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.
My husband, Daniel, and I are doing a show together in October. It will be our first gallery show that’s “just us.” We have a theme, which I will reveal eventually but not yet, and the pieces will all have to be new ones that work together to tell the story we want to tell. We also have to help the gallery generate “buzz” about the show and ensure a good turnout at the opening.
March is Women's History in the USA honoring the women trailblazers of American History. In writing this article, I choose to first pay homage to all mothers because creating and nurturing lives is so very important.
“I Believe in Unicorns Too” is a fairly large group show with plenty of unicorns and other storybook-like fantasy themes chosen by the artists.
An increasing number of galleries are showcasing tattoo art and graffiti art. In this show at Cella Gallery, Timothy Garrett and Samir Evol bring tattoo art, photography, and wall-size spray paint art together to give a wink to the tradition of retro pinup art. My husband and I are big fans of the art of Alberto Vargas, Gil Elvgren, and George Petty and photography featuring models like Bettie Page. This show gives street cred to that tradition.
“Conjoined III” was probably the most mobbed art opening I’ve ever attended. There were two steady flows of spectator traffic: one moving past the gallery walls, and one closer to the center of the room heading out. The two lanes of traffic were so close that they were always touching each other slightly, with a constant murmur of “excuse me” and “sorry” in the air. And outdoors a food truck was doing brisk business with the sea of people that had collected for chatting (since it was too crowded to talk inside).
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.