Round Too: Durden and Ray Gets It Right – Again

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Curated by Max Presneill, Round Too – the second half of Durden and Ray’s opening – is strong, sensual, and smart.

Featuring artists  Jorin Bossen, Gul Cagin, Sijia Chen, Lana Duong, Ed Gomez, Brian Thomas Jones, Chris Mercier, Ty Pownall, Nano Rubio, Curtis Stage, Valerie Wilcox, and Steven Wolkoff, the exhibition has a cool, clean look from its colors to its spacing.  Both the style of the cohesive exhibition and that of the artists’ represented is innately different from the first half of gallery’s inaugural, Round Won.

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Christopher Mercier’s “In Proximity” describes his work as “an art conservator’s disaster.” Using frames to build new space, Mercier works with “Just paint. No rubber, no plastic, it’s just painting and the frame, latex, enamel, oil, water based ink,” he explains. By refolding the frames, Mercier has expanded the space in his wall sculpture to bring the painting into a three-dimensional space.

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The incredibly thick paint and even the artist’s unique use of space evokes the Excessivist movement. The piece is an encompassing 24 x 96 x 18 inches.

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Equally fascinating is the very different work by Nano Rubio, “Anti Flag.”

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Oil, acrylic, and spray paint on canvas, the work employs techniques Rubio often used in customizing cars. “There are lots of pin striping tools that I use, and I like to build up layers. I like the idea of trickery, that things can change your perception. Yes, the piece can be ready as very political,” he asserts.

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“Things are getting grittier to deal with politics in the California landscape.”

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Ty Pownall created his “Untitled (single fade out)” right on site. Comprised of steel, sand, and spray paint, the work needs to be created from scratch whenever Pownall exhibits it.

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“It’s loose sand raised on a steel sheet. The pigment is sifted on with a screen, you essentially tap it on in order to put the particulate on top. I do it all on site.” The piece seems to fade off into infinity at one end, creating an image that is both one of perfection and incompletion.

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Valerie Wilcox’ “Passage” is a mixed media work in cool whites, off-whites, grey and green. It’s both bold and ghostly; both all angular lines and soft colors.

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Steven Wolkoff, who curated the first half of Durden & Ray’s opening, here offers “High Adventure (a pile of gummy behrs).”


Using Behr acrylic house paint to create his miniature paint bears, Wolkoff’s deliciously tactile work is available at a crazy-reasonable cost: $5 per bear. Good enough to eat, but don’t.

The impressionist abstract of Sijia Chen’s “Stray;” the photo diptych of Brian Thomas-Jones “Untitled (Green/Tan),” which fits visually with Wilcox’ “Passage” like they were destined to be shown together; and Gul Gain’s “To Look Aimlessly,” an abstract that looks as if a head was literally exploding other shadowy forms around it – are among the other standouts in a strong exhibition.

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Above, Durden and Ray’s Dani Dodge with curator Max Presneill.

The Durden and Ray collective continues to hit their art out of the ballpark – rarely has a gallery’s “opening season” looked so good.

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Durden and Ray is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Avenue in a building now brimming with art galleries, including CB1.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis