Christine Frerichs: Living Landscapes

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At Klowden Mann opening March 11th, Christine Frerichs living landscapes are layered with light and darkness, textured and rich oil and acrylics that vibrate with light. In her dazzling Beacon, she creates a series of landscapes filled with the light and atmosphere of places which have emotional significance for her, including Los Angeles, Tucson, and New York.

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“Beacon (Los Angeles),” depicts her 7th story studio window view, sun high in the sky. “Wet Moon, Clear Path (Tucson)” leads viewers through saguaro cactus toward a large, beckoning, almost iridescent moon. Both works use “pyramidal compositions with the light source at the top, reflecting harmony and balance,” Frerichs relates.

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A sense of both stability and movement carries through her work, as does what she terms her “theme of light.” She uses light to refer to consciousness, aliveness, or a sentient state of being.

In “Bright Mist (Montauk),” low waves roll at the edge of the sea. A potent mix of blue, grey, and white, flecked with a sparkling aluminum leaf, the work offers a dynamic visual experience for the viewer. The painting took Frerichs two years to complete, and went through many different iterations. “It was as if the weather changed in the painting month after month,” she explains. “Sometimes it was clear and sunny, then I’d paint in the fog so densely that the horizon and three-quarters of the waves at bottom were lost, then it would emerge again.”

To the viewer, there is a shift in perception when viewing the work for an extended period, one which may be derived from the artist’s shifting of her own creation as she worked to complete it. “I hope it is experienced by others in the way that I experience it….in that it is a space at the edge of a calm sea, where it feels like you can stand firmly on the ground while gazing up into the beautiful bright flickering light of the sky.” The painting was inspired by a trip to Montauk, Long Island. “There were so many brilliant artists who have lived on Long Island for centuries and I could feel it in the air, see them in the trees, and thought about them while watching the calm Atlantic,” she says.

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Each of Frerichs’ works emphasize vibrate with captured motion; capturing a sense of sound in shimmering visual form.

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“Some of my favorite painters, Arthur Dove and Kandinsky specifically, both had to come up with a visual language to describe something non-visual, something felt and heard, but not seen,” Frerichs says. There is the emotional quality of sound and music in her work, too. She feels that classical music functions in a similar way to abstract painting, using formal elements to create a non-narrative feeling. In her studio, she frequently listens to Bach and Chopin. “I am attracted to the complicated overlapping rhythms and themes, the rolling and relentless waves….really, it’s a lot like the ocean,” she asserts.

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Frerich captures an aliveness in her work that she hopes will speak to the aliveness in every viewer. “So whether my painting is more representational – a picture of the sea, or more abstract, like ‘Silent Night,’, which takes the title from the song, I’d like there to be a sense of movement in the material of it,” she says. “I want to give the viewer a dynamic experience, so that the paintings are appealing in a different ways when viewing them from 20 feet away, from 2 feet away, and from 2 inches away.”

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Frerichs says she has been inspired by what she feels are the two most exciting moments in the history of oil painting, the Renaissance and Early Modernism. Viewers can see the influence of the Renaissance in her works, the dramatic light and dark and luminosity of the period, as well as the sense of triangular composition.

“These paintings are inspired by, and hope to recreate a feeling of awe, much like religious paintings of the Renaissance. So I am using light, whether it be the sun, moon, bright mist, or an abstract cluster of light paint in my work in a similar way that light has often been used in these types of religious or spiritual paintings,” Frerichs says. Her works evoke her own personal understanding of light, as a kind of consciousness and self-expression.

Early Modernism comes into play particularly with the artist’s palette. “In terms of color and material application, I’m most inspired by the earthy browns and blues and luminous pinks and peaches of Early Modernist painters like Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, Courbet, Vincent Van Gogh and always, Monet.” Frerichs was also influenced by these painters’ representation of landscape.

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“They each found a kind of inherent abstraction in the landscape, and brought it to our attention, whether it was Courbet’s paintings of waves, making them look more like strong static sculptures than liquid forms, or Van Gogh using the same active brushwork when painting the grass as when painting the sky, to remind us that air has life and movement too, even if we can’t always see it,” Frerichs relates.

Catch the wave of light. Klowden Mann is located at 6023 Washington Blvd. in Culver City.

Here Comes the Sunrise – Sunrise Springs

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Medicine wheel fire night

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs grounds

You get off I-25 and you drive down a country road. You reach tall wooden gates, announce yourself through an intercom, the gates peal back, and there you are – in a private, 70-acre oasis of spring fed pond and water pavilion, home to a spa, yoga, meditation, and experiential programs as unusual as they are glorious.

It’s all just 20 minutes from the art and shopping of downtown Santa Fe, but it is its own oasis, a spa for 25 years before the owners of Ojo Caliente Spa an hour away purchased and repurposed it a year ago.

Renew your body, sure thing – but you’ll also be renewing your soul.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Medicine wheel fire night

There’s a blissful, peaceful, wild aspect to the property itself, which strives, according to marketing director Wendi Gelfound, to bring the outdoors in. Rooms and casitas are simply gorgeous, austere yet welcoming, a neutral palette the perfect backdrop to a private patio with rock garden, burbling fountains, spring fed ponds, and wild flowers. What a pleasure to stroll the grounds, cross a serene wooden bridge, sit in an Adirondak chair overlooking water, watch butterflies, catch the scent of pinion smoke from the fire burning in the center of the Native American Medicine Wheel that forms the heart and soul of the place.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs outdoor soaking tub

Or, take a soak in the new Ojitos Pavilion with private outdoor pools, take part in yoga, meditation, art classes, and therapeutic massages.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs casita bedroom

The 20 casitas and 32 guest rooms are pristine and peaceful, with a serene almost Scandinavian style that fuses with the Southwestern surrounding with a surprising intimacy.  Our casita included a gas fireplace, a writing nook – would love to have a writing residency here, and wet bar; a beautiful private courtyard made a great spot for stargazing.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs tea

Thoughtful touches such as a book of meditation exercises and organic teas were left for us. You could easily stay in this self-contained space and be content to never leave. But that would be a loss with so many wonderful experiences to enjoy.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs spa

We began our stay with the Earth Keepers’ Hot Stone Massage, a blissful and very therapeutic 80 minute experience. Stones are warm, oiled, and meticulously applied to soothe muscles and relieve tension, placed on chakra points. Not your thing? Other massage options abound as do alternatives such as Reiki, skin care facials, nutrition and sleep consultation, and Ayurvedic therapies.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Blue Heron dining room

At the resort’s Blue Heron restaurant, the meals are well worth attending. None of the anemic spa fare that frequently plagues “renewing” destinations. Rather, here you’ll find elegant lunches and dinner served in a restored, historic building beside a natural spring-fed pond. The food is every bit as good as that served in top drawer LA restaurants, and there is a surprisingly varied menu that invites lingering.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Salad

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Divers Scallops starter Santa Fe Sunrise Springs Chocolate decadence Santa Fe Sunrise Springs fruit

Dinner includes choices of starters, entrees, and desserts, featuring courses such as Pan-Seared Diver Scallops, a red kale Caesar salad, a Poblano relleno made with quinoa, sauteed autumn vegetables, and mild red chile sauce, and grilled salmon with vegetable gallet and lemon butter. For lunch there were choices such as the incredibly fresh Ojo Farm Mixed Green Salad with dried apricots, candied walnuts and blue cheese vinaigrette, the Roasted Vegetable Tamale, or the Vegetable Fajitas. Desserts such as the rich Flour-less Chocolate Decadence with crème anglaise are worth every calorie. The menu changes seasonally.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs puppies

After dining, join the exuberant puppies in the All About Assistance Dogs program. These sweet pups are assistance dogs in training, selected for temperment to be of service. The nationally renowned Assistance Dogs of the West runs the program, working with dogs trained to care for individuals with a particular disability such as Diabetes or PTSD. Supervised playful visits help train the dogs, and are rewarding fun.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs chickens

My favorite animal interaction was with the resort’s Silkie chickens. Inside a large chicken coup, guests hold these soft chickens which actually purr when contented, feed them, learn their habits, and collect eggs. A calming reminder of the serenity in other living beings, and a great way to rest one’s own over-active “monkey brain.”

Another way to calm and renew is with a dance-oriented yoga class, or a restful meditation; both were morning classes and were followed by breakfast served in the sunny Sages building.

Santa Fe Sunrise Springs breakfast buffet

The program that serves as the heart of everything the resort offers, however, is “Finding Your Place on the Medicine Wheel”  both a discussion group and a spiritual therapy. The wheel is divided into east, west, north, and south quadrants which represent different times, spiritual interests, and stages in each guest’s life. The rings of the wheel correspond to the activities guests would like to invite into their lives, the traits, and the understanding guests wish to invite in. Repeatable daily, the beautifully curated experience lasts about 90 minutes.

Resort marketing manager Wendi Gelfound says the property was a former retreat center for 25 years. The owners of Ojo Caliente Minteral Resort took over Sunrise Springs in 2013, and spent years carefully crafting it into a space which is “visually appealing, with a conscious effort to bring the outdoors indoors, and create a beautiful, holistic space.” According to Gelfound, the beds and lamps in the rooms are designed and created by a Taos-based artist, shampoos, soaps and oils in the rooms and spa use locally harvested herbs and plants. A new spa apothecary line just launched, featuring massage oils and other products for guests to take home.

“The idea here is to hit the pause button. A Japanese study recently noted that five minutes in nature can calm you down,” Gelfound relates. “We are passionate about expanding on that, and on showing people things here that they can incorporate into their lives at home.” She adds that the resort has moved successfully from a “clinical health approach to one of inclusive spiritual health. Our experience leaders are licensed counselors, and have helped us design our program and our physical area.”

Along with overnight, weekend, and longer stays, the resort offers a day program that includes spa services as well. But why would you want to limit yourself?

Here, the wide open New Mexico sky is the perfect accompaniment to the wide range of classes, experiences, and pure pleasure this resort and spa offers. We defy you to not return – we certainly plan to do so!

 

 

Red O Offers Dining Aahs

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Red O interiort

From the moment diners step inside the sleek and glowing Santa Monica outpost of Red O, the welcoming, stylish dining room and the aromas of freshly made tortillas, sizzling prawns, and street corn are all just about irresistible.

The inventive, seafood-centric cuisine pairs well with the modern setting and Santa Monica pier view; the glamorous bar lighting and spacious tables add to the restaurant’s cool yet comfortable vibe. A good spot for a romantic date, yes, but it’s also family friendly, with kid’s food options available.

The restaurant was originally launched by James Beard award winner Rick Bayless. There’s a branch on Melrose Ave. and one in Newport Beach. Today, flavors of Baja and Central Mexico are elegantly prepared along with craft cocktails. Freshness is the key here, with everything made daily at the restaurant, including sauces.

Red O tamales

The guacamole has a smart, tangy bite from the fresh lime juice and serrano chile. The Fresh Corn & Goat Cheese Tamales feature sweet fresh corn masa, fresh Laura Chenel goat cheese, and tomatillo salsa.

Red O Tortilla soup

The salads, often a weak note at Mexican restaurants, are strong here. The Organic Baby Kale Salad is a well balanced mix of grapefruit, grilled jicama, kale, avocado, cucumber,  pepitas, and nicely zingy orange-habanero dressing. My favorite starters were the soups: the creamy butternut squash,  flavor heightened with Mulato chiles, Marcona almonds, and plump golden raisins; and the impressively smokey richness of the tortilla soup, were both standouts.

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Main courses included halibat and mahi-mahi, both delicately prepared, sustaining the unique flavor of both fish; and a wonderful chile releno stuffed with prawns, lobster, and a creamy cheese sauce. We also enjoyed the hearty Enchiladas Suizas, vegetable enchiladas juicy with tomatillo sauce, frisee, red rice, beans, and seasonal sauteed veggies.

The sides were exceptional: that fragrant Mexican street corn was every bit as good as it smelled when we walked into the restaurant. If there’s one dish on the menu that’s a must-try, it’s that street corn. The texture, the sauce, Cotija cheese, poblano chilies, cilantro – a truly smart, delicious combination of flavors is what makes this deconstructed dish. Hint: you can taste the corn as a topping in a crisp taco, too.

red o street corn Red O street corn in tacos

For kids, it would be hard to beat the handmade Monterrey Jack Cheese Quesadilla, built with a fresh corn tortilla, jack cheese, rice, black beans, and guacamole. Simple, satisfying, and generously portioned for the small fry.

