Beautiful Parts

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Above, Nurit Avesar’s “Pre-Existing Condition,” an elegiac look inside the body and into the spirit.

Beautiful Parts, closing tomorrow at the CSUN gallery in Northridge, is an incisive sum of those parts, featuring works from Marlena Guzman, Catherine Bennation, Jessika Edgar, Zeina Baltagi, David Estrada, Kristine Schomaker, Rain Lucien Matheke, Nurit Avesar, Alexsandra Papoban, Kimberly Morris, Michelle Nunes, John Zarcone, Monica Sandoval,  Mona Karsa, and Kellan Barneby King. Juried by artist Kim Abeles, and organized by the curatorial collective, Rough Play, the exhibition is also the first annual exhibition hosted by the CSUN Alumni Association Art Chapter and CSUN Art Galleries.

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Above, David Estrada crosses two time periods – what these Renaissance men conceive of as beautiful appears different than ours.

The exhibition takes a look at the malleable concept of beauty that changes with time, trends, and cultures; the artists were asked to consider society’s messages about what beauty is today, and how they personally absorb those messages. It’s a provocative question and a prescient one today. With social media creating a global forum in which to connect and to criticize – body shaming trolls, anyone? – what does beauty have to do with it? 

The exhibition features works that deal with body image, and with an artist’s portrayal of the body. Abeles has chosen works that in an exhilarating way often present the body – and beauty – as distinct elements. 

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then there is much here that is beautiful, some of it abstract or distorted, some mysterious, as if an artist as alchemist had created an installation.


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Viewers can take in the detailed watercolor by Zeina Baltagi, “Becoming,” which presents the artist’s underwear as if it were a delicate mosaic. A beautiful garment used for a prosaic purpose is presented on a visual pedestal as it were, the fine covering of a part of the body that may or may not be considered a beautiful one.

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A more alien image is presented in Alexandra Papoban’s work, above,  a serenely intimate image of a human torso.

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Kristine Schomaker’s “An Uncomfortable Skin” is one piece that evokes a mysterious lab, the aforementioned alchemist’s work, or a candy-maker’s workplace. The analogy isn’t entirely out of place. Always a bravely revealing artist, Schomaker allows viewers a look at her own personal navigation of an eating disorder, as well as a magical accumulation of reconfigured past works, fragments of wigs, plastic spoons. The large scale piece seems to posit the idea that we are who we are, whether we are in bits and pieces, whether we are “whole,” whether we feel as beautiful as we “should” look. 

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John Zarcone’s “Information Theory” presents realistic, intense images of a young man and woman, created on loose canvas. Below them are the words “El Significado es irrelevante,” translated as “the meaning is irrelevant.” The image is emblematic of the exhibition: here we are, love us or leave us.

Beauty, like life itself, is fluid. We are here, time passes, and we are gone in a heartbeat. The beauty of a smile, a face, a gesture, a touch – what we see and what we remember are highly subjective.

Take a look at the all-too-fleeting exhibition that reminds us of just that, before it closes.

CSUN Art Gallery is located at 18111 Nordhoff Street in Northridge.

  • Genie Davis; Photos courtesy of the gallery


Artmonious: Synergy Between Apps and Art

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There’s a new way to find art in town, and that’s Artmonious, a mobile art app that launched in a very meta way last week – with a live Venice pop-up displaying some of the art available through the company’s technology.  The Abbot Kinney event drew a crowd to see works by LA-based artists such as Alex Gross, Timothy White, and Jean-Christophe Dick.
With an ambition to create the worlds biggest social media art network, this mobile app has an algorithm for art taste, as Pandora does for music. One piece is shown to a collector at a time, with the collector having the option swipe left if they don’t find it appealing and right if they do. The more a user swipes right, the more the system will learn the collector’s taste in art.
Artmonious co-creator Casey Fannin discusses how the app came about. “My fiancee Alex and I saw there was something missing from the online art world. A few things stood out to us. First, there wasn’t any mobile art app that everyone was using. Second, we felt every online art gallery website looked the same. There was a lack of personalization when you looked to find art.  And also the experience felt overwhelming because of how many choices you are presented with.”
Seeking to create a different experience for people, one that was simpler and more personalized, they focused on a mobile experience because they felt that was the direction the art world is heading.
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“So we thought of swiping left or right to one artwork at a time as an easy way for someone to discover art, but also if we build an algorithm that could learn peoples taste as they swiped, that would personalize it more because we would know what artworks we should present as each person continued to use the app.”
Fannin is excited by the idea of giving artists a new and innovative outlet to reach the right collectors for their work.
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“Our technology and the data our app can learn through swiping is very exciting and will be extremely useful. We want our app to not only be a marketplace to buy art, but a fun app you can use to discover new artists and artwork,” she attests.
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Fannin has a degree in printmaking and graphic design, and after school she was hired  Park West Gallery, one of the largest auction houses in the world. “I lived aboard cruise ships for 2 years conducting live art auctions. I really learned a lot about the sales side in the art world working for this company,” she reports. After she left the high seas, she packed up and moved west, and is currently gallery director at the Morrison Hotel Gallery which specializes in music photography.
Fannin’s partner and fiancee, Alex Kaplan, moved from New York to Los Angeles to write screenplays, but was drawn into the tech world, becoming a senior account executive for two technology startups, Main Street Hub and ZipRecruiter.
“After watching ZipRecruiter grow from startup to receive a $63 million dollar investment, Alex was inspired to start his own company,” Fannin says.
Asked what artists she finds most inspiring, Fannin demurs from picking favorites.
“I particularly like discovering emerging artists. There are so many incredible artists in each city, especially right here in Los Angeles! Most people looking to buy art have no idea that they can find an original piece of art by an artist right in their city that is extremely affordable,” she relates. “And even better, they can find something unique that speaks to them that isn’t the same print your neighbor bought from Ikea.”
Take a look at how Artmonious works right here.
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– Genie Davis; photos: provided by Artmonious

