Baik Art is pleased to present Michael Brewster: Frequency, an exhibition featuring works and ephemera by the late artist, Michael Brewster. This installation largely reflects works produced early-on and late in Brewster’s career with reference to a group show at F-Space gallery in 1971 and a subsequent solo show at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions in 2002. Reflecting on the artist’s lifelong examination of sound and space, Frequency, pairs five works with various hand-drawn schematics, and archival materials to illustrate Brewster’s methodical practice, and his lasting contributions to Southern California’s artistic canon. Michael Brewster: Frequency will be on display from January 18 – March 14, 2020 and an opening reception will be held on Saturday January 18, 2020, from 6pm -8pm.
Michael Brewster had committed to making “sound-sculptures” for the span of his 40-year career, using sound as a means to entice audience engagement, spatial awareness, and collaborations between art and technology. The audible works produced by Brewster were conceived immersive sonic environments which activate the gallery’s interior volume, similarly to sculpture. The artist famously stated, “You can't make sound become hard and solid; but you can make it seem to stand still, as if hovering in place… Sustained sound in a room with good echo can appear to us as an archipelago of audial sensations. A dimensional substance you can move through without hitting your head on anything.”
This mode of experimental thinking proved radical in Los Angeles during the 1970’s and affirmed Brewster’s place among avant-garde contemporaries such as, Barbara Smith, Nancy Buchanan, Bruce Dunlap, and Chris Burden. Pictured to the right of Brewster’s drawing of F-Space is Chris Burden performing his iconic performance Shoot. The two were longtime friends and shared the gallery. Although the image has been widely circulated, a key detail, discovered by art historian H.C. Arnold, reveals a circular speaker constructed by Michael Brewster as part of his first ever acoustic sculpture, Fixed Frequency. Early works by Brewster, consisting primarily of echoing whistles, clicks, custom built audio equipment, and flashing lights, framed the artists initial disposition towards contemporary art production and paved the way for further and more nuanced investigations.
Along with other artists involved in the Light and Space Movement of the 1960s, Brewster became interested in exploring the boundaries of phenomenological experiences and challenging hegemonic notions around art viewership. Later featured in an exhibition at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (L.A.C.E.), the artist presents a matured body of work which epitomized his thinking around the material of sound and its surrounding environment. Most notably the work, Falls From the Sky, was produced as an exploration of harmonizing and repetitive tones that when placed at varying intervals alter the way viewers decipher the piece and its reverberation within space. The five “acoustic sculptures,” featured here are operated from a touch screen in the main gallery space and are made to encourage viewers to listen to tonal variations as they move throughout the exhibition.
Michael Leslie Brewster was born in Oregon in 1946 and was raised as an ‘expat’ child in Brazil. He graduated from a Sao Paulo high school where he developed a love of the theatre and set design. In 1964, he returned to the United States and attended Pomona College earning a B.A. in sculpture. Brewster then obtained his M.F.A. at Claremont Graduate School in 1970. Following graduation, he lived in Claremont, then Santa Ana, and then for 40 years in two Venice studios.
As an artist, Brewster’s forty years of acoustic works have been exhibited in galleries, museums, and outdoor sites from Southern California to New York, Italy, and Australia. He was recognized with multiple NEA Grants over the years and as a Guggenheim Foundation fellow in 1998. His works are part of the permanent collections of the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the Orange County Museum of Art, MOCA Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and the Giuseppe Panza Collection. Three of his sound installations are on permanent display in the Panza/FAI Villa in Varese, Italy.