GLAMFA: The Greater Los Angeles MFA Show 2017

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With an opening reception scheduled for January 29th from 6-8 p.m., the 2017 iteration of GLAMFA, the Greater Los Angeles MFA show, marks its 12th year presenting the best of graduate student art work. Organized and curated by California State University Long Beach students, the event is held at the CSULB art galleries on campus. This year’s exhibition will include twenty-eight MFA students from 12 California art schools: CSUN, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, Claremont, Cal Arts, Cal State Fullerton, Art Center, Azusa Pacific, Laguna College of Art & Design, Otis, and UC Irvine.

While the program focuses on emerging trends in contemporary artworks, the Los Angeles area is also key in these works. Thought not every piece is California-centric, LA serves as the mirror that reflects the exhibition itself. Each piece speaks to a critical moment in time for the artists and for their art.

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Along with the evening opening of the exhibition, from 4 to 6 p.m., viewers will have the chance to see works on display at an open studio event, and a live performance by UCSB student and former gymnast Emily Baker, above, whose enigmatic work explores both the body itself and the transience of athleticism.

In yet another event, on January 31st, GLAMFA welcomes three alumni to discuss their art practice and its evolution since graduate school. Speaking will be Zackary Drucker (GLAMFA 2007), Patricia Fernandez (GLAMFA 2010), and Katie Shapiro (GLAMFA 2015).

The participating GLAMFA 2017 artists include Chelsea Avarez, Gal Amiram, Yair Agmon, Emily Baker, Lyndsay Bloom, Cara Chan, Ashley Jan Gardner, Tanner Gilliland-Swetland, Audrey Hope, Angie Jennings, Emily Blythe Jones, Jennifer King, David Lucien Matheke, Ariel Mazariegos, Andrea Patrie, Jackie Rines, Justin Robinson, Doraelia Ruiz, Sunny Samuel, Janet Solval, Peter Sowinski, Omid Orouji, Hazel Straight, Christina Tsui, Shannon Willis, Stormy Wu, Sichong Xie, Drea Zlanabitnig.

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The work is as varied as it is beautifully wrought. Ashley Jan Gardner’s “Fredric Augustus,” is a large oil on panel work featuring an evocative full body portrait of a man in his living room. From the cast of the light to his casual attire, the piece speaks of Southern California even as it depicts a contemplative, seemingly thoughtful and amused older man.

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The vibrantly colorful mixed media work of Doraelia Ruiz “Under-Achiever” is mounted on stretched and printed vinyl. The piece blossoms with a palette that reminds the viewer of bougainvillea, blue sky, and street art; the complex images seem almost religious in nature.

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Or take in the wonderfully humorous work of Jackie Rines with the sculpture “Wendiceratops,” a ceramic dragon with startling fuscia claws and a hairstyle reminiscent of Lisa Simpson. This is a creature born to roam California.

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Equally compelling and quintessentially Californian is Gal Amiram’s photo installation, “Ida’s Travels To The Holy Land,” with a pastel donkey and it’s female protagonist clad in white capris. Here the Holy Land may be based on California dreamin’.

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The embroidered work depicting a fragment of “IN-N-OUT BURGERS” signage by Ariel Mazariegos is another take on the California lifestyle; a fresh look at an iconic and highly recognizable eatery and a visual artifact of the region.

CSULB Open Studio Artists presenting include Rhiannon Aarons, Alice Andreini, Isabel Avila, Kelly Campanella, Stevan Dupus, Fred Eck, Joanie Ellen, Qingsheng Gao, Mimi Haddon, Shannon Leith, Katie Marshall, Patricia Martin, Narsiso C Martinez, Jesse Parrott, Justin Rightsell, Elena Roznovan, Cintia Segovia, Ashley Shumaker, Amy Williams, Patrick Williams, and Lena Wolek.

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Viewers will see works that include Lena Wolek’s imaginative and stirring ceramic “Escape Route” luggage, and Elena Roznovan’s “Untitled” installation which includes a twinned, panoramic video depicting the raw desert, and a dirt sculpture.

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Don’t miss this exploration of exciting, bold art – that’s exciting, bold California-influenced art, at GLAMFA this month.

Opening Reception January 29th 6-8pm
CSULB Open Studios: January 29th 4-6pm
GLAMFA graduates talk: January 31st, evening presentation
On view January 23 – February 1, 2017
Monday – Friday, 12 p.m. – 5p.m., Wednesday, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.

For more information see: http://greaterlamfa.com/

All That Glitters

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A new and stunning project space is opening this Sunday January 8th with a reception from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. at the 7th Street Produce Market. In this historic but unlikely setting, artists Zadik Zadikian, Kaloust Gudel, and KuBO present four immersive, large-scale artworks that dazzle with their conceptions of texture, light, color, and on-going evolution.

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In a building constructed 100 years ago, Zadikian has established a studio project space that turns its environment into a work of art. His plan is to watch the artwork unfold and grow with new elements to be added to existing works and new artists to create their own visual compositions.

On Sunday, viewers will see four pieces: Zadikian’s “Foreigners,” his untitled gold-leaf wall, Guedel’s “The Coronation of Vagina,” and KuBO’s opalescent “Once Upon the Time in the West.”

 

Taken as a whole, viewers will enter a magical, surreal space, one rich in concept and visual texture, vibrant in color, and alive in its transitional, creative state. Individually, each piece is likely to burn a succinct, dazzling image into the viewers’ retinas, creating memorable visual moments that resonate with meaning. These are highly interpretive, experiential works; art that will have viewers discussing it, analyzing it, and simply reveling in its depths.

Zadikian found his project space four years ago, and began work on what he calls his “semi-permanent” installation shortly thereafter. Sunday’s reception marks his soft opening, with a larger opening planned for spring.

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On the east wall overlooking the produce market, Zadikian has created a gold wall, one which glitters in the light, that moves with the delicacy of wings as air filters throughout the space.

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“I used imitation gold leaf purposely, so that you become aware of time as the colors of the leaf changes,” Zadikian relates. When newly mounted, the delicate gold leaf is glittering and shiny. Where the elements reach the work, and age it, the leaf turns coppery, bronze. The most exposed areas, window frames drenched in light, coated industrial piping, are turning purple and blue.

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“There are some overlaps of the leaf where the elements can’t get in and that will stay shimmering gold.  The surface, top layer will gradually turn blue black,” the artist explains. “I used to cover entire spaces in New York with gold leaf, the whole concept is to petrify by casting in gold.”

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This work feels very much alive, as much a meditation on the passage of time, of life, breath, and being, as it is a stunning art work that dances with light. It reflects on our intimate, intrinsic concern with aging, how we shift, change, the shininess of youth undone by the days and years in which we live. There is a haunting, poignant feel to the work that is almost evenly met by a sense of being uplifted, gratitude for the process of living which includes aging itself.

“It becomes very much alive, it flutters, it is the awareness of material and air, very peaceful and meditative,” Zadikian says. “It is a simple application of material, each piece 5″ by 5″ square.”

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The result is like alchemy writ large across a 12-foot-high and 60-foot-long brick wall.

“I started the work when I moved in three and a half years ago, and I finished it this year. What happened over time was not intentionally done. I didn’t know you would get a natural patina, that nature would take over. The overlaps, the movements are intentional, to create awareness of the material,” he says. “But the discoloration was discovered. I had always worked only with genuine gold leaf before, and that never changes. It is timeless.”

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The pieces plays with light, with motion, making viewers hyper aware of its fragility, and Zadikian’s assertion that the piece is “like butterflies on the wall.” Certainly, like a butterfly, the piece undergoes a metamorphosis, a transformation, and visual zeitgeist.

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Directly in the center of the large project space is Zadikian’s free standing “Foreigners.” The artist refers to the real gold leaf gilded sculptures on their rich black background as subconscious sculptures.

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The cast gold works, hung on the background with magnets, are mesmerizing. Study them to find faces, lips, noses, eyes, creatures.

“The title, ‘Foreigners’ refers to ideas coming from the subconscious, images of creatures coming from space. Every day I would come in to work and never know what I would come up with,” Zadkian smiles.

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“I think the real creativity is not knowing what you’re going to come up with. You go to unknown places. We are all afraid of uncontrolled forces, but when you accept that power it is amazing.”

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Zadikian’s stunning work is not finished yet. “I’m coming up with another five thousand tiny pieces to add to it. It will become a galaxy with no beginning, timeless, using materials and forms created by natural forces and gravity.”

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That the piece is rich enough to evoke an entire universe is unarguable, the features on the sculptural works also feel representative of the spiritual dimension to human existence; souls, perhaps strange angels.

