This Friday, owner Bob Lovejoy opens the bar for its first ever art show, and the subject is the building itself. (After owner Tommy Chung closed the bar in 2006, Mr. Lovejoy kept the faith and finally reopened the rechristened spot last year, keeping much of the decor and the vibe.) Over the years, local artists have painted Jimmy’s in all sorts of styles, from photo realist to impressionist. Nearly a dozen paintings will be on display alongside the Pickle Room’s usual decorations, like the 1920’s Chinese cheesecake posters and the good luck knot of red rope.
Michael Kate puts the abstract on hold this month for a themed show of figurative painting. Curator and artist Brad Nack may have been slightly winking when he said he chose the theme because he wanted to give himself a challenge (he’s in the show with several paintings). But hey, whatever gets the creative juices flowing.
This is a show with ten artists tackling the human figure in various ways, from sci-fi pulp art to the roughest of class sketches. More than any previous show — I believe, anyway — this is meant to be taken as a journey in order, starting at the doors and moving counter-clockwise around MichaelKate. (But if you just want to move right to the back where those comfy recliners are, that’s fine too.)
In the 21st Century, things have gotten wiggly. Where once a discipline hopper like Warhol was an anomaly, it’s now rare to find an artist working in one medium. The new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara asks whether a similar breakdown is happening in the architecture and design world, and if affording firms and designers museum space changes the way we see them, or how they see their audience. “Almost Anything Goes” explains the title of the exhibit that opened last week and runs through April 13.
The focus is on Los Angeles artists trained in architecture, the majority with a link to the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-ARC) in downtown L.A. Along with MCA’s Miki Garcia, the exhibit has been curated with Brigitte Kouo, a SCI-ARC graduate.
Curator Brad Nack has brought three artists, mostly locals from the region, for a show at MichaelKate Interiors that doesn’t even try to match the crazed intensity of its Halloween/October exhibit. Instead, this show, titled “Perfect Day” as a nod to the recently passed Lou Reed, acts as a sort of palate cleanser. We have the bold graphics of James Paul Lambert, the brutal abstracts of Liv Zutphen and the landscapes of Julie Young to contend with. Do the three have anything really to do with each other? Not really, apart from the abstract, but their jarring proximity is a breather, a chance to regroup. All three are worth checking out.
Julie Young’s landscapes break geography into geometric shapes and explode them onto her canvases in her colorful oil paintings. There’s a Chagall and Miro-like dance in such works like “Summerland Beach,” where the sand can barely be seen through the blue and green shapes (swimmers? umbrellas?), or “Paradise Road” with its green curlicues and odd stripes. Elsewhere in sketchier and centered “Hendry’s Beach” or “150 Lookout,” one can see the paragliders off the cliffs, for example, but it’s still like a half-remembered dream. For those not versed in the look of Santa Barbara, it may not just look abstract. Call it a hidden message to the locals.
Curator Brad Nack was looking for something creepy and scary for his latest show at MichaelKate Interiors and he may have gotten more than he expected. There’s some artistic madness going down at the furniture showroom that doubles as a gallery, making for one of MichaelKate’s boldest shows of the year.
Fans of La Luz de Jesus gallery and the pop surrealist movement will instantly groove on the very large paintings by Christopher Ulrich and his “Demoneater” series. But equally scary is Christina Tonges Korn and her spectral paintings. These balance against the more mellow works by Barbara Romain and the pop art explosions of Wallace Piatt, the only local in the show. It might be an unfair battle, two unhinged artists going up against two more “normal” ones (friends of the artists may begin debate here!), but the mix of color and scale work themselves out nicely.
Think of the 1980s and art and what comes to mind? Possibly Nagel, neon colors, jagged diagonals and geometry, paint splashes. Maybe the squiggles of Keith Haring, or the attack of Basquiat, or Jeff Koons’ kitsch. But for Julie Joyce, who curated this new show at the Museum of Art, it was a time of excitement for galleries, of a new trust in materials and finance, and lots of black. “Totally 80s: Gifts to the Permanent Collection” only nods to the clichéd idea of the decade in its title. There’s one example of neon. But there’s lots of black. (There’s more, too, in the other show she helped set up: the photos of John Divola, in the gallery around the corner).
Recent exhibitions from the Museum’s permanent collections have been too much of a muchness, with too much repetition of recently shown work. But “Totally ’80s” avoids that, thanks to recent gifts from the Broad Art Foundation in L.A. and Laura-Lee W. Woods and Robert J. Woods, Jr. There are only two familiar pieces here: Charles Arnoldi’s rough-hewn and brutal wood canvas, “Landfisher” and Al Held’s “Brughes II” that used to hang in the atrium, neon hoops and green building girders — an example of the brief “neo geo” movement.
Kevin Hosseini produces four to five canvases a month, he sells rather well, and his calendar is booked with show openings both in town and as far afield as St. Petersburg, Russia.
One thing is certain about the 18-year-old Carpinteria artist: autism isn’t holding him back.
The St. Petersburg show came about when Mr. Hosseini won a competition for autistic artists put on by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. The exhibit has traveled around the world, but the Russian Museum invited him to submit a second painting.
“I felt good to have my artwork in Russia,” Mr. Hosseini said. “I felt like I’m making progress in becoming famous.”
There’s a humorous tease in the title of Monika Molnar-Metzenthin’s “Nouvelle Nudes” exhibit at Restaurant Roy this September. These women that Ms. Molnar-Metzenthin has painted were indeed nude at the time, posing for life drawing classes at the Schott Center, but like a fetishist focusing on the parts that nobody else pays attention to, the artist has decided to render these faces in paint, and nothing else.
Art modeling can be dull and ache inducing for the model, and a bit weird for the artist if they’re not used to gazing for long stretches at the nude figure. Some models fall asleep or nod off, others daydream. Who knows what they’re thinking about?
Art From Scrap continues to host the largest art-guessing game in town this Saturday with its Third Annual One Night Stand event. For those who missed the last two years, here’s the gist. Roughly 200 artists send in work on a 9×9 inch canvas, all of which are hung that morning at the Brooks Institute’s Gallery 27. All works are priced at $200 and those who buy a piece find out the identity of the artist only after they purchase.
It’s an idea borrowed directly from the Incognito event down at the Santa Monica Museum of Art — a very good idea indeed. According to Jill Cloutier at Art From Scrap, the event raised $40,000 last year (and a similar rate the year before), so it’s proven itself. Plus, as the art is purchased, it comes off the wall. With a total of 400 visitors, collectors come early and so by the end of the evening, there’s (thankfully) not much left to see.
When an artist makes an abrupt 180 in her style, it’s always time to sit up and notice. Penelope Gottlieb has become synonymous with nature, especially the freakiness of nature, of extinction and mutation. Her acrylics and oils took a modern approach to Audubon-era nature painting, either by adding a crazed overlay, or by applying those old techniques to flora that make it look as though it was disintegrating before our eyes.
“Portraits in Air (A Series Revisited)” isn’t that. At all. And it’s not new. In fact, this short series of paintings dates from 2004, long before nature crept into the scene. In this exhibition at Edward Cella’s satellite gallery at Cabana Home, there’s little to tie these works to her current series, except for anxiety.