CHRISTMAS GIF(T)S: GO REALLY NUTS FOR NONSENSE

December 6th, 2008 | Interviews


paul rodriguez and hazel hill

Hazel Hill likes freedom, bottomless babes and tortoises who triumph over adversity. Her next show Christmas Gif(t)s will feature affordable art and a screening of her favorite animated graphic interchange format files at the new Show Cave Night Gallery, the third incarnation of a quirky art/music/film/dance party space that has survived geographical relocation, crazy landlords with big trucks and a drive-by shooting. This interview by Drew Denny.

When did the .gif become an artistic medium?
Hazel Hill (curator): When kids started to go really nuts for nonsense. With .gifs you’re working with such a limited medium that it’s really hard to make a .gif serious. I think a lot of people out there—not just artists—are finding blinking images more eye-catching than static ones.
What’s the story behind Wheely?
Wheely was a short video I made that came about because I’m an active animal-bloopers hunter. I actually found the ‘Wheely’ footage on the BBC website—there is a wealth of unnecessary exposés! This particular footage was about a turtle in a zoo in Israel that got a new lease on life by getting a pair of welded home-made wheels.
Could you explain ‘Christmas Gif(t)s’?
Christmas Gif(t)s is a two part show that Eric Nordhauser, Keenan Marshall Keller and I put together. One part is items for this gift-giving-season like zines, prints, shirts, and so on, from artists that we show here. The second part is an animated .gif show from various media kids out there. The opening is December 6th at Show Cave from 8 PM to midnight and it’s free! We also have a video follow-up compilation called ‘Future Heat’ that I’m curating with Jim Fetterley from Animal Charm. We did the prequel called ‘Summer Sizzlers’ which screened September 13th with artists like Eric Fensler, Eric Wareheim and Santiago Vernetti to name a few. We got over 25 video submissions from various video artists, and we’re continuing with the follow-up, ’Future Heat,’ which screens December 13th at 8 PM.
I went to the Standard to meet a professor and a philosopher the other night and saw a really dumb video. It made me wonder—what is the future of video art?
That’s tricky! Video art has been the bastard child of fine art, but I think it’s coming around! Eric, Jim Fetterley—Animal Charm—Santiago Vernetti and I are trying to bring more media art to the gallery. The most successful venture has been our video compilation ‘Summer Sizzlers’ and hopefully the upcoming ‘Future Heat,’ where video artists are invited to submit videos. We also recently had Hooliganship—who work with kids like Paper Rad and E*rock—perform and screen their animation compilation called ‘Cartune Xprez,’ a DVD collection of cartoons including Hooliganship’s ‘Gylden Load’, Peter’s ‘dudulup01’ and Christopher’s ‘mz mnnsn’ among other work by Bruce Bickford, Shana Moulton, Blu, E*Rock and more.
When did you start making videos?
At Art Center in Pasadena. I actually started with Ashley Huizenga from Hard Place. We did a lot of videos together. She was and is my muse—my love . . .
What will you be contributing to the Christmas Gif(t)s show?
I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve. My obsession is freedom—all forms of it.
What will you be wearing?
Some sort of freedom ensemble. Ashley will be there. She’ll have a video, too.
Were you influenced by Animaniacs?
I was actually talking about that recently with a friend! I’m a big fan of the pigeon pack—based on the Goodfellas. They were called the Good Feathers. Pretty epic content!
How did you meet Eric and start working at Show Cave?
Eric started Show Cave in San Francisco a few years ago. He had a lot of kids from the Art Institute show work there. When Eric moved to Los Angeles in 2006, he moved Show Cave to Temple Street and got Colin Manning involved. It wasn’t until January of last year that I joined the team. We just recently moved to a new location on Echo Park Boulevard in September. Actually, we moved in September 1st—had a little grand-opening with a few friends.
I hate to bring up bad memories, but could you tell me the story of the opening night at the new location?
Unfortunately, there was a drive-by right in front of our gallery and someone was shot and killed. The block was taped off for the rest of the night. We ended up having a small BBQ with the kids that made it to the gallery before the shooting. There were kids that came after the shooting who weren’t being let in.
I was hanging out with the cop at the tape line. He finally let me in when I promised to bring him a hot dog.
Right! We ended up fixing the cops some dogs and burgers to get our friends past the tape. We actually had to wait inside the gallery until the police verified that the victim died in the county hospital, which would make our block a crime scene. It was pretty scary. Eric actually almost got hit by one of the get-away cars coming to the gallery earlier that day.
Have you experienced any more crime since the opening?
The space is relatively safe. We haven’t had any problems with crime actually since moving in. We manage to keep ourselves out of trouble.
What’s your favorite thing about curating shows? Long hours of thankless labor?
It’s never thankless putting in the hours to get good art out there. Sounds boring, I know! But Eric, Keenan and I work really hard to keep Show Cave alive. We get to meet new artists all the time. Between the three of us, we’re always sharing new art and artists we find. We’re each artists, too. Eric does video art and is a musician. Keenan is a graphic artist who does tons of work with other graphic artists making zines, posters and prints. And I mostly do video and pug art. We enjoy what we do, and meeting new artists only enhances our purpose of making art and delivering art to other people.
What’s your favorite technological innovation from the last decade?
Flaming Hot Cheetos! They’ve actually banned them from a lot of L.A. public schools because they’ve found that there is a chemical in the coloring that causes the same effects of crack cocaine. Seriously!
Do you know any good jokes?
What do ghosts like to eat? Booo-ritos! that’s an original—use it! And I have other ones regarding boooooots.

CHRISTMAS GIF(TS) OPENING RECEPTION ON SAT., DEC. 6, AT SHOW CAVE, 1930 ECHO PARK AVE., ECHO PARK. 8 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. AND FUTURE HEAT AT SHOW CAVE ON SAT., DEC. 13. 8 PM / FREE / ALL AGES. VISIT SHOW CAVE AT SHOWCAVE.ORG OR MYSPACE.COM/SHOWCAVE.