Yes, Curate This 2, Too

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

PhotoLA – A Snapshot of Time

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What the eye sees, what the camera sees, what the eye of the beholder of what the camera sees: that’s PhotoLA.

The art renaissance that is taking place in Los Angeles is coming to a momentous peak this January, with PhotoLA the first in a string of large scale events including the LA Art Show, Fabrik Expo, and Art Los Angeles Contemporary, which are all opening this week.

PhotoLA was held last weekend at The Reef,  the cavernous 2nd floor space at LA Mart in DTLA. The opening night gala, benefiting Best Buddies, was crowded for the event’s tribute to Los Angeles artist James Welling.

The city’s longest-running art fair, PhotoLA ran the gamut of cutting edge pieces, historical photos, stunning landscapes, political art, abstract photos, and pop art. Eclectic panels populated the weekend, too, including provocative subjects such as “The Instagram Effect: How Instagram is Changing the Way We See Photography”; “Robert Mapplethorpe: Beyond Good and Evil”; and “Artists Take Issue: Perspectives and Practices in Activist Photography.”

What was our take? A wide range of exceptional pieces, with a number of standout independent photographers and curated group exhibitions.

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The honoree of the opening gala, James Welling. This post-modern photographic artist has a storied career experimenting with a variety of photographic mediums from digital prints to Polaroids.

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Some visual highlights: below, the haunting and riveting work of Kathy Curtis Cahill, whose art is dedicated to revealing “how fragile young children are, and how everything matters in the home environment.”

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Fascinating historical photos – and the  music of David Bowie.

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Photo Pop Art – the striking and amusing work of Marianne Hess.

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National Geographic landscape stunners – sometimes a straight forward shot of natural beauty evokes feelings beyond what is seen.

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Below: a delightfully different approach to scene: the fine work of Osceola Refetoff, also a panel speaker on activist photography moderated by Shana Nys Dambrot. Refetoff’s work, among other cutting edge pieces, was curated by VICA, the non-profit Venice Institute of Contemporary Art.

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Below: the opening night crowd viewing PhotoLA  – reflected in a San Francisco skyline.

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Artist Jeffry Sklan’s enormous – and enormously beautiful flowers, below. Impressive detail and color.

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Artist Sklan  below – photo by Nina Bonyak

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To sum up: Photo LA presented an international eye on the world, vibrating through the lens of many Los Angeles area curators and artists. What you see is literally what you “get” out of interpreting an artist’s own unique vision of the world.

  • Genie Davis

A Saturday Night in Chinatown

Joyous celebration, paper lanterns swinging overhead, crowds pushing into and out of galleries all along Chung King Road in the heart of Chinatown. That was the scene for Saturday openings all along Chung King Road’s walk-street gallery row on January 9th.

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Images and experiences flow together with the crowd – and just because this was a don’t-miss-night, Los Angeles art lovers need not despair. Thursday January 28, the scene will be repeated from 7-10 p.m., part of an LA Art Show sponsored celebration honoring Pop Surrealist artist Robert Williams with a lifetime achievement award. And most of the exhibitions run through February 20th.

Here’s a look at the great art flowing through these DTLA galleries.

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Brian Mains’ “The Intersection of Light and Darkness,” at the Gregorio Escalante Gallery is a visually and emotionally stimulating mythological world. The artist says “The kind of space, type of composition, use of light, and method of articulating forms all work together to create an other-worldly reality and to infuse the pictures with magical, theatrical and spiritual qualities.”

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At Chungking Studios, Painting by Scott Trimble and Photography by Osceola Refetoff, co-curated by Refetoff and Shana Nys Dambrot, enrichingly combines photographic and painted images that share the same sensibility of space, light, line, or emotion.

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Coagula Curatorial featured “Ten Top Artists,” a group show juried by Tulsa Kinney, editor of Artillery Magazine, and featuring artists including Jill Emery, Same Source, Vanessa Madrid, Annette Hassell, Jennifer Lugris,
Reagan Lake, Daggi Wallace, Michele Vavonese, and Kate Oltmann.
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Very different art and artists – commonality: a vision that makes you look twice.

