What makes LA Special?

by Andrew Philip Cortes

Photo by David Michael Cortes

Photo by David Michael Cortes

It is a strange time to be an artist in Los Angeles...To be fair it has probably always been a strange time to be an artist in LA, but 2019 is a real gem.  There is no way to fully encompass or harness the flux, the variance, the challenges, or the bliss artists in this city can experience on the daily.  In such a sprawling cultural eco-system, atmospheres melt into one another mile after glorious  traffic filled mile leaving even the most veteran Angelenos feeling “Whoa’d” by this city’s energy.

The truth is that this town used to be shrouded in some kind of veil of secrecy.  Or maybe it hid in plain sight in the shadows cast for decades by Hollywood stage lights.  A perfect hiding place for Artists for years, a place rift with inspiration of all kinds in all directions, but not yet fully tapped and still scarcely explored.  The “West” with its unique undertone of adventure into the unknown has enjoyed a rich tradition resonating at different times for many reasons with the artists of her time.  So whether it be the mystical point breaks of Malibu, the dawn of Uber, Jason Bentleys’ Morning Becomes Eclectic, the beautiful weather, the natural world growing all around and through the cracks of the city of angels, or the famed double double...something about Los Angeles, California makes her a very special place for an artist to call home.

In the words of some of Los Angeles' most exciting artists, makers, creatives, and people.

Do You Ever Feel This Way , Size: 48 x 36 inches, Media: oil on plexiglass layers

Do You Ever Feel This Way, Size: 48 x 36 inches, Media: oil on plexiglass layers

"I love that I am able to work outside. I’ll sip on my coffee, water the garden and get painting. I have been inspired by many artists out here that have created their studio around the sun.”

Gabriela Cobar @gabriela_cobar

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“Being able to ride my bike through its mosaic of neighborhoods and possibilities by day while spending my evenings surfing one of its fabled points”

Sean Carter @cartersurfboards

 

6’2” ENO Single Fin (model names in honor of Brian ENO)

6’2” ENO Single Fin (model names in honor of Brian ENO)

family portrait , 2018, oil on canvas, 24x18 inches

family portrait, 2018, oil on canvas, 24x18 inches

“I’m the rare Southern California native who has never surfed and I’m not at all outdoorsy, but the light and air in LA are really important to me, working in my garage-studio with the doors open, and the birds or KCRW as my soundtrack.”

Julia Schwartz @juliaschwartzstudio

 

“Southern California’s flora is otherworldly and the palette of its landscape is bright and dreamy, both have informed what and how I create.”

Aubrey Ingmar Manson @aubrey_ingmar_manson

We Are Emotional Creatures Just Enjoying The View  (Installation), 2019, ceramics, napkins, cardboard, plaster, house-paint, polyurethane, Dimensions variable

We Are Emotional Creatures Just Enjoying The View (Installation), 2019, ceramics, napkins, cardboard, plaster, house-paint, polyurethane, Dimensions variable

Lantern (Judson 2) , 2019, Mixed materials with Judson fused-glass, 31 x 17 x 17 inches

Lantern (Judson 2), 2019, Mixed materials with Judson fused-glass, 31 x 17 x 17 inches

 

“As an artist living in Los Angeles, I love and abhor the potentiality of isolation. In LA, it’s easy to live and make work on your own island - with an ocean of geographical distance and time-sucking traffic between you, other artists and the dogmas of social and cultural influences. This kind of isolation can result in the gifts of independent thinking and artists producing innovative work. But if you make the effort, the potential is also there to connect to a community, visit great Museums and exhibition spaces - both commercial and artist-run galleries.”  

Dani Tull @dani_tull

 “I love Los Angeles the day after it rains. The skies are clear and blue. The Waverly Sage by the Los Angles Aqueduct Centennial garden emits an intoxicating fragrance that’s grounding. The Eaton Canyon wash flows heavier causing  fording the wash dramatic as you head to the flowing waterfall.  You can hear the chatter of small beasts running around the hills and the birds song’s are vibrant.”

George Jensen @whatgeorgesees

Sempervirens #3,  Charcoal and Paper, 45x48”

Sempervirens #3, Charcoal and Paper, 45x48”

Evening  [install shot], Neon, Acrylic Mirror, on Wood Frame, 4’ x 4’

Evening [install shot], Neon, Acrylic Mirror, on Wood Frame, 4’ x 4’

“Los Angeles brings a very unique experience to the balance of creating and living for many artists including myself. The fact that from almost anywhere in the city in about an hour you can experience a completely different landscape from the coast, to mountains, to desert constantly inspires and refreshes.”

Shannon Roxanne @darkshannon

“Celery juice and hikes in the morning and tequila and raving in the evening. It's the dichotomous nature of LA that i love so much...oh, and the people, never have a found a more welcoming, creative community of people.”

Tawnee Lonsdale @tahneelonsdale

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Rollin' Switches , 2019, concrete and pigment, 27"x6"x27"

Rollin' Switches, 2019, concrete and pigment, 27"x6"x27"

“Weekly beach visits sitting on the coast as well as keeping a sketchbook or journal in the car while sitting in traffic helps me sort out thoughts for my work.”

Lauren Fejarang @laurenfejarang

“Going out into my neighborhood, grabbing a bite, getting inspired by the landscape and heading to the studio with the energy I found on my walk.”

Alfonso Gonzalez Jr. @_alfonsogonzalezjr

Doroteos party supply,  82” X 73”

Doroteos party supply, 82” X 73”

alexandra , 2019, arcylic and marble dust on canvas, 86" x 86"

alexandra, 2019, arcylic and marble dust on canvas, 86" x 86"

“My commute from my apartment to my studio is 20 mins. I love driving those 20 mins on a very sunny day. Sometimes I think about music. Sometimes I think about philosophy. Sometimes I think about everyone I love. Sometimes I get stuck in traffic. One of my proudest LA achievements is learning how to drive while pissing in a cup.”