Pestered About What to Do on Halloween?


Pattern vector created by Veraholera

Here’s a bug in your ear – if you’re wondering just what to do to celebrate the season – check out the Halloween Film Pestival,  this Saturday October 21st at the Los Feliz 3 Cinemas from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

What’s that you ask? Well, it’s an event sponsored by the Western Exterminator Company that presents a variety of bug-themed films, popcorn that can optionally be topped with flavored crickets, and insect infused lollipops as treats.  Yes, there will be traditional movie candy and soda provided gratis, too.  And attendees can dress up in costume.

What’s screening? Bee Movie, The Ant Bully, Epic, The Birds (wait – birds eat bugs, don’t they?), The Fly, Big Ass Spider, and Eight Legged Freaks. 

Between flicks you can participate in a cricket eating contest and explore an exhibit on entomology – that’s the study of bugs, naturally.

Pesty parking worries? Like the film fest itself, it’s sponsored and free. Los Feliz Movie Theatre is located at 1822 N. Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027; parking is around the corner at 4640 Melbourne Ave.


To screen a film, RSVP to your movie showing of choice (up to 4 tickets). Seat availability is first come, first served. To RSVP buzz over HERE.

  • Genie Davis; bug photo (top) Pattern vector created by Veraholera –

Gimme 5 Closes at MuzeuMM


Closing this Sunday, October 15th at MuzeuMM in mid-city,  don’t miss Gimme 5, juried by gallery director Mishelle Moross, and Juri Koll, director of ViCA, the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art which partnered with MuzeuMM on this project.  The international juried show is an exciting mix of mediums and artists, from the photographic to the sculptural, from paintings to drawings.

The extremely well curated, tight show features a wide range of incredible, museum quality pieces – so in short, go to the closing, this Sunday at 3, and prepare to be dazzled.

The longer version? See work such as a stunning slide triptych by Tracey Weiss;  archival pigment prints such as Sacred Steel by Diane Cockerill, and Boy on Trike – Niland, CA by Osceola Refetoff. While Weiss is working in sculptural form, all three artists are using photographic materials to create works that are astonishingly fresh, vivid, and meaningful.

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Catherine Ruane’s astonishing graphite and charcoal work depicting the flora and fauna of the natural world as always amazes with detail and passion, here with Gargoyle. Working in mixed media, Steve Seleska’s Landescapism #2,  above, makes viewers want to literally and figuratively dive into his work.  Frederika Roeder’s mixed media  Power of Sun, dazzles with depth and color, below.

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On the wall, above, Hung Viet Nguyen’s Sacred Landscape #8, is an oil on canvas work, one in a series of spiritually nuanced, brilliantly textured works that evoke something otherwordly as well as a state of grace. Here, the rich aqua of the water contrasts with a dark sky and dark trees. Randi Matushevitz’ Dive In, is a mixed media work that also evokes both darkness and light, with floating faces a potent metaphor for life itself.

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We continue to be impressed with Scott A. Trimble, above, here with a somewhat ghostly, almost ethereal figure in The wants of true #empathy. Glenn Waggner’s oil on panel Pigs in Bumper Cars, charms with a surreal edge; while Steven Fujimoto’s mixed media Scratch Built is an impressive large sculptural work that defies easy categorization. Bryan Ida’s vibrant acrylic enamel and urethane abstract, China Basin (below) and Campbell Laird’s shimmery Rain dream gray no.1, 016, a resin film print are also stand outs. The large scale cast aluminum of Thaddeus Gesek’s Hello & El Jefe, is a terrific piece, full of motion, instantly iconic images, figures that look ready to spring into life.

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With so many other fine pieces too numerous to mention, an encompassing layout throughout the gallery and onto the patio space, and a mix of mediums as varied as the subjects portrayed, this is an exhibit that will resonate long after viewing.

Go on, get out, go see. Gimme 5 will get you at least a million’s worth of artistic pleasure and passion.

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Muzeumm is located at 4811 W Adams Blvd., Los Angeles

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis