LA’s New Platform for Art & Design

Q&A | Mar 2015 | BY Tali Jaffe

Sean Yashar has an eye for talent. The L.A.-based connector not only represents established art and design talent through his consulting firm, The Culture Creative, but he’s now developed a new platform, AUX, to discover and foster emerging creatives living and working in Los Angeles. According to Yashar, AUX—which is a quarterly project leading to the creation of an editioned work that sets out to explore and resolve a concept—has “created a space where commercially risky projects can be executed without the need for a third party intervention.” Here, we catch up with the innovator just in time for the online launch of AUX.

sean yashar cultured magazine the culture creative

Share with us a little about the development of AUX. How did it evolve from your Culture Creative practice? AUX is a think-tank for projects in experimental, design, art and craft, born from whitespace I see between the artists and the gallery system. Our focus is to create solutions to problems that don’t yet exist.  I created AUX so I could act as my own guinea pig, embracing a new platform that isn’t tied to commercial viability —something that often hinders creative freedom.  Rather, my concern with AUX is with the collision of storytelling and material culture happening right now in L.A. and abroad. Experimenting with Creatives on niche projects, we’re testing boundaries through thought-provoking works that straddle current definitions of the fine and decorative arts.

Why did you choose Dougall Paulson for the inaugural sale? Sean Dougall and Andrew Paulson symbolize a new breed of multi-hyphenate Creatives that I’m attracted to collaborate with. Sean and Andrew work unapologetically between the fine and decorative, and their ability to forge their own path I feel is an important one to nurture and celebrate. They’re respectfully disrupting the system by defying labels, and that speaks to what I’m also about.

What was the process of exploration and development like? Each AUX project begins with proposing a question that seeks to push a boundary. The goal is not necessarily to find the answer, but to illustrate the question through a project, product, or experience.

For this project, “Stellar Fragments,” there are two concepts being explored: the process of public art commissions and what constitutes a “decorative art object.” Is a vase still a vase, if it’s also a proposal for a public works project? Can a vase be more than a vase today with the power of thoughtful design? “Vase” is a placeholder for anything made. This project serves to empower artists and designers to dream.

That said the vessel we’ve created is also attractive, and if someone buys this work based on aesthetics only and takes it home and places it on a stack of books, that’s okay too!

Who are some of the artists, designers you have in mind for upcoming AUX projects? My next AUX project is slated for summer release. It’s a series of handheld sculptures in collaboration with emerging L.A. artist Sean Brian McDonald. They’re paintings-meet-performance pieces McDonald refers to as “Devices,” that are a commentary on our relationship to our phones and our psychological dependency to them. As a former gallery attendant at LACMA, McDonald noticed how often people went to their phones out of pure habit, trying to capture an image instead of actually experiencing the artwork. This work serves as a replacement to the phone. McDonald compares the devices to pacifiers. A way of being in the moment and being aware of your surroundings.

Sean Dougall and Andrew Paulson

Sean Dougall and Andrew Paulson

What do you think makes LA such a vital creative base? I’m probably misquoting Glenn Adamson, but I remember hearing him riff about L.A. as a place where its inhabitants are a breed that thrive in a feeling of placelessness. I like that theory.  …Or is it the weather?

What are some of your favorite galleries there? In L.A.: 356 South Mission, Blackman Cruz, Blum & Poe, LA><ART, Gray Gallery, Reform, China Art Objects, Night Gallery, Honor Fraser, Cherry and Martin, Michael Maloney.

Who are three LA-based makers we should know about right now? Dougall Paulson, Stefan Bishop, Tanya Aguiniga.

Which upcoming shows and events are on your LA radar? LAXARTDESIGN’s keynote at Westweek (March 25th); L.A. Modernism (March 24th); Blackman Cruz & Wright Auction’s L.A. preview (April 9th); Paris Photo (May 1st); And if you haven’t already gone, the Thomas Heatherwick show at the Hammer is amazing and on view until May 24th… Talk about posing questions!

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