Eva Perez Artist Talk and Closing at the Neutra Gallery

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We’ve written about Eva Perez before, and her stunning personal journey. Perez’ Fertile Infertility is a passion project, cathartic and visually astonishing.

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In her closing talk, Perez addressed her complex use of materials: minute droplets of wax that drew bees into her studio…

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The precision and delicacy of gold leaf…”There is always something beyond the suffering of the moment.”

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The repeatable yet delicate resin sculptures…

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the soft and subtle cellular shapes she created of cloth.

Her favorite medium may just be ink: she says she felt a peace, a zen-like pleasure in the swirling movements of her brush creating egg-like shapes as lush and meaning-dense as caligraphy.

She discussed her “obsession” with both the topic of fertility, her attempts to conceive, and her art as a conceptual process.

Perez has powerfully taken a fraught subject, laid bare her personal journey, and taken on a transcendent body of work that fascinates on a variety of levels.

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There is an inchoate longing that fills these pieces, a subtle and resonant beauty in the more abstract works that could be viewed simply on the basis of their rich patterns, their almost spiritual shapes. Her more figurative works glow with their own inner life, their own visual gestation.

Miss this show? Well don’t miss Perez. Her work will doubtlessly continue along the most fertile of creative paths.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis





A Beautiful Mess: Osceola Refetoff’s It’s a Mess Without You

First printed: 2014

I had been photographing the abandoned trailers at this site for four years before capturing this image. The same room appears in an earlier photograph "Desert Kitchen - Cinco, CA - 2010" before the sink was pried out and some unknown person or persons were moved to add this memorable inscription to the scene. As a documentary photographer, I can only bear witness to the aftermath of such events, wondering like you, who may have spray-painted the note, in what circumstance, and for what intended audience. Whatever the author’s intention, this image has caught the imagination of a wide range of people on a personal level, leading to rampant, engaging speculation as to the full story. The large-size print edition is on its way to selling out, but a smaller-size edition is available as well.
Photo LA – The REEF - Los Angeles, CA – 2017Finalist - FOCUS Photo – 2016Office Hours – The Main Museum – Los Angeles, CA - 2016
Museum Tour (Solo Show) - Venice Institute of Contemporary Art/Gypsy Trails Gallery - Torrance Art Museum - 2015Boom: a Journal of California - Framing the Desert - Summer 2015
West Hollywood Lifestyle Magazine - Premiere Issue - Winter 2014The Life of Things - SCA Project Gallery - Pomona, CA - 2014KCET Artbound: High & Dry - A Collaboration Surveying the American Desert - May 21, 2014
Solo Exhibition - Los Angeles Art Association/Gallery 825 - 2014

Through March 26th at the Porch Gallery in Ojai, Osceola Refetoff continues his “Desert Windows” series with 20 beautifully composed photographs in “It’s a Mess Without You.”

First printed: 2017

It's a Mess Without You - Porch Gallery - Ojai - 2017
First printed: 2017 

It’s a Mess Without You – Porch Gallery – Ojai – 2017

The raw, bright desert is the external landscape Refetoff frames through the windows of decaying desert structures. There’s a visual short story in each piece, evocative of the lives once lived in these now broken-down shacks, and in the beauty and harshness of the desert stretching far beyond the space in which a human once dared intrude.

“Window with Wire & Tiny Cloud – Cinco, CA – 2009,” above, gives us a dazzling blue sky outside the wooden frame of a window, the clear and bright landscape marred only by the small imperfections of a wire caught on the decaying house and a patch of cloud.

First printed: 2017

It's a Mess Without You - Porch Gallery - Ojai - 2017
First printed: 2017

 It’s a Mess Without You – Porch Gallery – Ojai – 2017

“Trailer Bathroom with Floral Motif & Mountain View – Coso, CA – 2015,” lets us glimpse the cathedral of a blue mountain’s crags through the confines of a narrow bathroom window, a window surrounded by the broken remains of what was once a 70s era nightmare of floral design.

