The Nature of Things: Magical Takes on the Physical World

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Recently closed at the Mike Kelley Gallery at Beyond Baroque in Venice, The Nature of Things explores the alchemy of nature in three separate solo shows connected with an aura of the magical.

Artists Lillian Abel, Tracey Weiss, and Karrie Ross each presented their own unique takes on life and nature.  

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Abel’s “Energy” is comprised of vivid, layered oil paintings that depict wild landscapes with the juxtaposition of limited color palettes in each piece.

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Abstract yet beautifully composed – as if a sunset, a mountain, or a seascape were viewed through a veiled lens, the artist notes that “The overall look is landscape, the desired outcome is the deeper sense of the energy of nature…” Enigmatic and rich, these paintings shift and shimmer as viewers take them in.

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Weiss offers “Metamorphosis,” beautiful, 3-dimensional wall and free standing sculptures utilizing mixed media of 35-mm slides, slide carousels and slide film.

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Weiss creates dazzling and delicate butterflies, patterns that leap from the walls, shapes that seem to dance from their surfaces. Slides themselves may be an outdated medium, but as crafted into dazzling, delightful sculptural forms by Weiss, they are undergoing their own metamorphosis.

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These ‘found objects’ have found a new, fanciful, exuberant lease on life.

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Ross looks at the passionate pull of art itself and art in nature with her “Balance & Flow.”

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Here she looks at a variety of ways to perceive the world, from a 3D installation depicting the Five Elements to delicate, intricate, abstracts that employ a variety of textures and flowing patterns, liquid and in motion, images captured and ephemeral, some with highlights of gold that add to the mystery and dimension of the works.

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Viewing each artist’s work on a different floor of the gallery space created an inherent sense of rhythm, moving from Abel’s evocative, thoroughly modern and thickly layered abstract landscapes to Weiss’ graceful and perceptive found-art sculptures, to Ross’  sculptural and painting works both mysterious and whimsical.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis

Taking Wing Flew High at the Neutra

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While the exhibition Taking Wing has flown from the Neutra, the four artists that created the exhibition last spring are every bit in flight. Featuring beautiful and very different works by  Wini Johnson Brewer, Gwen Samuels, Sheri Neva, and Susan Savory, the stellar exhibition was a strong introduction to each artists’ work.

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​Wini Johnson Brewer’s art focuses on the nature of bees and how important they are to our environment. ​“I talk about their troubles, encouraging the public to plant bee gardens, refrain from pesticides, and consider having their own backyard hive,” Brewer explains.
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She describes the chaos found among bees as similar to that of our own society, claiming that the bees have lost their way in the world and are confused about their roles in their own hives.  Her “Artificial Light” depicts bees circling a light bulb, but unlike moths, bees are not attracted to artificial light. But she has depicted them doing just that, going toward a manmade light and dying, perhaps an analogy to humans and technology and social media. ​There is an ancient European tradition known as the “telling of the bees,”  in which a bee keeper shares with the bees important life events such as births and marriages. The belief is that if this tradition is omitted, then the bees would die. Brewer’s art is the continuation of the telling.

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​Gwen Samuels’ art is based in an early passion for fashion and patterns. Her background as a textile designer adds strong design elements to her work. Samuels shaping and rearranging of her photos creates an additional imagery from her depiction of delicate insects. ​“My love of the handmade made the needle the natural tool to pull the pieces together. I left the threads hanging as evidence of the process. I arrange them slightly off the wall with straight pins to permit shadows to interact with the forms,” the artist relates.

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Her dedication to craft, time, and intimacy takes viewers on a journey that shows what you see may be more than what is first observed.

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Much like Samuels’ art, Sheri Neva focuses on the patterns of nature, giving the viewer an intimate look at the world around them. ​Neva’s own world view changed in 2005, when she went to the Delta College Microscopy facility. It was there that she discovered a microscopic world, a fascinating mix between science and art that reveals the intricate detail and beauty of life. She now studies the structures of the world with the help of her scanning electron microscope.

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​“I never know what I will find when I put a sample in the microscope,” Neva says.

“Seeing the microstructure of a mosquito wing or the grooves and pits in one single grain of sand from the beach I live on still amazes me after seven years.”
​She uses science to create art, and combining the two to show the viewer what the world contains in its most minute exploration.

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While Neva’s work points toward the future, Susan Savory’s art takes viewers back in time to our past. ​A collector of vintage mementos found in flea markets and yard sales, she uses photographs, letters, and books in her mixed media works. ​“I remake these with collage and paint, listening to the ghost voices of my subjects and piecing together narratives for them as I go,” she explains. “The use of materials with existing histories enforces the awareness of a connection to the transient nature of all things.”

Her inspiration refers to ​an old Mexican adage that suggest people die three deaths. One when the body ceases to function, another when the body is lowered into the ground, and a third and final death when there is no one left alive to remember. And much like Brewer’s tradition of the “telling of the bees,” this is Savory’s way of giving back to life, preserving and creating visual stories.

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​On every one of her collages lies a moth,  a Chinese symbol of a deceased individual’s soul.  ​“As the connection with nature is imperative, the possibility for a loved one’s soul to take the form of a moth is a relatively common belief. This embodiment is rooted deep within Taoist beliefs, and offers a poetic explanation of common encounters with moths at funerals or shortly after one’s passing.”

​Watch for more winged things – art that soars – from each of these artists.

  • guest post by Kevin Norman along with Genie Davis
  • photos provided by the artists

Jason Ostro and Andrea LaHue: Twinned Beauty

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It would be hard not to love the lush and vibrant paintings of Jason Ostro and Andrea LaHue. The pair presented both solo works and collaborative pieces at Art on Scene in May, works that evoke stained glass.

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Above, the pair pose by two of LaHue’s floral works.

LaHue’s florals and Ostro’s mosaic-like, geometric patterns are stunners alone and in combination; both cutting edge and traditionally beautiful at the same time. Their show at the Sunset Blvd. gallery offered an exuberant chance to see both artists’ take on the natural world physically and emotionally.

Titled Flower & Flow, the exhibition touched on both elements with grace – flowing floral paintings by LaHue, flowering patterns in Ostro’s flowy abstract patterns.

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Above, Ostro’s work captures a stunning pattern and sensibility of leaves and petals. Below, LaHue’s irises dazzle with impressionistic brush strokes that evoke the texture of the flowers themselves.

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With a rich palette that created a kind of art garden, the two artists played off of one another’s subjects, colors, and styles; the several collaborative pieces worked a visual magic with their layered approach.

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The love both artists feel for their subjects, and for working together is quite literally palpable. Such a sense of respect for and immersion in the natural world, and each other’s diverse yet complimentary styles is visually delicious and emotionally satisfying.

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Above and below, a wall of Ostro’s work is like a series of mosaics fused with stained glass.

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The collaborative work below says it all: the tiled and petaled look of Ostro’s background is a perfect compliment to LaHue’s delicate blossoms.

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In a world in which there is often these days too little that is delicate, beautiful, and blissful, the two artists both together and separately have created a body of work that resonates with the heart as well as the mind.

  • Genie Davis, photos: Genie Davis

 

Scott A. Trimble: A Painter of Otherwordly Grace

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He’s a mystic and poet – and a prolific artist who paints rich and complex stories every day.

Scott A. Trimble is a painter of profound depth and grace; each work is not only visually acute but resonates with meaning both opaque and transparent. His unique, figurative yet freeform expressionistic style, captures light and motion in layers of paint, shadowy faces, and otherworldly landscapes.

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“What enables me to paint is that I found a way to not be concerned at all about what other people are going to think. I don’t engage my mind, I just try to use my eyes and enjoy myself-  it’s a real simple process,” Trimble relates.  “I don’t worry about something being particularly recognizable or anatomy being precise, I just enjoy what I’m doing.”

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Indeed, there’s an almost wild joy in his work, a thrumming sense of emotion in each piece.

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Each painting tells not just a story but a novella of emotion. One piece, “A Love of Place” was inspired as a reaction to what the artist calls a “disturbance in the essence of life’s fabric” by our current political landscape as well as by a strong love of place, according to the artist. Dealing with troubling politics and long days, Trimble painted aqua sky and sea – calm and divine. For Trimble, blue represents happiness.

“It was inspired by a time when my kids were young, and every weekend we would pick different environments in Los Angeles to explore – whatever popped up first in Google search, we would visit. What I learned and imparted to my boys, was that most people really loved where they lived no matter what we thought of the place. People who lived there, it was their home and they loved it. This is Los Angeles for me.”

The piece also features four small bars of light.  “I use that constantly – four is a reference to me, my wife, and two kids – so they always know I’m thinking of them.”

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He adds “In most of my paintings those groupings of four have three bars clustered together and one apart, observing or being observed.”

The observer – that’s Trimble indeed.

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“I’ve spent my whole life thinking the single most important thing in life is your memory. My mom had several strokes a few years ago and her memory is gone.  I’ve become interested in the way memory functions, the way it can be elusive, and memories mixed with other memories, and I wanted to replicate that process in the action of doing paintings that are physical manifestations of memory,” he explains, “and treat them with differing levels of preciousness, the way a really fond memory is nurtured and saved, where a less interesting memory is forgotten.”

With that elegiac thought in mind, Trimble has begun to paint over some works.

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“I haven’t bought new canvas in five months,” he says. “Most of my paintings have been through the wash cycle more than once.”

Trimble notes that his very first paint-over was originally created in 1984, and painted over in 2014. “When my sons asked me why I had partially painted over something they had grown up with, I replied that it took me 30 years to finish it,” Trimble laughs. “It was an empowering thing to do to paint over it.”

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Although Trimble has painted for decades, he took a hiatus when day job and family life consumed his time. “I had no time at all to paint, so I started again in 2013 when my son started college.”

He painted angry portraits of unlikeable people, abstracts, shadow figures, human figures, faces, and landscapes.

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His voluminous output – art perhaps stored in his heart for years, follows an almost relentless process of nightly painting. “When I get home at 7:15, I come straight to my garage studio and work until 10:30 or midnight. I’m enjoying the moment, flashing through memories with paintings that are growing and changing.”

Older works exhibit thicker paint from paint-overs.

Many of his paintings have a dark and dreamlike quality, with images partly out of focus, due perhaps in part to working by a dim 60-watt bulb in a small space.

scott me 6His titles reflect his past studying screenwriting – which is the wordsmith equivalent of visual poetry.

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Take “I’m Pining for our Bench at Two Bunch Palms,” with a white bench, a reflection in a pond of skyline and desert mountains. The viewer immediately recognizes desert, but the intense blue is oceanic – it’s the visualization of the longing in the title, grand and inchoate.

“Ultimately in each of my paintings, I try to create pocket narratives, a short story comprised of a set of mixed up memories, emotions, and history, that are distilled down to a single sensation. It’s not something you can easily describe, but it’s meant to be felt.”

Feel what Trimble feels this month: the artist has 5 works that are a part of Satan’s Ball, the large group show currently at DTLA’s Art Share, and a collaborative piece at VS, a show which pairs artists together at Gallery 825 in West Hollywood. Sixteen other paintings are on exhibit in a stellar solo show at Laemmle’s NoHo Theater in North Hollywood.  You can see more of the artist’s work at www.scottatrimble.com

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