A Woman Defined

Art & Culture by Mahvash Mossaed

Bettina Hubby’s “Pretty Limber” at the Klowden Mann Gallery

September 29, 2013

September 7 – October 19, 2013 | http://klowdenmann.com/exhibition-artfair-entry/pretty-limber/

I say art is like God and artists are all like prophets who come into this world with a mission to spread the word – to spread the word with any language they can master, where the  language could differ but the message is always the same.

There are not too many artists who dare to work with fabric or similar materials as such because it is a really difficult element and medium to use when creating art. Working with fabric makes it to be a constant challenge for the artist not to allow her art to lean more towards craft rather than art. However, in her cut and assembled collages, Bettina Hubby has dared to go ahead and take that route, bringing soul, energy, and movement into her work using fabric and other materials.

Bettina Hubby’s art has a certain sense of freedom that is transferred to the viewer. When you enter the gallery and look around the brown and black, white and gray shades of her collages on the wall, it makes you think you are just watching, from a distance, the moving shapes of someone dancing on the moon. The forms on the wall have energy and movement. Hubby’s collages against the white of the walls resemble the notes of music – it is almost like you can hear that the shapes on the walls are playing a tune for you. You know the artist has been the conductor behind the music, and you find the melody is engaging. The collages, the walls, and the space of the gallery are all in equal partnership. They need one another to communicate their message – one cannot exist and make sense without the others. Hubby’s collages need plenty of space to breath; without the space, we could not possibly understand and appreciate the work.

The collages are vacant shells, like the body is still here but the souls have already left. They are like some of us who are here but are broken and incomplete, searching for all the missing pieces of ourselves to be put together. The head, the hands, the arms, blood and veins, mouth and eyes need to come together to create a form in order to allow us to stand solid on a point of balance within ourselves and in relationship with the universe. For now, in Bettina’s collages, the pieces are broken down in the form of cut and paste pieces of different materials, like the different pieces of someone’s life and memories all put together, waiting for us to understand them. Maybe by that understanding, we could blow soul into these artful empty shapes on the wall.

I enjoyed the exhibition. Go see it – I think you would like it too.


Bettina Hubby
Pretty Limber 
September 7 – October 19, 2013
Opening Reception: Saturday, September 7 6-8pm

Klowden Mann is proud to present our first solo exhibition of work by Los Angeles-based artist Bettina Hubby, Pretty Limber, the inaugural exhibition in the gallery’s new Culver City location. The exhibition will feature an integration of various elements of Hubby’s practice, founded in her collage work, and presented as individual works on paper, large scale vinyl cutouts and fabric pieces. The pieces range in size from 5 inch by 11 inch paper works presented in plexiglass to five foot by seven foot mounted vinyl figures traversing the gallery walls. The gallery will host a reception for the artist on Saturday, September 7th, from 6-8pm, as well as an October launch for an artist book of Hubby’s collages published by The Ice Plant,Uniforms.

Hubby’s work in Pretty Limber approaches the way in which physical bodies interact with and define space, and the various levels of ritual used in the individual and communal construction of identity. Boundary and its redefinition is a pervasive theme in the work, as the paper and vinyl forms comfortably inhabit their exhibition space while seeming to question its function, and offer unexpected possibilities for expansion, interaction and play. Many larger vinyl forms are paired with their smaller paper origins, and in this altered-scale doubling Hubby re-orients perspective and sense of place. Texture, pattern, articulated line and negative space (approached positively) are each present in the work, as figures, fabrics and forms are combined with any visible body removed and the three-dimensional substance of the body-form implied. Vinyl figures on the wall—both applied directly to the wall surface and mounted in distinct levels of distance from the wall—point us towards the wall itself and our relation to it, the inherent choices afforded by movement, self-presentation, and interaction.

In the gallery project room, Hubby creates a boudoir of sorts—flesh-colored walls act as context for a bed installation, with bedspread and pillows formed from prints of vintage European pornographic imagery with the physical bodies removed, and intermittent threaded enhancements of hair, clothing, and furniture. The fabric pieces are accompanied by vinyl hybrid forms and paper pieces occupying the surrounding walls. Here, the physical forms (that which has been removed and that which remains) are clearly sexual in nature, offering a furthering of the conversation began in the main gallery space and bringing a new overt eroticism to what has been implied in the pent-up energy of the other forms. In both rooms, space and figure maintain equal importance overall, in the framing of a shifting power dynamic in which dominance seems to belong to one or the other, in individual pieces or in turns. The forms combine to bring the audience awareness of our own bodies, and the space we encounter and invent in combination with our environment and one another.

Bettina Hubby received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1999. In addition to her individual practice, Hubby is known for her extensive collaborative projects and curatorial work, with a strong focus on themes of ritual, construction, identity, community, and the constantly changing notion of self and other within all of those interrelated categories. Her recent work on and around the theme of construction includes acting as the Resident Construction Artist at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, a three-month long project of intersection with the construction surrounding the museum site entitled Dig the Dig and culminating with a major exhibition event, the Dig the Dig Dinner. Hubby also curated a group exhibition entitled Dig the Dig on the theme of construction, which was presented at the LA Mart, and is in the process of creating work to be featured at the High Desert Test Sites in October of this year. Other recent projects include The Eagle Rock Rock and Eagle Shop (2012), an installation and pop-up store in the Los Angeles community of Eagle Rock, CA that blurred the lines between curation, collection, kitsch, craft, and commerce, Get-Hubbied (2009–2011), a two-year project about the institution of marriage that culminated in a legally binding wedding, and Co-Tour (2008), a bus tour that explored spaces of private significance throughout greater Los Angeles. Her work was included in The Home Show at the California Arts Foundation in 2011, along with other recent group exhibitions at venues including gallery km (now Klowden Mann) in Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco, Andrew Shire Gallery, and LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions). She has been featured on KCRW and NPR, and her work has been written about in the L.A. Times, The New York Times Magazine, the Huffington Post, L.A Weekly, Notes on Looking, and many others.

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