Our visit to Indipendenza gallery last week included a tour personally led by Adam Stamp, one of the three artists in the current show “say ahh…”. The Contemporary Rome Seminar class used this opportunity to explore the history and works that are living in this space.
Indipendenza is owned by collector-turned-curator Marco Zevi. We learned this gallery was forged out of an old apartment, a space formerly belonging to the owner’s grandmother. The show encased works by Stamp, Sister Corita Kent, and Larry Johnson, all artists who work in different media ranging from print to sculpture. Stamp first engaged us in a brief introduction to the artists in the show — Larry Johnson being the “textmaster”, and Sister Corita Kent the “screenprinting nun”. In this way, his approachable atmosphere and dry-humorous anecdotes left us laughing and smiling until the end of our visit, and all throughout we were able to grasp various points of Stamp’s life story in a sort-of-linear motion. It is evident from the primary themes and references in Stamp’s work that his life in LA is an important subject running in his art career.
With a special predilection for building bars, the artist described his fascination for hotel lobbies, drinking spaces, meeting places- anywhere that facilitates access and human interaction in the most coincidental ways. We were amazed to hear that he built a bar for Indipendenza as well, which could be accessed by all– he recounted the story of being abruptly asked to carry out this task, and the various projects that followed thereafter. While following Stamp as he led us around, it was difficult not to stand and gawk at his “Sorry’s Cocktails” lighted box installation. We learned that this eye-catching piece in the corner was the starting point from which the idea of this show sprouted. While parsing through “say ahh…” it became clear that Indipendenza itself is a very large, flowing space connected by microspaces which offer a multitude of ways to display installations.
Every turn led to a new room, some in which Stamp’s brass poles, baseball cap, and boxes hung in all kinds of directions, and others where Kent’s prints would be neatly displayed in rows on the walls. Occasionally, something quite visually disruptive would appear, such as a large green LED sign, or a simple singular text work smothered onto the blank walls. One print work by Stamp caught our eye with a Roscioli reference. After going through the show, the artist took us to the kitchen where we were able to see scattered papers and works-in-progress, notes, and various miscellaneous items that were strewn across their table. He finished the tour with a lively conversation on the rooftop, where he told us humorous personal stories about his experience living in Rome, such as about how he once fell into the Turtle Fountain. In discussing the contrast of his life as an artist in LA and Rome, many of us might have been able to relate these feelings to our brief stay abroad and making work. The ingenuity and honest deliberations of the artist was something that we all seemed to appreciate very much, and we expressed to him how refreshing this experience was. He noted that living and showing work as an artist in Rome was drastically different than in LA– people were more curious, able to be sparked with pure interest.This special visit served as a sweet reminder that an engagement in art is part of the culture here- however and as whomever we participate, it is undeniable that this is engrained, part of the every day.
Till next time,