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“You see everything because of the gold, it is not used here because it is a precious metal but because through it’s experience you can see the forms immediately.”

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Zadikian shapes these forms by literally dropping the clay he works with against the studio floor. “I bang it on the floor and the mass of gravity and the clay together, those two forces create the shape, the form. I move the soft clay and bang and turn it until I get shapes that stop me intuitively. When I see the shape that makes sense, I stop and add a few details like eyes, nose, lips, to reference those features.”

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At that point the artist makes a mold and casts it on plaster. The mold is broken with a chisel. Referring to the processes that preserved mummies and sarcophagi in ancient Egypt, Zadikian wraps the plaster with burlap to reinforce it while it drives. Then he applies several coats of shellac to seal the works “because plaster is porous.”

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When the shellac layers dry, he applies gold-size that’s oil based.  The gold leaf is then applied and sticks to the surface. “This is called oil gilding,” the artist explains.

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His black backdrop is created with a mix of black color and plaster layered onto the surface. “It took three weeks just to get a certain texture and thickness, and then it is finished with six or seven layers of black shoe polish,” which creates the textural richness and vibrating depth of the blackness.
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“Foreigners” is positioned directly across the project space from Guedel’s work, “The Coronation of Vagina.” Referring to his work as a fresco rather than an installation, Guedel, too works in layers. The piece covers the north entry wall, and consists of a paint and plaster bright blue background and another layer created with translucent vinyl with paint in sections. Between these, vinyl geometric shapes are hung or lie among the flowing clear vinyl sheets.  Just as Zadikian’s gold wall shifts in the wind, Guedel’s work shifts in the light, creating the illusion of water flow, sun beams, and moonlight.

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Guedel is a part of the so-termed excessivism movement, one which reflects and examines every aspect of life in an excessive state. It depicts the exessive use of resources in visual creations, with a goal of examining the capitalist system. Putting these prescient but political dimensions aside, Guedel’s work was a five month process, it’s title and intent to emulate the birth of a child entering this space of artistic vision.

Working in vinyl and acrylic, Guedel says “My starting point was the architectural structure I used to compose. The imposition of the door, the electrical outlets, the faucet on the space, accepting it as it is and working with that. When I was finished with the piece, I couldn’t see the explanation for the door, so I used it as the center.”

The shiny white door – the physical entrance to the space – stands aside, a blank spot that aches with and for meaning.

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“I added the yellow vinyl pieces as a crown-type element and then the title came to life,” Guedel says.

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The vibrant, almost royal-blue wall was initially painted with a roller, then painted over with white and begun again. “When I started again I added more water and used a spatula to apply the color. It’s an art to create the wall, and the wall is an important part of the art. Move the art anywhere else and it would be a different piece,” he asserts.

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The geometric vinyl shapes are stretched over wood in the same way that canvas would be stretched. “The pieces have horizontal and vertical shapes. Those that are on the ground are in motion, they were pulled to the ground.” The piece has a flow that connects the top of the wall, and the rich blue which climbs the ceiling space as well, all the way to the ground.  There is a huge, indomitable flow to the work which is, Guedel says, a continuation of previous works that were part of a six painting series. This work is 16 feet high by 47 feet wide. He has also experimented creating a smaller single color 12-foot piece that  incorporated fiber optics. “The soft material brings into play organic formation in contrast with the geometric forms,” he says.

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Physically larger than life, the viewer experiences the piece with a sense of the architectural space in which it is shaped, and its dimensionality pulls the viewer into its layers, as if the act of seeing the work added yet another layer.

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On the west facing wall is the appropriately named “Once upon a time in the West” by KuBO.  Again, texture is a strong element in this work, which uses the existing texture of the uneven wall and takes it to a new plane of visual existence.

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Offering a dreamscape of sea foam, pearls, and opals, the iridescent, pearlescent space glows from within and without. Violet colored window sashes are a lush counterpoint to the shifting translucent greens.

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The artist is known to capture luminescence in his work, which at times utilizes some of the attributes of large scale photographs,  through its reflective use of light and color.

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The artist was not present at the studio during our visit; German-born, KuBO splits his time between LA and Hong Kong, and is involved with the international Green Movement.

