When Line Becomes Form: Brand Library Gallery Liberates

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A soaring show filled with powerful figures and shapes, When Line Becomes Form is an elegant, measured spiritual odyssey. Featuring the art work of Mark Acetelli, Dirk Hagner, Cindy Jackson, Grey James, Joanna Kidd and Miles Lewis, the expressionistic exhibition roams from sculpture to painting and drawing, touching all points between them.

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Pasadena based painter Mark Acetelli works in oils and encaustics, layering his canvasses in a kind of emotional abstraction.  His figures are ghost-like, souls in migration, images to which the viewer imparts the more concrete elements. Lush and dreamy, these works wander through the mind and take root there, wavering in an emotional wind.

Brand line 2Dirk Hagner uses traditional mediums to create uniquely modern portraits of literary and political subjects. Iconic figures and those whose images just appear familiar are portrayed through a series of large-scale woodblock portraiture. Hagner’s highly stylized works are seemingly elegaic, poignant and cool, involving yet carefully nuanced.

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The late Cindy Jackson’s large scale and absolutely magnificent sculptures here are brimming with life. The artist noted that viewers should “Look deeply into my work and you’ll see that it is not about the figure itself, but about the internal emotional worlds that sit within those boundaries.” The entwined and exaggerated shapes of her very-much-alive figures soar through the space they inhabit. It would be impossible for a viewer to not stand beside these figures in awe of their spiritual depth. These are souls frozen in sculpted bodies, to which Jackson pays tribute. The internationally recognized and award-winning artist has created sublime works that serve as a legacy for her own indomitable spirit. To a large extent, these pieces are the center of the exhibit, from which other works spiral out and in, line having fully become form in her works.

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Glendale-based artist Grey James’ offers paintings and mixed media, personal, involving accounts of transition both physical and emotional. James creates moving transgender icons, intimate and appealing; a universal sense of beauty and change in these images going far beyond the borders of sexual definition. The works have the quality of religious paintings, a reverence that the viewer finds palpable.

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Joanna Kidd’s work forms a different sort of transition: that between the sculptural and painting. Her bas relief portraits are raised in high relief, shaping a highly dimensional, caught-in-motion quality to each portrait.  The faces she depicts are detailed and alive, shifting in light and in the viewers relationship to the images, so that they seem to be watching and watchful. Her art contains something quite intensely, universally human, the capture of a living being for a fraught moment in time.

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Miles Lewis considers himself a life-drawing artist. Drawing is the medium he uses to shape figures that are fluid and resonant; delicately textured, these works on paper seem ready to shape-shift into something more dimensional. These are carefully wrought creations, studies that make it seem possible they may morph into flesh and blood.

Over all, this exhibit is all about life: the lines that become form are the strands of DNA that create existence. The art is a part of the wonder and artistry of a spiritual universe, a new way of creating the real; expressionist art that expresses the most powerful and graceful embodiment of art itself – the human form, the human spirit.

The show runs through September 1st. The Brand Art Gallery is located at 1601 W. Mountain Street in Glendale.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis


Primo is Prime Italian South Bay Style



The beach cities south of LAX have too-long languished without a wide choice of fine dining experiences. But that’s all changed now, with a bevy of epicurean delights springing up all over the South Bay.

Among them is Primo, a homey, welcoming, yet upscale setting with warm staff and authentic Italian cuisine. Proud of it’s many imported Italian ingredients, the restaurant offers something for everyone, from delicate pizzas to hearty fish and meat dishes.


