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

 

A New Phoenix Rising

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Located on 3rd at its juncture with La Cienega is a reincarnation of the former Phoenix as – The Phoenix. And it’s a new bird rising. Sleek, French-bistro styling draws the eye to the  bar, while draft cocktails like the Dublin Donkey and La Paloma – as well as a wide selection of whiskies – draw the palette.

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While the food may be somewhat secondary to the beverages, it’s tasty too: below, Fusilli Marinara topped with a fried egg. The idea, our server tells us, is to mix the fried egg in with the basil and Parm cheese. The marinara sauce has a nice zing.
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Lighter fare is also present. The Phoenix House Salad adds feta cheese, pear, pepperocini, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, and red onions to fresh mixed green. Toasty bread on the side.
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Below, Adolfo Suaya, partner in the restaurant, ready to help patrons enjoy the classy but cool European vibe.

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The very red-lit patio was our favorite spot. Hip, happening, sexy lighting, comfortable booths and the al fresco bar scene that LA needs a lot more of.

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Below, crisply well-seasoned fries are redolent of rosemary.

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Below: those well prepared draft cocktails.

The Paloma features Milagro Blanco Tequila, Giffard’s Pamplemousse,  plus lime and soda.

We loved the Dublin Donkey, a nicely spicy blend of Tullamore Dew, Giffard’s Ginger of the Indies, lime, and Ginger Beer.

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To sum up: a welcoming place for a drink and some food, The Phoenix is open late and stays stylish. Insiders tip: the patio is the perfect spot for a date night. The Phoenix rises to become your next occasion for celebration. It’s located at 8480 3rd Street close to the Beverly Center.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke

Fantastic Art Auction at Lyme Away Fundraiser

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March 19th 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. – save the date. Lyme Away: Help Nicole Saari Win the Fight Against Late Stage Lyme Disease

The beautiful art you see throughout this article are just some of the incredible pieces donated by artists for this event. 

Fundraiser Kristine Augustyn Heavenly Bodies $250

LA area residents, we invite you to a free art party/birthday celebration and most importantly of all, fundraiser, at The Neutra Museum Gallery at 2379 Glendale Blvd. in Silver Lake. There will also be delicious home-made Mexican food, store-bought cake :), cocktails, wine, and beer.

Fundraiser Susan Lizotte Mercury $900

The goal: to help raise funds for young mom and songwriter Nicole Saari’s treatment for Late Stage Lyme Disease — Nicole is the daughter of this ezine’s publisher, Genie Davis.

Fundraiser Robyrn Allatore Inverted Nipple $900 start $150
The event will feature an incredible collection of local artists, along with food, drink, music, silent auction items, and plenty of fun. Neutra curator Dulce Stein’s birthday is the 18th, and Genie’s is the 20th – and in lieu of gifts or lunches, we want YOU to come check out the fun, buy some art or a silent auction item, have a few drinks and dinner! 

Fundraiser Tracey Weiss

We have some absolutely incredible art donated by a wide range of wonderful artists – each of whom will be featured here in upcoming weeks. But of course, if you have art to donate, we would love, love, love to include your work, too.

Fundraiser Bibi Davidson Don't Tell Anyone $450

Please come and enjoy the evening, and if you’re not in LA but want something awesome to hang on your walls, please reach out – online purchases can be made, and careful shipping accomplished.

Fundraiser Aline Mare Darker Matters value $500 start at $150

Donations can also be made at https://www.gofundme.com/help-nicole-beat-chronic-lyme

Fundraiser Diane Cockerwill Stairway to heaven $200 bid $125

In Nicole’s own words: “I have a dangerous combination of tick-borne infections that have become chronic and incredibly difficult to treat – severely weakening my immune system and affecting every part of my body. Without knowing it at the time, a tick bite on a backpacking trip six years ago caused me to become infected with Lyme disease and the co-infections Babesia (a parasite) and Bartonella (a bacteria). For some people, typical presentation does not immediately occur and these illnesses can slowly wreak havoc destroying health over the course of years, as was the case for me. Due to my now compromised immune system, I also have a deeply rooted chronic staph infection called MARCONS (Multiple Antibiotic Resistant Coagulase Negative Staphylococci), a digestive bacterial imbalance called SIBO, multiple types of mold (yes, mold) colonization within my body, Candida enteritis – a chronic fungal infection in my digestive system and other areas (which also tested positive for an unusual resistance to most typical therapies), as well as severe allergies which now require me to carry an Epi-Pen. Although I still look OK, these illnesses have at this point left me disabled in a plethora of ways, as I continue to lose strength and the ability to power through my day as time goes on. I can no longer hike, surf, dance, take long walks, or do many of the things I love best. Even playing my instruments for too long results in painful hand cramps. The scariest part is that it will only continue to get worse if left without prompt and proper treatment.

