by Carolyn Blais
Montrose Art Walk photos by Carolyn Blais
The Happening Gallery photos by Nicole DeVries
In my opinion there are two kinds of art. The first is the kind of art you hang on the wall to maybe add some color to a room and then never really think about again. The second is the kind of art which forces you to contemplate it, to stare at it for hours, drawn like a moth to a flame, and in the end, to walk away, pondering what you just saw, talking about it with your friends, deeply affected.
On a lazy Saturday morning in Montrose Shopping Park, before I’ve even had my coffee, I’m not so sure I can handle the latter form of art. Thankfully that’s not what was on display at the Art Walk that was taking place there. Montrose is tucked into the shadowy Glendale hills and its historic downtown consists mainly of Honolulu Ave, which is adorned with cute shops and cafés and for this past Saturday only, several different tents with art work aplenty. If I had to sum up the theme of the art walk in three words it would be: flowers, fruits, and forests. That is to say, there were many, many pretty pictures of these three things. There is nothing unworthy about these kinds of pieces, but after I walked away (and went shopping at Marshall’s) I sort of forgot about them. There were a few exceptions I should note—one being the work of artist Fred Chuang, who uses “acrylic spray enamel on the obverse side of clear co-polyester panels” to create his art (fredchuang.com). This gives his pieces a kind of cool, tile-like, shiny appearance. Another artist whose work was outside the norm was Valerie Weller, whose decoupage plates look like something Pottery Barn would sell for exorbitant amounts of money. While the majority of the art on display at the art walk may not incorporate any great guise or mystery or change your life forever after beholding it, it can still be enjoyed for its simplicity and straightforward charm.
By nightfall on Saturday, I was more awake, the city was more alive, and I answered yes please to the sign outside The Happening Gallery that asked: Art? Having been to the gallery a couple of times before, I can say that The Happening once again lived up to its name. Founder and Artist in Residence Natalie Gray–herself known as a Pollock incarnate according to two artists who knew Jackson Pollock personally–hosted perhaps the most successful event at the gallery to date, as much art work was sold, 80s hits resounded, and the wine and Korean BBQ appetizers were yummo-in-the-tummo (a phrase I might have just made up). But most important of course, was the art, and that surely was in no shortage. I talk about two different kinds of art at the beginning of this piece because the caliber of work on display at The Happening was the second kind, the kind that really stuck with me, really made me think. From Linda Newman Boughton’s giant, life-like portraits that leave no detail untouched, down to those pesky, tiny red veins in the eyeball; to Catherine Bottiau’s “old world glazing” paintings of very European-looking city and landscapes; to Maya Green’s colorful dancers—I didn’t know where to look first. Of course not to be forgotten were the very talented Michelle Brusuelas, Peter Shoukry, William Reynolds Green and Ronny Rose, whose works gave me goose-bumps (good ones) and had me in awe long after I left the gallery.
If that wasn’t enough, there were more artists on display with whom I was able to chat albeit briefly. One such artist was Dani Vinokurov whose miniature pieces, you may have to squint to see, but trust me, it is worth the effort. The artist uses “paper, fabric and thread” to create her pieces, a threesome she says belong together. For Vinokurov, making the art is intimate, as the products are close to her both physically and mentally. Originally from Iowa, Brooke Harker is another artist on display whose paintings of brightly colored umbrellas offset their dark blue, dreary sky. Inspired by travels, especially when working for the military and stationed in Germany (where it rains a lot apparently), Harker often paints over previous pieces, until arriving at the final image, giving the work texture and making certain colors pop. Another artist using vibrant colors is Bobbie Rich. Rich derives inspiration mostly from photographs that she takes. The artist then looks entirely at the photo when sketching, which yeilds an image that is in a twisted, Picasso-esq style, which she refers to as “lose, whimsical and quirky.” Nirali Thakkar introduces herself to me and I soon learn that her art explores what it is like to be an Indian woman, and mother living in the U.S. Her work is sometimes serious, sometimes more lighthearted like a painting which depicts a pair of little purple shoes belonging to her three year old daughter. Last but certainly not least is DJ Neff, artist behind Can Love, a program which takes old, discarded spray paint cans and turns them into art—hearts and flowers in this particular exhibit (hence can, love). With Can Love artists already in NYC and LA, Neff plans to spread this unique recycled art work program to other cities.
With so much art to choose from throughout LA this past Saturday, it would be impossible not to find something you love, no matter what your taste. All and all, care free strolling at the Art Walk followed by thorough observations of the deeply moving and thought provoking pieces at The Happening Gallery made for a darn good last Saturday to summer.
WHAT: Montrose Art Walk
WHERE: Honolulu Ave, Glendale
WHEN: Saturday, September 18th
WHAT: The Happening Gallery Fine Art Show
WHERE: 4047 Lincoln Blvd, Marina del Rey
WHEN: Saturday, September 18th