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Something Wicked This Way Comes

We talk with the art writer and curator Stephanie Chefas about her latest show

by CH Contributor in Culture on 22 February 2013

by Vivianne Lapointe

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Something Wicked This Way Comes, a group exhibition curated by Stephanie Chefas, offers a glimpse of what's going on in the wicked minds of ten of today's most innovative and powerful contemporary artists: Annie Owens, Christian Rex van Minnen, Christine Wu, Chrystal Chan, David Ball, Fulvio Di Piazza, Jana Brike, Jessica Ward, Judith Supine and Michael Page. Just in time for the Los Angeles opening, Chefas gave us an alluring sneak peek and answered a few questions.

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How was this group exhibit born? What was the catalyst?

I always search for themes that will inspire artists, but not pigeon-hole them to a specific approach or idea. "Something Wicked" was born merely out of my love and admiration for artists who fearlessly delve into the dark corners of their mind and a desire to see what such a phrase meant to them.

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What is Something Wicked This Way Comes all about? Discuss the themes that stand out the most this show, and why the wicked fascinates your curatorial mind.

The wicked are much more interesting, don't you think? Not that I don't appreciate the hero's journey, but generally speaking good is so boring. The most fascinating part of those narratives are the dark and mysterious elements. I'm more interested in understanding how someone (or something) can become so full of torment rather than the quest to defeat it. Translate that to an art exhibit and you have a celebration of artists whose work is both visually rebellious and viscerally seductive. There's a common thread of pain, suffering, isolation and being different that we're naturally resistant to but are fully embraced in this exhibit and transformed by the artist into something completely stunning.

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How did you come up with this lineup of artists?

Some of the artists I've worked with previously in various exhibitions. Others were part of my 'wish list' (so to speak). Although the artists share a common element, their experience and approach to the work is so vastly different. Overall, I think these are artists with an incredible talent who have a unique voice within the art world.

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Where do you pull inspiration/ discover artists?

Oh gosh, all over. I always keep my eyes open and try to see as much as I can because you never know what can inspire you. A good example of a happy accident was when I discovered David Ball's work. About 3 years ago my finance and I were visiting San Francisco, and on our quest for the perfect happy hour, stumbled into a cigar bar that was displaying a collection of his work. I was mesmerized with the intense dark, surreal imagery. Soon after I invited him to be part of one of my first curatorial projects, then another, and now for 'Something Wicked...

Who are some rising stars or new talents you're especially devoted to bringing up?

I'm a big supporter of several of the rising talents in this show; Chrystal Chan, Jessica Ward, Christine Wu. Outside of the show: Soey Milk, JAW Cooper, Cristina Paulos, Casey Weldon, Nom Kinnear King, Lily Mae Martin, David Bray... arghh, too many to type.

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What are your art world pet peeves, if any?

Viewing art is a very subjective experience, but it irks me when people bring too many of their own personal biases about what art should be to the forefront. I come from a background where all art is freedom of expression and should be viewed with an open mind.

Tell us about your blog, Platinum Cheese.

Platinum Cheese is all about sharing insights into the New Contemporary art scene with artist interviews, show reviews, studio visit, etc. There's an intense focus on LA primarily due to the fact that I (along with many of the contributors) are living in LA and soaking up the art culture here. Which is awesome! There are plans to expand. All in due time.... all in due time.

The opening reception for "Something Wicked This Way Comes" takes place Saturday, 23 February 2013 from 7-10pm, at Cella Gallery. The reception is open to the public, and the exhibition will be on view through 16 March 2013. Images courtesy of Stephanie Chefas.

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