Balancing the omnipresence of social media and how it relates to visual culture is a tightrope for any creative enterprise these days. Flutter, an immersive and interactive multi-artist exhibition that opens on June 1 in Los Angeles, speaks to this pressing question while addressing issues surrounding mental health, joy, and creativity.
"We wanted to make fine art accessible to everyone but specifically make it appealing to those who might not necessarily go visit museums or the galleries that some of our artists are in," founder Chris Dowson explains about Flutter's multi-pronged mission. "I think of 'accessible' as in welcome and friendly and open—and not intimidating."
Dowson connected with New York's Karen Robinovitz to curate the work of 15 international contemporary artists who were given the creative prompt of a "play date." The result fills newly built-out rooms of varying sizes using multiple mediums, all contained within a 1920s building on La Brea Avenue. After a six-month period, the Flutter team starts anew and will change the installations, centered around a different theme. A portion of proceeds from Flutter's ticket sales benefit its partner organization, the Born This Way Foundation.
With regards to managing Flutter's inevitable social media element, Dowson and Robinovitz don't want to scold the art-viewing public's habits. "People want backdrops," he says. "Being aware of that and the fact that user-generated content isn't going away anytime soon, we thought, How can we create something that's substantive and impactful, as well as appealing to look at?"
"There's a curatorial point of view and underlying messages that go way deeper than what might look superficially joyful," says Robinovitz, a social media and branding specialist who sits on the boards of the Brooklyn Museum and Bronx Museum of the Arts. For the participating artists, "it was great for them to experiment and do something out of the usual confines of the museum or gallery, and flex different muscles," she adds.
Robinovitz accessed her longstanding relationships with creatives around the globe, as well as a key figure: Jon Sherman, the founder and creative director of Flavor Paper. Six artists made screen and digitally printed wallpaper designs in collaboration with the Brooklyn-based company, all of which will be commercially available.
“The mission behind Flavor Paper and Flutter are quite similar: celebrate total creative freedom and work that flips tradition on its head,” Sherman notes. “It was an honor to collaborate with this group of unconventional artists to create custom wallpaper designed to enhance and extend their artwork to the wall—and even the ceiling.”
Recent New York–to–L.A. transplant Elise Peterson created a Flavor Paper pattern that's part of a larger effort exploring "the importance of representation and seeing yourself in work," she says. The eyes of Niki de Saint Phalle and Faith Ringgold—two artists who resisted being pigeonholed throughout their careers—constitute the reflective foil-based pattern covering Peterson's room that she calls You Are Seen, which is the first space visitors experience.
"I like work that's deeply rooted in a message, and this was a great challenge to still stay true to that work, and stay true to personal narratives, while allowing the work to feel more accessible," Peterson says. In addition, the multihyphenate creative made sculptural furniture and a video projection with collage animation, and designed a loft area at Flutter where she'll record podcasts, too.
Divergent interpretations of what "play date" means abound and create a sense of discovery. Katie Stout's exuberant installation includes six-foot Sphinx sculptures combined with original animal print and slightly risqué Flavor Paper–adorned surfaces. Saya Woolfalk juxtaposes projections and wallpaper, while Jacolby Satterwhite created a VR installation inspired by family cookouts. One of Leah Guadagnoli's two rooms is set up for visitors to interact with tactile geometric components.
Liz Collins designed what she describes as an "offshoot iteration" of the "Cave of Secrets," her 2018 exhibition at New York's New Museum, as well as the collaboration with Sunbrella she created at Rossana Orlandi during Salone del Mobile last month. Collins repurposed certain elements for her Flutter piece, showcasing two colorways of her Permanent Sunset collaboration that Flavor Paper featured at ICFF, plus a multimedia component and a lighting bolt–shaped doorway. Flutter is "unique in that it's a project of this scale where there's a bigger mission with the humanitarian vision," she observes.
As for the not-accessible-to-all $28 ticket price, Dowson explains that Flutter will be open to student groups at Title 1 schools, and offer a series of educational programs intended to encourage young people to pursue careers in the arts. The 1,200-square-foot front room is open to all and doesn't require an entrance fee. Dowson is also developing an artists' residency program with two furnished apartments and studio space.
"It's really about triggering different behaviors in people but all within the context of joy," Robinovitz says. "You can be an eight-year-old and love it—or a 48- or 68-year-old."
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest