Carole Caroompas, Whose Work Challenged the LA Art Scene, Dies at 76
Artist Carole Caroompas, whose large-scale, layered work mined literature, movie, fable, and common media, died on July 31 at the age of 76. The trigger was Alzheimer’s illness, in keeping with her brother, John Caroompas.
In her tightly composed canvases, Caroompas included a mixture of excessive and low visible tradition to discover gender roles and energy dynamics. She drew from artwork historical past, novels similar to Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights, motion pictures, rock music, magazines, and commercials to each replicate and subvert the manner pictures assemble identities and reinforce methods of dominance.
Though the surfaces of her work are painstakingly rendered and visually wealthy, every physique of labor started with months if not years of analysis. “She would become interested in a book or a movie, which would be cross-referenced with other pop culture things like music,” defined artist and vendor Cliff Benjamin, a detailed pal of Caroompas’s who confirmed her work at his gallery Western Challenge. “She dug into what she was fascinated by and obsessed with: things that existed on the periphery, people who didn’t follow the rules.”
The outcomes had been charming and confrontational. “The work was too strong for the delicate palates,” artwork critic David Pagel informed Hyperallergic. “It was abrasive, violent, and sexual. There was a viciousness, but it was also sweet, loving, and true. It didn’t hold anything back.”
Along with portray, Caroompas delved into efficiency and music all through her five-decade profession. In a 1987 interview with author Tosh Berman, she pointed to the roots of her unbounded inventive curiosity. “I wanted to be an archaeologist, but my father decided that I wouldn’t make any money at that, so then I wanted to be a poet — we’re going downhill as you can see,” she joked, “and then I was going to be a writer, and then I ended up being a painter, and the music and the language and the painting all got thrown together.”
Caroompas was additionally a long-time educator, who taught at Otis Faculty of Art & Design for over 30 years, the place she created an Experimental Drawing class. “We weren’t expected to set ourselves in stone. We could let our hair down, make mistakes” artist Vincent Ramos, who studied with Caroompas earlier than turning into her studio assistant, informed Hyperallergic. Along with her jet-black hair, piercing blue eyes, and tattoo-covered arms, “Carole could be really intimidating, but when it came to that dynamic of teacher and student, she was very nurturing,” Ramos stated.
She additionally impressed upon her college students the self-discipline that an artist’s life required. “She worked every day that she wasn’t teaching, and taught that to her students,” artist Meg Cranston, the chair of the High quality Arts Division at Otis, informed Hyperallergic in a dialog.
Carole Caroompas was born in Oregon Metropolis, Oregon, in 1946 however grew up in Newport Seashore. She studied English at Cal State Fullerton and obtained her MFA from the College of Southern California in 1971. After graduating, she fell in with Judy Chicago, Miriam Schapiro, and different members of the Feminist Art Motion, however the post-minimalist work she was making then put her at odds with them. “I got beat up a lot, because my work was very formal, and modernism is always associated with the male gender,” she defined in a 2001 video interview.
She included parts like glitter and lace into her abstractions: “Things that referenced either low culture or domesticity,” she says in the video. She staged performances that combined spoken phrase with track, providing wry takes on relationships between women and men. As the Nineteen Eighties progressed, she shifted in the direction of the giant, post-modern tableaux she is finest recognized for.
Caroompas was a part of a cadre of LA artists together with Paul McCarthy, her classmate at USC, and Mike Kelley who emerged in the late Seventies and early ’80s, exploring abjection and uncomfortable themes of their punk-tinged works. “She was the OG of the downtown LA art scene,” Cranston says. “It was a big change from the Ferus [Gallery] scene. It was more diverse and had more misfits.”
Regardless of her constant exhibition report, awards together with a 1995 Guggenheim Fellowship, and enduring affect in Southern California, she by no means obtained the wide-reaching recognition of a few of her contemporaries. She was a fiercely unbiased lady who didn’t mince phrases, polarizing traits in a refined, male-dominated milieu. “She was very candid about her opinions, which was a double-edged sword,” stated Benjamin. “The art world is very polite. That doesn’t really fly.”
“The most punk thing about her was that she didn’t care to play by anyone’s rules,” says artist Mary Anna Pomonis, who befriended Caroompas in the late Nineties.
Along with her work as along with her life, she pursued her personal singular imaginative and prescient, one which didn’t pander to market fads or developments, however that impressed a deep admiration and respect from fellow artists, college students, writers, and curators.
“She had arrived at her own painterly syntax … that was informed by history and very thoughtful …but it was not easy,” artist Tom Knechtel, a longtime pal of Caroompas’s, informed Hyperallergic. “That is why perhaps she hasn’t received the attention she deserves. It is not easy work. It is spectacular work, but not easy.”