Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: Alma Allen

Alma Allen

Blum and Poe, Los Angeles

AlmaAllen

An artist like Alma Allen causes certain categorical predicaments for those who try to write about the extraordinary objects he has been quietly making for over two decades. He is a self-taught artist who is far from Outsider, a craftsman who makes furniture as well as functionless objects, an artist who in 2013 was plying his trade at the Echo Park Craft Fair and in 2014 was lauded as a highlight of the Whitney Biennial, and a private figure whose troubled backstory adds gravitas to his outwardly quixotic creations. Read the rest of this entry »

The Quiet Life

Artists and the Freedom of the Desert

 

A couple of miles into the unprepossessing town of Yucca Valley, in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree, California, is a turn-off for the Sky Village Swap Meet. There’s a sign, but it’s almost impossible to spot from the main road. Open on Saturdays and Sundays, the swap meet has been run for 35 years by Bob Carr, who stepped back from day-to-day operations earlier this year so he can concentrate on making art. Carr is 76. His masterwork is The Crystal Cave (2004–ongoing), a freestanding grotto made mainly from expanding foam and crystals. Customers at the swap meet can peer through circular windows in the structure’s lumpy brown walls and spy a miniature landscape painted green and brown, through which running water trickles over waterfalls and rock crystals sprout like alien flora. Read the rest of this entry »