Passionate about people with passions, I write about artists, their lives and artistic journeys; sometimes, I post my musings on exhibitions that speak to me.
I don't believe in critiquing, but I believe in connecting. Knowing someone better hopefully leads to understanding, which also gives rise to a connection (intellectual, emotional or spiritual). People, who establish such a link with an artist, are more likely to want to live with their art. And, not only, often buying an artwork is a gesture of support for the artists we like and encouragement to keep creating.
To quote Swiss curator, artist and art historian Harald Szeemann, "If the personal relationship is taken out, the dimension of intimacy, then the museum and art business gradually starts to become annoying."
Mark Sheinkman New Paintings 2019
Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles through October 12
On September 7th, Von Lintel Gallery opened its first solo show after moving recently to its new location in the Bendix Building, one of the art hubs of Downtown Los Angeles. This is the 13th solo exhibition for the artist, Mark Sheinkman, who has had a 22-year history with the gallery. Born in New York, Mr. Sheinkman still lives and works in the city that most certainly galvanizes his artwork.
The paintings in the show range from small (18” x 14”) to large (52” x 72”), but all have an equally strong impact. The energy present in the room is almost tangible. As the oil lines dance, and twist, and interlace into some complex dynamic configurations, they seem to exist in the spaces between the off-white surfaces of the paintings’ backgrounds and us, the viewers.
Curly-haired Brazilian artist Vanessa Rosa is buzzing with energy and excitement when she speaks about the multitude of ideas she is working on: many are collaborations, others are solo projects. A history and science enthusiast, Vanessa notes: ”Leonardo Da Vinci said, ‘Painting is a mental activity.’ What I like to do is translate into an image an array of concepts, being it social activism, history, science, or whatever else.”
More than 550 people came to Skid Row on a not-so-warm evening in May. Collective excitement was palpable in the air. Studio MOMÉ, co-founded by two artists, collaborators, friends and studiomates, Adam Mostow and Eric Mesplé, opened its doors to the public for the first time. Mostow and Mesplé, each a masterful creator and inventor in his own right, dedicated their grand opening to presenting a group show with artworks ranging from glass and metal sculptures, acrylic and spray paintings, and magical realism light boxes to murals, a taxidermy joystick-controlled sculpture, and ‘technology-mediated’ interactive installations.
“Growing up I did not fit in. I never knew the Slang of the day. I was always ‘other’ & ‘outside of’, even in my own community I was strange. This changed for me when I had no other choice but to listen to my soul, to trust it. The parts of myself that only quake from the inside of the inside of the inside.” ~Vanessa German
Vanessa German is a powerful poet. Her potent charged words come forth in her riveting performances. Striking, they produce emotional ripples, provoke reflection, and inspire action. She speaks passionately about many urgent issues of the day – crime, violence, discrimination, identity, community, and hypocrisy of religious and political institutions. And just as fervently she speaks about Love – love for one’s family, neighbors, nature and our planet. When speaking of social ills, German doesn’t just point things out, she actively works within her community in Homewood (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), striving to bring lasting changes, protect, empower and also heal. All that the artist is and does literally and figuratively is imbedded in her artwork, which is magical and powerful in its imagery and the ideas it puts forward.
When Gwen Samuels created a realistic sculpture of a ram’s head, she was very excited. According to the artist, the result was “an excellent copy.” Proudly, she showed it to a good friend who unenthusiastically said, “Well, if that’s the way you want to go…” Luckily, this friend knew Gwen very well and understood what made her unique. Gwen went back to work. She cut the sculpture, added a few details, now her ram had its own personality. “It had this amazing neck piece. The horns were going in crazy directions. That’s ME! No one can copy that.”
Next dinner is with Los-Angeles artist Andreanna Iakovidis on January 24, 2019 See more
Studio Visit via Dinette is a series of informal gatherings in my studio apartment in Los Angeles to talk about art with a special guest – mostly artists and sometimes other interesting people who work in the art field. With an artist, instead of visiting him or her in their studio space, I will try to bring a little taste of the studio visit experience to you. It won’t be an interview or a Q & A format. I’d like to create an atmosphere that feels like a simple dinner with a bunch of friends where, over delicious food and wine, you can ask questions, engage and learn from the artists directly about their work and connect with them on a more personal level.
