Val Kilmer: His Latest Role as an Artist in Gabba Gallery Pop-Up


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Most people know Val Kilmer for his film and theater roles, but there’s a new part in Kilmer’s dramatic quiver that is less familiar to his fans – that of artist.

“I’ve developed strong and nuanced themes in my art from acting and performance that relate to iconic images or ideas – so there’s a thread of the icon and the Iconographic throughout the exhibition,” Kilmer said of his four day pop-up at Gabba Gallery in late July.

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While the artist’s renown certainly piqued interest in the exhibition, the power of his work more than stood for itself. In Icon Go On, I’ll Go On, Kilmer creates a series of icons – iconic characters he portrayed; icon-like abstract images with a strong spiritual bent, and words representing and directed at the icon that is “GOD.”

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The exhibition title itself refers to lines in Samuel Beckett’s 1953 novel, Unnamable — “I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” Kilmer, who resides and has a studio in New Mexico, is making his own existential declaration, having survived and healed from a run in with oral cancer. While healing, he created art.

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Divided into three main sections, the work was highly spiritual in nature. Using metal panels as canvas for his acrylics and laser cut works, some images are representational, some abstract. All in all, there were over 100 works on display, including sculptural pieces.

According to gallery owner Jason Ostro, “There is a lot of meaning to his work. Val is a very deep guy.  Super kind and extremely creative, it’s been a pleasure to work with him,” he notes.

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First up were a series of representational works with himself as a character  – Doc Holliday, Batman. Using stencils, he depicts these mythic images in an easily recognizable way, yet somehow the images are deeper than what we see on the surface. There is something otherworldly about them, as if the person who was portraying these figures were hovering just beyond the visual frame.

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Kilmer’s abstract works were beautifully colored, evoking images of the universe seen through a telescope, the stuff of ethereal, vivid dreams. Painted on metal with a black background, the shiny base of these layered, richly colored works pulls the eye deeper into the painting. Described as having a “blackhole” quality by Kilmer, there is the sense of seeing into another dimension. If the artist’s depiction of his character personas felt as if another being was hovering “off camera,” here, the viewer feels as if a different spiritual plane was floating just out of reach.

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The third section of the exhibition featured large laser-cut metal panels of the word “GOD.” Individual panels were grouped together, inviting viewers to viscerally see and connect with the word and the meaning of God. Groupings of some sixteen of these panels were paired with individual panels; others featured personal, handwritten thoughts, meditative exercises.
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There was even a neon piece created by Kilmer, a kindly commandment.
Ostro relates that the show came about when a patron of the gallery who loved the energetic vibe of the space brought the gallery to the attention of Kilmer’s staff. “One of Val’s ‘people’ came to initially see the gallery, and after a few hours of talking and laughing, they loved it. I was told if Val was interested, he would be at the gallery sometime the next day.  I opened the doors at noon, and he was standing there eager to check out the space.  After talking for a few hours he said he’d get back to me, and a couple days later, we were planing his art show for July.”
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Above, gallerist Jason Ostro.

Kilmer fans and art lovers take note: the new exhibition opening Saturday August 12th at Gabba, Cratedigger 2, features several works by Kilmer in the second iteration of a terrific show that pays homage to the art of the record sleeve. Over a hundred international and local artists will be exhibiting.

Ostro adds that a smaller, solo show of Kilmer’s is already being planned for 2018.

  • Genie Davis; photos: courtesy of Gabba Gallery and by Genie Davis


Gabba Gallery: Can’t Shake the Bunnies

Gabba Gallery will be opening a new show, Wishlist, November 12th, and you mustn’t miss it. There is always a fresh take on art and the meaning of art as discourse at this east side location.

We hope you caught the terrific four solo exhibitions that ran late September to mid-October here – if not, these are artists you should or will know, and most have appeared at Gabba in other shows.

Cratedigger: The Lost Art of Album Cover Art




Above, “Trunk” by Skye Amber Sweet

There’s music in the art, or art in the music. Anyway you look at it, Gabba Gallery’s Cratedigger: The Lost Art of Album Cover Art is a visual song. The wide-ranging group show features the work of 85 artists who have created 12 x 12 album art for both real and imagined records.


Above, Vakseen works his vivid magic.


Above, a taste of delicious smoked rum “Stolen” by Gabba’s great bartending crew.


Above “Love is Strong,” a tribute to Otis Redding, and yes, love, by curator and artist Jason Ostro.

Featured artists include ÷-x+, 8333, Sarah Elise Abramson, Africa47, Alex Azripe, Bandit, Cody Bayne, Nick Bonamy, Clinton Bopp, CANTSTOPGOODBOY, Kate Carvellas, Brett Crawford, L. Croskey, Baha Danesh, Lisa Derrick, Keith Dugas, Dytch66, Carley Ealey, June Edmonds, Eerie Pop, Joey Feldman, Karin Lindberg Freda, Rene Gagnon, Terry James Graham, Peter Greco, Raphael Grischa, Gumshoe, Mary Hanson, Teale Hathaway, Himbad, Khalid Hussein, Jesse Jacobellis, Warren Jacobson, Paul Juno, Jay Kantor, Kate Kelton, Christopher Koneki, Kophnz, Jennifer Korsen, Kozyndan, Kub aka Julien Hirn, Andrea LaHue, Jonathan Lamb, Leba, Devin Liston,  Steven Lopez, Stone Malone, Colette Miller, Bobbi Moline-Kramer, Moncho1929, Morley, Jules Muck, Max Neutra, Ugo Nonis, Nvralone, Michael Ortiz, Jason Ostro, Nate Otto, Pastey Whyte, Antonio Pelayo, Phobik, Valerie Pobjoy, Dave Pressler, Christina Ramos, Sergio Robleto, Phil Santos, Otto Schade, Kristine Shomaker, Septerhed, Ariel Shallit, Jeffrey Sklan, Amy Smith, Bisco Smith, Spacegoth, Hannah Streety, Tatiana Suarez, Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman, Skye Amber Sweet, Teachr, Ten Hundred, thrashbird, Toshee, Self Uno, Vakseen, Em Wafer, Christine Webb, Woes, Jason Woodside, wrdsmth, Lauren YS

Take a spin around some of these artistic turntables for some incredible hi-fidelity art.

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Photography artist Jeffrey Sklan presented two images: the pink flower is titled “Pink at Rembert Studios,” the green image “The Lotus Eaters.” Each is a limited edition of 5 printed on aluminum.
Sklan notes “There was almost a perfect correlate of interest determined by gender. The green attracted men, the pink, women.”
Peter Greco says he usually creates “Gothic calligraphy and gothic flourishing. I studied classically, but my work here is more abstract.” Of his pieces in the show, he remarks “‘Silver Winged Rabbit’ is the title of my brother’s garage band in high school.” His “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”

reflects “experimental, trippy music built around recorded material such as chanting or late night radio.”


Phil Santos’ “Stray Katz” takes it’s logo from the actual Stray Cats album. “It’s a play on words, something funny and satirical I wanted to play with.”



Ajax created two covers which “pay tribute to forgotten street artists of the 90s, using two punk rock album covers as their starting point. The works are done with water color and copy paper. Chaka and Phantom Street Art were both left out of the big street art show at MOCA, and I wanted to give them the recognition they did not have there.”


Brett Crawford created covers on both panel and aluminum. His Jango Reinhart (far right) reflects the myth of the musical artist: he died in a fire and disappeared, in a classic story of good and evil. “In my painting the cat is his guardian angel, the serpent represents temptation or selling out.”  Crawford’s second cover (near right) is a shiny aluminum Blondie.

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Kristine Schomaker’s “Train: the White Album” is a work that plays with recycled elements from another exhibition about trains, she says. “It just came to me that the train element could become an album, and it’s a play on the Beatles’ White Album,” she says.


June Edmonds’ two works were inspired by listening to the radio. The brightly colored “Giant” was taken from the words of Cornell West. “He said it was going to take giant steps and love supreme to get us out of the mess we’re in these days.” She was listening on July 17th, the date on which John Coltrane died. Her Coltrane tribute, far right, uses the colors black and blue – with blue representing a spark of life and hope.




Kate Carvellas is a huge fan of David Bowie. “I was still feeling his passing when I heard about this theme show. Ordinarily theme shows intimidate me, because I usually work so unconsciously, but this was different. It hit me to do something about Bowie because his music resonated with me so much.”




Skye Amber Sweet has three pieces in the exhibition. “‘Trunk One and Two’ have to do with water, and trees, drought.”


