Photo // Gauthier Bowman.
In downtown Beverly Hills sits… a lot of shops. Nestled between an Artistic Watch, Shoe Repair store and El Salon is a small, red-bricked entrance cheerily marked Corner No. 3, 170. Inside this building and up two flights of stairs you’ll find Egyptian Art & Antiques. Run by LA-natives Danny Bowman and Spencer de Gauthier, this single room (+ 1 closet) gallery has hosted some of the most provokingly-unveiled shows in the Los Angeles art scene. From putting on slide lectures by UCLA professors to getting arrested along with all the artists, the founders treat each opening as partial “world-building exercises… in Beverly Hills.” They seem to question what, at the start of the 21st century, is the situation of curation and group shows? Performance, populist event, or iterations of a “glitz and glamour” art world cannibalizing itself? One rare, drizzly Sunday afternoon we climb those steps to see what can be found behind the shroud…
Art Zealous: How did you meet?
Danny Bowman: Spencer & I met while travel-studying abroad. We both went to UCLA and had mutual friends, but Spencer studied Archaeology/Anthropology, & I went to school for painting & sculpture. We did not know each other. We happened to both be studying through different University of California study abroad programs in the Summer of 2010. I studied the history of the HMS Beagle at the Pembroke College at Cambridge in the UK, while Spencer studied Archeology in Cairo, participating in many digs throughout Jordan & Egypt. Coincidentally, I was dating a woman who was also a UCLA archeology student, studying in Cairo & flew to meet her. What can I say? It was kismet! All three of us had a great time in Cairo. Spencer & I bonded over our interests in Ancient Atlantean studies. I must admit, I had only read portions of Francis Bacon’s book on Atlantis, but Spencer knew so much more. He showed me in his room; he had many books on the Subject, and he had been collecting more while traveling in the region! One of my purposes of going to Egypt was to pick-up plein-air painting. I was very much a studio-based artist, & had never done this before. I was interested that Spencer told me that most ancient Egyptian structures were actually homages and evolutions of the ancient Atlantean architecture, which existed before them.
Art Zealous: Have you ever considered another name for the space?
Spencer de Gauthier: Danny & I ran a pop-up space for about a year plus from 2012-2013 called Gauthier Bowman. Subsequently, I moved to NYC mid-2013 and continued the project as Gauthier Gallery. Collectively, we staged about 8 or 9 intensely theatrical, group exhibitions in those years. I then worked for a Saville Row-offshoot company who specialized in garment making, tailoring, and interior design. Several years later, I was flown back out to Los Angeles to work in Sales for a watch company. Danny had been working for James Welling mostly, and sometimes for Sterling Ruby. I got the job and it became immediately apparent we needed some more help, so we signed Danny on as a photographer. While making phone calls to check for office space for our Watchmaker, we happened upon a space upstairs from our company. Our Watchmaker nixed the idea because there was no sink. We did not mind that it did not have a sink, and took the space for ourselves immediately. We must have called them seven times to make the deal, on that day. There were still many letters on the ground from the previous tenants. One of these letters said the last tenant was a place called Egyptian Art & Antiques. We took to the name immediately and were very interested in what all further communication with such a name would be like. It makes for very frustrating conversations with Beverly Hills City Hall when we re-new our business license.
AZ: Dream site for a show if anything and anywhere were possible?
Danny: We are very excited that there have been so many recent vacancies in our building because 1. we do not like neighbors, & 2. we are slowly going to expand the space to encompass several different rooms that we’ll begin to refer to as Tombs/Vaults.
AZ: Most interesting patron of the watch shop either of you have had the pleasure of entertaining?
Danny: We have a store policy that basically says: we don’t drop names of current, living customers of the company. However, we recently hosted a gentleman who was one of four owners of a large, multi-national, retail corporation. He talked at us for quite some time about his troubles, and how his brothers and family did not trust him. He bragged about recently buying two Mclaren sports cars, and told us that while even though he was not currently on the Board of Trustees at the moment, he would likely be back on the board again in a short while. Oddly, all of his clothes seemed two sizes too small. His shirt was very, very small on him. He alerted us that the car we could see idling outside was for him. And he hopped in & drove away.
AZ: The most erotic part of a watch is:
Danny: An odd question, but probably the sound of the ticking!
Spencer: The hands.
AZ: Why do blue paintings sell for more?
Danny: Ha! This refers to a show that Spencer executed in NYC, called Blueologies. This group exhibition also had a panel discussion with several New York curators and a Sotheby’s art advisor skipping in from Flughafen Airport. They were able to project him on a huge screen over all of the other panelists’ heads. He had a very compelling argument as to why blue painting sold more.
AZ: Who designed the website?
Danny: A great friend of ours, Sam Bivins. He, himself, is also an incredible artist, chef & musician. Last week we made a good Lentil Stew and crafted hand-made Challah bread with him! He is a master.
AZ: Your favorite artist-run spaces?
Danny: There are many good spaces at the moment. We like Vacancy, we like Good Weather, we like Visitor Welcome Center, we like BBQLA, we like our neighbor Gagosian, we like Gavin Brown, we like Feuer/Mesler.
AZ: Weeknight opening without drinks or weekend opening at 10 am?
Danny: We can’t do weekend openings at 10 am because we have work on every Saturday. We certainly prefer Saturdays, because we get to sleep in a little!
AZ: Best memory together in Egypt?
Danny: I stayed in this hotel called the City View in Cairo.
Spencer: — Yeah that was a lot of fun… long story short, the night ended up with us singing Scottish songs with the owner of the hotel who had graciously smuggled us a bottle of whiskey.
AZ: Why L.A. and why Beverly Hills?
Danny: We were both born here, and like it here. Ultimately, we enjoy being a destination space. Because people tend not to spend much time in this area, the land is fertile for exploration and experimentation. Every day, I park my car underneath what used to be the Copley Galleries. For a short time in the 1940’s, William Copley had a surrealist art gallery in a bungalow house that showed Rene Magritte, Joseph Cornell, & Man Ray. There’s some good history here.
Spencer: I feel like in a lot of ways we are just an extension of that Westside L.A. history — Ferus Gallery, Copley, etc..
AZ: Disclosable plans for crazy future shows?
Danny: We will be having a multimedia show on April Fools day. We are currently figuring out how to rip the lights out of the ceiling. I believe this work will only be viewable by laying on one’s back.
AZ: 100 paintings or 100 sculptures?
Danny: This is too many of both of these things. We want to scale down, at all moments. Let’s try one painting in the space.
AZ: An artist or group you would love to show in the future?
Danny: Helen Frankenthaler, William Copley, or some kind of acted-out, re-staging of an as yet unproduced, Brett Ratner screenplay.
AZ: Has anyone accidentally contacted you thinking it was the old Egyptian Art & Antiques?
Danny: Almost daily. We have been offered many, antiquities. We typically send them the email to the Smithsonian Institute.
Spencer: Sometimes we should probably send them to the FBI.
AZ: Best recent show you’ve seen?
Danny: The adjoining Harold Ancart & Andrea Buttner show at Kordansky a few months ago. Magdalena Kita’s show at Charlie James. Michael Decker’s Sillisculpt installation at the Meow.
AZ: Why are carpets so unpopular?
Danny: We have several carpets in our apartment! They are also very thick carpets, the ones that do not slip and slide. We have many guests at our apartment, and we would not want them slipping and sliding.
Spencer: I LOVE CARPETS! LOVE THEM. But, not wall-to-wall carpeting, absolutely not.
AZ: Particularly awkward or memorable moment during an opening?
Danny: Not sure if we believe in the idea of awkward moments. It’s all about possessing that secret sauce to slide out of any topic of conversation, at the drop of a hat. We have met many fine people from the internet at our openings! It is always pleasing to match a face to an Insta handle.
Spencer: A memorable moment would be when we were arrested during the opening in October…
AZ: What’s the upcoming show?
Danny: A Lena Wolek solo exhibition of ceramics. Very excited.
AZ: Still standing by “anything different… we’re all about,”?
AZ: Something serious and meaningful, please.
We thank you for giving us this opportunity.
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top image //Bowman Gauthier