Bondo Wyszpolski

Galleries go dark; art stays lit

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Irina Vladi’s compelling portraits comprise “Shut the Fuck Up,” and they’re currently at ShockBoxx in Hermosa Beach

Finding light in dark times

Local art galleries: postponements, and viable alternatives to showing their art

by Bondo Wyszpolski

Almost all local galleries are closed or closing temporarily, but what do the gallery owners have in mind during the meantime? Receptions have been cancelled, and some exhibitions that have been scheduled may never open. We’ve been in contact with several owners and curators and would like to share their thoughts. We’d also like to share some artwork that you may not be able to see in person right now but, let’s hope, you’ll be able to see at a later date.

Sara Svetlana’s solo show, “Secret Garden,” opened on March 7, and remains on view at ShockBoxx in Hermosa Beach

ShockBoxx Projects – Hermosa Beach

Mike Collins held the opening of his current show on March 7, which was pretty much the last weekend that shows went on view with a public reception. Even then, he notes, health concerns were getting serious: “There was already ample news out about the virus and community spread before the opening of Sarah and Irina’s shows so that most people in attendance were elbow bumping and keeping a good distance. There was definitely a ‘calm before the storm’ feeling in the air.”

“секретный сад [Secret Garden]” by Sarah Svetlana and, “Shut The Fuck Up,” by her sister, Irina Vladi, are up and will remain so through the end of March, Collins noted on Saturday. “We are planning on having our typical ‘artist talks’ for this show. We will hold these talks in the most safe and responsible ways based on what the city is recommending. We’d like to be able to do them live and in person (usually only about 10 or 15 people attend) but if need be, or likely in addition, we will also host these talks live on FaceBook, Instagram and capture them in ways that people can view them from their own home.”

Among the works at Resin in Hermosa Beach is “Hermosa Pier Underwater” by Clark McNulty

Resin – Hermosa Beach

“We are saddened to have to postpone Water&Wood,” says Rafael McMaster, “but it’s totally the appropriate and responsible thing to do. We were particularly excited because of all the stunning work our local artists created this year to share with their community, but we still look forward to having the show when the time is right.

“At its core, our shows are about community and inspiration. To honor the latter, we’re looking into ways we can broadcast and livestream from Resin during these times: yoga classes featuring Shelley Williams, meditations that I and others can lead, and even art lessons from our Collective artists à la Bob Ross style. Something to bring beauty, creativity, community, and a sense of lightness to help us process all of the fear and stress.”

TAM – Torrance Art Museum

Exhibitions at the Torrance Art Museum have been curated by Max Presneill for the last decade, but at the moment, as he emphasizes, it’s all just wait-and-see:

“At this time decisions regarding the City’s responses to the coronavirus are being disseminated throughout the various departments. With this ongoing and quickly changing scenario I cannot tell you what our program will look like for the next few months with any certainty. I do know that all decisions will be based on what are the best and healthiest responses for the public and City of Torrance staff.”

TAM’s last show, “Death Cult,” opened in January and was scheduled to close last Saturday. Meanwhile, Presneill, who is himself an established artist, is busily at work in his studio.

Max Presneill, the Torrance Art Museum’s curator, meanwhile is keeping occupied with his own work, including finishing up the piece illustrated here

Destination: Art – Torrance

Since its founding several years ago, Margaret Lindsey has been an integral part of Destination: Art. Like most active galleries, new shows were in the works. “We were going to have ‘Art in Action’ on April fourth so people could see art being made, and also participate in painting a mural,” she says. There was also to be a book signing for Richard Stephens, whose slim volume entitled “Pastels, Oils and Acrylics” couldn’t be a more accurate description. Stephens currently works out of The Loft in San Pedro, but for many years ran Cannery Row Studios in Redondo Beach. The book signing will be rescheduled for the fall, but if you can’t wait you can find out more by going to canneryrowstudios.com.

“We have cancelled beloved teacher Richard McKinley’s workshops for this year,” Lindsey adds. “He was going to do pastel for beginners, pastel mentoring, and an oil painting workshop.” Plans now are for him to return in 2021.

For the time being, although this may change: “We are still taking registrations for our Associates show which will be in the gallery from June 1 to 30.” Registration opens April 1, and information can be gleaned for the group’s website, Destination-Art.net. As for the small classes which were ongoing at press time, it’s best to inquire about those as well.

Images from Monica Orozco’s “Suffragette” are now available for viewing on the Palos Verdes Art Center website. This one is from the 2018 Women’s March in Los Angeles

Palos Verdes Art Center

In the Main Gallery, “Habitat California: Flora & Fauna” opened in February and was scheduled to run through April 18. In the Welsh Gallery, “Deb Stoner: More Stories about Flowers and Bugs” was also on view. Communications Director Scott Andrews has notified us that the entire PV Art Center campus, which includes the galleries and the offices, are now closed through at least April 5. That also goes for scheduled meetings and artist groups.

In an email, Interim Executive Director Daniela Saxa-Kaneko elaborated about the art center’s immediate plans: “It has been pretty hectic up here, trying to get all the logistics for the current closure in order. I am also trying to get our employees set up to work from home. Although that is not yet necessary, I want to be ready if it comes down to it. We are on a three week break until our quarter term starts on April 6, and we cancelled all our makeup classes that were scheduled for this week. Registration is still open online and over the phone. At this point, I have not decided if we will cancel the spring term altogether or move it down a few weeks. We will make that decision at the end of next week. While I would like to stay optimistic, we are most likely going to cancel it.

“The gallery opening for the ‘Suffragette’ photography show last Saturday was cancelled… We are working on putting the exhibition online. Officially this show runs through May 23. Regarding our ‘Habitat California’ exhibit, which runs through April 18, we have all the individual artist’s work on our website already but I have asked Scott Andrews to make the link more visible.”

As for the Palos Verdes Home Tour, Andrews says the dates will be rescheduled later this year. The staff will continue to answer the phone and emails: (310) 541-2479 or info@pvartcenter.org.

“I Wish You Bluebirds,” by Vanesa Andrade, is among the works at Artlife Gallery in El Segundo. The gallery intends to have a strong online presence, with virtual gallery tours and more

Artlife Gallery – El Segundo

“Artlife has been open seven days a week since we first opened our doors for business,” says Vanesa Andrade. The gallery, in Plaza El Segundo, has been hosting poetry nights once a month and sketching nights once a month as well. The most recent opening reception was scheduled for last Saturday, but was postponed. Currently, Andrade adds, “We are limiting our hours of operation, subject to the latest news developments.

“We must stay in touch with the public, with our community. We know how important it is in our own lives to stay connected to the arts and culture. This is our oxygen, and in my personal family situation, our only source of income.”

Artlife plans to stay in contact with artists and art goers via Instagram and Facebook, and intends to have a strong online presence that will include virtual gallery tours and feature new artwork plus interviews with artists. Currently, sales are being conducted via phone, text, email and social media, and can be delivered on the same day within a 35 miles radius. “We will keep ourselves busy, positive, and creative,” Andrade says. “Art is to materialize something beautiful and new from your imagination. This is pretty much the new definition of our lives at this time.” (310) 938-2511 or artlifesouthbay@gmail.com.

ESMoA – El Segundo
The venue is temporarily closed. “Stardust” is the current exhibition. It was scheduled to remain on view through May 16. “We at ESMoA are planning online educational videos,” Eva Sweeney writes. We’ll hear more from them presently. Further information at esmoa.org.

BJ Dockweiler’s “Orange 2,” was one of the works scheduled for “Associative Pluralities,” curated by Homeira Goldstein and planned for April in the Manhattan Beach Arts Center

Manhattan Beach Art Center – Manhattan Beach
Homeira Goldstein and Time4Art, with the support of the Manhattan Beach Art Center, were on track to present “Associative Pluralities” from April 10 through June 28, but this has been postponed. The exhibition would revolve around celebrated Los Angeles artist Tom Wudl and several artists who study with him at his downtown L.A. studio. Homeira always brings in high caliber shows and so this one has had high expectations.

“My involvement with art is [to inspire and enhance] cultural awareness,” she says, “which is really needed now to make our lives more meaningful and enjoyable in the midst of this global crisis. We need to feed our soul to get through these hard times.” Time4Art.us.

South LA Contemporary (SoLA)

Founder and curator Peggy Sivert notes that “Postponement is the new normal for SoLA as we deconstruct our schedule for 2020–2021, without knowing what the future holds.

“The pandemic pandemonium broke out at SoLA just as a new show was about to open, put on by guest curators from Superposition Gallery comprising a diverse mix of young LA and NY artists. ‘Parallel Realities and Unpopular Truths’ was installed and ready, purple neon and all… but the reception was cancelled… a big disappointment for all involved. Another postponed performance event, ‘#JailBedDrop’, exploring interpersonal accountability within the criminal justice system, has tentatively been rescheduled to May 7-9, 2020.”

Furthermore, “MASH,” curated by Mark Steven Greenfield, scheduled to open April 4, has been pushed back one year. Also postponed, a solo show by Long Beach artist Nzuji De Magalhaes.

More on all of these as fluctuating conditions stabilize.

From SoLA (South LA Contemporary), “Fray,” by Kaleeka Bond

ShockBoxx redux

Mike Collins and musician Kevin Sousa, apart from their artistic involvements, are also both professional psychologists, each seeing about 35 to 40 clients each week. “We’ve been through multiple community and global stressors,” Collins says, although admittedly not like the current one, “and get what’s going on from multiple perspectives. I think keeping the gallery moving, keeping music moving, keeping the ink moving, is paramount. The community is scared and panicking and overreacting. While we need to be cautious and heed what the local and state government are telling us, I think the community needs to find balance. We as helpers and leaders in the art community can help with this balance. You are clearly helping with that as you tell these stories.”

This past Sunday, Sousa’s Hermosa Music Co. put together a South Bay Musician’s Stream-A-Thon (Volume I). “We are creating this event to assist our local musicians who have recently lost their source of income as gigs are postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 Virus,” he says. “We plan on having this as the first of many streaming shows that artists can put on, sell tickets for fans to view, and put out a virtual tip cup so that they can continue to work.” The first installment featured Barley, Zeal, The Lucky, V Torres & Kira Lingman, as well as Aragorn Wiederhold, Chris Hanna & Heath, and Francis, and it concluded with the Kevin Sousa Band. There’s more about this elsewhere in today’s Easy Reader.
Meanwhile, ShockBoxx has just put out an art call for “Don’t Touch Your Face,” an open show in all styles and all media, with an entry deadline of May 10. Go to shockboxxproject.com/submit.

Artists, with their indomitable spirit, are already adapting to uncertain times. The show goes on. ER

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