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SODA - The Society of Distracted Artists

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: June, 2005
Finding underground art in Los Angeles isn't difficult, finding a viable pulse is

Finally sharing somebody's secret is a deliciously decadent thing.  If you are like me, you know it's gonna happen from the very instant the words slip from your lips... "I won't tell anyone, I promise."  The Temptation is too great. And so it is, SODA, Los Angeles' Society of Distracted Artists (a name with few peers, bar perhaps The Anarchist Formation Dance Team which I was not alone in liking) and their coming out party of sorts, at a downtown loft, a loft nonetheless far from the madding crowds of 4th and Main. It's their secret and I can't but tell.

Finding underground art in Los Angeles isn't difficult, finding a viable pulse is.  While several galleries do a fine job of unearthing talent, the process for an as yet unheard of artist, getting to those walls, following that path, getting seen, c'mon, American teeth and tan are most certainly as essential as any artistic nous.

SODA tack an entirely different path and I love it and of course I would because it owes nothing to anyone and its independent spirit sliently roars. A diverse group of artists, from all over the world but currently making their home in the Los Angeles area. They have their antecendents in say, the New School. Sure its a movement, but its not one you're going to be part of. They are elites because none of the art on these walls begins with  a capital A.

What will you find there? In a way, it's gross. They're peddling lessons without saying so. The star of the group is undoubtedly Andr?©e Walker, her background in textile design is evident, although the work here is far removed from the interior fabrics she designed for Honda and Subaru. If you ever get into the table cloth as wall hanging malarky, she's your woman. Richard Smith's work exudes a low intensity pressure for sure, like the pieces beyond the fringes of a Geiger canvas. What you were never supposed to see. In some respects redefining the expression 'very dark'. Ask him. It seems instantly at odds with his public persona.

Their meetings happen at racetracks, aircraft hangers and sad coffee shops. Where others are restless, the SODA artists remain listless for a time, because their moment is coming. Cecilia Medford is surely the ringleader here, her work, shimmering, understated and glorious. It begs to be sought out and was the most difficult to find in the show. There's a texture... I sometimes wonder precisely how many surfaces I am exposed to in the course of each day... Hers more graceful than any.

Theresa Medford's photography seeks out the intimate space between architecture and emotion - where, if and how the two meet. It's extraordinary and there were no shortage of buyers for her work at the show. Which pretty much of course, is the only way I have of telling whether anything is any good or not.

So, where will SODA be in a year, two years? Already several members are involved in multimedia projects, Anand Nunnally-Duncan's hugely popular Flash Bunny website is a global hit, drawing thousands of visitors each day. Her husband, photographer Brendan Duncan also had work on display. Photographer Andrew Reitsma's reputation grows independently of the group.

Perhaps on the day the most arresting imagery came from Mylene De La Rosa, damn! who wouldn't be interested in a solo show from her, if she could be ever prised away from the group.

SODA for now at least is the most art with the least artiface. No one's guaranteeing it will stay that way. Damn! Heaven knows what might happen after all, if they ever stopped being distracted.

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