“My Bernie Sanders piece, ‘Berning Sanders,’ is a reaction to how really terrible I felt about what was happening politically. I made it before all the Hillary and the Democratic party news came out, but my idea was that she was trying to cool Sanders off, that’s what the ice cream cones I used are representative of.”


Can’t Stop Good Boy created an album cover for System of a Down. “I’m the only artist that didn’t listen to the 12 x 12 requirements for the show,” he laughs.

Dytch66 says “‘Chosen by Shiva’ and ‘Back in 1985’ each represent musical eras.  “Heavy metal, speed metal, that’s what ‘Chosen’ depicts. ‘Back in 1985 embraces the 80s boom box era, breakdancers, graffiti,” he says.  “That piece is ink on metal. My style constantly changes – because I work as an illustrator, I can go with any different style.”






The Cratedigger celebration of record sleeve art plays on through September 10th. Crank up the volume and enjoy.

Gabba Gallery is located at 3126 Beverly Blvd., and is open Wed-Saturday noon to 3 p.m. and by appointment.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke (Jeffrey Sklan works provided by the artist)

Connect with Gabba Gallery


Another great show runs at Gabba Gallery through June 18th – Connect, featuring four very different – yet connected in terms of their visual intensity – artists. The four solo shows also connect with their audience: these are immediate, exciting, stimulating works that grab the eye and poke at the heart.


Jeff Kravitz’s Photography for the Soul is this fine arts photographer’s first solo show. “It’s a labor of love, it’s what I do for a living. I put everything through Photoshop. I want my work to be colorful. I see everything in bright color and I really like to accentuate that.”


Originally shooting on film, he’s gone digital, using Nikon gear, for the last fourteen years. He’s captured historical moments of all kinds, noting self-deprecatingly that he’s “witnessed incredible iconic moments.” And captured them perfectly.


“I’ve been working on this a long time. I have photos I shot in high school. I’ve been working on building a body of work I felt comfortable enough to show the world.”


Jules Muck’s Available made the artist herself feel edgy.


“I usually do street art. Having a gallery show is a little uncomfortable, so I wanted to do something fun with it.”


Her idea, fully realized: to set herself up in the center of her exhibition room with a tattoo gun and many willing participants. “I do tattooing every now and then. This is something I felt could really reach people.”


Along with tattoo art, Muck’s exhibition features large scale, hyper-realistic pieces painted in oil.


Stormie Mills’ A Fish Tale exhibition is both witty and dark, a Tim Burton-esque take on life created in mixed acrylic, including spray paint.


“Ultimately the work is about connection, it’s a tool for communication, an outlet that facilitates communication which leads to connection,” he says.


The Australian artist has created an insightful body of work that tells a riveting story about a man and his friendship with a fish. The story is based on the writings of filmmaker Mark Strong who was himself inspired by Stormie’s work “I miss my friend, I want him back.” In short, the subject of this show is also its purpose – inspiration and connection. Overall, the show has the look of a lushly detailed dreamscape.



Across the street from the gallery, Mills has created a gorgeous wall-size piece of street art. It’s not a permanent mural installation – “it’s like a bunch of flowers, it will only last so long,” Mills attests. More reason to hurry to the gallery and see the show as well as the art visible through it’s windows.


Noah Emhurt’s The Doheny Challenge is a body of intimate, poetic work created on acrylic. The artist sourced much of his material from 1960s era magazines and fashion magazines, creating a template for figurative work and images transfers in a chaotic yet delicate atmosphere.


“When I was younger, I would write a lot of poetry, I would write my ideas. A lot of my work is translating words into sketches into painting to get that look of writing ideas into a painting. I want people to look at each piece and find something new all the time,” Emhurt says.



His love of travel and other cultures is also on view. Having spent time living in Japan and New York, the influence of these locales is very evident in his work. “I stole a wine list from a French restaurant,” he notes. “I’ve incorporated that menu into my work, too.”

Emhurt’s work absorbs his surroundings and experiences, and the viewer absorbs his experiences through his work, connection as cultural zeitgeist.

Go ahead and plug in: this solo show runs through June 18th, and the Gabba Gallery is located at

3126 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057
(310) 498-2697

Gallery Hours are Wed-Saturday 12- 3 or by appointment.