Turtle Wayne and Catherine Kaleel at Daniel Rolnik Gallery

Daniel Rolnik with Turtle Wayne - all photos: Jack Burke
Daniel Rolnik with Turtle Wayne – all photos: Jack Burke

The Daniel Rolnik Gallery is something of an anomaly on Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica. It’s cutting edge, ever-changing catalog lets visitors browse art as they would records at Amoeba Music, and the small space showcases some mega talents.

Rolnik Gallery
Rolnik Gallery

Owner Rolnik has been at this beach-side location for a year. “I go on road trips and I find artists I love. From Portland to North Carolina to Dallas to Anaheim, I find great works and exhibit them,” he says. In his browsing bin of artists currently there’s Otis Parsons’ instructor J.T. Steiny working in water colors to memorialize a departed pet, Catherine Kaleel’s zany “Romantic Donuts” series, the block prints and paintings of Krossd, and the holographic images of Tripper Dungan. He features low-gram movement artist Jessika Adams and Jeremy Novy who works on wood.






“I know what I like and I go for it,” Rolnik says. “I’ve written for thirty different art magazines, the L.A. Weekly, Jewish Journal. I was called the world’s most adorable art critic, but so much that I loved was unobtainable. I’m trying to change all that, walk out here and get something you can obtain.”


Turtle Wayne, with 80,000 Instagram followers, is one such obtainable artist. He creates whimsical pieces centered on, yes, turtles. His solo show features originals, prints, sticker packs, shirts, and sketch books.

Turtles by Turtle Wayne
Turtles by Turtle Wayne

“I draw turtles. I draw anything or anyone turned into a turtle. It’s become my identity, it’s how I relate to the world. I put poetry and humor into my work,” Wayne attests.

Based in San Francisco’s East Bay, he was drawing turtles only as a warm-up for other commissions, and the concept started as a joke. “But now,” he notes, “I have close to 2000 turtle pieces posted on Instagram. And you can see thousands of turtle ideas that people can suggest. People like turtles – that’s the whole interaction.”

Rolnik with Catherine Kaleel and her romantic donuts
Rolnik with Catherine Kaleel and her romantic donuts

Catherine Kaleel says the point of her pieces, which include detailed images of nostalgia-infused cassettes is “good humor. Everyone can relate to my work. I’m pretty much laughing the whole time I’m making my pieces, it’s sort of my Prozac creating these paintings.” Currently in the masters program at the Laguna College of Art and Design, the SoCal native has crafted nostalagic images since 2011.

“I don’t feel like fine art and low brow have to be separated. My work is a combination of the two,” she explains.

Kaleel, Rolnik, and visitor Tyrone
Kaleel, Rolnik, and visitor Tyrone

It’s a combination that works for the Daniel Rolnik Gallery itself, where new works and exhibitions pop up with frequency and panache. Check out Turtle Wayne and other artists daily from 3-10 pm at 1431 Ocean Ave. Ste. 1800 in Santa Monica.

  • Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke

Artworks ADL: Justice, Advocacy & Art

Mike Saijo - Oak Tree
Mike Saijo – Oak Tree

If we all stood up to bigotry, we could change history – that’s the message of the Anti-Defamation League’s “Imagine a World Without Hate” video and action campaign and an intrinsic part of the benefit reception and art auction taking place this Thursday, October 22, ArtWorks ADL: Justice, Advocacy & Art. Held at the Beverly Hills home of Jeanne and Tony Pritzker, the event features over 40 LA-area artists, contributing works that are inspired by ADL’s mission.

Laddie John Dill
Above: Laddie John Dill

According to Diane Lazar, Director of Major Gifts Pacific Southwest Region for the ADL, the Pritzker home was the location of the ADL’s Centennial event in 2013 for an art auction. The location was so successful that they’ve opened their home again. “We turn their dining room into a gallery for a silent and live auction. The works presented are reflective of ADL’s mission fighting hatred and bigotry of all kinds.” Lazar notes that a dozen artists who participated in the Centennial event are also participating this time around. “This time we’re working with an art advisor and a committee of some of our top donors and collectors. We went to galleries and artists seeking both established and up-and-coming artists with diverse backgrounds.”

Nancy Nimoy
Above: Nancy Nimoy

The event features small bites, cocktails, and of course art and the artists themselves. “We had approximately 400 attendees at our past art auction event, and expect about the same this year. It’s a win/win for us, our guests, and the artists. The artists are doing something special for us by donating a piece, and we’re able to introduce their work to our guests,” Lazar says.

David Cooley
Above: David Cooley

Tickets are still available to the event, which raised $410,000 for ADL programs in 2013. Lazar hopes to match those contributions this year. “The art is phenomenal, the Pritzker home is amazing, and everyone who comes is guaranteed a lovely time.”

And the art selection? “We know our donor base well, and we selected pieces that not only reflect our mission but that our donors and attendees will fall in love with in a couple of hours on a Thursday night,” she notes. “The artists will attend, and they love talking about the inspiration for their pieces.”

Dan McCleary
Above: Dan McCleary

One returning participant, Dan McCleary, runs the non-profit Art Division, a professional training program that mentors young adults ages 18 to 25 studying the visual arts in LA’s Rampart district. “In 2013 we included one of his students in our auction, this year we’ve invited that artist back as well as including four other Art Division students,” Lazar says. McCleary’s own contribution to the event is his elegantly formal portrait “Erica de Casas,” an etching which reflects McCleary’s own inspiration from the world of old European masters.

Art Diversion students
Art Diversion students

Other artists include Jason Shawn Alexander, whose piece “Blues 1, 2014″ is a mixed media portrait of a musician that combines figurative and abstract elements; Kenturah Davis whose “Ambiguous, 2011,” is a portrait of a mysterious man veiled by stamped letters; and Damien Hirst’s framed, signed poster,“Cornucopia, Away From the Flock, Divided.” Hirst’s sculptures of real animals preserved in a glass tank of formaldehyde are also a part of The Broad Museum’s recently opened collection. This piece is available via raffle, with tickets on sale at the event.

Above: Bruce Cohen
Above: Bruce Cohen

Los Angeles art critic Edward Goldman, host of KCRW’s Art Talk mentions several other works including Eric Johnson’s cast-resin sculpture “Intergalactic Verde,” George Legrady’s photographic image of Jaffa Gate “Jerusalem, 2013,” Aaron Smith’s humorous portrait “Bachelor, 2008,” and Mike Saijo’s mixed-media “Oak Tree,” which juxtaposes photo images with the pages from books printed in different languages. Other art presented includes paintings by Andrew Hem, Aaron Morse and Aaron Smith; mixed media pieces by Craig “Skibs” Barker, Seonna Hong, and Ruth Weisberg; sculptures by Brad Howe and Laddie John Dill; photography by Julius Shulman; and drawings by Raffi Kalenderian.

Above: Julian Schulman
Above: Julius Schulman

100% of the proceeds from this stellar event support ADL programs to combat bigotry of all kinds including anti-Semitism; all purchased art includes complimentary local delivery from Box Brothers.

Sponsorships and tickets are available for purchase. For more information and to register, visit the ArtWorks ADL website, adl.org/ArtWorksLA.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Courtesy ADL, Shoebox PR
Above: Javier Carillo
Above: Javier Carillo

Beyond Eden: A Look at Los Angeles Contemporary Art

Annual multi-gallery event at Barndall Art Park - Photos: Jack Burke
Annual multi-gallery event at Barndall Art Park – Photos: Jack Burke

Held October 3rd and 4th at the LA Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Park, Beyond Eden showcased some stellar examples of LA’s burgeoning contemporary art scene. The weekend-only exhibit filled the sprawling exhibition space, a perfect setting for an uniquely LA scene. Looking directly up at the jeweled miniature of Griffith Park Observatory from the balcony of the gallery, viewers got the buzz: of art in a quintessentially LA format.


Noticed that Los Angeles continues to grow as an art capital? That there are more and more amazing artists and cutting edge exhibitions in town? You’re not alone. This packed exhibition hummed on a summer-warm October night, with a wide variety of artists showcased from some top area galleries.


Andrew Hosner, co-owner / curator at Thinkspace curated the event,  the 5th annual exhibition of Beyond Eden. Showcased were the works of five galleries:  C.A.V.E. Gallery, Copro Gallery, Spoke Art, Hashimoto Contempoary, and of course, Thinkspace.




Solo mini-shows from artists Meggs and Mear One, and live painting demos were also a part of the event, which drew over 5000 visitors over the weekend.





Mear One, above, discusses his work. “I’m trying to connect what is beyond our understanding, and bring it into a more tangible place. There are a lot of things I see on the street that maybe others don’t see. You have to paint it, and hammer home the message they’re missing a little harder.”



Other artists included Jeff Ho, Vinz, Jim Darling, Matt Dangler, Candice Tripp, Brett Amory, Eric Jones, Mike Stillkey, Jessica Hess, Amy Sil, Liz Brizzi, Ken Ellyn, and many more.















