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


Jason Ostro and Andrea LaHue: Twinned Beauty

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It would be hard not to love the lush and vibrant paintings of Jason Ostro and Andrea LaHue. The pair presented both solo works and collaborative pieces at Art on Scene in May, works that evoke stained glass.

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Above, the pair pose by two of LaHue’s floral works.

LaHue’s florals and Ostro’s mosaic-like, geometric patterns are stunners alone and in combination; both cutting edge and traditionally beautiful at the same time. Their show at the Sunset Blvd. gallery offered an exuberant chance to see both artists’ take on the natural world physically and emotionally.

Titled Flower & Flow, the exhibition touched on both elements with grace – flowing floral paintings by LaHue, flowering patterns in Ostro’s flowy abstract patterns.

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Above, Ostro’s work captures a stunning pattern and sensibility of leaves and petals. Below, LaHue’s irises dazzle with impressionistic brush strokes that evoke the texture of the flowers themselves.

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With a rich palette that created a kind of art garden, the two artists played off of one another’s subjects, colors, and styles; the several collaborative pieces worked a visual magic with their layered approach.

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The love both artists feel for their subjects, and for working together is quite literally palpable. Such a sense of respect for and immersion in the natural world, and each other’s diverse yet complimentary styles is visually delicious and emotionally satisfying.

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Above and below, a wall of Ostro’s work is like a series of mosaics fused with stained glass.

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The collaborative work below says it all: the tiled and petaled look of Ostro’s background is a perfect compliment to LaHue’s delicate blossoms.

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In a world in which there is often these days too little that is delicate, beautiful, and blissful, the two artists both together and separately have created a body of work that resonates with the heart as well as the mind.

  • Genie Davis, photos: Genie Davis


Yes, Curate This 2, Too



Always a treat, the group shows at The Gabba Gallery seem to pulse with more excitement every time. Curate This Part Deaux is no exception, with art -works created by some of Los Angeles’ top curators. Featuring something for virtually every artistic taste, the show takes viewers through a panopoly of vibrant, quintessentially LA art. There was a look and feel to the show that could absolutely only happen in SoCal, and only at Gabba, and only if including the work of artists whose taste aesthetics have been sharply honed as curators.

Below, book designer, collage and mixed-media artist David Brady pulls viewers into an astonishing visual quilt with his “Esperanza.”


Highly detailed, frieze-like sculptural paintings by Nathan Cartwright tell detailed, fantastical stories. Cartwright is an LA-based mixed media artist and founder/curator of The Hive Gallery and Studios in DTLA. Feel the buzz.



Dicapria’s glowing mixed media mandala’s are crafted from gummy bears and resin in a light box. Her back story: she travels the U.S. in a 1971 bus.


Mitchelito Orquiola was born in the Philipines, and resides in LA. His self-taught works create a mosaic of color and line.F23C8702

So what could be more a part of the City of Angeles than Kristine Schomaker’s beautiful little convertible? The Ideal Sex (The Little Pink Corvette) drives us into the SoCal sunset on a road dotted with the sign posts of gender roles, power, and the healing community of art itself. Schomaker also runs Shoebox PR, promoting art and artists throughout the Southland.F23C8703

Baby, you can drive Schomaker’s other cool ride, too.


Photographer Osceola Refetoff’s ethereal, sun-drenched desert and urban visions haunt and inspire. The artist takes viewers down a road not just less traveled, but one most people have never experienced before.



Below, the delicate, precise images photographed by Shana Nys Dambrot reflect an intimate thoughtfulness. Dambrot recently curated the stellar Painting by Scott Trimble, Photography by Osceola Refetoff show at Chungking Studios in Chinatown.


Ted Meyer’s beautiful acryllic “Woman Napping with Cat,” holds all the golden light, curves, and angles, of a Hollywood summer, kissed with expressionist flavor. Meyer is currently curating Scar Stories at Muzeumm.



Performance and installation artist Dani Dodge creates compelling, often autobiographical and catharctic works. As a former journalist and war correspondent, she tells stories that vibrate with humanity. Collage, assemblage, and video are components of her works, below.


Up close, these layered fragments of wallpaper compel viewers to look beneath the surface layers of life itself.


Phil Santos co-curates Gabba Gallery with Jason Ostro. His beautifully detailed watercolor pencil rendering of Pasadena City Hall transports the image to something that could exist in Venice or Paris. Santos is currently at work on a triptych mural for Angel City Brewery. F23C8718

Gabba Gallery owner, director, and co-curator Jason Ostro contributed this brilliantly blue, intrinsically floral, and kaleidoscopic piece to the exhibition.


Below, Juri Koll’s mixed media paper on board evoke water, light, and an unheard aural component in their patterns and colors. Koll is founder, director, and often curator at The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, and the producer of the Fine Arts Film Festival.F23C8724

Venice artist Mark Satterlee is a self-taught traditional and digital artist working primarily in fiberglass and pigmented resin. His work below uses an assemblage of Poloroid portraits.F23C8725

Skye Amber Sweet’s pink fish float off the canvas. Love, kindness, and self-expression are the driving forces of her emotional and emotive art.


