Gallery 825: Countenance Divine plus Stellar Solo Shows


Above, from The Shrine of Stolen Identities

The Los Angeles Art Association’s Gallery 825 often hits it out of the art ballpark with their well-curated solo and group shows. Running through November 18th, the La Cienega gallery offers three solos and one group show that is definitely a home run.

In the front room, Countenance Divine is a multi-media exploration of portraiture in art. Ranging from photography to graceful watercolors, the show was juried by Rick Royale.  Participating artists include Robin Adsit, Robyn Alatorre, Susan Arena, Donna Bates, Maria Bjorkdahl, Ivan Bridges, Annie Clavel, Allan Denolo, Tina Frugoli, Rob Grad, Vicky Hoffman, Brittany Hutchinson, Lynda Keeler, Coolen M. Kelly, Gershon Kreimer, Campbell Laird, Jun jii Le, Theodosia Marchant, Lena Moross, Malka Nedivi, Julio Panisello, Justin Robinson, Ann Marie Rousseau, Sheli Silverio, Howard Steenwyk, Susan Swihart, Jane Szabo, Devin Thor, Ariel Vargassal, Iben G. Vestergaard, Peter Walker, and Diane Williams.


Lena Moross, whose method of working is usually to create a series on a specific subject, was captivated by the Carmine Messina after meeting him, heavily made-up and dressed in women’s clothing, on a Hollywood street corner. Through that meeting, Moross began to explore, with her subject, what it means to be transgender. Exhibited here is a piece from that series, “Red Pillows,” delicately drawn and vibrantly colored. Using watercolor and ink, Moross has created a intimate and sensual painting that respects and pays tribute to Carmine’s story.


According to fine arts photographer Jane Szabo, “Photographs of dresses made from familiar objects such as coffee filters and road maps, suggest a persona, and become a stand in for myself.” This is a unique version of the self-portrait, which invites viewers to form their connections and myths.  The digital photography archival pigment print displayed here is “Money,” from her series Reconstructing Self.  The money dress and money beneath it is a fascinating stand-in for that part of the artist that must, as we all must, seek renumeration for our work to thrive.


Robyn Alatorre’s “Canto VI,” oil and ink on canvas is a portrait of a different sort, one that is as controversial as it is riveting.  Alatorre calls her work “feminist, subversive, and obsessed with color.” The neo-surrealist here depicts a couple with fingers in their throats, attempting an antedote to gluttony.

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Malka Nedivi’s “The Bride” is embelmatic of her work as a painter, sculptor, and collage artist.  Nedivi says that all of her work is inspired by her mother, and both her parents’ previously unknown past as Holocaust survivors. Nedivi’s work uses a great deal of wood and fabric. Here, the large scale mixed media on canvas work features a bride whose bountiful skirt is the color of autumn leaves, and asserts in its own passionate way a presentation on the passage of time.


Diane Williams photographic work, a photo from the performance of “Monsters & Aliens #2” is a look at just who we are and what we hide behind; Sheli Silverio offers a beautifully drawn watercolor and oil, “Sharing Cereal” that evokes an untold intimacy.


Annie Clavel’s lush watercolor on paper, “Lui,” differs from the work we’ve been familiar with that features mixed media on canvas paintings and a preference for the abstract.  Here we have a narrative figure, a profile portrait that is both haunting and pastoral.

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Moving on to the solo shows on exhibit, Zeal Harris offers a series of stunning works created in dye sublimition on fabric. Home Remedies for Driving While Black is both political and poignant, an autobiographical and biographical statement that has universal reach. Dealing with the intensely pertinent subject matter of police brutality, police killings, and racial profiling, Harris approaches the weightiness of her sculpture with a delicate, light touch, one that resembles the creation of banners, tapestries, and animation cels.

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Her deftly accessible style draws viewers into a world that they may not personally know, but which her incisive commentary virtually insists they become immersed in. A raw and riveting show.


