First Run Through LA Galleries

The sensations of journeying arose as the sun began lowering behind buildings in preparation for Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk. Food trucks parked in lots and stretched down the streets preparing for a busy night. Before the eyes were fed with what the destinations on the map were delivering, a pastelito by VCHOS Food Truck with chicken and carrots swathed in a creamy sauce all beneath a crispy folded and pinched then fried circle of masa gave much needed fuel. The fairly large parking lot was only a block or two from the concentration of pedestrians trickled onto the sidewalk.

After inhaling and coming to terms with not drinking the remaining salsa, the studio of Miguel Osuna was the first stop coming from the north end of Spring Street. Inside canvases lined up like books as tall as the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the 4th Street intersection. The artist’s technique with a rubber palette and with the exactitude of a ballpoint pen elicited a serpentine dance effect in grand proportions. Choices in color and use of light were like laying eyes upon a thick ribbon flowing through winds.

Howard Griffin Gallery was the next destination where Broken Fingaz landed in Los Angeles from Haifa, Israel using sharp and bold characters with form nodding to Japanese Shunga art. A rectangular fixture with comic book strip layout blared perhaps a message on regression while serving as a comedic shield with a blinding bulb illuminating a regressive birth of a mustachioed bald man. While several other depictions of statuesque focal points filled the gallery, the sun hadn’t completely gone away so the journey continued down Spring Street.

Just outside of Le Petit Paris Boutique, a craftsman of stationary by the name of Hundred Acre Works displayed an assortment of cards. Juxtaposition was the theme, which used tranquil landscapes as background for humorously compromising situations among characters like Batman and Wonder Woman. A few steps south was a painter whose gift with acrylic gave the illusion of being created with oil pastels.

It was off to a nomadic start and I couldn’t help but feel thankful for the space I live and very aware of those whose crafts(wo)manship was indoors and outdoors were connected to the transient phenomena of this coast. After another intersection, Art Walk Lounge had people crowding inside and spilling out so I made my way through a narrow passage leading to an enclosed and brightly lit space at the opposite end. On the way stood Urks Design presented digitally enhanced portraits of models whose porcelain skin fanned into floral accouterments and broken ceramic graphics.

Deeper in the lounge was the octagonal chamber where paintings by Diego Cardoso gave a perspective of movement through a city in consistent evolution. His paintings resembled photographs inspired by decades of planning land use, housing/redevelopment and transportation in Los Angeles. Telephone wires lining the sidewalks where bicyclists and dog walkers were bystanders of busy traffic was one of many vivid snapshots he painted. When I pulled the Art Walk map out to check for my next destination, the very same piece was used for this month’s promotional map and pamphlet.

Closest to the Lounge was the Gloria Delson Contemporary Art Gallery, one of the featured galleries of the month, which hosted the riveting “Femme Fatales” on display just two weeks before the August Art Walk. The title for this run was “Double Vision” and cohesion in doubles or more seemed to be a prevalent theme of the gallery’s opening. Closest to the windows were fine oil canvases highlighting glass texture in its uniform yet curving complexity by Mark Brosmer. Judy Gittelsohn left a message of perspective with “Something Cup” and “Nothing Cup” with a warm color scheme.

In the furthest portion of the gallery, I was struck by three rectangular pieces by Fran Santelli because the marriage of acrylic and collage formed a curious delivery begging for more details from the artist. “Reading Rainbow” held hand-painted geometric fantasies of colors and shapes forming symbiotic rhythms in front of a starry night sky. Excitement flooded when I crossed paths with the artist upon exiting the square space with her work exclusively on one wall. It was she who clarified what seemed like collaging was in fact her own ability to fine-tune the use of a brush while giving a textural and vibrant appeal.

As people flocked to her work, I bid her farewell and luck with selling to patrons of the gallery but the ambiance of The Hive Art Gallery and Studios felt like the most appropriate endpoint of the walk. The vast assortment of artists filled narrow allotments of wall space with respective eyes for detail. Meeting DavidR XV after catching a glimpse of his work prior to the event was as much a surprise as meeting Ryan Patterson whose eye for detail went as far as accentuating the eyelashes of his female model with clumps of mascara caught in the eyes framing porcelain skin and a perfect bone structure. Fusions of bold graphics and timeless black and white oils of cinematic poses by Lauren Mendelsohn-Bass left the heart warm and full as passers continued in and out of the gallery and through the streets of downtown Los Angeles.

Seamless Sculpting by Robert Onnes

After years of manipulating electricity, Robert Onnes has methodically honed his talent in giving life to cold and sharp surfaces, which yield powerfully animated figures of copper and plate steel. 2006 served as a launching point for Onnes who taught himself how to craft numerous representations of earth-bound kiwis with elevation drawings and plasma cutter. On one hand, the large variety was influenced by the pursuit of his artistic voice while a dream of emotionless transition and exploration fueled his motivation to interpret the pensive kiwis.

Skua (2014) is the most recent example of how two seabirds are effortlessly portrayed with a technical suavity. At a glance, one bird seems overpowering as it swoops and summons another but the longer one gazes, one cannot help but circle around the elegant sculpture to determine if the two are friends or foes. Close (2012) and Doubt Dogma (2011) are distinct examples of the artist’s evolving fascination with relationships between humans with an underlying contemplation of romance, belief systems and hierarchy. Helen & Hana (2010) is a towering reiteration of the dialogue taking place between two beings but this sculpture’s movement from one outdoor gallery space to another solidifies the significance of work by Onnes.

2013 proved to be a stimulating year of transition for Onnes with the acquisition of The Factory at 333 Midland in Highland Park, Michigan. This revitalization project affirmed the artist’s vision of independence and brilliance in the face of unique circumstances—a state of being he admires in and around the city of Detroit. In the midst of his American venture, Onnes created Bear (2013) to expound his admiration for the resolute energy of Detroit.

Seamless and careful uses of liver of sulfur and ferric nitrate, among other patina techniques, emphasize originality in work by Onnes while he interprets dynamics of nature and social engagement. From the gleaming textures of mussels and embossed butterflies to enormously sophisticated steel faces reaching for the heavens of the New Zealand sky, Onnes endlessly unites nature’s gracefulness with metal’s stability.

Click here to access the portfolio of Robert Onnes.