Over four days, during the 2016 Los Angeles Art Book Fair, La Rosa Social Club will open its doors and then close them forever. If you were there, then you were there.

    La Rosa Social Club is a project by The Conversation, a collaboration between artist/curator Aaron Rose and creative entrepreneur/gallerist Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer. With this installation, Aaron Rose offers us a chance to experience his version of an art bar. The concept will combine the traditional idea of a consumer space and inject it with an immersive, artistic experience.
    Artists that are designing ephemera for the bar are: Barry McGee, Raymond Pettibon, Olivier Zahm, Ed Templeton, Stefan Strumbel, Terry Richardson, Chris Johanson, Wes Lang, Barbara Stauffacher-Solomon, Gusmano Cesaretti, Chris Lux, Brian Roettinger,  Alia Penner, Geoff McFetridge, Alexis Ross, Jesse Spears, Wyatt Troll, Lola Rose Thompson, Benjamin Barretto, Cheryl Dunn, Nate Walton, Aaron Rose.

    “It’s nice every so often to take the art-viewing experience out of the context of the gallery, and out of the context of commerce, and out of the context of the market, and the sales and all the things that kind of buzz around the art scene and bring it back to a more democratic place,” says Rose speaking of his inspiration behind the concept. Artist Claes Oldenburg contributed his variation of an art bar with 1961’s The Store. Oldenburg had one rule as an artist: the art must have no function. A voracious consumer of images, Oldenburg twisted his sense of consumerism around with The Store, which existed at 107 East 2nd Street with a lifespan of just one month. The idea was to mix cheap merchandise and serious art works with asking prices ranging from $20-$500. The 80 ft. space was filled with objects created specifically for the project and representative of the most mundane aspects of everyday life: clothing, house wares, food, etc. These commonplace items were painted, sculpted or merely placed within the confines of the store as part of Oldenburg’s effort to recreate—as art—the spirit of the New York City storefront window. The fact that each object was for sale and could be purchased made the project even more accessible, taking it further from the realm of “museum art” and placing the experience directly into the consumer’s own hands. Speaking of his project, Oldenburg stated, “I’d like to get away from the notion of a work of art as something outside of experience, something that is located in museums, something that is terribly precious.”

    That idea resonates strongly with Rose: “I mean, I agree completely. That was the entire motivation for doing the bar as well.” Like Oldenburg’s The Store, Rose’s La Rosa Social Club will blur the line between reality and enhanced reality, offering actual items for sale in addition to the conceptual consumer experience itself.“I’m having a few artists design bottles of wine that will be done in very small editions,” says Rose. “So you can buy one of these bottles, which are affordable, but also limited edition art… It’s funny ‘cause I’m looking at it very different than, you know, most people when they begin to design a bar. They think architecturally but I’m really thinking of the space as a 3-dimensional painting, where all these elements come together to create an experience.”

    But, as in Oldenburg’s case, functionality is not usually the purpose. 1965’s The Beanery by Edward Kienholz was another non-functioning, immersive version of the art bar experience.  Representing the interior of Los Angeles bar, Barney’s Beanery, Kienholz’s creation was modeled at just two third’s the size of the original space and featured the sounds and smells of the bar with models of actual customers. Only the model of Barney, the original owner, appears in the piece with an actual face. Rather than faces, each customer bears a clock stopped at “10:10”. Seeking to stop time with his creation, Kienholz stated, “The entire work symbolizes the switch from real time to the surrealist time inside the bar where people waste time, kill time, forget time and ignore time.” In that sense, The Beanery offers a time capsule in which time has permanently stopped and the chosen time and place have been made eternal. While The Beanery sought permanence, the ephemeral nature of an art bar is generally an integral part of the concept.  With Rose’s La Rosa, the lifespan will mirror the duration of the LA Art Book Fair. “I believe the impermanence adds a certain sort of specialness to the experience if you were there and it only lasted for a very short period of time,” says Rose. “It brings a sense of urgency but then also a sense of being part of something historical, even if that’s manufactured history… I think we tend not to appreciate things until they go away sometimes.”

    While art bars offer something interactive on an artistic level, they can also offer a social experience of the art itself. In our own lives, when we obtain a piece of art and it sits in our home or surrounds us on a personal level, we consume that product on a much more intimate scale. The art bar allows you to digest the art as a temporary but more personal experience than one would have in a gallery a museum. Socializing and enjoying the work within a community only gives the art another color, another flavor and potentially creates a more personal imprint than would the more sterile viewing the sterile white cube might offer. Speaking of La Rosa, Rose states, “Los Angeles is a very fragmented city. People are just all over and it’s sometimes hard to see people. You really have to make a plan to socialize. In New York, you walk down the street and you’ll run into two or three people. It doesn’t happen here like that. So, from a purely community side, I really look forward to creating a space that can become that interactive place where people can socialize in a happy way. It’s just kind of creating a shell, pouring a drink and letting things kind of go.” Art has the ability to act as an aggregator to inject social life into an otherwise fragmented city.  The LAABF surely offers a communal experience to LA. This year, with La Rosa Social Club, that experience will be all the more immersive.


    Courtesy of ALLDAYEVERYDAY
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