Making art? Of course they are!
An interruption or two, but then artmaking marches on
by Bondo Wyszpolski
When I wrote about our local theaters last week, I was taken by what Gia Jordahl told me, that The Torrance Theatre Company regarded our current health crisis as “the great intermission.”Not being able to go and see plays and musicals, movies, museums and sporting events, and lots of other things that you can think of that I can’t, well, it’s been quite an imposed hiatus. But those in the creative arts are like gophers. You don’t see them on the surface, but underneath it they’re scratching away at new projects, and so we’ll have a wealth of it when, at last, we can all emerge from our respective burrows.
Here again are some updates from local artists, many of whom you know. Jean Shultz is one of them. The Redondo Beach resident has exhibited throughout the Beach Cities and her work has regularly been seen at “CA 101,” which is scheduled to return in 2021.
“I’m enjoying the slow pace of the world right now,” Jean says, “fortunate to be in a comfortable place. I’m taking time to see, listen, to be inspired by what is around me. There are no upcoming exhibits planned now and that gives me more freedom to explore, change direction and finish some paintings that have been put aside.
“The challenge I’ve given myself is to use what is on hand; as a mixed media artist that could be almost anything. I’ve been dyeing sari silk strips, and weaving. Dyeing fabric, yarn and paper with rust and plants to make collages and books. I’m currently working on three pieces, taking time to step back to view them from a distance, see them with a fresh eye and continue.
“I seem to gravitate toward experimental art. What would happen if I do this, or try that? The process allows me to explore the nature of the materials used and the freedom to add layers and let it flow.
“I miss painting and have cleaned off my drafting table so that I can just step back into it when it feels right. I’ll just have to step over the piles of recently dyed fabrics and papers.”Barbara Strasen is a nationally-recognized artist, and we featured her in both Easy Reader and Peninsula magazine when she was part of a group exhibition at El Camino College. She was quite busy, just as the coronavirus was picking up speed in this country.
“I feel like I dodged multiple bullets: flew to NYC on February 25 for the opening of my show (Susan Eley Fine Art, NY—extended to June 1). There was a normal show opening, the gallery sold a few, then one week later it went to appointment-only because of beginning Covid.Then I blythely went to Philadelphia, DC, back to Philadelphia, then to Mexico City. There were only one or two Covid cases detected in any of these cities at that time. By the time I got back to LA on March 11, things were very different.
“In contrast, since then I have been in total lockdown and can relate to our Neolithic ancestors and their time-consuming food foraging and grub-eating. Things have gotten a bit easier in the last few weeks.”
Barbara has a nice studio on Pacific Avenue in San Pedro, and many projects to keep her busy for several years at least! Hoping, of course, that we’ll get the “all-clear” long before that.Drica Lobo lives in Hermosa Beach, but was out of the country when the coronavirus began to sprout legs and run everywhere at once.
“As the world went wild when the pandemic started,” Drica was attempting, she says, “to enjoy my vacation back home in Brazil. Not surprisingly, I spent weeks denying reality to get me through my travels. My return back to America was an adventure with ghost airports, and fear all around.
“I made up a mantra to keep my sanity that says: ‘You can find fear or you can find love and opportunity.’ It helped me enormously, but in reality it took me a whole month to get back on track and face the new normal.
“I knew I had to honor this time in history [from] the very beginning, where the rules are out of the window, to innovate and change perspectives.
Although Drica says that while her creativity didn’t increase as much as she’d hoped, “What happened was that I did use my fear to find opportunities. Besides slowly moving my art career online, I’m painting a new series to celebrate Mother Nature’s big win during the quarantine.” She notes the incredible and unprecedented challenge that the entire world is facing with mostly having to stay indoors. But, that says, “This could be an opportunity for our species to rise.”
And certainly an opportunity to explore new territory, which I’m sure will happen.Elke Goodno lives in South Torrance and took the initiative to contact me. We’ve never met in person. When Elke was 19 years old she arrived in California as a new bride with an infant daughter, did not speak English, and all she knew about the United States was what her husband had told her. That was a long time ago, and here we are now.
“I have always been very creative and love to read,” she says, “which got me through some dark times. Currently I walk a lot and like to find new walks and new ways to look at the same things. My midsummer night picture was actually a fashion picture which I converted into what reminded me of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night. Those leaves are the most common things one can see, yet when I enlarged the picture I captured the beauty initially hidden. I am so grateful that I have my art (and I write children’s stories and poetry, too) during this lonely isolating time. I have friends who are very down but I am not experiencing any of this yet. Yes, I miss people, but I meet strangers willing to talk. ‘I am a most fortunate woman’— that is what I call myself.”When I first met Scott Aicher we were working at a print shop, of which there were many, because in the late 1980s, early ‘90s, most people didn’t yet have computers and printers. Scott used to draw flyers for alternative rock bands, who would then run off 500 or 1000 copies and then spread out all over town and tack them up on telephone poles. That was when every group owned at least one staple gun.
Scott’s had some nice gigs over the years, but his recent one, “Art of Aicher” at Cornelius Projects, which was set to open April 5, was postponed. It also was to be a poetry event and book release party for Iris Berry’s book “All that Shines Under the Hollywood Sign.” Scott did all the illustrations for the book.
There were to have been readings by Keith Morris of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks; Jack Grisham, singer, author, and photographer from TSOL; Annette Zilinskas of The Bangles; Iris Berry, author and poet from the Ringling Sisters; and S.A. Griffin, author, poet, and actor.
“We still hope to open with both shows soon and right now you can check out the show video on Vimeo (the link to the video is on CorneliusProjects.com).”
Right now, Scott has three T-shirt designs (of the Vincent Thomas Bridge, the Point Fermin Lighthouse, and the Korean Bell of Friendship) available at Calimucho.net.
And, as to be expected: “I am currently working on more work to go in my art show and a brand new full-color comic book from me is on the way. Some work has already sold online and I am truly grateful for the support.” Now, let me steer you to his website: popkustomshoppe.com.Arnée Carofano, along with her husband Ray, runs Gallery 478 in San Pedro, and had to curtail visitors for the “Artists as Collectors” exhibition, curated by Ron Linden. So, what have they been doing in the meantime? “We’ve been walking, cycling and driving, and photographing around and about town,” she replies. “We are fortunate to be living in a studio (a former bank building) where we have our equipment and tools available to continue making our own work… and how lucky we are to have each other.
“Getting out for fresh air, while distancing, is a stabilizing force under the present situation, so a walk in the park, donning our masks and gloves, does us good. Food shopping has become a less frequent activity, now down to once every two weeks or so. But some things haven’t changed, like cooking, cleaning, reading and, for Arnée anyway, a bit more time being spent on social media. Politics and issues regarding the coronavirus is an ongoing attention-grabber, along with some great documentaries and TV episode binging!”
That art show in their gallery? You can take an online virtual tour of it (with host Ron Linden) by going to transvagrant.com/artists-as-collectors/.
I’d like to share the news of what a few other artists are thinking and doing, but since I want to save some room for the art, I’ll hold onto those for another week or two. Just remember, that when the galleries open up once more there will be plenty of new art to absorb in person, the way it’s meant to be seen and appreciated. ER