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The Charlie James Gallery gave us artist Sadie Barnette’s meditative and haunting take on life at the racetrack, Superfecta, and Rosette, a group show curated by artist Mary Anna Pomonis, featuring the work of Suzanne Adelman, Lili Bernard, Mattia Biagi, Annie Buckley, Kristin Calabrese, Angel Chen, Sarah Cromarty, Cherie Benner Davis, Mark Dutcher, Christine Dianne Guiyangco, Sabina Ott,  Pomonis, Cindy Rehm, Allison Stewart and Vincent Ramos.

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Artist Lili Bernard, above, discusses her autobiographical tribute to the souls of her ancestors and three generations of rape survivors. The powerful piece, titled “Elvis Slept Here: Help Me, Abuelitas,” grabs you by the heart and the gut and won’t let go until you really see the details.

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Below, The Project Gallery premiered Wyatt Mills’ Normal, whose images belie the title. The Los Angeles artist’s mixed media paintings are a bold mix of the real and surreal.

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At The Good Luck Gallery, below, Art Moura’s stunning installations are a fine example of this gallery’s commitment to visionary and outsider art.

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A treasure trove of art washed up on a wild shore…

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Not sure how anyone couldn’t love this. It’s folk art, it’s surreal, it’s a tapestry of life, it’s the rhythm of existence, dream, and distance.

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The details are as compelling as the large designs.

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So you want some art? Some exciting art? Chung King Road is the place to be. But then, it almost always is.

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Painting by Scott Trimble and Photography by Osceola Refetoff

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Co-curated by art critic, curator, and author Shana Nys Dambrot and photographer Osceola Refetoff, Chungking Studios is serving up an exciting juxtaposition of painting and photography through January 29th in Chinatown. Featuring the works of painter Scott Trimble and photographer Refetoff, this visually and emotionally linked combination of images is a mind expanding look at scenery both external and internal.

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As if seamless, the melding of photographic images with painterly ones is like watching two different sides of the same art coin. Here the same touch of color, there a similar image; the vibrancy and desolation of the desert, the emptiness or vividness in a place or a face. Shapes, shadows, and feeling coalesce.

The two artists met, liked each others work, and wanted to put on a show despite apparent lack of similarities in their work. Dambrot and Refetoff chose work by each artist that is intrinsically linked, through landscape, palette, and lines.

Scott Trimble
Scott Trimble

Trimble describes his work. “I paint every day, it’s a total coping mechanism for me, the one and only area of my life in which I have total freedom. It brings me such joy, I can’t imagine not painting.”  Trimble says he was thrilled to work with Dambrot and Refetoff, and agrees with Dambrot’s description of putting the show together as “casual and organic.”

Osceola Refetoff and Shana Nys Dambrot
Osceola Refetoff and Shana Nys Dambrot

“Osceola and Scott were trading studio visits,” Dambrot explains. “Their work was so different, but they both wanted to have a show together. To assemble the exhibition, we went with a palette approach, picking images that were both hot and cold, or shared the same graphic strengths.”

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Refetoff and Dambrot made studio visits together. “It was a ‘yes, no, maybe’ process,” Dambrot notes. “And once we had the loose structure, we unpacked the pieces, we looked at Scott’s paintings and Osceola’s photographs, and we just saw the pairings. I saw that this idea made sense.”

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Refetoff adds “We were originally thinking of separate walls for Scott’s paintings and my photographs. We thought it would be hard to make black and white photos and colors work seamlessly together, but they do. It’s a dialog together.”

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“It clicks, and I can’t say why,” Dambrot laughs. “We toyed with the idea of calling it ‘Studio Visit’ since the show grew out of the binding of two artists who explored each others work.”

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The exciting visual aspect of the work is apparent the moment the viewer steps into the gallery. Thematically, the pieces work through their images, their colors, their emotion. It is an underlying sensibility that perhaps drew both artists together originally which creates a dynamic pull throughout the exhibit.

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Missed the opening? See the work of this electrifying trio Thursday 1/28 from 8-11 p.m., as part of an LA Art Show sponsored celebration honoring Pop Surrealist artist Robert Williams with a lifetime achievement award. Other Chung King Road galleries will be open late, too.

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Chungking Studios is located in the heart of Chinatown, at 975 Chung King Rd. in DTLA