Saturday, August 15, 2015

A Cure For The Summertime Blues

I assume this dusty, little corner of the internet is usually visited by artists, and/or friends. Some of whom have asked why I stopped writing, and if I'll ever get back to doing that again. I don't really have an answer for that yet. The reasons for my recent silence here are many, and some are complicated. Ask me, next time you see me. Maybe I'll tell you.

In the meantime, as summer 2015 comes to a close, Los Angeles is awash in art events. I feel compelled to tell you about four of them (full disclosure, I'm in 3 of them). All of which are happening this weekend. First up, is "The Late, Late Show" , a special Mike Street solo show at Beyond Baroque, opening tonight at 4pm. This  show will feature a plethora of Felliniesque "Italian film stills" that Mike has created over the course of many years. Mr. Street is a staple of the Los Angeles art scene, and one of the kindest humans you will ever meet.

After "The Late, Late Show", you should head over to Santa Monica to see "Girl Scouts and Adventure Guides" at the Daniel Rolnik Gallery. It will be a celebration of summer, camp, cookies, exploration and general irreverence. The opening is from 7 - 11pm tonight.

Tomorrow is the closing event of "Spectrum Gestalt 2" at bG Gallery Bergamot Station. This is a massive group show where every piece of art  is grouped together in order of color. You might think that would be an assault on your eyeballs, but it ends up being a soothing visual experience that you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere outside of nature. Closing event starts at 2pm on Sunday.

Lastly, is "Faux Show: Social Realism" at Balconi Coffee Purveyors in West Los Angeles. Curated by Kio Griffith, this is part of a series of shows where contemporary artists get a chance to offer their take on the classics. Think of it as "cover songs" in paint. This time around, the show features the two artists I named "Best New Artists" in my 2014, Valerie Pobjoy and Phil Santos. It will also include my homage to Dorothea Lange's iconic "Migrant Mother" photograph. I have a deep, personal connection to that photograph, and I hope that comes through in my piece. The opening for this one is 7pm Sunday.

At any rate, my bias aside, these are four wonderful shows for you to attend this weekend, You're welcome!

Click on the links above for specifics and logistics.

Spanish Girl by Valerie Pobjoy

Monsanto Meets American Gothic by Phil Santos

Dust by KrossD

You Are What You Eat by KrossD

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Special Valentine with Douglas Alvarez and Terri Berman

I'm not really sure where I first met Douglas Alvarez and Terri Berman. But if you spend any amount of time in the Los Angeles art scene, you are bound to run into them. They are pretty much fixtures. I wanted to do a special Valentine's Day post featuring an art couple. Doug and Terri were the first couple I thought of. I asked them each to paint a Valentine. They both agreed, but Douglas warned "They might be dark." That was curious. Dark, isn't a word I'd usually associate with Doug or Terri. Their work is typically witty and charming, as are they. Doug's Valentine (seen above) ended up being an exploration of oral fixations, while Terri created a little 8 bit heart. I'll let the armchair art psychologist within you dissect that.

I recently dropped by the couple's "tree-house" to chat about how they met, how they work together and what they fight about.

How did you two meet?

Douglas: Art school. CSUN.
Terri: In the computer lab.
Douglas: Yeah, I was the lab tech.

Did you start dating right away?

Terri: No, just friends. We'd go to the museums, get coffee.
Douglas: Real, super-casual.
Terri: We were hanging out, then we'd stop hanging out. But basically we were friends and we just hung out a lot.
Douglas: It was funny, because you know, I had my place and she would show up. But then, it was such a gradual thing. There was that moment where I gave her her own key, so she could come in at any time. That's how gradual it was. Then eventually I moved into another place, and I had keys made, and their were two of them, so I ended up giving her one. So, that was a moment.
Terri: And I moved my stuff in! (laughs)

Were you showing in galleries right out of art school?

