Robyn Alatorre: Artist’s Talk Closing at Neutra Gallery


Sunday’s closing of Robyn Alatorre’s first solo show A Clandestine History of Art at the Neutra Gallery included an artist’s talk which DiversionsLA led.

Some highlights: Robyn calls her work “feminist, subversive, and obsessed with color.”


Alatorre remarks that a critique of her work included commentary that her art looked as if it were done by three different artists. We discussed the themes that carry through work that reflects classical art with a modern/surrealist twist, pieces such as her “Nipple” series that take on a single element and magnify it, and her smaller, ironic works that play with images such as illustrations from children’s literature, and subvert them.

“In each work, I’m looking at color, at light, at the idea that we are all sexual creatures, that’s who we are. I’m looking at the objectification of women, the unnecessary sexualization of the breast, of girls. I’m taking a conventional idea and making it different,” she says.


Other discussion topics included how Alatorre began her path of turning the traditional inside out. “I’ve always done that. I’m not going to paint dogs and horses. I take images and look at them in unexpected ways.”


And how does she create the true, glowing sense of light in her works, even in her darkest palettes or subject matters? “I work in oil, and I layer, and I layer, and I layer. Any artist who works in oil will tell you that it’s difficult to stop painting. That continuation helps to build depths, light beneath darkness.”

We also discussed the fact that her “Nipple” series could, if not so named, look as if it were depicting the cosmos, worm holes, universes. “It’s interesting you say that,” she remarked. “I was originally going to title the pieces ‘Constellations.'” Alatorre looks at the nipple as what sustains life, succors it, creates, in a way, the ability to sustain life.


Alatorre’s vibrant, political, and brilliantly twisted works are not to be missed. The Redondo Beach-based artist will be exhibiting her epic revisions of traditional art and helping to support the universe one painting at a time in new LA-area exhibitions later this year. Look for her.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke


Cratedigger: The Lost Art of Album Cover Art




Above, “Trunk” by Skye Amber Sweet

There’s music in the art, or art in the music. Anyway you look at it, Gabba Gallery’s Cratedigger: The Lost Art of Album Cover Art is a visual song. The wide-ranging group show features the work of 85 artists who have created 12 x 12 album art for both real and imagined records.


Above, Vakseen works his vivid magic.


Above, a taste of delicious smoked rum “Stolen” by Gabba’s great bartending crew.


Above “Love is Strong,” a tribute to Otis Redding, and yes, love, by curator and artist Jason Ostro.

Featured artists include ÷-x+, 8333, Sarah Elise Abramson, Africa47, Alex Azripe, Bandit, Cody Bayne, Nick Bonamy, Clinton Bopp, CANTSTOPGOODBOY, Kate Carvellas, Brett Crawford, L. Croskey, Baha Danesh, Lisa Derrick, Keith Dugas, Dytch66, Carley Ealey, June Edmonds, Eerie Pop, Joey Feldman, Karin Lindberg Freda, Rene Gagnon, Terry James Graham, Peter Greco, Raphael Grischa, Gumshoe, Mary Hanson, Teale Hathaway, Himbad, Khalid Hussein, Jesse Jacobellis, Warren Jacobson, Paul Juno, Jay Kantor, Kate Kelton, Christopher Koneki, Kophnz, Jennifer Korsen, Kozyndan, Kub aka Julien Hirn, Andrea LaHue, Jonathan Lamb, Leba, Devin Liston,  Steven Lopez, Stone Malone, Colette Miller, Bobbi Moline-Kramer, Moncho1929, Morley, Jules Muck, Max Neutra, Ugo Nonis, Nvralone, Michael Ortiz, Jason Ostro, Nate Otto, Pastey Whyte, Antonio Pelayo, Phobik, Valerie Pobjoy, Dave Pressler, Christina Ramos, Sergio Robleto, Phil Santos, Otto Schade, Kristine Shomaker, Septerhed, Ariel Shallit, Jeffrey Sklan, Amy Smith, Bisco Smith, Spacegoth, Hannah Streety, Tatiana Suarez, Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman, Skye Amber Sweet, Teachr, Ten Hundred, thrashbird, Toshee, Self Uno, Vakseen, Em Wafer, Christine Webb, Woes, Jason Woodside, wrdsmth, Lauren YS

Take a spin around some of these artistic turntables for some incredible hi-fidelity art.

IMGP3948 IMGP1001

Photography artist Jeffrey Sklan presented two images: the pink flower is titled “Pink at Rembert Studios,” the green image “The Lotus Eaters.” Each is a limited edition of 5 printed on aluminum.
Sklan notes “There was almost a perfect correlate of interest determined by gender. The green attracted men, the pink, women.”
Peter Greco says he usually creates “Gothic calligraphy and gothic flourishing. I studied classically, but my work here is more abstract.” Of his pieces in the show, he remarks “‘Silver Winged Rabbit’ is the title of my brother’s garage band in high school.” His “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”

reflects “experimental, trippy music built around recorded material such as chanting or late night radio.”


