Friday, October 29, 2010

Art Shows Closing at 5th and Main

Tomorrow spotlights two separate exhibitions closing at the home of Gallery Row, 5th and Main. Bert Green Fine Art (BGFA) hosted artists Jeff Gillette and Scott Horsley. Edgar Varela Fine Art (EVFA) whose gallery fills the back space at 5th and Main, hosted Ivan Limas. I was lucky to speak to all three artists at their respective openings last month on September 22nd.

Jeff Gillette

Jeff Gillette
Gillette standing in front of his piece "Charpi" (2010)

Jeff Gillette got inspiration for his "Slumscape" series from his experiences in the Peace Corps in the late 80s. Having spent two years in Calcutta, India seeing the immense filth of the slums he found a beauty in the "cacophony of debris" and compared it to modern art sculptures. Since then he's made several trips back to India and Nepal getting new ideas and material for his series, which he first painted in 1995.

Gillette's new series of "Slumscapes" might have people questioning. "What's with the Mickey Mouse?" Noting that many, if not all of his current "Slumscape" works incorporate the mouse icon in some way or another.

"No one likes looking at this (stuff)." He says "They hate it, they try to go around it. This is like an access to it. It forces people to indulge. People will be like "look it's Mickey!" and they'll be drawn into it.. and what are you getting drawn into? It's a toilet."

disneyland sign: "Dread/Coca" (2010)
"Dread/Coca" (2010) Jeff Gillette acrylic and collage on canvas $2,000

"Everyone loves Mickey Mouse," Gillette insists. Using the Disney icon as an access point to his art, it brings social awareness and allows the art-goer to see everything. He further explains that while people don't like to look at slums and the filth and garbage, they will look at Mickey. "It allows them an access point to engage."

Scott Horsley

Scott Horsley w/ "Recreation" View I and View II
Horsley with Recreation I and Recreation II

Horsley, who grew up in New York,received his graduate degree at UC San Diego. He met Bert Green at a show a few years ago and has been in a few of his shows including the LA Art Show.

Horsley now spends most of his time at the University of Florida at Gainsville where he teaches.

Having got his start with painting, he found it became busy and he's cut down to the basics. "Paper and pencil appeal to me," he says, expressing the purity and raw nature of graphite on paper. His graphite on Luxe paper drawings explore the relationship of sex and the absurd, how fear and ecstasy intermingle when faced with death or tragedy. His current series are full of "ecstatic joy in the grip of a sinking ship."

Many of his works seem to book-end each other, whether it's "The Expression of Truckliness" a duel piece about the concept of what truck-ownership might envision.. or "Recreation" a somewhat startling image of what seems to be duel hangings were actually contrasting images Horsley happened upon in the news. He explains on one page was an image of several soldiers witnessing an execution in Kabul, and on the opposite page, a group of people watching Patriots cheerleader tryouts. In both images the heads were cut out of the photos, "It was like the exact same photograph," said Horsley. "The images were so similar and so diametrically opposed, that like 'death' and that ecstatic sexual moment so those things back to back.. I couldn't believe it that they existed together."

Again, the shows end tomorrow, the 30th of October, which will culminate in an artist's talk with Jeff Gillette at 4pm. Don't miss it as Gillette will be sharing slides from his travels to the various slums that are the inspiration for his art.

Bert Green Fine Art
102 West 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013 ·

EVFA presents Ivan Limas "Free to Behave"

Ivan Limas
Ivan Limas at his show's opening last month.

In the EVFA Gallery, Ivan Limas filled the room with his vibrant project-based works. Limas, who lives and works in the Santa Fe Art Colony, is a life-long Angeleno. He spent his childhood growing up in various parts of LA like Compton (and later La Merada) and says it had a big impact on his life. While some of the kids he grew up with were into the gang culture or graffiti art, he stuck to drawing comics, but his drawings eventually moved him to explore ideas in culture, and experience.

"A lot of my work is about defiance, exploration and self-perception.. cultural perception."

Immersed in the comic culture in his youth, he was surrounded by various subcultures whether it was anime, the machismo of Mexican-American, gang culture or graffiti art. He brings his personal experiences to bare. He'll get many ideas from his walks around LA or the conversations he hears. He said a lot of his work might be about the polarities of those sub-cultures and understanding those persona.

Most of his work in this show are oil on canvas paintings. He explained how he learns from his environment, often "doodling" while listening to lectures or conversations when growing up. He used this technique for several of his paintings in his current show. When going to a location, he would create several drawings based on the sounds and voices he hears and then photographing the environment. "I let the environment affect me," he says. He creates the larger oil paintings based on the drawings he created earlier at the project's location.

His work varies from video or mixed media sculpture, or performance pieces where he wrapped himself up in bandannas.

"Bandannas to me are like these mini flags.."

He talks about visual signifiers, like those communicated through items like a common bandanna. The bandanna having many meanings in different cultures, and he thinks about where the bandanna originated from, whether it's from Mexico,Spain or somewhere else. His hope is to "contextualize it into contemporary dialogue.". He has created a series of 3 bandannas with ironed transfers that might hint different places to different people. Discussion of the pieces range from the language expressed in the wearing of bandannas, the color significance in gang culture, or any number of things.

He wants his work to be available to everyone, not restricted to any one group. Bringing the idea of an item that's not necessarily considered art and having people think about it in a new way, or bring their own experience to the interpretation. Whether it's a synthetic ostrich skin-encased vacuum cleaner or a video installation of Ivan cutting off his own tongue.

His show also wraps on 30 October, when Limas is scheduled to have an artist talk in the EVFA gallery where he will discuss more about his history and background. It's possible he may bring up his earlier work on a comic book that he wrote and illustrated for use as his college thesis. While the work never got published, "It made me realize I wanted to go from a painter to multimedia."


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