Narrative Painting in Los Angeles | Craig Krull Gallery

Stella poolside with an abandoned plate of half-eaten charcuterie, a gap-toothed producer with his wallet falling out of his pocket, who is leaning on a rosy-cheeked, glazed-over-eyed woman with her dress halfway off her shoulder.

And this is only the foreground to a man wearing sunglasses taking a selfie. Meanwhile, the Hollywood Hills are burning behind the Angeleno carousers, but no one is phased. Never have I seen a painting more representative of the superficial soul of LA than Carl Dobsky’s Birds of Paradise.

Craig Krull Gallery caps a gem of an exhibition at the end of August 2019, with Narrative Painting in Los Angeles.

Originally homed in West Hollywood, Craig Krull Gallery was established in 1991 as Turner/Krull Gallery. Shifting away from its originally photo-only based exhibitions, Craig Krull became one of the founding galleries at the new Bergamot Station Art Center in 1994. Hosting both solo and group shows, Craig Krull might have its roots in photography but showcases a brilliant group painting exhibition in Narrative Painting in Los Angeles

Taking its cues from Leon Battista Alberti’s 1435 treatise De Pictura (in which Alberti encourages artists to become familiar with poetry in order to understand constructions of daily life and ‘historia’), Narrative Painting recognizes the human-historical continuum in which artists exist. While some painters in the group exhibition explicitly, and compositionally, mirror the masters, others imbue their own Angeleno experience within their works.

In the narrative behind Narrative Painting in Los Angeles, perhaps most interesting is that the authors who inspired the exhibition (Robet Irwin and Eve Babitz) believe that LA is one of the least restrictive towns in the world because it has “no traditions, or history, or images of itself.” However, our Craig Krull Gallery artists quite disagree.

Ja’Rie Gray’s A Conversation with the Three of Me explores public and individual perception of beauty as it relates to lightness of skin. Meanwhile Shawn Michael Warren shines light on LA’s sordid history: Abbot’s Waterway provides an historical snapshot of the African Americans who toiled in and built the Venice Canals, yet were barred from residing in the area.

Moving us to the present and overarching Human Experience Dan McCleary believes that Los Angeles “has no center or formal rituals, so its inhabitants find their own centers through daily rituals like driving, shopping, eating out, and seeing movies.” These elements of Angeleno living are represented in Trouble, where nothing is actively occurring, but by simply occupying a shared space there is a fundamental human happening.

From LA freeways to earthquakes to transplants to politics, words such as “sinister, transient, and apocalyptic” can be used for the Los Angeles narrative. However, we also find words such as sunshine, dreaming, tenacity for Los Angeles and its residents. Narrative Paintings in Los Angeles bridges both contradictions and congruencies observed by long-term residents and passers-through.

Craig Krull Gallery: 


Sandow Birk
Carl Dobsky
James Doolin
Steve Galloway
Lola Gil
Ja’Rie Gray
D.J. Hall
F. Scott Hess
Laura Krifka
Dan McCleary
Milo Reice
John Valadez
Shawn Michael Warren 

Exhibition Dates:
July 20 – August 31, 2019 

Tues – Fri


Bergamot Station
2525 Michigan Ave, Bldg. B-3
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Raleigh Barrett Gallina
Author: Raleigh Barrett Gallina

Raleigh (Barrett) Gallina from LA ART. Raleigh has been writing for the NoHo Arts District since 2015. Raleigh explores everything from large-scale commercial exhibitions to gratis solo exhibitions showcased by amateur galleries. While her preferences are ever-evolving, her favorite exhibitions include large-scale sculpture or paint, as well as artwork which holds socio-cultural underpinnings. She hopes that by capturing a large array of media and voices (including that of curators and the artists themselves), that readers are able to enjoy and voyeur out of their comfort zones.