Nick Aguayo @nickaguayo84

“Graphic shadows framing phenomenal waves of color, arbitrated by the tranquilizing pulse of traffic lights.”

Paul Gillis @paul_gillis

Island

Island

Grid : Los Angeles,  2018, Woven street litter, 78” x 58.5”

Grid : Los Angeles, 2018, Woven street litter, 78” x 58.5”

“Los Angeles is much more than my home. My work is made from the city– the streets, the houses, the buildings, the cars, and the people that fill them. I collect, take apart, and recombine it all into forms that, like the city itself, are ever changing in appearance, yet still recognizable. Los Angeles is my inspiration and my material of choice.”

Samantha Greenfeld @samgreenfeld

“When I'm in LA I feel our connection to the spectrum of humankind. Our uniqueness as individuals and also the similarities we all share as a species.”

Jean Nagai @jean_nagai

Many Paths Along The Way,  2018, acrylic, pumice on canvas, 60"x48"

Many Paths Along The Way, 2018, acrylic, pumice on canvas, 60"x48"

Wall , 2018, inches oil on canvas, 20” x 25”

Wall, 2018, inches oil on canvas, 20” x 25”

“LA is always revealing undiscovered nooks and crannies, even in areas that you thought you knew like the back of your hand. The landscape is constantly changing.”

Nick McPhail @nickmcphail

“I can feel in the air the amount of creative energy in L.A. and that makes me push my creative capabilities. In many of the neighborhoods in LA you can also have a closeness with nature that gives life here a very tranquil feeling and a sense of freedom, something that I find necessary for my practice.”-

Nevena Prijic-Binney @nevenabinney

Thinking About Tomorrow , 2019, oil on canvas, 52” x 62”

Thinking About Tomorrow, 2019, oil on canvas, 52” x 62”

Woman Destined,  2019 ,  Pencil/acrylic on paper, 40” x 24”

Woman Destined, 2019, Pencil/acrylic on paper, 40” x 24”

 

“Not what tourists might consider typical for LA, I live on a hill with a big view out my kitchen window so it’s a great place to take my morning coffee and also see spectacular sunsets over the city, valley and mountains late in the day. My studio faces the other direction, where I can stare at the trees or go outside for a walk. Our yard is full of birds, from morning doves and sparrows to crows and hawks that like to sit on the highest branches. Some nights I get visits from raccoons and opossums who like to check out what I’m painting, though it’s possible they’re may also just be looking for left over cat food.”

Nadege Monchera Baer @venezianaparisla

“In LA I can go skateboarding just about everyday. I can just walk out my studio and go. The earthquakes have contorted the sidewalks into a sorta skateboard rollercoaster. Those burgers at in n out aren't half bad either.”

Alex Cutler @alexjcutler

Old man , 2019 Oil on canvas, 36” x4 8”

Old man, 2019 Oil on canvas, 36” x4 8”

Mama's Backyard Won't Do , 2019, fabric, plastic cat, ceramic shell, synthetic wig, frame, digital photograph, push pins, zip ties, 36” x 24” x 5”

Mama's Backyard Won't Do, 2019, fabric, plastic cat, ceramic shell, synthetic wig, frame, digital photograph, push pins, zip ties, 36” x 24” x 5”

“What makes LA special to you?

The minute I drive into the county I feel the air hit in me in a different and varied way. The quality, of course, would be the first effect but really it is the energy, the vibrance, the disdain, the disparity, all with a sense of potential. The color and architecture of the cities within the wide spread borders of LA county feel familiar and distant at the same moment. I am always surprised and welcomed. “

Tessie Salcido Whitmore @tessie_salcido_whitmore

“The classic cars of east LA wait around each corner of my morning walks like magical creatures forged with love, hard work, culture and memory. There is nothing more beautiful to me than these Impalas etc against the golden mountains calling to me to turn fantasy to reality and see the ability of industrial objects to be angels of the earth.”

Louise O. Donnell @thelouiseodonnell

Drive Back: Ride into the sun/ American landscape series,  2018, oil paint, house paint, studio rag, 6’ x 5’

Drive Back: Ride into the sun/ American landscape series, 2018, oil paint, house paint, studio rag, 6’ x 5’

“I love going to a ceramics studio everyday that has a view of palm trees, bougainvillea, and wild parrots flying by. “

Becki Chernoff @bxceramics

Capsule in Solar Flare, 5” x 2.5”

Capsule in Solar Flare, 5” x 2.5”

White Column series,  2019, Fiberglass

White Column series, 2019, Fiberglass

“The weather, as cliche as it is... as a sculptor, to be able to work outside 95% of the time maximizes my space in an otherwise expensive city.”

Thomas Linder @thomasslinder 

“Los Angeles is full of illusions and perceptions, within it and beyond it. I enjoy experiencing these varying positions and analyzing them. I love being steps away from the ocean, I love being steps away from the desert.”

Gabi Abrão @gabi_abrao

Return to Self #2 , 2018, 36” x 36”

Return to Self #2, 2018, 36” x 36”

Workhorse , 2018, Acrylic and printing ink on paper on canvas 88"x 62"

Workhorse, 2018, Acrylic and printing ink on paper on canvas 88"x 62"

“I feel in LA like I have multiple studios and the addition of outdoor space which lets me grow when needed. My paintings move in and outdoors and at times across town for printmaking additions, which makes my car somehow a 3rd studio and sketchbook.”

Carlson Hatton @carlsonhatton

“Driving in LA is a constant sensory overload every time, from street level hand painted signage and individual characters or fruit vendors, to the skyscrapers and mountains in soft distant focus.This is one of the most consistently rewarding sides of living and working on the East side of the city and commuting. The landscape and cityscape, combined with a beautiful warm reliable light makes sitting in traffic the perfect chance to take it all in, then release it in the studio in a new form, hopefully with a bit of the same charm and vitality as this city and landscape consistently provide.”

