LA artist Aaron Wrinkle in conversation with curator Lauri Firstenberg:
How does living and working in LA inform your work?
Living and working in LA is mainly informative to my practice in how I'm not from here. It's like that Weezer song Beverly Hills. When I moved here to go to CalArts in 2006 from Kansas City, all of my friends headed east. My idols were here. Growing up with skateboarding and MTV, my understanding of California was somewhat dated. LA has been fruitful in how pop cultural contexts are so accessible as are their waste in materials I resource. At the end of the day, I'm just a Midwestern boy creating in a Chinatown loft and very fortunate to have Chinese elders surrounding me everyday. I try to meditate.
You are featured in William Leavitt’s films. How did that come to pass?
I started acting for Bill in his film Behaviour on a casting call. Aside from being an extra once, I'd only ever set up the camera for performances I did in school or in the studio. Bill liked working with me so he gave my character a larger role in his current film. It might be a "don't quit your day job" type of thing, but I'm considering getting an agent...
Can you share how Dan Graham gallery was founded and why artists run spaces are critical for a city like Los Angeles?
I started DAN GRAHAM in 2009 as an artwork. I just named it his name which got people's attention as a question really. It had a lot to do with my past mentor Michael Asher in terms of ideas around context and branding, but I couldn't name it after him. It forced me to learn more about Dan and fostered our friendship. People, usually gallerists always asked why I named it Dan Graham and I really could only answer with the question - why did you name your gallery after yourself? Artist run spaces give artists some of their earliest and only exposure. I didn't know anyone at first and thought showing friends would create a community.
You are known for restoring a 1977 Volvo formerly owned by Douglas Huebler. How would you describe your alliance with regional art historical figures?
Well the restoring of Douglas Huebler's car became a headache that I still have, but that was a very pivotal work for me. My alliance to other artists is something I used to be self conscious about, but then I realized it's my interest in history and friendship. I honestly am more interested in older artists for lessons than I am in my own generation's work. I've found my work on the fringe of what's popular. I like to look at being an artist as learning. Moving to LA, like so many without any family here, created friendships, like with Ray (Pettibon) was critical. He is someone I can look up to and who continues to support me including a zine he offered to collaborate on. I've been fortunate to study with great artists and to have curated and written on my idols. Artists support artists.
How would you describe your approach to painting?
I approach painting as a task of formal arrangement and often make painting harder for myself to feel more rewarded when I finish a picture. There's also a facade aspect to my paintings in that, I set out to make works that hold up to paintings made by artists with larger resources, with materials that are deemed less than. Fortunately, I studied painting and enjoy knowing how compositions work, which is ultimately why I paint. That and dare I say it's therapeutic? I guess my painting practice is a mix of traditional abstraction with my conceptual learnings that I can't unlearn...