Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler
Paulina Peavy: Etherian Channeler, Beyond Baroque Exhibition in the Mike Kelley Gallery 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, Ca., 90291
June 1-August 14,2021
Curated by Laura Whitcomb
BEYOND BAROQUE hours of operation Tuesday to Saturday 12pm to 6pm
By Appointment Only
Beyond Baroque’s Mike Kelley Gallery presents Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler her first show in California in over 75 years. Paulina Peavy’s (1901–1999) path as an artist depended on convening with beings and forces beyond the visible plane to create her work, similar to the artists Hilma af Klint, Forrest Bess, and Agnes Pelton. Peavy’s story is unprecedented among the mediumist artist cannon as she claimed to channel a discarnate entity named Lacamo who “travelled on an etherian ship.” This positioned her as a key emissary of the astroculture age.
Peavy’s roots in California, where she lived and painted from 1923 to 1943, were deeply embedded in the emerging abstract art scene of the 1920s, where enthusiastic explorations of the occult were embraced. A student of Hans Hofmann at Chouinard Art Institute in 1931, she moved with members of the occult-inclined Group of Eight as well as the Synchromists, the first abstract art movement in America and was part of the circle of California’s post surrealists led by Lorser Feitelson. Beginning in the late 1920s, Peavy played a vital role in the emerging West Coast art scene. She established a gallery and showed these artists’ works alongside her own. The gallery was also a school, and salon under her name, where she hosted classes of the foundational Los Angeles Art Students League .
In California Peavy showed at some of the most significant galleries of her time, including the Stendahl Gallery in Los Angeles. She was included in the opening of the San Francisco Museum of Art, and thirty of her paintings were exhibited during the Golden Gate International Exposition of 1939-40, where Diego Rivera exhibited mural work. Peavy had close alliances with muralists, such as Orozco, and like them shared a fascination with hermetic traditions.
In the early 1930s Peavy became a member of a Spiritual Science congregation (later the Cosmic Unity Church No. 9) led by Ida L. Ewing in Santa Ana. It was there that she first channeled Lacamo, her astrocultural entity. Lacamo revealed layers of wisdom based on a cosmology of 12,000-year cycles with 3,000-year seasons, in the process guiding her to create paintings she often co-signed with Lacamo. In order to channel Lacamo she made elaborate masks that combine surrealist touches with indigenous themes. Peavy masked herself with a composite representation of humanity to communicate with the unseen world. Peavy’s cosmology merged ancient hermetic philosophies with the astroculture age. This exhibition will explore the complex intersection of these phenomena and their foretelling of a utopian future accomplished through the dissolution of gender.
Peavy’s paintings use layering in ways unique to the art canon. Beginning in the 1930s, each of the multiple layers she added created new layers of meaning over a successive fifty-year timeframe. Guided by Lacamo, each layer symbolically represents a new revelation, thereby activating the viewer’s ability to convene with the unknown. The final layers, completed in the 1980s, present abstracted crystalline formations as a way to equip the viewer with the tools to receive and absorb Lacamo’s wisdom.
Peavy was encouraged to move to Manhattan after the positive response to her 1935 exhibit at Delphic Studios in New York City, a gallery that exhibited work by the Agnes Pelton and other members of the Transcendental Painting Group. She permanently settled there in 1943 contributing to the city’s atmosphere when the Surrealist émigré community was transforming American culture. Peavy lived and worked in New York until close to the end of her life. She died in Bethesda, Maryland in 1999, at the age of 98 years old, a witness to nearly the entire twentieth century.
This exhibition will be the first showing of her work in California since 1943 and will preview Label Curatorial’s scholarship and research from a forthcoming publication. On display are nine early channeled paintings from the 1930s. These paintings evolved layers over time, until their completion in the late 1980s. Also included are Peavy’s intricate works on paper; these invoke magical writing to present abstract cartographic portals to other worlds. Peavy’s masks, writing, poetry will be on display while her award-winning films detailing the complexities of her cosmology will be playing in the theatre.
