Desert Exposition: Verdure and Pink

From Blisss Mag:

One of the last things you might expect to find, driving through the small desert town of Yucca Valley, just before you reach Pioneertown to the left or Joshua Tree on the right, would be a color-infused collection of works by Costa Mesa-based artist Alrik Yuill. Yet, from May 12 through 28, there it was—an exposition of sculpture, paintings, drawing and mixed media by the surfer and shaper who grew up frequenting the Mojave (his grandmother flew Cesnas over it).

Orange County native Michael Townsend and his wife, Lara Wilson, lived in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa for five years before they opened their flexible-use art space, Compound Yucca Valley, in April. Yuill is a longtime collaborator and friend. The pair ripped carpet and asbestos out of a former office building, painted the walls and floors white, and replaced non-native bushes with drought-loving cacti. Now the desert light descends on a statuesque figure, emerging from plaster in front of an empty frame. At just the right time of day, its warped shadow fills the frame’s negative space while afternoon light filters through the window in sharp, warm angles. On a nearby shelf, bronze figurines called “Bathers of the Sun” rest in blissful, sometimes yogic, sometimes erotic poses. A few wear signature sprays of bright color across their miniature torsos: pink, yellow, cerulean. This suggests a less-serious tone, a lighthearted finishing touch. If it was an afterthought once, it has become a central idea, a focal decision.

“In February, my girlfriend started bringing flowers by the studio,” Yuill said, describing a mixed-media series on paper of flowers drawn in vases. They feel both common and, in this place known more for its thorns than for its blooms, exotic. The works appear frequently, placed among Yuill’s larger, more abstract paintings. Behind each bouquet, a line references both the horizontal of the countertop and divides oppositional, yet connected words: “Pink/Green.” “Meet/Meat.” “Something/Nothing.” Yuill continues: “It’s as if these works have been a portrait of her, and then they became an extension of shared feeling, as well as a personal journal or visual poem.”

Lara Wilson