The Reality of Nature at Launch Gallery

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Above, Catherine Ruane’s Burn Joshua Burn

The Reality of Nature at Launch LA Gallery through September 30th, is a profoundly beautiful show with a profound message – what is the reality of nature? Is it all wonder and light and the embrace of flora and fauna? Is it a force unto itself, and one often to be reckoned with? Do we really look at the natural world or simply exist in it? These are just a few of the questions this exhibition posits.

If you’ve ever heard the expression “natural wonders,” then you’ll see just that in this exhibition that offers a variety of mediums and powerful portrayals of both the natural world and man’s interaction with it.

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According to curator Kristine Schomaker, above, this lushly beautiful exhibition had a political and social genesis. “After the election, I participated in the Women’s March which was a fulfilling experience. I felt like somehow I was making a difference. I wanted to do something else where I could use my experience and my voice to talk about important issues in todays world. My brother is passionate about science and frustrated with the climate change deniers and had been talking about it on Facebook. The more I thought about it, I realized I knew so many artists whose work focuses solely on the environment, nature, science in one way or another. So I decided to put together a show continuing the dialogue about the external forces of nature rather than the internal.”

The result: a truly wonderful pairing of thirteen artists: Terry Arena, Andrea Bersaglieri, Jeanne Dunn, Samantha Fields, Jennifer Gunlock, Virginia Katz, JJ L’Heureux, Erika Lizée, Constance Mallinson, Catherine Ruane, Steve Seleska, Marie Thibeault, and Devon Tsuno, the exhibition blossoms with color, light, and meaning.

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Here we have Catherine Ruane’s monochrome graphite and pencil lushness with “Burn Joshua Burn” – a desert plant,  perfectly detailed, surviving in a harsh environment, so wildly successful at its adaptation that it is spilling onto the gallery floor.

Erika Lizée’s site-specific trompe l’oeil work shimmers in blue, a cosmic creation, a mysterious sea-swirl alien form seems ready to emerge from “The Seed of Life.”

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So supple, sinuous, and both serene and emerging: in an instant, this piece portends change.

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Below, Devon Tsuno’s acrylic and spray paint “Watershed (Los Angeles River)” series gives us the fluidity of water with the tension surrounding that which is the LA River – harnessed, abused, wild at heart, reclaiming it’s own power. This is water as stained glass, broken glass, sunlight and storm.

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Below, artist Jennifer Gunlock with her dimensional mixed media gesso, acrylic, photo collage,  on wood board, “Landmark.”  This is an urban take on the environment, at once made of man and overtaking what is manmade.

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Below a detail of one of the works presented by Andrea Bersaglieri, “Suburban Tuft.” Her oil on canvas is perfectly drawn, delicately rendered – but her subjects are hardy, unruly survivors, eking a claim to patch of earth.

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Below, the almost shockingly vibrant abstract oil by Marie Thibeault, “Deposition.” If nature had a house in the city, this just might be it. The words ‘urban jungle’ come to mind.

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Below Steve Seleska’s incredibly dimensional work makes viewers want to dive in and explore his depths. The mixed media “Landscapism #7” is a natural world gone askew, surely – yet the silvery, spidery tangle is as alluring as it is frightening.

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Among the works undepicted, the gorgeous, diminutive detail of Terry Arena’s stunning graphite on metal platter, tiny and perfect works revealing lemons, rosemary, and one of her most poignant subjects, bees stands out with its intricate lines and grace; as does the “Ross Ice Shelf” in vivid, painterly blue of J.J. L’Heureux’s photographic work.  Jeanne Dunn’s acrylic and oil works of trees are graceful and seemingly sentient. They dance, they embrace, as living beings do.

In short – don’t miss the closing, this Saturday from 3-5, which includes conversation with the artists.

Launch Gallery is located at 170 S. La Brea in Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Genie Davis




Sacred Landscape II – Hung Viet Nguyen at Launch Gallery


F23C8100Through August 27th, Launch Gallery takes viewers on a tour of Sacred Landscapes II, courtesy of Hung Viet Nguyen.

The lush, jeweled pastels of Nguyen’s mosaic-like worlds are inspired “in part by Joan Miro and Pablo Picasso,” according to the artist, and completely by his deep love of nature.


“I’ve always loved nature,  whether I’m hiking or walking. All my life, it’s been about nature for me. Everybody can paint landscapes, but I wanted to come up with serial landscapes that represented significant meaning, ” Nguyen says.

His landscapes are indeed sacred – to him, and to the viewer. They are created with beautiful detail and a great deal of insight into a magical world, a perfect fairy-tale realm.

“You accumulate a lot in the art field,” he attests. “From Van Gogh to Hockney,  I’ve gathered inspiration.” Other inspirations: “the patterns of a Zen garden, and water.” His images of water are particularly compelling.


Nguyen’s magical paintings are highly detailed. “I sketch the whole area, geometrically. I divide the canvas into sections. In some, I put the oil thick enough to use on a palette knife. Other areas are flat.  I’m not an abstract artist, I plan each area of the canvas.”

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In terms of technique, Nguyen combines traditional elements such as Japanese woodblock and mosaic into a painterly style with varying textures and a rich panoply of style.  Complex and labor intensive to create, the artist’s work has a quality of wonder that’s fluid and graceful.

You could dive into the waters of this dreamscape, you could absorb the colors of sky, water, and earth.


Enter Nguyen’s world to experience a love-letter, a poem, to a prismatic landscape that glows from the light of a thousand suns.

  • Genie Davis; Photos’ Jack Burke