September Art Swirl

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Like falling leaves from autumn trees elsewhere in the country, in Los Angeles, the vibrant colors of art in a wide variety of permutations is fluttering down on the City of Angels. Here’s a brief look at some recent shows:

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The light-filled sculptures of Brad Howe and the astronomy-as-art acrylics and mixed media work of Susan Woodruff create an exciting show in Properties of Light, at La Ciegena’s George Billis Gallery.

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The pairing of these artists has created a visually uplifting exhibition, reflective and immersive. Entering the gallery, there’s an immediate sensation of walking onto another planet – one in which glowing light suffuses the almost sentient stainless steel sculpture of Howe, and Woodruff’s abstract cosmos-evoking works. Afterward, you may want to go watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again. A beautiful show.

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Other beauties are also available on Culver City’s art row – with so many galleries hosting openings in one night, the 10th, we joined the crowd in essentially trick or treating for art, and found one of art’s coveted giant Hershey bars (well, that was always what I coveted when I trick or treated) at Edward Cella, where Jun Kaneko’s Mirage drew gaping pleasure. A site-specific installation of nine separate large scale canvases, the titular piece unfolds into 63 feet of dazzling color vibrating in lines that shift from golds and yellows to oranges and reds. His ceramic works, some diminutive and one towering at 7 feet in height, exhibit the artist’s signature, meticulous, ceramic process in black and white.

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Intriguing, Matisse-like works in thick, puzzle-piece like shapes was the order of the day at Zevitas Marcus,  where Andrew Masullo’s exhibition Pretty Pictures and Other Disasters, is all about bold color, straight-from-the-tube paint, that grabs the eye and the imagination.

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And at Honor Fraser, Ry Rocklen: L.A. Relics,  are diverse and clever. With mirrored backing, the artist creates two-sided sculptures that form incisive and delightful works based on his own personal possessions. A wonderfully whimsical show that also offers stirring insight into the every day world.

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In Chinatown, check out Raven Servellon’s Velvet Sunflower at
Coagula Curatorial through early October. Intensely colorful, shaped from stenciled images on handmade cutouts, each minutely detailed pop-art piece encourages repeated viewing, as new images surprise, surfacing from the depth of these absorbing works.

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Just down Chun King Alley from Coagula is Glenn Goldberg’s Somewhere at the Charlie James Gallery. Painted in pastels, these sweet images of birds, dogs, and other beings are designed, according to the artist, to make viewers feel lighter and happier. “A lot of artists put their finger on the problems of the world. I’m looking more to provide a gift or offering.”

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As to his subjects, he notes that his choice of bird images are both designed to evoke the freedom of flight and the poignant limitations on their lives, while his dog images represent the idea of a “friendly, domesticated protector.”  This is lovely work, that both soothes the soul and expands it.

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Over at CB1 Gallery in the warehouse arts district, Mira Schor’s War Frieze (1991 – 1994) and “Power” Frieze share space with a retrospective of Tom Knechtel’s work, The Reader of His Own Self.  Schor’s earlier work War Frieze is a strong companion to Power Frieze, with the former taking on the subject of the military, the recent, large scale works on paper with today’s political agendas.

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While inspired by African sculpture both artistically and philosophically, Schor’s work also reminds one a bit of Modigliani – the long, long-figured works created on tracing paper in rolls also evokes Japanese scrolls.

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“I’ve only worked in this degree of figuration and scale for the last year, except for figurative life size pieces I created in the 70s and 80s,” she says.

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Knechtel’s retrospective ranges from the present all the way back to 1979. The beautiful and carefully drawn graphite works and prints tackle a variety of subjects including self-image; when asked which piece was his favorite in the collection, he laughed.

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“That’s like asking a mother which of her kids is her favorite,” he said. Overall each piece presents strong texture that seems tactile, regardless of subject.

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Across the city in Santa Monica’s Bergamont Station, don’t miss Chilean artist Rebecca Puga’s lines and geometric shapes at Sloan Projects, a collection of her New Paintings in oil. “They are all related to specific spaces, to the time of day. I didn’t even realize this. When I saw the titles of paintings here, it occurred to me that these were all about ideas of space and time, and that brings meaning to our lives.” And to her abstract works.

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Also at Bergamont, at Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Tran T. Le’s In Transition and Trygve Faste’s Op-Tech each offer superlative abstractions. Le says of her work, “This exhibition represents me going back to my roots, being a Vietnamese American, and a woman, going through changes in my life, which include a divorce after eighteen years. The paintings are each very different, you can see the transition between each painting. The lines keep me grounded and help me meditate.”

