L.A. the Blog: ‘bright lights & fist fights’ Gallery Show; Next Stop ‘The Art of Coop’

Annie Preece

Annie Preece frames her own painting during the exhibition opening of ‘bright lights & fist fights’ group show at the Rebecca Molayem Gallery in West Hollywood – June 14, 2012

Is Los Angeles essential to the art world at large?  L.A. the Blog can’t answer that question but the scale of art happening in this city on a daily basis makes art essential to understanding Los Angeles.  A city dreamed up from behind a camera with an identity inextricably enmeshed with visual arts making it a tide pool of artists birthing pictures, stories, scenes, music, canvases, books, tunes, compositions, scripts, reality and fantasy; where often as not the creativity becomes harnessed in an art department for film, a stage setting for theater, or a gallery full of stunning visual art.

Better late than never the pictures have arrived!  Arrived for what (as the statement goes?), arrived for another round of art happening in the city of Angeles.

A three-person gallery show opened a few weeks back that spotlighted a diverse young group composed of a street artist, a tattoo wizard and a graphic artist who stepped into roles respectively as a painter, a caricaturist and a furniture sculptor.  At this point some analogy to the Wizard Of Oz keeps trying to escape but that would make this writer either Dorothy or Toto, and the only yellow brick road somewhere hidden along Santa Monica Boulevard between Doheny Drive and La Cienega Boulevard.

The highlight of the show Annie Preece displayed her most recent paintings done in vivid, bright colors of contorted faces, haunted imagery and taboo subjects.  Her art is best described in the statement ‘having too much fun,’ with a mixture of recognizable and iconic images and symbols re-purposed with confrontation, dripping paint and intensity.  Yet as stated all of them rebalanced with the light atmosphere that reds, yellows and bright blues elicit emotionally.  Almost like the perpetual Los Angeles sunshine even makes suffering look happy.  The one painting in the show that is the exception to the bright colors comes from an early series of Annie’s work to a project of paintings, photographs and public art installations entitled ‘Persecution Takes A Holiday In L.A‘, that takes a critical look at the oppression of women in the Middle East.  This exception to the rule simply puts eyes staring from a black surrounding.  By the way Annie do you have any free artwork for us to decorate our headquarters?

Candice Molayem

A series of portrait caricatures by Candice Molayem from the show ‘bright lights and fist fights’ – June 14, 2012

Tattoo artist and painter Candice Molayem showcased a series of portraits keeping with the bright-color motif in classic caricature style.  With 1950’s hair-dos, thick rimmed glasses and jewelry-to-match the words ‘hip and cool’ rise from the dark recess of the subconscious and immediately yearnings for indie rock take over.  L.A. the Blog is curious if any persons posed for the paintings or if the inspiration came from classic comic books.

Jad Dovey

A naked lamp by artist Jad Dovey from the ‘bright lights and fist fights’ show – July 14, 2012

The final artist presenting at the show Jad Dovey subtly created lamps in a style you might expect to find at The Factory during the 1970’s and 80’s.  A wonderful use of color and the nude form, or maybe just ‘found’ mannequins and some electrical ingenuity Dovey created a post-pop art presentation that seemed so natural in the gallery they belonged more to the entire space and less to the name tag that marked them for display.

A fun event basking in the glow of a hot summer ahead, and art definitely worth visiting.  Please see a slideshow below of pictures from the show.  Included in the photos are other artists’ work showing and hanging in the gallery including artists Rebecca Molayem, Lynden St Victor and sculptures by Leon Leigh.  ‘bright lights and fist fights’ is now showing at Rebecca Molayem Gallery, 306 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90048 for another few weeks, please check online for the current and future shows.

Portion of a painting done by Coop showing at his book release party – June 16, 2012

Moving right along into the week and arriving at our next stop where well-established artist and instigator Coop partied and celebrated in high fashion for the release of his new artbook entitled, ‘Idle Hands: The Art of Coop.’  So much has been said of Coop (click this link here), so to avoid mundane repetition, and pointless conjecture it is enough to say that even if you haven’t heard his name before you definitely have seen his art.  His images of devils, dames, drugs and cars make pop culture an afterthought and fine art an everyday accessible experience.  Mickey mouse gloves on a drug anyone?  If you can’t relate I am sure Walt Disney and Salvador Dali hanging out making pink elephants would.

Coop’s show took place at a great location in downtown Los Angeles hidden away in a produce distribution factory/building.  Industrial-scale loading elevator and all with a great view of a seedy downtown strip club made the entire experience some strange descent into Coop’s world.  Did we mention naked devil girls cruised the party?  Included in the slideshow below please find pictures from the event held at Studio Servitu, a downtown venue that the L.A. Weekly names the #4 essential location of 2011.

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L.A. the Blog: ‘Skaters Rule’ Artshow Echo Park

A variety of images adorn the wall paying tribute to skateboarding in the Bureau of Arts and Culture gallery in Echo Park mixing memorabilia with original art in a presentation simply thought of as ‘Skaters Rule.’

Southern California (all California even) spews and spawns skateboard and surf culture as if the constant sunshine keeps society from coagulating boys and girls into traditional sports like a hereditary hemophilia disorder. With skateboard culture comes the unique artwork that splashes T-shirts, adorns the bottom of skate decks, and fills the pages of magazines. Inspired and pulling from this plethora of creativity throughout the decades, local artists in Echo Park put together a gallery show of personalized skates, iconic collages and classic memorabilia.

The majority of the show consists of a variety of art styles hand painted or printed on the bottom of skateboard decks, from classic movies star images to the 70s-esque retro design of clean colorful lines against a background colorfield. This ‘bottom-deck’ (not to be mistaken for ‘low-brow’) creativity extended into an ambitious 3-D installation of a deck spinning from a chord attached to the roof, painted with a glossy enamel in glowing black-light colors (ultraviolet light included), showing the famous Natas SMA pentagram repeated from top-to-bottom, and includes 3-D glasses for added audience participation.

In another area of the gallery the back wall is dedicated strictly to skateboard history. From an old helmet to a great collection of vintage magazines and letters the viewer takes a trip down memory lane while paying homage to the legends who innovated the sport.

Last a small but favorite part of the gallery show includes traditional canvas and collage paintings that juxtaposes the art of skating with recognizable images that normally don’t mix. A Pac-Man ghost jumping on a deck, or an African native rolling through the Sahara on a board? Both these particular pieces of art you easily imagine on a modern skateboard, and might see someday in the future.

The Bureau of Art and Culture, located at 1282 W Sunset Blvd, Echo Park, CA 90026, presents ‘Skaters Rule’ through the month of June every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m. Below find a slideshow of various pictures of the opening:

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L.A. the Blog: Art Roundup In Hollywood and West L.A.

The past few weeks we have been lucky enough to visit various spaces that have dedicated themselves to supporting local visual artists, displaying their artwork from floor to ceiling, though unfortunately for sale – it would be nice if we could find free art once in a while that we could take home (Annie Preece do you hear me, we want free art!). In utter wonderment, showing up at one coffee shop and one art gallery, not expecting the visually captivating paintings and collages at both locations, the artwork was totally engrossing and pleasantly surprising.


Artist Bella Bronson Fay recreates the iconic image of butterflies and bullets in the sculpture “Bulletflies” – 2012, Cacao Coffee Shop, West Los Angeles.

First up hiding in Cacao, a small coffee shop in West Los Angeles that always showcases various artists, Bella Bronson Fay took over with sculptures, paintings and collages of sheer fun in a backdrop of modern dilemmas. Or should we say modern dilemmas in a backdrop of sheer fun? No matter each work captured the theme of innocence lost, as iconic images mixed with the hard realities of life. Drugs and candy, guns and flowers, scorpions playing with small robots, the juxtapositions gave meaning to images easily glossed over as kitsch. In the elegant fun of bright colors and plastic gloss the show answers the question of what happens in Los Angeles with its endless sunshine, wealth and extreme violence when you come out the other side of this contradiction. All that and it teases out a smile of hope.

It is worth to note that imagery of Rave culture permeates Fay’s show. From the “rave candy” decorating a bra to a stereo in between two robots finding love, and of course all the flowers, the inspiration from the ever-thriving underground electronic music scene makes her work unique in its effort to capture the aesthetic of psychedelia mixed with techno-driven hardness all under the banner of peace, love, unity and respect. We won’t vouch for how long the show will last, but if you can make it to Cacao we are sure you will find art to capture the imagination.

Then the next week just when we thought Friday night would end a boring disaster with nothing to stimulate us visually but bland streetlights and headlights seen through a very dirty windshield, L.A. the Blog got word of La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Feliz opening a new show. Three featured artists, multiple walls, two rooms and a hallway of fantastic art from previous shows made staring the grandest adventure, ever.

Dave Lebow "Descent"

Dave Lebow’s depiction of the “Descent” into hell as innocence falls from grace.

From the front gallery the wonderfully detailed images on the found canvases of matchbooks that Jason D’Aquino presented in a series of multi-media presentations and the colorful work of the artist known only as GERMS coalesced the reverent with the irreverent equaling the sum of all parts in Dave Lebows “End of Time Visions” that filled the entire back gallery. Whether you feel drawn to the combustible imagery reminiscent of Hollywood stars and starlets, or seek rather the mysticism of the inwardly searching found in the vivid color of life, nothing disappoints in the well-crafted work. If neither of these first two interest you, then you still have Lebow as he explores “death, vanity, monsters, demons and angels, Rapture, and falling from grace” in biblical revelations and religious themes that evoke enough sincerity to give any Catholic enough reason to repair to confession.

D’Aquino describes his work in terms of the miniscule, who as a miniaturist meticulously details graphite renderings with white hi-lights introduced with a single hair brush. Yes, painstaking and amazing. At first look the vintage matchbooks seem art enough framed, hanging approachable and nostalgic only to have his various drawing intertwined with the matches to create an intriguing deeper look into various noir themes or other vintage cultural iconography. Included along with his matchbook series, other works capturing the shocking brutality of slang words and the abuse of power. Visually evident is the hours of time spent making the art impressive.


La Luz gallery wall featuring artist GERMS.

Jaime Zacarias, better known as GERMS had the least work showing in the gallery but his vibrant use of colors added much to the gallery in terms of abstraction breaking up the other two artists who pulled more on recognizable subject matter. In bright yellows, pinks and blues that dominate popular murals around Los Angeles the artist created an homage to the fantastic and mystic in a beautiful mash-up of shapes, lines and spirituality. Mas Puto indeed my friend, Mas Puto indeed!

Finally Dave Lebow, a well-established artist in his own right gave the Palme d’Or presentation of the Devil and God waging fierce contest over the souls of the gallery viewers – or at least over our souls for sure. Inspired by commissioned artwork from last year that portrayed “Doomsday” the show prologued the moments leading up to an epoch of naked women with devils burning Los Angeles to the ground. All done in oil on canvas. Angels succumbing to the underworld, innocence descending into hell, and of course the Devil himself in a Johnny Cash revival of the “ring of fire.” While much of the artwork exorcised taboo ideas in regal fashion, a few of the works captured the haunting beauty and sadness that loss and redemption means. A favorite of the Blog as we are still seeking redemption for our irreverent ways.

Below please find a slideshow of all the artwork we could capture during the past few weeks on our mobile-ready camera.

Cacao is located at 1609 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025, and Bella Bronson’s artwork ranges from the $100 to $300 range.

La Luz de Jesus Gallery is located at 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 in the back of Wacko Soap Plant (and bookstore). Artwork in the gallery ranged from $1,000 and up.

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