Inglewood Open Studios: Fresh Work, SoCal Feel
November 10th and 11th, 2018
By Genie Davis
Inglewood Open Studios gave viewers a wonderfully intimate look at fresh work from artists rooted in Southern California culture. This doesn’t at all mean that the art work showed palm trees and sunshine – or nature’s fire-season fury. There is just something that speaks to the variety of culture, scenery, and invention that’s both part of life in SoCal and a reason to create art here.
David Newcombe designs furniture that tells stories – of modern beach houses, equines, dogs, design. From small tables with one slightly longer, foal-like leg to shelves and stools and knickknack tables that resemble sleek houses perched in the Hollywood Hills or storied structures out of fairy tales, these are not ordinary furnishings. Rather, they spring from the fertile visual stories of films and architecture and living creatures. Alive, would be a good way to describe his work.
Even more firmly rooted in the culture of film is the which acrylic noir work of Martin Bruinsma, whose rich and suspenseful images are like perfect stills from the annals of noir itself. Bruinsma and Anne Marie Rousseau share studio space; Rousseau’s motion-filled line work could be born of Santa Ana winds and the cyclones of the heart. Some work is peaceful and hypnotic, blades of grass in a stiff breeze; other pieces deeper and darker, turbulent.
Gay Summer Rick’s glowing pinks, oranges, blues and golds are a Southern California sunset, a palette-knife landscape of cotton candy dreams, ocean waves, and highways. Vibrating with ocean-close light, these are works both sensual and sure. Melanie Newcombe’s figurative sculptures shaped from aluminum screen-wire are both delicate and substantial, the soul and the body woven and layered. Some could be classical sculptures, others seem to arise from the sea. Her abstract works bloom like free-form flowers. Both pay tribute to the material while going beyond it to create passionate, mysterious work.
Jesus Max creates paintings that are steeped in myth and shaped in hyper-realism; Jeanne Dunne’s evocative landscapes create their own worlds. Dunne has recently begun working with photographs of paintings cut into collage; they twist and turn like the branches and sinews of the trees some of her gorgeous, large scale depictions of nature contain. One vast, wall-size painting offers twisted lines of land, flowers, trees, and seething sky reminiscent of Van Gogh; another older work gives us a war wrought by man and nature, with the treads of tanks running through scattered children’s toys and shoes and a dark fire burning ominously across a bay. Edgy, prescient, and devastingly beautiful.
Ernie Steiner’s candy colored pop-art skate board art and opulently colored paintings are absolutely SoCal; colors bright with neon and purpose. Rachel Kaster showed a wide range of work: her large-scale charm bracelet-style sculptures link family heirlooms in magical loops; cast-glass works dazzle, particularly a hand-carved table and benches. The table top has the dips and bends of hard pack sand in a receding tide, while the glass over gold leaf open books embedded in it pay tribute to the tactile and the disappearing nature of things we can hold and cherish.
Susan Amorde’s suitcase sculptures are also an homage to things we cherish – and those we wish to leave behind. Either way, the baggage is quite beautiful.
Whether he’s sculpting a “tower” long and thin with human form and secret hiding place; a bust of Tesla, or a worker cast in bronze and controlled by the corporate machine to make a quarter, Jonathan Bickart creates witty, engaging work that spins classical human models into a whole new world. Shelly Heffler has entered a new dimension in her image making, dimensional paintings that resemble ribbons and waves, multi-colored or monochromatic. The Super Radiance group exhibition gallery space featured interesting, luminous images that ranged from plexiglass sculptures to paper missives scattered on fabric cushions depicting destructive technology. Mixed media artist Richelle Gribble creates intensely detailed drawings, plastic-cast butterflies and bees, rocks woven-over with neon-colored plastic; each presents images from the natural world in entirely new, fresh ways. Christopher Jun makes faces from patterns or patterns from faces, images that evoke ancient cultures. Hayley Quentin’s sensual, dreamy faces and nudes are lushly figurative; the palette is a California sky made flesh. Then there are the perfect flowers and creatures shaped perfectly from this land by Renee Fox; the radiant abstracts of Lindsey Nobel.
Missed open studios? These are just some of the participating artists well worth a solo visit.