WeHo Artes Starts “In West Hollywood”

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The City of West Hollywood is celebrating the Getty Foundation initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA with WeHo Artes.  This special program encompasses exhibitions funded by The Getty, and additional original projects featuring Latin American and Latino art presented by the city of West Hollywood. Celebrated throughout West Hollywood, WeHo Artes events are about to start soaring. With an exciting exhibition of works by Ramiro Gomez and David Feldman, presented in association with the Charlie James Gallery, and an interactive, site-specific theater piece, Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta, as centerpieces, there’s no lack of fantastic arts events in the program, which is presented with the support of the City of West Hollywood’s  WeHo Arts  program.

On Wednesday the 23rd, WeHo Artes events kick off with the opening reception for In West Hollywood, the work of Gomez and Feldman.

In West Hollywood is not Gomez’ first project with the city of West Hollywood. In 2012, the artist worked on Install: WeHo, an LGBTQ pop-up art village that included the artist’s creation of large cardboard cut-outs that included movers, a couch, and a valet. Even before his official collaboration with the city, Gomez had made visual waves placing cardboard cut-out figures around West Hollywood, art focusing on the “invisible” workers such as gardeners. After installation, Gomez left the pieces where they were placed, symbols of the forgotten work of domestic laborers. A West Hollywood resident, the artist is well known for addressing immigration issues, and illuminating the domestic labor forces around Los Angeles. Photographic artist and filmmaker Feldman, his collaborator on the upcoming In West Hollywood, documented the cutouts, and these unique photos are a part of the new exhibition.  Feldman’s  short film Los Olvidades covered Ramiro Gomez’s creation and installation of a work in Arizona’s Sonoran desert, and was the winner of the Oxford Film Festival in 2015.

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Above: (c) 2015 Ramiro Gomez, “Mulholland Drive: On the Road to David’s Studio (after David Hockney’s Mullholland Drive: The Road to the Studio, 1980)

With Gomez and Feldman’s work presented together in this new exhibition, the installation serves as a powerful and impactful statement on the influence of Latin America in the culture and art of Los Angeles. Included in the exhibition will be a never-before-seen commissioned painting from Gomez. Adding to the reception celebration is the live music of Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, the world’s first LGBTQ mariachi group. The reception and exhibition will be held at the West Hollywood Library.

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Photo credit: Otis Woods

Another WeHo Artes highlight is the commissioned performance of the Rogue Artists Ensemble’s interactive, site-specific theater performance, Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta.  Using a heady mix of tall-tales, puppets, masks, and music, the play celebrates the 75th anniversary of the 1942 book Señor Plummer: The Life and Laughter of an Old-Californian.  Written by former Los Angeles Times writer John Preston Buschlen, the book documents interviews with Eugene Plummer, or Don Eugenio, a Spanish-American pioneer whose family once owned 942 acres of land in the area. Considered West Hollywood’s first resident, Don Eugenio is a fascinating, larger than life figure. Rogue Artists will workshop the play with an open rehearsal on August 19,  and offer performances with full readings, sets and costumes August 24-26th in Plummer Park,  the site of Don Eugenio’s last residence.

Of course, WeHo Artes offers other stellar programming as well, with PST LA/LA Getty Foundation-Funded Projects sited in West Hollywood presented by LAND, LAXART, ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives, and MAK Center for Art and Architecture.

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Photo credit: Sense of Place Artist Render, Estudio Jose Dávila, 2017

Jose Dávila’s Sense of Place presented by LAND, the Los Angeles Nomadic Division, is a commissioned work by the Guadalajara-based artist, a multi-site, large-scale, public sculpture exhibition which invites viewers into an experiential view of LA’s diverse urban landscape. The work paints a portrait of the city’s experiences, geographies, and histories.  A nine-foot square interactive sculpture made up of 40 unique modular forms will be installed in West Hollywood Park, with an opening on September 16th. The sculptural work will be disassembled and reconfigured at three different public sites during the exhibition, which runs through May 2018.  With each reimagining, scheduled for November, January, and March,  the piece will take on a changed functional shape. It will return to both its original whole cube shape and the West Hollywood Park location in April 2018. The piece is Dávila’s largest public work, and his first major exhibition in Los Angeles.

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Pável Aguilar, Retransmisión (Retransmission), 2011. Color video. Courtesy Pável Aguilar

LAXART presents Video Art in Latin America, the first substantive U.S. survey on this subject, moving from the late 1960s to the present. The exhibition will be held at LAXART’s Santa Monica Blvd. location. The show moves from early video experiments in South America expressing dissent in an era of repressive military regimes, to the ways in which contemporary video artists discuss subjects such as labor, ecology, migration, and issues of identity and the consequences of social inequality. These single-channel video programs will be accompanied by a selection of dimensional environmental video installations.

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Photo credit: ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives Gallery

Also on tap for WeHo Artes will be Axis Mundo: Queer Networks in Chicano LA, presented by ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives Gallery at the USC Libraries and exhibited at the ONE Gallery, West Hollywood and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles’ Pacific Design Center September 9 to December 31, 2017. Co-curated by C. Ondine Chavoya, professor of art and Latina/o studies at Williams College, and David Evans Frantz, curator at ONE Archives, the exhibition features over 40 LGBTQ and Chicano artists with experimental works in a variety of mediums. Pieces created between the 1960s and early 1990s include works by LGBTQ and Chicano artists, many of whom passed away due to the AIDS crisis. Artist Edmundo “Mundo” Meza (1955-1985), who collaborated with many of the featured artists, will be a focal point of the exhibition.

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Photo credit: MAK Center for Art and Architecture

And at the Mak Center for Art and Architecture’s Schindler House,  How to Read El Pato Pascual: Disney’s Latin America and Latin America’s Disney will be presented by MAK Center for Art and Architecture and Luckman Gallery at Cal State L.A. Over 150 works by 48 Latin American artists challenge nearly 100 years of cultural influence between Latin America and Disney. The exhibition, curated by writer and filmmaker Jesse Lerner and artist Rubén Ortiz-Torres explores the idea that there are no clean boundaries between art, culture, and geography. The large scale exhibition will have its reception at Schindler House September 9th, and will be split between that location and the Luckman Gallery on the Cal State LA campus.

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Photo credit: MAK Center for Art and Architecture

The Chase, a large-scale multi-piece sculpture is created by Los Angeles-based artist HACER, and will be installed on Santa Monica Boulevard east of Doheny Drive; and later in the year, Queer Califas: LA Latinx Art, will open in November at Plummer Park’s Long Hall.  Both projects are part of the City’s Art of the Outside public art program. 

For more information on WeHo Artes: http://weho.org/residents/weho-arts-and-culture/west-hollywood-celebrates-pacific-standard-time-2017

For more information on PST LA/LA, an inclusive and wide-ranging exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles held throughout Southern California, and supported by the Getty Foundation, visit: http://www.pacificstandardtime.org/ 

In West Hollywood, an exhibition of works by West Hollywood-based artists Ramiro Gomez and David Feldman will be shown at the West Hollywood Library (625 N. San Vicente Blvd., 90069) The opening reception will be August 23 from 7-9PM; the event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required; to RSVP, contact: nschonwetter@weho.org.

Señor Plummer’s Final Fiesta will be performed at an open rehearsal August 19,  (drop in anytime between 1-4PM), and performances with full readings, sets and costumes on August 24, 25 and 26 at 7PM in Plummer Park(7377 Santa Monica Blvd., 90046) – the site of Don Eugenio’s last residence.  Seating is limited; to reserve tickets RSVP at https://www.rogueartists.org/senor-plummers-final-fiesta – guests are asked to pay what they can to join the fiesta, with a suggested minimum donation of $5.00.

  • Genie Davis; photos courtesy of the city of West Hollywood

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chinatown Art Scene: March Edition

 

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Chinatown has more cool art than dim sum these days. Last Saturday night, the opening receptions for a bevy of terrific shows filled Chung King Road with art lovers. There was a live band in the plaza, and the red paper lanterns glowed overhead, but the real events were inside a quartet of great galleries.

At The Good Luck Gallery, running through April 2nd, the imaginative found-art sculptures of Willard Hill dance across shelves and tables. Tenessee resident Hill worked in restaurants in his hometown of Manchester from the age of 17 to 63. Twenty years ago, he began creating sculptures crafted from others’ detritus. Today, retired, he shows no sign of stopping. A flood of creativity pours from his hands and heart.

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Hill uses foil, hangars, plastic bags, tooth picks, and cotton balls, among other commonplace discards, shaping them into ingenious and charming sculptures that tell beautifully realized stories.F23C9777

The pieces are lighthearted, but poignant. There’s a yearning in the figures, a longing for movement. F23C9776

A carnival of imaginative figures dance, pull carts, ride horse drawn conveyances, sing around a piano. There’s an immediacy and intimacy to his work that makes these figures spring to life. A viewer could imagine these pieces inhabiting a living world of their own when the lights go out and the gallery closes. F23C9773

Hill has crafted a world that’s colorful, bright, and slightly surreal. His use of found objects adds to the power of his pieces. He’s crafted so much from so little. This quintessential outsider artist has made literally thousands of pieces. The sheer scope of his work is astounding, the emotion captured in each piece literally shines.F23C9769

A very different show awaits viewers at the Charlie James Gallery. On display through April 9th, artist Guy Richards Smit presents A Mountain of Skulls and Not One I Recognize, a series he completed in just under a year. “I just constantly have a need to comment on things, even on the most basic image, like that of a skull,” Smit remarks.

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Smit has crafted a mock newspaper with headlines that amusingly mock current events, public figures, and social cliches. Brilliantly satirical, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, Smit is a force to be reckoned with, read, and watched.

His skull series was created as a response to a trip to Bohemia and a visit to a church made of skulls and bones when he was in his 20s. “I could imagine each skull having had a fight with a landlord or a lover. I’ve held onto to those images. Sometimes my captions are mundane, and some have bigger messages.”F23C9751His skulls feature captions that describe human types and behaviors. Each skull, like each person, is unique – in color, shape, and physical characteristics. The works, created in watercolor and gouache, are as haunting – a treatise on the ephemeral quality of life – as they are amusing. F23C9750

At Coagula Curatorial , the first solo show by New York based artist Emma Sulkowicz, Self Portrait, is a riveting portrait of the artist as – a sculpture.

The 23-year-old artist will be taking her place on a platform during regular gallery hours for the first three weeks of the show, which runs through April 3rd. The experience of communing with artist, sculpture, and 3D printed replica is quite profound. What dimension do we exist in?

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Above, Sulkowicz herself is on display, positioned on a pedestal and answering questions posed by viewers.

Below, In-Action Figure, a 3D-printed replica of the artist representing her past experience with the media, flattening her image.

 

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On opening night, viewers were able to interact with the artist, and ask her questions on just about any subject they liked. Except those that objectified her.F23C9740

Objectifying questions could be posted to Emmatron, a life-size, and life-like sculpture on an adjoining pedestal. Viewers interact with Emmatron through an app,  programmed so that the sculptural figure can answer a series of pre-set questions. F23C9733

At the Gregorio Escalante Gallery, perfect, minute, rotating doll house displays take viewers into a world of madness, survival, and whimsy – all at the same time. Running through March 27th, Michael Criley’s “Dr. Awkward’s Clinical Findings on the Back Wards,” plunges viewers down an Alice-in-Wonderland rabbit hole of sanity and insanity.