Douglas: Mostly group shows, like underground group shows.
Terri: Cannibal Flower. We would show there all the time.
Douglas: At first we were focused on graphic design, and she was focused on web design. Fine art painting wasn't our top priority, when we got our degrees, it was to get a job. The only way to get a job out of an art degree was the web, or print. But we still like to render things by hand. Somebody introduced us, first to L.C. (aka L. Croskey aka Cannibal Flower).
Terri:We met other artists, they'd tell us 'Hey, we're having a show.' and then we met Walt (Hall), and actually on Myspace we met people. Because we'd post our art, and then Walt met Doug. That's how they met, on Myspace. So, they'd see our art, and it was 'hey, do you want to be in this show?'
Douglas: It started very organically. You develop a little art family. We kind of shared our opportunities.
Terri: I think Myspace really helped. Because, remember Myspace was just images. It wasn't like Facebook, where you'd write 'This is what I'm doing today, blah-blah-blah,'
Douglas: You could decorate your page.
Terri: Yeah.

Has there been a competitive aspect to your relationship at all?

Douglas: Competitive? Not really. We have different opportunities. It's interesting. I mean, a lot of times we don't get invited to the same show. She has opportunities that I don't have. She has artwork on T.V. shows, like Two Broke Girls. She has an agent that provides artwork for sets, and her stuff works.

Douglas, you probably get approached by a lot of restaurants, right?

Douglas: I used to, not any more
Terri: He has a whole bunch of work in Redondo Beach, at Umami Burger. They bought them.

Do you two ever collaborate on a piece?

Douglas: Rarely. If we're in a show that required it, yeah, but...
Terri: We should do one.
Douglas: Our motivations are different.

Yeah, but both of your work has a sense of humor to it, so I imagine you influence each other.

Terri: I think so.
Douglas: Yeah, that's bound to happen.
Terri: The one good thing is, you know, you're working and you'll say 'Do you like this? What do you think?' You have somebody to ask, versus if you're just working by yourself. Sometimes I just want to know, 'Do you like it?' and he might not answer. Maybe he wants me to figure it out myself.
Douglas: Sometimes I'll be working on a painting and you won't like it, and I'll fight it. Like, 'Well you don't understand what I'm trying to..." She's pretty honest with me. I'll just paint over a piece.
Terri: Or I won't like it, but everybody else will like it.
Douglas: It's good to have that honesty though. Sometimes you'll ask your friends and they'll be super positive about everything. But that's not entirely productive.
Terri: Right, and I want to know. Not everybody likes your art work.

Are there any silly things you fight about?

Douglas: Music, sometimes.
Terri: Or like I was saying, I'll ask him 'Do you like this?' and he won't answer. He's so in the zone.
Douglas: And she'll wonder why I'm ignoring her, and I just don't have the energy to answer her question. I have my own questions going on in my head. We're both painting.
Teri: Yeah, I'll say 'Can you come over here and look at this?' and he's not listening.
Douglas: Like anything else, you're concentrating. You'll have a flow going, and you know those flows. You can accomplish so much in one hour, that might take a week to accomplish otherwise, and you don't want anything to break it, right? And suddenly she's bombed me with a question.
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

You can see both Douglas and Terri's work in the upcoming Loteria group show at Cactus Gallery on March 14th. See flyer below.

You can also buy Ali Rossi's childrens book "Gimme Gimme Gimme" illustrated by Terri Berman at the Daniel Rolnik Gallery.

Terri Berman;s 8 bit Valentine

Douglas' take on his High School Yearbook

Terri Berman

Douglas Alvarez

Terri Berman

Douglas Alvarez

Terri Berman

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 6, 2015

Two MUST SEE shows this weekend!

I know, I know. I haven't been a very diligent, ack, blogger lately. I've been too busy working on my own stuff, and honestly, I'm fine with that. BUT this weekend, two of my favorite artists are having big shows that you MUST SEE! Leigh Salgado and Ellen Schinderman both made my best of 2014 art list. The talent, intellect and wit of these two artists never ceases to engage me. Their work is time-consuming, painstaking, inevitably gorgeous, and quite often sublime. They are a source of endless inspiration. Both shows are opening tomorrow night (2/7/2015), but the galleries are just about a 20 minute drive from each other (if you use Clueless logic).

BLISSFUL DEFLOWERING is Leigh Salgado's show at:
Launch Gallery 
170 S. La Brea Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
opening reception Feb. 7th, 6-9pm
Rochelle Bottelo is showing as well

STITCH FETISH 3 is a massive group show of woven, knitted erotica
curated by Ellen Schinderman. It will feature her 6 foot tall needlework of Wonder Woman. There will be over 30 artists!
Hive Gallery
729 S. Spring Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Opening Feb. 7th, 8-11pm

Top photo: Go-Go Girl by Leigh Salgado

Ballerina by Leigh Salgado

Blooming Bloomers by Leigh Salgado

Wonder Woman in progress by Ellen Schinderman

Monday, December 29, 2014

The KrossD Awards: The Best (and Worst) Art of 2014

End of the year. Time for somber reflections, emotional breakdowns, gluttony, sobriety checkpoints and if we're lucky, warm, fuzzy feelings about the year that's passed. I've been lucky this year. I've assaulted my eyeballs with great art, and surrounded myself with amazing artists who inspire me everyday. You can miss so much by just slaving away in your cliche garret.

I usually post a simple, straightforward list of the five best exhibitions I saw in a given year. But 2014 was too complex, too multi-faceted to be pared down like that. So, I've decided to hand out awards this time; hypothetical, invisible, useless awards. Because it's fun! Besides, what's the point of having a blog, if not to spew your unsolicited opinions? These lists are of course completely subjective, eye of the beholder stuff, and mine is heavily Los Angeles-centric (although my artist of the year is in New York). L.A. is my home, and the art here is not to be ignored. I've intentionally avoided listing anything, no matter how worthy, from the hallowed halls of academic self-righteousness. You'll find no LACMA here, no MOCA, no Mike Kelley. There's plenty of other critics telling you where you should go, and what you should think. I want to respectfully nudge you elsewhere.

Artist of the Year: Tina Lugo

I came across Tina Lugo's art on some social media vehicle of some sort through Cotton Candy Machine. Holy fury, do I love this woman! Lugo's take on 16th century Japanese shunga is at once bitingly satirical, fearlessly profane, and beautifully violent. She manages to pay loving homage to an ancient form of erotica, and mock it's sexist predilections in the same brushstroke. Much of her work is painted on glass, which lends a sleek, fragile slant to her epic gender-bending scenarios. Working at a furious pace, Lugo has dazzled me week after week this year. Far and away my favorite artist of 2014!
Tina Lugo (also see top photo)

Best New Artist: Valerie Pobjoy 

I'm not sure exactly how old Valerie is, but I do know she's pretty fresh out of art school, and too damn young to be able to paint like John Singer Sargent! I've been in a couple of shows with her this year, and her work has humbled the hell out of me.
Valerie Pobjoy

Curator of the Year: Wendy Sherman for Hearsay at Begovich Gallery.

Wendy spent at least four years curating this, and it shows. She'd win this on sheer tenacity, but she really did murder this one. Standing O!
Nicola Verlato from Hearsay

Best Ninja with a Pencil: Abel Alejandre

What can you say about Abel? He should have a city block named after him.

Best Ninja with a Pen: Timothy Paul Doyle

Doyle has haters. I ain't one of them.

Best Ninja with a Needle: Ellen Schinderman

Don't play Words with her. She cheats! I kid. Her needlework amazes!

Best Agitprop Performance/Installation of the Year: "Trouble: The Disasters of War" by Alex Schaefer and Steven Thomas Higgins at Blackstone Gallery.

You didn't really think Alex would be silent about the Torture Report, did you?

Against All Odds Award:  Lydia Emily and Arabella Proffer.

These two ladies look mortality in the face, and spit in it's eye. Plagued with horrible afflictions, and numerous hospital stays, I've watched Lydia and Arabella create, and create. Through it all, they create. I've never met either one of them, but they are shining beacons of inspiration to me. I never want to hear an artist whine about not having enough time to do their work. Time is all we have, and it's ticking away right now. Tick Tock!
Lydia Emily
Arabella Proffer

Best Antidote for a glut of Hyperrealism: Martha Rich, always Martha Rich!

I've noticed a certain focus on Hyperrealism among a throng of galleries that used to be much more diverse in their aesthetic. While the hyperrealists are clearly talented magicians, the work is often just cold, masturbatory exercises in navel gazing. These folks tend not to say much in their work at all. It's all very antiseptic. They do achieve one powerful thing though. They deepen my love of Martha Rich immensely! All hail Martha!!!
Martha Rich

Best Antidote for Koons-ian Kitsch: "An Ocean With No Shores" - Ryan McIntosh at The Brewery Artwalk.

Ryan is a cynical, sarcastic bastard. So, naturally he's one of my favorite artists. He's also the Printmaker of the Year!
Ryan McIntosh

Best Antidote for Bunny Art: *sigh* Sorry, there is no cure for bunny art. The bunny people will not be stopped. I tried though.

Best Installation That You Probably Never Saw: "Clothesline Lanes" by Leigh Salgado at LAX

Unless you flew into LAX from an international flight, you didn't see this. I was fortunate enough to visit Leigh while she was working on it. Trust me, it's phenomenal!

My Favorite Group Show of the Year: "Wish List" at Gabba Gallery.

Even if I hadn't been in this show, it would still be my favorite, and for many reasons, but mostly because I saw the work of Amy Smith, Sarah Stieber, and Phil Santos for the first time.
Amy Smith

Sarah Stieber

Phil Santos

Best Collage "Redefiner": Jaime Becker

Jaime Becker is just a bundle of energy, creativity, sweetness and laughter. There will always be a place for her on this list. Always.
Jaime Becker

Most Bonkers (but completely charming) Group Show: "The Season of Spring" at Flower Pepper Gallery

Anthony Ausgang, Liz McGrath, Septerhed, Alex Schaefer, Mike Reynolds, JAW Cooper, and on, and on. This was huge! Yeah, I was in the show too. It's my list. I'll do what I want. Really fun night!

Best Abstract Exhibit: Jon Marc Edwards at Coagula Curatorial.

I spent a long time staring at the piece below. Then, I sat down and watched the throng trample over Edwards' pile of letters installed on the gallery floor. They were asking for it.
Jon Marc Edwards (detail)

Hardest Working Abstractionist: Mandy Lyn Perez

Betty Screams on Instagram.  Tireless, this woman. Watch her work...then get to work!
Mandy Lyn Perez

My Favorite Place to chain smoke my way through opening night jitters: the beautiful, calming and ever changing mural exterior of Gabba Gallery.
The Septerhed overlord

Most Dangerous Couple: Haunted Euth x TFail

"Made Me Look" street art award: Thrashbird

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet Award: Jennifer Korsen.

It starts at the heart, but really, you don't even know what she's capable of yet. Keep hating though, she converts it into fuel.
Jennifer Korsen
For instance...

Jewelry Maker of the Year: Jennifer Korsen

Just a few of the rings Jennifer has made.

My Most Embarrassing "I just don't have the words" Moment: Meeting Stacy Lande. How fortunate for me, that Lisa Derrick (knowing what a huge fan I am) was standing nearby with a camera to record the horror!

Weirdest, Most Inscrutable and Wonderful Instagram Account: Hollis Hart
Follow her!

Best New Gallery: Daniel Rolnik Gallery

The Daniel Rolnik Gallery opened on a ritzy stretch of Santa Monica a few months ago. But Daniel, being Daniel, has created a space that is warm, inviting, happy and anything but snobby. He's all about the art and the artists. New art everyday. New shows every week. Really cool things are happening there. Watch this space!
Okay, so Daniel isn't a vampire! You can see his reflection!

"Slackers" of the Year: Phobik

He says he "didn't do shit this year". But he did.

Septerhed "didn't do shit this year" either. Ha! He murdered some walls!!


Album on heavy rotation this year: "Benji" by Sun Kil Moon

Now, for the bad stuff...

Saddest Gallery Closing: WWA Gallery

I loved WWA. It was the first place I saw Arabella Proffer's work. I saw my first Nicole Bruckman there (that piece is in my living room now). I miss that gallery hard!

Least Subtle (and unfortunate) use of product placement: "A Subtlety" by Kara Walker

Way over-hyped, and inadvertently becoming a bleak commentary on selfie culture, Walker's mammoth shot at the slave trade, ultimately backfired. Domino wins...again.

Worst Artist of the Year (by far): Milo Moire

Milo Moire is delusional. She will tell you that she's a feminist artist who is fighting for gender equality. What she actually is, is a brain-dead exhibitionist whose "work" is definitely not feminist, nor is it art. She is merely an attention seeking narcissist, making it harder for brilliant female artists to be seen. With every stitch of clothing she removes, and every paint egg she plops, she makes it more difficult for every artist of substance, regardless of gender. I refuse to post a picture or hyperlink her name. Google her if you must, but I won't be a part of that bullshit. This may be the price we have to pay for Karen Finley, but it's still a swindle.

Thanks for indulging me.

"I'm like a curious child...just give me more, more, more, more..."

May you all have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!