Love in the Time of Corona
BG Gallery, Santa Monica
Written by Genie Davis
Marking a first in the Los Angeles art world, BG Gallery’s Love in the Time of Corona is a group exhibition with a stellar cast of artists and a new way of holding an opening: virtually.
The group show, sub-titled “a social distancing art exhibition” was hosted on three streaming platforms: Instagram Live, Zoom, and Facebook. Pre-recording interviews with the artists were also available on line – and still are at dotred.co. Works can be purchased through Artsy.net. Find the price list at bGGalleryshop.com.
The show also offers a philanthropic aspect with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Meals on Wheels West. During the virtual opening – in which, while I was connected, 51 attendees were logged in, Meals on Wheels also made a presentation.
Ellen Lutwak as well as gallerist Om Bleicher led participants on Zoom around the gallery; an on-going Instagram Live debut of the show jockeyed for position with the Zoom event. These are the kinds of early-adapter kinks ground breakers like BG will be sure to work out for the next event.
Bleicher says “It was a wild experiment. We threw all possible streams together at once: we had a YouTube stream with John Kilduff doing live painting, an Instagram feed and a Zoom channel all going at the same time. About everything that could go wrong technically did. There was no video for the Zoom; Instagram wouldn’t work on the phone we were using and so on, and there was a lot of cross-feed between the streams. But our guests had fun and we eventually got the swing of things.”
He adds that “Next time we do it, we will concentrate on one stream at a time. Likely a ‘meet the artists’ with the Instagram feed, followed by a Zoom meetup so that we can talk amongst the guests. But we did get a lot of ‘thank you’s’ after the event from guests who enjoyed feeling like they were out to an event.”
The exhibition itself is widely varied. There are works that evoke some of our collective anxiety at this point in time, while others seem resonant with their depiction of the human spirit. Some are figurative, some abstract. It is a group show that revolves in broad spokes around the exhibition title. We see images that depict love, that are of loved beings, loved places, love objects, and loved ideas.
Ellen Schinderman’s “Starrbooty for President” utilizes, Schinderman said during the opening, “a porn concept and pixilated image.” It’s an attention-getter with a texture as sensual as its image. Also a figurative portrait is “Joaquin,” as in Phoenix, from artist Mikey Avalon. The blurred image is the epitome of angst. Both works could be viewed as love of the objectified.
Melissa Meier’s “Eggshell Construction” gives us a startling, surreal photographic image of a woman covered in delicate looking eggs – it seems a potent metaphor for our present societal state of isolation, care, and potential damage, as well as for the fragility of the human body. It could also be viewed as depicting the fragile nature of love itself, particularly now.
Artist Megan Hedely’s “Wave Action” is a lush abstract landscape that uses the visual inspiration of the artist’s travels to beach towns in New Zealand. The pastels are rich and full, a wave filled with both color and motion. She uses 43 pieces of tape in the work, which also employs oil pastels and acrylic paint. The mix of mediums heightens the sensation of being surrounded by a wave. This is landscape that the artist loves and gifts to us.
Alessandra Pierelli’s whimsical “Baby Yoda” sculpture is a symbol of hope and fun, a beloved character – and one watchable from a self-isolating living room on Disney Plus. Her work uses white push pins as a part of its material as the edging on baby’s collar and sleeves. Pierelli’s second exhibition work, a bright yellow emoji “Kiss,” makes use of yellow push pins. The whimsy is welcome.
Dan Busta’s print of “Meghan Mooberry” is a dream-like reality bend, as the central figure morphs with the polka dot walls and floors – or is subsumed by them. It is perhaps representative of the overwhelming quality of love, the way in which it invades us – stretching the metaphor to the breaking point, I hesitate to add, but do – “like a virus.”
A particular favorite here is the warm environment of Peg Brady’s life-size “fantasy kitchen window” as the artist described her work during the virtual reception. “10 AM” represents love of family, of home, through aspects of the artist’s life in beautifully rendered stitching. There’s the artist’s cat ready to knock a plant off the window sill, a Batman T-shirt hanging on a clothesline outside the window that recalls the presence of Brady’s brother, three family members on a bench, talking. The image is lovely, delicate, and deeply comforting in its normalcy and sweetness.
Bleicher has an artist talk for this show and other online exhibitions in the works. In the meantime, visit the exhibition online, and for more information about supporting Meals on Wheels West, reach out to Ashley McGullam at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 394-5133 x6.