By Ryan Flannery.
Nestled in the fertile ground of midtown Sacramento stands an unforgettable monolith to weirdness, the Flop Haus. Anyone familiar with midtown has certainly seen the grand old house on the corner of 21st and I streets. It has a palpable aura of zeitgeist, non-conformity, and general coolness that Sacramento so conspicuously lacks. One can only wonder, "who are the rare inhabitants of such a place?" Well, one is Mehr Mesbah, professor of art at Sacramento State University.
All this beer has got me thinking.
Mesbah, who is by training a painter, has recently mixed up his media and made forays into 3D and 4D works. These new explorations catalyzed the formation of his newly lauched InsideOut art space. And you can find this experimental gallery in Mesbah's living room window at the Flop Haus.
When I first visited the space around Feburary, I was thrilled by the idea. His living room, having always been a crucible of fantastic creations, had been partitioned off around his street level bay window. The space created, while modest, is perfectly positioned for viewing from the street. There is definitely a feeling of voyeurism as one stops to peer into the windows, and the signage outside is minimal. The glowing windows draw the gaze of passerbys as if it is a fancy boutique. Mesbah stated to me he wanted to created a non-commercial space that would focus on community involvement, specifically bridging the gap between the community and Sac State University. The new installation which opened a few weeks ago, is showing the works of Terry Peterson, professor of sculpture at Sacramento City College.
Peterson's current installation, Alter, is an expertly crafted assemblage of unlikely materials. It evokes meditations of masculinity, the grind of work commutes, and the longing for nature. The Alter seems to lead to the distillation of a truckers cap shoved into an old igloo ice chest wryly bearing the slogan "Doing our jobs." Forms intersect, diverge, and are illuminated with harsh fluorescent lights like a laboratory. He makes use of Arduino motors, which cause various aspects of the work to move at different times. such as a mason jar that appears to be filled with coffee and broken glass. The piece is expansive, and communicates a sophisticated local mindset. I could easily imagine seeing this on the street in San Francisco before the art extinction of the last few years.
So here is a small curated show that can compete in the big leagues. Art Hotel showed how desperate Sacramento is for contemporary work, and InsideOut is a great step forward to scratching that itch. Mesbah's already got a line of artists ready to make use of this great space, myself included. He is maintaining an open call for local artists who work isn't quite white cube gallery material; if you're interested check out the links below.