Art Gone Wild with Book Club: Going Native at Durden and Ray

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Stephen Wright’s post-modern novel Going Native is a wild ride of literary fiction fused with pop culture.  When an art exhibition is based around the book, and includes performance pieces and cocktails made with absinthe, then art lovers can expect a wild ride when it comes to the exhibition, too.

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Durden and Ray’s delightful and provocative “Book Club: Going Native” is indeed wild – wildly inventive and conceptually clever. Curator Steven Wolkoff assembled a cadre of visual artists, a mixologist, hair stylists, dancers, and a choreographer to create an opening that fused art with performance plus an excerpted book reading.

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While I’d only read a few chapters of the novel when the opening rolled around, it did not dim my pleasure in the experiential evening, which included the work of: Ania Catherine – choreographer, Ben Jackel – visual artist, Constance Mallinson – visual artist, Dani Dodge – visual artist, Dave Bondi – toy designer, David Leapman – visual artist, Kate Kelton – actress/artist, Gavin Bunner – visual artist, Jayna Zweiman – architect and co-founder of the Pussyhat Project, Jenny Hager – visual artist, Jon Flack – visual artist, Kio Griffith – visual artist, Liza Ryan – visual artist, Michael Webster – composer, Robin Jackson – best bartender/mixologist in LA (per LA Weekly), Steven Wolkoff – visual artist, Tom Dunn – visual artist, Traci Sakosits – Creative Director of Vidal Sassoon, North America, and Matthew Kazarian – Vidal Sassoon.

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Dancers with their hair knotted to each other spun in a circle. Mixologist Robin Jackson poured sapphire, saline solution, absinthe, and oleosaccharum into cups and candy-colored water pistols for guests to shoot into their and other’s throats. The guns themselves were crafted by toy designer David Bondi, whose design, packaged and labeled as “Durden n’ Ray” also hung from a display rack on a wall.

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Artist Dani Dodge offered up a compelling, layered painting “Previously Unthinkable Patterns.”

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The painting, a mixed-media fusion of paint, duct tape, party favors, a piece of a wedding dress and the ashes of papers that contained burned fears dripped off the canvas literally with a 72″ tulle train puddling on the ground. The ghostly shape of the car that figures large in the novel emerges from the layers like a ship through thick fog, the canvas begs to be touched, but one doesn’t touch; still the almost physiological impression of being touched by the artwork persists.

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Above, artists Dani Dodge and Kio Griffith.

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Kio Griffith’s “Whichever Wolf You Feed,” a mixed media piece of wood, sheet metal, paint, sandpaper, and a ventilation duct, oozes mystery; the mood abetted by a dancer positioned against the corner wall next to the piece.

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David Leapman’s “Salt hungry butterflies,” gold ink on black paper, has an elegaic feel that evokes calligraphy and Japanese woodblock prints. The artist contributed three similar works in all to the exhibition. Jenny Hager’s abstract “Bedlamite,” acrylic and marker on canvas, is bold and heated; Tom Dunn’s detailed, fascinating “Mesopotamia Drawing Series” functions as a kind of adjunct to the book’s chapters which are themselves a series of connected yet separate stories.

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Curator Wolkoff  created a series of “wedding rings” crafted of acrylic paint without support, they are as warped as the book’s belief system. The spacey stop-motion video of Traci Sakosits and Matthew Kazarian, “Basic Space,” compels repeated viewing, as does Dodge’s second piece in the show, the haunting “Evidence,” a video shown wall mounted on a mini-iPad.

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All eyes were turned to Jayna Zweiman’s “It considered other facts, other views,” a dark green kaleidoscope-like sculpture which guests peered through and took IG-worthy semi-selfies through.

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Constructed with mirror, plywood, and oil-based paint, the work was fabricated by Paul Guillemette and suspended from the gallery’s ceiling. The architect and co-founder of the Pussyhat Project has created a wonderful, changing fractured image that reflects both the quality of the book and a reader’s perception of it. It’s a fun house mirror take on art, life, and novel. The work’s green exterior represents the color of the stolen car driven by the novel’s protagonist.

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While seeing the exhibition without the dancers, drink, and electronic soundtrack hum is a different experience than the opening night, it is a worthy one. The art stands alone, and one could know nothing of the book and have heard nothing of the opening’s vastly entertaining art circus and still enjoy it.

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Above, a pop art distillation of the book, “Helter Skelter” by Gavin Bunner, goache and ink on paper.

Like many of Durden and Ray’s shows, this one is edgy and thought-provoking; the gallery and the art collective are building a reputation as a must-see in the crowded field of LA art.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis

 

Mountains of Movies: The Mammoth Lakes Film Festival Returns

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Just in time to help film fans celebrate Memorial Day, the third annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival runs May 24-28th. The fest screens narrative and documentary features and shorts.  MLFF was named one of the “Top 50 Festivals Worth Your Entry Fee” by Movie Maker Magazine in 2016. Having attended last year, we look forward to another full schedule of eclectic entries which we’ll be covering daily during the festival run.

Festival founder Shira Dubrovner notes that the third year brings expanded programming to the festival, doubling the number of filmmakers attending the festival and bringing more spotlight events and featured artists to the festival.

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“This year our opening night screening is Up In Smoke with Tommy Chong in person; later in the festival we will honor John Sayles with the Sierra Spirit Award, presented to him by Vincent Spano; and for our Saturday Morning Indie Cartoons event, the Bum Family will fly in from Calgary, Canada to give a presentation to kids on how to make paper cut-out animation,” Dubrovner notes.
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Above, festival founder Dubrovner, center, at the closing awards ceremonies in 2016.
While the festival continues to expand, the intimate nature of the festival will not change, Dubrovner attests. “We will always keep our commitment to filmmakers by making Mammoth Lakes a filmmakers-first festival. That has been our vision and commitment since day one. We continue to help each filmmaker with the expense of attending the festival by offering travel stipends and housing. We create a fun, intimate and accessible experience for everyone that attends—filmmakers, audiences, industry professionals, press and our local volunteers.”
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The festival is very different from others throughout California, and different too than well-known behemoths like Sundance and Telluride. We found attending the event last year to be a special experience, one in which we could spend time with filmmakers, and uncover international as well as local films that were extremely fresh in terms of subject and style. From smart comedies to awe inspiring documentaries, the festival doesn’t hold back when it comes to presenting intimate stories.
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“We take our time to create a program with a specific vision; we champion personal, innovative storytelling. We showcase filmmakers who are unafraid to dig deep into themselves and bring their work to life with sensitivity, playfulness and a depth of vision,” Dubrovner attests.
Of course the beauty of the fest’s Sierra setting is also first class.
“We give a platform to these artists in a nurturing and awe-inspiring setting in the Eastern Sierra. Our primary commitment is to the talented, maverick artists that we bring together every year in May.”
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And to creating a stellar line-up of films that will have audience’s talking for the rest of 2017.
– Genie Davis; Photos: Courtesy of MLFF and Jack Burke
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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