by Carolyn Blais
If you happen to be walking or driving down Lincoln Blvd in Venice and you see a cow on the sidewalk you may be craving dairy and experiencing a mirage, or more likely, you have passed The Happening Gallery. I forgot to ask the significance of the cow statue that stands directly outside the doors to the little gallery located near the corner of Lincoln and Washington but for whatever reason it’s there, and you can’t miss it as it often dons balloons from around its neck. Saturday, April 18, I went back to The Happening Gallery after having been there last month for its first ever opening reception. And no, my return this month had nothing to do with the free wine; it was the art that really interested me.
My parents just went on a cruise to Hawaii and many college students I believe have just “gone wild” in various, exotic locales during spring break. Because I am a poor writer/document control clerk (yes, that’s a real title I assure you), the closest I’m getting to any beaches this year are the ones found in Mary Pillot’s paintings. Immediately I’m transported to a kind of serenity as if I’ve been plucked into one of those Corona commercials. “Fly Away,” for example depicts blue green waters, palm trees and tropical birds, though no beer.
A different kind of spring break adventure is the road trip. Perhaps there is a pattern going on here since I was always too broke to even do the road trip thing—that is until I took the ultimate trip driving from Boston to LA. Clearly artist William Reynolds Green has too spent some time on the road. His work seems to show middle of nowhere U.S.A., specifically somewhere in the midst of “Heading from Goldstone Towards Barstow.” I’m not really sure where Goldstone or Barstow are but I can take a guess as Green’s picture portrays an open road along a vast, desert like terrain with a single sign indicating the road is about to curve. The painting seems simple, but anyone who has ever gone cross county can look at this picture and have evoked a flood of memories from such a journey.
Because the opening reception last month was so crowded I was unable to meet and chat with The Happening’s owner, Natalie Gray but this time I was determined to make it a point to do so. Gray, an artist herself has paintings of her own on display which I was delighted to survey. One piece in particular speaks to me—it’s called “Dreamweaver” and it is an array of the prettiest combination of pink, purple and green splotches that seem to move across the canvas in a cloud like motion, yes like something out of a dream. Gray explains her process: “I literally just layer the paint, working only on impulse, NOT BRAIN!, sometimes over several weeks or months, working a little each day.” It is in this very organic way that an image starts to then evolve. I always wonder, especially in abstract art, how the artist knows exactly when the work is complete. For Gray it is simple: “I can tell by my breath when it’s done, I breathe easier and just ‘know’ that it’s done.” Though nowhere as talented as Gray, I can relate as I’m about to breath easier by finishing this piece and making my deadline.
WHAT: The Happening Gallery 2nd Opening
WHERE: The Happening Gallery, 4047 Lincoln Blvd, Marina del Rey, CA 90292
WHEN: April 17, 2010