Cratedigger Vol. 2 at Gabba Gallery – An Homage to the Album Cover
By Genie Davis
Through August 26th
At Gabba Gallery through August 26th is the second iteration of curator and gallery owner Jason Ostro’s Cratedigger.
A jubilant collection created by over 90 artists, the exhibition is based on an homage to the art of the album cover. Each piece is 12 x 12 inches, but other than that, has little in common. Some are genuine riffs on real album covers, some gently tease viewers with a comic take on the subject, others simply adhere to the format and do their own, very talented, things. It’s rare to find so much superior, lush art in one space – viewers can search the walls in this salon-style exhibition in much the same way that LP buyers could dig through record crates and admire album cover art before selecting one that spoke to them.
Artists in this inclusive group show include:
÷–x+, 8333, Alex Achaval, Douglas Alvarez, Balloonski, Allison Bamcat, Bandit, Donna Bates, Cody Bayne, Terri Berman, Binho, Bioworkz, Andrea Bogdan, Timothy Boggs, Jodi Bonassi, Cache, CANTSTOPGOODBOY, Giovanni Carretti, Kate Carvellas, Ruben Chavez, M Christy, Diane Cockerill, Brett Crawford, Baha Danesh, Dcypher, Lisa Derrick, Yaron Dotan, Keith Dugas, Dytch66, Carly Ealey, Joey Feldman, Jonas Fisch, Scott Froschauer, Jaq Frost, Teri Gaddie, Mike Habs, Cloe Hakakian, Mary Hanson, Hero, Cyrus Howlett, Khalid Hussein, Elena Jacobson, Warren Jacobson, Trixy Jewels, Paul Juno, Kate Kelton, Val Kilmer, Leah Knecht, Konecki, Jennifer Korsen, Andee Kuroda, Leba, Stephen Levey, Karin Lindberg Frida, Corban Lundborg, David McKay, Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass, Nicole Waszak Mendez, Mogley, Bobbi Moline-Kramer, Morley, Jules Muck, Max Neutra, nvralone, Daisuke Okamoto, olive47, Jason Ostro, Judy Ostro, John Park, Pastey Whyte, The Perez Bros., Phobik, Valerie Pobjoy, Olga Ponomarenko, Diane Portwood, Patrick Quinn, Christina Ramos, Christine Rasmussen, Lucas Raynaud, Bethany Richards, Benjamin Rogers Kristine Schomaker, Septerhed, Jeffrey Sklan, Amy Smith, Bisco Smith, Spacegoth, Hannah Streety, Casey Supple, Skye Amber Sweet, TEWSR, Vakseen, Em Wafer, Sebastien Walker, Christine Webb, Jared Yamahata, Meg Zany.
The wide and varied list makes it virtually certain that viewers will find at least a few pieces of record artworks that are “playing their tune.”
Look at the black and white precision of Bioworkz “Midnight Tango,” and its richly detailed butterflies; or the artist’s skull and headdress “Bear Shaman.” And then in comparison, take in the lush, graffiti-and-city-skyline photography on wood of Baha Danesh’ “Under the Bridge.” Street artist Can’t Stop Goodboy offers an art-deco-like Marilyn Monroe with painted on lips and eye-shadow in “Norma Jean.” Ricky Bencion’s mixed media on panel “Atomic” is a hot pink pop art cartoon. The layered, feather-like look of Alex Achaval’s “Fortune Teller” – oil on sequins on panel – is seductive and alien. Unfortunately all too familiar is the central figure in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes.” The titular Trump by Benjamin Rogers is a beautiful, traditionally done painting created with wit, revealing its subject’s full arrogance and ignorance. A lively riff on the album “Highway to Hell,” Douglas Alvarez’ “Highway to Meow” is an acrylic on canvas work that features five kitties, two meowing open-mouthed, one with sprouted devils horns. Corban Lundborg’s “Life After Nevermind” is realistic portraiture with an edge. One can’t call Vakseen’s pop/psychedelic, multi-colored “Burnin’ Bob” realistic, but it’s a vivid, almost stained-glass-like image of Bob Marley. Real stained glass art comprises Patrick Guinn’s “Bowie Live,” with Bowie as a saint whose halo reads “Bowie Live!!”
M. Christy’s “A Collection of Pop Favorites” is an equally bright palette; this acrylic on canvas work is surreal and vivid, with a beautiful nude surrounded by dogs along with other popular icons while picnicking in a forest glen. A beautiful impressionistic seascape topped by stunning, motion filled and depthy clouds is the image that Warren Jacobson uses for his “Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On.” Leah Knecht’s “Los Angeles” is equally evocative. The oil on canvas and mixed media piece features an ‘X’ that immediately evokes LAX, with city buildings, the word ‘toy’ and several cars on the street shaping a kind of frame around this central image. Her “Kid A” is equally provocative, and also uses a letter as its central image.
Hewing closer to the LP theme, Joey Feldmann’s “Frank Zappa – One Size Fits All” gives us a look at a bug like figure and his genitalia, his “The Smiths – Meat is Murder” take is also a bug-becomes-alien image. Strange and amusing at the same time, one can’t quite look away. Curator Ostro’s “Believe in – Love in Blue” is a stunning cobalt blue mosaic in acrylic; art runs in the family as Ostro’s mother, artist Judy Ostro, offers a brighter palette of acrylic squares woven on canvas in “Happiness Sunburst.” Both are texturally wonderful.
Australian artist Em Wafer’s “Glazed Kettle Donut” will make you long for one; while Christina Ramos’ clever and hilarious “Poop Dog” riff on a Snoop Dog album will make you laugh out loud.
Kate Carvellas’ abstracts vibrate with intensity; her “In Black and White” appears to spin across it’s panel, captured in motion; her “Multiple Signals” offers a pinwheel type of image in color with indecipherable language and tic-tac-toe patterns in triangles across it. The photographic art of Stephen Levey takes many visually fascinating and humorous turns here: “Futuro” gives viewers a wonderfully stylized view of a LACMA building in glorious enhanced color with the words “Sonidos Modernos Musica del Futuro” across it; “Los Angelenos Obama Jams” featured a black and white image of DTLA’s oft-depicted tunnel to the 110 freeway; “City in the Distance” gives us a sepia toned view of LA with the up-close image of a spyglass viewing machine from an anonymous lookout. And what says LA more than the white wall and child on a swing with the words “Just Another Park Banksy on a Wall.”
More multiples: the beautifully modern use of aerosol and acrylic on canvas with “Trunk 4” and “Trunk 3” flowering, wonderfully patterned tree images from muralist and painter Skye Amber Sweet are filled with fun and delight. The joy of nature takes a different form in the works of Jeffrey Sklan. See the fragile, crumpled flower in “Dendroma’s” purple petals in this photograph on aluminum.
Jodi Bonassi also has multiple pieces on exhibit, including her tribute to Rod Stewart, the oil on wood panel of Rob Stewart in “Stewart.” Her lushly intimate, highly detailed, intensely alive depictions are also on exhibit in her “Blondie.”
Other musicians and icons get their due: “The shape of Punk,” Mike Habs’ mixed media on panel includes the title “Refused: The Shape of Punk to Come.” Tewsr gives us “Ghost Face Adventure,” featuring the Hulk, Capt. America, and Tony Stark; Val Kilmer includes four enamel on metal works including himself as Doc Holiday, Jim Morrison, Batman, and the Lizard King. Diane Cockerill’s “Sacred Heart,” a photograph on panel, presents gothic style lettering on a white wall by an open loading dock and an emerald green dumpster. Jennifer Korsen’s “Beats” gives us a pattern of almost-neon like hearts. Kristine Schomaker’s “Pink” paen is the opposite of that color – at least a first glance. Fiercely, richly black, Schomaker’s work on close inspection features the word “Pink” scratched in on top of painted-over mixed media panel, and a pink glow emanates from the left-hand side of the lettering. Lauren Mendelsoh-Bass serves up “Holding a Tune,” in which a black and white hand holds musical notes and staph and a singer in full color boldly evoking the joy that only music can bring.
So much art, so many worlds. That’s Cratedigger 2 at Gabba. Viewers owe it to themselves to go and “dig around” these works. Promise: you’ll come out singing.