“Concrete Island”
              Travis Diehl
              Word on the street is they got the Crenshaw Cowboy. Into a gallery, that is. Anyone who has turned onto the westbound I-10 at Crenshaw Boulevard has likely noticed him, an itinerant junk-assemblage artist who shows his sculptures at the top of the onramp. He also gives advice on fame and creativity, by way of hand-painted signs—for example, on a curling particle board: “Go into Your Own Creative Mind You are The Master Of Your Thoughts And Behavior. If Anyone Stress’s [sic] You Out… You Allowed it… You’re not a Robot Okay : ) Smile.” Five of these signs appear in “Concrete Island” at Venus, Los Angeles, a show that, by way of J.G. Ballard’s novel of the same name, romances the aesthetic of those who eke out a living in the city’s gaps. Of the 31 artists and collectives included, only the Crenshaw Cowboy is homeless. Indeed, a wide gulf separates the rush-hour panhandler from the gallery artist. Add to this the fact that Venus’s polished square footage is part of an archipelago of new galleries gentrifying the warehouse district of LA’s Boyle Heights. The homeless there have been pushed out; nearby homeowners may soon join them. Perhaps the inclusion …

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