I first met Franky Agostino a few years ago. I have seen Agostino's work online and we had mutual artist friends. I thought his art was a good fit for Lestats Coffee shop in Normal Heights. We met one day to hang some of his work. He brought six paintings with him, one of which was a painting of a cat walking between a woman's legs. He might of said something about it being too erotic, at the time, but I didn't really give it a second thought. I saw a cat and a nude woman reclining on her back, and I knew the owner of Lestats liked cats. Within a week I was contacted that there were multiple complaints about the piece. One of which a child asked his mother , " Whats that cat doing between that woman's legs?" It seems that children always ask questions that make people uncomfortable. So, not wanting to offend, we replaced the painting with something less erotic. It's a trademark of Agostino, he loves women and it shows in his art.
Agostino was born in Spain and traveled back and forth to the States, eventually settling here in 1996. Spanish painters are quite different than American artists, and it's clear that Agostino shares many of these traits. The Spanish painter is happy and lives for the experience which is life. He wears bright colored clothing, paints things that are beautiful and stays away from dark subject matter and depressing themes. Agostino always seems to be in a good mood, never depressed, happy to work with other artists by collaborating on a piece or just helping them out. Agostino has adopted the motto, Art, Love, Life. To him art is therapy, and art itself is a way of life.
Agostino is inspired by Salvador Dali, one of Spain's most famous surrealist artists. I like it when an artist admits he is inspired by another artists work and is not afraid to paint in a similar style. Agostino has painted several homages and portraits of Dali.
The ocean is a common theme for Agostino. Aquatic life can be beautiful and also dangerous. Angelfish and lion fish are often displayed in Agostino's paintings. Representing beauty and danger. Paintings of octopus and starfish clinging to peoples faces like they were being kissed and bound by them at the same time. The ocean is Agostino's playground for his thoughts and dreams.
"Wet Dreams" a solo exhibition by Franky Agostino, opens Saturday, August 3rd at Visual Art Supply on Adams ave in Normal Heights. Meet the artist from 6 to 10 pm. The show is on display for 2 weeks.
Aug 3, 2013
6pm – 10pm
3524 Adams Ave. SD 92116
If you have followed abstract art in San Diego you should know about artist Peter Geise. He entered the local art scene in 1981. By 1987 he had received two best of show awards in two different galleries. It was then he realized he wanted to pursue art full time. Geise has shown with artists like Richard Alan Morris and Walter Hasse Wojtyla. The actor, Vincent Price, has purchased several pieces of his earlier work.
Geise's paintings begin by an automatic process of painting. The artist paints, at first, not being concerned what he is doing. Later, Geise employs a process of editing to finalize the piece. Its a "stream of consciousness" style that taps into the subconscious mind. Many artists and writers have experimented with this technique.
Geise's paintings theme on subjects like, the occult, Ufo's, and iconic abstract art. One thing that grabs your attention about Geise's work is the titles. They are usually spelled out in the painting itself. Often done in the last stage of painting after Geise decides the direction of the composition. The use of words, in painting, is a common outsider technique.
I have debated with Geise that he is an outsider artist. The term "Outsider", simply put, is any artist that is self taught. Outsider artists paint what they want, and have no formal instruction.
There are many terms that we throw around in the art community. Low brow, Street art, Pop-Surrealism, to name a few. Many artists don't like these labels, and sometimes are offended when you use them to describe their style. Geise knows all the terms and has no qualms about telling another artist where he or she is getting their influence from. In fact, Geise is very opinionated in what he belives to be fine art. I joke about this with Geise. He didn't go to art school, but he knows an incredible amount about art history, he has numerous subscriptions to art magazines and through his own personal research, I would say that he is one of the most knowledgeable people I know on the subject of modern and abstract art. Geise says he is inspired by artists like Klee, Miro, and Picasso who were popular in the 50's and 60's when Geise was a boy.
Geise's work have a primitive look while others have a more futuristic look. In some of his paintings there are figures which can be seen or body parts that look like male genitalia. Geise calls them "Bio-morphs" a term used by the artist. It makes me belive that some artists, like Geise, are channeled by aliens.
I would think that Geise gets tired of trying to explain the seemingly unexplainable, there have been many times where a fan would rush up to him and say,"I completely get this painting, I know exactly what your saying." Which would be unlikely, since Geise's paintings have a variety of different meanings.
Geise's work has been featured at the La Jolla Athenaeum in over 15 showings, so it's about time he got a solo show of his own. This September his work will be on display at the Rotunda Gallery at The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library from September 22nd to November 3rd. There will be an opening reception on Friday, September 28 from 6:30-8:30pm.
