Gallery 825: Countenance Divine plus Stellar Solo Shows


Above, from The Shrine of Stolen Identities

The Los Angeles Art Association’s Gallery 825 often hits it out of the art ballpark with their well-curated solo and group shows. Running through November 18th, the La Cienega gallery offers three solos and one group show that is definitely a home run.

In the front room, Countenance Divine is a multi-media exploration of portraiture in art. Ranging from photography to graceful watercolors, the show was juried by Rick Royale.  Participating artists include Robin Adsit, Robyn Alatorre, Susan Arena, Donna Bates, Maria Bjorkdahl, Ivan Bridges, Annie Clavel, Allan Denolo, Tina Frugoli, Rob Grad, Vicky Hoffman, Brittany Hutchinson, Lynda Keeler, Coolen M. Kelly, Gershon Kreimer, Campbell Laird, Jun jii Le, Theodosia Marchant, Lena Moross, Malka Nedivi, Julio Panisello, Justin Robinson, Ann Marie Rousseau, Sheli Silverio, Howard Steenwyk, Susan Swihart, Jane Szabo, Devin Thor, Ariel Vargassal, Iben G. Vestergaard, Peter Walker, and Diane Williams.


Lena Moross, whose method of working is usually to create a series on a specific subject, was captivated by the Carmine Messina after meeting him, heavily made-up and dressed in women’s clothing, on a Hollywood street corner. Through that meeting, Moross began to explore, with her subject, what it means to be transgender. Exhibited here is a piece from that series, “Red Pillows,” delicately drawn and vibrantly colored. Using watercolor and ink, Moross has created a intimate and sensual painting that respects and pays tribute to Carmine’s story.


According to fine arts photographer Jane Szabo, “Photographs of dresses made from familiar objects such as coffee filters and road maps, suggest a persona, and become a stand in for myself.” This is a unique version of the self-portrait, which invites viewers to form their connections and myths.  The digital photography archival pigment print displayed here is “Money,” from her series Reconstructing Self.  The money dress and money beneath it is a fascinating stand-in for that part of the artist that must, as we all must, seek renumeration for our work to thrive.


Robyn Alatorre’s “Canto VI,” oil and ink on canvas is a portrait of a different sort, one that is as controversial as it is riveting.  Alatorre calls her work “feminist, subversive, and obsessed with color.” The neo-surrealist here depicts a couple with fingers in their throats, attempting an antedote to gluttony.

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Malka Nedivi’s “The Bride” is embelmatic of her work as a painter, sculptor, and collage artist.  Nedivi says that all of her work is inspired by her mother, and both her parents’ previously unknown past as Holocaust survivors. Nedivi’s work uses a great deal of wood and fabric. Here, the large scale mixed media on canvas work features a bride whose bountiful skirt is the color of autumn leaves, and asserts in its own passionate way a presentation on the passage of time.


Diane Williams photographic work, a photo from the performance of “Monsters & Aliens #2” is a look at just who we are and what we hide behind; Sheli Silverio offers a beautifully drawn watercolor and oil, “Sharing Cereal” that evokes an untold intimacy.


Annie Clavel’s lush watercolor on paper, “Lui,” differs from the work we’ve been familiar with that features mixed media on canvas paintings and a preference for the abstract.  Here we have a narrative figure, a profile portrait that is both haunting and pastoral.

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Moving on to the solo shows on exhibit, Zeal Harris offers a series of stunning works created in dye sublimition on fabric. Home Remedies for Driving While Black is both political and poignant, an autobiographical and biographical statement that has universal reach. Dealing with the intensely pertinent subject matter of police brutality, police killings, and racial profiling, Harris approaches the weightiness of her sculpture with a delicate, light touch, one that resembles the creation of banners, tapestries, and animation cels.

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Her deftly accessible style draws viewers into a world that they may not personally know, but which her incisive commentary virtually insists they become immersed in. A raw and riveting show.


In the middle room, Bibi Davidson’s The Girl in the Red Dress continues the artist’s use of her intense primary color scheme and an alternative universe in which her stand-in, her “girl” represents the artist herself. Davidson’s work always enthralls: for more on this stunning solo show, read the details on the artist’s movement into some incredible three dimensional works at Art and Cake.

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The Shrine of Stolen Identities explores the diversity that exists far beyond our collective obsession with celebrity culture. The collaborative duo “steph ‘n snez,” artists Stephanie Sydney and Snezana Saraswati Petrovic offer an immersive multi-media installation designed to dazzle with an homage to unknown artists who made the trek to Hollywood seeking fame and fortune, and to their unique individualism.

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A performance component was a highlight of the opening October 15th, and will be offered again on Saturday October 29th, when at 4 pm, will enact a 15-minute performance,  a re-imagining of a Buddhist sand mandala producing a glittering replication of a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on a mirrored table. The artists wish the Buddhist ritual of impermanence to speak to the impermanence of the values that our celebrity-obsessed culture indulges.

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So — go for one, go for all. Gallery 825, located at 825 S. La Cienega has a divine countenance indeed this month.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke



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