GLAMFA – Graduate Student Curated Art

GLAMFA artists 2015 - all photos by Jack Burke
GLAMFA artists 2015 – all photos by Jack Burke

Once upon a time, eleven years ago, students at California State University Long Beach were left out of MFA student exhibitions – Long Beach itself being left by the wayside.  So, according to artist and coordinator Kimberly Morris, “We built our own sandbox and now everyone plays in it.” Today, the Greater Los Angeles MFA survey exhibition is a powerhouse of art curated by CSULB grad students, and drawing submissions from as far away as Santa Barbara, Las Vegas, and San Diego. Combined with the opening panel, reception, and exhibition held this past Sunday afternoon, students’ open studios were offered for the art-browsing. Different this year, according to Morris, was that “members of our panel also have their own work on exhibit this year.” Art being a visual medium, let the pictures that follow tell the story – and do go see this exhibit, running through September 3rd on the CSULB campus at the Fine Arts building. What are you waiting for? Jump on the 405 or the 710! Parking, like the exhibit itself, is free.



Artist Lan Duong


The central courtyard between galleries showcases artist Lena Wolek’s “Big Pants”


Works by Logan Bell; Christina Mesiti



Artist Yael Nov


Artist Stacy Wendt





Lena Wolek is just commencing her second week in the MFA program. The artist moved here from Siberia fourteen years ago. These ceramic suitcases work as drums; Wolek demonstrates the music they make.









Artist Manny Krakowski has a background in glass blowing. This project is called “Salt Ball,” and is a monument to performance art Krakowski performed on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The exhibit includes a three-channel video documenting the ball game on the flats.


The bat’s silver bar is mirrored inside glass.



Krakowski on “first.”


Work at the MFA program’s Ceramic Labs







  • Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke

The Art You Missed: A Look Back at the Unique Work of Betsebee Romero: “After and Again”




All Photos by Jack Burke
One of the most startling and beautiful installation art pieces of recent years was on display at Hollywood Forever Cemetery earlier this summer, inside the art deco-era Masonic Lodge. The site-specific public art installation was created by Mexican contemporary artist Betsabee Romero. Internationally renowned for her fascinating installations, this piece was inspired by both pre-Columbian images and pop culture. Curated by Sylvia Chivaratanod, After and Again – Skull of a Thousand Faces is rooted in poetry, and serves as a platform for artistic textiles and design.

Stunning periwinkle blue and soft gold lighting surrounded the Masonic Hall’s main room, where the walls streamed red and gold banners, delicate white Pima cotton embroidered garments were hung on winged copper hangars, and giant tires served as frames for transparent, glowing skulls. Lit paper balloons soared above the floor in this beautiful merging of textile design and sculpture.


The art of Betsebee Romero – all photos – Jack Burke


The copper wings were crafted by Ernesto Bonilla. Romero created a visceral, moving poem that defines the scope of the exhibit, “Death Flies.” In the piece, she writes “Besides the embroidery and the garments keeping them company…the wings with handcrafted copper feathers..delicately open to honor and uphold the textiles…the hands that spend hours drawing lines, faces, patterns of silk…skulls that are illuminated by imprinted flowers.”

The art of Betsebee Romero - all photos - Jack Burke
The art of Betsebee Romero – all photos – Jack Burke

In conjunction with the installation, Romero has available 200 numbered copies of a limited edition signed and numbered box, containing a Pima cotton garment, copper wing sculpture, and a hand-printed photograph of the artist.

This magical installation piece worked both as a celebration of textile-driven art, and as a moving tribute to life and death, or as Romero writes, “the fragile beauty of impermanence.” It offers a fascinating and insightful exploration of the processes, materials, and creation of art itself. To see more of Romero’s work, visit LACMA and MOCA, where several of her creations are a part of both museums’ permanent collections.

Photo by Jack Burke
Photo by Jack Burke
  • Genie Davis; all photos by Jack Burke


Barrel Down DTLA – Modern Times Tap Takeover Coming


All Photos by Jack Burke

Barrel Down Beer Hall
Barrel Down Beer Hall

Barrel Down is a hip industrial-chic beer hall in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. With forty taps – that’s right – forty, twenty of which are core brew offerings, twenty rotating – there are plenty of exciting craft beers to taste, and a sleek, minimalist environment to do it in. Adding even more to a beer-lover’s dream is the spot’s new monthly “tap takeover” series.  Coming right up September 2nd, Modern Times, the craft brew purveyor out of San Diego will be holding forth all night with six of their beers.

Apple Cider Sprouts
Apple Cider Sprouts

Along with the beer, there’s beer cocktails, and a wide range of dining options.  Barrel Down has a full Sunday brunch, entrees like fish and chips, and perfect beer drinking snacks like apple cider sprouts – Brussel sprouts with a tangy flavor twist. Our favorites were crisp and addictive cauliflower popcorn that comes with malt ale, ginger aioli  and chili lime vinaigrette, and a shrimp slider in a brioche bun, with the shrimp coated with a well-seasoned corn meal crust.

Cauliflower Popcorn
Cauliflower Popcorn
Shrimp slider
Shrimp slider

While a small patio also provides seating, the place to be is inside the long, narrow bar, with clean wooden lines, exposed brick, and high ceilings.

Outside Barrel Down - patio
Outside Barrel Down – patio
Inside Barrel Down
Inside Barrel Down

While the setting is modern and fun, and the bar snacks upscale and tasty, Barrel Down is, as is should be, really all about the beer. Bar manager and beer list cultivator Jason Hamilton is a certified Cicerone. Don’t know what that is? Well, we didn’t either. “There are three levels of certification,” Hamilton explains. “Currently I’m at certified beer server. It’s all about knowledge, from what one is serving and how to properly store beer, to in-depth sensory evaluation of beers. With forty taps,” Hamilton laughs, “being more tech savvy about draft lines and flavor testing is important.”

Modern Times Blazing World
Modern Times Blazing World

In anticipation of the Modern Times tap takeover, we tasted the microbrewery’s Blazing Worlds. This hoppy amber ale has an ABV of 6.8% , featuring Nelson, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops, which offer a rich fruity taste. The beer itself is dry, crisp, and has notes of both fruit and bread. Next came Grazias Vienna Cream Ale from Hess brewing, a creamy, smooth beer with strong notes of chocolate, vanilla, and toast, which offers a rich full taste and a dark malt profile. We also tasted two sours. The Holy Gose from Anderson Valley, which was deliciously light, served up a slight sour pucker along with clean, strong notes of salt water, coriander, and hops to go with its relatively mild 4.2% ABV.  It’s a beer that’s meant for summer afternoons and repeated tasting. Grand Teton’s Snarling Badger is a sour wheat with a stronger sour flavor and a 7.5% ABV. It’s as rich as the Holy Gose is light – an interesting contrast. Our last taste was of Alpine’s Hoppy Birthday Pale Ale, which is a light, refreshing ale that tastes a lot like an IPA.

The variety of tastes we tried mirrors the approach of Barrel Down overall. “We have the ability to support local craft breweries and expose people to the great flavors without being ostentatious,” Hamilton notes. “We make sure our bartenders know our products and can describe them, but we also recognize that some people just want to come in and have a drink without thinking too much about it. Others really want to know about their beer.”

Hamilton certainly knows plenty, including how to offer customers the best possible product. “We want to see lacing and head retention on the glass. We have double trunk lines with a glycol system to make sure that the beer is properly cooled at 34 degrees,” he explains. Barrel Down sources its beers from craft breweries around the U.S., and tries to learn as much about these sources as it can. “We believe there’s a story behind every beer and we like to tell that story to our customers,” Hamilton attests. And if customers are looking to craft their own brew, Barrel Down has that covered, too, with home brew classes offered on the mezzanine level above the bar every second Saturday.

Out of his forty taps, does Hamilton have a favorite? We got a smile and this dissemination “My favorite beer is the beer I’m tasting at the time you ask me.” Of course it would be hard to choose a favorite from among the wide variety of core and rotating brews, but we’re guessing Hamilton will choose a Modern Times draft as his favorite come September 2nd.

Are you “down” with that?

Barrel Down is located at 525 W. 7th St.

Downtown Core

  • Genie Davis; all photos by Jack Burke

The Art of Sedona

Sedona is an artful town. From sidewalk and parking lot statues, to galleries packed with local art, to the art that’s painted by nature in the sunset skies, the beautiful red rocks, and the cusp of a crescent moon.

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Tlaquepaque is a graceful, tree shaded Spanish-colonial shopping plaza.  Beneath shady trees on winding paths there are over forty shops and galleries. Also on site is the Oak Creek Brewery, which makes a relaxing spot to – pardon the phrase – enjoy the art of a micro-brew IPA.

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With summer’s heat intense by day, strolling these graceful paths at night can be just the thing. The Renee Taylor Gallery was open late, and featured a number of gorgeous, landscape-evocative pieces.

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Sculptures, particularly metal sculptures, are everywhere in Sedona: from bronze statues of skateboarders near a roadside to shimmering crystal laden wire trees in parking lots. Animal figures are especially prevalent.

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sedona scupltue

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And what about art painted by nature’s hand? At Airport Mesa, sunset viewing is a celebration that illuminates red rock monuments throughout the valley. At Crescent Moon Red Rock Crossing a view of the famous – and challenging to climb – Cathedral Rock is the lure; for an all encompassing view and the reflection of the sunset as it paints the sky, the Vista Point trail in Boynton Canyon is the perfect Western landscape. Architectural art? Try The Chapel of the Holy Cross, built into a red rock cliff as if it had sprung there.  It too is a work of art, inspired and commissioned by local sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude.


sedona 5 red rock

Sedona sunset

sedona chapel