Unknowing Shout Out

Here’s something a lot of people don’t know, including Jimmy Fallon, as evidenced by the above video: Rod Stewart’s song “Young Turks” was named for the group of artists featured in Stephen Seemayer’s film “Young Turks.”

In May 1981, Seemayer first screened his original rough cut of the documentary at an event called the Downtown Drive-In, in the parking lot of a building at 44o Seaton St. The event had originally been scheduled for earlier in the year, but technical difficulties necessitated a postponement. To advertise the event, Seemayer plastered posters all over buildings downtown, and the posters stayed up for most of the year.

Starting in early 1981, these posters were plastered on walls all over downtown to advertise the Downtown Drive-In event.

That summer, Rod Stewart was in L.A. shooting a music video for a new song originally called “Young Hearts.” In a TV interview after the song was released in October, Stewart explained that he and his crew and dancers were shooting downtown — on the 6th Street bridge, at 7th and Santa Fe, in the rail yards, at the Hayward Hotel — and he saw a poster for a film about a bunch of young artists downtown. He thought “Young Turks” was a much better title for his song so he renamed it.

According to Wikipedia, Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks” was the first video to air on MTV that featured break-dancing.


Woods Davy Exhibition

Sculptor Woods Davy discusses his work with a guest at the Oct. 20 opening of a new exhibit at Craig Krull Gallery.

Sculptor Woods Davy at his Venice studio with one of his works.

Smoothly rounded river rocks flow upward into a precarious balance in sculptor Woods Davy‘s new exhibit at the Craig Krull Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. Davy is one of the artists featured in “Young Turks,” and his latest works expand on a longtime theme of showing natural objects in unnatural settings, in this case heavy stones that seem to float in air, not only defying gravity but belying their own nature, as well.

The exhibit continues until Nov. 24, 2012.

Craig Krull Gallery
Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Avenue, Building B-3
Santa Monica, California 90404
Tel: (310) 828-6410
Tuesday – Friday, 10:00a.m. – 5:30p.m.
Saturday, 11a.m. – 5:30p.m.


The Art Dockuments by Carlton Davis

Tales of the Art Dock: The Drive-by Gallery

Davis’ book is available on amazon.com.

There’s a great new book out by artist Carlton Davis, who in the early ’80s ran The Art Dock, a gallery in a loading dock on Center Street, northeast of Little Tokyo. “The Art Dockuments (Tales of the Art Dock: The Drive-by Gallery)” is at once an intimate reminiscence and a fascinating historical record of the downtown scene that flourished at the time the “Young Turks” was being filmed.

Davis ran the Art Dock from 1981-1986. The “drive-by” gallery displayed works specifically made for that space and meant to be viewed from the street as one passed by.

Davis was part of the art world downtown that included the “Young Turks” and many other sculptors, painters, writers, musicians and performance artists. He writes about his encounters, both personal and professional, with many of them.

Among the first installations exhibited at the Art Dock was Marc Kreisel’s “First Functional Painting,” which included a Wailing Wall-type backdrop and the white boots worn by Andy Wilf, who had only recently died at the age of 32.

The Art Dock #6 - Winter 1982

Kreisel’s tribute to the late Andy Wilf included a backdrop inspired by the Wailing Wall and Wilf’s white boots.

Davis writes:

Both were part of the “Young Turks,” a group of artists who had embraced downtown squalor and used it to instill harshness in their work. They attacked L.A.’s previous decades of soft art fixated on slick finishes and ethereal light and space.
The Young Turks were among the first artists to move into the old downtown warehouses. In these unused buildings surrounding Skid Row, amidst decay and chaos, thousands of square feet of space could be leased for pennies a square foot. The grime and depression around them became their aesthetic. Jon Peterson … erected bum shelters as sculpture. Monique Safford … contrasted photographs of downtown’s desolation with lyrical descriptions of faraway places. Marc Kreisel’s witty and often caustic graffiti statements surrounding layered Polaroid images were an interpretation of the terse scrawls and tags of the downtown homeless and the gangs  Andy Wilf’s scary paintings of severed pigs’ heads and tormented humans mirrored the phsychological terror of life on Skid Row.

“The Art Dockuments” delves deeper into both Wif’s work and Kreisel’s, as well as the myriad other artists who lived and worked around Davis. It is an evocative and important resource for anyone interested in L.A.’s cultural diversity and development.

The book is available here on amazon.com.

2nd Screening draws downtown crowd

Filmmaker Stephen Seemayer and artist Gronk at private screening of Seemayer’s “Young Turks.”

The second of two private screenings of “Young Turks” drew family and friends of the subjects of the film as well as many downtown movers and shakers.

Developer Tom Gilmore, artist Gronk and Downtown Muse’s Melissa Richardson Banks were among the guests at the Downtown Independent on Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. Also in attendance were performance artists Bob & Bob — in the company of author and art critic Kristine McKenna — and several other subjects of the 95-minute documentary about life and art in Downtown L.A. circa 1980. In addition to Jon Peterson, Linda Frye Burnham, Coleen Sterritt, Marc Kreisel and Richard Newton, the mother and nephew of “Young Turk” Monique Safford attended the screening. The parents of filmmakers Stephen Seemayer and Pamela Wilson also showed their support for the film.

The response to “Young Turks” thus far has been overwhelmingly positive. Now the process of finding a way to make the film available to artists, historians and audiences everywhere will begin. We will post updates on the film’s progress as they become available.


Photographs by Raymond Newton