Innovative chef Michelangelo Aliaga decided to move to the beach cities with his wife and family after the birth of his twins. “In the process – some may say it was fate, that the opportunity to be a part of Primo’s start and growth presented itself and it was too good to pass up. What we do every day is more than just cooking. Each dish has our passion, our energy, and our love for Italian food,” he asserts. “We’re passionate about each product that we bring from Italy.  Many of the ingredients that we use in our dishes, such as our olive oil,  prosciutto, cheeses in all their varieties, and salamis, take months or even years to produce. That kind of devotion to food and its history is an experience told not by the chef but by all the people that make the ingredients are the best of the world, ‘the artisan producers.'”
So with these ingredients in mind, how was the kitchen? Our meal began with craft cocktails that were light and refreshing, a great accompaniment to the fresh, hot bread and imported olive tapenade.
A starter of octopus served over sliced tomatoes and potatoes provided a terrific contrast in textures, the cold cooked potatoes and thinly sliced tomatoes offering an excellent base for the tender yet chewy fish.
The Cesare Salad featured whole, fresh anchovies along with a lovely, savory dressing. The quality of the cheese shavings was also excellent.
Our first course was a thin crust pizza with goat cheese and imported Pecorino, salty and yet refined, with a crust that had the slightly chewy yet light texture of the dough, which had a hint of sweetness.
Our secondi focused once again on the sea. My salmon with pistachio crust came with broccolini and fingerling potatoes; it was juicy and ample, a superior cut of fish that was fresh and flavorful.
The signature Brodo di Pesce had a rich and spicy broth, tomato based, that served as a richly nuanced contrast to generously portioned chunks of tender fish, crab legs, and mussels. Again, a generous portion with plenty of texture and flavor. The crisp bread accompanying the dish was just right to soak up the last of the broth.
Dessert was a highlight: house made, fresh spumoni gelato – gelato flavors change nightly. Along with chocolate, strawberry, and pistachio, vanilla was added to the traditional spumoni flavors.
The personable staff made the meal feel well-attended, but not rushed. Come for the food with its fresh, carefully curated ingredients, for the convivial atmosphere, and the dedication to innovative renderings of classic dishes in the kitchen. Primo is primed for success in the beach cities.
Primo is located at 24590 Hawthorne Boulevard in Torrance.

Durden and Ray Collaborate

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Just closed at Durden and Ray, Simultaneous Contrast offered a fresh and provocative look at texture and line, with works positioned in a perfectly balanced counterpoint of color and pattern from one another. Indeed, the exhibition served as an inclusive, vibrant installation as much as a display of singularly cool works of art.

The exhibition, an exchange show with Chicago’s LVL3 gallery, features three Los Angeles artists and two Chicago artists in a show of abstract paintings that were created and curated to “symbolize the current violent swings of thought across the country regarding America’s simultaneous utopia and dystopia,” according to the exhibition’s notes.

However, visually, the show compelled on a level that goes beyond politics or symbolism. The colors and textures, the rich and the absorbing designs, all served as a kind of kaleidoscope of palette and pattern.

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Curated by Durden and Ray member Curtis Stage and LVL3 member Adam Scott, LA artists Roberta Gentry, Nano Rubio, and Chris Trueman are joined by Zoe Nelson and Adam Scott from Chicago. The counterpart of this show in Chicago is scheduled for October.

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From Chris Trueman’s lush, almost watery abstract splashes, swatches, and hypnotic swipes of color…

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…to Adam Scott’s prismatic, deeply grooved and textured works, Simultaneous Contrast did just that, offering a sense of immediacy and a vibrant counterpoint.

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Nano Rubio’s incredible, precise lines and patterns support what Rubio calls “the idea of trickery, that things can change your perception.”Durden July 15 nelson

Zoe Nelson’s amorphous forms and shapes are edged with surrealism, a balancing act of floating rhythms of color.

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Roberta Gentry’s intense, almost psychedelic prismatic works were in short, fascinatingly different and yet intertwined. They’re dreamscapes in a way, and the viewer nearly falls into a rabbit hole just watching them.

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The pairings of paintings and positioning of works across the gallery from each other, created a dialog of sorts, one that set the eye and mind buzzing.

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Like puzzle pieces, the artworks fit together and danced alone, interwoven and dazzling, each and together.

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As always, Durden and Ray‘s dedication to the different did not disappoint.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Genie Davis and Curtis Stage


Day Trippin’ – When You Just Want to Get Away from LA

Seven Magic Mountains

Los Angeles isn’t just an urban wonderland, it’s a wonderland with proximity to easy day trip escapes. It’s a cliche that you can be skiing in the mountains in the morning and surfing on the beach in the afternoon – and yet, it’s a cliche that’s actually true, too.

