The Antarctic Dreams of Lily Simonson

F23C1020

“Beneath the Midnight Sun,” an exhibition of breathtaking works by Lily Simonson is on view at CB1 Gallery through May 29th. The exhibition leads viewers into a world that literally glows, inside and out.

F23C1017

There’s nothing quite like the colorscape Simonson uses. It vibrates both on and under the surface.

The exhibition’s origin is the artist’s trips to Antarctica. She served as the Awardee for the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Simonson’s art is very much an adventure, for the artist as well as the viewer. Along with her Antarctic expeditions, she served as the Artist in Residence aboard the Exploration Vessel Nautilus and the Research Vessel Melville.

F23C1027

“It’s exciting to reveal the life under the sea ice and on land, the crazy geological formations, and to share some of the surprisingly diverse and unexpected beauty, ” Simonson relates.

F23C1013

She uses acrylics, oil, and fluorescent pigment that glows in black light and creates a translucent appearance in white light. The effect is one of dazzling depth, a multi-layered immersion in surreal, vibrant colors.

F23C1008

Simonson is an explorer, both literally and through her innovative, experiential art. Dive on in.

F23C1025

Simonson’s work is on view at CB1 Gallery from April 16 – May 29, 2016. CB1 is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave. in DTLA’s warehouse district.

  • Genie Davis, all photos: Jack Burke

Peter Scherrer- Artist Profile

Scherrrer Salt

Acrylic on canvas is the medium for artist Peter Scherrer’s large, muscular artworks of abstract shapes and landscapes. Some feature bold graphics, others are all slashing, vital strokes of color. It is the kind of painting that is very much of Los Angeles. Blues are as inviting as swimming pools for the eye to dive in. White, grey and chartreuse paint creates jagged images that could be the fronds of palm trees. Bright yellows, greens, and golds are the colors of LA sunsets and Griffith Park, bold strokes of black evoke images of highways driven.

While many of the works exude a freeform style, in fact Scherrer works with a grid, his pieces as carefully laid out as a freeway interchange.

Scherrer’s modern, clean, bright images and his trenchant graphic phrases, are as vibrant as sunshine. Originally from Elgg, Switzerland, Scherrer migrated to the City of Angels in 1991, driven to explore the beach culture and rock n’ roll lifestyle that he perceived as the heart of the city.

Scherrer studio

With a degree in graphic design and directions to the Rainbow Room, Scherrer was excited by the potential of the LA art scene in the early 90s, and enrolled at Art Center College of Design, completing a BFA in graphic design and packaging, followed by an MFA in media and communications.

Eventually, Scherrer began and ran his own design studio, transitioning from paper and drawing boards to computer-driven designs. But always in the back of his mind as he worked was his love for his first medium, painting. And in the last several years, he’s returned to it, creating a prolific amount of large scale paintings. Today, his computer design is primarily used to set the typography he uses on some of his canvasses.

“In the end, I think my work is very reflective of who I am,” he says. “It’s my way to process my experiences.”

Scherrer acrylic 1

One untitled piece features sweeping, thick olive green lines that reach toward the top of the canvas. The branches of palms, the leaves of birds of paradise, the shadows on downtown skyscrapers, these are the images this piece evokes. The visual pull is toward the sections of blue sky seen through these patterns, drawing the viewer in and up.

Scherrer Morning after

Another work, “The Morning After,” features cool, vertical swathes of blue, while less linear black and gold shapes jut out from it, in images that resemble supplicants. The question here is what happened the night before.

Scherrer acrylic 2

An untitled 18 x 18 canvas features white, green, blue, and pink rectangular shapes, bisected by sinuous gold, black and mint green. The colors and the shapes themselves very much evoke Southern California, perhaps as seen from a descending airplane at LAX, or as images on Google Earth.

Scheerer it always seems impossible

“It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done” strongly reinforces its graphic component with white paint layered on top of black, red, and yellow. What is this impossible task? A white- washed fence? White-washing feelings or issues? Painting itself? Some of the patterns here are reminiscent of tire tracks. There’s a traveling motion to the piece, a journey to that impossible place, whatever and wherever it may be.