In the middle room, Bibi Davidson’s The Girl in the Red Dress continues the artist’s use of her intense primary color scheme and an alternative universe in which her stand-in, her “girl” represents the artist herself. Davidson’s work always enthralls: for more on this stunning solo show, read the details on the artist’s movement into some incredible three dimensional works at Art and Cake.

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The Shrine of Stolen Identities explores the diversity that exists far beyond our collective obsession with celebrity culture. The collaborative duo “steph ‘n snez,” artists Stephanie Sydney and Snezana Saraswati Petrovic offer an immersive multi-media installation designed to dazzle with an homage to unknown artists who made the trek to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune, and to their unique individualism.

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A performance component was a highlight of the opening October 15th, and will be offered again on Saturday October 29th, when at 4 pm, will enact a 15-minute performance,  a re-imagining of a Buddhist sand mandala producing a glittering replication of a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on a mirrored table. The artists wish the Buddhist ritual of impermanence to speak to the impermanence of the values that our celebrity-obsessed culture indulges.

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So — go for one, go for all. Gallery 825, located at 825 S. La Cienega has a divine countenance indeed this month.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke



Gabba Gallery: Can’t Shake the Bunnies

Gabba Gallery will be opening a new show, Wishlist, November 12th, and you mustn’t miss it. There is always a fresh take on art and the meaning of art as discourse at this east side location.

We hope you caught the terrific four solo exhibitions that ran late September to mid-October here – if not, these are artists you should or will know, and most have appeared at Gabba in other shows.

Two from West Adams at MuzeuMM: Two Fine Artists, One Neighborhood


Above, the dimensional art of Rufus Snoddy; below the unique, relief-style works of Lucinda Luvaass.


Two from West Adams, now at MuzeuMM through the end of this month offers the works of two of the community’s own artists: local Lucinda Luvaas and Northern Michigan based sculptor Rufus Snoddy, who grew up in the neighborhood. It’s fitting that Muzeumm, a part of the West Adams community, is hosting these two geographically linked artists.

Curated by Mishelle Moross, the exhibition reveals two strong bodies of work, each infused with a sense of abundant curiosity and exploration, each rich and nuanced, entirely different in approach and style.


Lucinda Luvaass produced a film from which the exhibition’s title is taken, Two from West Adams. “I’ve only been here three years, whereas Rufus grew up here. The film is about us and the neighborhood block party where Rufus grew up,” she explains.

The film screened at the opening on October 1st and will appear on PBS in December.  Luvaass first met Snoddy when she was curating a college art gallery in Mt. San Jacinto. “I showed a lot of local artists and he was a stand out there.”

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Luvaass’ own work here represents pieces she’s been creating since 2007. “The color scheme is really important in these relief paintings, some of which have photographic images in them. The relief is made of wax, oil, and gel. Some people feel the technique involved is like print making crossed with painting. I started out in sculpture but I was bad at it. I’ve pretty much invented this, no one has anything quite like it.”

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Her pieces have a three-dimensional quality that is also reminiscent of a musical composition in the balance, sculpture, and patterns.


Snoddy uses all mixed media construction. “I use wood, plastics, metal. I am a sculptor, so anything I do I try to turn into the three dimensional. I work surfaces because I am crazy about texture. That’s what I see around me, the texture, which kind of started with me living in Los Angeles.”

His first studio was a half block away from MuzeuMM.

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“I am mainly concerned about perception and how we understand things. I am interested in what we need to have a happy life in a psychological way versus consumerism, and trying to buy happiness.”


Both artists offer compelling, fresh technique and pieces that evoke memory and illusion, transition and stasis. They are the epitome of Los Angeles: melding form and function, fusing a variety of artistic means to create an entirely new end.  Wherever either artist moves, they will always carry at their core the fact that they were or are a part of a diverse community constantly in motion.

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Above: reasons not to miss an opening at MuzeuMM again besides the stellar art: outdoor patio plus drinks; garlic-rich potatoes as the ultimate art snack.

MuzeuMM is located at 4817 West Adams Blvd.