Mathew Haywood @heywouldyou

Landscape , 2018, latex, oil, and enamel on panel in scrap pine frame, 24x24"

Landscape, 2018, latex, oil, and enamel on panel in scrap pine frame, 24x24"

That Spirit Animal You Didn’t Expect,  oil on canvas collage, 48”x40”

That Spirit Animal You Didn’t Expect, oil on canvas collage, 48”x40”

“LA is wild...a massive contradiction...creative and inventive beyond measure, out of necessity. I wake up in my studio and drink coffee whilst I water some succulents in a wooden box on the concrete parking lot. You couldn't stop them from growing, even if you wanted too, but why would you...I love that.”

Lydia Maria Pfeffer @lydiamariapfeffer

“After a full day in the studio nothing beats climbing the rickety ladder to my roof and watching the Sunset through the smog layer. It reminds me of the beauty of the natural world and the impeding doom that humankind represents hahahah. Its just a solid way to end the day feeling the buzz post-creative session and seeing something very pretty and a bit puzzling. Its the best.”

Trent Christensen @gentletrent

Launch , acrylic on paper, 19.5" x 23"

Launch, acrylic on paper, 19.5" x 23"

tonight | tomorrow , 2019, acrylic and gouache on paper, 38" x 101"

tonight | tomorrow, 2019, acrylic and gouache on paper, 38" x 101"

“I love walking around my neighborhood in the evening. Lawn ornaments in this city are fantastic, and there are billboards just plopped right in people's front yards. So many parts of LA feel alien and suburban at the same time.”

Kristin Hough @kristinhough

Charm Rack, 2018,  drywall, joint compound, insulation foam, concrete, brass chain, 24” x 30” x 38”

Charm Rack, 2018, drywall, joint compound, insulation foam, concrete, brass chain, 24” x 30” x 38”

“LA is where there will always be somebody to support your idea no matter how ridiculous it is and there will always be a place and a time to make it happen.”-

Trina Turturici @trinaturt

“The thing that has always struck me about Los Angeles is that nature is visible wherever you go. I go on a lot of walks and take in the subtle changes in the landscape; there's always a lushness undercutting the sharp edges of the city. It's hard to say if LA is beautiful because of this contrast or in spite of it -- a tension that is reflected in my work.”

Celeste Voce @cmvoce

Weeping , 2018, Gelatin silver print, 9 3/4” x 6 3/4”

Weeping, 2018, Gelatin silver print, 9 3/4” x 6 3/4”

River Sun Seed , 2014 Light projections of variable dimension

River Sun Seed, 2014 Light projections of variable dimension

“I enjoy my time exploring the Los Angeles River's wild side. For me it's a way to connect with nature in the city, a place to be quiet and reflect on my practice or otherwise.”

 Ryan Patrick Griffin @rpgriffin / @projectedvisions

“There's never a dull moment. Art and nature, the two most important things in my life, are at my door step and for that I'm really thankful.”

Andrea Welton

Fossil Falls in Coso Range,  2019, Ink, arylic, and volcanic rock on canvas. 96” x 72”

Fossil Falls in Coso Range, 2019, Ink, arylic, and volcanic rock on canvas. 96” x 72”

Golden State Of Mind , 2017, Mixed Media Photography, 20” x 20”

Golden State Of Mind, 2017, Mixed Media Photography, 20” x 20”

“Waking up in a jungle oasis filled with nature and colorful architecture, being inspired by my daily surroundings and using it in my work.”-

Olivia D’Orazi @oloviadoraziart

“Dramatic late day sky, the sense of space and opportunity . Always something new to explore. Eclectic architecture. Casual cool aesthetic. Self helpiness. Artist initiatives. Nature embedded into city; hills. City animals. “

Alice Clemens @aclemmm

Floor to wall Two Stripes and Crossways Player with Strips , 2018 , fabric and wood, dimensions variable

Floor to wall Two Stripes and Crossways Player with Strips, 2018 , fabric and wood, dimensions variable

It's All Coming Back to Me,  2018 ,  acrylic & spray paint on door panel, 64"W x 40"H x 2"D

It's All Coming Back to Me, 2018, acrylic & spray paint on door panel, 64"W x 40"H x 2"D

 

“Meeting remarkable weirdos everywhere."-

Ian Cato @ian.pc

“Diverse geographic and cultural landscape. The city is surrounded by ocean, mountains, forest, and desert. Getting out of LA to be alone with the sand and cacti of the high desert or driving along the Pacific Coast Highway without a particular plan in mind have been just as crucial to my art practice as spending my days and nights in the studio.”

Jonathan Ryan @jayrye7

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Exposure , 2018, oil on canvas, 84”x72”

Exposure, 2018, oil on canvas, 84”x72”

“I love both coasts, but what makes LA special is the crystal clear light, the oceanic expansiveness, and the rich diversity of its people. Compared to most places, LA is open to change, and has a great sense of humor. The wideness here encourages cultural interconnectedness, while at the same time fostering an intimacy with nature.”

Marie Thibeault @mariethibeaultart

“So easily all the people here... the constant newness and quickness to how people connect with each other... It's so open, and moves and changes all the time... so everything stays fresh and exciting. hospitable and wild hearts of gold out here.”

Carrie Cook @carrrrriecook

sinking or floating , 2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 36"

sinking or floating, 2019, oil on canvas, 24" x 36"

Coastal Flowers , Polaroid Film Photograph

Coastal Flowers, Polaroid Film Photograph

“I work mainly outside so its great to have the city and nature so close to being one. All in a day I can create some images with people and urban life all around and the next can be plants overlooking the ocean.”

David Sperring @izzysperring

“LA represents several cities to me, many of which influence my studio practice. On any given day, I'm met with diverse experiences and energies, and the occasional wormhole into an unexpected microcosm. I don’t really mind the driving either, it’s a kind of palate cleanser between commitments (and microclimates).”

Brandon Lomax

Population (2),  2019, stoneware, 33” x 43” x 34”

Population (2), 2019, stoneware, 33” x 43” x 34”

I'll Be Here , 2018, Acrylic on panel with Walnut artist frame, 36.5” x 48.5”

I'll Be Here, 2018, Acrylic on panel with Walnut artist frame, 36.5” x 48.5”

“World-class art & artists, great places to climb & hike, great food, extreme examples of who to be and who not to be, less of a drive to Mexico if everything goes real haywire and last but not least, close to those great entities  that will eventually kill us all but for now are very calming and enjoyable, the Sun and the Pacific Ocean.”

Brian Robertson @brianrobertsonart

"Smooth street to skate, sunshine year round and tacos on every corner."

Osei Key @oseikey

Vexed Photograph

Vexed Photograph

White Men Can’t Jumping Cholla,  2016, Pigmented concrete, polyurethane foam, steel, sand, paint, 58" x 24" x 28"

White Men Can’t Jumping Cholla, 2016, Pigmented concrete, polyurethane foam, steel, sand, paint, 58" x 24" x 28"

“I love making sculpture in such close proximity to the movie industry and other industrial manufacturers. There’s easy access to resin, rubber, plastic polymers, and other mold making and casting materials that offer so many sculptural possibilities. I love using Hollywood prop-house casting materials for their ability to transform. That never really gets old for me. I also love those materials for their obvious reference to stage props, which continually reoccurs in the content of my work.”

Kyla Hansen @_kylahansen_

“I like that LA is an anything goes type of place. New York seems sacrosanct in that way. The southern California ocean and the sun don't necessarily say anything culturally. There are beautiful man-made things here, but the geography and climate have a way of abstracting everything, including history. “

Eric Dwight Hancock @ericdwighthancock

Left:  Double Decker,  2018, Acrylic on canvas, 46 inches  Right:  Dank Ass,  2018, Acrylic on canvas, 48 inches,

Left: Double Decker, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 46 inches

Right: Dank Ass, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 48 inches,

Paper Collage, 2018

Paper Collage, 2018

“Being able to walk out of my house and into my backyard studio and hearing the Parrots of Pasadena fly into all the palm trees that line my street while working on my art, but still being close enough to the bustle of the LA Metro trains going by and not forgetting that I live in a large, sprawling city."

Michael J Hentz @heavyhymns

 

“Los Angeles is special to me because when ur born n rise here is like leaving in da galaxy, theres so much shit out there. You see, if you search and find whats good for you, shit gets endless! Just like the galaxy.”

Lidia Ramirez @lilydizzyfoshizy

The sky and the man made lake , 2019, 15” x 13”

The sky and the man made lake, 2019, 15” x 13”

Quick and endless , 2018, Scan printed on archival silver halide paper, artist’s frame, vinyl

Quick and endless, 2018, Scan printed on archival silver halide paper, artist’s frame, vinyl

“One of my favorite things about LA is how the built environment rubs up against nature.  You can see this in the uneven sidewalks pushed upward by the roots of powerful trees.”

Megan Mueller @megamueller

“The Love, the lotion & the abject horror. Sent @ 4:20“

Willis Stork @willis.stork

Untitled, rust, oil, acrylic, ink, spraypaint + collage on canvas, 72” x 48

Untitled, rust, oil, acrylic, ink, spraypaint + collage on canvas, 72” x 48

Persephone (Samhain) , 2019, acrylic, custom code, and serigraph on polyester and mylar, 60” x 40”

Persephone (Samhain), 2019, acrylic, custom code, and serigraph on polyester and mylar, 60” x 40”

"Angelenos are good about coming through to support — even if the 101 is totahhlly jahhhmmmd. Many Angelenos happily embrace the personal journeys of others, no matter how absurd.There's no right way to do LA. Leave the formalities to New York."

Sean Noyce @sean.noyce

“This is a city in which droves of outsider artists, performers, and anti-artists have always existed in tandem with a rich web of alternative galleries.  I like to think diving deep into the history of varied art communities in LA has helped me to broaden my work. On the surface LA is so beautiful with its sunshine and palm trees but the underbelly of LA with its vampires and real weirdos is a very beautiful place as well.”

 Luke Forsyth @luke_forsyth

Untitled ( eden ) after, 2019, Wax oil pastels , colored pencil, Color gesso and acrylic paint on panel, 40” x 30”

Untitled ( eden ) after, 2019, Wax oil pastels , colored pencil, Color gesso and acrylic paint on panel, 40” x 30”

Scorched and Scorned , 2019, flannel, burlap, acrylic, 10’ x 15’

Scorched and Scorned, 2019, flannel, burlap, acrylic, 10’ x 15’

“Jasmine scented golden hour walks along the river with a few crunched dollars for the fruit cart on the corner and that taco shop on a side porch. The dogs bark and I shush them by name. Oreo, Shorty, Maxine, Cocoa, Olive and so on.....

Returning home, I'll duck and weave under the plants that grew so fast this year. 

I've made this place a little wild on purpose.

So I can  leave all of my doors open and have a studio that is both inside and outside.

I wave to my neighbor lady, and  assure her that I'm not moving, I was just loading some art into a friends truck earlier. 

Tomorrow morning I'll hike in Elysian Park. It's Easter, and all the families will have flour in their hair.”

Liv Aanrud @livaanrud

“I love all the grandeur - natural and man-made, and the innocence and hope of "making it in Hollywood," mixed with the nagging sense that Southern California may fall apart soon - in an earthquake and/or a fire and/or landslides.“

Kathryn O Halloran @kathryn_ohalloran

Air Filter Triptych,  cardboard, HEPA filters, aluminium, gold, 4’ x 5’ x 1.5’

Air Filter Triptych, cardboard, HEPA filters, aluminium, gold, 4’ x 5’ x 1.5’

City of the Sun , 2019, acrylic gouache, ink, and colored pencil on paper mounted on canvas, 4” x 6”

City of the Sun, 2019, acrylic gouache, ink, and colored pencil on paper mounted on canvas, 4” x 6”

“The silhouette of palm trees during magic hour, the purple snow of jacarandas, the view of downtown from the 134 west, the observatory at night, the coyotes howling a moonlit lullaby.”

