Westminster Press: Theories of Beauty and Keeping Warm
It only seems like the first truly cold day of the year, as Nicholas Curry and Tucker Pierce, the creative forces behind Westminster Press, shiver in their coats as they open up their shop and gallery space. But there is a good deal of natural light and warmth here. This place—Westminster—has an extraordinary feeling, that indescribable sense that comes when gorgeous, quirky, beautiful pieces—and people—inhabit a building. It’s as if the grayness of the day cannot enter here.
Westminster Press is also a welcome home for those artists who have felt marginalized—perhaps doubly marginalized—due to power structures that are not just embedded in day-to-day life in the world, but also, according to Curry, “embedded within the art world as well.” And let’s be clear on this: Westminster’s goal isn’t to exclude anyone, but to be extremely inclusive of souls who’ve felt overlooked and alienated from the everyday world and within the artistic sphere. Curry rightfully insists that within the art world there should be a place for the supposed ‘other’—from transgender creators to women and people of color, to voices that are not only not heard or misheard, but also ignored altogether. These are the ‘allies’ of Westminster Press who find a place to exhibit work and to talk together and form a community.
Tucker Pierce stitches and sews and clips figures and faces. Below, we see artists from Andy Warhol to Salvador Dali made in Pierce’s inimitable style—beautiful, rendered “accurately,” life-like. Artists like Cindy Sherman—another maker who blends the public and private and forges something new and fresh—have inspired Pierce. His mother, whose scarves are one of many items carried in the space of Westminster, “has a lot of looms in her house,” says Pierce with a grin. The apple hasn’t fallen too far from the tree, and the results are wonderful.
Just around Compton, the guys have set up a storefront that features Cole Lu’s wonderful piece that blends poetry and visual art, a type of fill-in-the-blank statement that truly makes one intrigued and forces one to really think about how the blanks would be answered, so to speak. You can see Lu’s piece at night, all lit up and full of life near the corner of Cherokee and just south on Compton.
I ask both Pierce and Curry about “eroticism” in their work. In the end, we can’t all but agree that the “Boyfriend Pillows” and other works do possess a good deal of sexiness, if by sexiness one can agree that beauty and craft possess that sort of thing. Spectrums of sexuality are discussed. A philosophical talk occurs wherein we wonder and speak about eroticism versus sexiness. Like most theoretical endeavors, we are left wondering, or at least I am. I know there is still the warmth and beauty of the shop. And there is the myriad of pieces and prints that writhe with life and command to be noticed, not with a type of arm waving here-I-am ostentatiousness, but with subtlety and artfulness. It’s an honor to be here. On the walk back, the warmth stays with me just long enough to keep going home.