Collages from utopia; mixed media paintings on vinyl

“Little Utopia,” a new installation curated by James Fish and includes work by Chris Avitable, James Fish, and Mario Richeda. Combining collage, painting, sound, and sculpture furniture, the artists share a vision of Utopia / Dystopia. Drawing inspiration from literature, sci-fi movies and music, this exhibit makes an effort to redefine a contemporary vision of Utopia. In this “perfect world” functionality meets simplicity, and mutates the familiar everyday surroundings. The result is more than just perfect.

“Little Utopia” on view from May 17 through June 14,
Opening reception Saturday, May 17 7-11 p.m.
Sound Performance by Chris Avitable: 9:30PM

Below are samples of the work contributed by James FISH
1K0I1417_lowres 1K0I1422_lowres 1K0I1425_lowres 1K0I1428_lowres 1K0I1432_lowresLittleUtopia42_lowres LittleUtopia43_lowresLittleUtopia49_lowresLittleUtopia51_lowres

It’s nice living in harmony, everyone has a place and they stay in their place. Beauty appears everywhere, in the dew soaked debris, smoke swirling glass, tufts of diamond studded plumes of olive-green around everything possessing “life force”. Don’t worry about what anyone is saying. It doesn’t really matter anyway does it? We are organized, everything has changed, for the better. Emotions are kept in check. I’m a team player moving forward slowly and surely as sure as the traffic keeps on creeping, hypnotized by my reflection in the environment around me. Something is needed..looking for it. It is “familiar” with a degree of strangeness. A place of “feeling”, appealing to the senses. Warmth, sunlit with lots of views, plenty of space, personal, conveniently located with fresh breezes. And it is a place of “functionality”. Multi-tasking, clones without feelings, fulfilling increased needs. 3 day work weeks with 4 day weekends. Spend less, Work less, Live a little more. More holidays, a holiday just for sex, a holiday for eating candy, and a holiday for shopping and buying.
Trash is disappearing since we have started launching it into space.
Black holes act as receptacles for all that is waste and unwanted. Criminals and non-conforming types are given the same destiny. More time is possible for those who can afford it. Time is given a monetary value and more may be purchased. Time may be accelerated. With technology being part of this modern society some believe that a more primitive way of living is desirable.


Below are comments made to the post about Utopia on fishlab.blogspot.com.

What does it mean to you “Utopia”?
If you happen to find yourself reading this question, please take a moment to respond. I am creating some paintings and some art about this subject. I am filling my sketchbook with drawings and notes. I could really benefit from your opinion. All thoughts on this subject are welcome, your humor, sarcasm, personal perspective and philosophical opinions please. This question was posted and here are the following responses.

Robin Willis said…


Utopia is perfectly balanced. Utopia is open but controlled by the responsibilities of community. Utopia has space for one’s self but one’s space is part of a whole. One’s heart beats slower in utopia. One breathes deeper. Moments are valuable in their simplicity. There are opportunities in utopia. But there are responsibilities that go with those opportunities. Utopia grows with the growth of the members and the community but never gets out of balance. And there are jokes in Utopia. Lots of jokes.


Sabrina said…

Hmmm. . .what is Utopia? Nice question. I’d say Utopia is a “fusion of past and future.” In terms of societies, the ideal new society is informed by history. It’s basically a collage – and necessarily relevant to everyone. Fluidity and flexibility supersede rigidity. My four cents. . .


TCluck said…

Plato’s Republic ….Heaven…Paradise ……….Perfect community………..Marxism (just brainstorm off top of head ideas)

who knows some work some don’t right ???


Candi H said…

utopia for me would be peace on earth.



jesse said…

Jesse says — UTOPIA — Peace ,No more war ,future


Kim W said…

Utopia is a place in time when the grown-ups already know how to “use their words.”


Val said…

I took a Utopian Literature course in college and was mesmorized by these seemingly ideal, clear, logical worlds. I was idealistic and agonized over the cruelties and unfairness in the world. Then I got older and found myself accepting the complications of people and the planet (with the occassional outrage). I still want things to improve, but a certain peace seems to come with the chaos. My grandfather tells me that you only chill out more as time rolls on! Um, does this mean that Utopia = Accepting Chaos?


