PRINT February 2011

Tiny Creatures

Paul Gellman (left) during Tall Paul’s Arts and Crafts Night for “Big Deal Tiny Creatures,” DIY Gallery, Echo Park, Los Angeles, January 4, 2011.


I KNOW MANY MUSIC PEOPLE here in Echo Park and Silver Lake, where we have the weather and space for staying out late and getting loud, for whom the act of collaboration comes naturally. A lot of them make art, too. I rent my studio from my friend Jan Steward, who was a friend of Sister Corita Kent’s. Jan has sayings posted all over the walls, many of which ended up in Corita’s serigraphs, calligraphed in a-m-e-n script (all letters capped except those four letters) and whispering sentiments from some mystical LA of a different time. There is also Janet Kim, who since 2005 has been bringing us together as Tiny Creatures. Begun as a record label, then operating as a gallery, Tiny Creatures is our experiment: Cast a fluid, ever-changing group of individuals, add some new ideas and cheap materials, and together, make something amazing. a-m-e-n! I’m thinking, for instance, of a screening last Tuesday at DIY Gallery. Asked by artist and writer Hedi El Kholti to introduce Joséphine Guattari and François Pain’s Min Tanaka à la Borde (1986), Sylvère Lotringer reminisced about his own visit to that psychiatric clinic in the ’70s. A spontaneous discussion followed, and then I gave a demonstration of how to make yarn mandalas. With all of the talking, crafting, and singing, this wasn’t the usual gallerygoing experience. Then again, despite common MFA/art-world logic, artists are rarely lone geniuses. To create something unique and vibrant, paradoxically, we must include the people we know, trust, and love . . . along with maybe everyone else in this universe.

Behind the scenes at “Big Deal Tiny Creatures,” Los Angeles (2010).

Paul Gellman is a Los Angeles–based artist, Tiny Creatures contributor, and an editor of the journal Animal Shelter.