Follow by Email

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The People I Depict (Q&A)

When You Sleep: A Survey of Shizu Saldamando
Sept 10-Dec 7, 2013

Vincent Price Art Museum
East Los Angeles College
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 9l754

Shizu Saldamando opening night
1. What would you like the art public to know about your work that maybe has been misunderstood or misinterpreted?
SS: I'd like people to know that the people I depict are friends or acquaintances that I have a very strong respect and love for.  I don't really like to depict strangers or people I don't know hence my hesitation about doing commission work.  I view the work as homage pieces to not only my friends but also to my own life and daily occurrences that I'd like to honor and share.  I've been criticized before for having my work look too finished or complete or not clean enough but I'm not trying to exert some over riding criticality about subjectivity.  These are personal works that are born out of my own selfish need to see myself and friends represented some how, if not in mass media, then perhaps in art. 
2. At the opening there were several people that had been portrayed in your paintings.  I saw some of your muses posing in front of their portraits which gave an added dimension of "reality" and referencing.  Also, as I was walking out of the museum, there was a group of your muses being photographed.  I thought of the Laguna Beach pageant of the masters.  What kind of exchange do you have with your models?  Is there a reciprocal declaration of individual differences and the importance of the individual? 
Like I said earlier I don't view them as "models".  The people I portray are my friends or people I party with or hang out with or who happen to be standing next to someone I was taking a picture of.  For instance the portrait of Joe with Gran Legacy happened because after we all went out we came back to my place and he passed out in that chair and I took a picture of him.  My friend Sandra (another "muse") said it was weird people were going up to her at the show asking her how she knew me as if she was some paid model or something.  I really just take a lot of pictures of my friends and sometimes I like to shoot and decide to paint or draw it.  Rarely do I ask a friend to model for me and even then when they ask what they should wear I tell them its really up to them and what they'd like to be drawn in.  For the VPAM show I asked Rafa Esparza if I could take his picture for a portrait because he is an ELAC alum and an amazing artist himself.  He mentioned to me earlier about how he saw me speak on a panel for the Barbara Carrasco retrospective at ELAC years ago when he was a student there and I thought it was a no brainer to do his portrait for the exhibition.  
3. There is a theme of the influence of Morrissey in you portraits.  My thoughts went to how styles are continually abstracted--punk rock began in America and was adopted by the British kids...and then has continued to Ping-Pong back and forth between continents.  On the London Tube in l978, there were kids with safety pins in their cheeks.  I was making a parallel between the Zoot Zooters of the l940's and how they were trying to be "American kids" with your portraits of young people adopting a particular style which is also an "American" phenomenon.  There is also the influence of the Beatniks, The Beat Generation of the l950's and early l960's.  Is there any credence to my interpretation?
I'm not sure what you mean by "Morrissey influence" but I have done a Morrissey portrait before and people really jumped on that and that I'm the Morrissey artist or something but really it's more about the kids who grew up in South East LA during the 80's and 90's who listened to KROQ when it was still decent and had a love for british pop and punk and Goth and all that stuff.  I think this was more about feeling like an outsider and reveling in it.  Pachuco culture, or as I always thought was never about trying to be American, but more about kids interpreting their own style from the streets and other urban communities and rejecting mainstream societal norms about how to dress, what music to listen to etc.... Of course eventually things get co-opted or in this case I'd argue the Zoot suiter's blatant rejection of trying to fit in to what "American kids" should look like became so radical and threatening to society at large, they were physically beaten and their clothes were torn off of them.  I know that I am really interested in the way people create their subcultures, scenes, fashion, music etc outside of corporate radio, high fashion etc.... The rejection, reinterpretation and recreation of independent fashion and music is something I try to capture through my friends. 
4. The modeling of the forms in your portraits, the direction of the light sources, the positioning of the model's eyes, also reminded me of the prosaic subjects of Vermeer and the Dutch Masters and Velasquez's portraits.  Can you discuss any art historical influences in your work?
As far as the light or whatever, I know those Dutch Masters were pretty good at subtlety and mundane domestic spaces.  As far as the masters go, I don't paint royalty, prostitutes or ballerinas unless my friends know something I don't.  I don't pay attention to capturing  any sort of light that because most of my portraits are done from really pixilated photo print outs that I took with my cheap camera at a dark club or room so I had to use a camera's flash.  If anything I'm influenced by more contemporary art.
5. Your personal family heritage influences your work.  How will your heritage continue to influence your work in the near future. (If it is possible to predict where your work will be directed.)
I think everyone's personal family heritage influences their work so I'm not sure how my personal family heritage will predict what type of work I do in the future nor anyone elese's.
Gerardo Posing 2008 (oil, glitter on plywood)



Monday, October 21, 2013

I Was Real Careful With It

John Valadez-Santa Ana Condition
Vincent Price Art Museum
September 21- December 7, 2013
East Los Angeles College
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 91754

"I was real careful with it", Valadez expressed, when he was telling the story of his early drawing lifetime.  He said he remembered making a drawing of Fred Flintstone in grammar school.  As a third grader, most of his school mates could not believe he had made the drawing.  But even as a child, Valadez was already respecting his work by being "careful with it." He was a loner as a child and continues to stress the virtues of solitude as a formula for making art. 

Valadez is an esteemed artistic treasure for the people of East Los Angeles and Los Angeles County.  His current retrospective exhibition, traveling from The Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, hopefully expands his reputation throughout the United States as a true American realist artist.  

Valadez began his art career in the late sixties and early seventies in conjunction with the civil rights and anti-war movement.  He was part of the burgeoning Chicano Art coalition.  In terms of the history of the United States, Valadez said that we know the story of the migration from the east to the west, but not so much of from the south to the north.  Valadez, along with his artist colleagues, wanted to be the generation that told "our story" and" how we were trying to figure it out."  He continued to say: "...before we wanted to make Chicano we are Chicanos that make art...". While he focuses on Realism, Valadez is still telling the story of his community, "still about us" no matter where he shows his work.  

Valadez' likes to jump around with different subject matter that deals with figurative conflicts of urbanism, men, women, and drama.  He will continue to work on a theme, such as the car show theme, until he runs out of commentary.  But sometimes it can be years later that he has another idea and he will add it to a previous series.  Valadez feels that artists should respect their thoughts.  He likes to work intuitively and not question his impulses.  When he was younger he did not feel the need to over explain his process. He found that when he used to talk about his work the strain would prevent him from working for a few days. Now that he is older his energy level changes.  There are still some ideas that he wants to clear up before he begins new projects.

The exhibition contains paintings, photographs and pastel drawings.  Valadez is a master with pastel.  He likes to call it "dry paint".  In the pastel drawing entitled Robert and Liz "Liz's" jersey is an example of  how Valadez uses pastel like a weaver integrating colored thread.  Working from a photograph, he "goes beyond the photograph" layering marks with undercoats of pastel that he mixes with colors or lays them on top of each other.  He said the process took him about nine to ten years of trying to figure it out. One of the outcomes was learning how to use pastels as colored grounds.  The colored grounds were achieved by grinding down the pastels, adding water to them and creating a paste.  The wet ground pastels form a resin which sometimes is hard to draw over.  He pushes the pastel as far as he can and combines it with acrylic paint.  

Valadez' skills go beyond the gallery walls. He has been creating murals in Los Angeles county, Texas and Europe. His use of historical references and the integration of family, friends and people from his community are also seen in his murals.  His most current work is a mural in Long Beach on a wall of a condominium called Gallery 420.

Santa Ana Condition Exhibition has become a reunion of sorts for the various people that Valadez has photographed for the past thirty eight years. These include aunts, cousins, and grandchildren from  "Soto to Montebello". The people are an extension of his psyche and his emotional and physical framework.  He wants to make work that "transcends" and exemplifies "survival skills".

His advise to young artists is that it is a "tough road" and "if you're trying to get rich and famous don't become an artist. You have to focus on your work.  Stop listening to the all the voices and find a mission statement."

Previous interviewer: "Are you a Chicano Artist?"
Valadez: "I am if it bothers you."

The Car Show 2001 (76"x 96 1/4")

Robert & Liz

Long Beach Mural in progress

John Valadez & Sandra Vista at VPAM "artist walkthrough"10/12/13

Thursday, July 18, 2013

PS Zask Gallery

South Bay Contemporary
a juried open call for art
RECEPTION ; July 13, 6-9 pm

July 13-August 25, 2013

Deep Valley Drive, 151
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

Photos of the opening reception for South Bay Contemporary's juried exhibition of local abstract artists showcased at PS Zask Gallery.


Velvet MARSHALL- "The Bridge"

PS Zask Gallery presents:

South Bay Contemporary-a juried open call for art
reception : July 13, 20l3 6-9 pm
July 13- August 25, 2013

550 Deep Valley Drive 151
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274

Velvet Marshall's large scale painting "The Bridge" is part of a juried exhibition sponsored by the South Bay Contemporary.  This exhibition consists of contemporary artists whose focus exceeds boundaries or themes.  Marshall's 8'x8' abstract painting combines oil paint and roof tar.  The use of mixed-media materials began with the need to paint versus the need for appropriate funds.  However, the roof tar has served to support Marshall's state of mind during the painting's inception.  In our interview she spoke of the healing powers this painting had during her recovery from a traumatic event. The painting became the vehicle for what Marshall calls "the unspoken language".

Marshall's research of her influential artists like Cy Twombly, Antoni Tapies, and Gerhard Richter
helped her to empathize with the emotional background of some of these artists' work.  The artists' influence are present in the slathering application of the roof tar combined with sgrafitto marks.
Tapies has described his sgrafitto marks as traumatic messages from people strewn against the wall.

The balance of color emerging from the background is attributed to Marshall's use of her photographer/husband, James Creighton's, images of underwater plant life. The abstraction of the plants, their beauty and color are similar to Gerhard Richter's thesis to understand and represent reality with paint and various mediums, techniques, and styles.

Velvet Marshall " The Bridge"
Velvet Marshall "Sargasso"
Artists from the exhibition South Bay Contemporary

Monday, May 13, 2013

Guest Curator: Mary Anna Pomonis
February 9-April 26, 2013

Vincent Price Art Museum
Small Gallery
East Los Angeles College
1301 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Monterey Park, CA 91754

The questions below were given to Mary Anna Pomonis by me in response to her exhibition at Vincent Price Art Museum from February 9-April 26, 2013.

1. I read that the idea for this exhibition has been in your mind's eye for about 10 years.  How did the show remain true to your original vision and how did it change?

In 2009 I was hanging out with Allison Stewart and Carole Caroompas.  Allison, Carole and I had just come back from a show I curated in New York at Space B Gallery in Chelsea entitled, "The Gun Show".  We began joking that after making a show about the taboo topic of gun culture it would be cool to do a show about "God".  The idea really stuck in my head because I am from the Midwest and a very conservative Greek Orthodox family.  On the one hand I rejected those ideas when I decided to become an artist and move away from home.  However, like anything else you reject it becomes deeply imbedded in your memory and somehow elements of that rejection become part of your practice.

2.How do your personal politics work with the artists you chose for the show?

I tried very hard to balance the selection of sculptors, photographers, painters and environmental practioners.  I also was very conscious of selecting a balance of men and women as well as people of color and people who identify as straight or gay.  I found that because so much of sacred ritual is based on diversified ethnicity and social experience, balancing the artists led to a richer array of objects.  For example Todd Gray's "Shaman" photographs are shot in Africa where he has a studio.  Todd's work is performative, he stands with shaving cream completely covering his body in the middle of the jungle.  His photographs simultaneously convey the frightening hood of a Klansman and an African shaman in the midst of a trance.  Those kinds of associations are specific to him because of his racial identity and his work resonates with meaning as a result.

I took myself out of the show although my work is deeply connected to the exhibition statement since I am fascinated personally by the connection between modernist notions of aura and contemporary artistic practice.  I felt that taking myself out of the show would make the audience experience more about the topic and less about the ego of the curator.  I know that it's a protocol that is not always held up however, it just seemed like the right thing to do.