Fundrasier Dani Dodge Shared Grace 300 bid 75

Chronic Lyme patients can develop fatal cardiac infections, brain damage, increased risk for cancers and more. Symptoms change and spike in severity giving me some good days where though I don’t feel well I can push myself hard to do things and other days where I can’t get out of bed at all.To give you an idea of what this is like, just a few of the symptoms I battle with include: insomnia that prevents me from sleeping more than a few hours without interruption (even with medication), severe bone and joint pain, crippling fatigue, speech problems that come and go, nerve pain, difficultly breathing at times (which has forced me to carry an inhaler), painful rashesand itching (especially in sensitive areas,) memory loss, feeling “foggy” all the time, low white blood cell count, digestive hormonal imbalance, depression, anxiety, mood swings, suicidal thoughts, hypothyroidism, menstrual pain and abnormal cycles, muscle twitches and cramps, inability to heal fully from injury, severe and longer lasting infections from other ordinary illnesses, and more.My health is quickly getting worse and it is imperative that I start treatment as soon as possible. Considering the complexity of the situation, I’m seeing a leading specialist on tick-based infections who will craft a custom treatment plan to tackle everything in the best way possible, step by step. Unfortunately, this condition is not yet recognized by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and as such, we’ve been told that little to none of the treatments are likely to be covered by insurance.

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While we plan to pursue every resource and assistance program at our disposal, the treatments and medications could cost more than $1,000 a week upfront, and the doctors have told us it will take at least two years to beat this. Due to the difficulty of diagnosing this particular set of illnesses, we’ve exhausted our limited savings just getting to this point, so we are hoping and praying for your support. You truly can help save my life – every donation helps, no matter how small, as does sharing this page with your family, friends, and colleagues.Thank you so much for your time, your love, and all your support and generosity. Any help whatsoever that you can provide is truly a miracle and a blessing to our family!”

Fundraiser Dwora Fried Las Mayas $450 Fundraiser Chuka Susan Chensy Blue Marilyn $400, $150 bid Fundraiser Alana Marcelletti Fundraiser Terry Holzman Sailors Delight $75 value $35 start Fundraiser Samuelle Richardson Fundraiser Frederika Beesemeyer Roader Eaton Canyon July Afternoon $250 Fundraiser Glenn Waggner Bad Directions Value $150, bidding $100 Fundraiser Kate Carvellas What Goes Around $300 open $100

 

Get Enchanted

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Running through January 8th, Enchanted: Forest of Light turns Descanso Garden’s into a wildly wonderful fantasy land. Not specifically holiday themed, eight illuminated installations lead visitors through the dark, into a garden blossoming with light.

Timed entry keeps the event from getting too crowded; there are spots where visitors can simply stand for a moment and breathe in the chilly night air and the almost palpable sense of wonder. Kids love the colors and lights, adults are quietly mesmerized. The interactive nature of some exhibits adds to the visual poetry and the fun.

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Entering the exhibition, viewers first meet up with fields of multi-colored, ever changing beds of tulips, which dance with light as they color-shift.

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Next up: like a miniature version of the light columns at LAX,ccolor-changing columns in the Rainbow Sycamores section respond to touch; place a hand on the five blue columns and watch the colors shift into vibrant purple or pink.

Next, head toward the lake beneath arches of stars.

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At Lightwave Lake, push a button and change the spotlights shifting in ribbons of color across the water. When we visited a spooky mist blanketed the lake, creating a truly other-worldly experience.

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Thin streaks of light pulsate, part art, part alien.

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The Ancient Forest, all ferns and firs, dazzles with soft multi-colored light, an emergence into a fecund land that could be home to a myriad of alien creatures. Anyone remember the charming 90s era animated feature Ferngully? Or maybe Avatar? Both fit.

It’s fun to literally hop on wooden platforms in the Symphony of Oaks section, too, where the ancient oaks become the guardians of guests’ ability to sound chimes.

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On the Luminous Lawn, kids and adults alike hop again – onto lily pads which change colors and patterns in a touch-sensitive pond.

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A Japanese garden vibrates with red light, creating a surreal and beautiful finish to the show.

We took a leisurely just-under-two-hour stroll through the exhibition. The unlighted areas of the gardens that hover just out of sight add to the magical feeling – we are privy to a secret world, with perhaps other secrets tantalizingly just out of sight.

While a festive event for the season, Enchanted could easily run year ‘round; there are no overtly holiday themes here, just a link to the magic, wonder, and sweetness of the season.

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For now, make the drive to La Canada/Flintridge and have an enchanted experience through January 8th. For ticket info see https://www.descansogardens.org/programs-events/enchanted/

  • Genie Davis