Raymie Iadevaia @raymieiadevaia

“Los Angeles can be a place of unlimited healing. Whatever fills up your soul or excites your mind. For me, I do my best healing wandering through LACMA and all the artist run spaces, getting sandy and sunny on Manhattan Beach and walking my dog around the quiet and nature trails in Griffith Park.”

Dominic Quagliozzi @artistdominic

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Braided Thorn Tree , 2018, Thorn tree, concrete, fiberglass awning, red bows, work light, installation, dimensions variable

Braided Thorn Tree, 2018, Thorn tree, concrete, fiberglass awning, red bows, work light, installation, dimensions variable

“I love the variety of plants in LA, the landscape is like Danger Dr.Seuss, I relate to that... and there’s always something in bloom.”

Camille Schefter @cum_eels

 

“Los Angeles is amorphous. We can drive a dozen or more miles on a single ever changing street; consistently allowed the ability to be camouflaged or exposed according to our position in space.”

Los Angeles Metaphysical Library @la_metaphysical

Summer journal,  ASH .

Summer journal, ASH.

A Rift in the Landscape , July 2018, Install shot at ARVIA,

A Rift in the Landscape, July 2018, Install shot at ARVIA,

“I love Los Angeles because I can be in the studio late, and still go get the perfect taco for $2.”

Michael Rollins @michaelrollins 

“Record shops and late night taco trucks.”

Jared Pittack @jaredpittack

Figure 01, Latex & acrylic on wood panel, 18" x 24"

Figure 01, Latex & acrylic on wood panel, 18" x 24"

Rainbow Cataclysm,  2019, Bleach Dye and Casein on Canvas, 60” x 48”

Rainbow Cataclysm, 2019, Bleach Dye and Casein on Canvas, 60” x 48”

“I have to say, I truly believe LA is the best place in the wold to be an artist- for me at least.  I’m a California native, and having spent many years in New York and a few in Europe, Los Angeles has the most geological diversity within a 200 mile radius.  When I moved back to LA 4 years ago, my work evolved exponentially.  Travel in general is what gets me going creatively, but when we drove from NYC to LA, and crossed the Ozarks and landed in the southwest I had the epiphany that this was the place.  The little things like surfing in the morning before going into the studio, or hiking in the Hollywood Hills during sunset are what seal the deal for me.”

Theodore B. Boyer @theodoreboyer 

“Driving in LA can be like driving through a sculpture.  The space and light around the things. IF you’re not in traffic.”

Graeme Mitchell

Film Photograph

Film Photograph

Bushido ll,  2018, Glazed stoneware, zip ties and purse handles, 18” x 15” x 6”

Bushido ll, 2018, Glazed stoneware, zip ties and purse handles, 18” x 15” x 6”

“I value my garden as a natural extension of my studio. They inform each other in innumerable ways.”

Erin Goldstein Trefry @erintrefry

“It takes a lot of work to be sad in LA. It’s one big mess of sunlight that infiltrates everything, including me and my art. It’s disgusting.”

Matthew Sweesy @matthewsweesy 

Birdkeeper,  2019, Watercolor on paper, 30” x22”

Birdkeeper, 2019, Watercolor on paper, 30” x22”

as being the way it is  , oil, ink, coffee, wax on muslin, 10’ x 6’

as being the way it is , oil, ink, coffee, wax on muslin, 10’ x 6’

“The day begins with sounds of people working.

The building where I live & work creaks from the effect of the sun.

Stepping outside, roosters crow & birds sing & cars pass with radios playing, not a stranger in sight. 

How easy it is to forget that I live in the city.

How hard it is to forget the people.”

Daniel Paul Schubert @dps45678

“LA is the original mirage — a land of dreams and nightmares, where palm trees are on fire and fantasies go up in smoke.”

Arielle Falk @ariellefalk

Kokomo , 2018, Commercially manufactured wall mural manipulated by heat gun, 60” x 50”

Kokomo, 2018, Commercially manufactured wall mural manipulated by heat gun, 60” x 50”

Barefoot stories of certain magic , 2019, acrylic on canvas, 24” x18”

Barefoot stories of certain magic, 2019, acrylic on canvas, 24” x18”

“I willingly have internalized the city, it’s past and present; my colorful paintings take their cue from the eclectic, rangy spirit, of it’s individualistic inhabitants. In Los Angeles, rules are made to be re-invented. Our city is rhythmic, sometimes dissonant, unstable and untamable.  I watch and listen.”

Tom Krumpak

“I love waking up in LA. I start my day with meditating, then walking a bit, usually around Echo Park Lake, trying to take in the light before painting. “

Rema Ghuloum @remaghuloum

Chant , 2019, oil, acrylic, and acryla-gouache on canvas, 14 x 12 inches

Chant, 2019, oil, acrylic, and acryla-gouache on canvas, 14 x 12 inches


Review: Gina Beavers

The Life I Deserve | by Nick Naber

Installation view at PS1. Photo by Nick Naber

I visited PS1 on a Monday afternoon. As I climbed the stairs to the third floor, my anticipation of Beavers’ work grew. It’s funny, I’ve met Gina a few times in passing, but this would be only the second time I saw her work in person. I tend to see her work through Instagram a medium which Gina is all too familiar with. 

Upon entering the first gallery you are faced with a wall of food. It’s hard to decipher what exactly it is you’re seeing. These paintings are heavily worked, through layers of paint and medium on the support. The materials are built up in a low (sometimes high) relief on the painting surface. An easy connection to make would be the work of Claes Oldenburg, but Beavers’ food is more grotesque than pop. The food references range from lettuce, beef, eggs, corn, cake, fries, hamburgers (In-N-Out the best!), and ice cream to name a few. A lot of the paintings are still life, however, many incorporate the body. Cake from 2015 is a deliciously hilarious meld of food and the body. Here the butt has been sliced, and a piece is being taken out to be served. Another blend is Corn Nails from 2019, which shows a hand with nails painted like an ear of corn while the hand holds an ear of corn. It’s uncanny to see the two together, where do the nails begin or end, same with the ear of corn?

The next gallery holds only 4 works, here Gina is referencing art history and the process of art making. It’s a tight examination in a small gallery. It could have been seen as throwaway space that you move through quickly, but it isn’t. It’s a concentrated curation and the four works shine in the space. Van Gogh’s Starry Night as Rendered in Bacon is repulsive but so damn alluring. Beavers captures the swirl of the well known Van Gogh painting through her use of painted bacon. From afar it looks like a bacon Van Gogh, on closer inspection the abstraction of the paint and modeled surface create a heavy and lush painting that we want to reach out and touch. 

Left: Van Gogh’s Starry Night as Rendered in Bacon, 2016

Right: Mona Lisa Nail, 2016

Photo by Nick Naber

The largest gallery holds some of the most humorous works. This space is all about the body, desire and emotion. It’s inside this gallery where Gina’s gaze is most evident, probably because these works have everything to do with beauty, femininity, masculinity, desire, and sex. Here we see Beavers’ playing more directly with scale in the work. Like the first gallery there is a large number of smaller works, but this gallery contains the largest of the works in the exhibition (Painter Lips, Makeup Revolution, Tag Yourself, Crotch Shots at the Getty Villa). The paintings in this room get to the heart of our cravings; great makeup, beautiful bodies, penises, vaginas, and plump lips to name a few. It’s in this gallery where Gina puts desire and humor together seamlessly. There is something about seeing these sculptural paintings and being centered wholly in the body. We’re able to see ourselves in these humorous situations. In this exhibition Beavers’ puts the magnifying glass on what it is to be human in the social media age through the archaic process of painting and with her Scorpio wit!

Gina Beavers: The Life I Deserve, is up through September 2 at MoMA PS1


Puppies and Flowers at the Royal: A New Artist-Run Space Explores Lustful Luxury and Mutating Community in Williamsburg

By Kristen Racaniello

 Puppies, Flowers, and Royalty. An exhibition in Williamsburg presents an ironic pseudo-salon, a flirtation with the historic Academie des Beaux-Arts, investigating the subsidiary subject matter associated with high-class leisure, surplus, and canonical art institutions. Historically marginal, decorative motifs are foregrounded in Puppies and Flowers; a transparently titled exhibition featuring paintings of floral vegetation and small, domesticated beasts.

 Puppies and Flowers is curated by artist and writer Katie Hector and features the work of Jenn Dierdorf, Dominique Fung, Delphine Hennelly, Katarina Janeckova, Tess Michalik, Aliza Morell, and Mark Zubrovich; a group of extraordinarily talented, energetic, and (mostly) Brooklyn based artists. The show runs from March 5th ­to March 31st, 2019.

This is an exhibition curated for artists, by an artist, in an artist run first-floor space. Self-aware satire, irony, awkward loves and slyly erotic forms characterize this show, but ultimately Puppies and Flowers deserves critical acclaim for its outpouring of community support and love. The Royal joins the fluxus of artist spaces in New York; its opening is a reminder that there is a continually vibrant artist underground even in the twilight of one of Williamsburgs oldest and most prolific artist-run spaces-- Sideshow Gallery, run by Richie Timperio until his unexpected death last fall.  That venue closed just last week (on March 21, 2019) joining the graveyard of countless other spaces that have closed for good in the neighborhood. With this inaugural exhibition, the Royal provides much needed new room for artists outside of the commercial gallery realm.

An exterior view of Sideshow Gallery in 2015. The space opened in the ‘90s and closed its doors in March of 2019, following the death of its vibrant owner and founder, Richard Timperio.

 The changing social organization of art patrons and institutions has necessitated artist-run spaces; Katie Hector chose to address this shift with Puppies and Flowers which playfully articulates the collapsing myth of the pipeline academy and confronts the mutating history of social interaction in the arts.

Puppies and Flowers does not look like a museum show or a group of paintings you might find in an established commercial gallery. Sensuously rubbing shoulders in subject, form, and medium, these paintings are divided; there is no one single aesthetic among the seven artists featured. Why should there be? This is an investigation of relationships: between artists, institutions, historical exhibitions and educations. Every artist and work is included because they contribute additional material to the dialogue around lust, leisure, class, craft and the decorative.

Installation view of Puppies and Flowers. From left to right: Jenn Dierdorf, October, 2016

Dominique Fung, My Dog is Anemic, 2017, Mark Zubrovich, Stick It Out and Touch Your Cleats, 2018, and Jenn Dierdorf Night Creeps, 2018.

Puppies and Flowers brings together seven talented artists and unites them through their shared subject matter, generating unexpected visual relationships. Concisely demonstrating this is a group of paintings strategically positioned to catch the eyes of unaware passerby’s through the Royal's enormous first floor window. Viewers are confronted by two central, sensual puppy paintings by Dominique Fung and Mark Zubrovich, enclosed on either side by Jenn Dierdorf’s flower paintings.

Top: Delphine Hennelly, Untitled III, 2017. Bottom: Mark Zubrovich, Stick Lick, 2018 and New Bat, 2018.

Fung and Zubrovich are perhaps closest in form out of the seven artists, but Fung’s sleek surfaces  and hard edges are still miles away from the partially post-digital, crayon fuzz of Zubrovich’s anthro-pups.  Together they form two shocking presentations of animal-human sexuality, pushing viewers to question the boundary between historically superfluous luxury goods that have lived at the margins of painting (the dog grasped in a patrons lap, or the supporting vase of a still life, for example) and the further conflation of material goods and status symbols with sexual desire.  Puppies and Flowers questions the fetish-like position of painting as an economic status symbol and further opens a dialogue around capitalism, art, power, and sex. 

The objects depicted have historically signified social class, wealth and power. In the microcosmic art ecology of the historically scrappy Williamsburg gallery scene, an exhibition that directly confronts painting’s place as a signifier of economic power is almost unimaginable.  Yet that is precisely what Puppies and Flowers does.  Playfully choosing the marginal imagery of historical painting, and displaying it within an artist-run space that is both in the margins of the commercial market, and at the center of a now historic artist district, Katie Hector has curated a thrilling new show that begins to unravel the complex network linking artist-run spaces to the larger constellation of galleries and institutions.


SPRING BREAK Art Show 2019

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Our co-founder and East Coast Editor, Nick Naber took over our Instagram account (@thecoastalpost). Find his highlights from SPRING BREAK Art Show below!


A Table is Set

A review of Ashley Johnson’s Reach by Devon McKnight

Photographs by Daniel White

“I want everyone to be drunk”, and so we were. An hour past 7 and Ashley has still not
entered the room. The mood is high, buzzing. We cannot wait. The set table is long and
full of southern paraphernalia, a language linking us. Three women, the Sisters, masked
in braids living out a scene from a former time, performing a series of Southern actions.
Pulled from the photographs that are setting our scene. Dark but illuminated.
Storytellers. Hung weavings bring us home, tuck us in. And in the back, through the
glass, something is stirring. Four dancers in white slips are moving, reaching, gathering,
gazing. A prelude.

Ashley Johnson as Diana Ross arrives. Tall, full-bodied, cloaked in white.
She is kindness, excitement, gratitude, confidence and a huge loud laugh.

The audience vies for her attention. These are her friends, acquaintances, peers,
strangers wanting to know her. They can’t wait to tell her their feelings. ”Blown away.”
“Can’t believe it.” “Floored.” They wouldn’t expect anything less. They want them all.

We mingle. We continue to drink in the mood. The mixed crowd is loving itself. We all
seem so happy to see each other. To be here. We know it’s good. It’s about to get
better.

A circle gathers and Ashley is introduced.

“I brought you here to be uncomfortable,”

She is here to tell us a story. Her story, which was to become ours, almost without us
knowing, as her words, her described experiences unraveled our deepest insides and
pulled them out through our gaping mouths as we breathed out. We’ve been emotional
since entering the space and it is here that we understand why. There is so much
history. The history of women, more specifically black women, most specifically this
southern black woman.

Ashley, after cutting off her braids, “when my expectations crashed into my reality, I told
myself, out loud, staring into a mirror that I was ugly, and cut off the light.”

Who has done this to us?

Ashley asks herself, “how far did this self-hatred have to travel before getting to me?”
We relate, we can all relate. Every woman(and some men I suspect) in that room filling
up, flooding with emotion.

This is art. This art is visceral.

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This setup was fully intended and then went far beyond its intention. I think an artist
hopes and dreams that the work she creates will touch someone, will build at least one
connection. When art takes on the artist, when all the pieces are in place and the artist
presses play, the work seeps out and into the body of the viewer and takes on a life of
its own. This this this, this is magic. The magic of the spirit. This is heart and soul and
life and love and mind and body. And the artist who allows for that, pushes for that,
seeks that...that artist gives us life. Gives us new life. A life of our own. A life to be
shared. A way in, a way forward. A question for us to ponder and move forward from.
To grow on. We have been lifted, uplifted. And Ashley does not give an answer, but she
gave us the honor and privilege of being included .in her esoteric process of searching.

I imagine this is what birth is like. A woman, risking everything, giving life, pushing a
whole soul out of her, a soul that is both her and something completely new, giving this
soul to the world. Those who experience this birth are touched by a new, clean truth
wrought and tempered by pain. And they are brought to their knees.

“I brought you here to be uncomfortable.”

At the completion of Ashley’s narrative. She tells us to grab a spot. Plant ourselves.
We do.

The four barefoot women dressed in white cotton slips who had been moving and
reaching enter the room. They weave themselves into the audience(into us), pulling us
down, lifting us up, staring into us. Outlining our bodies with their own. Reminding us of
our curves, our positions. They pull their movements from the photographs surrounding
us. They pull them into us, bring them into present moving life. And as motion pictures,
they build an intimacy in a room of strangers, exposing us all.

To punctuate this overflowing river, and end the scene, the Sisters seated at the table,
slowly, finally, unwrap themselves. Braid by braid. Lay their hair on the table, get up and
walk out.

There were no words, but we heard it all. Breathed in. I was alone and I was with every
single body in that space. I am still with them.

On the evening of July 7, 2018, on the north side of town, in a renovated cotton mill, we
were brought to our knees, where we have remained and may remain for some time.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

It's the next day, Sunday. I am hungover and groggy, thirsty. Last night we feasted. We imbibed. A true Dionysian experience. We drank in the night, the people, the music, and the word of Ashley Johnson. But now, the breakfast table is silent as we try and pull ourselves into the day.

“So what’d you think?” and we are speechless again.

We haven't yet found the words, and we don't dare use the wrong, less deserving ones, so we open our eyes wide and shake our heads and look at each other in silent agreement.

Last night was a moment. A life experience. Something we know we will not get over for a long while. Something we must come to terms with. Something we will slowly begin to define for ourselves. Something we will try our hardest, but most likely fail, to define for those who were not there.

I am living through others. Desperate to hear their thoughts. To live it again.

My mother is in tears, sharing memories from her childhood. “It dredged up things in my childhood, about my hair experiences. My mother wasn't satisfied with me because my hair was straight. Putting my hair in pin curls with clips. She would do it Saturday night before Sunday church and I’d have to sleep with them in. She’d get mean when she was doing it, SIT STILL! Sometimes I just silently cried. You're not going anywhere with me with that stringy hair. You look like a tramp! When she gave me that perm the night before my 3rd grade picture, that was the end.”

My mother telling a friend about the experience, led her friend to tell a story:

As a child, her mother let her cut off her long hair and her father wouldn't speak to her or look at her for over a week. She was shamed by her own father because of her hair. Trying to swallow her shame, she says it went back to his people being Pentecostal. Women aren't supposed to cut their hair. What else are women not supposed to do?

The town is pulsating, we are connected. The emotion is palpable. I knew it would happen, I was living in anticipation. I have been since I saw Ashley’s first photographs two years ago. It’s a gut feeling. You know when you are in the presence of something special, when you see the presentation of good thought inside good aesthetic, oozing out of genuine.

My sister-n-law struggles to voice the pain it underlined for her, pain maybe she didn’t understand until now.

Person after person breaks down upon first entering the gallery where Ashley’s pieces still hang. And we don’t quite know why. Not yet. We have a feeling.

“It’s about not loving yourself. Having been trained that we are less than. And that we always need to be.”

“There were quite a few of us that were holding back tears.”

“Why is this a female issue that connects to self-worth and beauty?”

“I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with the black women in the room about hair issues.”

“Why am I crying; I don't even understand this yet, it’s gonna take me longer.”

“Why am I emotional ...this isn’t about me, I don't have black hair?”

“We both talked about cutting our hair off. It was an act of defiance. She said the same herself. I’m not gonna play this game anymore.”

But I’d like to bring us back to what brought us here and what always brings us here. Isn’t it always black women who show us who we are, who are there for us, who speak with us, guide us, mother us, become our sisters, love us back into ourselves and light the way forward for us all?

Right now, inside an old cotton mill hangs a series of photographs. And a table is set. A table is set for a scene that was, and a scene that is still unfolding. A table is set, asking you to gather. A southern setting, always ready to receive you.

 

 

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Yasmine Diaz - Exit Strategies at The Women’s Center for Creative Work

A review by Alexis Bolter

Photo taken by Stacie Jaye Meyer.

Photo taken by Stacie Jaye Meyer.

Though we were all far from our teenage years, the opening felt like a house party your friend throws in high school when their parents are away.  Yasmine Diaz’s installation, Exit Strategies, encourages this long forgotten youthful behavior.  We all crammed into the small room clutching our beers reminiscing under the hot pink glow of the Arabic neon sign.  I sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor spilling over a vintage trapper keeper filled with highlighted pages, not of algebra homework, but consisting of the “Multi-agency practice guidelines: Handling cases of Forced Marriage”.  During Diaz’s residency at the Women’s Center for Creative Work, she transformed this white-walled space into a replication of the basement bedroom she once shared with her sisters. The installation lures you in with its glowing neon light and Love’s Baby Soft scent and then interrupts your nostalgia by revealing pieces of Diaz’s journey as she escaped the threat of honor violence.

Photo taken by Danielle Spirese

Photo taken by Danielle Spirese

The dominant element of Diaz’s installation is the bright pink neon light.  The color quickly becomes a natural element of this retro space but there is much to unpack in this glowing sign. Diaz provides guidance for those of us who cannot read Arabic, “The text in Arabic is matronymic with my mother’s name and the name I had before I changed it to Yasmine.”  Rather than following the traditional “daughter of <father’s name>” naming structure, Diaz has disrupted that patronymic framework to read the “daughter of <mother’s name>”.  This act speaks to Diaz’s rebellion against the patriarchy and her willingness to challenge a culture she was born into as a Yemeni-American brought up in a Muslim home.

It should be said that I feel the heavy weight that comes from discussing the topics of Diaz’s installation.  Yasmine and I have spent many hours discussing the ideas behind her work and, as I type out these words, I feel the fragility of that conversation magnified.  This is the bravery that runs through her practice; she is not shying away from a conversation that involves religion, identity, and gender politics. It may feel uncomfortable to be critical of a religion that is also being unfairly persecuted by our country during this surge of xenophobia yet it also seems wrong to dismiss the gender inequality that can be extracted from that religious ideology.  This conversation is made more poignant by its display at the Women’s Center for Creative Work. The cross-section of feminism and conservative Islamic tradition is a space that empowers the hijab but doesn’t necessarily ask questions about how that tradition and other more restrictive practices are carried out. Diaz’s installation and the WCCW are taking the steps to engage in this difficult conversation by creating a space that welcomes that dialog.   

That conversation finds a safe home in the transformed residency space.  The familiar wood paneling and mustard hues are cradling a muted carpet and retro furniture.  The two wallpaper patterns are striking. One side obviously bought and pasted, the other hand-painted with a pattern that is trying to say something more. Those hand-painted 12-point rosettes reference a style of Islamic geometric tiling which continue off the wall and into the intricate paper cuttings that inhabit the framed collages.  The source images used for those collage pieces echo the environment we find ourselves in; a place where young women can let down their guard. But this carefree attitude must be read through the young women’s body language since their faces have been removed. This omission serves as another act of disruption and an act of protection when placed in the context of the framed documents scattered around the installation.

Photo taken by Stacie Jaye Meyer.

These redacted documents are precious in their creation and harrowing in their journey.   What you are able to glean from these email exchanges is that Diaz escaped her childhood home under threat of retaliatory violence as a result of refusing to enter an arranged marriage.  This story is illuminated through these correspondences that document Diaz’s attempt to obtain a legal passport after using a false social security number and a false birth certificate while in hiding.  

Diaz’s installation is being presented this quarter under the “Control” programming at the Women’s Center.  Yasmine has fought against the controlling elements in her life since her time in the basement. In the corner of her installation, you’ll find a pair of shorts clipped to a long skirt, a revealing glimpse into her daily defiance against this imposing control.  There is so much courage in this work. The courage to flee her home at a young age, the courage to reveal her false identities, and the courage to revisit that basement with us, the viewer. When I was leaving the opening, I asked Yasmine how she felt about the evening and what it was like to see all these people in her installation.  She mentioned how she rarely invited friends over to her room growing up. This installation allowed her to fulfill this childhood desire as she continues to assert her control.

Photo taken by Stacie Jaye Meyer.