Jodi Bonassi: LA Art Scene Mural-on-Canvas

Jodi 2 with painting

Self-taught LA artist Jodi Bonassi may just have created a master work with her “Chungking Alley” – a mural on canvas that depicts the LA Art Scene.

Now on display in the heart of Chung King Alley itself, in the backroom at Coagula Curatorial, artists, curators, regular gallery goers – they’re all here in a truly awesome piece that has elements that are reminiscent of Henri Rosseau in its cavalcade of art.

Described as an upbeat artist who creates sweetly detailed, slightly surreal drawings of iconic LA locations, children, and other human beings, Bonassi is considered an outsider artist, but one whose sophistication and warmth grows with each piece.

Bonassi notes “Chungking Alley”  represents “the path we have all chosen. The painting did not come out of an idea but more as a reflection of the LA art scene and the people who chose to be a part of it. The painting was begun in December 2015.”

Oil on canvas, the piece would be a perfect adjunct to a museum collection or for a private buyer.  Just about everyone who “is” anyone in the LA art scene is a part of this painting, whose richness requires repeated viewings to truly appreciate its complexity, detail, and profoundly inclusive sweetness.

Jodi 1 with dog pickls

“The composition is created right onto the canvas. People who have touched my life in some way, who hung out, and were in the art scene ended up in the painting. This is a painting about the art community, and how we all play together. The basketballs on the floor in the foreground represent the striving to be a part of this team. I am self taught and have exhibited in galleries and I have been published in different publications since 1991. I’ve always drawn and painted, and this is the only way that I can relate to the world.  My work stems from a desire to understand people and document my experiences through drawing and painting,”  the artist explains.

jodi at opening

Mat Gleason, curator of Coagula Curatorial, says “My impressions of the piece are that it asserts its own art historical narrative instead of submitting to academic structures and choices.”  He describes the painting as an “amazing dreamscape narrative with painterly precision.  Jodi has been around forever as have I.”
Jodi at opening 2
Does the piece immortalize Gleason and the current body of art in LA? “Immortalized in art would still require the Louvre Museum to acquire the picture,” Gleason notes.
We believe that it would be a most auspicious addition to the Louvre’s collection. In the meantime, view it at Coagula, open Wenesday through Saturday form 1-6 p.m. and on Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. The gallery is located at 974 Chung King Road in Chinatown.

Film Fest Winners at the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival

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Closing day at the Mammoth Lake Film Festival brought more fascinating films and some surprises – plus the fest’s awards ceremony.

Once again, before we get to the films, a shout out to festival programmer Paul Sbrizzi and festival director Shira Dubrovner for putting together a stellar festival that’s deliciously small now, but probably won’t stay that way. We see this fest growing exponentially each year. Our take away:  hey folks, if you’re looking for adventurous and varied cinema, and the type of experience where you can chat with the filmmakers and join in a Q & A comfortably, plan a trip next spring.

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Above, Learning to See director Jake Oelman with festival director Shira Dubrovner.

Today, two documentary features and one doc short took center stage.  Learning to See is an absolutely fascinating and personal story about the life and photography of Robert Oelman, who put aside his psychology career to move to Columbia, learn Spanish, and become a renowned photographer of obscure and often undocumented insect species in the Amazon basin. Stunning photographic images and a sweet and fascinating portrait of  filmmaker Jake Oelman’s father,  this is a vibrant, beautiful documentary that makes bugs, yes bugs, incredibly beautiful.  It also presents a cogent argument for the preserving the ecology of the rain forest.

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Appearing with Learning to See was Open Your Eyes, a touching and unique look at life in Nepal and an elderly couple whose cataracts led them to blindness, but through the efforts of the Seva Foundation, a relatively simple operation resorted their sight.  The short was created through HBO docs by Irene Taylor Brodsky who also directed the fest feature Beware the Slenderman.

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Next up was the narrative feature  Last Summer,  by Italian director Leonardo Guerra Seragnoli. Starring Rinko Kikuchi (star of Kumiko, Treasure Hunter, an indie fest favorite two years ago) as a mother forced to give up custody of her sweet six year old son, this is a moving and elegiac tribute to the resilience of the human heart.

Sonita was the closing fest film, a moving, deeply engrossing doc in which the director, Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami, becomes intimately involved in the life of 18 year old Afghan refugee Sonita Alizadeh, a talented rapper/musician whose mother plans to sell her into an arranged marriage for $9000. Heartfelt, riveting, and with the classic structure of fiction,  this festival favorite is one passionate piece of filmmaking that took Sundance by storm earlier this year.

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The fest concluded with a truly fun party at the Sierra Event Center, along with the fest awards ceremony. The awards themselves are as charming and unique as the festival: carved wooden bears.

Shorts award winners:

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Above right, Adrian Geyer

Narrative short:

Honorable Mention: Tisure, the brilliantly beautiful film shot in a remote locale in Venezuela by director Adrian Geyer. “I’m going back to m country with more inspiration,” Geyer said.  This one was my favorite short.

Winner: A Night in Tokoriki, the witty, fresh tragicomic tale of a love triangle unfolding in a small town Romanian nightclub.

Documentary/Animated short:

Honoable Mention: Night Stalker, a surreal and beautifully animated Claymation piece featuring a different dimension brought on by haunted/poisoned takeout food.

Winner:  The Second Life, a doc in which a Russian woman freezes her 91 year old mother in liquid nitrogen in the hopes of a future unfreezing and second chance at rebuilding her relationship with her mother.

Feature length winners:

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Above right, Jake Oelman with Shira Dubrovner and Kathleen and Paul Rudder.

Audience awards documentary:

Learning to See,  the poignant and exciting look at insects, photography, and a life reborn by Jake Oelman.

Presenting the award, fest sponsors Paul and Kathleen Rudder note that the filmmakers participating in the fest have “put Mammoth on the map along with festival director Shira Dubrovner and programmer Paul Sbrizzi, and we’re thrilled to have you all bringing culture and film to town.”

Audience Award narrative:

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Above, Robert Picardo (Innerspace) awards Alex Simmons (center) and Flula Borg

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Buddymoon, the hilarious buddy comedy set in the Oregon woods.  Director Alex Simmons notes “I can’t think of a better place to screen this movie about hiking in the woods than at the Forest Service theater in the woods here in Mammoth.”  Co-star Flula Borg added “We are prompt, sassy, and dope, and we love the award. We will saw it in half and share it.” This audience-pleaser was our top pick, too.

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Jury Narrative feature:

Honorable mention: Mad, for the film’s “deeply moving performances and beautifully realized drama about mental illness and the struggle to find equilibrium in a family,” as presenter John Kelly described it.

Winner: the lyrical Bodkin Ras, which combines fiction with documentary in a surprising and haunting story of a fugitive in a small Scottish town.

Jury Documentary:

Honorable mention:

Under the Sun, Vitaly Mansky’s look at North Korea through the eyes of a young girl and her family.

Winner: Sonita, the compelling tale of Afghan refugee and rapper Sonita,  and filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami’s involvement in her life.

Below the crew that made the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival happen.

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Paul and Kathleen Rudder with Jake Oelman

 

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Alex Simmons, Flula Borg, and author

 

 

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Micah Vassau, Festival Programmer Paul Sbrizzi

There you have it: the final day of the 2nd annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival. Director interviews and fest summary will be appearing  later this week. If you missed this year’s festival, don’t miss next year’s chance to see snowy mountain peaks, breathe in fresh air, acclimatize to 8000 foot elevation mountain heights, and most of all see great, eclectic filmmaking in a friendly, intimate atmosphere.

  • Genie Davis; All Photos Jack Burke

Cinema Classics New and Old: ML Film Fest Day 3

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Above: Sierra Spirit Award recipient director Joe Dante, festival founder Shira Dubrovner, actor Robert Picardo at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival

Saturday  – our third full day at the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival started with terrifically insightful and fun interviews with Alex Simmons, director of Buddymoon and star/co-writer Flula Borg. That interview, along with a great session with director Joe Dante, awarded the first annual Sierra Spirit Award, will be published separately.

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Onto the films:

First up was Bodkin Ras,  in which an isolated Scottish town becomes a temporary hiding place for a fugitive, Bodkin.  Bodkin is  the only character played by an actor, all other characters are actual inhabitants of the Scottish town. Surprising twists and turns in a beautifully evocative setting make this a must see, directed by Dutch filmmaker and writer Kaweh Modiri. The combination of documentary story telling and narrative fiction was perfectly woven, resulting in a startling conclusion as inevitable as it is shocking.

Next up,  the short film I Would Like to Be Enraptured, Muzzled and on My Back Tattooed, a powerful  Brazilian short about a woman who may prefer to die than keep on living in her highly sexualized yet anonymous world. It made a great lead in to All the Colors of the Night, another film from Brazilian cinema, directed by Pedro Severin. The surreal yet somehow wonderfully novelistic story of a woman who discovers a dead body in her apartment the morning after a party, it’s a poetic tale related by shifting and unreliable narrators, as stunningly shot as it is haunting. There’s a Bunuel-like quality to the film, which will have you considering its realities long after the credits roll.

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Director Alex Simmons, left, and film co-star Flula Borg of Buddymoon, above

Buddymoon is unabashedly my favorite film of the festival, an inspired, loose comedy about friendship, the priorities of modern life, and a hiking trip undertaken by protagonist David and his best friend Flula after David’s fiancée dumps him just before their wedding.  Witty, fresh, and perfectly paced, this is a comedy that well deserves a scheduled mainstream release July 1st. Pitch perfect acting, dialog, and a lovely use of drone cinematography results in a comedy that has depth and never gets tired.

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Above, great give away “Honey Buddy” T-shirt from the film, which was originally titled “Honeybuddies.”

Director Alex Simmons has created documentaries and music videos for bands such as Death Cab and Sigur Ros, but this is his first feature. Simmons and stars Flula Borg and David Giuntoli were once roommates in LA, who had always planned to create a film together.  Giuntoli currently stars in ABC’s Grimm, the shooting schedule for which led to the team’s decision to shoot in the Portland area where the television show is also in production.  Produced on a shoestring budget and equally limited time frame, the economies of craft do not show on the screen.

“We had a crew of six,” Simmons relates. “All of us had so many different jobs. “ Flula Borg adds, “My job was counting everyone’s jobs.”  While shooting was accomplished in just ten days, it took Simmons two years to edit. Watch for this sweet, hilarious film in both theatrical release and on iTunes;  interview with the filmmakers  coming shortly to this site.

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Above: Robert Picardo with Joe Dante

The evening brought a tribute to director Joe Dante, who started his career working in independent cinema as an editor and director for Roger Corman.  Screened was the still-fresh Innerspace, a hybrid comedy-thriller with Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Martin Short, and Robert Picardo. Crossing genres in such a thoroughly entertaining way is rarely done in mainstream cinema today, and this was a refreshing look at a purely fun genre film that was a true experience in clever storytelling.

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Following the film was the presentation of the Spirit Award to Dante, a truly iconic director. A lively discussion with Dante, actor Robert Picardo, who plays The Cowboy in Innerspace, and festival programmer Paul Sbrizzi included references to the extreme differentness of studio production today. “No one just comes up with a script  and asks if you want to make a movie. Now they come with a project, and if you’re interested, they try to raise the money with your name  attached. I prefer coming up with my own ideas and getting funded on my own. You find yourself spending so much time asking for money rather than filmmaking,” Dante says. A full interview with Dante, including his early filmmaking career in the indie world, will be appearing shortly on this site.

Summary:  arguably the strongest day of the fest so far, the ML Film Fest continues to surprise with challenging and exciting international films, a tribute to a true cinema icon, and the presentation of a comedy that is as fresh as it is funny.

It’s not too late to come up from LA or down from San Francisco and see what tomorrow’s Sunday closing has to offer. The relaxed and personal vibe of the festival creates experiences with filmmakers as comfortable as they are exciting. Cinemaphiles: take note.

  • Genie Davis; ALL PHOTOS Jack Burke

Zero Down Equals 1000% Art

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It’s time to get down with Zero Down. Coming up this Saturday, June 4th from 5-9 p.m., it’s a multi-media art experience at  the 1019WEST Art Studios in Inglewood, a cool, re-purposed workspace where over 30 artists have their studios in what was once a former Volkswagon dealership.

Stuart Marcus

The third year for this multi-media art exhibit, the evening promises a combination party and art experience, with open studios, a group show, and performance art. This single night event is a festive occasion featuring a variety of artists’ work from the 1019 Artists Studio Complex and the nearby Beacon Arts Building. Live music, installations, and stellar group exhibitions join over 20 open artist studios. Installations and group presentations will take place in hallways and common space around the site. Food and drink will be available, too – we hear there will be tacos.

Participating artists from 1019WEST are: Mira Alibek, Susan Amorde, Michee Asselin, Nina Chin, Clerio Demoraes, Jeanne Dunn, Claire Jackel, Rachel Kaster, Henry Kitchen, Stuart Marcus, Jesus Max, David Newcombe, Melanie Newcombe, David Peters, Tony de los Reyes, David Spanbock, Ernie Steiner, Lacey Stoffer, Liza Vosbigian, Pontus Wilfors, Ashley Wilson.

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Artist David Spanbock, work shown above,  is the co-founder of BLAM, a new Brooklyn/Los Angeles arts collective. Spanbock uses prismatic shapes to refract both light and color. 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.”

Installation photos by SDK Photo & Design
Installation photos by SDK Photo & Design

Above, Susan Amorde explores the human form and emotions navigating the challenges of life. Her expressionistic works are created in clay, wax, plaster, and bronze, as well as mixed media. Her recent series “Baggage” engages a highly personal theme of how the literal and figurative baggage we carry with us becomes an emblem of our lives in the emotional and metaphysical sense.  

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Above, Jesus Max creates light filled still-lifes that vibrate with meaning, poetic settings that translate into beautifully hyper realistic pieces created in often-pastel colors with rigorous attention to detail in a fantastic world.

Participating artists from Beacon Arts Building are: Brian Biedul, Darel Carey, Matthew Carey, Dosshaus, Bibi Davidson, Sue Francis, Nancy Jo Haselbacher, Shelley Heffler, Deborah Lambert, Tahnee Lonsdale, Michael Massenburg, Jen Meyer, Alexis Murray, Calida Garcia Rawles, Dawn Rosenquist, Katie Sinnott, Ginger Van Hook.

Bibi Davidson

Bibi Davidson says she wants her viewers to see the humor in life, humor necessary to existence, or “we would all die of sorrow.” Her paintings provide intense, amusing, and delightfully whimsical views of the world, as if seen through the eyes of a wise child, as sensitive as she is brilliant. Often utilizing her self-proclaimed favorite color, red, her works are different than anything you’ve ever seen, and entirely engaging.

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Artist Shelly Heffler describes her art as a “roadmap. I paint a topography that doesn’t always represent an actual location.” Heffler also works extensively in ceramics but her acrylic on canvas pieces are her primary medium at the moment, each with a 3D depth that creates a path beyond maps, grids and lines. “It goes into and beyond surface, layers, strata, land forms, time, and age. But at its core, at its inception, it evokes a sense of place,” she attests.

LA Mudpeople

Performance art by Kayla Tange, L.A. Mudpeople, Vittoria Colonna, and Elizabeth Tobias will also be a part of the evening.

The founder of L.A. Mudpeople is artist Mike Mollet, who sculpts large scale pieces created from found art, shaped into balls and bundles. Mollet’s work offers a look into a different reality, one in which what look like clay statues live and breathe, and bundles of wires move in the wind and become animated themselves.  Mollet considers his troupe of L.A. Mudpeople to function as “essentially living sculptures.” Mudpeople don’t speak, and move slowly and deliberately, as if lumps of clay had shaped themselves into human beings and literally come to life.

Kayla Tange terms her passion “in meaningful dialog, creative problem solving, collaborative projects and facilitating a unique relationship between art and audience.” To experience her vibrant yet darkly intense performance art is to become immersed in her own inner vision.

Jeanne Dunn Come Up and See Mee Sometime Michael Massenburg

To learn more and experience the work of these and other artists, visit this single night’s artistic adventure. The event is sponsored by 1019WEST/Beacon Arts Building management, Shoebox PR and Kristine Schomaker, and 1019WEST/Beacon Arts Building artists, including: Susan Amorde, Jeanne Dunn, and Deborah Lambert.

1019WEST is a dynamic complex of creative workspaces where 30 multi-disciplinary artists maintain studios.

Zero Down is located at 1019 west Manchester Blvd. in Inglewood. Walk-in entrance only on West Manchester and Hindry Avenue. Get on down.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Shoebox PR