StART Up Art Fair 2018
The Kinney, Venice
By Genie Davis
This year’s iteration of the StART Up Art Fair, it’s third in LA, moved from Hollywood to Venice. Fifty-two rooms on the second and third floor of the remodeled sleek motel, The Kinney, served as ersatz galleries for a wide range of artists.
The fair also included panel discussions, performances, and video work throughout the hotel. But, of course, what it all comes down to, is the art. The very framework of the show is intimate; the personal environment of a motel room creating the perfect space for artists to display their work and engage in conversation with visitors. With many projects considerably cutting-edge, the end result is a fresh and exciting glimpse into today’s art, and tomorrow’s. With over 67 artists presenting their work, it cannot, of course, all be included here. But here are some of the highlights.
David Koeth uses found materials in his work, which here encompasses The Citrus Series, beautifully textured deep orange spheres which the artist created by collecting and reshaping citrus peels. Like small globes of alien worlds, there’s a lovely mystical quality to these works, which Koeth told us changes slightly in regard to color over time.
Mikey Kelly used 30 honeycomb cardboard panels to shape a floor to ceiling installation that depicts the outcome of a two-word affirmation run through a Vigenere cipher. Fascinating and mystical, this is a small universe within the confines of his motel room.
Dana DeKalb and Jane Fisher have a witty and trenchant partnered project: portraits of women married to dictators and other “world leaders.” Also on display, lush large-scale paintings from Fisher, of “strong men” in an homage to Muscle Beach in Venice; DeKalb’s lovely portraits of poodles.
Britney Penouilh recently moved from New Orleans to Los Angeles, and in making the move discovered new subjects for her painting in the Mojave Desert. She studied both art and geology and makes good use of both in her rich and rewarding mixed media panels and sculptures. Along with her paintings, she had small tubs of crystals such as Hanksite that she collected from the area around Trona, Calif. Her precise and lovely works look to the earth, with collage-like, multi-surfaced paintings and with sculptures that resemble reliquaries. Bold and beautiful depictions of the desert were standouts in a room that was laid out as a complete installation.
Peter Hiers presented astonishing sculptural work primarily crafted from scavenged exploded tires. Texturally fascinating, Hiers uses the medium not only for shaping art but to pose questions about our fossil fuel culture and materialism.
MC calls her work cathartic, and it is also beautiful. Her deliberately conceptually repetitive plaster and spray paint on canvas images of breasts are both subtly individual and unifying, presented in vibrant colors, including a dazzling gold.
Niki Vismara has incorporated words and gold leaf into shimmery paintings on mirrors. The works are based on photos she took during a recent trip to Cuba. Light filled yet dense, the series evokes a foreign land and a universal language.
Uma Rani-Iyli has created a series of deeply meditative works that range from photography of Q-tip sculptural forms, a site-specific garland of suspended Q-tip sculpture, and vivid silk thread dimensional wall art. Brilliantly colored yet meditative, Rani-Iyli’s work offers a vibrant homage to her East Indian roots.
The Los Angeles Art Association and the Torrance Art Museum shared a suite, presenting the work of three quite wonderful artists, each playing with light, space, and mixed media, including Valerie Wilcox, whose geometric mixed-media works create spare, contemplative images.
Mark Lightfoot’s digital art and fused-glass wall art evokes fresh abstract landscapes that seems to stretch for radiant miles. Taxidermy reimagined with glitter and beads is the stuff of Emily Maddigan’s brilliant sculpture, which has both a glamorous and slightly eerie aspect. Parker Day’s wildly vivid portraiture taken from her ICONS series explores identity and perception. Phoenix-based Wendy Willis creates reductive relief prints that elegiacally offer images of water, while Lily Phan’s reflective, watery images are a part of her Vietnam through the Lens series of Shadows n Reflections.
And the list goes on. StART Up offered a strong roster of varied emerging artists, original, powerful, and entertaining works that made this viewer want to check into The Kinney motel and stay to look awhile.