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Lovely and lyrical work by both artists.

If this isn’t enough to keep you going through the next weeks, don’t worry, we’ll have more soon!

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke, Genie Davis, and many thanks to George Billis, Coagula, Charlie James for supplementing our photos. 

 

 

 

 

 

CB 1 Gallery: Images Layered and Exposed

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Above: Annelie McKenzie with her painting, “Elk Bum Scene.”

Two artists tackle the meaning of art and the meaning of life at CB1 Gallery in DTLA through July 17th.

Annelie McKenzie’s “Man in Canoe and Grizzly,” tackles the meaning of art, literally adding layers of of meaning to paintings she has reinterpreted in a re-imagining of a museum exhibition of Old Masters.

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“It’s a common practice of artists to do master copies to learn, but here, I’m reproducing works as my final pieces. I chose works by mostly Canadian, female artists,” McKenzie says. “I choose paintings tha are meaningful to me and then I’ll transform them with layers of built-up paint. It’s similar to a musical artist covering songs written by other artists, a re-interpretation,” she explains.

The exhibition’s title piece is based on a 1960 work of the same name by Canadian artist Gladys Johnston, an artist from British Columbia discovered by McKenzie in a catalog. McKenzie visited her studio and painted from the original work rather than a copy. “She was an outsider artist and icon to me,” McKenzie says.

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Canadian born and LA-based, the artist includes decorative frames made of caulking and gesso along with her paintings reinterpreting the original works.

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Created in oil, these canvasses have an enormous depth due to the artist’s practice of working with dry paint layers over time.  “I’ve always done mostly thick impasto work. But here I make my recreation by building the work with paint.”

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In “After My Mom’s One Painting,” McKenzie makes use of a painting done by her mother which was going to be thrown away. The still life she recreates is alive with color and swimming in the depth of paint that is 3-dimensional in its layered thickness.

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Also at CB1 is Susan Silas’ “the self portrait sessions.” Silas is taking on the meaning of life, aging, our own space and place in the world. Using photographs, bronze, and beeswax sculptures she presents an intimate exploration of self-portraiture in this era of selfies.

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Silas positions herself in front of a large mirror, examining herself and how she “reflects” in the outside world. Work in this exhibition looks at aging, narcissism, and aging, and intimacy.  In the show are photographic works from the late 70s through 2012, with castings created from 1992 to 2015.

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Above: Susan Silas with a large scale, color self-portrait using a mirror.

“The theme of aging has been around, and that of self-intimacy and public space, the disappearance of interiority, and how to navicage the question of narcissism. Women tend to demur and defer even now, so in a way, these works are about taking up a certain space in public. Narcissus was male, he was self-contained in a way, with his appreciation of himself. Women are taught that kind of self-observation is not okay,” she notes.

Throughout her work, Silas tackles “three major themes, sexuality, the Holocaust, and dead and decaying birds,” as well as these self-images. On display here are white photos of plaster casts, color photos involving the use of mirrors, casts of her face, beeswax, and bronze sculptures.

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What do we see in ourselves? What does the world see? These seem to be the root questions in Silas’ art, much as for McKenzie, the underlying questions appear to be what do we see in art? What layers can we expose or add to the meaning of art.

While the artists are very different in subject and approach, both have universal questions, themes worth exploring and uncovering, as well as works that are thought-provoking, beautiful, and memorable.

CB1 is located at 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

  • Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke

The Antarctic Dreams of Lily Simonson

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“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.

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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

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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

CB1 Gallery: Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia – Plegarias

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The Spanish title of Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia’s solo show at CB1 refers to the vernacular for prayer. A devout Christian, Segovia seeks to present truly Christian based contemporary art distanced from right wing politics and secularization.

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“Being a liberal, young, contemporary Christian, it seemed to me that there was a window in which to revitalize the conversation about Christianity. There are so many traditions and theologies to draw from,” he notes.

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“The setting of this sculpture, Eye of God, references prayer banners set up in chapel settings,” the Juarez-born artist relates.

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It’s unusual to see modern art infused with religious vitality. There’s nothing old school or conservative in Segovia’s message or his work. Fusing the vibrant colors of Mexico with golden tones that draw comparison to images of religious icons and traces of Aztec culture, Segovia freshens the genre of religious art with sweeping complexity.

CB1 is located 1923 S. Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021; the exhibition runs through December 19th.

  • Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke