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Marnie Weber resurrects the Spirit Girls for exhibition and performance in mausoleum

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Some artists play music to clear their heads. Others go for a walk. Marnie Weber says she likes to walk to her local cemetery: the Mountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum in Altadena, not far from her studio.

That’s where she discovered, in the mausoleum, a locked-up, long-neglected art gallery. ‘It’s a huge, beautiful, European cathedral-style mausoleum and the gallery had posters taped to the wall, like some sort of juried art show that had been abandoned,’ she says.

Abandoned and beautiful things being one of her great strengths, Weber had an idea: showing her collages, featuring the Spirit Girls, there.

The Spirit Girls are, in Weber’s imagining, ‘a band of girls that had been active but died too young to make it onto the big stage--the idea came from years of going to rock shows with no women on stage,’ she says.

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Since dreaming them up a few years ago, she has brought them to life in various forms: the characters float through her photo collages and films with a soulfully romantic look (courtesy white gloves and flowery hats) and a distinctively 1970s synthesizer-rock sound. (Weber often plays the Spirit Girls herself in her photographs; in the band, which does have other members, she plays guitar and synthesizer and sings.)

At the mausoleum gallery from Nov. 13 to Dec. 20, 18 of her collages will be on display. So will her new film, inspired by the look and drama of silent movies, ‘The Eternal Heart.’ She is calling the show ‘Eternity Forever.’

The exhibition was produced by Emi Fontana of the nonprofit West of Rome, who has been insinuating art into unlikely public places in the L.A. area for several years now. It was Fontana, Weber says, who suggested she think big and consider a site-specific performance as well.

That performance, taking place Thursday night and featuring the Spirit Girls, marks the opening of the exhibition. It also marks the end of the Spirit Girls’ run, says the artist.

Thursday night is ‘most likely the last time the Spirit Girls will appear,’ she says. ‘I feel like they’ve contributed a lot to my art practice and to the community, but it’s time to move on. I’m starting a new band and new body of work, multimedia as well.’ ‘I think they would have been OK with that.’

The mausoleum gallery is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information or tickets for Thursday night’s performance, call (626) 793-1504.

--Jori Finkel

www.twitter.com/jorifinkel

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