Funhouse – New Gallery, Lively Group Show
rdfa, los angeles
through November 20, 2021
Written by Genie Davis
Welcome to the Funhouse: A Celebration of Los Angeles Painting, a large group show in a compact space packed plenty of punch at RDFA. The Rory Devine Fine Arts gallery is a terrific newcomer to the Adams district.
The exhibition, which just closed November 20th, featured 43 artists, a number of whom are represented by the gallery. Artists in the exhibition included Lisa Adams, Joshua Aster, Hilary Baker, Paddy Campanaro, Cole Case, Helen Chung, Brian Cooper, Michael Coughlan, Sydney Croskery, Cherie Benner Davis, Jonathan Donaldson, Doug Edge, Sam Erenberg, Samantha Fields, Michelle Fierro, Robert Fontenot, Luke Forsyth, Alexa Gilweit, Pamela Jorden, Marion Lane, Robert Levine, Matt Lifson, Cathy Lightfoot, Liz Markus, Dan McCleary, Lester Monzon, Khang Bao Nguyen, Beryl Odette, Chris Pate, Kristopher Raos, Adam Ross, Sonja Schenk, Steven Steinman, Theodore Svenningsen, Nick Taggart, Mary Grace Tate, Samantha Thomas, Ruben Vincent, Andrew West, H K Zamani, and Jody Zellen.
The variety of work was staggering. Shown salon style, the painted works ranged from figurative to abstract, and were primarily created during the pandemic. Because of that, many were quite intimate, expressing a kind of inchoate longing for other places or times, as well as some of the challenges and emotions experienced during this intense period. It also is a quintessentially Los Angeles show, not only because of the Southern California artists who created it, but because of the colors of the show, many of which were as vibrant as an LA sunset.
Cherie Benner Davis reveled in hot pink with the background to her mysterious-looking space flower in “Wierdo 2,” with orange roots exploding beneath the ground. Likewise, Liz Markus, with her bright “Cotton Candy T-Rex,” and Khang Bao Nguyen with his swirling pastel purple, blue, and pink meditative mandala/portal, “Leaping Through Moments of Becoming.” Michael Coughlan’s lovely, blurred abstract landscape, “Untitled (New Smyrna / Titusville)” offered a streak of a pink through rich green. Coughlan’s work, almost like a pin-hole photograph if that type of image was to be painted, proved as meditative as Nguyen’s, both evoking something outside, or perhaps beyond this reality. Beryl Odette’s slightly blurred impressionistic flowers were another riveting mix of red and pink bloom and chroma-key blue background.
Ruben Vincent’s turquoise “Cyanolite (Wizard Tears),” created with resin and acrylic on linen wrapped wooden panel recalled both gemstones and ocean spray. Cole Case’s brilliant azure sky formed the backdrop for his oil painting “Split Pea Soup,” an olive-green bowl of which is held by a wise-looking elderly man in front of a paler dull-green fence. Jonathan Donaldson’s “Stand Out” features a protruding piece of driftwood jutting from what appears to be an intense cerulean blue body of water.
Lisa Adam’s “Life on the Prairie” presents a strange and sad little shack resting on an open field, positioned against a fierce pink sky on bright green grass that seems to reflect the final light. A fluttering salmon-colored curtain and a half-bust of a statue are surreal additions. Alexa Gilweit’s “Walkabout” centers on a vivid pink figure protruding from a landscape of patterned abstraction, pale blue water behind freshly leaved green trees, all seemingly dripping down around what could be a phantasm. Theodore Svenningsen’s “Untitled” text work is a rainbow of color.
Robert Levine’s figurative, silvery grey “Phone,” a depiction of a rare and iconic actual phone booth, was one of the few exceptions to the explosion of color on the walls.
Among other notable and transportive works are Samantha Fields’ “Exposure,” the water-rich teal blue work of Sydney Croskery, and graceful works from Sonja Schenck, and HK Zamani, among many others.
RDFA is located at 3209 W. Washington Blvd. in the Adams district.