A new gallery has just opened its doors on Miracle Mile sharing the courtyard with Praz-Delavallade and 1301 PE Projects and Editions. Los Angeles outpost of Galerie Photo 12, Paris officially opened on December 1 with a solo show of Kacper Kowalski introducing the Polish aerial photographer to the West Coast audience.
Artist Jwan Yosef is cool, calm and collected. With serious countenance, he jokes often. Through his work, Yosef has been trying to answer his own questions–identity, politics, religion, sexuality and sense of belonging are the topics he addresses. The concept of duality presents itself frequently in Yosef’s work and the origin of it stems from his personal history, filled with many opposites that produced so much unity. Only a person who questions his feelings about and understanding of his environment and his place in it, can eventually arrive at certainty about feeling uncertain and find confidence in spite of the inner ambivalence.
A walk through the exhibition rooms at Praz-Delavallade in Los Angeles reveals a number of paintings, sculptures and objects that ambiguously fall in either of the two categories. If this is your first time seeing the work of Jwan Yosef, questions, one after another, will certainly pop up in your head. You may or may not think of the answers, but you most likely will not stay emotionally indifferent.
As you walk into Joseph Gross Gallery in Los Angeles, you come to face a large sculptural tapestry that immediately transports you from Chinatown to the Middle East or the Ancient Greece or Rome. The hanging white cotton rag looks like a facade of a marble mausoleum. It gives a sense of solidity, grandiosity, and at the same time of beauty, delicacy, and serenity. The protruding middle part looks like a mashrabiya, known in English as a “harem window,” a characteristic architectural element of Arab residencies, famous for the latticework decorating its wooden window panels. Evoking this images, the middle part of the artwork has several cut-out vertical rectangles that look like windows. The ‘walls’ surrounding them display intricate patterns of crossing lines and smaller diamond-shaped cutouts that form a grid allowing the light to pass through and create shadows on the gallery wall behind the hanging sculpture. Shadow adds to the visual perception of the work creating the depth and adding another layer of hidden patterns.
Los Angeles artist, Sierra Pecheur, who turned 80 a few days ago, is uncommonly strong and dynamic. She brings a lifetime of wisdom to her ceramic sculptures and gives us the gift of seeing the world through her experience. Growing up, she didn’t think of becoming an artist, but liked being creative. At college, she took all available art classes and, when time came to start taking requirements, she transferred to San Francisco Art Institute. “There, I began to get a sense that I might want to do this, and because I persisted I got skilled.” She started as a painter in New York in the 60’s. However, her artistic journey took a detour as she plunged into acting.
Claremont Graduate University East and Peggy Phelps Galleries Until September 28, 2018
Conversation with Dixie Lyn Boswell and H.C. Arnold, curators of The Shape of Sound exhibition, on view at the Claremont Graduate University until September 28. It is the first posthumous solo exhibition of work by sound artist Michael Brewster.
A digital sculptor and 3D animator, Swedish artist David Aberg spent almost a decade honing his craft: staying up-to-date on the constantly evolving technology and learning the outlines of the human body to be able to digitally render corporal parts with anatomical precision. “I am a sculptor who creates sculptures that don’t exist in real life. Technology allows me to create these artworks in exceptional detail, to make them look entirely believable in virtual media.”
Anna Shukeylo’s artistic career started at four and a half, when she aced the admissions test to Saint Petersburg’s art school and entered a rigorous art training in addition to her regular school curriculum. It was prophetic that her family lived on Xudozhnikov Prospect; translated from Russian, it is a Street of Painters. When Anna was around ten, her family relocated to the U.S. She continued studying art throughout school and ended up going to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. A few months after graduating with BFA/Certificate in Painting, she moved to New York, where she received her MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute in 2014. Today, Anna has her studio in the city and lectures full-time as a Fine Arts professor at Kean University.
One other thing I find very inspiring about Geetika Agrawal is that she always listens to the signs. “I feel like there is a power that is always guiding me in what I’m doing and I’m always manifesting it somehow. I keep my attention really strong, I’m always very true to myself and very connected to myself inside. When something happens, I know that this aligns perfectly with that. And then nothing can stop me.”
On November 26, 2015, Geetika was working all day and way into the night. This month, her year-long sabbatical brought her to India. Tonight Geetika was determined to publish the website and launch her new business, VAWAA, Vacation with An Artist. She spent the past six months on the road working hard at this idea, building its foundation, personally meeting the artists, and curating experiences for her future clients. But for now, she believed, no one yet knew about this great service, so tomorrow she was going to the camping grounds in the mountains to disconnect and recharge in the nature. Long past midnight, she made her site live, shared it with friends on Facebook and went to bed.
Geetika, who describes herself as “a creator, an optimist and a lover of adventures and beats,” was born in the foothills of the Himalayas in Northern India. Although no one in her family or among their friends was a professional artist, artistic pursuits, curiosity, learning, and adventurous open-minded outlook were encouraged. Geetika studied architecture, planning to stay in India and work in her field. But when she learned about ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, she took a chance and sent in an application. “That got me really excited, I wanted to combine technology with architecture.” Her career in architecture was short, only 6 months. And then she was off to Los Angeles to take on a new adventure.
After her move to the U.S. in 2002 and graduation from the Master’s program for Industrial Design, it took many years before the next time her stars aligned again allowing her to embark on the next life-changing venture. These years were not easy, but they were also filled with many joys – fulfillment of doing creative work, learning and growing in her profession, leading successful design projects, volunteering, and mentoring. She taught Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and has worked for global clients such as The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, MasterCard, MTV, Disney, Samsung, and Microsoft.
Traveling, of course, was always a large part of her life. “I used to travel so much and always ended up having some amazing experiences. None of them were ever planned. And people always asked me how I found them. I don’t know, they found me!” One of her travel stories kept me sitting on edge.
It happened in Chile. At a mixer at the co-working office she used, she met a local guy, who would not give her his name, nor ask for hers. He wouldn’t tell her what he did either. But he did make a lot of jokes and also told her that, if she was interested, he would be happy to take her on a bus ride to explore some crazy landscapes. And then he disappeared without leaving her a contact number. A few weeks later, they met again. He asked about her plans that evening, saying, “meet me here, in the co-working space, and I’ll come with the bus.”
That he did! It was a school bus that didn’t have any seats just mattresses with musical instruments bestrewn all around. “I still didn’t know who this person was, what he did. I just knew he was from the co-working space and I guess he lived up to his word so I decided to follow him.” Geetika invited two other friends and the four of them drove off. “It’s dark, we are driving outside of Santiago. We are moving closer to the mountains. It’s almost ten-thirty by now. We reached the base of the mountain that had a really, really large gate. Now what? It turns out he has the keys to the gate. Which means he has the keys to the mountain!”
To me this story sounded like a beginning of a horror movie. I am a risk-taker, but trusting a stranger is always a dangerous decision. It’s like a samurai’s sword – it could be a beautiful object or a fatal weapon. You really have to have well developed intuition and trust in your gut-feeling. It’s an integral skill for all the nomads of the world. Of course, Geetika’s Chilean adventure ended well, with a late night musical performance by their new friend with a hill-top view of the entire city, sparkling with lights in the dark like a shoal of fireflies. Since then they had met in New York several times and their friendship has continued.
Upon hearing her stories, people encouraged her to start a business designing experiences for others. That was a challenge because she didn’t know where to start; she had always worked for others. Being creative, Geetika had many potential business ideas, but there was one that persisted. Its origins could be traced to her college summer holidays when she worked with artisans in small towns of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu in India, apprenticing and getting to know the “how to” of their craft. Later, during her travels, she took any opportunity to learn something new, often by doing it herself. “As a traveler, I am very good at observation and seeing how other people are moving around in their space, what they are doing, and becoming a part of that. My curiosity usually leads me to start a conversation.”
Her first memorable experience of doing an impromptu apprenticeship happened in Indonesia. Walking around, Geetika saw a jewelry workshop inside a store. “I got curious about the studio, about what they were making, and I started asking questions. That just turned into an exchange and then I simply said, ‘It’s super fun, can I try making this?’ I think a rapport was already built. And I didn’t even have to say ‘Can I learn this?’ I just started doing it. Before I knew it, I was there for 3-4 hours.”
Unless you feel at ease talking with strangers or accepting invitations to visit their homes in places where you don’t know anyone, it is difficult to find opportunities to do apprenticeships with local artists or craftsmen. Geetika’s idea was to find these masters and facilitate worldwide connections. “My goal was to meet the artists and understand if they were experts in their craft, how amazing they were at what they did, whether they were willing to share their expertise and if they were really interesting people.” Things were brewing in her mind and the Universe obliged to deliver.
Her opportunity came in 2015, when two friends told her about the Remote Year program. “As soon as they said it, I knew that I was going to do that. I made up my mind in half a second. I just knew this was what I was waiting for, that it was going to be my parachute to jump of the cliff. I was not gonna let this go.” In 2 months, she managed to get accepted into the group of travelers that by then was finalized. She organized her affairs, packed her apartment into a storage room, arranged at work to take a sabbatical, and on June 1 she joined 75 other travelers to spend the next year in twelve different countries around the world.
Six months later, on November 27, she found herself on the way to a camping site in the mountains in India closing her first sale. “That morning I woke up and there was a booking from a girl in Austria. But the site wasn’t even ready to accept payments! I knew it was a powerful idea, but things take a while.” It was totally unexpected and exhilarating. On the way to rent a car and then while driving to the campsite, as far as the reception allowed, Geetika managed to communicate with her first client, arrange for payment and finalize the reservation.
Now, VAWAA is in its third year. Every month, Geetika and her team add new artists to their roster. You can learn the art of tattooing in Barcelona, Spain, bamboo bicycle making in Bagalore, India, ceramics in Ostend, Belgium, darkroom printing and film photography in Lyngør, Norway, contemporary dance in Sofia, Bulgaria, stone sculpture in Arusha, Tanzania, and textile printing in Bayonne, France. These are just a few of so many learning opportunities to make a trip unforgettable.
Her current challenges are many: 10 different inboxes full of emails, funding for her business, constantly keeping in balance the idea of expansion as the business grows and the original idea of curated personal experiences, making enough time for herself to rejuvenate, and dealing with the challenges of being a nomad. However hard the life of a traveling bootstrapped entrepreneur is, Geetika is keeping on top of her game. She makes sure to enjoy every day with all its difficult and joyful surprises. That is until the next time her stars will align and push her forward.
More then two thousand years ago, Plato compared society to life-time prisoners in a cave, where the reality they see and deem to be the only truth is a mere reflection of the world outside. According to Plato, people should not be taking sensory knowledge of reality (which comes from what we see and hear in the world) for reality itself and only philosophers are able to see beyond our perception and comprehend alternative possibilities. Artists, however, have that capability as well.
If you find delight in the three-paneled garden of Hieronymus Bosch, you will surely enjoy artwork by self-taught Venezuelan artist Salvador Di Quinzio. “My audience is made up of people who resonate, who vibrate whenever they see something that tickles their mind.” Salvador takes great pleasure in imagining and then painting his stories. He carefully places many clues within his pictorial narratives for those who will take time to look into the details, diving deep into their knowledge of universal myths, symbology, and psychology. “These symbols will be picked up by only a few people. I am interested in the intellectual chemistry that happens at the level of thoughts and ideas.”
It is a busy time for Brooklyn-based Italian artist Angelica Bergamini – she is preparing for her second solo show “Whispers” at the Ivy Brown Gallery. The exhibition that opens on May 8th will present 3 new series of her work.
Curious and intellectual, David Paul Kay is a New York based artist most widely recognized for his playful black and white mazed iconography. “People always think that because it’s black and white I limit myself. But it is exactly because of that, I’m unlimited. That’s like my 1s and 0s and I can write any code.”
After being senselessly attacked by strangers and experiencing terror of imminent death, artist John Duncan felt a range of intense emotions: panic, fear, anger and also relief. Such emotional high made him feel so alive that he wanted to share these sensations with others. That was the origin of Scare (1976), where Duncan was knocking on friends’s doors in the middle of the night, while wearing a mask, and shooting them in the face with a gun loaded with blanks.
What do you do when your creative side is bubbling in you like volcanic lava, but you don’t have a formal outlet to let it pour out and take shape?
Self-taught artist Marion Di Quinzio was always aware of her artistic side although she had never been influenced by family or teachers. On the contrary, she carried in her mind a childhood conviction, born after a teacher’s thoughtless remark, that she could not draw. Also because of that, she had wanted to do abstract work one day, apprehensive of criticism. Passionate, curious, and appreciative of others’ artistic expressions, she and her husband, also a self-taught artist, Salvador Di Quinzio, had been visiting museums, galleries, and traveling to see exhibitions for years, but both had very corporate professional careers. When Marion finally decided it was time to leave her job, without hesitation she knew where she was headed. However, determined to become an artist, she knew not where or how to start.