Here are a few ideas for fast getaways  – and some of the activities that make those getaways fantastic fun. 


Big Bear Lake

Kitschy carved wooden bears? Check. Terrific mountain views? Check. A beautiful big lake for boating? Check again. And of course, when those mountain views are snowy, there’s skiing too – just a little over two hours from DTLA. Castle Rock Trail offers beautiful views and some unique rock formations. Check out the charming Big Bear Alpine Zoo, a rehabilitation facility offering injured, orphaned and imprinted wild animals a safe haven; 90% of all the animals are successfully released back into their native environment. Browse the eclectic shops in the heart of Big Bear Village, taste Nepalese cuisine at the Himalayan Restaurant, or join the nightly karaoke fun at Murray’s Saloon and Eatery. Want to stay overnight? There are plenty of cozy cabins, sleek condos, and even seven public campgrounds. 

c 2090 Renee Silverman Temecula August 2009


Mountains not your thing? Try the rolling wine country of the Temecula Valley about a two hours southeast of LA. Lush vineyards and equally lush bed and breakfasts abound; tasting tours, weekend concerts, and beautiful spots to picnic are all a part of the winery scene here. Callaway, one of the largest, offers splendid views of a rolling terroir. Experience the wow of a hot hair balloon ride or visit the new gastropub in Old Town Temecula, Crush & Brew – just like it’s name suggests, there’s both local wines and local craft beer on tap.

National Forest Joshua Tree Joshua Tree Rocks Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Climb giant boulders, experience the otherworldly landscape, walk the gentle path through the fuzzy Cholla Cactus garden, or enjoy the stunning outsider art at the Noah Purifoy Foundation outdoor museum near by. In the spring, the desert blooms with wildflowers; and any time of year, you’ll thrill to the vast vista from Key’s Point. You’ll want to find the somewhat elusive trail to Samuelson’s Rocks, where an eccentric miner and farmer carved Biblical and political sayings before this land was parkland; or take a guided rock climbing course and learn to belay with the best. Of course there are more than several other amazing things to see and do, from the meditative Integraton Sound Bath to the terrific music scene at Pappy & Harriet’s just down the road in Pioneer Town.


Las Vegas

After the solitude of Joshua Tree, perhaps you’re looking for something with a little more action? Las Vegas is a longer trek, but the under-five-hour drive has grown a little more interesting these days with some outsider art stops along the way, including Ugo Rondinone’s vibrantly colored installation, Seven Magic Mountains.

Seven Magic Mountains

The bright colors of the rock sculpture sponsored by the Nevada Museum of Art and New York’s Art Production Fund, the installation makes the perfect vivid intro to the neon brightness of Vegas itself. An online reference for all things betting and gaming states that brick-and-mortar casinos ruled the world of gambling for centuries, but have since ceded to online gaming options. But the eye-popping fun of splashy theatrical acts, high end restaurants, luxury spas, and luxury shops – as well as themed “world travel” experiences such as Italy at The Venetian casino and hotel or Times Square in the heart of the New York New York casino and hotel – not to mention, Paris, Monte Carlo, and fine art and stunning gardens at the Bellagio – are a huge draw. Don’t want to get behind the wheel after a night of high rolling? There is always a deal to be had on an overnight stay or a weekend fling in Las Vegas.


San Diego

Two and a half hours from downtown Los Angeles, another wonderful SoCal city awaits. San Diego is a sprawling and bright mix of great beaches, charming history, and world-class museums. Find seaside amusement park fun at Pacific Beach; flower gardens in Carlsbad, sea caves and pine-studded trails in La Jolla, which is also home to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Don’t forget Legoland, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo, either. Enjoy superb Italian cuisine in Little Italy; exciting nightlife in the Gaslamp District; beautiful bay views, and the white sand beaches and classic Hotel Coronado on Coronado Island.

So if you’re ready to get away from LA for the day – there are plenty of reasons to go.

  • Guest Post with Genie Davis