Part immersive art installation and part painting exhibition, Los Angeles-based artist PunkMeTender’s latest project with West Hollywood gallery Art Angels is also a marvelous stage set. The team plans to open to the public over Memorial Day weekend, but for the past few weeks, the artist has been inviting another kind of audience to visit and to use it as they see fit – social media influencers.
“Influencers are messengers, they are part of this world,” the artist tells L.A. Weekly. “What I do is about connection, too.” PunkMeTender’s dramatic palette and lyrical imagery – especially his iconic butterfly motif – lend themselves to dramatic interpretation, and he thinks it’s been working out beautifully.
Some of the early pictures to come out of the project’s photo shoots came from Yuliya Urban (@yuliyaurban) with photos taken by the artist, showing off the full array of situations and inspirations on offer in the installation – from psychedelic domestic vignettes to videogame worthy fantasy motorcycles, luminous conceptual props and one unforgettable pink piano.
“They play a game of dress-up, edit, it’s all very professional,” says PunkMeTender about his experience of the visits. “And the beauty is, it’s all different, what each one does with it. I did my best to create a refined experience. The story may in some ways reflect the darker realities of the past year, but as an artist I feel I have a duty to inspire people, to keep doing what I do, to keep it positive, to continue and move forward.”
As influencer Sarah Jones (@sarahjoneslife) tells the Weekly, she sees it much the same way. “I believe it’s genius to make art touchable, and as a visitor be able to interact playfully with it. To experience PMT’s installations on a level of interconnection makes it much more approachable. I am able to feel his work and his intentions behind each piece. I am opening a raw vegan restaurant in a few weeks in Malibu and PMT will provide a piece of his art for my space – because I can relate the power of nature in food with his aliveness in artwork.”
Anne Sage (@citysage) concurs and especially given her career in interior design, is equally inspired by the idea of being able to physically interact with the environment. “You really get it in your body,”
This is all exactly what the artist and the marvelous people of Art Angels had in mind. “Our mission as a gallery is to always offer unique opportunities to experience art,” the gallery’s Sarah Klauber tells the Weekly. “When PunkMeTender came to us with the idea of opening his studio for private tours and personal use, we were so excited to support him in sharing his art, mission and space. He was eager to give back to the creative community – to the photographers, artists and social media influencers – who all lost or could not access studio space during Covid. He dedicated so much time and energy to create new installations both inside and outside of his studio for this event,” she says. “It is a true testament to PunkMeTender’s spirit – bright, colorful and transformative.”
For more information and to organize a visit, go to: artangels.net.