A rare book collection once belonging to White Star library from the collection of Bob Fisher and Bruce Lee Emerton will also be presented. First edition books include Manly P. Hall, Annie Besant, Alice Bailey, Madame Blavatsky, George Van Tassel and other rare hermetic and astroculture publications. These publications will offer an ontological dialogue with Peavy’s own manuscripts. Another ephemera case assembled by Peavy’s research director on the forthcoming publication Narin Dickerson will also be on display in the book store. Further astro-culture publications are provided by Greg Bishop author of ‘A is for Adamski.’
Opening Night Co Hosted Dublab June 5, 2021
Greg Wooten (Uncle Power) who recently DJ’d Zebulon’s Sun Ra Arkestra/ Marshall Allen birthday performance will present his rare collection of astro-jazz , experimental and improvised music in dialogue with the curator’s exhibition selections. The music selection will also represent many of the musicians in the curatorial’s approaching release of ‘Dilexi A Gallery & Beyond.’
On July 31, 2021
David Tibet and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson’s presentation of ‘Harry Oldfield: Crystal’ will present a dialogue with the last stages of Lacamo’s messages for Peavy.
Braden Diotte (collaborator with Faust, Neurosis, EXO//ENDO) presents an instrumental selection from his opera, ‘Extraordinary Angels’, based on the history of George Van Tassel and the Integratron in Joshua Tree.
Micaela Tobin, a soprana sound artist and experimental contemporary opera singer will perform an interpretive piece from the canon of Peavy's work.
Sound artist Zane Reynolds (SFV Acid) explores the archive of Freidrich Jurgenson's Electronic Voice Phenomena converging these phantom sources and exploring them through self adapted electro acoustic recording devices that have been adapted by the artist to mimic the human heart.
A series of events featuring other sound artists exploring Friedrich Jürgenson’s EVP archive of phantom sound recordings will also be announced and performed as part of the exhibition’s auxiliary programming.
August 11, 2021 Co-Hosted Dublab
Joshua Tree Perseid Meteor Shower
This closing event will take place at a private venue (RSVP only) just outside the Joshua Tree National Park entrance. The evening is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower.
Live performances of TBA artists in astroculture dialogue with the films of Paulina Peavy. The collective Omar Zubair (Wooster group), Maneesh Raj Madahar (The Chalet/ Gagosian Piero Golia), Michael Glover, DivineBrick, and Mike Meanstreatz will present a performance that concludes the evening of this TBA location 10:00 pm to 3:00 am
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BEYOND BAROQUE’s seminal history is currently a central subject of the Huntington Museum and Hammer Museum’s Made in LA 2021. The artist Sabrina Tarasoff interprets Beyond Baroque’s punk-era poetry, art and performance zeitgeist in an immersive installation that is currently on view at the Huntington in San Marino, California. This has been followed by a talk with Tosh Berman, Jack Skelley and David Trinidad.
The Hammer Museum Channel currently features a narration of the same era in a talk by curator Lauren Mackler.
Special Thanks to Katharine Armstrong and the Estate of Paulina Peavy, Narin Dickerson, Andrew Choate, Andrew Edlin Gallery, Gerard O’Brien, the landing, Melinda Farrell, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, Bruce Lee Emmerton Books, Dennis Calabi of Calabi gallery and Charles Cunningham.
Top 10 Los Angeles Art Shows
Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler at Beyond Baroque
Among the best Los Angeles art exhibitions of 2021, Paulina Peavy: An Etherian Channeler, curated by Laura Whitcomb, was also the most revelatory. At a seance in 1932, Peavy channeled an extraterrestrial spirit she called Lacamo; from then on, she considered her art a collaboration with the spirit. Paintings, writings, ephemera, and films about Peavy laid out her complex cosmology. Equally compelling, however, are her futuristic geometric abstractions and uncanny spirit portraits. Together, they establish Peavy as both a fascinating figure and a formidable artist. —Natalie Haddad
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