Scherrer Out Side

“Out side” are two paired pieces in gold, bronze, and white, the canvas that reads “out” includes rough islands of black. Depicting what could be sand dunes, beaches, an escape into and from the Golden State, these works, like so many others, are almost subliminally evocative of Los Angeles as a whole. Having come from a completely different space – a small Swiss town – at a young age, Scherrer may well be channeling both his first impressions of LA and the qualities of its color, light, and meaning that he has absorbed over the years.

Scherrrer Salt

“Salt” is a white mounding over red, black, yellow, and orange. The word expresses the design here, which appears to suggest a certain seasoning added to heighten sunset shades, or a visceral flavor added to what could be a mundane mix of colors and shapes.

Scherrer done

There is nothing that is tepid or staid in Scherrer’s works, all are richly visually flavored. They’re bold, they’re bright, they’re images we may not be able to explain and yet ones that we intrinsically recognize, primal. The artist’s big pictures – both literally and figuratively – are as instantly identifiable as the Hollywood sign, and in their own way, already as iconic.

  • Genie Davis; Photos provided by artist and ShoeboxPR

Self Portrait as Self: Jane Szabo at MOAH

F23C8617

jane Szabo 3
Opening May 7th at MOAH, the Museum of Art & History in Lancaster, contemporary artist Jane Szabo’s Self Portrait as Self Investigation is one of four solo exhibitions that comprise the museum’s Artist as Subject.

F23C8621

Szabo’s fine art photography blends sculpture, installation art, and photography with fashion itself through her series of portraits, which go far beyond what is typically thought of as self-portraiture. She does not appear in her photographs physically, although her presence is nonetheless very much felt. Instead, Szabo’s self-portraiture is all about the dress. The artist photographs dresses. But these are no ordinary dresses, rather they are constructs, artworks designed as dresses that in a beautiful, evocative way define the person they are meant to clothe, the artist – and the viewer.

The garments themselves are stunningly beautiful, crafted by Szabo out of everyday objects such as road maps, coffee filters, cellophane, even sample filters for lighting gels. She explains “They suggest a persona and become a stand-in for myself, who I am, am not, and who I wish to be.”

Jane Szabo dresses

Each of her works seem alive with light and form. The pieces are playful, using the human form – or the dresses that could be hung upon it – as sculpture. Her photography is vivid and representational, yet her somewhat surreal fashions create an almost otherworldly look. Her dresses could be the carapaces of creatures from a different planet – or the external “skin” we shed, the covering that hides, or, like Egyptian sarcophogi, represents, the spirit within.

Szabo’s subjects are each a still life, a study in a garment that clothes the spirit rather than the body. And yet, though clearly unable to “move” on their own, her photography is hardly still. Rather, it creates a breathtaking illusion, as if the dresses could suddenly start dancing, and take on a ghostly life of their own.

Recently, the artist has begun, in her own words, to “push the envelope” on her dress photographs. “I’m engaging in different ways than I have in the past. I don’t want to get too formulaic with the dress ingredient.”

F23C8622

Take as an example the dress made from sample filters for different lighting gels available for use in the film industry. From these, Szabo created a dress that is part rainbow, part stained glass, a multicolored, transparent “skin” that captures light and reflects it. The dress as a window to the soul, perhaps.

“I love the out of focus, cast light projection behind the dress. It was projected on the wall behind the dress and photographed using a single exposure,” the artist relates.

As one of four artists interpreting self-portraiture at MOAH, Szabo has long been intent on exposing the inner through the outer. If a raiment is the wrapping paper, what is inside? And who says you can’t literally wear your heart – and soul – on your sleeve? Szabo definitely does, expressing self-identity, female identity, and society’s role in creating both personal and gender image.

Her photographic narrative is highly personal, expressing the dichotomy between self-imposed structure, societal structures, and the nearly indefinable yet unquenchable spirit of true self. One could not find a more experiential form of self-portrait for both viewer and subject.

Along with the dresses themselves, Szabo pairs related objects with the dresses, creating a complete story with compelling connections between society, the individual, and self.