  • story and photos: Genie Davis

Shift and Fade: Ecstatic Art Adventures at BLAM


Above, curators Dani Dodge and Alanna Marcelletti

BLAM is always the place to be for edgy, interesting work, and that is certainly the case with the current exhibition, where the artists works are clearly their passion, filled with creative intensity palpable to viewers the moment they enter the gallery space.

Shift and Fade, the latest exhibition at the always fascinating BLAM – Brooklyn Los Angeles Meet space in DTLA is a vibrant mix of large-scale installations and 21 small sculptures. One of the most fascinating aspects of the exhibit is the fact that quite a few of the artists participating with sculptural works have worked in 2 dimensions only previously.

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Above, artist Tom Dunn with a piece from his series based on a fascination with film memorabilia. The piece is titled Margot Robbie Panties Infused Vodka.

The dimensional aspects are certainly not the only part of this absorbing show that merits consideration: curated by Dani Dodge and Alanna Marcelletti, the artists here were encouraged to use their works as emblematic of their personal identities.


Erika Lizee dazzles with a 12 foot site-specific sculpture that is partially created on the gallery’s wall space; Fran Siegel’s woven drawings fill the back room,  Hugo Heredia Barrera works with a dazzling display of fused glass and wire. Using unusual materials and common ones, the artists present a cumulative exhibition on identity and the way in which such identity shifts with time and in the process of creation.  

Everywhere one looks, there is a different, glowing piece.

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Hugo Heredia Barrera says he has worked in glass for over 25 years. “My idea is to exploit glass in very different ways fusing with wire cable. I untwist the wires and fuse them between glass inseide a furnace, shape it, drop it on the ground and hammer it. This piece is from a series called Floating Souls. I work in light and shapes.” The artist notes that whenever he is asked to do an installation he visits the space and plays with the idea of light and shape. “I hung this piece from the ceiling beam here, if I had other beams I would have expanded it differently for the space.” Heredia Barrera created his art form initially accidentally when a piece did not turn out as it had planned and he threw it in the dumpster, it fell and broke. That fortuitous accident led to the creation of his unique artworks now.


Alison Woods also hangs her work here from the rafters. “I’m really a painter, but Dani carried me into the show and said I had to make a three dimensional sculpture. It’s the Greek goddess Ares, the goddess of discord, and element from a painting. I used paper mache and acrylic paint. It seemed like something I could do, remembered from my childhood and lightweight enough to paint and hang from the ceiling.”


Kristine Schomaker cut up eighteen years worth of paintings using a box cutter to create her rich and evocative stacked work. The act of cutting and altering past works is something of a overall transition for the artist. “The paintings here were cut to be 12 x 12. My work lately has been about reconstructing beauty,  so I wanted to approach the cutting here almost like plastic surgery,  reconstructing something that was beautiful before I started.”


Erika Lizee painted the blue portion of her stunning sculpture in her studio, on clear artist-grade acetate. The grey portion was painted directly on the wall at BLAM. “It took two days. I start with a big drawing and cut the acetate into dual shapes,” she relates.  Titled “Seed of Life,” the piece “ties into sacred geometry…representing the time before you’re born and the tangible versus unintelligible, what happens to us before birth or after death.”  The piece appears to go inside the wall, a physical manifestation of the mysteries she is presenting thematically in this unique and beautiful piece.

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Fran Siegel created her works entirely of paper. “They are all about locations and reconfiguring drawing as a way to take things apart and put it back together. There are a variety of perspectives and moods. All three pieces were created based on three different continents, with different vantage points and reconstructions.”

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Alex Kritselis created a gorgeous video piece. The diminutive work is hardly small in scope, revealing the image of a snake in the roots of a tree with a “video image manipulated to look like a line drawing. Originally the video used was a close up of a filmed snake pit,” the artist explains. The piece is evocatively titled “Before the Descent. ” A revelatory piece.

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Steven Wolkoff wrote a word – message – in acrylic paint and placed it inside a glass bottle. “It’s like putting a miniature ship in a a bottle, the word is a little bigger than the opening but it bends, requiring some time and patient. It needs to be wet enough to bend but not too wet.”