In both cases we are a mute witness to loss, to an unforgiving yet stunning land that seems almost sentient.

“Many of these structures are the former homes of agricultural workers, abandoned when the farms went under,” Refetoff explains. “For three years, I returned repeatedly to a site in Cinco, Calif., just north of the town of Mojave, where several trailer homes faced an almost impossibly flat horizon created when the adjacent alfalfa field was left fallow. Other locations include Trona, a 100-year-old mining town south of Death Valley, and Thermal, CA in the Coachella Valley, both hardscrabble desert communities facing significant economic challenges.”

First printed: 2017

It's a Mess Without You - Porch Gallery - Ojai - 2017
First printed: 2017

 It’s a Mess Without You – Porch Gallery – Ojai – 2017

The artist views his work as an exploration of the crossroad between human enterprise and natural environments. The viewer sees that crossroad as a literal and figurative line in the sand, a battle in which nature is the victor, proud and unforgiving of human folly.

“My practice is opportunistic in the sense that I don’t focus on a single project, but travel across significant distances in search of interesting subjects. I’m continuously populating several interrelated portfolios that explore the way people and communities frame their relationships to arid lands. “Desert Windows” is one of these portolfios. The most recent photographs debuting at Porch Galley date from 2015 and 2016, but some of the “new” images were captured as early as 2009,” Refetoff says.

Refetoff’s narrative photographic approach is no accident.

“I came to photography later in life. For many years, I was completely consumed with motion pictures, eventually getting an M.F.A. in film production from NYU. So my compositional style and my interest in visual narrative is heavily influenced by the great mis-en-scene directors – Lange, Welles, Kubrick, and Melville,” he asserts. “As a photographer, I’m interested in carefully framing compositions in depth, I like to explore temporal as well as visual space, and I’m obsessed with creating optical effects in-camera, at the moment of capture.” He adds that despite the documentary nature of much of his work, his visual approach is grounded in narrative filmmaking techniques.  “I am still telling stories, but now within single, densely-packed frames, edited together into ever-expanding portfolios.” Film shorts, if you will; cinematic haiku.

In Refetoff’s world, the desert dazzles, it breathes with heat and hidden life, while man’s desire to prevail falters, his dreams fading in the sun.

Every picture indeed tells a story here, in an exhibition that is both haunting and elegaic, vividly expressing and contrasting the impervious eternal with the once hopeful spark of humankind.

The Porch Gallery is located at 310 E Matilija St. in Ojai, and is open Thursdays through Sundays. Opening reception, February 18th from 5 to 7 p.m.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: courtesy of artist; additional photos Genie Davis

The Collectivists: The Brand Library & Art Center

Steven Wolkoff's work with Durden & Ray


The Collectivists with Manual History Machines, Tiger Strikes Asteroid Los AngelesAssociation of Hysteric Curators, Monte Vista, Durden and Ray, and Eastside International / ESXLA is a wildly creative exhibition that highlights some of the most innovative art collectives exhibition curator Kara Tomé (below) could find.

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The show is as magical as it is meta. This is an exhibition that’s not only about art for arts sake but about the collectives that are creating an environment that supports and sustains art for art’s sake.

Being a part of a collective leads to an atmosphere in which a group can promote individual art for the greater good of all. It’s a very progressive idea, in other words, the type of idea we could use more of in politics today as well as in art.  The influence of the group offers new success for both its members and the group. Pretty cool, right?

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Featuring the works of more than 60 artists from six LA-based art collectives, Tome, along with Brand Art Center curator Shannon Currie Holmes (above) are offering a stellar show of cutting edge art.

Paintings, mixed media, and sculpture are each represented in a vibrant and compelling setting.


Above, installation artist Dani Dodge with her piece “365.”  Dodge notes “LA is a hard town to live in if you’re not a model. I wanted to do something that would give affirmation to people, even if it was only temporary.” To do so she left affirmations everywhere – in the sand, on a straw wrapper, some locations where her “just the way you are” encouragement would be visible for 6 months, other places where it would disappear almost instantly. She posted some affirmations in New York, but primarily Los Angeles was her palette for 365 days worth of documented personal positivity, presented on video here.


