High Desert in the Big City – Beautiful Heights
Loft at Liz’s, Los Angeles
through mid June
Written by Genie Davis
First a disclaimer: I love the desert. And I love the work of the now-desert-dwelling artists in this five-person exhibition. But now, without making the desert drive, the work of participating artists Anna Stump, Ted Meyer, Bill Brewer, Ben Allanoff, and Abe Delacerda is viewable here in Los Angeles at The Loft at Liz’s High Desert in the Big City. Curated by Ted Meyer and Liz Gordon, the exhibition has been extended through mid-June.
The artists’ work incorporates a wide variety of mediums and elements. In the Project Room, Anna Stump exhibits delicate landscapes painted on pieces of metal and old metal objects found in the desert. Likewise, on the main floor, Ben Allanoff uses found material to create his sculptural works. Ted Meyer exhibits bright, beautiful, paintings both large-scale and small, work that depicts the desert environment and its inhabitants. Bill Brewer exhibits a variety of his dazzling desert photography; Abe Delacerda creates dream-like sculptural birds and fanciful lizard-like dinosaurs.
Each of the five artists create evocative, lustrous images that reflect the Joshua Tree/Morongo Basin region, and combined, the artists’ collective works offer a full picture of desert life and desert dreams.
Allanoff’s “Celebration Necklace” greets viewers in a niche on the gallery stairs. The necklace hangs, bathed in light, a large work that makes graceful, heirloom-like beauty of small, rusted, desert-found objects strung together. Likewise, another suspended piece, “Jikido,” delicately links found objects in a way that reminds the viewer of a Dreamweaver of sorts, albeit rectangular. Other sculptural works are solid, weighty and described as stupas or by seasonal designation.
Delacerda’s terrific birds and dinosaur/lizard sculptures are both beautiful and filled with a sense of fun. Using wood, and glass paint sharpie, his work is patterned as minutely perfect as feathers. Overall, they have a lustrous quality that also conveys real desert creatures, as if bathed in intense desert light or sunset.
Meyer’s paintings have a whimsical, naïve lyricism that combines well with Delacerda’s. Painted in vibrant colors, we meet desert denizens and creatures, and take in a happy, even innocent, landscape. The acrylic on panel “Big Cactus” gives us cheerful looking cows, horse, lizard, and turtle as well as the titular cactus; “Mojave Mushrooms” offers a psychedelic tinge to sunset, coyote, desert birds, and cat. The large-scale piece is delightful and slightly surreal. The artist’s sky-down landscape with its deep aqua green sky and homesteads, “Wonder Valley” presents the viewer with a quilt-like landscape as seen from above. Meyer’s series of diminutive 6” x 6” small desert landscapes are like small jewels; considerably larger, “Anna in the Desert” reveals a radiant, ruby red glimpse of artist Anna Stump as well as charming animals.
And speaking of Stump, her meticulously painted small-scale landscapes are like desert fairytales. Delicate and precise, the work is painted on rusted metal. The untitled, unique works are created on objects found on her property – trowel and barn siding, tin can and broken shovel, metal plates. All pink clouds and fierce blue sky, flying birds and small white houses, aqua clouds and emerald trees, both the wall hangings and table art are ingenious and lovely, illustrations of desert life made magical, resurrecting the discarded objects they are painted upon. In the center of her Project Room exhibition, an old wheelbarrow houses two of Delacerda’s brilliant birds, which makes a wonderful curatorial pairing.
Meanwhile, Brewer’s work reveals a rich photographic desert landscape, from structures such as the lonely sign for a “Motel. Highway 395” to the deserted buildings of “Lucerne Valley.” Nature alone is the architect for “The World’s Biggest Joshua Tree (Dead)” and “Salton Sea #4” Haunting, derelict, and poignant, these ruins, and the desert landscape itself, hum with nature’s reclamation of man’s desiccated dreams. Each image is its own desert poem.
From creation to curation, High Desert in the Big City offers an inspirational, inclusive look at desert life from perspectives as fascinating and unique as the region itself. This is one desert to explore on a day trip of art.
One thing to note: the exhibition is cash and carry, so new art is appearing often as pieces are sold during the run of the show.
Loft at Liz’s
453 S. La Brea, Los Angeles, 90036
Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
No appointment necessary, through mid-June,