Mirror, Mirror! Kristine Schomaker Reflects Our Bodies/Ourselves

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Curated by Gloria Plascencia, Kristine Schomaker’s impressive solo exhibition Mirror, Mirror! celebrates the body and soul. From the female form to cultural stereotypes, Schomaker captures both the body politic and a rich palette of color and motion.

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Using installation, text, photography, mixed media, video, and performance, Schomaker explores notions of societal expectations, online identity, and society’s judgement and obsession with physical appearance.

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What we project on ourselves and others – it can be as ephemeral as a shadow. Schomaker’s work may be at it’s strongest with projected images and installation juxtaposed. Viewers truly enter a different world.

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Schomaker’s avatars are part of her process of becoming self-aware.

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The artist says her way of painting, using multiple layers, functions as a “metaphorical skin.”

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Her vivid color palette grabs the eye while her message of empowerment and identity tug at the heart.

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What exactly is being reflected? Our own images? Our own perceptions? Bodies that take on lives of their own, separate from cognizance? Step into another life.

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Baby you can drive my car…

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Literally and figuratively, Schomaker has created an impressive “body of work.”  How we feel about our bodies and the spirit they contain is truly all in the eye of the beholder – often ourselves.

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Mirror, Mirror! runs through December 20th at Gallery H Phantom Galleries LA – 12619 Hawthorne Blvd., Hawthorne.

November Must See: Dia de los Muertos at Gallery H

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Aztec dancers at Gallery H's Day of the Dead Celebration - Photo: Jack Burke
Aztec dancers at Gallery H’s Day of the Dead Celebration – Photo: Jack Burke

The Dia de los Muertos exhibition at Gallery H of Phantom Galleries L.A.  is a celebration of life, death, and the eternal. On display until November 21, this is one vibrant swirl of fresh, cutting-edge art. Curated by Gloria Plascencia, the art and the live performances that complimented it opening night, creates a joyful atmosphere. For the Aztecs, the image of a skeleton meant the transfer to another dimension or side of life, and this transformational quality is very much present in the Gallery H exhibition.

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Last Saturday night, a stellar flamenco guitarist provided the sound track,  Aztec dance troop Yankuititl, performed spirited traditional dances, and artist Cie Gumucio evoked the spirit of Frida Kahlo with the assistance of performers from Theatrum Elysum at the San Pedro Repertory.

Viva Frida - Cie Gumucio
Viva Frida – Cie Gumucio, Photo: Jack Burke

Bringing fully to life a piece that was part art installation and part performance, “Viva Frida” represents Gumucio’s new installation style, “If Art could Speak…What Would it Say.”  Curator Plascencia says Gumucio first created the piece for a Day of the Dead celebration that she’d planned but was forced to cancel two years ago. “She’s been saving it since then,” Plascencia relates.

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Viva Frida performance – Photo: Gloria Plascencia

The piece has grown in texture and style since then, aging like a fine wine. “I feel deeply connected to the Latin culture and magic realism so, in the spirit of Dia de Los Muertos I wanted the spirits of Mexican artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to use their own words taken from Frida’s diaries and love letters with an art installation and a 7 minute performance,” Gumucio explains. “Diego and Frida’s lives were inextricably intertwined, so I took clothing resembling those they may have worn and sewed it together with red thread. I began the piece with an old wooden bed frame, which I painted vivid blue and orange, the colors of Frida’s home, Casa Azul. A body cast titled ‘The Wild Heart,’ like the one Frida was forced to wear after a devastating accident, is also part of the installation – at its heart is a red cage with the door open. If one looks deep inside, one can see the butterflies I painted on the inside walls, waiting to emerge – like her creativity.”

Ginette Rondeau's altar to her mother - Photo: Jack Burke
Ginette Rondeau’s altar to her mother – Photo: Jack Burke

Artist Ginette Rondeau’s altar, dedicated to her mother, is another outstanding piece. Brilliant with yellows, golds, and silvers and dotted with marigolds, Rondeau’s moving paean to her mother, who loved Spanish dance is deeply emotional. “It has so much meaning to the artist who created it,” Plascencia notes.

