Nestled in a Palm Springs strip mall, M Modern gallery’s minimal exterior conceals the extensive collection of avant-garde art within. Boasting pieces from some of the most cutting-edge members of the low-brow art movement, one of the two current shows “Museum Collection” brings to light pieces from owner Jay and MiShell Nailor’s personal collection. Since before the gallery’s opening in 2003, the husband and wife team have been collecting pieces that eventually led opening both their Las Vegas and Palm Springs locations. And it all began with a SHAG print.
Members of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, the future gallery owners saw a lot of artwork that was unsuitable for mid-century homes—until they came across a SHAG print hanging in a friend’s house, whose work features a lot of furniture befitting the era. They met SHAG (real name Josh Agle) on March 7 2003, and by May 9 the gallery opened with a new print in a tiny 700-square-foot space. M Modern has now grown to over five times its original size, and the new solo exhibition—Palmtrees, Paparazzi and Pistols—reminds us that the gallery’s reputation for showcasing the best in pop-surrealist art is well deserved.
Palmtrees, Paparazzi and Pistols is the first exhibition of Louis Carreon’s work outside of Los Angeles. The multi-faceted artist/entrepreneur is also known as his rapper alter ego Pettytom, in addition to being the designer behind the Klozhorse label and his soon-to-be-launched Louis Carreon line. As the exhibit is running concurrently with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the opening reception was well attended and the spotlights that read “something is happening here” were more promise than hype.
Delivering his warnings of the dangers of the Hollywood lifestyle through a series of sin-engaged bears and altered newspaper titles, Louis says he’s bringing the IE a “taste of city art—street art, popstract art, art that’s derivative of city life.” He describes the style of his art as dirty. “I’m a graffiti artist [influenced by] my fight with drugs and hanging out with a lot of stars. I paint dirty fashion art, reality art.”
While such sentiments can initially come off like myopic whining from a privileged LA suburbanite who’s been beaten down by the trappings of his own realized Hollywood fantasy, the story gains more traction when you learn that Louis spent two years in prison on a drug-related conviction. When asked about what he’s trying to accomplish with his art, he says that he’s “embracing my old life, painting hardships of my past to engage in a better future.” Ultimately, what Louis may be searching for most through his art can be found tattooed in bold lettering across his chest: Redemption. (Shaun Rosenstein)
Palmtrees, Paparazzi and Pistols at the M Modern Gallery, 2500 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, (760) 416-3611; www.mmoderngallery.com; Thru TK.