Friday, November 16, 2007

Fette's Fête (a brief detour)

14 November 2007

I have to return to fette for just a minute – to mark the occasion of her gallery’s first anniversary, which was celebrated last night at Robert Berman’s gallery at Bergamot Station. If anyone wondered why she might throw such a party at the Berman space or a comparable site, the evening demonstrated exactly why it could be nowhere else. Had she thrown it at her own gallery, the crowd would have spilled out of the house and filled her entire Culver City block. Even as I left, sometime after 10 p.m., hordes continued to descend upon the gallery. The party magnified Fette’s talent for spotting and supporting talent, and for networking generally. Artists, curators, collectors, other dealers, journalists, media, friends and fans; artists and pals from France; from elsewhere in Europe; and artists and pals based here in L.A. and elsewhere on the American continent. It was as if there was no part of L.A. she had failed to reach; and with any luck, in a few years we may be saying that about the world.

This being fette’s night, I assumed we would be toasting her with Champagne – or at least some good French wine or, well – almost anything would do (maybe they could have broken out some Beaujolais Nouveau). Vodka might have sufficed – unsweetened and unaccompanied by concoctions manufactured by Starbucks, which concession was apparently allowed to sub for the bar. (Whose decision was that? I refuse to believe it was fette’s.) Between the hors d’oeuvres – which were not, but instead some confectionary nosh on the order of tiny dessert cakes or biscuits – and the libations (I use the word loosely), I thought I was headed for a diabetic coma. Fortunately there was also beer, which, in addition to saving fette’s fête, probably saved lives that evening.

Of course there had to be a show to accompany the libations, and Fette decided to apply her proven networking approach to curating it – offering her artists and collaborators the opportunity to select works from among their own friends and colleagues or to develop their own ideas for independent collaborations. Not a bad idea in theory – and certainly very democratic – potentially offering a glimpse (not least to fette herself) into the direction of future shows or her own artists’ development. Art, alas, is not a democracy; and the results here were far from even in quality or originality. A few artists (e.g., Erika Eyres) more or less punted on this, by simply exhibiting hitherto unexhibited work (unless, perhaps, her drawing was actually selected by another artist). It would have been interesting to know which artist or curator selected each piece exhibited; but I’m assuming Fette, Berman, et al. were too pressed for time to include this information.

Time was the keynote here. This was a show that was intended as both backdrop and forecast; but the forecast had already been made – reflected in the gallery’s shows and in fette’s ever-roving and ravenous eye – what ends up on le flog; and, so far, fette’s prospects are pretty bright.

It occurred to me that Nicolas Sarkozy, who professes to admire and emulate American values, could learn a thing or two from fette’s one-woman cultural embassy: specifically, that there is absolutely nothing immutable about such 'values'; that the most ‘American’ value of all may be to ignore or act in spite of one’s received notion of them, always reaching beyond the visible horizon line toward something not merely new, but unknown and untested. Sometimes you end up toppling right over the edge and into some dark sludge, but sometimes you find a new source of illumination.

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