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Criley was inspired by closed state mental hospitals in Lima, Ohio, and Weston, West Virginia. His mixed media creations tell the dark tale of a doctor and his abandoned patients. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. But not the ability to laugh, relate, and connect.

 

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An imaginary doctor’s insane dissertation on insanity, the mechanical gizmos here are madly magical.

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Containing equal parts of whimsy and terror, the miniatures, collages, sculptures, and dioramas of Criley’s work will have viewers thinking a long time. Or perhaps it’s time to stop thinking, lest your mind play any number of tricks that lead you to an urban legend of a mental hospital gone mad. F23C9704 F23C9702 F23C9697 F23C9696

Provocative, fascinating, and different indeed – those are the four exhibitions that opened fresh last weekend. Hold the egg rolls – order instead a quadruple helping of awesome art in DTLA’s Chinatown gallery row.

  • Genie Davis, All photos: Jack Burke

A Saturday Night in Chinatown

Joyous celebration, paper lanterns swinging overhead, crowds pushing into and out of galleries all along Chung King Road in the heart of Chinatown. That was the scene for Saturday openings all along Chung King Road’s walk-street gallery row on January 9th.

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Images and experiences flow together with the crowd – and just because this was a don’t-miss-night, Los Angeles art lovers need not despair. Thursday January 28, the scene will be repeated from 7-10 p.m., part of an LA Art Show sponsored celebration honoring Pop Surrealist artist Robert Williams with a lifetime achievement award. And most of the exhibitions run through February 20th.

Here’s a look at the great art flowing through these DTLA galleries.

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Brian Mains’ “The Intersection of Light and Darkness,” at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery is a visually and emotionally stimulating mythological world. The artist says “The kind of space, type of composition, use of light, and method of articulating forms all work together to create an other-worldly reality and to infuse the pictures with magical, theatrical and spiritual qualities.”

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At Chungking Studios, Painting by Scott Trimble and Photography by Osceola Refetoff, co-curated by Refetoff and Shana Nys Dambrot, enrichingly combines photographic and painted images that share the same sensibility of space, light, line, or emotion.

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Coagula Curatorial featured “Ten Top Artists,” a group show juried by Tulsa Kinney, editor of Artillery Magazine, and featuring artists including Jill Emery, Same Source, Vanessa Madrid, Annette Hassell, Jennifer Lugris,
Reagan Lake, Daggi Wallace, Michele Vavonese, and Kate Oltmann.
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Very different art and artists – commonality: a vision that makes you look twice.

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The Charlie James Gallery gave us artist Sadie Barnette’s meditative and haunting take on life at the racetrack, Superfecta, and Rosette, a group show curated by artist Mary Anna Pomonis, featuring the work of Suzanne Adelman, Lili Bernard, Mattia Biagi, Annie Buckley, Kristin Calabrese, Angel Chen, Sarah Cromarty, Cherie Benner Davis, Mark Dutcher, Christine Dianne Guiyangco, Sabina Ott,  Pomonis, Cindy Rehm, Allison Stewart and Vincent Ramos.

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Artist Lili Bernard, above, discusses her autobiographical tribute to the souls of her ancestors and three generations of rape survivors. The powerful piece, titled “Elvis Slept Here: Help Me, Abuelitas,” grabs you by the heart and the gut and won’t let go until you really see the details.

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Below, The Project Gallery premiered Wyatt Mills’ Normal, whose images belie the title. The Los Angeles artist’s mixed media paintings are a bold mix of the real and surreal.

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At The Good Luck Gallery, below, Art Moura’s stunning installations are a fine example of this gallery’s commitment to visionary and outsider art.

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Like walking into a dreamscape…F23C7995

A treasure trove of art washed up on a wild shore…

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Not sure how anyone couldn’t love this. It’s folk art, it’s surreal, it’s a tapestry of life, it’s the rhythm of existence, dream, and distance.

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The details are as compelling as the large designs.

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So you want some art? Some exciting art? Chung King Road is the place to be. But then, it almost always is.

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