South Bay Contemporary Sets the Course with “Dear President” and “The Faces Within”



The South Bay Contemporary’s powerful Dear President opened last Saturday, offering creative dialog on American issues, policies, and values – challenged with the new presidency. Hard topics such as homelessness, gun control, immigrant rights, big oil lobbying are addressed as well as giving voice to those feeling marginalized. With nearly 50 local and regional, the show buzzes with fervor and commitment.


South Bay Contemporary gallery director Peggy Sivert Zask and Ben Zask had an idea at the beginning of the 2016 election season to curate artists to give voice to the diverse views of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

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Sivert Zask was inspired by “clashing disputes on American policy” that “brought out the passions of a large number of citizens who had once been politically apathetic.”

“Hillary was poised to break the glass ceiling, but represented the establishment,” according to Sivert Zask. “Outsiders Trump and Sanders appealed to the disenfranchised while attempting to turn the establishment upside down. The issues that were brought to the surface started a forceful national dialogue.”

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The show’s artists voice their heartfelt concerns through their works and written letters to be compiled into a catalog sent directly to the president and other influential representatives in Washington D.C.
Cie Gumucio’s mixed media installation, Letters, clearly reveals both the frustration and grasping towards hope so many are feeling.
The piece was created using various failed letter drafts written to try and communicate with a strong male ego such as that of the new president, according to the artist. The piece includes letters using approaches of fear, hard scientific facts, and appealing to a family man, but all end up in a cascading waste basket full of pleas for “our shared existence.”
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As a member of the Moms Demand Gun Control and an advocate for Gun Sense, artist Ellen November works in fabric with her piece, House of Guns. She recreates the Capitol building as a tapestry made up of hand guns and automatic weapons. Her work creates a visually striking contrast between the American tradition of quilting and collage collage – she’s evokes a modern day Betsy Ross documenting a new kind of patriotic act.

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The assemblage piece by Michael Chomick, Cipher was started during the Bush administration as a statement against the Iraq war, and has since been reworked to address the concerns of what he calls “military quagmires,” and the messiness of war, and the loss of children.

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Citia Alejandra Segovia, A Big Beautiful Wall is a video work that addresses issues of immigration with clarity and humor. The artist, whose work has been influenced by Mexican culture, uses photography and video to explore cultural stereotypes, identity and bilingualism. She views herself as both an outsider and insider to American culture, one who tries to “look at its machinations with a fresh eye.”

On Sunday February 19th from 3-5 p.m., an artists talk will present artists’ concerns, process, and feelings about their work and the incoming administration.

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One of the planned speakers is John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent imprisoned for allegedly leaking classified information about waterboarding. His image can be seen placed on American currency in artist John Dingler’s digital media piece Whistleblower, John Kiriakou. Kiriakou will be sharing his past experience and future views.

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Dear President opens up a proactive dialogue designed to create lasting changes. Seeing that diversity and solidarity can co-exist in beautiful ways is both empowering and inspiring. The show’s catalog is available for purchase and the proceeds will help to support the South Bay Contemporary and local artists.

Participating artists include:

Claudia Bear, Marconi Calindas, Kate Carvellas, Darice Chang, Michael Chomick, Annie Clavel, Preston Craig, Gina Cunningham, Rick Dallago, John Dingler, Edem Elesh, Paige Emery , Luis Favela, Kathi Flood, Scott Froschauer, Steve Fujimoto, Richelle Gribble, Elwing Gonzalez, Cie Gumucio, Benjamin Jancewicz, Julian Kehle, Janet Le, Sheri Leigh O’Conner, Eva Kolosvary-Stupler, Mona-Lisa Lind, Ann Mann Lynch, Gina M., Zachary Mendoza, Narsiso Martinez, Karena Massingil, Mary Milelzcik, Tom Miller,
Johnny Naked, Ellen November, Michelle Nunes, Toni Reinis, Michelle Rozic, Kuniko Ruch, Mati Russo, Tatiana Savchenko, Cintia Alejandra Segovia, Peggy Sivert, Micheal Swank, Curtis Taylor, Daggi Wallace, Tammy West, Bill Zeldis.

