Edward Cella Art & Architecture presents Vernacular Environments, Part 1, a group exhibition of works selected from the 1960s through present day that explore the diversity of tensions between built environments, bodies, and narratives. Vernacular Environments, Part 1 is the first of an annual exhibition that asks, what pluralities do you live in? Through varied typologies, the works included in this exhibition present a range of responses to environments and dispute the purity of space while signaling cultural identification through representations of figures, structures, and concepts.

Among the artists featured in this exhibition are Stephen Berens, Jennifer Bolande, Raúl Cordero, William Leavitt, John Mason, Alex Schweder, Robert Smithson, Clarissa Tossin, and MICA-TV (Michael Owen/Carole Ann Klonarides) in collaboration with Dike Blair, Dan Graham, and Christian Marclay. While artists like Berens, Bolande, Leavitt, Mason, Smithson, Tossin, and MICA-TV are well-known and acclaimed on the West Coast and abroad, Vernacular Environments, Part 1 offers a dynamic opportunity to introduce New York based Schweder and Mexico City based Cordero to a West Coast audience and position them within a broader artistic and conceptual dialogue.

Setting the tone for the series of Vernacular Environments exhibitions is Robert Smithson’s film Spiral Jetty (1970). The film Spiral Jetty is a “portrait” of his monumental earthwork of the same name, created in April of 1970 and permanently situated at Rozel Point in the Great Salt Lake, Utah. Comprised of basalt rocks, mud, and salt crystals, Smithson’s 1500 x 15-foot artwork juts out from the lake’s shore and coils dramatically into luminous red water. The film documents the making of this earthwork, which has attained near mythical status as it has disappeared and then re-emerged from the lake over the past decades.

Just as Smithson’s film, photoworks, and drawings are all conceptually integral to the totality of Spiral Jetty, John Mason’s 1978 drawings operate like architectural blueprints for his firebrick sculptures. In stark contrast to the expressive clay works which gained acclaim in the late 1960s, these drawings intersect mathematical relationships and geometric descriptions for minimalist sculptures that were meant to be both examined and experienced. Integrating humor with specific visual and aural deconstructions, MICA-TV’s (Michael Owen/Carole Ann Klonarides) collaboration with artists Dike Blair, Dan Graham, and artist/composer Christian Marclay, crafts an ironic ode to the urban and suburban architecture of the contemporary American cultural landscape.

Operating between the line of reality, fantasy and illusion is William Leavitt’s painting Skyline S.F. (2009), an ostensibly simple narrative painting depicting the city’s skyline in afternoon light. At the intersection of memory and image are Raúl Cordero’s whimsically self-referential conceptual paintings which oscillate between forms of communication: words and images, cinema and video, documentary and narrative, imaginary and realistic. Depicting the landscape from one precise viewpoint during a residency at the American Academy in Rome, Stephen Berens layered photographs connect the romanticism of landscape photography with critical artistic process. A new sequence of photographs and a sculpture will be exhibited by Jennifer Bolande. Whereas Berens’ process reveals the illusion of photography manifested in a physical photographic object, Bolande collapses objects into images and creates photographs that resist the medium’s flatness. Intervening in physical space in what artist Alex Schweder defines as “Performance Architecture,” a process through which he works with everyday domestic actions to transform the ways spaces are used. Taking location into account and conceived as an altered site-specific installation is Monument to Sacolândia (2010) by Clarissa Tossin, a representational sculpture of the Palácio da Alvorada—the first Oscar Niemeyer building and official residence of Brasília’s president.