Sausal – El Segundo’s Exciting Mexican Dining Experience



Sausal offers a quintessentially Mexican menu, one that uses stylish recipes and exceptional incredients to create a nuevo rancho cuisine that stands out – in the South Bay and in the Los Angeles dining scene.

Named for the Spanish ranch that its El Segundo location was once a part of – back in the days when California was still a part of Mexico – the restaurant offers a superior blend of Mexican and Spanish culture and cuisine. It also ties in a classic American taste, making dinner there a unique and memorable experience.

We’ve dined there twice: in March and late this summer, both times experiencing a pulsating fusion of flavors in a relaxed, yet beautifully burnished restaurant with an outdoor patio and glass fronted kitchen. A fireplace that is open from both sides dominates the center of the room.


Chef Anne Conness describes her menu as one that “celebrates the bold flavors of Mexican cuisine in combination with the elemental flavors of Spain” while it “revels in contemporary bounty.” Translation: traditional flavors and recipes are updated with flare.

That flare begins with the craft cocktail menu – and a strong beer and wine selection, too. Upcoming November 16th, there will be a 4-beer/4-course pairing courtesy of the cutting edge brewery, The Breuery, out of Placentia. Having recently tasted their raspberry sour, this is an evening to put on the calendar.


But back to those cocktails. The Future Fix made with Rittenhouse Rye, has a range of flavors going for it, from spicy to sweet, salty to sour. It’s a perfect fusion of all-American rye with chili, agave nectar, salt, and citrus, fusion cuisine in a glass.


Equally potent and a fine mix of flavors is the light and delicious house margarita. House made Sangria is also a stand out. Interestingly, consulting pastry chef Natasha MacAller is behind the creation of some of these cocktails.



Of course the star here is the food itself, which does not disappoint. Traditional house-made guacamole is fresh and flavorful, accented with tomatillo salsa.


The Fresh Ceviche Mixto is revelatory, from the spicy yellow habanero salsa to the crisp celery and sweet corn that add heft to flavors of cumin, lime, cilantro and citrus. The fish itself: perfectly prepared shrimp, calamari, lingcod, and ahi.


One of the keys to dining here is the way in which Conness takes traditional recipes and renders her version of them with extra layers of flavor – the Arroz con Pollo is served with chicken thighs and rice cooked with achiote, a bright red fruit that grows in Latin America. Added in are tomatoes, scallions and mushrooms.

Slow cooked on the hearth, the Smoked Pork Tamale Pie is topped with a dark mole, jack cheese, pico de gallo, and green onions. It’s the ideal blend of a comforting, home-cooked meal and cutting edge cuisine, a marriage that’s smooth and sultry.

We loved the small — you’ll want more than one — Calabasitas Vegan Taco, crafted from guajillo-roasted pattypan squash and carrots, topped with a fragrant and heady mix of avocado, cilantro, cashew crema, habanero yellow salsa, and chia seeds.


We topped off our meals with dessert and one last drink. The Spanish Sticky Date Cake with Pecans is topped with vanilla ice cream, and once again it is the mix of flavors and textures that makes this sweet treat a standout. Naturally, our favorite was a chocolate-lovers choice, the Chocolate & Piloncillo Caramel Pudding. Textures are again key here, and go hand in hand with the two powerful but well matched flavors. Served along side is a chocolate chip cookie.

That last drink? Make it a Prickly Pear Caipirinha, a near perfect take on the Brazillian cocktail made with Cachaca rum. Prickly pear, lime cubes, grenadine, and mint are a sophisticated adult dessert in themselves.

At lunch, it’s easy to take in a variety of tastes with a choice of one taco, small soup of the day or chicken pozole (a signature of the restaurant), and choice of small salad. Other salads and specials abound, and the patio in particular gets busy on pleasant SoCal days.


El Segundo may no longer be known as “Sausal,” but it may very well become known for it’s restaurant namesake. Another winner from Conness, who is also behind Tin Roof Bistro and Simmzy’s in Manhattan Beach.

Jill Joy is Back


After a rough start in a gallery space on Wilshire that had scores of structural problems, gallerist and artist Jill Joy is back on La Brea, in a second iteration that is sure to bring “joy” to fans of her art and the curated shows she’s planned featuring other artists.


Upcoming, Aline Mare (above) and Michael Giancristiano will be presenting Organic Integration, opening November 5th; continuing is Joy’s inaugural show in her new space, Emotion, on display through December 3rd. The gallery both Joy’s art and that of other artists whose work includes elements of, to quote Joy, “spiritual healing and the evolution of consciousness.”


Joy’s own show here is visually very dramatic. “It’s me processing an emotional experience. Calm isn’t a part of this work,” the artist attests. “It’s very raw. A lot of people respond to this, but personally I like calmer stuff.”


The artist “barely used a brush” to create this body of work, saying “I scraped with trowels. It’s very thick paint. It took a long time to dry.”  Joy creates only a few pieces a year, the most recent in this exhibition is from 2015, with others dating to 2010.


The power – and often the darkness – of Emotion is in both Joy’s color palette and in the slashing, even angry paint strokes. It’s work that exhumes and compels, that serves as a release and is the fulcrum in a storm of feeling. In short, it’s like touching lightening in a bottle, or perhaps more to the point, like watching visual thunder.

Emotion is one part of a three-part series including Joy’s Consciousness and Illumination. The goal of all of the artist’s work is to expand consciousness itself.


Check out Joy’s work and in November, that of Mare and Giancristiano – (Mare left, Giancristiano right, above) whose exciting new exhibition includes natural elements – at 456 S. La Brea Ave.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke, and upcoming exhibition courtesy Aline Mare and Jill Joy Gallery.


Artists to Know: on Terra Firma



Terra Firma has come and gone at Art Share, a terrific show that closed October 16th, one that we wish had stayed around longer – at least long enough for us to give the show itself it’s due.


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Like so many exhibitions at Art Share this was a group showthat reveled in carefully curated works by a variety of stellar artists:

Raudel Arteaga
Chelsea Bayouth
Kate Carvellas
Sarah Fulton
John Gauld
Carlos Grasso
Randi Hokett
Vincent Mattina
Jennifer Susan Jones
Abbie Weinberg

The use of clay and of dynamic materials that are of the earth, created a truly fascinating show, a cohesive mix of materials that each artist made malleable. We were fortunate enough to interview two of the artists, both of whom have upcoming shows – don’t miss them.

Randi Hokett will be participating in a group show opening November 19th, and running through January 21st, New Dimension, at the Irvine Fine Arts Center. We can’t wait to see what this fine artist will be displaying.


At Art Share, Hokett’s stunning work with crystals lures viewers into a fairy-tale world that dazzles and dances with light. Creating her own crystals, she’s found that “Water is boiled, molecules open, and water accepts the minerals – then the crystals grow best through a cooling period. A piece has the best growth in the first 24-hours,” she reports.


The science of her creations aside, Hokett creates startling, jeweled beauty that evokes wonder, awe, and a poignant reminder of that which is permanent and that which dissipates. Hokett started working in this format in January of last year. “Before that I worked in dry wall and wax,” she explains.


Hokett’s work is raw and beautiful. The sharp textures of the crystals and the softness of the wax surfaces used in these pieces seems almost impossible to achieve, both delicate and strong, fragile and fantastic.

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“I was amazed at the beautiful things that grow out of the damages we accrue in life. I started building crystal sculptures out of cracks. I did some tests and it was kind of awesome. I started creating one piece a week. For me, what’s cool is to do something new.”

Work this fresh and vibrant is cool indeed.


Kate Carvellas began creating her wonderful artwork assemblages out of found objects, but now also creates work made entirely from her own hand.


