Richard Cohen ‘Project Suitcase’

The abstract expressionist painter Richard Cohen (born 1918) began his creative nexus as a war correspondent photographer for his unit 10th Batallion in the Marshall Islands in World War ll. Label Curatorial, after exhaustive research, located Corporal Cohen’s war time photos in the National Archives in Washington.

The U.S. Army allowed Cohen to keep his Leica camera in civilian life where he documented prodigiously the era between war and a burgeoning golden age. The photographs were believed  to be in a lost suitcase which was recently discovered in October, 2013.  Label Curatorial has categorized and restored 7000 images which capture Cohen’s war and post war life as a train jumper across America,  a merchant marine travelling through Asia and Europe, a Greenwich Village studio photographer of female nudes, and a documenter of the Beat scene in both New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. It would be San Francisco, his birthplace, which he would photograph the most extensively with his charastmatic penchance of urban spectacle, film noir, and its signature of long cast shadows.

These never before  before seen photos will be part of Richard Cohen’s first  retrospective presented this Spring allong with his canvasses at a soon to be announced location where the artist will be in residence.

AmandaCharchian-44-471California Rising

‘California Rising’ will be a collective performance of seven California artists and dance choreographers who have exhibited at LACMA, The Pacific Design Center, The Hammer Museum, and the Pasadena Armory. This June 21st, 2014 ‘California Rising’ seeks to create a dialogue with the Summer Solstice’s animistic rituals and archetypal role. The Summer Solstice, once known as a pagan rite, will be transcribed into a contemporary paradigm exploring the most dramatic movements of the equinox. ‘California Rising’ will allow the attending audience to view site specific performances at the spectacular sites and facilities of its soon to be announced host site.

The individual performances are in negotiation to also be performed at the Getty, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Museum of Contempoary Art, the Norton Simon Museum and the Hammer Museum earlier in the day.
These artists will perform works provoking a phenomenological experience within the Summer Solstice theme creating site specific works that showcases the ancient means to which time was measured and quantified in the lexicon of history .

A broad range of installations will focus on  celestial themes, geological formations, and ancient solstice traditions, rituals that helped regiment primeval notions of time into the calendar year and its processions of the equinox. The installations will interface with a pyramidal sculpture on the gallery’s grounds, demonstrating the important role that shadows at one time played in denoting time. Another installation reenacts the ancient sun dial.

Exhibiting artists and performances will be announced April 15th, 2014.

Photo; Amanda Charchian

Label Curatorial Announces Exhibition Dedicated to the Life and Work of Sergei Parajanov

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                                            June 28th- August 6th 2014

                                           Brand Library and Art Center 

                                                Glendale, California

One of the most important prophets of cinema, Sergei Parajanov, is perhaps the least celebrated visionary in the art of film. As an Armenian artist and film director Parajanov survived Soviet imprisonment and unprecedented personal tragedy  which he overcame through his refusal to cease creating his art. Parajanov’s works bring to life the rich vernacular of the ethnic cultures suppressed throughout the Soviet system animating  the mythologies of the trans-Caucasian world into his poetic lexicon of cinema.

Parajanov has been recognized by his peers Fellini, Godard, Antonioni, and Tarkovsky as one of cinema’s greatest masters.  Parajanov’s influence in recent years has been widespread in the art world. His imagery and mis-en-scene have had a profound impact on contemporary artists and helped usher in a renaissance of the Surrealist tradition. His films have inspired well-known contemporary directors Tar Sem and Mark Romenek, who echoed his stylization in his videos for Madonna.

The exhibition which is being organized in collaboration with the Parajanov- Vartanov Institute in Los Angeles and the Parajanov Museum in Armenia will transport some of his most prized art works from the museum’s collection as well as play a succession of the artist’s work in film. The exhibition which celebrates the 90th year of Parajanov’s birth will premiere at the grand re-opening of the Brand Library and Art Center nestled in the foothills of the Verdugo mountains of Los Angeles County.

The Brand Library and Art Center, recently magnificently restored to its original grandeur, has served for many years as a cherished cultural treasure in Glendale, California, minutes from downtown Los Angeles.  It houses one of Los Angeles’ largest public art and music collections and offers a variety of programs including music concerts, dance performances, art exhibitions, lectures, and other special events.  The city has invested 9 million tax dollars upgrading the facility to a world-class institution.

Parajanov’s work consistently rests at the crossroads of dream and illusion, which is specifically echoed in the Saracenic style of the Brand’s El Miradero mansion, designed to resemble the 1893 Chicago Columbian World Exposition’s East India Pavillion. The El Miradero was built in 1904 and designed by the founder Leslie C. Brand’s brother-in-law architect Nathaniel Dryden.

In 1969 the city of Glendale gave the El Miradero an extension with a modernist wing of honeycomb architecture that now houses the Brand Art Center galleries. The Brand Art Center serves as an ideal location for the Parajanov exhibition, as its architecture recalls the artist’s stylization and mythical use of orientalism and romanticism. The Brand Library and Art Center’s expansive park grounds, including a Japanese Tea Garden, provide a confluence of varying cultures concurrent with Parajanov’s overall objective.

The expansive park grounds include its pavilion inspired mansion; hiking grounds with a waterfall, numerous sports facilities and a historic Victorian house transplanted to the grounds. This diversity makes it an ideal oasis for outdoor performances which will take place in conjunction with the Parajanov exhibition. The Brand Library and Art Center’s new director Annette Vartanian will take the Art Center in a new direction that promises to offer a compelling calendar of  contemporary art within the Los Angeles basin.

This new direction will be boldly displayed  in its first solo artist exhibition ‘Parajanov’ which will be curated by Laura Whitcomb in a revolutionary means of exploring the art of the film scene. This will be supported  by the artist’s drawings, mixed media,  and collage which the artist referred to as “compressed films” and at times form the storyboards for his films.

The Georgian born Armenian artist , Parajanov, opened a window into the trans Caucasian world that spanned the territories from the Ukraine to Azerbaijan. His scenes were replete with mystifying traditions, mythologies and rituals that were endemic to each of these varying landscapess.  Parajanov shot some of his most indelible scenes on grounds of tragic ethnic conflict and sacred religious ceremony.  The film maker and artist   believed  the earth’s soil bore an energy of its past ; art having the power to harness its rapture and or heal its torment.  It is for this reason the exhibition will bring  elements from the earthen grounds of these landscapes conveying the power to ritualize a new future through the transgression of art.

The exhibition will also be in conjunction with a film festival that will highlight the films of Parajanov along with his colleagues, influences and mentors Andrei Tarkovsky, Alexander Dovzhenko, Pier Paolo Pasollini and Michelangelo Antonioni.  Emerging films and documentaries from trans -Caucasian film makers will also be a supplemental addition to the festival.  Calendar dates will be posted May 15, 2014.

Label Curatorial Organizes First Retrospect of S.F. Abstract Expressionist Artist Richard Cohen

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Richard Cohen’s body of work prevails from his pedigree studying at the San Francisco School of Fine Art. The institution is credited as the birthplace of West Coast Abstraction, one of the most important movements in the Post World War ll era, where luminaries ranging from Clyfford Still to Mark Rothko served as professors. The school, under the tutelage of Douglas Macagy, asserted that the strokes made on the canvas were the active expressions of the most innate sense of feeling and the very form of the psychological state of being.


Richard Cohen is unique amongst this summit of West Coast Abstract Expressionism in that his psychological expression was the outcome of one of the most compelling life stories amongst those of his artist colleagues. This exhibition serves to bridge how painting served as a catharsis from a world of hellish consequences amongst a miasma of carnage (serving in the South Pacific in World War ll) to being one of the original founders of the renowned 1960′s commune Taylor Camp and its idealistic foray into an utopian world and the arrival of Satori’s bliss.


The exhibition will begin with the recently discovered photographs taken by Cohen as a marine combat photographer for 10th Battalion in the battles of the Solomon and Marshall Islands from 1942-44 during World War ll. These photographs will be printed for the first time in a limited edition and signed by the artist.


The camera, which felt like a protective shield throughout the war, enabled Cohen to make the transition into civilian work life where he opened a studio in New York’s Greenwich Village specializing in nude portraits. Later he returned to San Francisco to become an active member of the Beat Generation scene.


It was there that Cohen enrolled at the California School of Fine Arts ( now the S.F. Art Institute,) to study painting and sculpture.


The faculty had included the famed photographer, Ansel Adams, the post Dada painter David Park as well as Still, and  Rothko who was on campus from 1947-48.  It was at the California School of Fine Arts under the influence of Still, Rothko transformed from his impetus of Surrealism. The school’s director tried to hire Marcel Duchamp but administration turned him down. There Cohen explored the post Dada curriculum that had been established by Douglas Macagy while studying under Hassel Smith and  Elmer Bischoff.


Abstraction began to serve as a ritualistic catalyst for the deeply rooted scars that rose  to the surface with experiments in psychoanalysis which Cohen began undertaking. Under this process his paintings unleashed a fury of tension into startling colors and  textures into compositions which revealed a great psychic transition.


One of the greatest influences to the Bay Area culture, migrating from the East was Allan Watts who wrote The Way of Zen in 1957. Cohen became a Zen Buddhist master and became very involved with a new generation that actively protested a very different war.


Cohen left San Francisco in 1968 to become one of the original founders of Taylor Camp, a renowned hippie commune in Hawaii that was made into a documentary in 2010. Members recall Cohen as one of the most enigmatic forces of their lives a “charlatan of truths,” who would break his subjects until they would unleash a fury of mental cleansing and an awakened state of Satori. One of these Taylor Camp members, John Wythe White would cast him as Fred The Zen, the central character of High Beautiful Wave that recalled the early days of Taylor Camp.


This exhibition presents Cohen’s paintings as a seminal document via a storyboard of psychic imprints representing a critical transformation amongst one of the most compelling of artist life life stories. Photos from the Marshall and Solomon Islands will be presented while films of Taylor Camp will be screened This exhibition will  portray the psychological nexus of the Abstract Expressionist Movement based on the vivid power of representing the workings of the psychic terrain, a catharsis that allowed a departure from a world of carnage into that of the threshold of bliss.

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Marshall Islands 1944


Dick Cohen Mixed Media Oil on Canvas

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Taylor Camp 1969

Tim Robbins’ Actors’ Gang Selects Jean Clemmer Metamorphosis for Midsummer Night’s Dream

Label Curatorial is proud to announce the selection of Jean Clemmer’s La Femme à l’ombrelle for The Actors’ Gang production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The director Tim Robbins and the Actors Gang troupe, who attended the Jean Clemmer opening,  found the metamorphosis to be an ideal image for the tone of this Surrealist production.

The Actors’ Gang has previously worked with the artist Ralph Steadman, the longtime collaborator of Hunter S. Thompson. Fine artists collaborating with the stage will soon be examined in the upcoming book and exhibition Movements on the Stage written and curated by Laura Whitcomb.

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