Artist David Russell Talbott is having an exhibition of his art at the Tractor Room this Thursday. I met David several years ago and have been following his art career for a few years now. Inspired by Hollywood, politics, scandal and crime. Talbott has done a series of work that depicts American life.
"Hollywood Pulpcore" is an ongoing series of paintings about actors and actresses, going back to the days when Hollywood began. Talbott's informed me his aunt Gloria was an actress and an inspiration to him. At the age of six she began her film career. She was very active in movies and television. Towards the end of her career she worked in a few b-movies in the horror and sci-fi genres. She was one of the first, "Scream Queens" that was popular in film back in the late fifties. When David would visit her she would tell him stories about the scandal and gossip she witnessed when she was acting. Her experiences resonated with David, leading him to do the "Hollywood Pulpcore" series. Each painting shows an actor or actress and depicts some kind of scandal or rumor about them.
Talbott takes the pulpcore series further by adapting it to modern day social issues. His interpretation takes a modern look at subject matter like teenage pregnancy, alcoholism and racism.
Talbott uses dark imagery masked with the normalcy reminiscent of 1950s American ad campaigns.
"The Seven Deadly Sins"
Talbott's most recent work is a series of paintings portraying the seven deadly sins. Talbott's was inspired when he saw artist Paul Cadmus's work on the same subject. Cadmus painted the sins as a series of demons with human characteristics. Talbott's interpretation of the sins is quite different. Instead of portraying the sins as demons Talbott gives the sins a more human aspect by using examples from American history.
The atomic bomb and scenes of the Vietnam War are apparent in the "Wraith" painting while he jumps to current times in the painting "Greed" which raises questions about events like 9/11 and Indian owned gambling casinos. In the "Sloth" painting it shows a housewife serving a cup of oil to Uncle Sam with two businessmen drinking a shot of "Rip Van Winkle" a comment on our dependency on oil and laziness to make any change.
I asked Talbott about the use of Latin text in the paintings. Talbott replies,"All the sins are titles in Latin because that's how they were first written about by Pope Gregory in 590 AD. Although, visually the paintings conjure up images of the fifties, many of the metaphors I use are taken from Dante's Inferno. Throughout history each sin has also been given a specific color, demon, and form of punishment in hell. These are all used in the paintings as well."
If you would like to see some of Talbott's work, his next showing is called "I'll Cut a Witch" it's a one night only, art show held at The Tractor Room located at 3687 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92103. The reception will be held on Thursday, July 19th, from 6pm to 9pm, one night only.
Alienation - The Arrival
Aliens and UFO's might seem to be strange subject matter for an art show. It's the first collaborative effort between Wonka Gallery and Zepf Alt Gallery. Back in 2007 Wonka Gallery curated a show called "Alienated" it was held in a small gallery in Normal Heights. It featured a small group of local artists who were asked to create a piece of art celebrating the alien life form."Alienation - The Arrival" is a group art show now on display at the Zepf Alt Gallery Downtown. It's a larger space than the first and includes many more artists.
When you curate an art show like this you hear some strange stories. Many people have experienced some kind of unexplainable circumstance involving what they thought were aliens. Unexplainable events, in secluded areas like the desert or the wilderness.I have never heard an abduction story from someone I knew, but most of the stories I heard included hearing sounds or seeing lights. These are sane people, and it's something that you don't go around talking about. I guess they thought I was someone they could confide in.
In movies, aliens have been portrayed in many ways. They are highly evolved creatures, much more advanced than we are, peaceful and curious. They appear to have no gender, they avoid human contact at all costs. Humans are the threat, not them. On the other side, aliens are invaders, monstrous or bug-like in form. They want our planet for themselves. They come to Earth to eradicate us.
Art Lab Studio
Art Lab is an ongoing experiment by artist / businessman Jim Yuran. Art Lab combines artist studio, gallery space, and meeting place for artists, all under one roof. Yuran's first project was a gallery called "Zedism" which opened in 2006. Named after a style of painting Yuran developed,it was a cutting-edge art gallery where he curated many art events. Yuran
also operates a graphic design business called Ego Id Media which is a few doors down from Art Lab. He helps organize Art Around Adams, which is an annual community art show that involves many small businesses in Normal Heights.
