Friday, July 19, 2013

Michael Ovitz and a Bronzed Pebble: Downtown Exhibit Looks at Money in the Art World

Michael Ovitz - Sol DeWitt wall drawing at MOMA
Sol DeWitt Wall Drawing at MOMA
L.A. Weekly recently featured the story of artist Adam Mason who, in 2009, was among a team of young, aspiring artists hired to install a Sol LeWitt wall drawing at Michael Ovitz's residence. (Since 1969, LeWitt wall drawings have been installed by teams of artists, arriving with instructions, such that the 'visual work of art is the proof of the system').

While climbing up Ovitz's driveway, Mason discovered a pebble in his shoe, which he left there 'despite the pain'.  When he arrived home, he attributed such significance to this pebble that he had it bronzed at a foundry, changing it from 'something insignificant to something that was at least expensive'.

"He was still working on the LeWitt and decided to put the bronze pebble in his shoe one morning, wear it to Ovitz's, and then slip out during lunch to a lower level of the house and leave the stone there, so that it would become a secret, relatively unimpressive part of Ovitz's impressive collection."  
From this inspiration, Mason eventually created 'The Privilege Show', a group exhibition about the economics of the art world, now on view at Control Room, an artist space in Downtown Los Angeles, As a press release for the show, Mason penned 'An Open Letter to Michael Ovitz', describing his entire experience with the bronzed pebble as well as his perspective on the relationship between art, money, and power.

"Ovitz, who received a copy of the letter, sent a bottle of Champagne and a note to Control Room.  His note - pinned to the refrigerator where the beer was stored on opening night, June 8 - says he found the pebble and will put it in a large vitrine," completing an amusing arc for Mason's pebble.

The show explores complex themes prevalent in the art and creative culture - 'about the strangeness of being creatively free but financially insecure in a world where just participating feels like something of a privilege'.  In many ways, resolving or at least alleviating this dichotomy is arguably the role of the collector, whether intended or not.  Michael Ovitz's collection is particularly noteworthy for its emphasis on procuring art by hundreds of young and emerging artists, among them Math Bass, an artists featured in 'The Privilege Show'.

Read the entire L.A. Weekly article, Downtown Exhibit Looks at Money in the Art World, from Kickstarter to Michael Ovitz.

The Control Room is located on 2006 E. 7th St., Los Angeles, CA 90021

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