Larry and Debby Kline artists and provocateurs – installation, performances, and other works

Reviews
Voice of San Diego, “The Most Memorable Acts of Protest Art at the Border,” by Kinsee Morlan, February 26, 2017.
Voice of San Diego, “The Most Memorable Acts of Protest Art at the Border,” by Kinsee Morlan, February 26, 2017.

There’s been an uptick in art projects happening at the border now that President Donald Trump is in office. With so much attention on the border, it’s worth taking a quick look at some of the art that’s attempted to tackle the prickly issues surrounding it. Here are 20 instances of gutsy, controversial art that has explored the border.

The Artist’s Odyssey, “Artists and Provocateurs Debby and Larry Kline,” by Barbarella Fokos, March 30, 2017.
 The Artist’s Odyssey, “Artists and Provocateurs Debby and Larry Kline,” by Barbarella Fokos, March 30, 2017.

We created “Cacophony and Utterances,” a participatory poem in two parts based on the artist’s own works. The first reading took place in the Getty Center theater, with hundreds of participants each reading one of five of David’s poems simultaneously. Through his words, a cacophonous wall of sound filled the theater.

La Jolla Light, “David Antin’s Words Live On: Hundreds pay tribute to local poet at The Getty Center,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, Feb. 17, 2017.
La Jolla Light, “David Antin's Words Live On: Hundreds pay tribute to local poet at The Getty Center,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, Feb. 17, 2017.

Artists Debby and Larry Kline called for audience participation in “Cacophony,” asking everyone to read out loud, and at the same time, a poem of Antin’s folded inside their programs. Each piece was different, and the blend of voices created a grand orchestration of his work.

Modern Luxury, “7 Top Art Influencers,” by Angela Ashman, December 1, 2016
Modern Luxury, “7 Top Art Influencers,” by Angela Ashman, December 1, 2016

Continually engaged artists are Debby and Larry Kline, who find constant ways to impress and nurture the arts here, and Marcos Ramírez ERRE, who, since his first inSite participation in 1994, has astounded the art world with his historic and political approaches.

San Diego Downtown News, “Loving literature: Balboa Park organizations pay homage to author Roald Dahl,” By Dave Fidlin, Sept. 2, 2016
San Diego Downtown News, “Loving literature: Balboa Park organizations pay homage to author Roald Dahl,” By Dave Fidlin, Sept. 2, 2016

Murphy has commissioned two San Diego-based artists to create designs for the two Dahl stories being performed for the StoryBox program. Samantha Jean Wilson has created artwork for “The Enormous Crocodile,” while Debby Kline and Larry Kline have assembled imagery for “The Magic Finger.”

El Mexicano, “Rumbo a Happening EN EL VALLE,” by Josue Israel P. Camacho, Sept. 2016
El Mexicano, "Rumbo a Happening EN EL VALLE," by Josue Israel P. Camacho, Sept. 2016

El Mexicano, Coverage of The Kline’s Installation at Happening en el Valle, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico, September 2016

La Jolla Light, “San Diego Art Institute hosts MASAttack in Balboa Park,” By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, March 30, 2016
La Jolla Light, "San Diego Art Institute hosts MASAttack in Balboa Park," By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, March 30, 2016

The MAS concept was created by L.A.-based ARTRA Curatorial, and once again, co-founder Max Presneill, Director/Curator of the Torrance Art Museum, was here for the Balboa Park event, which took place at SDAI on March 19. This time, there were 100 artists from Los Angeles and 100 from San Diego, some of them natives of countries all over the world.

San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, “A Fine Line: Collaborating Couples,” by Pat Launer, July 2016
San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, "A Fine Line: Collaborating Couples," by Pat Launer, July 2016

“We deal with serious issues – health, finance, social issues. But we make them a lot more palatable if we first make people laugh. That duality characterizes our work: the beautiful first; then the twisted blade.”

SanDiegoStory.com, “Artworks Save Themselves In Central Library Exhibition,” by Kraig Cavanaugh, Feb. 20, 2016
SanDiegoStory.com, “Artworks Save Themselves In Central Library Exhibition,” by Kraig Cavanaugh, Feb. 20, 2016

Both the funny visual play on words and visual spectacle of the Klines’ “The Alchemist and his Junks” installation itself is worth the trip to the Central SDPL Art Gallery to see. The artist couple Jean Lowe and Kim MacConnel each already have widespread international reputations, and the careers of both couples Debby & Larry Kline as a team and Jessica McCambly and John Oliver Lewis as individuals are in light-speed ascension.

SanDiegoStory.com, “The Klines: My Dinner with Yahweh at La Jolla’s JCC,” by Kraig Cavanaugh, May 4, 2015
SanDiegoStory.com, "The Klines: My Dinner with Yahweh at La Jolla’s JCC," by Kraig Cavanaugh, May 4, 2015

Potentially irreverent and provocative but definitely something to see! Now on exhibit in the center’s Gotthelf Gallery is Seeing is Believing: A Reinvention of Articles of Faith that was curated by the diabolically clever artist husband and wife team Debby and Larry Kline. Spending two-years curating the exhibition, it is a mix of artists and artworks that explore various aspects of religion: from its capitalist complications and implications to its dogmatic altruisms and idiosyncrasies.

La Jolla Light, “Seeing is Believing: Gotthelf Gallery Offers Uncommon Perspectives on Faith,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, April 16, 2015.
La Jolla Light, “Seeing is Believing: Gotthelf Gallery Offers Uncommon Perspectives on Faith,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, April 16, 2015.

Talk about eclectic: Imagine an art exhibit that includes an elegant neo-Gothic cathedral made out of metal crutches, Vatican-approved marble reproductions of the heads of Michelangelo’s famous Pieta figures, fragments of Bible pages turned into Rorschachs, a 3-D “Mother of all Buddhas,” and a penny-filled cross that tells the future (sort of) to anyone who drops in a coin. It’s “Seeing is Believing: A Reinvention of Articles of Faith,” on view at the Lawrence Family JCC’s Gotthelf Gallery. Curated by Debby and Larry Kline, prizewinning artist-provocateurs who love to turn convention upside-down and get people talking.

San Diego Jewish World, “Art exhibit puts new spin on religious objects,” By Donald H. Harrison, March 12, 2015.
San Diego Jewish World, “Art exhibit puts new spin on religious objects,”  By Donald H. Harrison, March 12, 2015.

Curators Larry and Debby Kline have pulled together a multi-religious, multi-media exhibition in which religious symbols are conflated with symbols from other human arenas to produce an exhibition which may inspire some, anger others, but get everyone to think.

La Jolla Light, “It was art for artists’ sake at Balboa Park,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, March 12, 2015.
La Jolla Light, "It was art for artists' sake at Balboa Park," by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, March 12, 2015.

One of the coolest art events of the almost-spring season took place Feb. 28 at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.

La Jolla Light, “Edgy Multimedia Exhibition opens at Art Institute,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, October 23, 2014
La Jolla Light, “Edgy Multimedia Exhibition opens at Art Institute,” by Lonnie Burstein Hewitt, October 23, 2014

San Diego Art Institute (SDAI) in Balboa Park has a whole new look this month with the October 4 opening of “Beyond Limits: Postglobal Mediations,” an exhilarating multi-media exhibition that features more than 30 local and international artists showing a broad range of imaginative, thought-provoking and often interactive works. It’s a spinoff of the International Mediations Biennale that began four years ago in Poland as a “borderless circuit of experimentation” to create dialogues between artists from varied cultures, with simultaneous happenings taking places in cities around the world.

San Diego City Beat, “San Diego Art Institute’s ‘Beyond Limits’ Goes Global,” by Susan Myrland, September 29, 2014
San Diego City Beat, "San Diego Art Institute's 'Beyond Limits' Goes Global," by Susan Myrland, September 29, 2014

In a banner year for border-themed art shows, the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park (SDAI) is thinking worldwide. Beyond Limits: Postglobal Mediations opens Friday, Oct. 3, after almost two years in the making. Co-curated by SDAI Executive Director Ginger Shulick Porcella and collaborator Denise Carvalho, it’s the Southern California site for the Mediations Biennale, an art-and-scholarly-discourse event happening in nearly a dozen countries: Poland, Germany, Peru, Uruguay, Mozambique, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Belgium, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Klines @ ArtExpo – Scribble08 by Mark Murphy, August 9, 2014
The Klines @ ArtExpo - Scribble08 by Mark Murphy, August 9, 2014

Think Tank marked the half way point during a busied 2014 for the Juggling Klines. A fitting name for this tireless contemporary art duo, Debby and Larry Kline, who earned an Emmy, dashed off to Paris and juggled their demanding schedule. Recently, Debby and Larry were featured at ArtExpo in San Diego where they built a quarter scale military tank adorned with real stories featuring local Veterans. I am honored with the opportunity to interview two inspired contemporaries who consistently evolve their work, no matter the genre: performance, sculpture, painting, drawing, assemblage and teaching.

San Diego City Beat, “A pop-up art exhibition for the Comic-Con crowd,” by Susan Myrland, July 21, 2014
San Diego City Beat, "A pop-up art exhibition for the Comic-Con crowd," by Susan Myrland, July 21, 2014

The Klines wrapped a one-fourth-scale model tank in comics that illustrate stories gathered from local military men and women, presenting them in the visual language of heroism and strength. The Klines love to play with contrasts, balancing the harsh reality of war with the escapism of entertainment.

“My Dinner with The Klines” wins an Emmy!
"My Dinner with The Klines" wins an Emmy!

We did a live performance of “My Dinner with The Klines” on a show called ArtPulse TV and we just received the exciting news that the episode featuring our work just won an Emmy award for arts and entertainment programming.  Our gratitude and congratulations go to Barbarella Fokos, David Fokos, and videographer/editor Giovanni DiGiacomo at Art Pulse [...]

The Klines featured in Design and Ethics: Reflections on Practice
The Klines featured in Design and Ethics: Reflections on Practice

We recently found that one of our early collaborative pieces, “The Electric Fields of California,” was included in this book that addresses ethical issues surrounding the fields of architecture and design. We are thrilled to be included in this treatise, and although we have yet to get a copy in our hot little hands, we [...]

The Klines @ ArtExpo – Scribble08 by Mark Murphy, August 9, 2014
The Klines @ ArtExpo - Scribble08 by Mark Murphy, August 9, 2014

Think Tank marked the half way point during a busied 2014 for the Juggling Klines. A fitting name for this tireless contemporary art duo, Debby and Larry Kline, who earned an Emmy, dashed off to Paris and juggled their demanding schedule.

San Diego City Beat, “Eight Cool Things to Experience at Art San Diego,” by Kinsee Morlan, Nov. 6, 2013
San Diego City Beat, “Eight Cool Things to Experience at Art San Diego,” by Kinsee Morlan, Nov. 6, 2013

Pick up the Art San Diego schedule this year and you’ll see the names of Debby and Larry Kline so many times, you might think there’s been some sort of mistake. The ubiquity of The Klines is a good thing, giving visitors a chance to get a grasp on the depth, diversity and myriad political provocations of their work.

San Diego City Beat, “San Diego art that made an impact in 2013,” by Kinsee Morlan, Dec. 31, 2013
San Diego City Beat, “San Diego art that made an impact in 2013,” by Kinsee Morlan, Dec. 31, 2013

There’s a lot to criticize at art fairs, which often include more commercial, sellable art. While that type of work was surely present at Art San Diego, there was plenty of more challenging work. Among the outstanding pieces was nearly everything by artists Larry and Debby Kline, Raul Guerrero’s portraits featuring faces from San Diego art history and James Watts’ beautiful Kokeshi dolls.

“Arabian Chess,” a commentary on the work of Debby and Larry Kline by David Antin, August 2013
"Arabian Chess," a commentary on the work of Debby and Larry Kline by David Antin, August 2013

So the Klines can be regarded as political artists, not in the dismal sense of advocating or lamenting one political policy or another, but of outrageously modeling discrepancies in our understandings of political situations. So they are hilarious political artists in the manner of Aristo-phanes rather than Brecht. But there is another sense in which they are not political artists, or not merely political artists.

San Diego City Beat, “Eight Cool Things to Experience at Art San Diego,” by Kinsee Morlan, Nov. 6, 2013
San Diego City Beat, "Eight Cool Things to Experience at Art San Diego," by Kinsee Morlan, Nov. 6, 2013

Pick up the Art San Diego schedule this year and you’ll see the names Debby and Larry Kline so many times, you might think there’s been some sort of mistake. The married couple, who collaborate on their multimedia conceptual- and performance-art projects, will have work featured in two exhibitor booths—Beyond the Border Gallery and the San Diego Art Prize space—they’ll be doing multiple performances, giving a talk and leading tours through the fair as roving docents. The ubiquity of the Klines is a good thing, giving visitors a chance to get a grasp on the depth, diversity and myriad political provocations of their work.