Mirror, Mirror! Kristine Schomaker Reflects Our Bodies/Ourselves

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Curated by Gloria Plascencia, Kristine Schomaker’s impressive solo exhibition Mirror, Mirror! celebrates the body and soul. From the female form to cultural stereotypes, Schomaker captures both the body politic and a rich palette of color and motion.

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Using installation, text, photography, mixed media, video, and performance, Schomaker explores notions of societal expectations, online identity, and society’s judgement and obsession with physical appearance.

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What we project on ourselves and others – it can be as ephemeral as a shadow. Schomaker’s work may be at it’s strongest with projected images and installation juxtaposed. Viewers truly enter a different world.

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Schomaker’s avatars are part of her process of becoming self-aware.

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The artist says her way of painting, using multiple layers, functions as a “metaphorical skin.”

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Her vivid color palette grabs the eye while her message of empowerment and identity tug at the heart.

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What exactly is being reflected? Our own images? Our own perceptions? Bodies that take on lives of their own, separate from cognizance? Step into another life.

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Baby you can drive my car…

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Literally and figuratively, Schomaker has created an impressive “body of work.”  How we feel about our bodies and the spirit they contain is truly all in the eye of the beholder – often ourselves.

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Mirror, Mirror! runs through December 20th at Gallery H Phantom Galleries LA – 12619 Hawthorne Blvd., Hawthorne.

November Must See: Dia de los Muertos at Gallery H

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Aztec dancers at Gallery H's Day of the Dead Celebration - Photo: Jack Burke
Aztec dancers at Gallery H’s Day of the Dead Celebration – Photo: Jack Burke

The Dia de los Muertos exhibition at Gallery H of Phantom Galleries L.A.  is a celebration of life, death, and the eternal. On display until November 21, this is one vibrant swirl of fresh, cutting-edge art. Curated by Gloria Plascencia, the art and the live performances that complimented it opening night, creates a joyful atmosphere. For the Aztecs, the image of a skeleton meant the transfer to another dimension or side of life, and this transformational quality is very much present in the Gallery H exhibition.

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Last Saturday night, a stellar flamenco guitarist provided the sound track,  Aztec dance troop Yankuititl, performed spirited traditional dances, and artist Cie Gumucio evoked the spirit of Frida Kahlo with the assistance of performers from Theatrum Elysum at the San Pedro Repertory.

Viva Frida - Cie Gumucio
Viva Frida – Cie Gumucio, Photo: Jack Burke

Bringing fully to life a piece that was part art installation and part performance, “Viva Frida” represents Gumucio’s new installation style, “If Art could Speak…What Would it Say.”  Curator Plascencia says Gumucio first created the piece for a Day of the Dead celebration that she’d planned but was forced to cancel two years ago. “She’s been saving it since then,” Plascencia relates.

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Viva Frida performance – Photo: Gloria Plascencia

The piece has grown in texture and style since then, aging like a fine wine. “I feel deeply connected to the Latin culture and magic realism so, in the spirit of Dia de Los Muertos I wanted the spirits of Mexican artists, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera to use their own words taken from Frida’s diaries and love letters with an art installation and a 7 minute performance,” Gumucio explains. “Diego and Frida’s lives were inextricably intertwined, so I took clothing resembling those they may have worn and sewed it together with red thread. I began the piece with an old wooden bed frame, which I painted vivid blue and orange, the colors of Frida’s home, Casa Azul. A body cast titled ‘The Wild Heart,’ like the one Frida was forced to wear after a devastating accident, is also part of the installation – at its heart is a red cage with the door open. If one looks deep inside, one can see the butterflies I painted on the inside walls, waiting to emerge – like her creativity.”

Ginette Rondeau's altar to her mother - Photo: Jack Burke
Ginette Rondeau’s altar to her mother – Photo: Jack Burke

Artist Ginette Rondeau’s altar, dedicated to her mother, is another outstanding piece. Brilliant with yellows, golds, and silvers and dotted with marigolds, Rondeau’s moving paean to her mother, who loved Spanish dance is deeply emotional. “It has so much meaning to the artist who created it,” Plascencia notes.

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Also on exhibit: Ron Therrio’s “Puerta lluminosa,” an Aztec themed arch crafted from wood and concrete, and Patty Grau’s straw and palm “Queen Deadfall” sculpture.

Artist Patty Grau with her "Queen Deadfall," Photo: Jack Burke
Artist Patty Grau with her “Queen Deadfall,” Photo: Jack Burke

Grau says “The piece is the outgrowth of me picking up dead fall when walking my dog around my neighborhood. It started with a tree seed pod which I always thought resembled a bustier.”

Susan Melly "A Woman's Work is Never Done"
Susan Melly “A Woman’s Work is Never Done”

Susan Melly offers the tongue-in-cheek “A Woman’s Work is Never Done,” an evocative painting wherein a naturalistic skeleton operates a traditional sewing machine.

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Lois Olsen’s “Mexican Memories” evokes the living and the dead with an abstract, kaleidoscopic skeleton.

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Conseulo Campos’ “Living La Via Muerta,” center

A mauve skeleton with flowers for eyes is the center of Consuelo Campos’ “Living la Vida Muerta.”

ALbert Vitala
ALbert Vitala

Albert Vitala’s “Day of the Dead Girl” was produced specifically for the exhibition, Vitala relates. “When Gloria asked me to participate I realized I had nothing related to Day of the Dead, so I began to spray paint angular geometric shapes, which in the end formed a girl’s face. I adapted the face to become a classical Day of the Dead figure, and then applied an overlaid texture of acrylic paint to create the dimensional flowers.”

Terry Holzman
Terry Holzman

Terry Holzman contributed several mixed media pieces shaped through found art. “I only collect items within a two mile radius of my house in West Los Angeles,” she relates. “I repurpose neighborhood discards as art.” Using brackets and electrical fragments, she created a dancing electric socket skeleton for the exhibit that looks as if he could dance right off the wall.

Dan Milnor
Dan Milnor

Dan Milnor’s “Let the Dead Bury the Dead,” uses an orange traffic cone as the basis for his mixed media. Another riveting display is made up of a large, colorful collection of ceramic skulls from students in the Hawthorne and Lawndale school districts.

Gloria Plascencia
Gloria Plascencia

Finding the art to contribute to this singular exhibition took curator Plascencia on visits to other Day of the Dead festivals, galleries, and art shows throughout the LA region. “It was a process to find the pieces that represented my own aesthetic vision for the exhibition,” she says. She also contributed her own digital print, “Aztec Warrior.” In her charge to bring a fully realized Day of the Dead celebration to life, Plascencia is herself somewhat of a warrior – for art.

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Above: collaboration between Susan Melly and Susan Chuka Chesney

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Above: Gloria Plascencia in her element.

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Join her triumphant charge – Gallery H is located at 12619 Hawthorne Blvd. just south of El Segundo Blvd. in Hawthorne. The gallery is open Saturdays 3-6 p.m. and by appointment with a call to Plascencia  at (310) 869-4992.

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  • Genie Davis, Photos: Jack Burke, additional photo: Gloria Plascencia

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery H at Phantom Galleries

Transformations - Peggy Sivert at Gallery H of the Phantom Galleries, Hawthorne - all photos by Jack Burke

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“Transformations,” Peggy Sivert’s solo show at Gallery H of Phantom Galleries Los Angeles is a vivid exhibition of Sivert’s moving and intimate work. Running until September 26th, the opening Saturday night included a performance by the artist, who transformed her own constantly worked and reworked pieces live, cutting and tearing several canvases to the rumble of primitive music and mention of both God and Satan. Sivert explains “This exhibit, and my performance, represent a long, challenging struggle of painting to complete this solo show. It pushed me to finish a body of work that has been going on for fifteen years. With the performance, I was able to go beyond the paintings. It was a closure leading toward clarity.” Sivert says she’s looking forward to creating “new work that will come from a clear place.”

Transformations - Peggy Sivert at Gallery H of the Phantom Galleries, Hawthorne - all photos by Jack Burke
Transformations – Peggy Sivert at Gallery H of the Phantom Galleries, Hawthorne – all photos by Jack Burke

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“Horses represent the spiritual, the next realm,” Sivert says. “It was not a strong conscious association for me.”

 

 

 

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  • Genie Davis, all photos by Jack Burke