Anonymous said…

Utopia is an Island in the southern hemisphere of my wildest imagination. It is a place where the left points don’t outnumber the rights. It’s always 3-6 ft and slightly offshore.
The only monetary system is human kindness and goodwill. Everyone there contributes to the overall well being of everyone and everything else.
There are no power rangers here, no no. John Lennon & Jimmy Buffett sing duets all day every day and…Ok… I think I’ve gotten a little carried away.
I guess that’s Utopia an imaginary place where there is no impending doom and were not just waiting to die.


sheiva said…

Utopia is what happens in a bubble. Shielded, pure, colorful.

Until you run out of oxygen…[gasp!]


Anonymous said…

Utopia is different things to different people. It may be driving your SUV into your gated MacMansion with 2.5 kids in the back. It may be living in a shack on a subtropical island and growing your own food…
Right now Silver Lake is the closest I can find to my idea of utopia. KP


Melanie Nissen said…

utopia, it doesn’t exist.


Bob Corwin said…

not to worry about food or the roof over your head…..and knowledge,honesty and compassion are the universal spiritual goals shared by all


Victor Millan said…

Utopia for me would be the freedom of choice and mutual respect. Everyone would be able to live their lives as they pleased but no one would be capable of hurting each other or the evironment. We would also be in harmony with the resources and live healthy.

I would spend my days making art and learning math and science and free love of the 60′s would be back.


flyncooley said…

I Am Utopia

I like What Val had to say about Utopia, and the anonymous after too.

Utopia for me is not a place in space but in the mind. If everyone accepted and embraced the world around us right now, it would become Utopia. If people stop seeking recognition, start functioning autonomously, and free themselves from whatever Master might have then Enslaved then as Val posted they will chill out and realize everything they desire is within

“The complete, absolutely free man, definitively and completely satisfied with by what he is, the man who is perfected an completed in and by this satisfaction, will be the slave who has ‘overcome’ his Slavery”. Alexander Kojev

In this sense I think Utopia is experienced individually, and is really a state of mind more than anything else. If many people share this Theory of Utopia and Practice it then Utopia can become a place, although it is the idea, the way of thinking and acting that is most important.

Utopia is Cool


Anonymous said…

Utopia for me would be a better grade in your class …thanks for the D+ James, now I’ll never get into Art Center….sniff sniff …..oh yeah also spelling my name right too! …j/k

Utopia is what you make out of your life how you view the world….You create your own expeperience. I’m reading this book at the moment… fascinating ….here is a sample someone sent me:

ignorance is a fundamental inability to recognize the infinite potential, clarity, and power of our own minds, as if we were looking at the world through colored glass: whatever we see is disguised or distorted by the colors of the glass. on the most essential level, ignorance distorts the basically open experience of awareness into dualistic distinctions between inherently existing categories of “self” and “other.”
- yongey mingyur rinpoche
the joy of living


J W Howd said…

Well, I think that the wise sage Lennon summed it up pretty well.
“Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if your try…”
Everyone knows the rest.
But seriously, that song does say it pretty well.
Now if only people would listen.
9:06 PM


J W Howd said…

It’s certainly a hard one to define.
All of these posters seem to do a pretty decent job of it.
I think that the wise sage Lennon (not Lennin of course) said it well with the lyrics to Imagine.
I can always imagine it. I’m just not sure were ready yet.
9:10 PM


Anonymous said…

Utopia springs from within. Everyone has there own and very few are the same.
I have one, it’s a spiritual perspective that I can retreat to when it seems like your all out to get me.
11:38 PM


Howdyk said…

I don’t believe that when we die, we go to heaven. I do, however, believe in heaven on Earth, right here and now.

Unfortunately as humans, we often get stuck in the worries of the moment and forget that our time here is limited and that we’re wasting our heavenly moments away. We get caught up in the past or in the future, when all we really need to look at is the now.

