Art

DTLA Warehouse Venue Evolves into Art Gallery

Two friends and punk promoters port over DIY values in opening Club Pro Los Angeles.

Charlie Schmidlin

Fantasy Playground installation view. Images courtesy Club Pro Los Angeles. Photos: William Converse-Richter

Growing up immersed in the Los Angeles art and punk scenes, but on opposite sides of the county, Kyle Roberts and Ryan McGuffin were well-versed in the art of discovering a space, throwing up a gig or exhibition, then breaking it down to find another. It took crossing paths four years ago, though, to combine their efforts into a more permanent venue for their interests.

Club Pro Los Angeles is the result of the pair’s restless search. Located in the Fashion District of downtown LA, the 4,000 square-foot gallery and studio aims to allow both local and international artists a place to show and hone their work. Founders McGuffin and Roberts scouted the spot together, invested many sleepless nights into transforming its former office framework, and hosted punk shows and club events to raise the capital for a sleek finish.

Fantasy Playground installation view

“[Kyle and I] had both been part of various spaces in LA that never quite achieved what we both wanted, which was a contemporary art gallery,” McGuffin explains to The Creators Project. “And we like that we’re coming at it with our backgrounds, because we knew we didn't want it to be a grimy punk house or a rave warehouse. All those years of using of being in the party scene got us to really utilize the space.”

The pair, along with gallery director Carlye Packer, kicked off proceedings in April with artist Sebastian Gladstone’s exhibition Fantasy Playground, an “introspective look at male adolescence as it pertains to our contemporary American landscape.” Through oil paintings with text from manifestos and online forums, found object sculptures, and even a dark room replicating an eerie walk through the woods, Gladstone examines race, gender, and how those feed into a virtual and real world existence.

Sebastian Gladstone, bathtub memories. Oil on canvas

"For me, the pieces were about creating the male psyche in a literal sense than projecting one specific part of it,” Gladstone said at the opening. “But growing up, online forums were really big for me, and what's interesting is that they're one of the most arcane parts of the internet, and yet one of the most successful still in 2016. The technology of 4chan and Reddit hasn't changed.”

Sebastian Gladstone, Feelings R Fun
. Oil on canvas

Running through April 22nd, Fantasy Playground is a provocative start to Club Pro Los Angeles’ upcoming slate, which includes a group show organized by MOCA’s Santi Vernetti, solo projects from Kenneth Curwood and Gracie Devito, and a presentation of Viennese artists by the Austrian artspace, Mauve.

Fantasy Playground installation and film by Sebastian Gladstone at Club Pro Los Angeles

Club Pro also hosts artists-in-residence, beginning with Saudi Arabian video artist Sarah Abu Abdullah, who will take the winter exhibition slot. Essentially split in half between gallery space and studio environment, it provides a flexible setup for any show, performance, or installation that might arise—an approach as DIY as Roberts and McGuffin’s original punk gig beginnings.

Sebastian Gladstone, Chair

Club Pro Los Angeles is located at 1525 South Main Street, Los Angeles (open Fridays and Saturdays from 12PM to 6PM, and by appointment). For more information visit www.clubpro.la

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