Jacob Kassay

Jacob Kassay at R.M. Schindler’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House. Photo courtesy of the author.

In theory, Rudolph M. Schindler’s Fitzpatrick-Leland House is an ideal venue for an art exhibition: the restored hilltop Los Angeles property, wedged between the thoroughfares of Mulholland Drive and Laurel Canyon Boulevard, was commissioned in 1936 to advertise a community of similar homes designed by the famed modernist architect. By night, ruby and diamond streams of traffic flash along the alternately glassy and angular interiors, the house as much on display as any works hung on its ample walls. Yet the house’s official history includes that art world taboo: it was built on spec.

Google News searches for “Jacob Kassay” and “market” may or may not include the word “speculative” in the results more than once. But last weekend, the artist’s latest exhibition, a satellite show through 303 Gallery, opened at the Fitzpatrick-Leland House, which is a branch of the MAK Center. Kicking off with a low-key affair on Friday that had more in common with the L.A. interlude in Annie Hall than with any New York gallery mania. The weekend-long show, which marked the release of the artist’s understated monograph Standards/Surnames, was like an AirBnB stay for the eight artworks––in fact, the house is for rent through the service, for $350 a night.

At the opening, Kassay, who moved to L.A. from New York a few years ago, and no longer gives unprepared quotes to reporters, was joined by art-world luminaries such as Kim Gordon, Paul Sietsema, and Jesper Just. Very small bites catered by the meat-lovers destination Animal were surprisingly demure, perhaps in keeping with the austerity of the works themselves which were part of an ongoing series of wooden stretchers constructed in the shapes of cast-off canvas and linen found in artists’ studios. While not site-specific, the works lent themselves to the sparse, unadorned space. “Although they found some interlocking pause at the house, their forms point more to the source material as site,” Kassay said later over e-mail. The lighting, usually stark and bright, was turned down for the exhibition to a more David Lynch-like setting—after all, it is Mulholland Drive. It was a fitting reference point for the pieces at hand, remnants of past artworks recast as literal framework.

By dark, the party was a bonafide L.A. scene, filing the patio level of the three-tiered house. "Where is the app that tells me when to go the gym?" a girl asked her friend in earnest. Nearby, a young man stood in a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “confusion desire passion,” in that order. Someone took a picture of a groovy-looking outdoor shower, seemingly under the impression that it was part of the architecture, or the art. No one appeared to have forgotten his or her mantra.