Red One kids quesa

I’ve grown more and more picky about the craft cocktail scene. Often the word “craft” doesn’t mean all that much. I was delighted to try the cocktail program here, with its top flight ingredients and subtle but unique spicing. Note that Red O would also be a terrific spot to simply enjoy some appetizers and margaritas while the sun sets over the Pacific.

Red O Margarita

We tried the Signature Red O Margarita, light and fragrant with the house-made limonada. Also in the glass: Cabo wabo blanco, o3 orange liqueur. Not a margarita fan? Try the Coco-J Ito, a nice variant on a mojito, made with Cruzan coconut rum, fresh mint, fresh lime, simple syrup, and soda water. It’s less sweet and crisper than your average mojito.

Red O dessert

Finally, don’t skip dessert. Passion Fruit Butter Cake is a house specialty, created with grilled strawberries and passion fruit custard; the Just-Made Churros are a far cry from those you last scarfed down at an amusement park. These are crisp on the outside, soft inside, and served with a  chocolate and cajeta sauce — a slow-cooked, fragrant Mexican caramel sauce that successfully manages to sidestep too-sweet.

From polished service to fresh, fresh, fresh cuisine, the restaurant lives up to its celebrity-chef pedigree. Get ready to say O – and ahh.

Red O is located at 1541 Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis, Red O

Durden and Ray: New Space, Same Passion

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Art collectives are a wonderful thing. They bring together and support groups of artists whose eclectic and powerful work deserves a showcase which it might not find with a solo approach.

Durden and Ray are one such collective, and they have recently made a move – from a loft space across the street on Santa Fe Avenue to a pristine, white-wall gallery in the same complex as CB1.

Above, left, Tom Dunn’s “Mesopotamia #36,” a marvelous mix of the abstract and figurative in oil. Alongside, to the right, the brilliantly textured acrylic on canvas of Jenny Hagar, “Roja.” Both leap off the wall, as different as they are well-matched.

Yes, the space is lovely and airy, the light dancing off the walls and works, but it is the art itself, and the passionate spirit the collective represents that shines.

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Above left, artist Dani Dodge with curator Steven Wolkoff.

The opening exhibition in the new space, Round Won was curated by Steven Wolkoff, the show features artists: Dani Dodge, Tom Dunn, Roni Feldman, Jon Flack, Jenny Hager, Ben Jackel, David Leapman, Alanna Marcelletti, Max Presneill, David Spanbock, Jesse Standlea, and Alison Woods.

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Above, Alison Woods with her “Utopia,” acrylic on canvas, we have geometric patterns and vibrating lines so intense that the canvas appears layered; there are elements that evoke a collage or puzzle pieces. Viewers see a city landscape that is exploding with flora and fauna.

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Above, Allana Marceletti, left, near her “Daae,” a sculptural collage of found objects, acrylic, and metal on organza with seatbelt straps. Hang on for the ride. Next to her is Dani Dodge, whose installation, “Ashes,”  is comprised of glass containing the burnt ashes of articulated, written fears.  While very different conceptually, both pieces feature sheer, almost fragile visual depth, and pull the viewer into a landscape that is shimmery and mutable.

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Max Presneill stands before his oil and enamel “RD 141.” Bold graphics and lines, shapes that stand entirely on their own yet coalesce into a vivid whole.  Presneill wants viewers to experience his bright, visceral work from the perspective of the “system of languages we call painting.”

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David Spanbock’s candy colored acrylic on linen, “The Politics of Transformation,” is a dimensional, unique take on urban life and environment.

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And what would an urban environment be without a few fire hydrants? Ben Jackel’s “Large headed hydrants (youth, middle age, elder) are stoneware and beeswax, and serve as a kind of ‘in memoriam’ to the vicissitudes of city life. The black color renders them tomb-like, yet the overall affect is lighthearted.

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Jon Flack’s “Backyard Sermon,” rear wall, takes an entirely modern approach to an iconic American subject, the itinerant preacher. Juxtaposed with Marcelletti’s sculpture and Dodge’s installation, the three works make an engaging commentary on things both profound and redemptive.

Both collectively and through each artist’s work, Round Won is more than ready for prime time.

This will be a two-part opening introducing the 24 members of Durden and Ray  – Round Too, curated by Max Presneill, will open April 1st.

The show runs through March 19th. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday noon-4 p.m. The new space is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave. in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis