Closing this Saturday: Awesome Abstract Works at Durden and Ray; Wild Imagination in Mixed Media at KP Projects

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Above from Antipodal at Durden and Ray, work by Fran O’Neill

Two terrific shows are closing this weekend, at Durden and Ray in DTLA, and at KP Projects both in their mid-city gallery location and Chinatown pop-up space.

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Above, work by curator Max Presneill at Durden and Ray

At Durden and Ray, a vibrant array of abstract art bridges the many miles between Los Angeles and Australia, with Antipodal. The exhibition features works from both parts of the world Curated by Max Presneill and Chris Trueman, the show features work by artists Marcus Boelen, Jonni Cheatwood, Abby Goldstein, Elizabeth Gilfilen, Carlson Hatton, Max Manning, Fran O’Neill, Max Presneill, Bryan Ricci, Kimberly Rowe, Tom Savage, Emily Silver, Paul Weiner.

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Above, American artist Kimberly Rowe with her work “Pick Me Up,” a deliciously layered work.

The show provides a global take on abstraction; viewers can judge for themselves whether the art form transcends all boundaries or if the works differ by continent. The artists have in common that they are all represented by TWFINEART in Brisbane, Australia.  The title may say it all: antipodal can be defined as “relating to or situated on the opposite side of the earth.”

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Works bring the viewer to images that evoke both land and sea. Rich, dense, and vivid, the exhibition literally and figuratively fills the exhibit space with light and color.

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Above, Elizabeth Gilfilen at Durden and Ray.

From the abstract to the surreal…

At KP Projects, both the Chinatown pop up location near the now-defunct Hop Louie restaurant, and the La Brea Gallery feature works by Victor Castillo and Scott Hove.

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Hove’s installation gives viewers their cake but they can’t eat it, although the visually voracious can take a big bite of the artist’s cake-themed installations. In Chinatown, an immersive “Pentagon Cake Infinity Chamber,” above, brings viewers inside a mirrored cake; while his multi-media works at the La Brea main gallery include a bed, a gun, a chandelier – none of which, if you were not familiar with Hove’s work – you will have seen in this form.

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Above, gallerists at work; below performance as part of the opening art

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In many cases, you will be less inclined to want to take a bite of these sculptural confections than you will be a bit edgy that the works will come alive and take a bite out of you. The Chinatown pop-up, Last Ticket for the Beauty Train has as its centerpiece a pentagon shaped infinity chamber,  with tiered cake sculptures and disco ball; and an altar of bones and flowers. Oh how soon the beauty is devoured. The center piece of the larger exhibition on La Brea is a bed, which on opening night had lithesome ladies dressing around it and at a vanity. This is where you fall asleep, perchance to dream a confectionary seductive nightmare. Hove never ceases to engage, enthrall, and seduce with his work  – work which seems entwined in Los Angeles culture.

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Victor Castillo’s Broken Hearts is likewise compelling, the Chilean pop-surrealist offers cartoon fairytale images with an exposed dark underbelly.

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Alas, poor Mickey.

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Both shows close this weekend – so hurry up and go!

KP Projects is at 170 S. La Brea in mid-city; the pop-up exhibition is in Chinatown, on the plaza.

Durden and Ray is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave. in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis and courtesy of KP Projects.

The Reality of Nature at Launch Gallery

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Above, Catherine Ruane’s Burn Joshua Burn

The Reality of Nature at Launch LA Gallery through September 30th, is a profoundly beautiful show with a profound message – what is the reality of nature? Is it all wonder and light and the embrace of flora and fauna? Is it a force unto itself, and one often to be reckoned with? Do we really look at the natural world or simply exist in it? These are just a few of the questions this exhibition posits.

If you’ve ever heard the expression “natural wonders,” then you’ll see just that in this exhibition that offers a variety of mediums and powerful portrayals of both the natural world and man’s interaction with it.

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According to curator Kristine Schomaker, above, this lushly beautiful exhibition had a political and social genesis. “After the election, I participated in the Women’s March which was a fulfilling experience. I felt like somehow I was making a difference. I wanted to do something else where I could use my experience and my voice to talk about important issues in todays world. My brother is passionate about science and frustrated with the climate change deniers and had been talking about it on Facebook. The more I thought about it, I realized I knew so many artists whose work focuses solely on the environment, nature, science in one way or another. So I decided to put together a show continuing the dialogue about the external forces of nature rather than the internal.”

The result: a truly wonderful pairing of thirteen artists: Terry Arena, Andrea Bersaglieri, Jeanne Dunn, Samantha Fields, Jennifer Gunlock, Virginia Katz, JJ L’Heureux, Erika Lizée, Constance Mallinson, Catherine Ruane, Steve Seleska, Marie Thibeault, and Devon Tsuno, the exhibition blossoms with color, light, and meaning.

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Here we have Catherine Ruane’s monochrome graphite and pencil lushness with “Burn Joshua Burn” – a desert plant,  perfectly detailed, surviving in a harsh environment, so wildly successful at its adaptation that it is spilling onto the gallery floor.

Erika Lizée’s site-specific trompe l’oeil work shimmers in blue, a cosmic creation, a mysterious sea-swirl alien form seems ready to emerge from “The Seed of Life.”

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So supple, sinuous, and both serene and emerging: in an instant, this piece portends change.

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Below, Devon Tsuno’s acrylic and spray paint “Watershed (Los Angeles River)” series gives us the fluidity of water with the tension surrounding that which is the LA River – harnessed, abused, wild at heart, reclaiming it’s own power. This is water as stained glass, broken glass, sunlight and storm.

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Below, artist Jennifer Gunlock with her dimensional mixed media gesso, acrylic, photo collage,  on wood board, “Landmark.”  This is an urban take on the environment, at once made of man and overtaking what is manmade.

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Below a detail of one of the works presented by Andrea Bersaglieri, “Suburban Tuft.” Her oil on canvas is perfectly drawn, delicately rendered – but her subjects are hardy, unruly survivors, eking a claim to patch of earth.

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Below, the almost shockingly vibrant abstract oil by Marie Thibeault, “Deposition.” If nature had a house in the city, this just might be it. The words ‘urban jungle’ come to mind.

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Below Steve Seleska’s incredibly dimensional work makes viewers want to dive in and explore his depths. The mixed media “Landscapism #7” is a natural world gone askew, surely – yet the silvery, spidery tangle is as alluring as it is frightening.

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Among the works undepicted, the gorgeous, diminutive detail of Terry Arena’s stunning graphite on metal platter, tiny and perfect works revealing lemons, rosemary, and one of her most poignant subjects, bees stands out with its intricate lines and grace; as does the “Ross Ice Shelf” in vivid, painterly blue of J.J. L’Heureux’s photographic work.  Jeanne Dunn’s acrylic and oil works of trees are graceful and seemingly sentient. They dance, they embrace, as living beings do.

In short – don’t miss the closing, this Saturday from 3-5, which includes conversation with the artists.

Launch Gallery is located at 170 S. La Brea in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis




Order and Chaos: Rich and Rewarding Work at Orange County Center for Contemporary Art



Order and Chaos, at Orange County Center of Contemporary art through this Saturday, is a supremely lovely show, visually rich and full of life; infused with the wonders of science and the intensity of the artistic process.


Artist and curator Annie Clavel notes that the show is a continuation of her past work, Parallel Universes, and is built around the scientific concept of “chaos theory.”

“I have always been impressed by how a simple equation in mathematics could burst into an incredible never ending complexity, like fractals,” Clavel says. 

The French-born artist, now based in Long Beach, explains that chaotic systems, such as fractals, can appear smooth and ordered. Fractals themselves are a never ending pattern, created by a simply, repeating process in a perpetual feedback loop, and as such are pictures of chaos.

As fascinating as this is – particularly when viewers recognize that Clavel is a scientist and mathematician as well as an artist – the exhibition works purely on its visual beauty, with a surreal and swirling palette.


Above, Clavel’s watercolor “Oasis,” is part flower, part imploded planet; mysterious and fecund with a glowing life force.

Below,  Osuna’s work in oil, “Conundrum,” seems to draw viewers inside darker unfolding, a velvety night, an imploded star.


Clavel and Miguel Osuna started working on their show a year ago, sharing information and ideas about its theme.

“We knew each other work quite well. His paintings are monochromatic and huge. My paintings are colorful and most of them are small. It’s this diversity that looked like a perfect fit,” Clavel relates.


Above, Clavel’s series of small paintings are intimate, perfectly wrought abstract works.

“The display is not chaotic, but the diversity goes into the direction of chaos. I would like that the viewer feels harmony and disproportion, balance and imbalance, order and chaos,” Clavel says.

Osuna’s oil on aluminum works, below, seem to have absorbed both light and color within their surface, works whose form are as yet inchoate, but seem in the process of definition.

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Osuna views his work as intuitive. An architect, his desire is to create order from chaos in his art.


Clavel’s “Lava 3” is a fiery, volcanic rush; contrasting with work such as this is Osuna’s “Rule of Thumb,” below, is an equally intense work, but far different in style and approach – this is lava that has cooled and formed a more cohesive pattern.


“His paintings in this show are conversing with mine, even if they are very different. Many viewers have expressed that Miguel’s paintings were order and mine were chaos. It is not: both of us have experienced in different ways order being chaos or chaos being order,” Clavel attests. “I hope that the viewer can feel the cohesion of our experimentations.”


Above, Clavel’s “Cosmology 3” appears to be in perpetual motion. Thick, lush colors evoke a world viewers could almost touch. Below, her “Thunder” throbs with the power of a raging sea.

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Over the course of their preparations for the show, Osuna and Clavel both shared photos of their works and their concept on Instagram, #OrderAndChaosShow

Osuna says that his latest explorations on surface, reflexion and glare allow him to create his own mini-universe.  “I can represent both my understanding and my questioning of the universe at large. Ultimately, my hope is that the viewer shares this microcosm with me, searching for the same ideas, solutions, and emotions that connect us.” This view drew Clavel’s interest at a time in which she was still working on her previous series.


Above, Clavel’s “Playing Dice.”

“I thought that we could do something about ‘Universes,’ however I wanted to change the direction of my work,” she attests. “At that time I was reading a few books written by mathematicians, such as What we Cannot Know by Marcus du Sautoy and Does God Play Dice? by Ian Stewart. Those books inspired me to think about the way the universe behaves, and that’s how the idea of a show about Order and Chaos came to my mind.” 

Clavel invited Osuna to participate in her show as a guest artist.

The result is a show that shimmers with light, form, color, and mystery – the very essence of chaotic impulses that are the basis for creativity. If the world formed from chaos and became ordered, then the world of art, with all its passion and chaos, creates order in the form of channeled artistic impulse.

A conversation with artists Annie Clavel and Miguel Osuna will take place Sept. 23rd, 2017 – 2 to 4 pm, moderated by Jill Moniz.

The gallery is located at 117 N. Sycamore in Santa Ana.

  • Genie Davis; photos courtesy of the artists


The Merchant of Venice at Theatricum Botanicum: Timely Truths

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Take a beautiful outdoor setting, terrific acting, and a comedy/drama by William Shakespeare, and what do you have? A late season treat at Theatricum Botanicum with the artfully staged, politically potent The Merchant of Venice.

The theater itself is always an experience, and it fits the play perfectly here, the outdoor setting perhaps not that dissimilar to theaters of Shakespeare’s time. Certainly viewing a stellar performance such as this in such an intimate and outdoor setting enhances the play’s power.

It’s worth noting that in this political climate, the topic of anti-semitism, a key element of the play, is certainly worth examining. If Shakespeare did so with an unflinching eye then so can we.

With intensely quotable lines, and enough twists and turns to be a telenovela, The Merchant of Venice may be most memorable for the controversy it continues to stir in its characterization of Shylock, the Jewish money lender.

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Alan Blumenfeld makes a compelling Shylock, one whose demand for a pound of flesh from a defaulting merchant debtor is grounded in his own desire for vengeance, retaliation at least in part for the prejudice and humiliation he experiences from Christians. An added opening scene actually reveals Shylock being mocked by others in the community, creating a nice little backstory to his reprehensible demand for payment in the flesh. In short, Blumenfeld makes Shylock as sympathetic as possible, particularly in regard to his poignant relationship to his daughter.

So where’s the comedy mined from? Besides the clown Launcelot, there’s a musical addition to this production in a riff on the discouragement of unwanted would-be suitors, and of course, artfully woven in the dialog are a variety of pithy Shakespearean comebacks. But this is a dark comedy indeed, particularly when one considers the role of Portia, played here by Willow Geer. Disguised as a lawyer, she succeeds in getting the debtor merchant off the hook, but she also utterly humiliates Shylock, taking away his property and very identity.

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With Shakespeare himself unable to comment, there is no way to determine if the anti-semitism depicted were something he agreed with or denounced. But perhaps that begs the question – is the play timely? Does it still present a raw truth, however we wish to ignore it? Is the pound of flesh to be exacted justifiable in the face of continued abuse? Just the fact that these questions come up make the play itself one valuable viewing experience these days. And an entertaining one.

Take in the production through October 1st in the perfect sylvan setting of the Botanicum.

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  • Genie Davis; photos provided by the theater