Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lovely in Laguna

Returned to Laguna Beach for first Thursday Artwalk on August 1. First trip a few days prior was to scope out the galleries, restaurants and the town with the family in tow including my two nieces ages 11 and 9 and my mother-in-law. Plenty of activity and sights to see that are breathtaking and suitable for all ages.

The Artwalk was very well attended, although one of the gallery owners said the turn out was light in comparison to other Artwalk evenings but I still thought the volume of gallery-goers was impressive.

The appeal of the galleries in Laguna Beach is that they are plentiful and offer something for everyone. Landscapes, still lifes, portraits, sculpture, emerging artists, established, local or international, you will find it all in Laguna Beach.

In the heart of the gallery district towards the North end of town was the Laguna Art Museum, which was one of the happening places to be that night. Complete with proper a first Thursday Art Walk celebration and a DJ,  hundreds of eager art lovers flocked to see "Faux Real,"  a collection of works by contemporary artists who mimic reality with a playful twist, in the process raising questions of authenticity and duplication.

The exhibition includes the following participating artists: Michael Arcega, Sandow Birk, Libby Black, Amy Caterina, Daniel Douke, Ala Ebtekar, Cheryl Ekstrom, David Gilhooly, Jean Lowe, Gifford Myers, Kaz Oshiro, Elyse Pignolet, Walter Robinson, and Stephanie Syjuco. 

Head over to the Museum's website to check out the information on the show and more images.

A playful twist just about sums up the eclectic mix of art on view at The George Gallery, located a few doors down and across the street on N. Coast Highway. For starters, The George Gallery is named for a woman literary figure, Aurora Dupin who wrote under the male pseudonym George Sand. The gallery represents women artists who create within a wide range: Some boldly portray aggressive sexuality and parodies of domesticity while others deliver art that is, like Ms. Sand’s, uncannily and ironically gender neutral.

And how.

Gallery director Jared Linge gave us an overview of the current show on view "Flux/Quirk". Work from the various artists, emerging and established, belong to the permanent collection of the Eli Broad Collection in LA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, delivers a taste of life’s flux --- and each does so in her unique way. 

Have a look at the work on the walls:

Carla Gannis, "Everything that Rises must Converge," 50 1/2 x 39 inches, archival inkjet print
Teresa Hackett, Drawing #4

I would post more photos from this gallery as we definitely enjoyed our visit and many of the work there, but I also want to be fair to the other galleries there....

 We had a nice chat with Janine Salzman at Studio 7 that offered a wide range of work from local artists. Beautiful landscapes, local scenes, beach scenes, still lifes and more. Here, she's pictured with some of her work that was on view. The gallery is at 384 N. Coast Highway and has a second location at 1590 South Coast Highway both in Laguna Beach. Website is

Janie's paintings are in permanent collections in Newport Beach and has won many awards.

 Mada Leach was at the opening showing her work at Sandstone Gallery at 384 A North Coast Highway a few doors down. Mada's work, after she explained to us her technique, was rather intricate. Pleasant surprise. More than meets the eye going on in her work.

 Here, gallery artist Lynn Welker is pictured next to her painting entitled "Warm Glow," a mixed media acrylic, gouache. We had a nice conversation about the art in the gallery and were grateful for her time and help in giving us an overview of the work and the artists shown at the gallery. Check out for the list of artists, links and images.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

First stop on Art Across Southern America Tour is...

Brentwood, CA followed by Bergamot Station

Leslie Sacks Fine Art has been a valued client since the first days of Gallery Guide West Coast. (The first Gallery Guide was published in Soho in 1970).  Leslie Sacks Fine Art was first opened in Brentwood in 1992, but the gallery itself originated in Africa some ten years earlier. When I signed onto Gallery Guide as an assistant editor in 1995, Lee Spiro, director at Leslie Sacks, was one of my very first clients who helped me get acclimated to the gallery's inventory, shows, events and staff and gave me an overview of the gallery's areas of specialization. Most importantly, he was open and honest and was able to give me a good sense of what I needed to do to make the Gallery Guide the best it could be for the galleries and the collectors.

Fitting that they should be the first stop on my gallery tour of S. California and Southern USA. I was able to catch up with Diana, Sandy and Lee (pictured below) and their web master, Sang Lee last week and view the impressive collection of works. 

Diana McNeill, Lee Spiro and Sandy Shin, staff.

Since then, and hundreds of thousands of new acquisitions of art later, Leslie Sacks is still one of the go-to authorities for secondary market works for fine prints and rare works by modern and contemporary European and American 20th Century masters including important impressionist, post-impressionist and 20th Century art. All works are acquired by Leslie and are owned by the gallery; some available for purchase while others are available for Museum or University or other special exhibition loan.

Perhaps lesser-known, but equally rare in the art market, is Leslie Sack's collection of African artifacts, tribal arts and masks. Quite an impressive display are on view at the Brentwood location.

Leslie Sacks just published a book about African artifacts and tribal art and the gallery had just received the first printed copies hours before I arrived to say hello. The book is a scholarly approach and you can just see the amount of hours of research that went into it by flipping it open.

The gallery also has a second location in Santa Monica, once known as the Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, which was acquired in 2007. This gallery space is Leslie Sack's Contemporary Gallery and many of Bobbie Greenfield's artists are shown here such as Guy Dill, Ed Moses and many others who are still showing today.

Leslie Sacks Contemporary opened Ed Moses, "A Stone Mirror Reversed" on July 27 and I was fortunate enough to catch the show prior to the opening, although the walls were still being painted and the installation was still in progress.

Tyler Lemkin, gallery director at Leslie Sacks Contemporary, was still hanging Ed Moses' show for the opening on Saturday, and apparently I was too late to catch Ed himself as he had just left the gallery moments before I arrived. However, the Venice Beach abstract expressionist painter's new body of work did not disappoint. This particular show includes transfer paintings, also known as the reversals where he takes older works and pulls the paint thorough the back of the canvas.

Click over to the gallery's website to see more. (Brentwood location) and
for the Santa Monica location and Ed Moses exhibition.


I swiped this one from LS Contemporary Facebook page (hope that's OK in the world of social media, yes?). Tyler Lemkin is to the left, Ed Moses and Robert Berman is on the right.

Speaking of Robert Berman...Another long-time, dear client who helped me out with the Gallery Guide from day one. A great negotiator, savvy art dealer (opened his gallery business in the early 1980s) and all-around great guy. I was able to catch the install of (Dwayne Booth) Mr. Fish, "Mind Over Body" at Robert Berman Gallery (B7 at Bergamot Station). A zany, political, intriguing show, to say the least. The artist's roots in editorial cartooning are the foundation for his latest body of work where cultural icons are placed onto nude bodies of clashing gender, for starters. and

Another pleasant dear friend Steve Irvin was helping with the install at Robert Berman. Funny. I had just been texting him two hours earlier while stuck in traffic on the 405 to set up a time to have lunch or dinner and catch up. I met Steve while he was working for Patricia Correia when she had her gallery at Bergamot Station. Another long-time, valued client, Steve was able to help get me acclimated to the art world in Los Angeles and get through times when it was just overwhelming to navigate!

Steve is also a a very talented artist.

Here, Steve is pictured next to Mr. Fish's Malcolm X but the photo is washed out so you definitely need to go check out the show in person.

Anyway, we arrived at Bergamot Station much too late to get to the rest of the galleries, so another trip there is in order.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fabulous Art at the Outsider Art Fair

If you didn't happen to make it to the Outsider Art Fair last weekend, you truly missed out on a fabulous show. Gauging the packed house at 548 W 22nd the night of the opening, it seems Outsider Art has gained a lot of recognition and a nice following over the years. One fair-goer described the opening as a "buying frenzy" after seeing Ricco/Maresca's entire back wall appear to completely sell out within the first two hours of the show. There was no shortage of buyers whipping out credit cards and packaged-sized works being carefully carted to their new homes.
This year's edition marks year 21 of the fair and also marks a new venue and new ownership under dealer/exhibitor Andew Edlin who purchased the fair from its 1993 founders, Sanford Smith and formed a new organization to run the fair called "Wide Open Arts." The new venue located in west Chelsea is the former Dia Arts Foundation building (now "Center 548"), ideal for a well-lit, three-floor art fair set up. On-street parking at 7pm wasn't too difficult to find. The hard-to-see small sign out in front of the building was in no way representational of the large-scale representation of the outsider genre waiting for me inside. Suffice it to say the new building was a nice step up from the fair's former venue in Soho at the Puck Building where it was held until 2008 and an even nicer step up from it's location the last few years on 34th street. Edlin's booth was one I did not make it to see, unfortunately.