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Zadikian is thrilled with KuBO’s work. “I had a vision of making a pearlescent space, walls that get rid of the cheap white gallery walls that have become a cliche, that there is something cold and trashy about, that can be painted over and over. This space has very special form to me, the space itself is a found object.”

Utilizing that found object, KuBO works here with polyurethane layered between pigments, creating spaces in which the light reflects the colors back.  Depending on the angle at which a viewer stands, Zadikian notes, “you become aware of the light. It’s not an opaque, fixed color.”

There is a jewel like quality to this wall, it is not decorative material, it becomes something layered; it is a chameleon, a rainbow, flower petals, lizard skin, peacock feathers.  Specialized aqua pigments bring out the layers in the existing wall, create shadows and shapes, but this is a piece that is all about color as image.

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As to the entire project space and the works of all three artists, Zadikian says “I had gilded spaces in gold, I knew how to alter space. I want this space to be about giving birth, giving space to artists to create.”

Enter this new universe at The Project Studio, located at 1318 E 7th. Street, L.A, CA 90021. At Sunday’s opening, art critic Peter Frank will speak at 4:30 p.m.

  • Genie Davis; photos by Ellen Riingen and Genie Davis, triptych image courtesy of artist

Catherine Ruane: Art to Start the New Year

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One of the best ways to start a brand new year is by exploring art which resonates with life, promise, joy, and beauty. Southern California-based artist Catherine Ruane exemplifies all of these in her work, and specifically in one large scale piece currently on display at the Los Angeles Art Association’s Gallery 825 as a part of LAAA’s signature survey exhibition featuring the best in emerging art.

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The stellar Open Show 2016, on display now through January 13th, includes Ruane’s simply gorgeous, inspiring  36″ by 72″ “Minaret,” which is reason alone to take in the exhibition,  juried by Jennifer Inacio of Perez Art Museum Miami.

Featured artists include:
Elizabeth Bailey, Kelly Berg, Clovis Blackwell, JT Burke, Mario Canali, Chenhung Chen, Nathaniel Clark, Jaime Coffey Bateman, Karen Duckles, Holly Elander, Birgit Faustmann, Laurie Freitag, Dwora Fried, Kaori Fukuyama, Miguel Galán, Danielle Garza, Tanner Goldbeck, Antoine Guilbaud, Yoon Chung Han, Gina Herrera, Sol Hill, Mark Indig, Paul Ivanushka, Lynda Keeler, Carol Kleinman, Kevin Michael Klipfel, Faina Kumpan, Tom Lasley, Barbara Lavery, Jung ji Lee, Stuart Marcus, Randi Matushevitz, Dan Monteavaro, Alexis Murray, Makan Negahban, Robert Nelson, Denise Neumark-Rreimer, Eric Oliver, Elizabeth Orleans, Thibault Pelletier, Lori Pond, Meghan Quinn, Margaret Raab, Catherine Ruane, Larisa Safaryan, Shilla Shakoori, Chris Shelby, Susan Swihart, Haikuhie Tataryan, Reisig and Taylor, and Terry Tripp.

We’ve written before on the stunning work of Chenhung Chen, whose life-filled sculptures vibrate with delicate, contained motion; Dwora Fried’s intricate tableaux that inspire passionate discussion; and the touching, funny miniature worlds of Tom Lasley. Each of them and so many more terrific artists are represented in this show. Do explore it.

But today, we are writing about Catherine Ruane, whose graphite and charcoal works, of which “Minaret” is one, are quite simply profound.

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Above, “Minaret.” The perfect, delicate detail in this intricate black and white image of a fan palm is nothing short of astonishing. Rough fronds, the scaled surface of the palm’s trunk, the finely caught shadows – this is an image of life itself, contained is a literal and lovely evocation of a palm tree.

Viewers who study this work will find, as with so many of the artist’s pieces, something that goes beyond the literal, that morphs a perfect tribute to nature into something ethereal and transcendent.

“The ubiquitous palm tree is both a part of Southern California which is my home, but also a plant that is a survivor despite long hot summers. The tree was once used as a tall tower to call people to prayer before a temple with a minaret could be built. I am fascinated by how this tree has been used as a way to bring people to a place of spiritual calm. I experience an internal peace while carefully rendering all the complicated mix of details in the bark and leaves. Within the chaos there a structure of order. Opposites thrive,” Ruane says.

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Above, “Transgression.”

Ruane’s work is pristine, but it’s almost photographic nature is just one part of what pulls the viewer into her world. She doesn’t just chronicle, she creates a transporting experience, pulling viewers into what feels like a sacred space, fecund with life.

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Above, “Gila River II.”

Below,  “Cloister.”

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Her water series ripples with light, the life of the water is vivid motion and shadow; her cacti are so sharply drawn you can feel the spines.

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Above, “Unravelled.”

About her palm series, the artist says “The palm tree is the iconic tree growing throughout much of Southern California, Arizona, and Mexico.  The Washingtonia Filifera or California Fan Palm…defines my personal experience of ‘home.'”

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Above, “Invocation.”

There is a sense of awe and wonder in each piece, a complexity that is as nuanced as it is sweeping. Above all, Ruane takes a realistic approach that is exceptionally vivid and at the same time that approach is entirely poetic. It is a true experience of beauty to look at her works, and to study their detail is to fall in love with them and the desert life they represent.

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Above, “Chaparel,” yucca.

Here’s the thing: the natural beauty she depicts, whether it is her palms, water, or other desert plants, is truly wonderful. But she inhabits each aspect of this flora so viscerally and so completely that her work involves the viewer in the intrinsic life force of that particular piece of nature. One can feel it breathe, feel compassion and empathy for a growing thing, an eddy in a river, a sheaf of cactus blossoms. Feel admiration for the resilience of a desert plant, feel the danger of its spines, feel the magnificence of wind, water, branch — she creates a vibrant personality in each work. These are living beings that she shapes.

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Above, “Only the Wind.”

The artist also shares with the viewer a sense of discovery, both of the exceptional wonder of the natural images she depicts and of our ability to view them. Ruane says she hikes and explores the area around her home constantly, observing visual images that help her develop a work.

Feel the artist’s intimate observation in her “Constantine,” below, barbed wire pinning back desert blossoms.

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Explore the glowing detail in this section of Ruane’s water series, below, focusing on the environmental improvements on the Gila River.

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Do not miss a chance to view the lush, personal, thoroughly alive nature in Catherine Ruane’s work. It’s a beautiful way to start the New Year.

Catch Ruane’s “Minaret” in the exciting group show now at LAAA, located at 825 N. La Cienega in West Hollywood.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Courtesy of artist

A Special Place for Exhibitions: Shoebox Projects Artist Residency

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Above Shoebox projects premiered their residency series with a work by Jennifer Gunlock and Susan Feldman Tucker.

Shoebox Projects began hosting a new artist residency in November, offering space for emerging and mid-career artists to present work ranging from encompassing installations to more traditional gallery shows. Founder Kristine Schomaker, an artist herself and owner of Shoebox PR, an artist marketing agency, created the space located in DTLA’s Brewery lofts, to provide a venue for artists to experiment and expand.

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Above, Schomaker with Gunlock and Feldman.

The first exhibition in the new space concluded with a reception just before Thanksgiving from artists Jennifer Gunlock and Susan Feldman. It was Schomaker’s idea that this very different artistic pair work together.

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The reception allowed viewers to intimately explore a single, encompassing installation, one that involved both Gunlock’s drawings with collage and gesso-transfer and Feldman’s wood and found materials sculptures. The end result is a tree house fantasy, a wildly creative mix of fairy-tale house, wilderness shack, and surrealistic living space.

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“We don’t want to project too much of an agenda on it, but a few inspirations, words and phrases we bounced around about it were Disneyland’s Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, abandoned privies, secret hiding places, a ladder to nowhere, and a jungle gym,” Gunlock says.

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Above, details from Feldman-Tucker’s sculptural work, wood, rope, and other found pieces coalesced into an expansive structure.

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Whimsical and packed with creative elements that allowed viewers to discover nooks and crannies, swings and secret sleeping spots, the work was delightful, a free-form world-building experience that encouraged viewer participation.

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Above, a detail from Gunlock’s work, which evokes images of New Orleans style in the structure of a tree house.

Shoebox Projects is fully booked for the coming year with their monthly series of residencies, each of which will end with a solo show. Viewers are encouraged to attend not just the concluding reception, but to engage with artists and their work throughout the month long process.

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The next artist in residence will be Susan Amorde, followed by Emily Wiseman, and Karrie Ross, above left.

Shoebox Projects is located at the Brewery, 660 South Avenue 21 #3 in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis, Kristine Schomaker