Above, Alison Woods with a glowing work that evokes a mosaic.


Above, David Leapman with “Individual Scent.” He notes “I’ve changed around a precise method of mine using a roller to now use brush work for a whole different feel. I mask to cut out the shapes. It’s a change from the normal way I’m working. ”


Above and below,  Rebecca Bennett Duke with “Over the Rainbow.”  Of her work she says “When I was a kid, my dad sold firewood in Vermont, and when my husband and I bought property in Eagle Rock, there was a wood pile.  Those were in part the inspiration.” The lightweight cast sculptures are whimsical and wonderful.



Above, Steven Wolkoff with another lighthearted work, a sculpture created entirely of Behr paint gummy bears. The mirror heightens the effect of a kind of endless, kinetic sorcery.


As we explored the exhibition space, we saw both vivid palettes and sculptures that use white the way Midas used gold…

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Bold and bright, or dark and mysterious as night…

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Both playful and edgy…there’s a dream-like quality to many of the works, a light but potent touch of the surreal.

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Above, Valerie Wilcox with her “Untitled.” She describes the medium as “Graphite, acrylic, plaster, and foam core on wood. It’s emblematic of lots of my sculptural mixed-media work.” Below, different takes on 3-D art.

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Sculptural and mixed media pieces are fluid and thoughtful…

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Above, David Spanbock’s work resembles crystals, translucent and exuding light.

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The personal and social merge…

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Above, the author with artist Dani Dodge

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Above and below, an homage to Prince, “Violet Ghost,” by Rema Ghuloum. “I sand between layers of dry and glazed paint, it builds up very slowly, dense, yet thin.”  The effect is that of a stained glass collage.

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There’s a lot of glow in this show.

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Above, the force behind The Collectivists, Kara Tome and Shannon Currie Holmes.

In short:  art is both an individual activity and a collaborative one. It is the support of a community and the power of personal passion. It is innovative, fragile, and always seeking a space in the world. The Collectivists offers that space to present art culled from groups who also offer the support and strength artists need to survive and thrive.

A shout-out to all the artists and collectives participating:

Durden & Ray exhibiting artists: Shiva Aliabadi, Jorin Bossen, Gul Cagin, Sijia Chen, Dani Dodge, Tom Dunn, Lana Duong, Roni Feldman, Jon Flack, Sean Michael Gallagher, Ed Gomez, Jenny Hager, Ben Jackel, Brian Thomas Jones, David Leapman, Alanna Marcelletti, Chris Mercier, Ty Powell, Max Presneill, Nano Rubio, David Spanbock, Curtis Stage, Jesse Standlea, Steven Wolkoff and Alison Woods.

Eastside International (ESXLA) exhibiting artists: Sarah Burwash, Bruce Ingram, Robin Tarbet, Stacy Wendt, Min Wong.

Manual History Machines exhibiting artists: Andrea Marie Breiling, Daniela Campins, Rema Ghuloum, Michelle Carla Handel, Bessie Kunath, Jill Spector, Tessie Salcido Whitmore and Suné Woods.

Monte Vista Projects exhibiting artists: Rebecca Bennett Duke, Michael Lewis Dodge, Danny Escalante, Roberta Gentry, Melissa Huddleston, Jay Lizo and Chris Miller.

Tiger Strikes Asteroid exhibiting artists: (from TSA Los Angeles) Carl Baratta, Vanessa Chow, Erin Harmon, Brittany Mojo, Liz Nurenberg, Brian Porray, Jonathan Matthew Ryan, Laurel Shear, Christopher Ulivo, (from TSA New York) Alex Paik and Andrew Prayzner, (from TSA Philadelphia) Mark Brosseau, Megan Biddle, (from TSA Chicago) Zachary Cahill, Michelle Wasson.

