THANK YOU, THESE DAYS | by Monster Children
I know we’re not supposed to judge people based on their taste, but fuck that.
Jodi & Stephen Zeigler’ gallery/book store These Days is truly a work of art, and we all owe them a big thank you for it. The couple has been supplying Angelenos with not just books and unique art shows since 2005, but they also recently opened a mini-These Days book shop inside the Vans DTLA store.
Their love for what they do is so genuine that they can’t help but instilling a sense of creativity in everyone that walks through their doors.
We sat down with them to find out where they get all this inspiration from, and to get a read about their state of mind when deciding to open an art gallery (could have been drugs) and what keeps their juices going (could also be drugs). So let’s find out.
What in the world were you thinking when you opened These Days?
A long time ago…like maybe 16 or 17 years ago we visited a small village in the North of Thailand where we met an eclectic group of ex-pats who had a space with a small restaurant, a shop, rooms to let, and a sort of hangout space where various Thai and foreign friends, acquaintances, and strangers (like us) could sit, eat, chat, and play music together. The regulars there were artists, musicians, yogis, writers, and permaculture farmers of all ages and races held together by this humble space. We had intended to stay in that village for 2 nights but were so charmed our stay lasted more than a week. For the next 7 or 8 years we had the vague idea of starting a space here in LA based on our experience with this group of oddball bohemians. It was always there in the back of our heads and we would see an interesting building or storefront and say ‘that would be a cool spot for the space” but it was always just an idea without a real plan. Then an inexpensive flat on the second floor of a 130-year-old building around the corner from our apartment became available and after some serious consideration, we decided to take the space and start doing shows of our friends’ work.
You probably get this a lot, but is there meaning behind the name “These Days”?
Oh man! Coming up with a name was a struggle and took a while. When we first began doing the odd show and event we were called 118 Winston (our street address), but when we made the decision to open the retail portion and have regular hours we wanted a whole new rebrand. The phrase ‘these days’ is kind of loaded with meaning and irony, and we have always loved the song These Days, written by Jackson Brown. There are many versions of this song by various artists, but our These Days refers to Nico’s, from her album Chelsea Girls. Also, a completely different song but with the same title by Joy Division is the icing on the stereophonic cake.
So the gallery came first, then the book store?
We had been doing random shows under the name 118 Winston. We had almost NO experience in showing and selling art and figured we would just learn by doing. That’s how both of us learn best anyway as neither of us ever really responded well to traditional schooling. We have always been quite passionate about art and photography books so it seemed logical to expand into that. Opening the shop is actually what prompted the rebrand and name change. Again, we had no experience in selling books but naively figured “how hard can it be?!” Turns out it’s really hard.
From an outsider’s perspective, it does seem like you know exactly what you’re doing. How do you keep up with everything going on in this oddball art world of yours?
Oh, thanks for that! Keeping up with the art world…to be honest we don’t. If fact, we don’t really consider ourselves to be part of the art world. When we think “art world” we think of Gagosian or Dietch or Zwirner. While we love many of the artists those galleries represent, the reality they exist in is so different from our own. Rarely, if ever, have we worked with highly known artists. We find people through friends who say “we think you would really like this artist” or we see their work in zines, on Instagram, or while traveling in other cities. We are pretty picky about who we choose to work with. Not because we are elitist or have the best taste, but because we need to really like the artists as people, and believe in them and their work, and look forward to spending time with them. So I guess it’s as simple as we work with our friends or artists we can see ourselves being friends with.
Your current show, Brett & Moon Westfall’s Signs of Life is a cool mix of an artist residency and proper gallery show. How did that come about?
Quite simply because of the Covid pandemic. We had known Brett’s work from his long time collaborations with Comme des Garçons and appreciated how he integrated art with fashion. When we finally met formally, we discovered he was humble, friendly, funny, constantly creating, and devoted to his family and community. We approached him about doing an exhibition here and he began throwing out all kinds of ideas. We set dates for the show later in the year and then The Ides of March came in the form of the Coronavirus and everything was put on hold. No shows for who knows how long. After two months of quarantine we asked Brett if he would like to do an informal residency. We offered him the time and pace to do whatever he wanted, as we had no idea when we would be able to have gallery visitors again. He liked the concept and came back with the idea of having the show be a collaboration with his ten-year-old daughter Moon. We were charmed by the idea. He also wanted to bring in his long-time friend Baseck, an avant-electrontronic music producer to create a sound installation inspired by the work. It took three months to complete the exhibition, which includes intricate murals painted directly on the walls and constructed spaces, turning the whole gallery into an immersive experience.
You’ve kept the store open with safe/distant in-person pick-ups. What has the gallery been like during the pandemic?
Well….at the time of this interview we have been open just over two weeks since the initial shut down in March. We, like everyone else, are fumbling through this new reality and finding a new and safe way to continue exhibiting art. So far that has been done by appointment. We created an online calendar on our website that appointments can be made through. So far it has worked well and in fact we quite like it. There are never more than four people or so in the gallery at once which makes the experience much more intimate and personal. We do miss having openings with crowds and all our friends gathering together, but hopefully, those kinds of events will return soon enough and we can relegate 2020 to the trash heap of crap years.
You now have a mini-These Days book shop at Vans DTLA. What made you want to partner with Vans?
One of the reasons is, being Southern California natives, we quite literally grew up in Vans. In fact, Jodi’s very first real shoes were a pair of red Vans deck shoes, so we were very stoked when approached about the partnership. Our mini-These Days is concentrated on skateboarding and all the cultural aspects that either came from or influenced skating, from books on obscure art, punk rock, graffiti, and vintage skate zines, to tomes that tell the history of the “sport”. It’s a lot of fun for us to do and we feel honored to be partnering with such an iconic California brand.