Durden and Ray Collaborate

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Just closed at Durden and Ray, Simultaneous Contrast offered a fresh and provocative look at texture and line, with works positioned in a perfectly balanced counterpoint of color and pattern from one another. Indeed, the exhibition served as an inclusive, vibrant installation as much as a display of singularly cool works of art.

The exhibition, an exchange show with Chicago’s LVL3 gallery, features three Los Angeles artists and two Chicago artists in a show of abstract paintings that were created and curated to “symbolize the current violent swings of thought across the country regarding America’s simultaneous utopia and dystopia,” according to the exhibition’s notes.

However, visually, the show compelled on a level that goes beyond politics or symbolism. The colors and textures, the rich and the absorbing designs, all served as a kind of kaleidoscope of palette and pattern.

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Above, Curtis Stage, left

Curated by Durden and Ray member Curtis Stage and LVL3 member Adam Scott, LA artists Roberta Gentry, Nano Rubio, and Chris Trueman are joined by Zoe Nelson and Adam Scott from Chicago. The counterpart of this show in Chicago is scheduled for October.

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From Chris Trueman’s lush, almost watery abstract splashes, swatches, and hypnotic swipes of color…

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…to Adam Scott’s prismatic, deeply grooved and textured works, Simultaneous Contrast did just that, offering a sense of immediacy and a vibrant counterpoint.

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Nano Rubio’s incredible, precise lines and patterns support what Rubio calls “the idea of trickery, that things can change your perception.”Durden July 15 nelson

Zoe Nelson’s amorphous forms and shapes are edged with surrealism, a balancing act of floating rhythms of color.

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Roberta Gentry’s intense, almost psychedelic prismatic works were in short, fascinatingly different and yet intertwined. They’re dreamscapes in a way, and the viewer nearly falls into a rabbit hole just watching them.

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The pairings of paintings and positioning of works across the gallery from each other, created a dialog of sorts, one that set the eye and mind buzzing.

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Like puzzle pieces, the artworks fit together and danced alone, interwoven and dazzling, each and together.

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As always, Durden and Ray‘s dedication to the different did not disappoint.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis and Curtis Stage

 

Day Trippin’ – When You Just Want to Get Away from LA

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Los Angeles isn’t just an urban wonderland, it’s a wonderland with proximity to easy day trip escapes. It’s a cliche that you can be skiing in the mountains in the morning and surfing on the beach in the afternoon – and yet, it’s a cliche that’s actually true, too.

Here are a few ideas for fast getaways  – and some of the activities that make those getaways fantastic fun. 

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Big Bear Lake

Kitschy carved wooden bears? Check. Terrific mountain views? Check. A beautiful big lake for boating? Check again. And of course, when those mountain views are snowy, there’s skiing too – just a little over two hours from DTLA. Castle Rock Trail offers beautiful views and some unique rock formations. Check out the charming Big Bear Alpine Zoo, a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; 90% of all the animals are successfully released back into their native environment. Browse the eclectic shops in the heart of Big Bear Village, taste Nepalese cuisine at the Himalayan Restaurant, or join the nightly karaoke fun at Murray’s Saloon and Eatery. Want to stay overnight? There are plenty of cozy cabins, sleek condos, and even seven public campgrounds. 

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Temecula

Mountains not your thing? Try the rolling wine country of the Temecula Valley about a two hours southeast of LA. Lush vineyards and equally lush bed and breakfasts abound; tasting tours, weekend concerts, and beautiful spots to picnic are all a part of the winery scene here. Callaway, one of the largest, offers splendid views of a rolling terroir. Experience the wow of a hot hair balloon ride or visit the new gastropub in Old Town Temecula, Crush & Brew – just like it’s name suggests, there’s both local wines and local craft beer on tap.

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Joshua Tree National Park

Climb giant boulders, experience the otherworldly landscape, walk the gentle path through the fuzzy Cholla Cactus garden, or enjoy the stunning outsider art at the Noah Purifoy Foundation outdoor museum near by. In the spring, the desert blooms with wildflowers; and any time of year, you’ll thrill to the vast vista from Key’s Point. You’ll want to find the somewhat elusive trail to Samuelson’s Rocks, where an eccentric miner and farmer carved Biblical and political sayings before this land was parkland; or take a guided rock climbing course and learn to belay with the best. Of course there are more than several other amazing things to see and do, from the meditative Integraton Sound Bath to the terrific music scene at Pappy & Harriet’s just down the road in Pioneer Town.

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Las Vegas

After the solitude of Joshua Tree, perhaps you’re looking for something with a little more action? Las Vegas is a longer trek, but the under-five-hour drive has grown a little more interesting these days with some outsider art stops along the way, including Ugo Rondinone’s vibrantly colored installation, Seven Magic Mountains.

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The bright colors of the rock sculpture sponsored by the Nevada Museum of Art and New York’s Art Production Fund, the installation makes the perfect vivid intro to the neon brightness of Vegas itself. An online reference for all things betting and gaming states that brick-and-mortar casinos ruled the world of gambling for centuries, but have since ceded to online gaming options. But the eye-popping fun of splashy theatrical acts, high end restaurants, luxury spas, and luxury shops – as well as themed “world travel” experiences such as Italy at The Venetian casino and hotel or Times Square in the heart of the New York New York casino and hotel – not to mention, Paris, Monte Carlo, and fine art and stunning gardens at the Bellagio – are a huge draw. Don’t want to get behind the wheel after a night of high rolling? There is always a deal to be had on an overnight stay or a weekend fling in Las Vegas.

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San Diego

Two and a half hours from downtown Los Angeles, another wonderful SoCal city awaits. San Diego is a sprawling and bright mix of great beaches, charming history, and world-class museums. Find seaside amusement park fun at Pacific Beach; flower gardens in Carlsbad, sea caves and pine-studded trails in La Jolla, which is also home to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Don’t forget Legoland, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo, either. Enjoy superb Italian cuisine in Little Italy; exciting nightlife in the Gaslamp District; beautiful bay views, and the white sand beaches and classic Hotel Coronado on Coronado Island.

So if you’re ready to get away from LA for the day – there are plenty of reasons to go.

  • Guest Post with Genie Davis

 

Cynthia Minet: Glowing and Winged Things Illuminated with Meaning

Entangled exhibition at the Animal Museum, featuring themes of fish netting, plastic pollution in the ocean, celebrity pets and the gift store.

Los Angeles based artist and sculptor Cynthia Minet creates dynamic, soul-alive animals. This is found art that’s “found” new life in her vivid, LED-illuminated glowing animals. Whether it’s a life-sized baby elephant, a camel, or an ox, Minet uses post-consumer plastic, PVC, and LED lights to shape her mixed media sculptures. The figures essentially have a transparent plastic skin, through which the LED-lighting wires run like veins. She also draws these animals in a beautifully realistic, motion-filled style. These serve both as models for her sculptures and as a different way to express the life of her animals.

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At the same time, Minet exposes the waste of our dependence on plastic, transforming these discarded products into sculptural beauty.

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“My process involves drawing, research into anatomy, gesture and behavior of animals, model and armature building, collecting of materials, lots of trial and error, and exploration of different ways of working with light and color,” Minet says.

Minet’s meticulous attention to detail with her large-scale figures results in life-like creatures that are both dreamscape and entirely realistic. They’re moving and intimate, the glow from her LED lights manifesting an almost spiritual presence.

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The incredible use of found materials in her work developed fortuitously in 2008, when Minet was invited to create an exhibition in an Italian nightclub. “The club was next door to a recycling facility. I had just seen an amazing show of work using fiber optics and light in Finland. I came back to LA and started working with plastics and light right away.”

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Minet says her work is influenced by “Everything having to do with science, anatomy, environmentalism, place, social issues, light and color.” Specific artists also inspire her, including the work of Auguste Rodin and Marcel Duchamp, Louise Bourgeois, and Olafur Elliason, as well as Lee Bul’s work.

