Abstract Never Is: Muzeumm



Abstract Never Is, an exhibition of both contemporary and historical abstract photography is a vibrant collaboration between The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA) and MuzeuMM that expands on a smaller scale exhibition displayed at Photo LA in January.


Co-curated by ViCA’s Juri Koll and MuzeuMM’s Mishelle Moross, the works are visually rich and emotionally evocative.  Above, Koll with some of his own haunting images, which shimmer with shadows and shapes.

“Abstract photography is harder to create than an abstract painting,” Koll attests. “You’re limited by the lens in front of your face. But you can’t deny the viability and the emotion of a photograph.”


Above, Osceola Refetoff’s abstract take on the lights of trucks on a highway conjure the highway, the allure of an almost ephemeral destination, and a jeweled blur of light. Below, Refetoff with journalist Christopher Langley, his partner on the project High & Dry,  an ongoing representational project documenting California’s deserts and the people who live there.



Above right, co-curator Mishelle Moross.


Above, artist Diane Holland with her richly colored yet ghostly images. The artist says “I use electrotransfer, otherwise known as color Xerography, and Cibachrome photography to convey the relationship between human beings and the technological they create.”


Artists Lena Moross and Bibi Davidson enjoy opening night.


Above, ripples that could water struck by sunset in a stunning work by Sasha vom Dorp.  The artist says of his works, above and below, “These are photographs of sound encountering light as seen through the medium of water.”


The immediacy of a photograph is somewhat of a myth, and never is that more fully the case than with abstract photography. To create photographic art requires not just a given moment, but preparation for that moment, the dance of both immediacy and planning.



The work of Edmund Teske, above, was an early inspiration to co-curator and exhibitor Koll. “He taught me to be an artist,” Koll explains.

Along with Teske, other artists on display include Fatemeh Burnes, Sasha vom Dorp, Kio Griffith, Diane Holland, Suda House, Juri Koll, KuBO, Maria Larsson, Lawrie Margrave, Stefanie Nafé, Kirk Pedersen, Osceola Refetoff, and Lisa Rosel, among others.




Above, Fatemeh Burres draws viewers into an explosive universe.


Above Kubo Hkla’s shimmering gestational pieces.

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Above, Lisa Rosel takes on familiar and iconic LA scenes in a complex and fresh vision of lines and space.


Above, haunting, light-filled images culled from Union Station by Osceola Refetoff.


Above, ghostly and deep, caves and orifices – Fatemeh Burres.


An astonishing collection of fine photographic art that is as varied as it is representative of abstract technique, this is a “don’t miss” show that makes viewers think as well as enjoy. Discerning meaning is just a portion of the pleasure here: meaning is mutable, images are themselves profound.




Genie Davis with artist Sonja Schenk.


Above, Bibi Davidson


Above, Loren Philip, Diane Holland, Jodi Bonassi.


Above, artists Jodi Bonassi and Osceola Refetoff with Gary Brewer.


Above, artist Diane Holland (left), Brooke Mason, Peter Frank, Susanna Schulten

MuzeuMM is located at 4817 W. Adams Blvd. Los Angeles


Layers Upon Layers: Four Solo Shows at The Gabba Gallery


The four solo shows that make up Gabba Gallery’s current exhibition, “Layers,” are complex and multi-faceted. Each collection delves deep into and through their visual surfaces, presenting a multi-faceted prism through which viewers can see beyond what meets the eye.

The artists are Essi Zimm, Toshee, Nicholas Bonamy, and Joey Feldman,  and the sum of their work, when viewed together, adds yet another layer to the show.


Essi Zimm’s work takes viewers into a land of fairy tales and spirits.



Delving deep into the world of the Japanese supernatural creatures known as the Yokai, Zimm’s work creates a wonderous world of mysterious birds and the glowing streaks of fish.


In “Kappa” three astonishingly life-like frogs appear ready to jump from a canvas alive with lily pad flowers, spheres, and collage elements that appear like the work of taggers across the surface.


Like all of Zimm’s pieces in this series, she develops the backgrounds to her work first, and her representative figures second. “I figure out what story comes from that, and it’s a fairly long process, usually two to three weeks. Because of the time considerations involved in this exhibition, I tried creating the backgrounds to multiple pieces at once to develop the stories,” Zimm explains.


“I tried to pick characters that spoke to me, or are major supernatural figures – there are hundreds to choose from,” Zimm says. “I research the fairy tales I want to talk about and paint about.”


Toshee’s mixed media pieces share a common element with Zimm: Japanese story telling. “This collection is based on personal experiences traveling through Japan. I’ve been interested in Japanese art and architecture since I was a little boy,” he explains.


“These pieces take elements between order and chaos to form harmony.” Toshee grew up in New York City, and was influenced by the graffiti he saw throughout the city. “My inspiration comes from that urban visual landscape, as well as techniques such as animation cel drawing and Japanese wood block prints.”


The artist builds layers by taking on the shapes first, then “attacking the background, using several layers of resin that gives me multiple layers to build over.” His pieces have a strongly sculptural quality, as in “Himeji,” a carefully realized vision of a Japanese pagoda and impressionistic cherry blossoms, transports the viewer to another place and time, or in a single, depth-filled painting of a rose.



Nicholas Bonamy’s collage panels depict familiar, iconic Los Angeles landscapes enlivened with vibrant colors, graphic shapes, and paint drips and splatters. Each element that Bonamy builds, from collage to paint, is a progression that pulls the viewer into a new way of seeing the City of Angels, giving it wings.


“I try not to be afraid of messing up my detailed work. It’s apart of the same process when I mix in drops and other layers. I build the background first and then build up the foreground,” Bonamy explains.


