallery provides young practitioners “a chance to express themselves, their ideas and theories, whether they’re artistic, academic, or architectural.” Jaitip adds, “We like to engage everyone and for us, the gallery acts as platform that lets us do that at equal levels.” Since it opened in 2012, a who’s who of L.A.’s rising stars have exhibited work on the gallery’s walls, creating a self-reinforcing narrative for the storefront as a kick-back space for the city’s young, energetic, and experimental designers. The gallery, which recently expanded into the neighboring thrift store, intentionally takes on challenging exhibitions and works with its artists to chart new terrain. In 2015, Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular wrapped the interior of the exhibition space in panels of his trademark architectural cartoons, transforming the tiny space into a cave-like work of art. The work, Beachside Lonelyhearts, is carved up into a series of truncated and geometrically-shaped canvases; fragments of it can still be found in Jai & Jai’s growing archive. The year prior, Laurel Consuelo Broughton of Welcome Projects and Andrew Kovacs came together for a three-part show. Their Gallery Attachment and As-Built exhibitions took place in a parking lot across the street and inside the gallery, respectively. The parking lot show exhibited monochromatic, full-scale elements of architectural oddities while the show inside the gallery displayed a collection of measured as-built drawings made from the team’s collection of detritus outside. The duo also produced a zine to accompany and compliment their other trans-dimensional, multimedia works. Broughton told AN, “Before Jai & Jai the only spaces in Los Angeles for architectural exhibitions were institutionally sponsored. Being small and without institutional ties allows the gallery to exhibit work outside the traditional comfort zone for architecture and design,” to which Kovacs added, "Jai & Jai is an absolute asset for architecture in Los Angeles. I feel the gallery has a very open and flexible outlook that makes it possible to take risks with shows and explore new ideas." Mike Nesbit, independent artist and project designer at L.A.–based architecture firm Morphosis, has exhibited works of his “abstract-technical” art at Jai & Jai several times. His glitch-pointillist drawings and thickly-silkscreened, supersized concrete panel canvases filled the space last autumn for his Swipe show. The artist carted in massive slabs of cement coated in toothsome swipes of colored paint, lending a bit of L.A.’s abstract art bona fides to the space. And more recently, Clark Thenhaus of Endemic Architecture deployed office-based research as an exhibition titled Mind Your Mannerisms that catalogs, interprets, and manipulates San Francisco’s architectural turrets in paintings and models. Thenhaus’s show is the eighth show at Jai & Jai in the last year, with probably an equal number of gallery talks and panel discussions to support the exhibitions and promote other creative endeavors happening in the space over this period, as well. Thenhaus described the value of a space like Jai & Jai to AN  via email, saying, “The gallery enables a kind of exploratory freedom to more deeply consider and speculate on building and practice-related ideas in ways that cannot be achieved to the same level through more conventional outlets or client projects as a young office,” adding, “The value of this is, for a young practice, a way to stake an intellectual claim while also working directly on, and through, ideas related to disciplinary interests or to buildings that are yet to be fully designed or built.” If it seems like the work seems is all over the place, that’s because it is, and by design. The Jais intentionally take on challenging exhibitions and work with their artists to chart new terrain. Jaitip explains, “The main component through and through and from the beginning, has always been to engage the audience, whether they agree with the work or not.” This engagement plays out in the constantly changing gallery displays, which transform the space over and over again as the year goes on. Jaitip explained that for her, group shows like the 2014 show Chess, which showcased showpiece chess sets by a slew of designers, are the most rewarding, remarking, “To us, as gallerists, group shows are really inspiring to work on because [we coordinate] a group of people who believe in one concept and help bring them come together to tell a story. Chess and Bust were defining moments for Jai & Jai Gallery, as was Goods Used.” The gallery also timed the debut of their new online print shop with another group show earlier this year, Resolution – The Digital Print Group Exhibition, that used numbered prints of the work on display as a way of lowering the cost barrier for potential buyers. Jaitip explains, “We developed limited edition prints of these exhibited pieces to sell to a younger crowd and open up another branch for the gallery as a business and an organization that supports this type of success.” Chess sets and cartoon-caves as cutting edge architecture? In L.A., yes. That’s because the L.A. art and architecture scene is in a primal flux, not because art and architecture haven’t gone hand-in-hand here since the days of the deconstructionists and blobitects, but because in certain segments of the professional and academic architecture scene, they have become one and the same. Whether it’s the proximity to entertainment culture, the easier access to larger studio spaces, or the more readily available infrastructure for large-scale art production, L.A.-based architects are dabbling in a simultaneity of production and exhibition. Jai & Jai plays a central role in that conversation. As the Jais told me at the end of our conversation, they aim to keep working. “The goal is always to grow. Just grow, and to do that organically.”
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Endemic Architecture explores San Francisco’s turrets at L.A.’s Jai and Jai Gallery

Starting this weekend, Jai & Jai Gallery in Los Angeles will be hosting a new exhibition showcasing the work of Oakland, California-based architecture firm, Endemic Architecture. The firm’s new exhibit, Mind Your Mannerisms, delves into the zany world of San Francisco architecture by examining that city’s ubiquitous corner turret morphology through drawings, scaled models, and photography. By embarking on a formal and existential exploration of quirk-heavy San Francisco Victoriana, Endemic Architecture Principal Clark Thenhaus and his team seek to analyze the turret and its multivalent tendencies. In their efforts, the design-researchers deftly use a mix of traditional architectural representation and contemporary digital manipulation to explore elaborations of the Victorian turret. The isolated corner turret is treated as representing the incongruities, complications, and controversies of Victorian era architecture. Endemic Architecture arrives at several provocations that embody what the firm calls “mannerisms,” what Thenhaus described to AN via telephone as “forms of articulation slightly strange but not so strange as the become unfamiliar.” These formal and stylistic incongruities, described as “architectural contradictions, exaggerations, and counter-intuitions” in exhibition text, are treated as bad habits, amplified, and made worse to prove a point. As the designers manipulate and exaggerate the turret’s salient qualities, fascia boards get extruded and swept across facades, rooflines pucker at their corners, newels turn parabolic, and shingle patterns shift, grow, and change in scale. Thenhaus, recent recipient of a 2015 Architectural League Prize for Young Architects and Designers, described the underlying thesis of the project one of working through a ubiquitous architectural feature of his newly adopted city, where turrets are part of the accepted vernacular, inscribed within the city’s zoning code, sometimes clashing with more prosaic urban issues like lack of affordable housing and a need for increased density. The exhibition goes on view August 13th at 6pm and runs through the summer.
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On View> Los Angeles or BUST: New exhibition features full-frontal forms

The bust, the sculptural counterpart of the portrait that dates back to classical antiquity, immortalizes not only the likeness of a person from the chest upwards, but the values of both the sculptor and the era in their concepts of beauty and nobility. An object no bigger than a head and a pair of shoulders, centuries later, is a relic embedded with cultural meaning—the preference towards an aquiline nose, for example, or a fixation with youth. With BUST, a group show on view at Jai & Jai in Los Angeles, curator William O’Brien, Jr. asked designers to apply the titular sculptural form to architecture. “Broadly speaking, the primary motivation for the exhibit is to provide a forum for the declaration of new cultures of form-making in architecture,” said O’Brien, a MIT professor and principal of WOJR. He commissioned busts by 11 firms: Andrew Kovacs, Bureau Spectacular, CODA, First Office, MILLIØNS, MOS Architects, Norman Kelley, PARA Project, Pita + Bloom, SO-IL, and WOJR (his own). The design brief asked that each practice take the notion of a basic architecture feature and reinterpret it as a figure of human scale that could be displayed on a plinth. Specifically, he was looking for individual interpretations of “characteristics associated with the facade,” according to the design brief: frontality, proportionality, symmetry, as well as anthropomorphism and zoomorphism. “The conception of a bust within an architectural context privileges certain architectural concerns—such as those related to form, figure, facade, hierarchy, orientation, exteriority, interiority—while diminishing many other architectural considerations that must ordinarily be addressed when designing buildings,” he explained. Each firm was given a relative autonomy to their approach, and in the absence of the real-world constraints typically posed by architectural-scale construction, the resulting works of sculptural abstraction lining the walls of the gallery in pantheonic rows are purely expressive. Wide variations in material and form reflect the varying mindsets. SO-IL’s Losing Face, an object of protruding surfaces shrink-wrapped in a semi-translucent plastic, brings to mind their recent Blueprint project, in which they used a similar wrapping method not to conserve the Steven Holl- and Vito Acconci-designed facade of the Storefront of Art and Architecture, but to “reinvigorate” it. Bureau Spectacular’s Contrapposto Institute cheekily takes the signature S-curve posture of Michaelangelo’s David and applies it three-story building, a tripartite stack with dangerously sloping floors. “This group represents the widest possible spectrum of contemporary architects thinking about form in new and as-of-yet-uncodified terms,” said O’Brien, with little exaggeration; other busts include a deflated Tyvek sac; a composition of mirrors and faux fur; and a humanoid bust studded with matches. “It’s my belief that the “center of gravity” of the discipline has become increasingly clouded. My feeling was that this array of contributors could help us understand the landscape of architecture-as-cultural-production ongoing today.”