Raleigh Barrett is a vegan Angeleno transplant who has lived in the NoHo Arts District for five years. She certainly won’t be leaving California in the next four years. Raleigh recently graduated from the University of Chicago with a Master of Arts specializing in Linguistic Anthropology. While in Chicago, she worked as the Gallery Assistant at the Renaissance Society. Raleigh is thrilled to be back and blogging for the NoHo Arts District.
An Apt Name for a Solid Pop-Surrealist Tradition: “Creepy Cute” at WWA Gallery
Dee Chavez, “Buttercup Farm,” acrylic on wood.
My first pop-surrealist “creepy cute” experience occurred when I moved to LA in 2000 and first saw Mark Ryden’s portrait of Christina Ricci in a poster shop. Like everyone else on the planet, I immediately fell in love with the oversized head; the enormous, shimmering eyes; the soft edges in the painting; and with all of that the implication of darkness underneath, since Ricci is so well known for playing dark or off-beat characters. (I fell especially hard for Ryden because he was really my introduction to pop surrealism.
Larkin, “Saint Gus and Pilot,” acrylic on panel with crochet frame.
When I lived in New York I mainly kept my nose in underground comics and didn’t look up long enough to notice posters or gallery walls.) Eager for more, I became acquainted with galleries like Cannibal Flower, Copro Nason, and La Luz de Jesus. There I was introduced to the disturbing circus-sideshow creatures of Liz McGrath, Anthony Ausgang’s stretched cartoon characters, Luke Chueh’s white bears with bloody eyes and extremities, Ron English’s bloated but jolly images of Ronald McDonald, and the work of many more artists who compellingly joined sinister and sweet in various ways: by combining the two characteristics in one twisted subject, making an angel and a devil appear to be in cahoots, making a dark figure a sore thumb in a cute setting, sullying a cute thing with disfigurement or evil, or implying darkness by showing that cuteness can be nauseatingly overdone or commercial.
Kelly Hutchison, “The Bone Shaker,” oil on canvas.
Since we all have our own feelings about what’s creepy and what’s cute, it’s a broad theme, and the seven artists featured in WWA Gallery’s current show all take approaches that are very different and give the show great variety. For example, Dee Chavez’s paintings are colorful fantasies in which live things appear bewildered in their unexpected settings (such as a whale that can’t successfully dive in peanut-butter cups, or hills with faces that look very sad—maybe because they’re stuck in one place). Meanwhile, Peter Adamyan brings in politics, making Papa Smurf into Karl Marx and Ronald Reagan into Gargamel, the smurf-eating villain. Even when there aren’t ironies or struggles in the works in this show, we see eeriness in very pink habitats for very darling animals and in the mingling of beings and objects that don’t look like they could coexist safely for very long.
Peter Adamyan, “A Smurfy Coldwar,” oil and acrylic on wood relief.
“Creepy Cute” is on view through Feb. 9 at WWA Gallery, 9517 Culver Blvd, Culver City 90232. For more details, visit wwagallery.com.
When I was in college and grad school, research was for papers, and papers had to be carefully defended. I had to read all or part of several books and/or articles for each paper and provide a bibliography.
Don’t products that are “handmade” or “made by artists” sound like people should pay more for them? But, too often, people don’t. In fact, a lot of the time the pricing bar for artists is set dangerously low…by artists. It’s one thing for an artist to make something lower-priced than an oil painting, so that more people can afford it. It’s another to sell it at a bargain price. Let me tell you about what I’ve been seeing lately.
After a haitus of a couple of weeks to prepare for two gallery shows, I’m very happy to be back here to write about those shows (which just opened in North Hollywood, CA, and Detroit, MI) and also about a third exciting show in Burbank that opened at the same time.
I had a two-week bout of the flu and two trade shows that kept me from concentrating on this blog the way I normally do. I apologize for my haitus and for writing so late about this particular show, because I really think people should go see it while there’s still time!
If you grew up in the 1960s and 70s, you probably remember the Rankin/Bass “Animagic” holiday specials (featuring stop-motion animation with figurines).
Anyone who went to La Luz de Jesus Gallery on October 5 for the opening night of a pre-Halloween art thriller certainly got some of what they came for—skulls and skeletons, a little blood, black lacquer here and there—and I admit that was one of the reasons I went myself.
Riot LA was a comedy festival in downtown LA September 21-23. “The Lot” at Riot LA, set up in a parking lot at 253 South Main Street, was open that Saturday and Sunday.
The night the latest annual BLAB Show opened at Copro Gallery, Bergamot Station was having its 18th anniversary, and the place was insanely mobbed, with live rock music pouring out of wide-open doors and throngs of people winding their way around food trucks and parked cars to get from one gallery to the next. There was plenty of intriguing stuff to see at every gallery, but as soon as I arrived I made a beeline for the BLAB Show because I love it every single year.
Comikaze, held at the LA Convention Center September 15 and 16, was outrageously mobbed beyond anyone’s expectations.
On September 1, I went to the opening reception for two concurrent shows at Thinkspace Art Gallery in Culver City. Both shows introduced me to lots of engaging personalities—human, animal, storybook, cartoon, fantasy, historical, religious, and more-—in settings influenced by urban culture. And both shows were apparently made possible by friendship among artists.
I’m a passionate lover of line art; my favorites range from the medieval etchings and drypoints of Albrecht Durer to pages from contemporary comics. So I was really excited to see Color Ink Book’s 4th Anniversary Show at WWA Gallery in Culver City, which opened the night of August 18th.
I am treating this blog like a diary, and will share whatever issues I’m encountering myself as an artist. Like all artists who are working hard to get their work seen, I do research, meet people in the art world, go to shows for artists and crafters, and have business ups and downs. You’ll get to read about that. And you are welcome to give me feedback.
On July 28 and 29 I saw the work of two artists who make three-dimensional pieces with particular loving care and connect to meaningful personal histories with their art. The first, Matjames Metson, is a self-proclaimed “survival artist” who makes art as a way to cope with his own past; the second, Bob Baker, is a marionette maker and performer with 80 years of professional history to celebrate.
Dedication, what does this mean? If you are listening to the radio at the lovers' hour, then it means someone is playing your favorite song and the DJ has just announced your name over the airwaves and your lover is smiling and you are blushing, cause he/or she remembered you loved it.