by Hyunjee Nicole Kim
The name of leiminspace is often styled as “@leiminspace,” which immediately situates the gallery somewhere virtual. Likewise, the physical realization of leiminspace absorbs the slick surfaces of familiar web interfaces and possesses the polished tang of contemporary retail. A glass-and-chrome stairwell leads up through the center of the ground floor to a narrow mezzanine level that hugs the perimeter. Upon entering, I was cheerfully assaulted by the Electric Daisy Carnival lineup playlist. The white cube in hyperdrive.
A handmade conversation bubible cutout on the door read “open” in silver glitter. Outside, as owner-operator-artist Schelsey Mahammadie-Sabet tested a deep cornflower blue paint on the exterior trim in an attempt to match the color of Frida Kahlo’s Blue House, I noted the potted plants, sandwich board, and little bench populating the entrance—an invitation enticing the customers of this Chinatown plaza, a faded pedestrian shopping mall, to drop in for a peek. The exhibition mounted at the time—“Behind, Before”—was a collaborative hang of delicately handwoven textiles by Katie Wigglesworth and smoky charcoal-and-ink drawings by Christine Turner. The gauzy fabrics swayed gently in the wind and the EDM blasted gleefully that day: a moment congealing and synthesizing the quaint textures of our newly enmeshed digital and irl existences. In a similar fashion, Laura Soto’s inaugural exhibition “This Never Happened” combined synthetic and organic materials that shimmered iridescent, a heightened and manufactured memory of beachcombing and treasure-hunting as a youth.
Schelsey revels in connections made in all realms, and she founded leiminspace last August to promote the artists that inspire her. We discussed the unsustainable, eyeroll-inducing absurdity of 21st-century notions of exclusivity and the potential for democratic modes of representation online. As relationships are now also created and mediated through channels like Instagram, where Schelsey and leiminspace both have strong presences, identities, too, are massaged and shaped by these platforms. Though she has primarily shown female-identified artists, Schelsey’s agenda is wide open. She is currently dreaming up a retail component for leiminspace that would feature affordable artist-made objets. The gallery will be on hiatus through summer 2016 and will reopen in mid-August with a solo exhibition by Isa Beniston, a Los Angeles-based painter and draughtswoman (@gentlethrills). In December, leiminspace will show Ambar Navarro, another Los Angeles-based artist (@ambarbecutie).