Art Makes Change

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VisionLA ‘15 presents Art Makes Change, a group exhibition of 60 local artists. Through over 200 pieces of art from photography to sculpture, these works inspire viewers to confront the climate-related issues in today’s world.  These beautiful pieces are divided into four categories: Earth, Water, Recycle, and Awareness. Co-curators Dale Youngman and Lilli Muller hone in on the ways in which art can create and promote change.

Each piece speaks of either or both the beauty of the earth and the challenges facing it, such as drought, pollution, endangered species, and climate change.

Participating artists include:

Mike Anderson, Jacki Apple, Cody Bayne, Clara Berta, Om Bleicher, Jody Bonassi, Wanda Boudreaux, Qathryn Brehm, Bill Brewer, Gary Brewer, Wini Brewer, Mark Brosmer, Kate Caravellas, Michael Carrier, Nathan Cartwright, Morgan Chavoshi, Steven David, Roberto Delgado, Ben Dewell,Beth Elliott, Karen Fiorito, Nicole Fournier, Barbara Fritsche, Anyes Galliani, Tom Garner, Brian Goodman, Patrick Haemmerlein, Erin Hansen, Michael Hayden, William Hogan, Brenda Hurst, Liz Huston, Dave Knudsen, Juri Koll, Jamie Lynn Kovacs, Stuart Kusher, Jonna Lee, Aline Mare,Michael McCall, Rick Mendoza, Monica Mader, Colette Miller, Rebecca Molayem, Michael M. Mollett, Suzi Moon, Jen Moore, Pamela Mower-Conners, Lilli Muller, Julie Orr, Miguel Osuna, Billy Pacek, Yael Pardess, Vinnie Picardi, Naomi Pitcairn, Jena Priebe, Osceola Refetoff, Gay Summer Rick, Robert Rosenblum, Karrie Ross, Avi Roth, Catherine Ruane, Louise Russell, Gwen Samuels, Elizabeth Saveri, Winston Secrest, Moses Seenarine, Karen Sikie, Paul Soady, Sean Sobczak, Marilee Spencer, Anna Stump, Jill Sykes, Alexandra Underhill, Rachel Van Der Pol, Andrea Villefane, Geoffry White, Rush White, Tami Wood and Ron Zeno

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Above: a photo chronicle of Mud People, the living sculpture project helmed by artist and performance artist Mike Mollett.

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Co-curator Dale Youngman says “I am so happy about this opportunity to curate a show of this magnitude for such a really important cause.  I think that artists have an ability to engage the public in meaningful conversation through their work, and if they can affect or inspire change through their efforts, that is a wonderful thing.”

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Morgan Chavoshi has focused on the plight of endangered animals for many years. She painted these wild mustangs as if in a void, because they are disappearing from our landscape. Her sensitivity is equal to her passion for changing people’s behavior through awareness.

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Osceola Refetoff’s evocative photographs above focus on both the wonder and potential ecological disaster that is the Salton Sea. Refetoff has also worked on depicting the desert and its relationship to Los Angeles itself as part of a long term project with writer/collaborator Christopher Langley.

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Absorb the water. Robert Rosenblum’s stunning photomontage technique mirrors the life in each drop.

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Colette Miller’s vibrant wings make a great spot to pose for a photo and show support for the environment — and soar to protective, guardian angel heights to help preserve it.

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Sculptures by Mike Mollett…wires that seem to bloom like dry-weather plants.

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Support art and the environment with many of these beautiful eco-centered pieces making a very reasonable holiday gift.

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Artist Gay Summer Rick has four pieces in the show, all featuring local beach scenes in Santa Monica and Venice. “I like to paint what I see as I’m making my way around town,” she says. “I paint the bay, and I try to show the mood I feel at the moment,” she relates. “In Atomic Trash Can (left) I included the trash can of course and also tractor marks from sand combing. I wanted to create a little different impression of preserving our beautiful beaches.”
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Rick says she paints using only a palette knife, no brushes or solvents. “I’m very environmentally friendly. Very little goes into the landfill when I create my art. I want to be a good steward of the environment and still deliver a message about how beautiful nature is.”

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Youngman says: “I have selected works that  depict endangered animals, photos of drought–stricken areas, and assemblage pieces that utilize recycled and re-purposed materials to spark the flame of realization regarding environmental issues.”

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Bill Leigh Brewer’s take on the desert focuses on the Salton Sea in this series of evocative black and white prints. Viewers can almost touch the magic, the aloneness, the dryness, the preciousness of water.

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Steve David’s sculptures seem to show the human head as a flower. What ideas are we planting?

“This show speaks loud and clear that climate change is one of the most important issues facing the world today,” Youngman notes.

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Jonna Lee’s compelling Folly uses grass, dirt, wire, and wood. A whole new kind of topiary art.

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“I hope people recognize the power of art to make change – and I pray they come out to support this endeavor by purchasing work here that will benefit these artists and the Vision LA Fest non-profit cause,” Youngman says.

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Mike Anderson created the forest of art above.

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So much to see, so much to take in: art mirroring the environment, art respecting the environment, art as a song to action.

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Foreground: Mike Mollett’s balls of beauty and detrititus.

The free and truly awe-inspiring Art Makes Change exhibit is open daily Dec. 1st through Dec. 10th, at the VisionLA ’15 Home Gallery at Bergamot Station, located at: 2525 Michigan Ave, Building G1 in Santa Monica, CA 90404

all pieces in the exhibition are for sale

  • Genie Davis; all photos: Jack Burke

Mike M. Mollett

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Performance art, sculpture, and installations – Mike M. Mollett is a versatile artist who creates both living and still-form art. The founder of L.A. Mudpeople, and the sculptor of large scale pieces created from found art, shaped into balls and bundles, Mollett’s work offers a look into a different reality, one in which what look like clay statues live and breathe, and bundles of wires move in the wind and become animate themselves.

On the performance art side, Mollett considers his troupe of L.A. Mudpeople to be non-performers who function as “essentially living sculptures.” Mudpeople don’t speak, and move slowly and deliberately, almost as if lumps of clay had shaped themselves and literally come to life. The troupe gets its mud from Silver Lake, Hollywood, and northern California, as well as using commercial mud such as potter’s clay. The artist started his mud-work in 1989, booking himself and others at an African-Reggae club for a single night – and the rest is art-tribal history.

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L.A. Mudpeople vary in number, with sometimes as many as forty members participating in events like the Doo Dah Parade, or conducting walkabouts along the L.A. River, Melrose, or Old Town Pasadena. Their work has appeared in National Geographic Magazine, and exhibitions of their attire and artifacts have been shown at both UCLA and Cal State L.A. They’ve been the subject of a film, imitated by Leonard DiCaprio, and have become an iconic part of Los Angeles’ rich street art scene. The Mudpeople wear their own simple clothing, and create full head masks made from cloth, paper, mud, and binding. Conceptually, these living sculpture performances are all about the freeing of self from time and worry, muddy yogis who, according to Mollett “don’t have to do anything. We just are.”

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Mollett has participated in the Los Angeles art scene for forty-some years, and it’s not all about “mudding-up.” His sculptures are often created from items and forms he’s used from work as a landscape artist, found objects that he morphs into what are essentially time capsules of society and life itself.

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His sculpture balls include pieces like “Migrant World,” a bundle of artifacts that were gathered along the Arizona-Mexico border trails. Tied with rope and cords, viewers see a Mexican shawl, a battered pink backpack, a hat, water bottle, and baby bottle among other objects, built around an ocotillo wand armature. The over all effect is poignant – these are the belongings that people took with them as they migrated from one land, or realm, to the next. Mollett’s rope and wire bound “The Giant Ball,” features the detritus of modern society, such as milk cartons, wine bottles, paper bags, and pill containers. This, Mollett seems to be saying, is what we have allowed ourselves to be made of. The balls serve as personal sculptures that use material collected from Mollett’s life or another’s life, shaping a biography or autobiography of that person.

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Unlike his balls, his Time-Twists of wire and wood are linear, reaching like mysterious urban plants skyward. “The Giant Bundle: A pLAyLAnd Twist” is installed indefinitely at The Brewery Artists Lofts in Los Angeles. His “Woody Bundle” includes an accordion tape measure. “Wild Red Twist” looks like shocking pink licorice has fused into corral, with blue, yellow, and black wires twisting in an invisible ocean wave. “Mostly Electric Story” incorporates rope, wires, and computer cables.

What makes both the Time-Twists and balls so compelling, is the feeling as if these entirely inanimate objects could suddenly become animate – just as Mollett’s Mudpeople do. A sinuous quality infuses the Time-Twists, making the viewer think of snakes, or strands of DNA twining and untwining. The balls are like transparent eggs filled with the stuff that life is made from, ready to hatch into human form.

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Mollett’s “Gate Series” also feels embryonic. In “The 2nd GATE,” Wire mesh is woven with wires, ropes, sticks, bamboo, Dracaena Draco leaves, and twines. Mollett’s “Mostly Friendly GATE” also features Dracaena Draco leaves, orange, wire mesh, sticks, bamboo, wires, and ropes. The flat aspect of the gates resembles a thin slice of human tissue, the wires and leaves the inner-workings of the body, or the inner-workings of technology just as fragile, just as capable of being alive in a technology-driven world.

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Installations like “Leaves in the Poet’s Winter Garden,” a part of Mollett’s solo show at Matters of Space in Highland Park, also use sticks, wires, and pipes to create the illusion of alive-ness. In this piece, pipe and bamboo stand tall, while at the base of these “plants” are small pieces of paper with two sets of disparate words or phrases written on them. A wonderful concept that illustrates the fluidity of creative thought, the passing “leaves” of discarded verbiage. Other installations have included a Mudcave at an Eagle Rock pop-up space, PlayLand, and The Mud Room created for the NadaDada Festival in Reno, Nev. Recently, Mollett was also a part of group exhibitions at Los Angeles Contraventions and the Los Angeles Juried Exhibition. Mudpeople have recently performed at the Highways Performance Space, as well as along the L.A. River, and at Beyond Baroque in Venice, Calif.  You can find out more about Mollett’s work here: http://www.kcet.org/arts/artbound/counties/los-angeles/mike-mollett-la-mudpeople.html

– Genie Davis