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According to Sivert-Zask, “Some of the artists were invited and we also included an open call for artists to enter. After the election we decided to extend the deadline since there were so many artists had deep need to express their feelings. We ended up wanting to include as many artists as we could because of the intensity of the times. We felt everyone needed to be included if they were addressing a political issue.”

 And in the adjoining gallery…
Adjoining Dear President, is the separate exhibition The Faces Within, in which artists express their personal responses to their mental/physical/emotional state during this election past year.
Sivert-Zask notes “We invited artist and curator Karrie Ross to curate a related show in the smaller project room. Her work is a departure from specific political issues and focuses on the face of emotion resulting from the chaos of the election process.”
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According to  Ross, “The question the artists were posed with is ‘What Does YOUR emotional FACE Look Like?’ Each Artist was assigned a left or right side of face to create. Some started their projects before November 8th and others after. The results are amazing, I hope you’ll be able to relate to, and find a connection to their feelings. There will also be some small pieces reflecting a full face and one emotion.”
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“I was moved by each of the artists’ statements regarding their art piece and the 2016 experience that inspired it, with each enhanced by the powerful statement the pairing of images presented…simple, clean, to the point, for me The Faces Within caused a reflection on my own experiences. Each final piece was selected by degrees of angst, paired with care to best reflect the two sides of any decision,” Ross says.
Participating Southern California based artists: Nancy Larrew, Sarah Stone, Ben Zask, Steve Shriver, Scott Meskill, Anna Stump, Vicki Barkley, Raymond Logan, Randi Matushevitz, Malka Nedivi, Leonard D Greco Jr., Beanie Karmen, Lore Elkelberry, Cansu Bulgu.

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Sivert-Zask and Ross expect these shows to release, according to Sivert-Zask, “a lot of the intense emotional feelings that we all feel, by bringing us together and allowing a safe place to feel together. I think it will release feelings but hopefully spark and inspire continued activism as well. We believe that art can continue to be an important vehicle of social and political expression.”


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Dear President and The Faces Within run through February 19th.  South Bay Contemporary is located at 401 S. Mesa St., third floor, San Pedro. The gallery is open Thursday, Feb. 2 from 6-9 p.m. during the First Thursday Art Walk, Saturdays from 1 to 5, and by appointment. The show concludes with the Artists’ Talk from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday Feb. 19. To make an appointment, call (310) 429-0973 or visit
Ellen Riingen, Genie Davis; Photos: Ellen Riingen

Sky’s the Limit: Skyline at South Bay Contemporary


Urban landscape, urban myths.  Silhouettes of cities, iconic urban landscapes – all mounted together to shape one three-dimensional artwork along a 7″ shelf in the main gallery of South Bay Contemporary’s loft space.

Curator Ben Zask has put together a visually encompassing show at SBC, running through June 26th.  This group sculpture exhibition includes the works of  Sandy Abrams, Scott Aicher, James Allen, Susan Amorde, Kate Carvellas, Mark Clayton, Michael Chomick, Ann Olsen Daub, June Diamond, Anita Dixon, Lauren Evans, Shane Foley, Luis Fournier, Patti Grau, Sylvia Greer, Paul Guillemette, Cie Gumucio, Miriam Jackson, Nicholette Kominos, Carolyn LaLiberte, Connie DK Lane, David Lovejoy, Kristin Marvell, M shortforMelissa, Scott Meskill, Patrick S Quinn, Annmarie Rawlinson, Karrie Ross, Eva Kolosvary Stupler, Ron Therrio, Patrick Tierney, Tres, Nancy Webber, Ann Weber, Jaye Whitworth, Valerie Wilcox, and Monica Wyatt.

Utilizing primarily mixed media and found art materials, while the artists altogether form an incredible exhibition that serves as an ersatz skyline around the perimeter of the cavernous gallery space, each individual work stands alone as a unique creation of a landscape.


Above, curator Ben Zask describes the artwork on exhibit.


Above and below, Cie Gumucio with her piece “The Skyscraper that Dreamed of Being a Tree.” The artist describes the work as depicting the power of longing. “By looking at the tree, the skyscraper changed its shape. This is the piece of my heart,” Gumucio says.


Below, Peggy Sivert Zask with a beautifully poetic horse sculpture, imbued with motion. With powerful pieces focusing on horse imagery, the artist creates vivid art and a mythology rooted in a desire for a better world.


Below, the work of June Diamond.


Diamond says “I was playing with the materials and saw images in my head. After I dreamed about those images I was able to more fully realize the sculptures.” The artist always works intuitively on an organic level with her materials. “In this case, I got a feel for the outlines of the sculpture as I deconstructed the bottles. It was important to me to highlight the tension between the chains and the glass components.”

Diamond consistently works with a variety of materials to create sculptures, large installation pieces, and drawings. Her work stems from what she describes as an intuitive origin and commonality.


The artist’s large installation piece, “Chain,” is curerently on view at the Hollywood Sculpture Garden, curated by Dr. Robby Gordon. Gordon’s garden is situated in the Hollywood Hills below the Hollywood sign.

Other works in Skyline convey a distinctive look at an urban environment.


Or evoke images seen on a city horizon.


Below, artist Sylvia Greer works in cloth, including hand-made felt. “I majored in painting, and this was one of my first felt yarn fibers fine art works with a capitol F. This is what I want to do from now on as my work.” Greer makes her own felt, and enjoys that process as well as creating the layered, ethereal artwork made from it.


Meanwhile,  below, in an adjoining gallery, the work of Michael Freitas Wood springs to life with layered color patterns that reveal their true visual complexity. His “Connections” literally glows like constellations when it is photographed with a flash. Layers of color and pattern reflect the visual complexity of contemporary communications. This is a tremendously involving work.


Above, with a flash, without, below.

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Below, second from left, Monica Wyatt’s “San Andreas III” and “San Andreas II” joins a group of outstanding wooden sculptural works. Center, David Lovejoy’s  “You said to meet on the Bridge,” created from salvaged wood and piano parts.


Below, Anne Weber’s “Portal,” draws viewers into an entrance made from found cardboard and polyurethane.



Above, works include pieces by Mark Clayton, Wonder, and Zeen, first and second from left; June Diamond, far right. Middle: two arresting steel and wood sculptures from Scott Meskill.


Above, incredible detail enhances the story of the Wizard of Oz as told by Cie Gumucio.  “If Ever a Wiz There Wuz” evokes the classic story with a tin man made from a mirror slider and multi-colored popsicle sticks as a rainbow. The Emerald City is created from the shards of a broken street lamp, while a coiled spring of a tornado waits above.


Below, curator Ben Zask.

In another adjoining gallery, below, Tracey Weiss creates wonderous sculptures made of PET plastic from plastic water and soda bottles. “I’ve been working for over five years with these pieces. I’ve come from a backgrounds in ceramics.” She explains that she was looking for mixed media material that was available in large quantities with which to shape her work. She found it in the plastic material, which is also difficult to work with. “Everything is stitched together with fishing line. No one else is really using this material because it is so difficult to work with.”


The results are worth the effort: ethereal flowers and spirals cascade in a surreal garden. “I was shocked by how pretty they were. They were created from something that is just trash, something we use and disregard every day,” she says.


In short, whether working magic with discarded plastics or casting a spell that stretches the length of a city skyline, Skyline  and the accompanying exhibits at SBC are a force to be reckoned with.

Skline, Connections, and Pet all run through June in this San Pedro gallery space. Don’t miss.

Fresh and Fine: Fundraiser for South Bay Contemporary



A beautiful sculpture by June Diamond graces the trees at the South Bay Contemporary fundraising gala, Fresh.  The piece, “Chain” will be installed at the Hollywood Sculpture Gardens in the Hollywood Hills in the next week, but for the gala event, it was one of a number of site-specific installations, creating a lush outdoor gallery.


Held April 23 in the Italian-style courtyard of the Shriver estate in Rancho Palos Verdes, Fresh was exactly that, a bright and engaging artistic take on the fundraising scene.

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Above, video installation by artist Cie Gumucio, who describes her work as “sometimes whimsical, sometimes profound.”


The mermaid skirt on the sculpture above was just one of several at the event, with additional, mylar-created pieces available to try on and dance in, all created by artist Beth Elliot.


Above, the work of Rob Hutchins, retired mechanical engineer and vibrant sculptor.

The art highlight of the evening was for us the the beautiful sculpture garden installed, with a wide ranging variety of pieces from artists such as Cansu Bulgu, who created Transformative Sand drawing sessions; a vibrant video installation by Cie Gumucio (above); Taco Bell sauce tarot readings from Chrysanthe Oltmann; sculpture created from tire shavings by Nate Jones;  a brilliant kinetic wind sculpture by Rob Hutchins (above); as well as pieces by Anne Olsen Daub, June Diamond (top of article), Jake Dotson, Beth Elliot (above), Jan Govaerts, Patty Grau, Theatrium Elysium, and Thinh Nguyen.

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Above, artist Sylvia Greer with her table centerpiece.

Silent Auction Sculptural Center Pieces created magic in the courtyard and was donated by many artists who will also have their work displayed in the upcoming Skyline exhibit May 7th at SBC’s Loft in San Pedro. Participating artists included Anita Dixon, Lauren Evans, Patty Grau, Sylvia Greer, Nicholette Kominos, Connie DK Lane, Carolyn LaLiberte, Kristen Marvell, Karrie Ross, Denis Richardson, Peggy Sivert, Ron Therrio, Tracey Weiss, Jaye Whitworth, June Diamond, and Ben Zask.

South Bay Contemporary director Peggy Sivert Zask, said the evening was about “unity” as much as it was a fund raiser to support SBC and the culture of contemporary art in the South Bay. Certainly attendees were unified in their enjoyment of the asparagus crostini, chicken alfredo, crab cakes, and quinoa salad, the fun and fruity mixed drinks and homemade wines, and fun touches like the silver mylar mermaid skirts for swirling, live music, and the chance to peruse the art-filled auction tables.

Stay Fresh, South Bay Contemporary – and readers, don’t hesitate to volunteer to support SBC, through donations, attendance at events, and administrative support. Founder Peggy Sivert Zask is looking to welcome a wide community into the artistic fold south of LAX.

  • Genie Davis, Photos: Jack Burke, Ron Hutchins’ sculpture photo by Gloria Plascencia

Stay FRESH 2016 South Bay Contemporary Fundraiser

Diversions SBC

Diversions FRESH
Looking for some art-action – and auctions – this weekend? Coming up on Saturday, the South Bay Contemporary fundraising gala fits the bill. Taking place the 23rd from 5 to 8 in the courtyard of a Rancho Palos Verdes estate, the event supports events, exhibitions, arts education and more at SBC in San Pedro.

The cutting edge art programs at SBC should be well represented by a live auction of collectible works, performance art, interactive art, live music, cool cocktails, and a catered dinner. Attendees will also get a preview of SBC’s upcoming exhibition Skyline, opening May 7th, as exhibiting artists came up with the table centerpieces for the event – which will be sold at a silent auction.

Diversions SBC

Looking ahead, Skyline features emerging patterns, silhouettes and lines of 3-D sculptures, to form a unified image of a skyline. Curated by Ben Zask, the focus will be on sustainable practice in sculpture, with most pieces utilizing found materials and mixed media. To see these same artists creating centerpieces – and being able to take an original artwork home – makes the gala even more appealing. Hat and brooch making will be offered onsite, too.

Participating artists in the live and silent auctions and onsite during the gala include Cie Gumucio, Cansu Bulgu, Patty Grau, Margaret Lazzari, Seth Kaufman, and Gloria Plascencia.

SBC director Peggy Sivert Zask
SBC director Peggy Sivert Zask

South Bay Contemporary director Peggy Sivert Zask, says the evening is about “unity” as much as it is a fund raiser to support SBC and the culture of contemporary art in the South Bay.

Don’t know where the South Bay is? Well, it’s time to find out. Just drive south of LAX and look for this event. After all, it wouldn’t be a party without the art.

Tickets for the gala are online at The event will be located in the courtyard of the Shriver estate, located at 21 Pomegranate Road, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275