Currently, the artist is working on Migrations, a solo project for the International Museum of Art and Science in McAllen, Texas, which will run from November 2017 to February 2018.

She says there are a number of aspects as to the museum’s location itself that excite her: the fact that McAllen borders Mexico on the Rio Grande, and that it lies on the Avian Central Flyway Corridor.

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“Both of these factors inspire me to create an installation that features seven life-size sculptures of roseate spoonbills, and one that considers both avian and human migration through the use of found materials and interactivity.”

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She describes the show as consistent with her other work focusing on animals and environmental issues, and that it, too, uses LEDs and post-consumer plastics, and is site-responsive. However, the work is also different from past projects. “It’s interactive; motion sensors will activate sound elements, and the lights will incorporate a sequencing animation to enhance the sense of movement in the work. I am collaborating with Vaugh Hannon, an artist and technical wiz, on the interactivity and the lighting sequences,” she explains. “I do seek help with lighting design, as that is a continuous learning curve for me.”

There are other differences in the material that she is utilizing as well.

“It incorporates materials gathered from the borderlands along the Rio Grande River, and carries a political as well as environmental message. When I visited McAllen, I found some materials dropped by migrants along the river, and I remain struck by the pathos in those objects.  I left the clothes I found behind because I found them too sad for me to handle, but I collected plastic bottles, toothbrushes, a hat, sandals.”

Additionally, Minet also received items collected by McAllen-based artist and activist Scott Nicol. “He has sent me Homeland Security bags, a small child’s necklace, earphones, and other items. I have imbedded these items into the bird sculptures, so that the works point to the desperation and resilience of the people who are continuously risking all in order to make a better life for themselves.”

Minet relates that she views her role in this new installation as a “provocateur without answers. I hope to encourage a dialogue around the complexity of the social, political and environmental issues in the region, and by extension, on our planet.”

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Following her installation in Texas, Minet has plenty to fill her calendar, with her Peace on Earth Migrations installation set for January 2019 at the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster, Calif.

She’s also scheduled to construct a solo installation in the window and lobby area of the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, in September, 2019.

“The CAFAM show will be a new interactive sculptural project that will be influenced by the La Brea Tar Pits and the Page Museum across the street,” she notes.

Minet says what she most wants people to understand about her art is the multiple layers of meaning she puts into it. “I want to capture a sense of life in my work. I build everything myself, as I like the challenge of solving the engineering problems of how things fit together and come apart.”

Let it glow.

  • Genie Davis; photos provided by the artist

 

 

 

Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California (JAI) Flashpoints: A Collective Response – Jerusalem Biennale 2017

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Flashpoints: A Collective Response is a stunning new exhibition of murals created by the Jewish Artists Initiative of Southern California (JAI) for the 2017 Jerusalem Biennale. JAI is an artist-run organization dedicated to visual art by Jewish artists and the promotion of a dialog about Jewish identity in the arts community. This collective spirit is especially evident in the collaborative project currently being undertaken for the Jerusalem Biennale.

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With the theme of the Biennale being“Watershed,” a moment of important change, JAI decided a collaborative work based on the watershed of America’s highly visible political divide was the appropriate undertaking. Designed to raise a collective voice, this highly ambitious undertaking features five large-scale collaborative murals. Each mural focuses on watershed moments, particularly those which had a lasting effect on the world.

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The mural teams were given these subjects: Civil Rights, Water, Nationalism, Human Rights, Political Polarization. The process follows the framework of the Surrealist parlor game, “Exquisite Corpse,” as a way to explore both the divisions in the U.S. today and the desire for unity. The game requires each participant to draw an image on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal what they drew and pass it to the next player. Once unfolded, the drawings present a larger truth, a sum of the individual artistic parts. In the same fashion, each mural was created to tell a unique story of change and challenge.