When it feels like my life sucks, I try to get into the moment and remember how fortunate I am. I always have enough food to eat, a roof over my head, a sense that I am safe and I don’t have to worry about being bombed while at the grocery store. I also have people that love me and people that I love. I don’t know how I struck it so lucky in life, while others suffer. I imagine there are people in this world, when asked what Utopia is, would accurately describe my life.
9:44 AM


Collapsible said…

The end result of Utopia will consistently be some sort of failure. Maybe at least that’s what a multitude of Sci-Fi movies have told me since I was a kid. Starting with Logan’s Run, Brazil, books like 1984 & Fahrenheit 451, have told me since I was a child that Utopia is not a “real” attainable human condition, maybe because it’s usually forced by humans themselves. But also, I possibly OD’d on these media outlets and Sir Thomas Moore’s perfect word will be tainted for me forever (thanks Sci-Fi!!!!).
1:47 PM


Levon Jihanian said…

Utopia is a series of perfect moments in the lives of everyone who exists and ever existed, consolidated and condensed, set up back to back and added to as time goes on. In other words pretty much what we have now..
2:42 PM


Jack Flynn said…

a place of peace and acceptance , yet also one where questions are welcomed with the hope of the answer serving all those involved.
5:28 PM


Bryan Park said…

One image of Utopia I have is at the end of “Metropolis” by Fritz Lang.

Another has lots of nature- flowers, large vistas of fields, waterfalls,

a third vision of Utopia would be a freshly paved road with no traffic
on a slight downhill grade, a few clouds blue skies- riding either along
a beach or in Yosemite.

Which brings another Utopia- Backpacking or hiking through the middle
of wilderness and at the end of each day the camp has already been set
up and the food is cooking and the beer, well the beer would be chilled
in the stream a few feet away from camp.

AHHH Utopia. Someday we will all be there, where ever it is.
5:29 PM


Frick Byers said…



Hi James:

I found this today in the NYT. Hope it triggers something.

I think of utopia as a place where everything tangible – is within reach for
9:09 PM


Anonymous said…

snow that stings sweetly, raspberry colored clouds to float upon, warm blue seas to swim through, feeling the water run across every goosebump on your body, smelling the warm sun and a cool breeze simultanously.

time that is timeless
12:59 PM


mark todd said…

utopia seems impossible.
without some sort of lack of utopia one would take utopia for granted. but it would be nice to live in a mostly utopian world.
10:46 AM


Anonymous said…

Utopia is a rare minute when the leaves falling from the tree happen to not fall any further.

Utopia is a the distance between your knuckle and a brick wall when you happen to cut through a line a pedestrians rather too quickly on your bicycle.

Utopia is a scab the minute it peels off of your knee; a splinter that can be sucked from a finger; a popcorn kernal flake finally dislodged from your teeth by an exhausted & twisted tongue.

Utopia is a butterfly that loses its balance in a waterfall, a rain storm, the rampant spray of a child messing with the sprinkler.

Utopia is a fallen ice cream cone melting on the pavement with a line of ants waiting nearby for a chance to feed their colony.

Utopia is the accumulated consequences of a life well worn and loved, worth living.

-Will Wright


Frank F said…

Hi James.

I apologize for taking so long to respond. I guess I just didn’t want to
take the time to sit down and address it, Utopia. As I think about it, my
definition or concept is so simple and beautiful.

Utopia – A state of belief in my oneness with God. I have complete faith,
trust and belief in that oneness. So much so, that emotions such as fear,
worry and anger no longer exist in my world (mind). I live my life in a
magical way, trusting my intuition totally. Knowing that intuition is God’s
way of communicating with us.

It doesn’t get any better than that. I would be interested in some of the
interpretations you receive.


Eric Rhoden said…

I think Utopia is a place where we are all free to
love without fear. If that were the case, there is no
limit to what we could do.



Anonymous said…

When I read the question my immediate thought was Utopia = NO MONKEY MIND. And I saw monkey mind in a red circle with a slash through it. (monkey mind is a mind that jumps from thought to thought like a monkey jumps from tree to tree) Monkey mind isn’t content in the present moment, but engages with the thoughts that pass through. Without monkey mind we could be free from habitually dwelling in the past and contemplating the future….just living…just being… in flow with and noticing the gifts of the present moment.

super elastic bubble plastic bouncing bubble balls crystal rainbow waterfalls boys and girls on blue bicycles beautiful bountiful butterflies fluttering endless fields of lush green rolling hills pink cotton candy clouds electric blue sky giddy grasshoppers gliding gorilla Mr. Rogers in charge flourishing gardens big rock candy mountain sidewalk chalk glitter glow fountain sugar plum fairy topsy turvy spiraling curvy school house rock sesame street candy land play plax willie wonka tonka truck dreamsicle
3:15 PM