Upon entering, and later going up and down, the winding stair case was a bit of a tight squeeze with the sheer volume of art lovers in attendance. Stepping into the fair, I was delighted to see some of the best-known outsider galleries in attendance and the quality of work did not disappoint.  Whether one came to see art-brut, self-taught, folk art or any other type of work that falls under the "outsider" category, there was definitely something there for everyone.

Probably the most interesting and seemingly most popular large-scale piece was Gayleen Aiken's "26 Raimbilli Cousins” (1980-1994), mixed mediums on cardboard at the Luise Ross booth. Spanning an entire wall of Ross' booth, this cardboard life-sized fabric and mixed media construction smiled at the viewer with what I would describe as a child-like innocence and sweetness. It seemed most onlookers spent a great deal of time marveling at it, maybe wondering what kind of fun activities the children were engaged and what their relationship was like with the artist. I couldn't get a clean shot of this piece as there were just way too many people admiring and talking about the work the entire time I was there. Good thing I'm not a reviewer, reporter or my job depended on getting the photo! 

Speaking of large-scale pieces, Terry Turrell's "Mouthful" mixed media on wood panel from American Primitive was another favorite and topic of discussion. 

More traditional folk art pieces were probably the least represented of the outsider gamut but that more than made up for by the tasteful display of work by Giorgos Rigas in C. Grimaldis' booth. 

I wasn't surprised later to learn that the Daily Beast hailed Rigas' work as a top ten to buy and remarks and reviews from NY Times' Roberta Smith and "Art & Design 20" offered a favorable take on the work as well. Definitely read Roberta's article on the fair if you get a chance. Well done, as usual.

Another pleasant surprise: Spiralis Ventures. Owner Gail Granowitz is a licensed physician and a passionate collector of Haitian art with a private location in NJ. I didn't get to talk to her too extensively about her endeavor as both physician and private art dealer but was pleasantly surprised by the work she had on view at the fair, a few which were already sold to eager collectors.

Not far from her booth was an unique display of Haitian fabric work priced from $150 and up by Bourbon-Lally who also exhibited paintings and sculpture direct from Haiti.  

A few galleries and several non-profits have popped up over the years that specialize in working with artists with mental illnesses. Foundation Gallery on Ninth Av at 48th in NY is one such gallery,  founded by Fountain House in 2000 as a non-profit exhibition space. The gallery works with artists that are established, emerging, trained and self-taught and is preparing for its Annual Art Auction and benefit on February 28 to support the foundation and the artists. Check out for more details. Definitely sounds like a worth-while cause to me! 

I happen to really like the mobile/hanging sculpture on view in Fountain Gallery's booth by Keith Pavia entitled "Space Research/Facility 57," a colorful, playful assembly of mixed media. 

The fair also had other exhibitors that specialize in working with artists with mental illnesses including Creative Growth Center from Oakland, CA and Institute 193 from Lexington, KY representing artists from the Southeastern US and LETC/LAND Gallery, a studio and gallery for artists with "neurological diversities" according to their website. I did not get a chance to make it over to the latter two booths, unfortunately. 

Intense detailed ink on paper pieces in the $8,000 and up price point were displayed form Tokyo's Yukiko Koide Presents with work by artists including Kunizo Matsumoto and Yuichi Saito.  I spend a great deal of time appreciating the intricate details and fine ink work and enjoyed learning about the artists and chatting with Yukiko Koide from the gallery.

Other favorite exhibitors, staples to the outsider art collector, include Carl Hammer, Judy Saslow, Ames Gallery, Calvin-Morris, Galerie St. Etienne, and Yard Dog to name a few. 

And I have a confession.  I didn't make it to see every exhibitor as the opening came to a close much too soon to my regret. No, two and a half hours were not enough to see everything.

Here's to year 22.

It was interesting to read the different takes on outsider art that were published after the fair about what outsider art really is, where it seems to be going and its place in the Contemporary art world. None of it changed my appreciation for the fair and the works I saw on opening night. I am just looking at some of my personal collection of outsider pieces right now as I finish writing this, many of them acquired at previous Outsider Art Fairs and others from dealers who were exhibitors at the show. I look forward to my next acquisition.