In his prodigious and varied body of work, Dave Muller combines the roles of artist, curator, promoter, and cartographer. Since 1994, Muller has been arranging what he calls “Three Day Weekends.” Half-party, half-exhibition, these nomadic events—which Muller has staged in private residences, galleries, museums, and other locations in cities as farflung as Los Angeles, New York, Frankfurt, and Tokyo—create temporary, alternative spaces for displaying the artwork of friends and peers, spinning records, exchanging ideas, and simply bringing people together. Parallel to this activity, and in a similar spirit of self-effacing generosity, Muller has produced drawings and watercolors resembling exhibition announcements for other artists. Deftly rendered, these hand-crafted advertisements wittily engage issues of authorship and call attention to the social and institutional setting in which art operates. A former college DJ, Muller has brought the same keen interest in the mechanics of culture to the realm of popular music, creating watercolors of his and his friends’ record collections and wall drawings charting the evolution of rock and roll.
In addition to mapping the fields of cultural production, Muller has turned to mapping real space. He has created several series of sprawling, multipanel paintings on paper that deal with the urban landscape in a diagrammatic way, beginning with A Theoretical View from the Roof of Dia (1999), set in New York, and continuing with The City at 11:16 am (2002), in San Francisco, Sprawling (2002–03), in Los Angeles, and The Northerly Set (2002–03), in Vancouver. Although these works contain isolated references to particular sites that Muller researched through photographs—such as the top of a building, or, in the panels pictured here, a balloon and a banner of flags that he noticed above an L.A. car dealership—they are dominated by interchangeable panels of generic blue skies, marked by clouds and airplane contrails. Broken into separate groupings, and sometimes recombined with panels from other series, the works further lose their original reference. Muller is interested in this process of transformation and the potential for continual change. Rather than creating traditional, closed landscapes, he conceives of these installations as “kits” that the owner of the work can arrange and rearrange in various configurations on the wall, an open process he compares to his experience mixing as a DJ.