Carvellas says the above piece, “The Beauty and Sorrow of Untapped Potential,” has “special meaning because so many of us have lives that didn’t necessarily go the way we thought they would. It represents the hope that we can still be and do that which will bring us joy and fulfillment.”

To the viewer, Carvellas has created her own language and patterns, containing what could be artifacts from a lost time or alien musings on humankind. The enigmatic patterns invite study, they are both intimately familiar and yet mysteriously wonderful.


Above, “End Game,” pulls viewers into a new dimension, where common objects when combined create a riveting sculptural montage. Below, more great fusion, a touch of Steam Punk, a graceful combination of elements. There is a mute poetry in her work, a whimsical flourish that fuses smoothly with a sense of gravitas: respect for objects, respect for the weightiness of the earth and the lightness of imagination.


The Pasadena-based artist describes her art as “an essential and intensely personal part of my life. It is my hope that when people see my work, it will somehow resonate with them on some level, be it intellectual, emotional or spiritual.”

Kate Carvellas will be featured in a solo show at The Gallery at the End of the World in Altadena in June 2017, and will have work in Gabba Gallery’s Wishlist coming up this November. Don’t miss her.

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Above, Carvellas with author, and Carvellas with artists Anna Stump and Ted Meyer.

As to Art Share – be on the look out for their next offering, Mirrors of the Mind, opening November 5th. The gallery is located at 801 E. 4th Street in the DTLA Arts District.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis


Susan Lizotte: Mapping Out a New World


f23c1635According to artist Susan Lizotte, “A map is a lie, a beautiful lie.”

Her description, which ties together her new body of work, resonates. We map territories, we map our feelings and emotions, we look for a map of the human heart. We map political gains and losses, trips taken and planned, future goals, financial foibles. As a human species, we are driven to make maps: perhaps it goes back to drawing routes with a stick in the mud, proclaiming or claiming the best hunting trails, the best berry patches.


How much of what we design, whether it is as exhaustive as Thomas Brothers map books of Southern California – remember those? Before Google maps and Waze were ubiquitious? – or as scant as a sketch on the back of a cocktail napkin, how much is empirically real? And can a map ever be ‘real?’

Sure, a rock is a rock, an island an island. But what it is named for, consigned to, defined by – that is an illusion. If there were no more cars on it, would the San Diego Freeway be a nameless artifact? If it floated from the land, unmoored, and sank to the bottom of the sea, what would we call it then? Would we simply pretend it didn’t exist?


An artist and curator, born in Los Angeles, Lizotte spent her childhood on both east and west coasts, and founded her own business as a designer of bespoke custom shirts and suits; precise creative work that has perhaps found a new form in her latest series of paintings.

Over the years, Lizotte has created gorgeous, evocative landscapes and skylines, abstract pieces that glow with hidden light, and her recent Mercury series, a powerful body of work that revolves around the discovered and undiscovered since Columbus “found” the New World.


His treasure hunt may have served as a stepping stone for the artist to move beyond the specifics of his annexation of a land already inhabited. For her, “Maps are one of the oldest ways of nonverbal communication and are a way to tell a story. Each map is a visual metaphor for identity, politics and propositions.”

Acknowledging that no map can be perfect through our own personal points of view and the very real physical distortion of our planet, she terms map-making a “subjective act of selection,” one which can be based on global navigation and imperialism.

Because of this subjectivity, Lizotte postulates that what is not shown on a map can be just as important as what is shown. “Above all, maps speak to emotion over reason and articulate our place in society and the world,” she notes. “For aren’t we always searching for who we really are?”

From a less weighty perspective, the artist adds “Visually, maps are really fun, a way to tell a story.”


She tells quite a potent one with her 12 x 12 series of oil on wood panels, New World I – VIII, which form a continuation of the work she began with her Mercury series, playing with the use of power and maps.

“The more people who decide what is included in the making of a map, the more distorted it will be, the less accurate. People decide together the things to be excluded and included.”


Seen together as one organic installation, these smaller works play off each other, they seem intense and immediate, both as visual forms and as maps.


As a viewer, I see a mix of islands, continents, bodies of water; the artist explains that she was led to the idea of creating a new world. “I could play with the ideas of the journey and what might be at each location,” she explains. “Visually the pieces could breathe if I introduced some space in each of them.”

These maps each stand repeated introspection as individual pieces, as well as being part of a comprehensive series, as she moves from a more realistic interpretation of map design in New World I to her most abstract in New World VIII.


Each piece has its own specific palette, pattern, and meaning. In New World IV, above, Lizotte says “I was playing around with the idea of Columbus, his ship hitting Hispaniola, the fact that the Santa Maria sunk on Christmas day offshore in the Caribbean. The thought I’m working with here is where they might’ve come in when they were hit, who was on the island, and then an image of the ocean lurking at the bottom of the canvas.”

The artist’s mention of the holidays stands out: there are red and green elements that remind the viewer of holiday colors, and land masses in the shape of wreathes or crescents. The waves in the right corner of the painting can be viewed as either isolated or creating the whole of the background, forming an ambiguous and fluid design that ties in well with the “what-ifs” of the subject matter. What if the ship had not sunk?


The decidedly pink palette of New World VII, above, reveals the concept of land masses grouped together yet separate. “When I was painting it, originally I’d held it in a completely different position to the way it is hung now, but there was no flow there,” she says. Changing the aspect of the wood panel, there is a very visual sensation of movement. “The yellow represents imperialism, the seeking of gold and treasure,” she relates. “The blue patterns evoke migration and motion, nothing specific.”

As a viewer, I see blue birds, pink sunset, and a pale blue water current pulsing over the solid forms. The thickness of the paint is enticing, in a piece that absolutely creates it’s own mythology of land, water, motion, and seeking.

“I layered the paint thick all summer. I was really excited that it was working, and it was humming,” the artist attests. “I wanted it to be wet on wet, flowing together, patterns, yet completely crisp, completely dry.”


The first in her series, New World I, above, is markedly more specific in its design. “I really had the concept that I can paint a map, hold it in my hands, make up the topography, and see how that went,” she says. “Columbus and the imperialists took their journey, but I can represent that journey any way that I want. I was looking at old maps, the map keys from the Middle Ages, and not even knowing what they meant, making up my own symbols to conceptualize the journey,” she says.


With both New World I and II, above, you can tell that the background of each piece is clearly water. “It was interesting to me what happens if you take that away. To me, if it wasn’t blue or green, then the background changes and distorts the map, and you just go with that in terms of paint and point of view.”


With New World V, above, for example, the background is salmon, and the green topography wildly thick, as if mountains have sprung up on the canvas. Here, she includes blue arrows that she’d originally conceived of as water and currents, but could, she says, be “air or anything that moves.” Red patterns on the painting appear to have the rough configuration of Asian lettering. “Columbus was originally trying to reach the Far East, so certainly the red patterns could unconsciously represent that,” Lizotte laughs.


Whatever the journey you’re on, take a moment to savor Lizotte’s delicately beautiful and intimate trip. Maps themselves may very well be lies, but this artist’s paintings have the poignant and beautiful ring of truth, the truth of sunsets in forgotten places, treasure sought and found, greed and indecision, magic travels to distance lands and foreign thoughts. It is the stuff of memory and imagination, which is really all one can ask of any map.

These works and others will be on display in November and December, in three shows in the SoCal area, a part of MAS Attack 13, at the Torrance Art Museum in Torrance, Oil vs. Acrylic at the Las Laguna Art Gallery in Laguna Beach, and in Portraits, at the Beyond The Lines Gallery in Santa Monica’s Bergamont Station. Come December, she’ll be exhibiting with BG Gallery at Spectrum-Miami Art Fair, as part of Art Basel.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke and provided by the artist