“I get my inspiration for locations from simply driving around. Everyone drives around. I just see things out the window that I want to take a photograph of, and then I paint that.” Once he’s decided on an image, the artist say he takes that image and thinks about what he can do with it to make it still recognizable but incorporate “crazy color.” Bonamy says he wants to make Los Angeles as beautiful as it can be. “LA is a grey city. It’s beautiful, but it’s grey because it’s sad in a way, a rat race. People’s dreams die every day here.”


“I put the color in. I love LA, it’s home, I’m trying to paint that girl, put make up on the city,” the artist notes.


“My paintings are impressionistic, but it’s not about brush strokes, it’s about graphic shapes and letting the paint do what it wants to do.”


In his own words, Joey Feldman does “Character portraiture. I’m an artist, illustrator, cartoonist, all spontaneous. I don’t do any penciling. All the mistakes are part of each picture. I go straight to ink, there’s nothing pre-planned.”


Feldman draws every day, and frequently works on a piece that represents pop culture, politics, birthdays – whatever inspires him at the moment.


“When David Bowie died, I did a portrait of him. I made twenty four prints, twelve standard, twelve special editions that have hand-drawn elements. I donated the proceeds to the City of Hope.” From icons like Bowie and Hunter Thompson to politicians from Bernie to Trump,  Leonard Nimoy, Han Solo and Chewie, Bill Murray, and a self-portrait, the layers that Feldman exposes are emotional and intimate.


Fairy tales, foreign lands, Los Angeles landscapes, and cultural icons – that’s a heady mix of subjects and rich territory for mining many layers of artistic vision and meaning. Check out The Gabba Gallery’s fine exhibition through April 2nd. The gallery is located at 3126 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles.



Sex and the City Zoo: GLAZA Informs and Entertains



You won’t find Carrie Bradshaw hanging out at Sex and the City Zoo, but maybe she should give it a whirl, and learn about the mating habits of species besides her own.


At Sex and the City Zoo, a charming and informative Valentine’s Weekend event at the Los Angeles Zoo, GLAZA once again shows an enormous capacity for the expansion of its educational offerings, served up with a heaping dose of fun.


The event began with a dessert buffet and wine served in the museum’s courtyard. There were also adorable stuffed animal zoo gift baskets available to purchase to support zoo conservation efforts.


While guests mixed and mingled, zoo staff circulated bearing a touchable Angolan Python, an ‘ooh and ahh’ worthy cute sugar glider, and a Hawaiian owl named Paula who came to Los Angeles as a stowaway on a naval ship.



Once visiting and noshing ended, guests moved into the zoo’s comfortable auditorium for a lively talk by chief curator Beth Schaefer. Here the audience laughed, learned, and groaned over animal mating rituals.


The male octopus disguises itself as a female in order to go undetected and avoid being devoured; bees sometimes have sex mid-air, bower birds woo their mates by building elaborate bowers that include found objects from car keys to soda straws. Male ostriches are supremely helpful with incubating eggs and watching over babies, and also engage in elaborate mating dances. And, well may they dance: most male birds do not have penises – the theory being such an appendage would adversely affect flight dynamics. But ostriches do, and also ducks. Ah, but ducks – well. Apparently most duck sexual behavior is not consensual, and male ducks lose their genitalia after they mate – growing a new one prior to each mating period. Um. Yes. That will teach them.

From learning about the great apes interest in oral copulation to the zoo’s success story for reproduction in endangered species like prong horn antelope and condors, this was a highly entertaining and memorable evening. Attendees could also opt to extend it with an elegant dinner set up on zoo grounds following the talk.


We say: stay alert to other special occasion zoo events: from the holiday festival of Zoo Lights to new children’s programs that allow kids to pet a hippo, and fascinating presentations like these – there’s plenty that’s new and fun to do at the zoo. Yes, the rhymes are intentional.

So…how about those ducks?


  • Genie Davis; All Photos by Jack Burke




Daniel Rolnik Gallery: New Space, Same Cool Face




“I call my crazy face my Semitic super hero,” gallery owner Daniel Rolnik says, of his self-created signage.

Owner Daniel Rolnick celebrates his gallery opening with his father, right.
Owner Daniel Rolnik celebrates his gallery opening with his father, right.

Rolnik is back. After moving from a previous space just across the street from Santa Monica pier, Rolnik has found a new home at 2675 S. La Cienega in Culver City. Located near galleries such as Blum & Poe, Rolnik offers a fresh and fun-loving approach to art that is also ultimately affordable.


“We are the only gallery in the Culver City arts district where you can just go in and buy some art and walk out again casually. I wanted this place to be a roadside attraction,” Rolnik asserts.

He also describes his bright and cheerful place as part of an “epic war against white walls.”

Rolnick with artist Kat Philbin
Rolnik with artist Kat Philbin

Opening the new space are shows by Kat Philbin and Listen04. U.K. artist Listen04’s “Child’s Play,” below, is a colorful, nihilistic, and subversive riff on cartoon characters.


Sharply satiric sculptural pieces from Listen04 are also on hand.


Above, not your ordinary toy soldiers form “The New Terracotta Army” from Listen04.

Philbin’s “Codswallop,” below, creates illustrations for “a book that doesn’t exist,” according to the Missouri-born artist.


“The story is of a girl who falls in a puddle and is transported to a wonderland under water. It’s drawn in ink and watercolors.”


Philbin says she wanted to take her art in a lighter, brighter direction, and her carefully rendered, whimsical pieces offer a wry twist on fairy-tale fare.

Also on display:  cool and inexpensive ways to add to your art collection from Turtle Wayne, Tripper Dungan,

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