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Also on exhibit: Ron Therrio’s “Puerta lluminosa,” an Aztec themed arch crafted from wood and concrete, and Patty Grau’s straw and palm “Queen Deadfall” sculpture.

Artist Patty Grau with her "Queen Deadfall," Photo: Jack Burke
Artist Patty Grau with her “Queen Deadfall,” Photo: Jack Burke

Grau says “The piece is the outgrowth of me picking up dead fall when walking my dog around my neighborhood. It started with a tree seed pod which I always thought resembled a bustier.”

Susan Melly "A Woman's Work is Never Done"
Susan Melly “A Woman’s Work is Never Done”

Susan Melly offers the tongue-in-cheek “A Woman’s Work is Never Done,” an evocative painting wherein a naturalistic skeleton operates a traditional sewing machine.

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Lois Olsen’s “Mexican Memories” evokes the living and the dead with an abstract, kaleidoscopic skeleton.

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Conseulo Campos’ “Living La Via Muerta,” center

A mauve skeleton with flowers for eyes is the center of Consuelo Campos’ “Living la Vida Muerta.”

ALbert Vitala
ALbert Vitala

Albert Vitala’s “Day of the Dead Girl” was produced specifically for the exhibition, Vitala relates. “When Gloria asked me to participate I realized I had nothing related to Day of the Dead, so I began to spray paint angular geometric shapes, which in the end formed a girl’s face. I adapted the face to become a classical Day of the Dead figure, and then applied an overlaid texture of acrylic paint to create the dimensional flowers.”

Terry Holzman
Terry Holzman

Terry Holzman contributed several mixed media pieces shaped through found art. “I only collect items within a two mile radius of my house in West Los Angeles,” she relates. “I repurpose neighborhood discards as art.” Using brackets and electrical fragments, she created a dancing electric socket skeleton for the exhibit that looks as if he could dance right off the wall.

Dan Milnor
Dan Milnor

Dan Milnor’s “Let the Dead Bury the Dead,” uses an orange traffic cone as the basis for his mixed media. Another riveting display is made up of a large, colorful collection of ceramic skulls from students in the Hawthorne and Lawndale school districts.

Gloria Plascencia
Gloria Plascencia

Finding the art to contribute to this singular exhibition took curator Plascencia on visits to other Day of the Dead festivals, galleries, and art shows throughout the LA region. “It was a process to find the pieces that represented my own aesthetic vision for the exhibition,” she says. She also contributed her own digital print, “Aztec Warrior.” In her charge to bring a fully realized Day of the Dead celebration to life, Plascencia is herself somewhat of a warrior – for art.

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Above: collaboration between Susan Melly and Susan Chuka Chesney

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Above: Gloria Plascencia in her element.

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Join her triumphant charge – Gallery H is located at 12619 Hawthorne Blvd. just south of El Segundo Blvd. in Hawthorne. The gallery is open Saturdays 3-6 p.m. and by appointment with a call to Plascencia  at (310) 869-4992.

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  • Genie Davis, Photos: Jack Burke, additional photo: Gloria Plascencia

 

 

 

 

 

Magical Night at Gallery H of Phantom Galleries: “Where the Magic Happens”

Where the Magic Happens at Gallery H - curated by Kristine Schomaker - Photos: Jack Burke

Curated by Kristine Schomaker, the incredible collection of art on display at Gallery H of Phantom Galleries in Hawthorne was ablaze with magic Saturday night. The opening saw many of the 30-plus artists present.

Kristine Schomaker, left; Dwora Fried right
Kristine Schomaker, left; Dwora Fried right – Photos: Jack Burke

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Margaret Ouchida

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Works by Susan Melly

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Margaret Ouchida presents detailed, intimate pieces in “The Battle” and “T’ode to Klimt.”

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The exhibition’s theme, of getting out of one’s comfort zone to that special place where magic can indeed occur – or zen, or power, or enlightenment, however you want to look at it – was fully realized in virtually every piece. This group show has the feeling of celebration, and both in terms of the art created and the means by which it was created and displayed, the feeling was genuine. The exhibit included a wide variety of contemporary Los Angeles artists who go beyond conventional artistic boundaries  – the standard gallery system – to establish a vibrant presence in the art community. Presented by Schomaker’s company, Shoebox PR, the artists and their art have created an exciting body of work, and are each showing that work in independent, outside-the-system ways from artist-run galleries to online magazines like this .

From beautifully detailed small scale dioramas to large scale canvases and sculptures crafted from found-materials, there’s something for everyone in this exhibit. Perhaps its the freshness of approach or the freshness of the “we can do it” attitude by these artists, but this is a special show that unfolds the passion of art like the petals of a Georgia O’Keeffe flower.

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Terry Arena’s graphite on mixed media piece.

Artists exhibiting include:

Susan Amorde, Terry Arena, JT Burke, Jennifer Celio, Chenhung Chen, Jeanne Dunn, Dwora Fried, Rob Grad, Carlos Grasso, Cie Gumucio, Carla Jay Harris, Teale Hatheway, Cindy Jackson, Echo Lew, Erika Lizée, Susan Lizotte, Dave Lovejoy, Susan Melly, Freyda Miller, Mike M. Mollett, Andrea Monroe, Stacey Moore, Malka Nedivi, Margaret Ouchida, Lori Pond, Linda Sue Price, Lindsey Price, Isabella Kelly-Ramirez, Katherine Rohrbacher, Jane Szabo, Christine Weir

Here’s a closer look at some of the stellar pieces on display.

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Cindy Jackson’s “7 Deadly Sins” are crafted from wood, aluminum, urethane, paint, iPods, and fluorescent lights. And with these materials come seven heads, all the same but painted in a rainbow spectrum. “Because these sins are in each of us, the heads are all the same, with pride standing tall above the rest – anger, lust, greed, pride, envy – envy is always looking elsewhere, gluttony, and sloth,” Jackson says.

 

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Suzanne Lizotte blends the classical and contemporary, using aerosol spray and traditional oil-on-canvas painting in her rich “Seeking Treasure.”

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Mixed media artist Lindsey Price is a photographer with a vision, here “A Clockwork Orange” offers a stunning digital photo montage.

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Andrea Monroe’s stylized “The Harlot” and “The Oiran and Her Pussy” use acrylic on canvas to create full dimensional figures that pulse with life.

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Cie Gumicio’s “Fragile” uses mint glass and light to create a wispy, beautiful vision of the planet earth. “It reflects where we are now with our fragility as a planet,” she says. This delicate image shapes not just a planet but the construction of a leaf-like image when viewed from a certain angle – mother nature meets mother earth in a shadow box. “Art, at its best, reminds us that we are human,”  Gumucio says.

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Dancingly nuanced neon is served up by Linda Sue Price with her pieces “Joy Ride” and “Cynthia Rose.”

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Jennifer Cielo’s “Astral Travelers” is an example of the artist’s work which “expresses the effects of human disconnection with the natural world.”

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Malka Nedivi’s large scale “Woman in a Box,” evokes her singular style using wood with paper, fabric, acrylic, and glue to create an image of poignant beauty. 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.

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Katherine Rohrbacher’s glittering canvasses “Early One Morning” and “Arcadia” are bright, sparkling, and brilliantly moving all at once. “I  draw everything on like a pattern, then comes the glue, and glittle applied with a paint brush. With only a few colors did I have to put paint beneath the glitter itself.” Her “Arcadia” relates the passing of her cat. “She’s entering a glittery cat Heaven,” the artist explains. “Early One Morning signifies the ending of a relationship, but also the passing of a small bird found on a balcony.”

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Chenhung Chen continues to amaze with her ever evolving art, crocheted copper with its amoeba like, sinuous shapes, a viewer-participation piece “Connect the Dots” that allows guests to literally do that with colored pencils, and free standing wire sculptures. Her works are fluid, like electronically charged water. Delicate and ephemeral are not often the words associated with recycled materials such as copper wires and components, but Chen’s work provides both. She describes her work as being “about the driving force for inner fulfilment, balance, meditative process…and experiencing the inner power.”

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Erika Lizee’s curved and haunting hanging piece is an example of the artist’s propensity to create installations that work as journeys, drawing the viewer down mysterious paths on a pursuit of nature and rebirth.

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Mike M. Mollett is the sculptor of large scale pieces created from found art, shaped into balls and bundles. His work provides an outside-in look into a different reality, in which balls and bundles of wires appear animate, hold secrets within secrets.

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Dwora Fried creates miniature tableaux, using tiny figures and photographs to create detailed worlds inside glass-topped wood boxes. “I keep re-creating the feeling of what it was like growing up,” the artist says, “the box captures the claustrophobic feeling a painting can’t,” she says.

With so many other artists to admire, grab a hold of the magic now. The show rums through October 17th. Gallery H is located at 12619 Hawthorne Blvd. in Hawthorne.

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  • Genie Davis; all photos Jack Burke

Award Winner: Susan Melly

Susan Melly with Scott Canty - Taking First Place at
Susan Melly with Scott Canty – Taking First Place at “Art Fusion” – Photo by Jack Burke

The dynamic artist Susan Melly is hot off two award wins: she took first place at Gallery H at Phantom Galleries “Art Fusion” exhibition, for “Window Dressing,” a work that is an intrinsic part of her “Mother Machine” series; and she received honorable mention at LA Artcore for her piece “Fertile Crescent.”

Melly’s work is all about the feminine, and female objectification. This is not a hearts and flower world. Rather it’s all about identity, sexuality, power, and yes, industrial machines. The artist was inspired by a discovery of dress patterns and industrial-age sewing machines that were a part of her mother’s estate. Her recent work combines tissue paper dress patterns into images that explore both real and symbolic relationships between women and industry. She uses loosely drawn, even impressionistic images on top of the precise and detailed pattern designs. The clothing industry itself, with its fashion designs and women’s clothing styles, as well as the act of creating fashion through sewing, and the sewing industry itself, are her subjects. Melly uses the history, politics, and literal shapes of that industry to explore a variety of metaphors for a changing society. Antique industrial sewing machines with their attractive, even artistic external decorations symbolize Melly’s strong mother: in her work they’re powerful yet beautiful, tough, yet outwardly decorous. These machines and their continued ability to function decades later is a rich and impressive metaphor for the strength of the women who operated them.

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Her piece “Fits Her to a Tea” uses a female mannequin’s bust covered with these precise dress pattern cutouts. The patterns are adorned with impressionistic colored art paper collages and embroidery – including a tea cup – and the inclusion of actual tea bags and a tea set.

This piece is a collaboration with another 825 Gallery artist,  Chuka Susan Chesney. The Gallery randomly assigned pairs of artists to collaborate, with often dazzling results. Here, the colorful collages and  stitching Chesney created serve as a strong counterpoint to Melly’s work.

This mixed media piece is wonderfully evocative, of the practical woman who uses those tea bags, the rich interior life she holds – the drawings – and the measured, designed, and carefully restricted borders of her life as revealed by the dress pattern cut outs.

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In “Tension Adjustment,” this stunning painting features a beautiful woman curled up in an almost-fetal position inside the dominant image of a sewing machine.

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“Fertile Crescent” neatly combines a woman who could be an Egyptian Princess overlaying most of a mannequin’s face, with a crescent of dress pattern slashing a curve across her visage. Her neck, body, and the arm that holds her head and torso aloft, are covered with the tissue paper dress patterns.

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Part of the solo show “Mother Machine” held at Gallery 825 in April 2015, Melly’s mixed media paintings and sculptures shape the female form with the same provocative mixture of ornate embellishments as on the old-fashioned industrial sewing machines, as well as imbuing them with those machines’ strength. The vintage mannequins themselves provide a certain gravitas, and the dress patterns present an interesting dichotomy. The fragile tissue paper evokes male notions of female delicacy, while the rigidity of the lines and construction suggests a binding up of the female spirit. By drawing on these patterns, adorning them in a variety of ways, Melly appears to be opening a whole new world of expression for these figures, while still celebrating their strength and durability.

In 2015, along with her award winning exhibition at Phantom Galleries H and LA Art Core, and her solo show at Gallery 825, Melly has shown at Palm Springs’ Gallery 446, Las Laguna Gallery, in Laguna Beach, and the Foundry Art Center in St. Charles, Missouri among other locations.

  • Genie Davis