Natalie Lobel

The Art world has always been seen as the haul-ass, untouchable sprinter of athletes. If you want to participate - you better buckle-up and prepare to run a race with no track. Because if you plan on trying to stay connected to your southern values in this tournament - be prepared to crawl uphill.

Whether you're an artist or an appreciator - it's a world filled with the fragrance of a secret society. I wanted in. And so began my journey through the gallery scene of Los Angeles: a dizzying education in creative commerce for me, while masking eye-rolls.

Since the start of the twentieth century we've seen groups of artists band together in defense of the critics' noise. But oh no, to the collectors it's not noise, it's sweeping truths. And to the historians, they were movements. Not comrades in war.

Take the Fauves for example. It's not complicated - they had power in numbers. They needed to protect themselves. Striving to protect their expression through a unanimous resentment for validation. So when they saw one type of work get rejected - it became the goal to sustain that disruption. I suspect the like button would have been a futile tool for them. The critics at the Salon could go to hell as far as they were concerned; it didn't shift their mission. To them, gallery or no gallery, the work was valuable because they deemed it of value.

But we digress....Stepping into the Depart Foundation on Sunset Boulevard that musky Thursday evening made me long for that fiery underdog-esque anarchy. Marc Horowitz's dominant pieces offended the room with their protruding genitalia and vivacious colors. Nobody flinched. We're bloody sculptures ourselves! There were dicks on the faces for Christ's sake. I was expecting at least ONE strap-on accessory disguised as a clutch. An undertone of sexual tension for sure - but no uproar. No arguments or heated discussions. Just some who's-who clip-clopping around, a handful of statement jumpsuits and a few students drinking on the house.

It's archaic really. An exhibit. The tombstone of solutions for showcasing art. Not because the art is weak. It's the people who are weak. Nobody can see beyond themselves in this sort of setting. We're too busy feeling giddy that we have half an eyeball on the pulse of this-here "LA culture."

Generally at shows such as this - the folk who put it together are just happy it's done and dusted. They're too exhausted to engage, the artist is too distracted by a remix of greetings to have real discussions...and so, it becomes flat. Flashy. Oh so flashy, but flat in substance. No wonder street art has such an alluring quality. It's right there with you, on your level. And nobody's watching you watch it - you can have a knee- jerk reaction - and eat it too.


NATALIE LOBEL is a chef from South Africa who now lives in Los Angeles. She has a background in art and design. Her writing focuses on the struggles and observations of a young woman in a dynamic city.