Phil Santos’ “Stray Katz” takes it’s logo from the actual Stray Cats album. “It’s a play on words, something funny and satirical I wanted to play with.”



Ajax created two covers which “pay tribute to forgotten street artists of the 90s, using two punk rock album covers as their starting point. The works are done with water color and copy paper. Chaka and Phantom Street Art were both left out of the big street art show at MOCA, and I wanted to give them the recognition they did not have there.”


Brett Crawford created covers on both panel and aluminum. His Jango Reinhart (far right) reflects the myth of the musical artist: he died in a fire and disappeared, in a classic story of good and evil. “In my painting the cat is his guardian angel, the serpent represents temptation or selling out.”  Crawford’s second cover (near right) is a shiny aluminum Blondie.

F23C0215 F23C0217

Kristine Schomaker’s “Train: the White Album” is a work that plays with recycled elements from another exhibition about trains, she says. “It just came to me that the train element could become an album, and it’s a play on the Beatles’ White Album,” she says.


June Edmonds’ two works were inspired by listening to the radio. The brightly colored “Giant” was taken from the words of Cornell West. “He said it was going to take giant steps and love supreme to get us out of the mess we’re in these days.” She was listening on July 17th, the date on which John Coltrane died. Her Coltrane tribute, far right, uses the colors black and blue – with blue representing a spark of life and hope.




Kate Carvellas is a huge fan of David Bowie. “I was still feeling his passing when I heard about this theme show. Ordinarily theme shows intimidate me, because I usually work so unconsciously, but this was different. It hit me to do something about Bowie because his music resonated with me so much.”




Skye Amber Sweet has three pieces in the exhibition. “‘Trunk One and Two’ have to do with water, and trees, drought.”


“My Bernie Sanders piece, ‘Berning Sanders,’ is a reaction to how really terrible I felt about what was happening politically. I made it before all the Hillary and the Democratic party news came out, but my idea was that she was trying to cool Sanders off, that’s what the ice cream cones I used are representative of.”


Can’t Stop Good Boy created an album cover for System of a Down. “I’m the only artist that didn’t listen to the 12 x 12 requirements for the show,” he laughs.

Dytch66 says “‘Chosen by Shiva’ and ‘Back in 1985’ each represent musical eras.  “Heavy metal, speed metal, that’s what ‘Chosen’ depicts. ‘Back in 1985 embraces the 80s boom box era, breakdancers, graffiti,” he says.  “That piece is ink on metal. My style constantly changes – because I work as an illustrator, I can go with any different style.”






The Cratedigger celebration of record sleeve art plays on through September 10th. Crank up the volume and enjoy.

Gabba Gallery is located at 3126 Beverly Blvd., and is open Wed-Saturday noon to 3 p.m. and by appointment.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke (Jeffrey Sklan works provided by the artist)

KP Projects Dazzles


With another show about to open, don’t miss the closing of KP Projects dynamic duo of Todd Carpenter and Vonn Sumner.

Each artist’s solo show was exceptional – unique, compelling, and yes, dazzling.


Carpenter primarily works in the palette used in this show: black and white. Like the film noir his LA images invoke, there is depth, mystery, and passion in his portrayal. His “Sky Without Angels or Stars” is a magical, rich depiction of our city, or a dreamscape of it.


“Initially I did black and white photography that captured the emotional aspect of the light. I looked at objects in the world of black and white and how they carried the idea about depth. Where the sun is, there’s a part of the brain that deals with that,  and part that deals with color and detail of objects.”


Carpenter’s background in neuro science interested him in the scientific basis of  what goes into realism in art.

“The three dimensional effect of black and white painting comes from shading and shadow. I just wrote a paper on it,” he relates.


“You could do a painting – you could do two circles and a triangle – and you could look at it and think it’s a face, based on the geometry. On the other hand, you could look at a painting with shadows and see it as a photograph.  They aren’t very realistic photographically, but I look at lighting and shadow in my work. It’s the light I focus on that creates the realistic view.”


Working in oils on both board and canvas, Carpenter uses photos as a reference but creates “loose interpretations not literal ones” with his paintings. “What I look at is the sky, the light, the dark, and I use those values.”



Vonn Sumner’s work in “To Be Seen,” makes an interesting contrast to Carpenters’. In full color, his thematic concealed-faces create a fascinating series., full of mystery and wonder.

“This body of work is basically the culmination of something I’ve been doing for ten years, a certain set of figures, characters with heads covered,” the artist relates.


“I was working with covering people’s heads and costuming, and I saw this little cotton head covering, designed for workers who are spraying a ceiling, something like that. I bought a bunch, and I knew immediately and intuitively I would work with them.”


Working in oils on large scale works, Sumner says he couldn’t put the thematic idea away for a long time.


“I like to work large. It was really fun but it becomes a challenge for storing or shipping,” he laughs. “It’s so fun to go big.”


Asked what the stocking cap covered characters mean to him, Sumner leaves it open. “I have to be careful, it’s important to me that the viewer gets to decide for themselves what it represents. For me it evolved over time, they eventually came to represent a kind of parallel world, or sometimes I think of them as an acting troop, a nomadic traveling vaudevillian comedia del arts association,” he explains.


Sumner says his costuming of his characters makes them “both more and less specific figures. Bring to them your own perspective.”

Both of these highly original, uniquely metaphorical artists, and KP Projects itself, are well worth seeking out – note that KP Projects will be hosting a new opening Saturday, September 10th.

KP Projects is located at 170 S La Brea Ave, Los Angeles


A Clandestine History of Art: Robyn Alatorre


Above, artist Robyn Alatorre.

Powerful, incisive, and stimulating, you can’t keep a good history of art clandestine for long.


A Clandestine History of Art is a tour de force for Robyn Alatorre, a fascinating exhibition up now through August 28th at the Neutra Gallery in Silver Lake. Curated by Dulce Stein, Alatorre’s show serves up over 30 works that are provocative and fascinating. The accomplished artist flips art history on its head with a dash of surrealism, adult content, and vibrant imagination that results in a feverishly passionate exhibition.



Alatorre describes her art work as a “mirror which reflects a point of view, an interpretation of the history of art itself…a translation of reality seen through traditional techniques and styles.”


The artist says that her original intent is to “distort, through the shifting of perceptions, reality. In my work, there is something above and beyond sincerity — it is a truth defying element,  which can be interpreted as authentic, or pleasing, or beautiful, but is really a parody of perception.”


How to describe Alatorre’s work here? A convention defying alternative history of art without chronology, where ideas are exchanged across time periods, and icons created centuries apart interact as part of the same narrative. Whether pairing Freudian symbolism within a Baroque era painting or a cherub exalting the miracle of modern pharmaceuticals, it may be history, or it may be our ability to see beyond the limited planes of this existence that are changed.


Alatorre’s  surreal paintings whimsically and provocatively combine the styles and subject matter of past art movements with commercial objects from our contemporary world, creating new scenarios that are both delightful and disturbing.

“This is work that I’ve accumulated for five years,” Alatorre says of her exhibition. “what I’ve been doing is looking at Renaissance and Baroque art and style, connecting the past with contemporary and pop culture. I try to put a little twist in everything. The titles of my paintings express the themes.”


Her more recent works have shifted beyond the complex and detailed Renaissance style she has embraced and become more minimalistic. “I deconstruct the image, separating it out. I’m trying to work in details beyond the subject matter.”


Nipples are one such focus of detail. “I decided on nipples because of my grandson. Seeing him as a baby, nursing, it just struck me what a ridiculous idea it is to sexualize a nipple.”


Her intense nipple closeups are actually of the male anatomy. “You might assume it is female, but that is simply perception.”


Alatorre has also altered the content of recent paintings by working on different surfaces, such as wood panels, steel, and titanium as well as canvas.

“Oils are my main medium, but I’ve experimented with working in steel and wood, trying to pick subject matter that will go along with the form,” she attests.  Her very newest piece, “#100 Happy Days” allowed the artist to utilize spray paint for the first time.

Alatorre’s richly detailed approach carries from her elaborate Renaissance-style pieces to her deconstructed works.

She is in love with the sensual, the gothic, the mythological in her works, many of which have a dark luster.

“I love Caravaggio and Titian, and my color choice stems from there. And as far as subject matter, most of my art has a political or feminist theme that celebrates the power of maternity and procreation,” she asserts.

Mixing mythology, Alatorre takes on the modern worship of medicine with
“Pharmakeia,” featuring a cherub with obvious religious connotations.


She takes on commercial work such as the bright yet bland seascapes of Robert Wyland, or brings Freudian orgasm to the forefront of her “Alpha” piece that riffs on “Leda and the Swan,” above.

“Alpha” companion piece, “Beta,” depicts the Christ child in a cosmos that acknowledges the sexual part of procreation.

Her “Strange Tricks my Sea Monkeys Learned,” based on a Caravaggio painting, was one of her first pieces taking a well-known work and updating it, both trivializing aspects of it and and making a piece more powerful than the original.


“Canto VI from Dante’s Inferno” depicts the sixth circle of hell – gluttony. “It’s based on a Facebook piece my daughter posted, in which she and a friend ate too much ice cream.  The words seen are the text from Dante’s work, discussing gluttony as a sin.

“I want people to be drawn to my art because of color and subject matter -and I want them to be drawn in order to change their minds about what I’m saying the more time they spend looking at my work. My goal is to engage the viewer to stay with the paintings through humor, political statements, and visual appeal,” Alatorre relates.


Opening night featured performers in purple and green body stockings circling the exhibition to compliment the colors of her paintings and pull viewers immediately and dynamically into the surreal aspects of the show.


Above, curator Dulce Stein, right, with Kristine Augustyn.

The closing, August 28th from 3 to 6 p.m., includes an artist talk with Alatorre and DiversionsLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke