Poignant and Surreal: Eric Joyner and Lori Nelson at Corey Helford Gallery

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One of the most engaging aspects of the current exhibitions at Corey Helford Gallery is that they are both visually entertaining and metaphorically deep. These are the figures of a childhood that never was, stories that could yet be. Steeped in magical realism, artists Eric Joyner and Lori Nelson each offer a strangely satisfying assessment of technology, childhood, fairy tales, and childish things roaming about in the world.

San Francisco-based artist Eric Joyner’s “Tarsus Bondon Dot” is an exhibition of large scale images that often feature brightly colored robots and large-scale donuts. The realistic style of Joyner’s landscapes belies their whimsical surrealism.

helford ice cream The oil on panel “Special Delivery” features a robot driving an ice cream truck into an abyss; “All Systems Go” sends a not-too-happy cat into space; while in “Escape Velocity,” an X-12 tears through the clouds while giant donuts rise like a monolith in the background. “Rockin’ at Sharkeys” depicts a big robot crowd watching a robot match-up in a boxing ring. 

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Absurd though these images may be, they ably depict aspects of real life in juxtapositions that make viewers smile. Working in a vibrant palette that full utilizes the texture and depth of oil, Joyner manages to fuse the amusing, the touching, the strange, and the mysterious in his Transformers-like fairy tale world.


In Gallery 2, Lori Nelson’s bewitchingly lovely  “Cryptotweens: Find My Friends” pairs well with Joyner. Both artists work in oil and use fanciful figures and sharp wit; both have an underpinning of wistfulness, even sadness.  Nelson’s fairy tale scenes are darker than Joyner’s, illustrating with delicate precision a parallel world in which creatures both human and not traverse a territory that is frozen between childhood and adulthood. Personal growth aside, these inhabitants have bigger things on their mind – avoiding or girding themselves to co-exist with a technology that is threatening to overtake them.

Nelson’s dark blue palette creates a nighttime world in which her characters roam, hide, and search. The exhibition’s title piece, the diptych “Find My Friends” reveals two almost-tweens using hand-held computers as if they were flashlights, creating beams of light to undertake a search in a dark forest. A raccoon, an owl, a bunny, and a squirrel accompany them, with glowing red eyes. The squirrel holds a satellite dish, while behind them, other satellite dishes float on a river.

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“Opt Out IV” has a cryptotween curled up seeking safety and escape below ground. Cozily snuggled with bunnies beneath the roots of a tree, above ground satellite dishes and scanners ominously proliferate.

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And in gallery three, lush paintings by Iva Troj & Sergio Lopez create classical images in a rich dreamscape.

Running through June 3rd, these shows serve as both fascinating art and highly entertaining pop culture – with a little shiver of recognition thrown in. 

Corey Helford is located at 571 S. Anderson Street in DTLA.

  • Genie Davis; photos Genie Davis and courtesy of Corey Helford Gallery

Francisco Alvarado: Luminous Work in Running With the Bulls

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Above, artist Francisco Alvarado. Below – another of his vibrant bulls. Note the abstract, almost collage-like quality, the depth, the dots and lines.

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Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Francisco Alvarado has found a physical home in the San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles, and a spiritual home in his art.

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Raised with an explorer’s eye and a passion for color and landscape, Alvarado calls himself “Lucky to travel with my father at a very early age. I used to explore the Amazon jungle…my father was also a bullfighter. No one sees a bull as happy, living a special life, running in the hills of South America and bred to be active. I try to show that in my work.”

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From bold bulls to beautiful, compellingly colored landscapes, Alvarado speaks with his colors, which he mixes himself. The inherent luminosity in his work comes in part from creating a transparent glaze which he layers in. There is a serene strength and poetic power in the artist’s approach.

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“You can add surface, build texture when painting with acrylic. For the most part the medium is flat, but you can add dots and lines,” he relates.

Alvarado tells his visual stories at times using digital technology, drawing with his mouse, using Apple Air to simulate painting. “I’m currently looking at land art, the drawings in Peru, the large spirals,” he notes.

Alvarado began making art by sketching his friends at the age of 6, and he moved on to create maps. Today his work in acrylic includes a series based on the characters in Don Quixote, images that are fragmented and abstract.

His evocative works tell stories. “I was influenced a lot by my grandmother, Esther. She was a wonderful story-teller who encouraged me to read. I’m an avid reader,” Alvarado explains. 

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“The story I’m trying to tell here is of lying in tall grass in green lush fields, looking up at the sky,” he notes. “In my imagination, I create happy pieces. I paint the experiences people have, I have – and where do they take you.”

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We saw this artist’s vibrant work in his “Running with the Bulls” at Art in the Arthouse held in Laemmle’s NoHo 7 Theater- a great space for an exhibition and talk.  “Running with the Bulls” has just completed it’s “run” through early May at the Laemmle. Look for Alvarado and his fresh, stirring work elsewhere around Los Angeles in the coming months.

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  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis


Cansu Bulgu: Spiritual Sand Drawing

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If you’ve never experienced what artist and spiritual guide Cansu Bulgu does, you must. It is a bucket-list experience, her intuitive and personally aligned work both meditative and ethereal.

Bulgu creates large scale intuitive sculptural drawings in the sand that represent all the elements. And her act of creation is something she shares with clients as “live Intuitive Sand Drawing Sessions.” She also creates personalized, one-of-a-kind installations and spiritual contemporary fine art series on dye-infused ink metal panels.

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We were fortunate enough to experience a sand drawing session, a process she began in 2010 in Kauai, when the artist “touched the sand and the first drawing came. It was one of those sparkles of life” that she felt compelled to follow.

Highly successful in her IT field, Bulgu knew her life and calling had irrevocably changed. “I felt the pull of love toward a new creation that wanted to come through. It was choice-less, really,” she relates.

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Today she works to create a “space of stillness”  – that’s how the drawing happens – without any pre-visualization or pre-conceptualization. “Rather than working on it, we come together, and we are being drawn in the moment” she says of her process with clients.

Working near the ocean, intuitively selecting the location and time, Bulgu started our session with a beautiful cleansing sound from a crystal bowl before, trance-like, moving through a sand drawing that is all spontaneous energy, expressing the essence of the client in a stunning art work infused with spiritual meaning.

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Although she felt the call to this work in 2010, it wasn’t until 2015 that she started bringing it out into the world.  A gallery show in Laguna Beach was the start.

“I just love showing up as life gives me invitations. It’s so mysterious and familiar… personal and universal at the same time,” she relates. “My work is very alive. You can hang my pieces from different angles and see different perspectives.”

Her sessions have a powerful energy.

“When we drop our personality in any moment, when death of ego occurs, it becomes a container for light. You are the embodiment of light, in that space of stillness.”

Bulgu recalls after her first gallery event that one individual had “The person asked what I did exactly. I said there are two circle from which you can live life. In the first circle you can describe everything with words, yet lose some of the meaning. In the other circle, you  just have a clear and deep sense of knowing, yet, you cannot use words to describe or talk about it. This work is best experienced from the latter circle. It’s so simple yet profound. A gentle shift in perception offers effortless transformation. Light, light, light.”

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Bulgu will be a part of the Dana Point Festival of The Arts on Sunday, May 21, 2017; and June 24th at the Torrance Art Festival. Visit her and you can – and should – also experience her work in its pure and profound state individually – it’s as healing as it is beautiful.

See more of the artist’s work via her website at www.cansuart.com.

DiversionsLA is thrilled to announce that she will be offering FIVE personal sand drawing experiences as a fundraiser to benefit young musician and mother Nicole Saari, who is suffering from acute Lyme disease. May is Lyme Awareness month – what better way to raise personal awareness as well than to experience the one-of-a-kind spiritual creation Bulgu offers. Message the artist at www.facebook.com/cansu.bulgu for more information; the minimum donation is a really incredible $150 per session, additional donated amounts are of course welcome Payments can be made via PayPal (benjamin.saari@gmail.com) or Saari’s GoFundMe page. Be sure to indicate that payment is for Cansu Bulgu sand drawing – all proceeds benefit Nicole Saari.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis



The Brewery Art Walk – Spring 2017 Edition

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Above, the work of Sean Sobczak Sandman Creations.

As always, DTLA’s awesome and eclectic artists lofts, studios, and galleries – the Brewery – offered up a tremendous wealth of art to peruse at the April edition of their twice yearly art walk.  Take a look at some of the artists and art – and if you missed it this spring, be sure to mark the walk on your calendar for October. So much to see, intimate conversations with artists, brilliant art work at reasonable prices. Hard to top that, but this being LA, we threw in a bright, sunny day, some gourmet food trucks, and beer. The Artwalk IPA was perfect.

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Above and below, artist Samuelle Richardson with her wonderfully haunting “Ghost Dogs” sculptural installation. Richardson created these beautiful pieces especially for Art Walk.

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A magical energy in these sculptures, which use fabric and wood to shape powerful and poignant beasts.

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Chenhung Chen’s fluid, alive wire sculptures dance with kinetic energy, below.

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The artist’s wall art, many utilizing staples, is a fresh take on abstract imagery, works that shine literally and figuratively.

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Below, Glen Waggner creates intense and diminutive drawings that tell succinct, perfectly realized impressionistic stories. The prolific artist creates both figures and landscapes.

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Kristine Augustyn, below, offers both lush abstracts and figurative pieces that edge into the surreal. Both Augustyn and Waggner showed works at the Brewery’s Jesus Wall Gallery.

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Below, a work inspired by a trip to Disneyland.

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Randi Hockett’s studio-grown crystals dazzle, below. These raw and glittering works offer a wonderful contrast of sharp crystal textures and the softness of the wax surfaces. This is work that is hard to look away from, which evoke the feminine and the fairy tale.

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Kristine Schomaker, below, has reconstructed and reimagined her own work in an exhibition titled “An Ode to a Lost Love.” Tackling complex issues from body image to gender identity, her sculptural installation below explores both the personal and the universal – and still evoke a fantastical candy store.

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Bill Leigh Brewer, below, creates photographic works that are painterly in style, mysterious and magical in perception.

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From the California desert to the snowy hills of Vermont, Brewer fills his landscapes with a subtext of wonder and loss.

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Winnie Brewer, below, has painted bees and other creatures great and small in exquisitely detailed works that glow with light and color.

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Below, Tony Pinto, in residence at Shoebox Projects, created dimensional paintings and photographic portraits in his exhibition “Art Seen.” His ability to capture the innate essence of artists, writers, and gallerists in LA’s art scene is revealing and insightful.

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While her studio was not open for art walk due to deadlines on completing works for other exhibitions, we had a sneak-peak at a piece currently on exhibit at Durden & Ray’s “Going Native” show from installation and sculptural artist Dani Dodge. Here a deeply layered image invites second, third, and many more looks beneath the surface.

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Her work, above, is like accessing an archeological dig: there is so much going on beneath the surface, an intense energy breaking through.

Below, Ryan McIntosh and Kati Milan share studio space and a wealth of evocative art.

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Artist Ted Meyer, below. A little bit Picasso, a little bit Modigliani in great faces, forms and familiars. These are portraits that tell a story worth “reading” often. Stylized, riveting, and exotic, Meyer’s figures also serve as a healing document for those affected by trauma. Brewery ONE

Below the incredibly rich partnered work of Anna Stump and Daphne Hill blossoms with life – lush and sensual florals.


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There is such an overflowing cornucopia of art at The Brewery that we could not do justice to all the artists here – or even those in this article. Find your own overflowing artistic joy at the next art walk come October.

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  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis