Of Ice and Wonder: J.J. L’Heureux

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Her studio is in Venice, Calif., but her work is more far flung.  J.J. L’Heureux is a photographic artist, painter, and naturalist – and she justifiably describes herself as an adventurer as well. Having travelled annually to Antarctica, studied penguins, seals, and whales, and photographed Admiral Robert Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Cape Royds Huts along with the wildlife, the artist is indeed a world traveler to far-off places. Participating on a joint-venture with the London Zoo, she’s spent time in Russia; studied penguins in South Africa,  and written two books about these and other experiences. With current solo exhibitions at the Houston Museum of Natural Science through March 18, 2018, and the New York Hall of Science in New York through September 8 of this year, her work is as well-traveled as she is.

More locally, L’Heureux’s work is part of a group show, “At The Museum,” at the Oceanside Museum of Art, in Oceanside, until August 29th, and was recently a part of the Personal Narratives exhibition at the Annenberg Beach House.

Impressive travels and exhibit credentials, but it is her work itself that speaks the most strongly.  Both her artistic vision and her interests are an unusual and wondrous fusion of beauty and science – although perhaps they are one and the same, at least in L’Heureux’s eyes.

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Her Bergy Bit Series of paintings is abstract, creating fierce, images of refracted light in ice and snow. Like flowers expanding or butterfly wings, these stunning blue spectrum colors shift, delicate and formidable. A Bergy Bit is a large glacial ice chunk or small floating iceberg. Perhaps now more than ever, as our environment alters, her delicate yet powerful depictions of what lies beneath the surface impression of these geologic forms are profoundly moving and graceful.  Her work here evokes the pixilated dots of Seurat or even the brush work of Van Gogh up close; from a greater distance, it is a weaving of lace.

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L’Heureux says “The ice came alive to me in ways that transcended its coldness and vastness. There was spirit in those places…”

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More stark, are her towering glacial images in the series Ross Ice Shelf Photographs provides a stunning depiction of a 50-150-foot-high section of the shelf.White, aqua, pale blue, and an opalescent quality visually vibrate from the photographs. palette dominates, creates a sensation of awe and fragility within this vast image – the shelf itself, the artist notes, is the same size as France.  Once again, L’Heureux has found color within the ice, which seems both smooth and rough, harsh and fragile, all at the same time. So remote, so cold, yet so alive – these are the thoughts a viewer culls from the artist’s work here.

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Also in Antarctica,  L’Heureux photographed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton’s hut in Cape Royds in the Ross Sea. While there, she photographed the interior of the hut, from rustic bed to life-preserving stove, to supplies and boots, as well as its weather-beaten exterior, supply boxes, and isolated – which seems too tame a word – location. The photos here are still-lives of Shackleton’s life,  a document of history, images both humble and profound. 

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Similarly, her series Kamchatka Region – Russia serves as a series that depicts the history of a place, this one still quite lived-in. Residences, residents – including children, strollers, a play area – this is a unique landscape, and one through which L’Heureux captures both its differentness from more well-known regions of the world, and it’s sameness. We all love our children,  hope for their future.

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While these distant regions are a large part of the artist’s work, she has not forgotten her home base.  Photographs California Water depict dry land not water itself,  the stark effect of water policy and drought. Her Venice Beach Photographs are landscapes of a beach community that is gloriously quirky, images of luxury homes on Venice canals, of a discarded mattress with the words “Someone fell in love on me” written upon it.

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We’ve seen paintings and photographs, but L’Heureux offers one more art form in her quiver.

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Her Etichette Series is comprised of Italian fruit and cheese labels or etichette. What began as a hostess gift became a series of collected labels,  stitched together using her own unique knot. Inspired by Picasso and Braque’s paintings, these collages form both fascinating geometric patterns and shapes – and create their own unique landscapes of a region.

The most impressive thing about L’Heureux’s work may be that whether she is creating abstract paintings, layered collage travelogues, or stunning photographic landscapes and still-life, she reveals something special beneath the surface. If the artist loves ice, it may be for what it contains, mystery and magic; and for her, that same mysterious and alluring quality is present in a Russian playground and a Venice sunrise.

Offering us a rare look into something inchoate and yet profound, L’Heureux is an artist and a magician, a documentarian and a dreamer, all at once.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: provided by artist and Shoebox PR




Manhattan House: Beach Town Chic

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The beach communities of Los Angeles – outside of Santa Monica and Venice, that is, is sometimes a desert. A food desert that is, although that’s certainly changing, one great restaurant at a time,  with a growing range of restaurants that offer superlative cuisine. Manhattan House is one.

What’s not to love about Manhattan House? This is a restaurant that features produce grown seed-to-plate in local community gardens, making the veggies and herbs always fresh and fine. Organic and GMO-free ingredients compliment seafood, vegetable fare, and meat dishes – creating a dining experience that’s delicious for everyone. And, one that is ever-changing. Nightly specials and a menu that varies with the season means you could dine here often and never get bored.

With a chic but rustic feel, the dining room itself is comfortable and stylish, with both booths and tables, as well as a friendly bar. And – it’s just blocks to the beach – with it’s own parking lot.

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The menu changes regularly, but always on hand are excellent craft cocktails, a solid beer and wine list,  a plethora of fine vegetarian and seafood options, and specials that sing with inventive touches. Chef Diana Stavaridis creates surprisingly beautiful dishes, including many ever-changing, seasonally-based specials.

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These included our starter, squash blossom with Dungeness crab, stuffed with lemon zest, pea tendrils, and avocado mousse, a terrific blend of flavors that was both delicate and satisfying. Perhaps even better was our salad, asparagus with large and lovely Fava beans, fingerling potatoes, and Parmesan cheese on spring greens.

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Our carnivore tried the lamb meatballs, which she pronounced succulent and juicy; we went with toast. Not just any toast – but the house-made sourdough, a bread so good the restaurant sells it as take-home fare.

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The wild mushroom toast is a potent, rich, and fragrant dish. Don’t be afraid to share. It features shiitake mushrooms and Taleggio cheese and it as hearty as any meat dish.

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Something lighter? The English pea toast combines delicate pea tendrils and basil pesto with ricotta and Parmesan. I’m sure it, too, is shareable – most of Manhattan House’s menu is designed to be shared over a series of smaller and larger courses – but personally speaking, this one was all mine.

Main courses?

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Pan roasted scallops with eggplant, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, and sun-dried tomatoes for me, with Spot Prawns & Polenta for my partner.

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On another occasion, we went with vegan entrees that are truly a garden of taste: the roasted cauliflower, a dish often overdone and over-fried in far too many eateries these days, was a much more refined dish here, with buckwheat, celery, tangy pomegranate, pine nuts, and a lemon-caper vinaigrette. Keeping it simple, the warm market vegetables, which varies seasonally, featured eggplant, asparagus, rainbow heirloom carrots, and zucchini.

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For dessert, of course we had to try the S’mores, unconventionally served as if the dish were a parfait, and here it is: layers of marshmallow brulee, dark chocolate, and gluten-free graham crackers in a lovely glass jar. The house cake the evening we dined was olive oil. I was skeptical, but with kumquats, candied pistachios, the cake was surprisingly light as air. Coffees are fine, too.

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Manhattan House is hugely popular – so do make a reservation, although bar seating, with small treats available on the menu such as nuts and olives, is a pleasant way to wait for a table should one arise.  Can’t wait? The restaurant is now offering local home delivery.


Manhattan House is located at 1019 Manhattan Beach Blvd. in Manhattan Beach. Dinner is offered 7 nights a week, with a Sunday brunch. The restaurant is participating in Dine LA so don’t miss the chance to check out the innovative dishes.


The Devil Made Me Do It: Satan’s Ball at Art Share

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Closing this weekend, Satan’s Ball takes viewers at Art Share on a dynamic dance through darkness, dreams, and passion. With brilliant, soaring sculptures, rich and insightful paintings, and deep, evocative photographic works, there is something for every tormented artistic soul at this affaire.

Featuring the work of artists Allegra Bick-Maurischat, Andrew K. Currey, Andy Daley,
Leonard Greco, Cindy Jackson, Isabel Jackson, Randi Matushevitz, Matthew Mojica
Lori Pond, Samuelle Richardson, Jane Szabo, and Scott Trimble, this is a uniquely original collection that commands lengthy and repeated viewing.

We are looking at the magical, the mysterious, the tormented, and the glorious here, in an exhibition as artistically “hot” as well, Hades.

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Samuelle Richardson, who also works with sophisticated fabric over aramature sculptural forms, here offers 2-D painting that evokes the work of Gaugin in its colors and shapes.

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Jane Szabo presents a series of images from her “Family Matters” series, which features rich dark backgrounds from which heirloom and other household items seem to emerge as if from a dream.

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Each object appears to represent not just itself, but serves as a stand-in for a person, a family member – who matters.  These still lives are anything but still – memory and emotion seems to vibrate from each frame.

Lori Pond’s dark, fable-like photographs are also represented at the exhibition.

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A highlight of the show are the incredible, classical images of the late Cindy Jackson, whose ecstatic and agonized human forms are lit from within, glowing, grand, and viscerally passionate.

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These sculptures are suspended from the ceiling at Art Share, low enough to the ground that viewers can witness their light source, yet elevated enough to seem as if they are flying. Such beautiful and unique work from an artist who left the Los Angeles community far too soon. Jackson’s sculptures are spiritual in nature, sophisticated yet emotionally accessible, exploding with movement and longing.

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Randi Matsushevitz continues to explore consciousness and experience, unafraid to delve into psychological depths.

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Working in charcoal, pastel, and spray paint on paper, her large scale works observe and create an entire universe, one in which the viewer is pulled into emerging images that fascinate and provoke, leading one into a compelling world just beyond our own.

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Likewise, Scott Trimble’s figurative yet freeform expressionistic style, is awash in layered light and motion. Here, mysterious landscapes and inscrutable shadowy figures sift into viewers’ consciousness.

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Poetic and exotic, yet ultimately striking a resonant chord of deep understanding, Trimble’s work vibrates with not-quite discernible emotion.

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Leonard Greco’s works are a fusion of Biblical, fairy-tale, and brilliantly modern images. His paintings and fabric sculptures work are packed with detail, powerful and haunting, surreal icons dealing in mythic imagery.

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There is nothing quite like Greco’s work anywhere, filled with joy and anger, tumult and introspection.

Ready to take a spin on the dance floor? Spend this weekend waltzing through Satan’s Ball, and let the devil take the hindmost.

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  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis

Scott Froschauer: Of Signs and Gunpowder

Fros at Wallspace

Scott Froschauer is a wanted man these days. Wanted as in sought after. The Smithsonian Institution wants a piece of his Burning Man installation artwork for their No Spectators, The Art of Burning Man to be held at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C., in 2018. And next Saturday, July 15th, as part of the group show Sizzle at Wallspace Gallery on La Brea, Froschauer will be exhibiting a number of signs from his “The Word in the Street” series.

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And he had two powerfully political pieces in the just-closed OCCA show, Art as Protest. His “Old Glory” depicts the American flag in rich brown sepia, a gunpowder print on canvas; while his “Resistance Ahead” road sign features an upraised fist.
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His work isn’t even restricted to this continent. He is headed to Paris to install a dazzling large-form aluminum sculpture, the 40-foot “The Droplet,” a commissioned work he fabricated at his shop in Los Angeles.
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Los Angeles-based,  Froschauer considers himself an experimental artist. His background and education in engineering and theoretical linguistics plus practical work in fabrication and design, are all visible elements in his eclectic, highly memorable works.  We see linguistic ideas in his sign art, engineering at play in his Burning Man structures.

Whether he’s burning images in canvas with gunpowder – sometimes more than one kind – or crafting strong messages both political and spiritual in the form of iconic street signs, Froschauer describes his work as  “an exploration in emotional connectedness.”

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Indeed it would be difficult for a viewer to not be engaged with the artist’s work, which is both bold and haunting.

“Some work is about revolution, particularly considering that our culture considers being connected to oneself as a revolutionary act,” he notes, but asserts that his main focus is exploratory. He says he is always “exploring new spaces and techniques for communication.”

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Signs are certainly one way to communicate, and Froschauer makes strong use of the medium. His “The Word on the Street” series includes “Peace Signs,” which emulate DOT parking signs. The signs, posted in a vertical row, begin with the directive “If there is to be peace in the world/there must be peace in the nations” and concludes with “If there is to be peace in the home/there must be peace in the heart.”

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The yellow diamond street sign “Relax” is a directive to do just that, one which Froschauer displayed as guerrilla art in DTLA. His “One Way Heart” is a one-way sign in the shape of a heart. Smart, savvy, and packed with meaning, the artist’s sign work may be his most accessible and fun; its sentiments hard to argue with.

Of his upcoming work – including an outdoor installation of “Peace Signs,” Froschauer notes “There’s something about putting up a sign in front of people walking down the street. Something about the feeling from taking the work out of the hidden darkness and into broad daylight. I’ve imagined this sign being on the street in LA, but I never imagined it in front of a gallery that I admire as much as Wallspace. I certainly didn’t think that I would have pieces in the gallery as well.”

The artist may be humble, but that’s okay – his work is anything but, with messages that are clear and design that vibrates with meaning.

The artist’s “Gunpowder Gutenberg” series is more overtly political than “The Word on the Street.”

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Take “Old Glory,” a large-scale gunpowder print on canvas created, as the Froschauer describes by “detonating Hodgdon H322 Gunpowder into canvas. This gunpowder is found in .223 caliber ammunition for the AR-15 assault rifle, which stands at the center of the debate about gun ownership in the United States.” He notes that this currently legal weapon was designed for military use solely to murder, yet is also revered as a “primary instrument for the protection of the United States and it’s Freedoms in foreign conflicts.” The piece poignantly and pointedly indicates the gun violence that continues to devastate the U.S.

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His “Visitors Welcome” is even more powerful and political. This gunpowder on canvas work shows the 1956 school welcome sign from Sandy Hook Elementary School recreated. Froschauer describes the piece as printed by “detonating Hodgdon H322 Gunpowder into a canvas. This particular gunpowder is used for .223 caliber rounds which would be found in the Bushmaster XM15-E2S rifle used by Adam Lanza to fatally shoot 20 children between six and seven years old, as well as six adult staff members. on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut The incident was the deadliest mass shooting at a high school or grade school in U.S. history. I ask that you take a moment to consider the notion that in 1956, when the school was founded, visitors were welcome in schools such as Sandy Hook.” If viewers get chills from this work, all the better – the medium of gunpowder is in many ways truly the message here. 

The Fleur de Lis pattern in ” The Veve of Madame Corazon,” is eerie in a different way.  The piece serves as a kind of elegy to Madame Corazon  a Loa, or spirit, of the Voodoo family Guédé. Created with what the artist calls “a personal recipe of black powder, smokeless gunpowder and ground sage. This alchemical combination both charges the image and purifies the line.” It’s both beautiful and strange; an emotional and spiritual work that reminds viewers of the elaborate tombs and cemeteries in New Orleans.

In short, when it comes to Froschauer and his art, all you have to do is read the “signs.” There are many reasons why he is indeed a wanted man.

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  • Genie Davis; Photos courtesy of the artist