Visual Artist; Co-founder of the Mountain School of Arts, Los Angeles
Ellen Maria Gorrissen Fellow - Class of Spring 2022
Eric Wesley was born in Los Angeles, California, where he completed his BA at the University of California, Los Angeles, and continues to live and work. He is co-founder (with Piero Golia) of the Mountain School of Art (MSA), the oldest, continuous artist-run school in California. Wesley has had solo exhibitions at galleries internationally as well as at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and Foundation Morra Greco and and Galleria Fonti (Naples). He has participated in group shows at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles; Sculpture Center, New York, Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux; Fundación/Colección, Jumex, Mexico; Museo d’Arte, Benevento, Italy; the Prague Biennial; Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; P.S.1, New York; and the Studio Museum in Harlem. His work is included in public collections including the Aishti Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon, Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and the Hammer Museum. He is represented by the Bortolami gallery in New York.
Wesley’s large-scale sculptural works, which fuse ironic commentary, social criticism, and performance with highly crafted objects, have brought him international acclaim. For his 2006 exhibition at the MOCA in Los Angeles, for example, he created a large-scale installation comprised of a rotating floor, a wrecked Vespa motorbike, and other iconic elements. Wesley’s 2010 series “D’Carts Blanche and New Paintings” (“D’Carts” a wry reference to René Descartes) features the Cartesian coordinates of X, Y, and Z translated into objects, including three carts and paint-splashed canvases in primary colors.
In 2016, Wesley was driving through Cahokia, an Illinois suburb, to get to the Cahokia Mounds, the largest pre-Columbian period (800–1400 CE) settlement north of Mexico. But along the way he encountered a different monument: an abandoned, stand-alone 1980s Taco Bell in a strip-mall parking lot. He immediately called his New York gallery and signed a lease for the entire parcel. Reopened as The Bell, this provocative intervention figured as a gallery space and readymade work. For NADA New York in 2018, Wesley revisited The Bell with Mannahatta, an installation in the entry of the fair at Skylight Clarkson Square that splices together familiar architectural codes of each restaurant.