Gallery 800 in NoHo is operated by the Art Directors Guild (ADG). For the benefit of the handful of Angelenos who don’t work in “the industry,” I’ll go ahead and explain that the ADG is a branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) and a labor union for a huge range of artistic people working in entertainment: art directors, graphic artists, illustrators, matte artists, model makers, digital artists, scenic artists, set designers, and title artists. The gallery puts on six to eight shows a year, at least half of which are devoted to personal art or photography by ADG members. (Other shows are put on by art organizations such as the Collage Artists of America, the Valley Watercolor Society, and the San Fernando Valley Art Club.) The Gallery 800 shows for ADG members are not juried, and the work shown is personal work; but because the contributors are among the same professionals who make your eyes pop out of your head when you attend movies and theater and watch TV, they can’t help bringing high levels of creativity, skill, and professionalism to their personal art. This is very evident in the current photography show, which opened July 13.
This particular show is not tied together with a theme. It’s photography, plain (well, actually, far from plain) and simple, produced by ADG members during their travels, explorations of nature, attendance of special events, and walks through familiar (or unfamiliar but interesting) neighborhoods. To name just a few photographers: While in Pennsylvania, Aprile Lanza-Boettcher captured a horse-drawn Amish wagon in dramatic motion on the road and, during a July 4th historical reenactment event, a woman in full 19th-century dress taking a modern cigarette break. The polar bear photographed by international traveler Denny Dugally was actually found in its natural habitat, and her portrait of an Indian man with colorful face paint was taken in Kathmandu. Various techniques were used to achieve special effects; for example, Colin D. Irwin uses a gumoil process to achieve a quaint-looking and eerie color effect that comes out differently in each one of his photographic prints.
Denis Olsen, who began curating the gallery four years ago with his wife, Monica Martinez-Olsen, started off by polling the Art Directors Guild members to get an idea of general interest in contributing to shows (there was interest). Mr. Olsen says that showing personal work at Gallery 800 has served as a stepping stone for many of the contributing artists to grow second artistic careers, leading to shows in other galleries and awards in competitions. The opening nights are also a chance for ADG members to get to know each other better. My husband, a set designer and an ADG member, saw several of his colleagues at the July 13 opening. At the end of each year, Gallery 800 also has an “Art Unites” show, to which they invite contributors who are members of other unions in the entertainment industry.
Thus far the shows have had broad themes, which facilitate greater participation, and some of the themes chosen lend themselves to the ADG members’ showing who they are in down-to-earth, personal ways. Debbie Patton, the gallery coordinator, mentioned an upcoming show for which the theme will be “animals and home.” Ms. Patton also cited the fact that they ADG shows at the gallery are never juried, creating a noncompetitive atmosphere in which colleagues can show.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting this artistic ADG satellite; lucky for me that nonmembers have the opportunity to walk into this space and peek into the personal work of these highly skilled professionals.
The Photography Show at Gallery 800 runs through August 17 at the Lankershim Arts Center, 5108 Lankershim Blvd., NoHo 91601. Hours are 2-8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2-6 p.m. on Sunday. For more photos of the current show and other information, visit http://gallery800.com.
Curators Denis Olsen and Monica Martinez-Olsen with their photographs.
Kenneth Larson with his work.
Aprile Lanza-Boettcher with her work.
Norm Newberry with his photography.