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According to JAI board member and mural curator Georgia Freeman-Harvey, “The decision to create a series of murals came about because we were trying to think how to position ourselves at the Biennale  and what would make us stand out, what would be a challenge for us, and be something different than a collection of individual work. Looking at the Exquisite Corpse game structure with its surprise element and loose connection between each part was an inspiration,” she adds. “In the game, everyone hides what they have done and the next person takes over – you can get all sorts of wonderful combinations of things.  Traditionally with the game, it’s a human figure, but we allowed each group to just explore their subject.”

The results are something special indeed, with art that is linked and lovely, mysterious and mythic.

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Working with an outside juror, Emily Zaiden, a Los Angeles based curator from the Craft in America Center, teams were compiled, and mural curators selected: Ann Hromadka Greenwald and Georgia Freedman-Harvey, who then, along with the JAI executive committee, selected the mural themes and what each would encompass. Freedman-Harvey is an independent curator and the curator for the Platt/Borstein Galleries at American Jewish University; Hromadka Greenwald is a curator, educator, and founder of AMH Art Advisory, an LA based art consulting firm.

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The Civil Rights mural includes images referencing the Civil Rights Act, Black Lives Matter, and Immigration; artists for this project are Elena Siff, Melinda Smith Altshuler, Judy Dekel, and Ellen Cantor. Artists working on the Water project, which features images of the California drought, and Israeli water rights include Randi Matushevitz, Cathy Weiss, Lorraine Bubar, and Karen Frimkess Wolff. The Nationalism mural, which references the changing understanding of nation-states, as well as Zionism, features the work of artists Avi Roth, Ruth Weisberg, Marisa Mandler, and Bill Aron; while the artists working on the Human Rights Mural, with references to Feminism, the global refugee crisis, and LGBTQ issues include Doni Silver Simons, Renee Amitai, Marleene Rubenstein, and Nancy Goodman Lawrence. The Political Polarization mural emphasizes images of the great recession and the 2016 elections, and includes the work of artists Susan Gesundheit, Jackie Nach, and Debra Sokolow.

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Hromadka Greenwald and Freedman-Harvey will review the results of each team’s collaboration and help select the final images to be created for each. The group meetings allow the artists to create designs, sketches, and renderings for the final murals.

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“When we submitted our proposal to the Biennale, we really talked about how to develop and understand what we thought were very important watershed moments within our own country. We gave the artists this chance to blend and mesh within their particular watershed moments, and let them stand out individually, but collectively present a stronger message about that watershed moment,” Freedman-Harvey relates.

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When submitting samples of their work for consideration, the artists were asked to choose their first and second choice as to which mural group category they wanted to be a part of, as Freedman-Harvey explains. “We then had to really think about what art would work well together, and what topics made the most sense. We left it to the juror to look at the quality of pieces submitted. We felt it was important to use an outside person to do the final selection, and we ended up with five really strong teams.”

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The mediums the artists are working in are varied. Some work in mixed media and collage, as well as traditional painting, solar plate etching, charcoal and spray paint, drawings and installations. The result: a diverse collection of artistic mediums and murals that transcend form.

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“Within our exhibition space in Jerusalem, the murals will be presented as five large-scale pieces of art. Three are already being shipped, attached and ready to hang, two will be assembled by us on site,” Freedman-Harvey notes. “This is the 3rd Biennale, and our second time participating. This year there were 96 applications and 20 were selected from around the world – and we were one of them.”

Along with the funds JAI is providing to cover participation costs in the Biennale, a September fundraiser is planned to make the exhibition possible. JAI is also running a crowd-sourcing campaign on Jewcer.com.

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“I think the pieces are more powerful because multiple people were addressing and interpreting each watershed moment, as opposed to there being five individual works. They each support and strengthen each other,” Freedman-Harvey says. “We are thrilled to be going back again. This biennale keeps growing in size and in its reach around the world.”

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The Biennale runs from October 1st through November 16th. It’s dedicated to exploring the intersection of contemporary art with the world of Jewish content, and serves as a stage for professional artists who refer in their work to Jewish thought, spirit, tradition or experience. And above all else, toward a transcendent beauty such as that seen so powerfully here.

  • Genie Davis; photos provided by JAI