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Beatrice Wolert created a live work. The Brooklyn-based artist used plastic cake decorating bags containing paint to create brilliantly colorful “living” sculptures. Puncturing the plastic, the drips on the ground covering below that will firm up in consistency over the course of the exhibition she considers to be “representing Los Angeles as the paint forms on the ground.”  Beautiful to see it as it happens and to see the end result. “I am using paint as a symbol of the artists in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.  I enjoyed filling up the bags, the process of filling. The colors are the colors of nature using the Pantone matching system. They’re memories of a sumer garden in bloom. I studied the plants in the Bartow Pell Museum,” she relates. “The color matching system is based on the colors of bird feathers.”

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Nadege Monchera Baer took some of her drawings, laminted them, cut them. The resulting work resembles a sea creature. “It was in my studio, I drew it on dualar and I assembled it.”  The untitled piece inspired the artist to create other pieces in a similar fashion. “I want to do more of this, laminate different drawings. I love the possibility that the door has maybe opening to doing something else with my work.”

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Jennifer Celio created a sculpture using “all of the pencils I’ve used in the last ten years. I couldn’t bear to throw away the stubs. My dad did the same thing,  he had a jar of pencil stubs. There are 360 stubs in my piece that includes a wood panel and acrlic paint to create the hexagon pattern. I’m glad I saved them all those years,  I wouldn’t get of them,  and now I’ve made art from them.”

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Lena Wolek created sculptures that utilized different parts of her background. Fur which is an important survival aspect of life in her birthplace of Siberia, porcelain that “represents a porcelain factory that five generations of my family worked in.” As always, this chameleon-like artist works in materials we have not seen her create in previously. Her versatility is matched by her ability to create beauty from diverse materials.

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Co-curator Alanna Marcelletti created a piece that expresses her self-transformation into a mother. “The figure is carrying sage because you become a shaman as you become a mom. It’s a full circle piece linking a period from my 20s to now.”



Kio Griffith employed blueprint film found in Japan in an area affected by the tsunami. “It’s part plastic, part paper,  treated with bleach that east away at the plastic to reveal the paper. The double image is about my heritage which is half Japanese,” he asserts. “It’s about a story I got fro my mother, in which my grandfather, in the Japanese Imperial Navy was in the same battle as my uncle in a submarine. On the same battleground, my grandfather shot at my uncle. I’m combining the different blueprints of these different ships from different nationalities, depicting an area where lines meet…” and lives intersect.


Co-curator Dani Dodge incorporates Tab cans and sleeping pills in her work. “The piece is talking about when I was young, and I never expected to live past age 23, and when I did, I had to make decisions about my life. I had a difficult time as a young person and a single mom, and had a lot of unexpected things happening in my life.  So many people think about chucking it all when there are so many adventures ahead. You can live through troubled times and have incredible adventures, you just have to know it’s going to get better. This is a piece saying it really does, even when you might think it won’t happen,” she attests. “As more curator than artist here, I created this using materials as a metaphor for personal history.  Everyone here had a personal stake in the show. I think that’s really what speaks to people here is something true and honest and beautiful.”



Other highlights includes a sculptural version of David Spanbock’s rainbow colored abstract work, above.

Exhibiting artists include: Nadege Monchera Baer, Hugo Heredia Barrera, April Bey, Arezoo Bharthania, Debbie Carlson, Paul Catalanotto, Jennifer Celio, Dani Dodge, Tom Dunn, Kio Griffith, Jenny Hager, Pete Hickock, Alex Kritselis, Erika Lizée, Alanna Marcelletti, Bhavna Mehta, Kristine Schomaker, Delbar Shahbaz, Fran Siegel, David Spanbock, Jesse Standlea, Camilla Taylor, Vincent Tomczyk, Joe Wolek, Lena Wolek, Beatrice Wolert, Steven Wolkoff, and Alison Woods.

Truly, honestly beautiful: that sums up Shift and Fade. Go see it before it closes October 30th. BLAM is located at 1950 S. Santa Fe Ave. #207 in DTLA’s warehouse district.

  • Genie Davis; photos: the brilliant Jack Burke