Ricky Swallow

Ricky Swallow

Ricky Swallow is an artist based in Los Angeles.


What artworks would you have/do you have in your drawing room?

I'm going to stick to reality, otherwise I’m petitioning the Menil for permanent residency there.

Within our home we hang very little of our own artworks, the idea for us ( myself and my wife Lesley Vance) is that when you come home, the things you've been confronting all day should not necessarily greet you! 

In our living room we have a Walter Swennen painting, a beautifully simple and puzzling thing, a Richard Tuttle cardboard, wood and wire relief from 1984 titled "Tiger Tail" and a Ree Morton painting on board from her 'Signs of Love' series which has the word 'Symbols' painted over a dense turquoise ground. These are all relatively small works that have a particular potency or charge to them. The Morton painting was a gift to mark Lesley's 40th birthday. She had spent time with Morton's work and archive in her early 20's in New York working at Alexander and Bonin Gallery, so this painting entering our house was also marking this important time cycle of exposure and subsequently her own activity as painter.

There's also a lot of ceramics by Michael and Magdalena Frimkess on shelves and a tile mosaic which is laid directly in the floor in front of the fireplace, a small Philadelphia Wireman work, a Joe Zorrilla wall piece, an Alice Mackler collage and ceramic bust, a pair of Shaligram drawings from India, a David Musgrave bronze figure, a Diane Simpson piece above one door which frames a group of Christina Ramberg drawings in the corridor behind it. There's a drawing by Ron Nagle, a ceramic orb by John Mason, a photograph by Nick Relph, a group of Alan Constable ceramic cameras, some aubock pieces and a few Native American objects, two hopi tableta's and a set of Navajo dance paddles. It sounds like a lot as I'm listing things, but there is a sense of things having their own specific place.

The favorite chairs for both of us are the Roy McMakin rocker and this object I can only describe as part vaulting horse part daybed, like all of Roy's work these can be read as sculptures too, real beings in the room as opposed to passive furniture!


What books would you read/are you reading in your drawing room?

Right now I'm bouncing between 'The Mars Room' by Rachel Kushner (brilliant as expected!) and The Bruce Nauman Interviews and Writings. I've also just completed the book 'Hadley Lee Lightcap' by Sam Sweet about the LA band Acetone from the early to mid 90's. It came out concurrently with the reissued double LP on Light In The Attic, and it's really well written- and as much about the aesthetics and feeling of LA at that time as it is about the three band members and their trajectories in music and life. CalArts and Mike Kelley feature prominently. I met Steve Hadley (the drummer) years ago when I was surfing with some regularity, and he’d burned me some of their music, but the book really opened up the context for the music in a pretty intense way.


What movies would you watch/are you watching in your drawing room?

Rarely watch movies, especially at home. Like everyone I recently watched Wild Wild Country and was left totally satisfied despite the 10,000 unanswered questions. This idea that so much information is available via Netflix or Roku stalls my brain whenever I have time to watch something. I’m digging back to Top of The Lake right now because I missed it at the time and High Maintenance is maybe the show we both mutually love the hardest and actually seems like such a necessary show right now.


What music would you listen to/are you listening to in your drawing room?

In a Bill Orcutt hole right now after seeing him live a couple times this past year. All the records that Black Editions are putting out are great, beautifully produced selected reissues of Japans P.S.F label and they’ve also been arranging amazing shows here. The few things I remember playing at home are Vazz, Loren MazzaCane Connors and Alan Licht’s live record from 96 (New World of Sound)- I just got this- also a great cover with a B/W image of Giacometti’s studio, the new Amen Dunes record and Richard Horowitz- Eros in Arabia on Freedom to Spend, another favorite new label, everything about it is bonzer. 


Who would you/do you invite into your drawing room?

We don’t really have that many guests over, which is bad, or too bad. The person I’d most like to invite over right now is basically anyone that will re-alphabetize the records because the order has gotten loose and things need the attention of someone with more patience than me.. 

There’s been occasions when friends/fellow artists have stayed at the house when we are away and that always generates renewed interest in the books, objects and records via new eyes and ears. A year or so back our friends Sun An and Ava Kaufman, musician/graphic designer and clothing designer were staying and they dug into some books and records I’d forgotten about. I’d also text them record recommendations and feedback would come back, it was a nice dialogue and when I came home I found myself retracing their footsteps through our own library.