When I am selecting an artist for a show I have to feel a strong sense that in addition to the conceptual linkage with the project, the artist will be a pleasure to work with.  I include Allison Stewart in my shows a lot because her work has incredible depth of meaning and I know from experience that Allison brings a level of professionalism and generosity to the projects she is involved with.  Allison wrote the most incredible artist statement for the show outlining her project, "American Anthem" connecting her images of young soliders to the Mannerist images of Christ and the Madonna.  Stewart points out that images of the tragic hero have become our sacred secular icons, that idea really resonated with me and I had to include her work.  There are so many great artists in the show, I could go on and on, I'll just quote the didactic:
"To talk about the divine aspect of art production is as awkward as it
is exciting for the artists Mark Dutcher, Paul Guillemette, Charles
Hachadourian, Paula J. Wilson, Ross Rudel, and Linda Stark.  There is a
theology of presence evident in their work; the artist's hand must be present
in the making in order to create an energetic action that is felt by the viewer..."
3. In your statement your wrote that the exhibition was divided by two: those who use ritual in their art and those who use the idea of spiritualism in a cynical way.  Would you consider ritual being a part of every artist's process?  Speaking for myself, and my creative process, I see having the qualities of spiritual riturals.
Most of the artists I know have incorporated aspects of ritual in their studios.  Artists place salt in the corners of their studios, burn sage, hang up images of Kali, the Guadalupe, and collect icons.  Although most contemporary artists tend to mock the ideas of faith, they often have deeply repetitive practices in the studio that mimic sacred meditation.
4. How did the agnostics occupy this space?
The response I got most often was a sort of active confusion followed by excitement.  Many people at the performance day (co-curated by Adriana Yugovich) were really energized by the performances for different reasons.  My boyfriend, Justin Stadel, felt the performances enhanced his relationship to the work.  Which really surprised me because his sensibility is more abject.  It's one thing to say, "The Semi-Tropic Spiritualists" are going to perform and quite another to watch them build a pyramid and then go inside the gallery and stand in front of one of Paul Guillemette's beautifully crafted pyramids made of recycled wood.  The chanting Buddhists led by Jennifer Juniper-Stratford spread out around Paul Guillemette, Adrian De La Pena, Ron Laboray and Allison Stewart's work.  Their meditative chanting for me personally changed the experience of looking at Laboray's, "Flaming Monk" and Carole Caroompas' "Dancing with Misfits: Eye Dazzler:Les Desaxes.  Both Carole and Ron deal with popular culture imagery and it's easy to think of the images as sarcastic however, there is a layer of Buddhist suffering that come with the images of horror, so evident in both of their works.  Krystal Krunch held a workshop to help visitors intuitively read the artwork in the show, so there were a lot of people wandering around and looking at art trying to commune with the objects while performers were performing, Ross Rudel created a beautiful piece entitled "Wet Column", where he stood on a tree stump in a felt suit with a wooden cage revolving around his head while he stood transfixed.  Rudel fluffed out his hair in order to prevent the cage from striking him, there was this element of his being like a caryatid and the museum operating as a tie that bound him to the temple column.  Finally there was this really interesting dynamic between the calm "Movement Ritual" piece by Dianna Cummins based on Yoga movements and the pure camp of "Barfth" the self-described sludge-metal band.
5. The "White Cube"-occupying the gallery space reminded me of the Suprematists and their search for the purity of only "feelings".  Is the conceptual aspect of your curatorial efforts a search for this kind of non-objectivity?
It's interesting you should say that.  I definitely think the gallery and museum today are the closest things our culture has to a pure or sacred space.  Perhaps its my own efforts that create meaning in the face of total banality that faci. litated my drive to search out a museum venue for the show; to turn what initially started as a joke, into something that could lead to something more.
-Mary Anna Pomonis
Mary Anna Pomonis is a Los Angeles based artist. Pomonis has shown at galleries and institutions including, the Western Carolina University Museum of Fine Arts, the Torrance Art Museum, The Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois, the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, POST, Annie Wharton Los Angeles, Diana Lowenstein Fine Arts Miami, Cirrus Gallery Los Angeles, Space B Gallery New York, and 1-Space Gallery, Chicago.  Her artwork has appeared in the Huffington Post, Saatchi Online magazine, National Public Radio, Whitehot Magazine and Artweek.  Additionally her curatorial projects and essays have been featured at commercial and college art galleries such as the Vincent Price Art Museum, The Whittier College Greenleaft, POST, Peter Miller Gallery and Circus Gallery.
Allison Stewart (photographer) and Mary Anna Pomonis (curator)
Pomonis with Charlie Hachadourian's work

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Paradigm of Valor-LISA ADAMS AND STEVE ROGERS AT CB-1 Gallery

Lisa Adams
Second Life

Steve Rogers
Blood At The Roost

Exhibition dates: April 7-May 12, 2013

CB-1 Gallery
207 W. 5th St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Lisa Adams at CB-1 Gallery
Steve Rogers at CB-1 Gallery reception
Steve Rogers' studio
Lisa Adams' Studio
Steve Rogers profile
Lisa Adams portrait
Recently, Adrian, a student in my drawing class, asked: "What does it take to be an artist?".  I told him that there was a time I asked an artist the same question?   When I asked the question the response was; "I don't know."  It's a gift, it's not literal, it's dependent and independent, it's reincarnations, it's several sets of keys. 
My response to Adrian was using the current exhibitions of Lisa Adams and Steve Rogers at CB-1 Gallery.  These artists are an exemplary definition of artists in their glory. 
A paradigm of valor is exhibited in their work.  Adams and Rogers diligently portray their internal dialogue through their work.  They provide an insight into people who need to create as part of their existence.  Adams' exhibition is dedicated to her recent illness effecting her eye-sight. Rogers' continual exaltation of the rooster expresses his talents with multiple mediums of assemblage, collage, painting and clay.  They see the world multi-dimensionally and hyper-intentionally.  They are also the archetype of "the everyday working man/woman" who are confronted with challenges and ride them out creatively.
And the World Shall Remain Silent

Graceful Indignities 2012
Inland Empire Bantam Yard 12


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sandra Vista -Meow Buddha

Vincent Price Art Museum
Monterey Park,CA
East Los Angeles College

Feb 9-April 26,2013

Artist Talk and Walk Through
2 evenings:Tuesday (April 16) and Thursday (April 18)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Steve Schmidt


Mixed-Media Sculptures

March 16-April 27, 2013

Edward Cella Art & Architecture
6018 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tues-Sat 11-6pm/ by appt

Gyre # 3 2013 (plastic containers, zip ties, metal structure) 64"x64"x20
Schmidt's title for his current work (Gyres) is revealing about the artist on various levels.  As a surfer who is an artist and an artist who is a surfer, the Gyres series examines Schmidt's daily experience of riding the curl on his surfboard.  The monochromatic forms of this series can be viewed as abstractions of the atmospheric foam forms caused by the accelerating waves as they begin to fold over and curl. On a physical and metaphyscial level, he is nestled between four of the five major ocean gyres which are continuously rotating clockwise and counterclockwise.
Schmidt spoke of his influences of Robert Irwin's illuminated disc when referring to Gyre #3. He focused on the circular form that appeared to simultaneously rotate peripherally and  vibrate magnetically in the center.  Because Schmidt was responsible for the installation and lighting of his series, he was able to maniuplate the lighting and optimal placement of each work. 
 Like the Light and Space artists that Schmidt is inspired by, (Robert Irwin and Craig Kauffman), each Gyres piece sensuously hones in on the lights of the gallery space and electrifies each sculpture as individualized site vortices.
Regarding the exclusivity of the plastic milk bottle as an art medium, Schmidt said that he felt he was already working with material that was perfectly designed.  As in Marcel Duchamp's Readymades, the artist choose everyday objects such as the Bottle Rack, and the Fountain (urnial), that also stood on their own design merits.  Deconstructing the same design form of the milk bottle, aloud Schmidt to have consistency of sculptural forms creating subliminal spirituality.
Installation view of Gyres series
Gyre# 4 2013 (plastic bottles, zipt ties, metal structure)
Steve Schmidt and Carl Berg-artist talk 3/23/13
Edward Cella Art and Architecture


Monday, March 25, 2013

The Poetry of Observation

Claire Anna Baker

Paintings- Ink on polyester

March 16- April 27, 2013

Edward Cella Art & Architecture
6018 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Tues-Sat: 11-6 pm /by appt.

