Taking Found Art to the Highest Level: Diverted Destruction 10 – The Alumni Show at Loft at Liz’s

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Above, gallerist Liz Gordon in her give-away installation room.

Through September 6th at Loft at Liz’s, the 10th annual Diverted Destruction exhibition is the perfect example that one person’s detritus is another’s – art treasure. Curated by gallery owner Liz Gordon, the show features the work of a number of renowned Liz’s exhibition alums: Aaron Kramer, Charles Dickson, Dale Brockman Davis, Dani Dodge, Dave Lovejoy, Doug Pearsall, Joe Davidson, Joe Sims, June Diamond, Mike Saijo, Pamela Grau, Rosalyn Myles, Ruben Acosta, Steve Olson, Teresa Tolliver and Terri Hartman.

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Over 60 artists have participated in the show over the years, whose mission it’s been to inspire people to be creative with items that would otherwise be thrown away. This year’s show asked participating artists to create works with the waste of items they personally use and customarily discard. Another change in this year’s show: while giveaway tables filled with found-art items Gordon collects have always been a part of the show, this year, Gordon installed a Projects Room Giveaway Installation as a part of the exhibition space. 

“I love doing installations. This year instead of throwing all the items out on tables, I decided to create an installation that resembles a store with all the items that I am responsible for disposing of. Everyday it is replenished because box lots come to the store everyday.When the show ends I find teachers to give all that is left.
The collection for the following year starts immediately, piling up in my garage or in The Artist Boxes until the last Saturday of June when there is the Diverted Destruction Opening Reception for that year,” Gordon asserts.

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Discussing what led her to start a found materials show and give away in the first place, Gordon explains “I’m passionate about this show. I believe it is important to be aware of how much garbage each one of us creates.  It is vital that we as consumers do the best we can to minimize the amount of landfill material we create.”

As the owner of Liz’s Antique Hardware as well as the gallery, Gordon has access to backlots with items that would otherwise be tossed; these are items she offers as part of the giveaway collection. “Many items that come in are broken, too new or not relevant to the store.  There is a section in the back alley of the store that we have always called The Artist Boxes.  That is where these types of items accumulate throughout the year,” she relates. “The first year I did Diverted Deconstruction, I thought to put those items on tables and give it away to anyone that may want to create Found Object Assemblage. A couple examples of the type of items that come in frequently are half hinges which are incomplete, another are damaged vintage glass doorknobs.”

Gordon says she decided to make her found art show an annual event immediately after holding the first one.

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“I saw the positive response to the works that were created and everyone had a great time picking through the heaps of giveaway finds.   By the third year, a free Assemblage Workshop was added.  Artists from the show are asked to come to guide those in attendance. This year we have had four workshops.”

Upcoming on August 19th from 2 to 4 p.m., artist Dani Dodge instructs.

“I also collect throughout the year my personal refuse to put in the giveaway.   Corks, bottle caps, magazines and much much more.  I often find items in the garbage.   The fabric stores in the area give me their sample books.. After I saw one of the stores throwing them in the dumpster I went around asking the stores for them instead of throwing them away.  They are delighted to have a place that they will be
used instead of being thrown away.  Artists need materials!” she enthuses.

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While Gordon is thrilled with each work in the current show, she says her favorites are Aaron Kramer’s kinetic toys and Charles Dickson’s feet.  “They are so clever and so much fun,” she says.


Dickson’s mixed media left and right foot “Carbon Footprint” features a wide variety of colorful ephemera incased in plastic.

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Kramer’s toys include “Differential” which utilizes Pelegrino bottles to create a gravity-assisted fascinating motion sculpture. His “Intense Wood” is an artistic pinball machine.

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Dani Dodge’s “The Last Lamenting Kiss” utilizes items left over from her room-size installation “Personal Territories at Lancaster MOAH gallery, including mattress skin, stencils, fabric, thread, and even some of the boxes from the frozen meals she consumed while creating her work.

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Frozen food boxes, wedding dress tulle, and battery operated holiday lights are her medium in “I love you until the end of plastic.” Her glowing, dimensional wall sculptures are like celestial orbs in the gallery space.

The mixed media “All Lives/Black Lives Matter” offers Braille inscription on an otherworldly LP; Michael Hayden offers a series of encaustic and mixed media works that shimmer with blues and copper and aquamarine.

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June Diamond’s recycled glass, paint, and steel sculptures have an ethereal look; contrastingly, the pieces also evoke anchors as art form, utilizing chains and design angles that feel rooted.

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Pamela Grau’s sculptural works utilize tennis nets and metallic patina as well as other found objects, creating works that like her “Nubia” feel like icons from an ancient time.

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Ruben Acosta’s “At the Cross” and “Bits and Pieces” focus on wood among its found objects, the pieces feel burnished and ancient.

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Terri Hartman’s large scale chicken wire, newspaper, paper, and organdy thread “And Women Weep” resembles a suspended Egyptian sarcophagus.

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Indeed, there is a sense of reverence and elegy – as well as playfulness, an interesting and complementary dichotomy – in each of these works.

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In short, go for the art exhibited, attend a workshop, and stay for the long term in an awakened awareness of human wastefulness – and how we can utilize that waste to create something beautiful.

  • Genie Davis; photos courtesy of the gallery and Genie Davis



Feeling Blue? The Loft at Liz’s Has What You Need


Above: artist Gary Brewer

Feeling blue? Then it’s time to immerse yourself in the wondrous rush of the color, emotion, and vibrations of blue at Loft at Liz’s. The show features the work of artists

Brad Howe
Angel Chen
Gary Brewer
Barbara Kolo
Shana Mabari
Miguel Osuna
Stephen Rowe
June Edmonds
Campbell Laird
Moses Hacmon
Bertil Petersson
Michael Hayden
Crystal Fischett

Blue is a seminal show, a rush of sky, sea, flowers, planets, windows to the spirit. The only question is, how blue are you?


Above, Gary Brewer’s work evokes both water and light,  a moment captured in freeze frame, motion and emotion, both transcendent and incandescent. It’s a love affair with the color of spirit. His “Alchemical Language,” above, is alive and transformational.


Above and below, the work of June Edmonds.  “Aquatic Pastoral” and “Royal Roost.” Like a feathered kaleidoscope, Edmonds spins viewers into her richly textured work.



Above, Miguel Osuna dazzles with a vortex of blue light, a planet spinning outward. The oil on canvas work is both fragile and strong, something gestating.


Above, Angel Chen gives us stoneware, earthenware, sculptures that capture a wave, a seahorse, a goddess, a portal, blue coral – fossils that represent the color blue, glorious stepping stones into another dimension.


Above, Brad Howe’s abstract blue sculpture is built of stainless steel, aluminum, and urethane, 23 separate pieces linked like mysterious alien musical notes.


Above and below, Barbara Kolo creates Sky, Harbor, Tide in ink and colored pencil so rich that they appear, at first glance to be paint. These shades are like a Rorschach test for color. Each piece has an inward glow.


Below, Gary Brewer with wife and artist Aline Mare (Mare has her own exhibition across the street from Loft at Liz’s at the Jill Joy Gallery).


Below, power art couple Osceola Refetoff and Shana Nys Dambrot.

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Above, Michael Hayden uses encaustic mixed media to create, in his words, “rough, smooth, bright, dark –  in my mind the kind of way that it works for me.” Using resin and beeswax melted together contrasts the burlap and thin layers of wax over burlap.  “I’m so attracted to the ever-changing, hypnotic horizon line. You never get tired of getting lost on the horizon line. I just moved from West Hollywood to the Marina just to experience it.” Viewers can experience it in his art, which also employs silver leaf for high gloss and shine.

Not pictured but equally powerful are the works of Campbell Laird – his resin film print Blue Beneath the Pier, Venice CA is a stunner; Stephen Rowe, who uses dots, lines, and a pointillist technique to create acrylic on canvas works of complex abstraction; Crystal Fischeti’s geometric blue acrylic and oil pieces which have the quality of stained glass; Moses Hacmon’s archival pigment on aluminum panels which capture the wonders of the deep; Bertil Persson’s painted steel and lucite cubes; and Lauren Kasmer’s mesmerizing silk and chiffon dresses and jackets as wearable blue art.

Go for the color of creation…and check out Kasmer’s exciting December 8th presentation of Not So Blue, an evening  of small bites, R&B, hip-hop, video, and wearable art. The event is free but be generous – donations benefit two local charitable organizations dedicated to feeding and sheltering women and children in need.

Loft at Liz’s is located at 453 S. La Brea Ave., and the show itself runs through January 9th.

  • Genie Davis; photos: Jack Burke

Feminist Variations at Loft at Liz’s: Female Philosophy in Art

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F23C0319Co-curated by Shana Nys Dambrot and Susan Melly, Feminist Variations at Loft at Liz’s through September 19th, expresses feminist issues without rancor. Nys Dambrot and Melly are second and third from the right, above, joining exhibition artists and gallery owner Liz Gordon.

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Works by Annie Terrazzo, Lauren Kasmer, Victor Wilde, Peter Walker, Susan Melly, and Carol Sears present relationships to diverse aspects of feminism in political, social, and philosophical terms. The female body, its physicality and it’s evocation in myth and allegory, is the subject of this highly poetic and vibrant exhibition. This is feminism as a life force, as a woven – in some cases, through items of clothing, literally – design in the pattern of life.


Above,  artist Victor Wilde serves up stellar pancakes at the show’s opening August 27th, and creates the clothing-based artwork below.


Co-curator Shana Nys Dambrot explains the exhibition’s genesis. “About a year ago I met Susan Melly. She was in a critic group in which it was noted to her that her work presented a feminist critique that wasn’t a complaint. Her work was engaged with the issues without anger. We talked about that, and worked on the idea together, and really rallied around  the idea of how the female body takes up space in the world, from fashions and wearables to negative space in abstract composition, as we brought other artists into the exhibition.”


Susan Melly adds: “I had a discussion on a piece of mine with art critic and curator Peter Frank during a critique, in which I was telling him I always considered myself a feminist, but in a way in which differences between men and women should be acknowledged, but without complaint. That became the theme of the show.”


Melly, whose work includes materials such as the paper-thin dress patterns her mother kept,  poses with some of her work above.

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“We were looking for artists whose work spoke to that idea. They did not have to be female. Of the six artists in the show, two of us are men.”


Peter Walker’s beautifully detailed works here are created from graphite on paper. “I have been interested in exploring identity, the casual associations especially in a metropolis, where most of our sensations are fleeting and temporary. These pieces explore our chance encounters and how we identify ourselves as part of that random chance encounter.”


Walker was trained as a painter, but with these works wanted to emphasize the ephemeral. “Pencil on paper felt more fragile, which was what I wanted to convey for a message, the fragility of these relationships,” he relates.


Lauren Kasmer’s background is in photography. She’s the daughter of a clothing designer who only recently decided that fabric and photography belonged together in her work.

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“I usually work as an installation artist. Photos and video and live elements here at the opening all depict people wearing my clothes. There are many commonalities in clothing, in art. I’m sharing these commonalities, not the differences between men and women.”

Working in a wide range of mediums, the artists in this exhibition create a body of work that deals in contrasts and fluid relationships, on change and sameness, on awareness of the Venus/Mars differences, the bond of humanity, and the shared knowledge of the world that men and women experience – together.

Loft at Liz’s is located at 453 S. La Brea, Los Angeles.

  • Genie Davis; Photos: Jack Burke


Waste Not, Want Not: The Loft at Liz’s Delivers Diverted Destruction



An annual assemblage show runs through August 22 at the Loft at Liz’s on La Brea. The 9th annual such show, this year’s collection, Diverted Destruction, features five artists participating in the Recology San Francisco Artist in Residence (AIR) Program. For the past 26 years, the Recology AIR program offers artists access to studio space at San Francisco’s transfer station, and access to materials in the public dump. Along with supporting artists, the program encourages children and adults to think about their consumption practices and recycling and reuse. Recology plans to offer a Los Angeles Artist in Residence Program in the future.


Above, gallery owner and curator Liz Gordon, left, Recology artist in residence director Deborah Munk, right.

Deborah Munk, Director of the Artist in Residence Program at Recology calls her program “the first artist in residence program located at a dump. Artists scavenge materials and use them to create a body of work for exhibition.” She notes that “we work with artists in all different mediums including video, painting, and multi-media.” Student shows are also a part of the program, and Recology maintains a three-acre sculpture garden.

At Loft at Liz’s, curator Liz Gordon offered up a vast selection of free-for-the-taking assemblage materials in front of and behind the gallery on opening night, and will offer this wealth of material again on August 20th along with free recycled-materials workshop.

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Above, the recycled woodwork of Barbara Holmes.

Exhibiting Recology artists are Kristin Cammermeyer, Mark Faigenbaum, Jeff Hantman, Barbara Holmes, and Karrie Hovey.


Above, Mark Faigenbaum.

Faigenbaum says “I love old movies and old movie magazines, which goes along with a theme of Hollywood and movie stars. I like people to fit things into their own narrative, whether I’m using old detective magazine style or old Chinese-type boxes. I work on a gut level.”



Above, artist and animal activist Karrie Hovey.


Hovey says “Recology is all material diverted from the trash, and here I used medical materials, such as bandages. I hold on to a lot of stuff, and it is difficult sometimes to know what I am going to do with it. In this case I could’ve wrapped the whole room in bandages, but went in a different direction.” Hovey works with the environment, focusing on Project Thron, which helps with the conservation of rhinos.  “That focus helped me create this Trophy Room. All the animals represented here are endangered or used for ornamentation or medical purposes, such as ivory. The bandages specifically relate to my work with the rhinos. If they are poached for their horns they are often not killed, but abused horribly to remove the horns, their faces. Bandaging can save them.”


Above, artist Doug Pearsall.


Doug Pearsell describes his work as “repositioning material. These are pages from articles in Vogue. Normally, I work with ads, but these pieces are strictly text. I just  use both a figure, stories, a poem, and visually piece it together.  It’s minimalism. What I want to do to synthesize down to its quintessence, an idea that is essentially to converge out of ether.”

Don’t miss the August 20th workshop, or this terrifically artistic and ecological show.

The Loft is located at 453 S. La Brea in mid-city.

  • Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke