Thursday, November 13, 2014

Art Pick of the Month: Wish List at Gabba Gallery

So, you always wanted an original Septerhed painting, an Alex Schaefer nude, or a Jennifer Korsen heart in your collection, but thought you couldn't afford it? I have good news for you. Gabba Gallery has your back! Wish List is a massive group show featuring over 65 great artists, and the kicker is that nothing in the show will cost more than $1,000. Much of the work will be selling far below that cap. Which is perfect for you because Christmas is coming and Uncle Skeeter would really love a Max Neutra bunny, right? Well guess what? Max has about twenty of 'em in this show (plus a couple foxes). Aunt Martha, the cat lover? Check out the Nicole Bruckman painting (below). In addition to Septerhed, and Korsen, many other well known street artists have work in the show, like ThrashbirdCANTSTOPGOODBOY, Hero,and Moncho 1929. John Park is in the show! Aaron Nagel! There's work by one of the best assemblage artists in Los Angeles, Jaime Becker.  There's a fantastic collab by Phobik and Gabba owner Jason Ostro. What I'm saying is this is a fully loaded, star-studded show and it's ALL affordable! Let me give you one hot tip though (two actually), Valerie Pobjoy and Phil Santos are amazing young artists whose brushstroke mastery holds echoes of John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper. Yes, they are THAT good, and I'm sure their work be selling for tens of thousands of dollars in short time. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on these two. Under $1K? Run, don't walk to this show. You even get to take it home with you on the spot! It's cash and carry, with a constant rotation. See the full artist line-up on the flyer below.

Wish List opens Saturday, November 15, 2014
Artist reception 7pm -11pm

Gabba Gallery
3126 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Stronger by Septerhed

Twisted by Septerhed

Rollin' by Septerhed

Phobik and Jason Ostro collaboration.

Nude Woman by Alex Schaefer

Jennifer Korsen

Jennifer Korsen

Brittany by Aaron Nagel

A Max Neutra bunny in it's natural habitat.

3 Guys by Valerie Pobjoy

Ariel and Buddy by Valerie Pobjoy

Jack by Valerie Pobjoy

Ruben by Valerie Pobjoy

Seven Grand by Phil Santos

Winky & Blinky by Nicole Bruckman

Was there ever a cat so clever by Nicole Bruckman

Zelda & Link (age 2) by Nicole Bruckman

Puppy Love by L. Croskey

Prince Feng by Essi Zimm

The Golden Prince by Essi Zimm

Sleepasaurus by Sarah Stieber

The line-up!
Post Opening Update 11/16/2014

Wow! That was a stellar show. I'm truly honored to have been a part of it. Hats off to Jason Ostro and Phil Santos for curating such a diverse and talented bunch of artists. There had to be over 200 people at the opening (causing me a low level panic attack). Some friends I haven't seen in nearly 30 years came out!

One of the best things about Wish List is that it will remain fresh for the duration it's run. Cash and carry ensures that a constant rotation of art will be happening. I saw Jason pulling sold pieces off the wall, handing them off to staff for wrapping, and running to the back to select the replacement piece. Seeing a Valerie Pobjoy stunner be hung was a particular pleasure.

I wanted to share some of my favorites from the show, by Thrashbird and Dave McDowell, plus a few new discoveries (Sarah Stieber, Amy Davis) I made along the way...

detail of a piece by Thrashbird
Another Thrashbird (detail)

"Sheep Eats Wolf" by Thrashbird

"Bong Baby" by Dave McDowell

"Power Couple" by Sarah Stieber

"Rose" by Amy Smith

"Untitled #7" by Gunner Fox & Nate Otto
"Inside Megan" by Erik Flores

White and Gold Flower by Jaime Becker

White Caramel Flower by Jaime Becker

Circle Up Flower by Jaime Becker

Captured by Phobik
Marilyn's Desire by Teachr
What Will You Leave Behind? by Jennifer Korsen
The Blind Fold by Anyes Galleani
Squish by Liz Peterson
Amy Smith
Day Running by Hero

My dear friend Atticus came by for a VIP pre-show viewing of my piece "Orange Crush (With Eyeliner)".

Big thanks to Marcos Saldana for the great Atticus pics!

FYI, "Wish List" will have a second opening on December 13.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Corazon De Oro: A Studio Visit with Jennifer Korsen

I first met Jennifer Korsen at a bad weather moment. It was this past July, and we both had tables (she was expecting a booth) at Art Expo San Diego. Unfortunately the expo was taking place at the exact same time as Comic-Con. The bleed over foot traffic everyone at the Expo was hoping for never really materialized. Very little art was sold by anyone. On top of that, Jennifer had an ailing family member to worry about. She wasn't the happiest of campers. There was a lot of down time at the expo, and at one point, I looked across this vast room and saw every artist there just staring at their phones, everyone but Jennifer. She was in constant motion; rearranging her display, cutting out collage materials, pasting, drawing, hanging and re-hanging shadow boxes. She probably thought the extent to which I watched her was creepy, but Jennifer's restless, creative energy is truly something to behold. That "can't sit still' desire to create at all costs is the spark I look for in any artist. She has it in spades.

If you live in Los Angeles, and have even the slightest interest in art, it's hard not to notice Jennifer Korsen. She leaves her heart everywhere she goes. If you follow her on Instagram, she seems to be collaborating with other artists everyday. She's in a new gallery show almost every week. You can spot her hearts in episodes of Transparent, the Fosters, and the upcoming film, "Burying the Ex" People are literally wearing her hearts

I will, from time to time, for whatever reason, get questions from young artists seeking advice about how to establish themselves in the unwieldy art world. My answer used to be Bukowski's epitaph, "Don't try." But now, I tell them "Watch Jennifer Korsen. She's doing everything right." She stumbled upon 'the heart thing', saw it connect with people, and pushed that snowball along. Finding that thing, that style, that entry point for the public to your art is difficult. You have to be astute enough to spot it, and tenacious in your promotion of it when you do.

But the hearts are just part of the story. I know that any artist with that kind of drive has a body of work that the public rarely, if ever, sees. I wanted to see it. Her current studio has been the workplace of many artists, including Shepard Fairey (and has the nasty punk rock bathroom to show for it). Several artists have left their marks on the walls including Neckface, Curtis Kulig, Sage Vaughn and Lister.  The studio is large, dark and masculine. It's a shared warehouse space, and Jennifer's colorful sliver of it stands out among the dusty stacks of wood. There's even a skate ramp.

When I got to her studio she started pulling out these paintings of dolls heads. The dolls are unadorned and the perspective is extremely close, creating very little space between you and the cold, lifeless doll eyes. They have a slight, but convincing smile, suggesting they are at peace with their hollowness. No heart, no feelings. Jennifer pointed out four abstract paintings she did. Each one is layered in washes of color and forms that look like gnarled bones and/or melting candles. They are mesmerizing, absolute stunners. I asked about how much of her work she keeps to herself, versus what might be "expected" of her.
Yeah, I have a lot of stuff like that. I'm trying to be careful what Im putting out there until Im a little more solid on what Im doing. I'm kind of feeling this all out. I wasn't really expecting people to be paying attention this early, and sometimes I feel like I have no idea what Im doing. Obviously I do a million different things artwise. So, I try to be careful about what I put out publicly, until I'm pretty solid on what I'm trying to build, or be. I'm a crazy emotional person, but a lot of it, I feel, I can't show. The art world is harsh and quick to label and judge. It's weird though, street art has been the best advertising I could ever hope for. I had no idea I would get this deeply involved in any of this.
Being an established street artist and showing in dozens of galleries, Jennifer has to deal with a lot of sexist garbage. At a recent panel discussion about women in street art, the artists on the panel were sharing some of their horror stories about the sexual harassment they've endured. There was a cranky, older guy who chimed in and said, "But do you really think it's different than any other job?" Jennifer was lightning fast with a response. "It's absolutely different! Because the art world is completely unregulated." It's true. The art world plays by a loose set of rules. The 50/50 gallery/artist split, for instance, exists simply because that's how it's always been. So, of course a market with zero oversight is still going to have a casting couch.
I've become such a raging feminist, just from dealing with a lot of dudes in the art world. There's no H.R. department to report harassment. You're just supposed to suck it up and deal with it. If you say something, then you're causing problems. I have crazy screenshots of text messages from other artists, where it's like 'How do you think it's okay to say this to me?!' It's not okay! I've gotten threats from guys saying they're gonna kill my career because I wouldn't sleep with them. From artists! Nothing good can come from that. Nothing good.
Jennifer and I had a much larger discussion about this which has to stay off the record. But trust me when I tell you, Jennifer has endured a colossal amount of bullshit. We talked for about four hours and I left wanting to stomp on a few skulls. But what I wanted more than anything, was to go home and paint. My afternoon with Jennifer was completely inspiring. She is a mad torrent of creativity. I trust her opinion. She speaks her mind. She doesn't pull her punches. Artists like her are the reason this blog isn't all about me. I am surrounded by these crazy, talented people and I'd be kind of an asshole to not acknowledge them and their influence on me.

I did learn how to get her to sit still for more than ten minutes at a time. You give her some paper and pens, and just ask her to draw you something. She gets into this zone, and she seems really happy to be in it. I brought my copy of Gray's Anatomy and asked her to modify a heart. She lit up like Christmas tree! She did the heart. Then she did another heart. Then she did a bleeding heart couple. Then she drew some wild wounded creature indigenous only to the recesses of Jennifer's mind.

I'll be writing a lot more about Jennifer Korsen here in the near future. I plan on doing a Korsen art tour of Los Angeles with her and we talked about collaborating on a piece or two. Jennifer will be in the El Velorio show at Plaza De Le Raza opening November 8th and her piece for that is just beautiful. You HAVE to see it in person! Also, we will both be in the Wish List show at Gabba Gallery opening on Nov. 15th. After November, Jennifer plans to take some time off from showing to focus on her upcoming solo show at Stone Malone Gallery in February.

On target.

Skate ramp collab with Septerhed

From the El Velorio show.

Custom DJ crate.

Notes to self.

Korsen pay phone.

Corazon De Oro


Korsen's Arsenal

My absolute favorite Korsen heart...and it's mine!

Korsen's Anatomy

Soft in the Center

Wounded water-buffa-lion-goat.

History of a bathroom #1

History of a bathroom #2

History of a bathroom #3

History of a bathroom #3

Note: the photo captions are my own. The proper titles are unknown to me.