While this will be the last year Beyond Eden exhibits, these artists – like the LA art scene itself – are here to stay.


Friends of the Los Angeles River Fandango

FoLAR Fandango - Photos: Jack Burke
FoLAR Fandango – Photos: Jack Burke

A fandango is a party, and there was a big party for FoLAR, the Friends of the Los Angeles River, last Saturday night. Where? Along the banks of the river of course, now mired in flood channel concrete and separated from the glowing spires of downtown by train tracks and warehouses.

Lewis McAdams, FoLAR founder
Lewis McAdams, FoLAR founder

Held on the east side of the River in what is becoming a burgeoning arts district,  the event drew 700 plus guests, local politicians, and of course, FoLAR founder, Lewis McAdams. “I want people to be aware of Alternative 20, which the Corps of Engineers has signed off on. It’s going to take 1.35 billion dollars to take out eleven miles of concrete, and if we can do that, we can restore the river, and really get it going,” McAdams says. The issue is funding: the Corps wants the city to pay 80% of this cost, and the city is seeking a 50/50 split. McAdams,  was born in Texas, and he has a vision as big as his home state where the river is concerned. Next year will mark the 30th year for FoLAR, and while the organization has achieved much, their dedication to a renewed and renewable river is unstoppable.




The evening was dedicated to the celebration of FoLAR’s achievements over the past year, building a pro-river community. Attendees were encouraged to sign FoLAR’s Alternative 20 petition – which can still be signed at www.folar.org/action – to ensure proper funding of the river’s revitalization. FoLAR’s goal is to create a swimmable, fishable, bikeable, boatable Los Angeles River greenway, a vision promoted at the event.



From a beautifully designed fish sculpture – crafted with river trash – titled “Steelhead, friendly ghost of the LA River” created by FLOD Enterprises to live art documenting river creatures and a vision of the new river itself by Man One, the evening was packed with entertainment.



Also on board: the silent, ballet-like performance art by river-supporters the Mudpeople, whose literally mud-covered, masked bodies move together in an ethereal motion that evokes water and river reeds. Emblematic of the life of the river itself, Mudpeople do not speak, but serve as silent, sinuous witnesses to nature’s resilience.



The evening included live music, d.j. inspired break dancing, and exhibits representing different architectural visions for the river. Beverages from Austin’s all-natural Deep Eddy vodka and LA’s own Angel City and Firestone Walker breweries were supplemented by a buffet dinner provided by Pink  Elephant. But the fun was accompanied by stellar messages about the ecology of the river.


Tone in Georgia




A mobile museum taken to schools to educate students about the plight of the river and its potential for greatness and greenness was exhibited in the vast dining hall, and community educator Ban Luu explained its purpose, as guests walked through. “We take it to schools to educate students about the past, present, and future of the river. We teach them what it looked like, and the floods in the 1930s that led to the concrete, how it looks now, and the future possibilities. There’s a part of the exhibit that allows you to create an interactive design. Students can add trees, fishermen, walkways. They can see what it will look like once the concrete is removed.” Luu stresses the historic significance of the river, a significance too often discounted. “If it wasn’t for the Los Angeles River, there would be no LA. In 1781, people came to live here because of the water source.” Luu points out plans to create reservoirs to conserve water for landscaping, and a seed bomb table. “We want our visitors to plant native plants that are drought tolerant.”

Man One
Man One

Creating art at the event, as well as displaying already-created pieces available for purchase, artist Man One’s live-painting of what the River could look like featured the proposed Piggy Back Yard. “The vision includes an expansion of the artists lofts at The Brewery arts complex, park land, retail shops, green sections that are tiered where there are now only railroad tracks,” he explains.


Lewis McAdams with Tom LaBonge


Dr. Carol Armstrong from the Mayor’s Office



Below, Alejandro Ortiz, FoLAR


During dinner, speakers such as city councilman Tom LaBonge and FoLAR chairman Alejandro Ortiz thanked generous donors, who offered some $340,000 in pledges. In the last year, LaBonge reports, FoLAR has successfully advocated for Alternative 20, and provided a “terrific education program on urban wildlife and the river that educates students and staff at area schools. I look forward to the next thirty years when the work on our river will be accomplished.”

Ortiz added “FoLAR can be trusted people say, and we’re very proud of that. Your trust is something we plan to earn.” Now that’s worth partying about.


  • Genie Davis; All Photos by Jack Burke