Strings of Desire 2013 -54"x92" (ink on polyester)
The artist talks that director Edward Cella and curator Carl Berg provided on Saturday March 23, 2013 for Claire Anna Baker and Steven Schmidt is a tribute to the emergence of supporters like Cella and Berg to promote the relevance of artists extending their works in dialogues with viewers, art students, artists, patrons and devotees.
During artist talks many artists have been known to create pieces of performance art during their presentations.  Such was the case with Claire Anna Baker. SunBody portrays Baker's jubilance and rejoicing in the process of making art.  Baker beamingly delivered her process which was nurtured in a poetic womb papered with stories of art and artists.  Baker referenced The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser, as one of her main inspirations for this series.  She sentimentally read heartfelt excerpts from her personally worn book. Baker praised and appaulded her poet- mother for introducing The Life of Poetry to her in childhood. For Baker " poetry causes negotiating with the self. "
Baker's "negotiating" included influences by artists like Helen Frankenthaler and Franz Kline.  She spoke of how Kline's gestural paintings were influenced from real life.  Baker also references real life by having a massive quantity of thrown and stacked objects in the center of her studio. This intentional conglomerate is her quasi-still life. 
Baker has found that painting on polyester, for this series, aids in achieving her process of bold ink gestures traveling throughout the canvas.  She said that "polyester has a memory".  In Strings of Desire the signal wave of motion appears to carry with it memories of Baker's observations and the time of their conceptions.  The subtle layers of the gesture are form and shadow.  The viewer can experience Baker's thought process from its inception to the end of the gestural dance.
Thomas Edison felt that our world was being "observed".  As he looked in his microscope he believed he could keep our world afloat by performing the same gesture.  Baker is an observer, who transcribes her world through movement in various periods of time.
Fighter Flight 2013  60"x84" (ink on polyester)
View of painting series
Carl Berg and Claire Anna Baker at artist talk 3/23/13


Monday, March 18, 2013

reFresh: Furniture & Fiber

reFresh: Furniture &  Fiber
March 2-April 6, 2013

Zask Gallery
Contemporary Art
550 Deep Valley Dr #151
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
hrs: Tues-Friday 1:15-6pm, Sat 11-6pm, Sunday Noon-4pm

June Diamond "Reserved" (found chair, blades, ) 2013

 Gestation, June, & Reserved
 Steve Nasker & Charlotte Stone
Yu Cotten-well
The current exhibition at Zask Gallery contains artists who work in mixed-media, found objects, and recycled material.  Many of the artists in the exhibit used chairs in their artwork.  From a psychological aspect, chairs in art  have been known to represent parents.  In many cases the artists may be working out personal issues with their parents or family.  June Diamond described "Reserved"(2013) as an homage to the loss of her beloved brother-in-law that she considered one of her anchors.  The "reserved" message can signify a reservation at a restaurant and also a reservation for "the great unknown".  The encased rusted single-edged blades incorporate a sense of time with the rust and the deepening grief that exist with the loss of a loved one. 
In in 1979 when I was in graduate school, there was a movement in Los Angeles that was spreading the word "chair" as a concept.  It was a quasi-chain-letter that promoted an open communication where artists discussed the word "chair" -whispered it, chanted it, drew it, engulfed themselves in it.  Whenever I see a chair I automatically recall that conceptual event. 
This exhibition stimulated my experience. 
Beyond the chairs were found object tableaus created by Ben Zask and John Sollom.  Sollom's piece "Bird Key Holder" is also functional as the title indicates.  These pieces have the inspiration of Joseph Cornell as they focus on a slice of life and a mini-fairy-tale.
John Sollom
Gary Paige (Pallette Chair)
Artists featured:
Yu Cotton-well
June Diamond
Paul Guillemette
Steve Nasker & Charlotte Stone
Gary Paige
Janelle Pietrzak & Robert Dougherty
Andrea Senn-Kitts
Erica Sims
John Sollom
Nancy Voegeli-Curren
Steve Webster
Darlyn Susan Yee
Ben Zask