Jane Szabo 2

She pushes the boundaries of self-reflection beyond a simple gaze at her reflected image into the core of her being, drawing her portraits from what she describes as her own mythology, yet letting the images take on a life and story of their own, encouraging viewers to “try on” one of the personas she depicts.

Her photographic compositions have the formal construction and delicate appearance of paintings, while maintaining the illusion that they’re ready to swirl into motion. Both aspects of Szabo’s work reflect her background as a painter and installation artist, as well as a career that included creating custom props and scenery.

F23C8617

The Los Angeles based artist has had work included in exhibitions at the Oceanside Museum of Art, the Griffin Museum of Photography, Colorado Center for Photographic Arts, PhotoSpiva, San Diego Art Institute, The Los Angeles Center for Photography, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, and Gallery 825 in Los Angeles. Her series Sense of Self was featured in a solo show at the Los Angeles Center for Digital Art in 2014, and earlier this year, as a solo exhibition, Investigating Self at the Yuma Fine Art Center in Arizona.

Along with Szabo’s work, MOAH’s “Artist as Subject” features solo exhibitions by Nataša Prosenc Stearns, Kent Anderson Butler, Eric Minh Swenson, Rebecca Campbell and a retrospective on local artist Andrew Frieder.

Artist as Subject
Lancaster Museum of Art and History – MOAH
665 W Lancaster Blvd, Lancaster Ca 93534
Public opening reception May 7, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.; the exhibition runs through July 24, regular museum hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. on Thursday. The museum is closed on Mondays.

  • Genie Davis; Photos by Jack Burke, and provided by artist

 

BLAM! and Smack, Pow, Wow – Opening Exhibition “Concrete” is Amazing

F23C1159

F23C1084

At last, Brooklyn and LA are united again, and it has nothing to do with the Dodgers. It’s all about the art.

Running through May 1 in DTLA,  “Concrete,” the freshman endeavor by BLAM (Brooklyn Los Angeles Meet) is a terrific showcase for artists from LA and Brooklyn.

Founder and “Concrete” curatorial coordinator David Spanbock says “With this opening show, we celebrate and reflect …16 individual artists from both East and West coasts. It is the belief that these two diverse centers of American creativity can co-exist…elements when mixed together can become something bigger, something stronger, like concrete.”

F23C1211

Participating artists include Nadege Monchera Baer, Corey Bond, Paul Catalanotto, Dani Dodge, Kio Griffith, Pete Hickok, Richard Lebenson, Alise Mona Loebelsohn, Aline Mare, Alanna Marcelletti, Jesus Max, Vincent Romaniello, David Spanbock, Joe Wolek, Lena Kazakova Wolek and Alison Woods.

F23C1159

Here’s a look at some of the art and some of the artists, eleven from the LA area, and 5 from NY. But don’t just read about this show, go see it.

F23C1058

F23C1142

Alanna Marcelletti: “‘The Assumption’ is the first in a series working with ideas of home. I felt that in a shadow box you could contain the idea. The organza over the top, other fabric in the collage, I was looking for any fabric I could find, my grandmother’s nightgown, my old wedding dress. It’s a blend of architecture and psychological space, how I feel in a home. The layering in some more recent pieces aren’t as tightly strung as in this one, where it’s more like a skin. I had a baby about a year ago, and I felt as if I was channeling the changes to my body.”  The love and chaos around new motherhood is clearly a part of this beautiful work.

F23C1105 F23C1087 F23C1085

David Spanbock: “All of my work is about the politics of transformation, the politics of human physics. I had the insight that a city is a collection of events and figures, creating a larger structure, and that’s what I’m working with here. I grew up outside of Manhattan but started painting in Santa Barbara.” Spanbock’s work can easily be seen in form and color as merging the east and west coasts, the prismatic like shapes capturing light and shadow.

F23C1133 F23C1129

Dani Dodge: “My piece was originally a painting of New York. I covered it with silver paint, leaving some of the edges showing. Over the silver paint, I’m projecting a video I created out of the window of my car, driving from where I live downtown to Hollywood Boulevard. I also hand painted on the frames of 35 mm film, and converted those images to video. The hand drawn animation plays off images of the street looking at New York and LA. Los Angeles is moving and happening. I’ve tried to capture that in my piece and my joy of being a part of the LA art world.” The flow of the roadway, the bits and pieces of the original NYC scene on the edges of the current work take the viewer along for a bi-coastal ride.

F23C1152

F23C1074

Aline Mare: “This is a transitional piece, I’m interested in the boundary between painting and photography. Growing crystals and painting them in relation to natural objects is the basis for this piece. The root, the bat wing with the crystal growing out of it…” The effect looks jeweled, translucent.

F23C1124

F23C1139 F23C1126

Joe Wolek’s photography could almost be a painting, or a pastel drawing, whether he is photographing the back end of a Costco or tweakers searching for treasure in urban discard. “All this work from this series deals with found places. I don’t manipulate the image in any way. I shoot them in a long lens telephoto for compression of space, and then I stitch shots together for a wide angle view. My ‘Tweaked’ series, I have 15 pieces so far. The series is on-going, I come across these scenes and I’m not going to not include them.”

F23C1148

F23C1070 F23C1091

Kio Griffith: “I’m doing a series of sculptures from poems. This is the second in the series, based on Alan Ginsberg’s ‘America.’ I call these haiku assemblages. Being half Japanese, I translate into haiku naturally. I deconstructed the Ginsberg poem to find the materials to create the piece. All the poems I work with have to do with my dad. He was a literature professor. I’m revisiting his favorites in the same way that a musical artist pays tribute to a musician.” Evocative of so many American past-times, using materials such as portions of a flag and a yoga mat, Griffith’s piece here is sinuous and exciting.

F23C1113

F23C1089

Alison Woods: “I consider myself a cyborg artist,” she laughs. “Half computer work, half human. I do a digital version first, and then I paint, I hand-cut stencils. The layers and colors, some are spray paint, some poured.” Her works look as if they’ve flown out of a kaleidoscope. “As a graphic designer, I think of shapes and behind them, their emotive energy.”

F23C1167

F23C1073

Lena Kazakova Wolek: “I’m working here in ink on yubo paper. The images are like my dreams, my insomnia. It’s hard to sleep here. I’m from a small town in Siberia, where night is like a vacuum, very quiet. But here, there is always something going on, I can hear my brain working and the sounds of the city, the freeway, the static energy. You cannot relax anywhere.” Her piece is about urban life and wakefulness, and what it means for her; the images dynamic and abstract, almost molecular.

F23C1198 F23C1199

Nadege Monchera Baer: “I take a lot of photos of trash downtown. This represents that kind of image, or the image of what it would look like after an earthquake. I draw first, then just enjoy myself painting in acrylic color. I use light and bright color to depict the detritus. This is just one of a series.” Like a series of puzzle pieces, the images are meshed together, linked.

F23C1171 F23C1056 F23C1055

Jesus Max: “These are very symbolic paintings. ‘The Curator’ is playing around with the word, which has the same root as a doctor, a healer, hence the medical items in the piece. ‘Bewitched’ is set in the same kitchen, it is about witchcraft, and there’s occult paraphernalia in it, including the little devil figure.” Beautifully hyper realistic, Max’s work offers pastel colors and rigorous attention to detail in a fantastic world.

F23C1061

Whether it’s a kitchen, a house, a street, a root, a suburban store, an insomniac’s dreams – each of the pieces in this stellar exhibit are strongly grounded in a sense of place; this place, this city. While the New York-based artists were not present for interview, their pieces were every bit as strong, focused, and, well, ‘concrete.’

F23C1081

BLAM is an on-going series of installations, with exhibitions both in LA and New York. When the inaugural exhibition ends, new shows are already planned for June and August here in the City of Angels, with a schedule of every other month expected locally.  According to Dani Dodge, an award winning installation artist active in this inaugural exhibit,  the initial show is designed to introduce the BLAM collective to the community. Visiting New York? BLAM’s East Coast edition will take place in June at the Bushwick Beaux Arts Center, and will be titled “Abstract.”

F23C1076 F23C1107 F23C1112

BLAM Los Angeles is located at 1950 S. Santa Fe Ave #207, Los Angeles, CA 90021

“Concrete” will be open 1 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays to May 1, and by appointment on weekdays.