700 women artists to gather at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel for group photo

When Hauser Wirth & Schimmel opened its sprawling gallery compound in the downtown Los Angeles arts district earlier this year, its inaugural exhibition,“Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947–2016,” generated a ton of buzz. The show closes over Labor Day weekend — but it won’t go out quietly.

To mark the occasion, more than 750 women from the L.A. arts community will gather Sunday morning in Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s courtyard for a group photograph. The 11 a.m. photo event, “Now Be Here” — which includes local artists, gallerists and curators — is the brainchild of Venice-based artist Kim Schoenstadt. It’s co-organized by Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s Head of Education, Aandrea Stang.  The color photograph will be shot by artists Isabel Avila and Carrie Yury.

“The original impetus was simple: ‘This is a huge space and why don’t we get all the female and female-identifying artists together and take one big photo?’” Schoenstadt says. “I was thinking about the community aspect from a geeky, archival perspective.” 

But Schoenstadt also hopes the event brings attention to issues of gender identity in the same way that the “Revolution in the Making” exhibition broached the conversation around women shaping and transforming sculpture.

“The act of showing up is political. When you have 700 female artists in one place, that is political by nature.”

Since event-planning for “Now Be Here” began, the RSVPs poured in, Schoenstadt says —  the list is currently up to 768 and includes artists Catherine Opie, Alison and Betye Saar, Mary Kelly, Barbara T. Smith, Judie Bamber, and Liz Glynn.

Despite the ginormous number of participants, “Now Be Here” isn’t an attempt to be comprehensive, Schoenstadt says, but instead, inclusive. “If you identify as female and you’re a contemporary artist in Los Angeles, then you’re welcome to join,” she says. As such, she and Stang relied on “old school networking” to get the word out. “We started with a master list of 200-some names and asked those people to forward it on. From there we asked local galleries, who forwarded it to their artists. And we asked curators. It was sort of a three-tiered attempt to spread the word.”  

During Sunday’s shoot, Avila and Yury will be perched on the roof, overlooking the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel courtyard and its single sculpture, Jackie Winsor’s “30 to 1 Bound Trees.” They’ll shoot with both a digital camera and a Hasselblad film camera. They’ll also create a time-lapse video to document their process.        

The photo shoot itself won’t be accessible to the public, though the galleries will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day. “Revolution in the Making” includes nearly 100 works by 34 female artists from the post-World War II era to the present.

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel plans to release a digital copy of the group photograph Monday morning on its website and by request. Schoenstadt will eventually provide local museums with archival copies of the image, she says.

There’s also a Facebook group to gather other group photos of artists; and Schoenstadt created a web page to serve as a “research portal” with photographs and documents from Sunday’s event.

“I think it would be a cool thing if this happened for other women artists in other cities — I think they should steal the idea!” Schoenstadt says. “In this selfie culture, it’s nice to pull back and see the larger group.”

deborah.vankin@latimes.com

Follow me on Twitter: @DebVankin

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