Association of Hysteric Curators exhibiting artists: Mary Anna Pomonis and Allison Stewart.

The Collectivists will runs  through March 12 at the Brand Library & Art Center, 1601 W. Mountain St, Glendale.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke, Genie Davis


Excessivism: Creating Beyond Boundaries

Excessivist marco


As human beings, we grow by testing boundaries. By pushing limits. By finding out just far we can go. As an international art movement, Excessivism does much the same.

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Above, artist Frank Auerbach

While excessivism has been around since the 1950s, with artists Frank Auerbach and Bram Bogart leading the charge, the movement has only recently fully come into its own. Devoted to going beyond what is required to create a work of art, the movement’s  name bears reference to the contemporary consumer’s urge to go beyond what is needed and beyond one’s means when acquiring material goods. The works are a commentary in and of themselves on materialism.


Above, Bram Bogart

It would be entirely possible to get lost within this commentary, looking for the editorializing of excess through this art work. However, the visual aesthetic of excessivism is so potent that it even transcends its own political and social roots. From multi-media collages to installations and thickly layered paintings, from conceptual works that use lush, ripe gold and bronze, the movement is as inherently visual and exciting as it is a fascinating political, economic, and yes, spiritual statement on materialism and capitalism.

excesssivist initiative

In 2015, artist and curator Kaloust Guedel brought twenty excessivist artists’ work to LA Art Core in the Excessivist Initiative exhibition. With this powerful show, viewers were drawn to consider the dichotomy between the wealthy who squander natural resources and those just barely surviving, as well as confronting the planned obsolescence of resources for private profit, which impacts humanity itself.


According to Guedel, “Society (is) in a state of ever-increasing excess and the waste of resources is reflected in the arts, particularly of visual artists…As a reflection, examination, or investigation of every aspect of life in excessive state…subject areas are, but not limited to economics, politics and psychology. In politics the leaders become mis-leaders only to serve the interests of their contributors, whose interests are more often than not opposed to the interests of their electors.”

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Above, Alexis Harding

The art of the Excessivist movement reflects and examines the desire to acquire material goods out of simply wanting them rather than out of need.

Excessivism as an art movement expresses itself primarily through abstraction and installations. 

Movement artists rely on portraiture, precious and semi-precious materials such as gold and bronze, or thick layers of paint to illuminate contemporary political topics. Excessivism is the very epitome of the catch phrase “The medium is the message,” as Canadian professor and philosopher Marshall McLuhan once memorably said. In short: the form of a medium is inevitably embedded in any message it issues.

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Frank Auerbach works with thick paint, layering and removing it, creating distorted, layered images, both figurative and abstract. The works, many created in the 1950s, use so many different colors that there is no clearly defined palette.

Roxy Paine

Roxy Paine shapes works in which paint is so thick that it drips like icing, hangs suspended like icicles. Paine created paintings using a mechanical method that he invented, called the “paint dipper.”

Bram Bogart

Bram Bogart employed paint sculpturally to create three-dimensional wedges of color.


Scott Richter’s work is more two-dimensional, but it, too, features thick ribbons of color that make a viewer want to peel away the cross-hatched stripes of paint.

Alexis Harding

Alexis Harding paints receding waves of color, in which shades mix, shift, and ebb. This paint is rich and deep, brush strokes visible, thick globs peeling from the edge of the frame or running onto the floor in streams.

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Marco Lamoyi’s work varies smooth surfaces with a 3-D taffy-like spillage. As if paint were indeed melted candy oozing from a shiny wrapper, his rainbows of color look wet and supple, as if they could melt in the viewers hand as well as in the mind. And Guedel uses a wide range of materials such as plexiglass, metal, vinyl, and acrylic as he morphs paintings into sculptures and architecture


It’s fair to say that excessivism exceeds its own message: social and economic commentary on wealth and waste aside, these are fascinating, raw, immersive works.

  • Genie Davis; photos: courtesy of artists