Suburban LA life for The Other Art Fair

Taking risks sometimes pays dividends. The risk is worth the reward. Other times, they fail terribly. Like at my high school dance.

Important lessons from risk-taking

The school dance is beach themed. I thought it would be a good idea to make breasts out of coconuts and pink socks, wrap myself in a hibiscus tablecloth and apply red lipstick. I remember looking at myself in the mirror in the bathroom and almost chickening out. Then I told myself, if I don’t do this I will regret it.

I walk through the crowd of dancers. Right up the the DJ and ask him to stop the track he was playing mid-song, Karma Chameleon. Then, in my awful singing voice I start an appalling rendition of Pearly Shells with awkward moves. Once I start, I can’t stop till I’ve finished. The whole dance floor just stands and stares at me.

When I finish I walk back through the silent crowd to get changed. My history teacher, Mr Elliot, finds me in the bathroom as I’m wiping off the lipsticks and says “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine”, I say and go back out to join my friends.

When I think about it now, it fills me with absolute dread. What did I learn? If you’re going to back yourself, if you’re going to do something, you’ve got to be prepared. You’ve got to know your stuff. And sometimes, you just have to give things a shot.

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Next leap: The Other Art Fair Los Angeles

This year I applied for The Other Art Fair Los Angeles. When I showed at The Other Art Fair Sydney, two years in a row, it significantly changed my trajectory as an artist, I sold out both years to marvellous collectors, met lots of other artists and got direct feedback about my work. Importantly, I met someone from Michael Reid which led to two shows at Michael Reid Murrurundi.

My last two solo shows explored the mythology around suburban backyards. There are a lot of similarities between Sydney and Los Angeles; heat, suburban sprawl, cars. It made sense to me to continue the suburban theme for LA.

Especially when there’s so many incredible archetypal houses in LA that are defined by their location. From South-Central to Echo Park to Los Feliz and Hollywood to The Valley, Wilshire and Westside. There’s lots of architecture that defines these places.

Los Angeles House 11

In my mind, whether true or not, the people of LA are much more upfront. They are bold and proud. So rather than present the backyards of Los Angeles, all the protagonists are on the street, outside their homes, upfront.

I move into my new studio on February 1. So now I’m doing all the background work. This means I’m working out compositions with rough loose thumbnail drawings. These are tiny, just a few inches wide, but they give me a quick sense of what’s working, what’s not and how they look when hung together.

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It also lets me see if I am repeating images, working out what suburban houses go best with the protagonists. It lets me see if the story is coming through.

What happens now? Once I move into my studio, you’ll see how these are progressing. Make sure you follow the blog and my instagram @ray_monde_

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