Daniel Rolnik curated at the self-owned Daniel Rolnik Gallery, and recently hosted one of the most enjoyable booths at the LA Art Fair,  the “Kilduff’s Bakery” art installation.  Below, some of Rolnik’s cheerful, fun, and vibrant work. F23C8732

Even at the end of the night, Gabba drew appreciative viewers.


Below, another piece by Gabba’s co-curator Phil Santos. His classic dog portraits are much sought after by collectors. F23C8742

Artist Radhika Hersey creates stunning art fantasies  based on meditation, dreams, and folklore. Her spiritually magical paintings are closely aligned with her curatorial works at Temple of Visions and the Do Art Foundation,among other venues.F23C8747

Ever versatile, Phil Santos dishes up a plate of mixed media zombie spaghetti.


Curate This 2 runs until February 28th. The Gabba Gallery is located at 3126 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.

F23C8751Genie Davis; all photos by Jack Burke

Gabba Gabba Do: Four View Solo Shows

Gabba Gallery's "Four View" solo exhibitions - All photos: Jack Burke
Gabba Gallery’s “Four View” solo exhibitions – All photos: Jack Burke

Saturday night marked the opening of another stand-out show at The Gabba Gallery, “Four View,” four separate solo shows, one roof. The Westlake district gallery is fast becoming a hot spot for cutting edge art with a strong emphasis on street talent. Curated by Jason Ostro, artists Michael Christy, Phobik, Jeffrey Gillette, and CANTSTOPGOODBOY were the four views on display.  Music: DJ Ale of dublab.

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Michael Christy’s exhibition, “Genre Paintings” takes viewers into a surreal world, vivid colors pulling into scenes whose depth have a 3D feel. The worlds depicted may be imaginary, but the lifeforms present are real and grounded. The juxtaposition of heightened reality and different time-frames and realms keeps eyes riveted to the details on every inch of canvas.



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“I work in multiple directions at the same time, revealing the past, present, future. I like this type of color palette. When I switched from oil to acrylic paints, I wanted an artificial looking landscape that was still reflective of the world. I created a sense of happiness and hope in the colors and smiling figures, even though the landscapes are strange.”


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“The images can be construed as people ignoring crises of bio-diversity, or that overall, perhaps we are happy in the greater scheme of things, despite the crises,” Christy explains. “I use a figurative mythology that’s very allegorical, even though it suggests specific scenes.” His illustration is a kind of visual poetry.


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Jeffrey Gillette, one of Banksy’s DISMALAND artists, also depicts another world: this one featuring detailed slums and iconic ruins, both as paintings and sculpted forms. “Dread” is an exhibition intertwining these intense visions of loss with pop culture icons from Goofy to the Minions. This isn’t your four-year-old’s cartoon world.

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“I travel to India every year, the houses here are based on what I observe there. I also lived in Nepal which is a strong influence. My wife said the work would be too oppressive, harsh, too real – without an avenue for access for the viewer. That’s where the iconic figures like Mickey, and other characters come in,” Gillette says.

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Phobik and his alternative universe.


Phobik has painted a mind bending, comic-book-centric exhibition of pieces centered around The Phobik God. Titled “Figments and Particles,” the dimensions he depicts are not of this planet – at least not yet.

“Each piece is a part of a story I’m trying to tell in my own comic book that I’m creating. From murals to canvases, each piece tells a story like a panel in a comic book,” Phobik relates. “My own icon is a monocle, representing thoughts, different dimensions or portals between dimensions, and it appears repeatedly in the works.”


CANTSTOPGOODBOY presents “realfake: UNKNOWN” a world of superheroes, All-American icons, and repeated images that pulse with intensity. “Overall this room, this show, is designed in museum-style, with minimal pieces. Jason (Jason Ostro, curator) and I collaborated on redoing the room with new lights, paint, and floor.” The artist described several of the pieces included in the show.


The striking piece “Color into Thin Air: Inside Out” is an example of one of the artist’s repeated images. 60 x 17 here, there is a more massive version of the image in the painting at the San Francisco museum Mu Mu.  “While the images are similar – I repeat images a lot – each one has unique attributes,” he says. “I repeat images throughout my work, but with slight variations of color or layers.”


CANTSTOPGOODBOY’s color pallet is vivid. “The colors are inspired by the Malibu mountains outside my studio. They’re the colors of nature and flowers.”


“Realfake is the name of my design studio. Here I’m illustrating it in neon.”

Missed the opening? Catch this exhibition through October 24th. The Gabba Gallery is located at 3126 Beverly Blvd LA, CA 90057

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  • Genie Davis, all photos:  Jack Burke