Art Lab's mission put simply is to create an environment for creative professionals...A place for artists to work, and more importantly sell their work. Art Lab consists of two artist studios, a music stage and quite a large display area. Yuran has held many events at Art Lab both art and music related. He collaborates with other businesses in the area. Across the street from Art Lab is the Andrea Rushing Academy of Art where you can learn how to paint. A few doors down, Visual Art Supply where you can stock up on art supplies. If you need business cards or printing done Ego Id Media can help you out. The four businesses work together and members of Art Lab receive discounts at these businesses.
I went to the "Pow Pow" show last week at Art Lab. There was art by Pamela Jaeger, bd Dombrowsky, Eric Wixton, and Peter Geise. Four local artists who are very active in the San Diego art scene. I was thinking what do these four artists have in in common? Eric Wixton and Peter Geise both share an abstract, cubistic style with their own added elements. Wixton's paintings have a spiritual, ghostly way about them.
Peter Geise use of collaged material, and letters spelling out the name of the piece shout out at the viewer. Suggesting fear or danger with titles like "Demon" and "Intruder".
Pamela Jaeger and bd Dombrowsky share a surrealist style. Jaeger's work looks dreamlike and thought provoking. The figures look like they were living in the past, based on their clothing and mythological looking creatures nearby.
Dombrowsky leads the viewer to a sense of comical disbelief. In his painting, "Mass Extinction" A dinosaur priest gives the sacrament of Holy Communion to a smaller dinosaur. Showing the viewer that the Catholic church is on the same path to extinction like the dinosaurs of prehistoric times.
One thing that I did realize about all four artists is that they all have had openings at museums and galleries where they were the featured artist. It was nice to see their work and meet them in the Art Lab studios. A relaxed atmosphere, quite different than your average museum. I met all the artists with the exception of Wixton. It was interesting speaking with Peter Geise, hard to understand at times using quirky words that confused me like "homogenized" and "pat". I had to stop him several times to ask what he meant.
Art Lab is located at 3536 Adams Ave in Normal Heights. They are always looking for new artists and patrons to join the collective and always in need of volunteers. The space is also available to rent for private gallery openings contact 619-283-1199 for more information.
Andrea Rushing Academy of Art
If you have been painting for 20 years or have never picked up a brush, you should check out the Andrea Rushing Academy of Fine Art.
Rushing, a painter since the age of 14 and a graduate of the Academy of Art in San Francisco, has been an artist for most his life and his art is collected worldwide. His portraits and commissioned work is usually done in a surrealist style of painting.
Surrealism was a movement started in the 1920's by a group of writers and then artists. They had a belief that rational thinking and values was the reason for the outbreak of World War I. Surrealist works embrace the unnatural, presenting the viewer with something that cannot be possible, or even nonsensical. Surrealist art was made famous by artists like Salvidor Dali and Magritte.
Rushing's paintings usually feature a portrait of an individual in an unique setting. He has painted subjects from Joan of Ark to Yasser Arafat. Much of Rushing's work is commissioned by the investor, who usually has a unique request for their portrait. While I was at his studio, he showed me one of his commissioned paintings. A portrait of a older woman slam dunking a basketball in the nude.
During my visit Rushing talked more about his students work than his own. I could tell right away he was a dedicated instructor. He took pride in showing me their progress. You could see his influence in some of the more advanced students work.
You don't have to go to art school to become an artist, but some direction can be helpful. By having a professional artist give you some tips can make a world of difference. It doesn't matter what skill level you are at, Rushing holds small classes and works with each student on an individual basis. Rushing also offers a class for children artists where he supplies all the art materials needed. If your interested in signing up you can contact Andrea Rushing at (619) 501-2068. or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Studio is located at 3535 Adams Avenue in North Park.
What do you do when your afraid of something? Do you avoid it or confront it? It's always better to face your fears. Artist Daphne Hill is doing that through her artwork.
I met Daphne Hill several years ago, I first saw one of her paintings of a cherry with some abstract figures that looked like a chromosomes in the background. When I asked her about it she said, "Yes they are chromosomes, but there is one more than there should be."
If you studied science you know that an extra chromosome usually results in some type of abnormality or syndrome. It's dark subject matter for art, and it's one that Daphne Hill embraces.
The daughter of a doctor and a biologist, disease is a source of inspiration for Hill. She was exposed to science and medicine at an early age and it has manifested itself in her art. Most of Hill's paintings include someones name and the disease that ails them.
Hill's earlier work depicts chromosome abnormalities, she compares them to simple mutations found in fruit. Having a sister diagnosed with Down syndrome, Hill was worried about having children of her own. She faced her fear by painting some of the horrible things that can happen to a fetus during pregnancy.
Hill's latest work focuses on sexual diseases, mold and avian flu. Hill's silhouettes, bring you back to a different era, portraying couples in a romantic setting, surrounded by the disease. It gives the viewer the idea that the people in the portrait are unaware of what is wrong with them. The use of 1950s erotic imagery gives her work an interesting twist. At first you see an attractive pin up model, but then you notice the disease surrounding the figure. It makes you think twice about what the artist is saying.
Is there a connection between the disease and exploitation of women? Is the artist making a political statement? During World War II women took on the roles of men and after it was over they were encouraged to go back to being homemakers. Throughout the 1950's the United States government conducted experiments using Syphilis as a means of biological warfare.
Hill teaches drawing at Grossmont College and painting at the New School of Architecture and Design. She co-owns Naughty Blonde Redux, a clothing company selling one-of-a-kind jewelry and clothing apparel made from vintage publications and retro imagery. She is also the mother of two children.
Her work is on display at the Andi Campognone Projects Gallery in Pomona. The show is called "Venereal Narratives and Other Catchy Tales". There is a closing reception Saturday, February 11 from 6-9pm the show runs until February 25, 2012.
Shadows and Invisible Art
Art shows can be a strange event, attended by unusual people and intellectuals. I have attended many shows and curated my own as well. I like cutting edge art and have shown art that sometimes confuses the general public. I have been asked the question, "Has an artist ever submitted a blank canvas and called it art?" Well the answer is no, I have a hard time with conceptual art. Its hard enough to sell original art it's even more difficult to sell an idea. Recently, I was at a show at the Zepf Alt gallery downtown where one of the artists sold a shadow. It wasn't the artists own shadow, it was the shadow of a sculpture he made.
The artist, Bret Barrett, a sculptor and painter had made a piece, called "What the Nug?". A spiny, alien creature with a fork and knife for arms, a mouth that opened and closed and two legs from a rubber chicken. The piece was mounted on the wall and motorized, the arms and legs moved as well as the mouth, which looked like it was trying to bite you.
A viewer was asking about the piece and was showing interest so He was introduced to the artist. Their conversation went something like this.
The man says,"I like your piece and I am interested in buying it's shadow." Barrett is taken back by the unusual request and replies,"If you want to buy the sculpture, I would be happy to include a light so you can produce the same shadow at your home." The man replies,"No, I don't want to buy the sculpture."
The night before, while setting up the lights, another artist, bd Dombrowsky had commented on how he liked the shadow that the sculpture was casting on the wall. Barrett's work is out of this world on its' own, the shadows that they create can be even stranger.
I wasn't there for the entire conversation so my quotes are not word for word. I don't know much about the buyer either. I met him and spoke to him briefly. He was a very intense older man, almost a dead ringer for the actor, Kris Kristoferson. Long grey hair, artist type. He was dressed head to toe in "post apocalyptic" leather gear,looking much like Mad Max from the movie "The Road Warrior".
_ The man approaches him again, "I really am serious, I want to buy that shadow." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet."I will pay you half of the purchase price and you can keep the sculpture." Barrett responds,"Well, I could film the moving shadow and make a DVD for you." The man seems to be happy with that and gives him a deposit.
_ The show ends and the artist has the task of capturing the shadow and delivering it to the buyer later. A few days pass. I am not really thinking about the event. I get a phone call from another artist, Dan Allen who was also at the show. He is one of the most spiritual artists I know. Normally a soft spoken person, on the phone he is giddy with excitement about the sale. He tells me that this is a first in art history. Apparently, the other artists who have studios at the Zepf Alt Gallery have been talking about the sale of the shadow, I start to hear an entire art history lesson from Dan, about shadow puppetry and shadow artists, but no record anywhere of a shadow being sold separate of what created it. He makes a comparison of the shadow sale to an artist who sold an "invisible" painting.
The Artist Yves Klein was popular in the 1950s and 60s. Klein was painting monochromatic paintings, canvases painted one solid color.He eventually started focusing only on the color blue and developed and patented his own shade of blue called "International Klien blue".
Klien held an exhibition at the Iris Clert Gallery in April 1958 where the whole gallery was empty except for a large cabinet that was painted white and contained "nothing". The artist claimed that his paintings were now invisible. He sent out over 3,000 invitations that were marked with his own blue stamp. He bribed the post office to mail them. He had also bribed the French republican guard, or police to guard the front entrance of the gallery the night of the show. The window was painted blue along with a blue curtain that hung in the entrance way to the gallery. Thousands of people showed up. If you didn't have an invitation with the blue stamp, you could pay 1,500 francs to get in. Inside the gallery, patrons were served tinted blue cocktails. They made their way into the empty gallery. To see the invisible painting housed in the "empty" cabinet.
The French press called it a scam, but the art world loved what Klein had done. He truly was part showman part artist. Over his lifetime Klein sold 8 of these invisible paintings or as he called them "Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility". The first one was bought in 1959 by Peppino Palazzoli. The artist sold the painting for 20 grams of gold. He gave the buyer a receipt and encouraged them to go through an artistic spiritual ritual which involved him throwing half the gold into the river and the buyer burning the receipt after the sale.The event would be photographed and witnessed by a gallerist and two other people. The buyer also had the option of giving Klein all the gold and keeping the receipt, but wouldn't receive the "authentic immaterial value" of the art.
The whole time Dan is telling me this story and I am asking questions like," did they pretend to carry the painting from one room to another? Did the buyer claim it was hanging on a blank wall?" He further explains to me that the painting is not invisible but as Klein called it a, "zone of immateriality". Mr. Allen understands Klein's' concept of showing empty space. There was no pretending, just an absence of anything there.
Oh those crazy Frenchmen... selling invisible zones and throwing gold in a river. Its known in art history as one of the first examples of conceptual art. The concept being immaterialism.
It makes you wonder what the buyer gets out of the whole experience of purchasing an invisible piece of art. The event of selling the zone is photographed and witnessed. The buyer becomes part of the artistic process. I don't think Klein thought that his zones would sell, the first zone sold a year after the show. Klein had had a falling out with the gallery owner and stopped showing his work there. Klein doesn't ask for money, but instead comes up with the ritual, which is much more different than the original concept. The first sale is significant because it makes Klein take the artistic process a step further by developing the ritual. Selling seven more zones after the first makes me laugh at the foolishness and the elitism of the French art world at the time. Kudos to Klein for selling eight works of art that he created solely with his imagination and showmanship.
A quote by Klein...
"Believe me, one is not robbed when one buys such paintings; it is I who am always robbed because I accept money." Yves Klein
In the end, the artist collective offers us more than paintings or works of art. They share with us the ability to catch things that you and I overlook. Their gift of vision. Granting us their perspective on life and their surroundings.
If you are interested in seeing more of Bret Barrett's shadows and the sculptures that cast them, his work is on display at The Alexander Salazar Gallery located at 640 Broadway, Downtown.
When you say the words "art theft" it makes me think of Pierce Brosnan in "The Thomas Crown Affair". In this movie a suave, criminal, playboy sneaks into a museum and steals a Monet. He does it merely to amuse himself and see if he can get away with it. In most cases art theft isn't like this, in fact people who steal art today might not even be aware they are doing so.
In the age of hi tech phones and gadgets,it seems like everyone has some type of device to capture images digitally right there in your pocket. Most cell phones can take photos or even short videos, and the quality is improving. If I had a nickel for every time I saw someone snap a photo of a piece of art hanging on the wall I would be a rich man.
At first its a complement to the artist. A viewer likes your work enough to take a picture. What will he do with it? Use it as a screensaver? Show it to a friend ? Make a copy? They might think that they are looking at the art for too long. Have you heard the expression, "Why don't you take a picture it will last longer."
It doesn't stop there. If you have a website and pictures of your work online, that can be copied very easily.
In a recent television commercial for Channel 10's A-list, they went a little farther than just taking a photo. They went into one of my art venues to shoot their commercial spot for the "Channel 10 A-list awards". The video cameras were set up using the art on the walls as a backdrop. they even went as far as taking down an artist's work and replacing it with there Channel 10 A-list certificate.
The commercial shows a wall with artwork by artist Bret Barrett. On the left,"Bombshell" A abstract portrait of Marilyn Monroe with some Vietnam war references. On the right, "The Robots Were Fun Until they Used us for Spare Parts" A painting of a toy robot with a human eye and mouth. The center picture of another robot "A Walk In The Park", was taken down by the camera man and replaced with the A-list logo. This commercial was shown several times a day for months and no credit was given to the artist. The commercial is not available to watch online, or at least I cant find it. A friend of mine was able to capture a brief segment of the commercial with his, you guessed it, cell phone.
What can you do? As a struggling artist there isn't much you can do, but to copyright your work with the Library of Congress, but that can get expensive. Then the artist could sue and maybe win a settlement. Most artists don't have the stomach for it, or the financial backing. The best thing to do is be positive and try to be flattered that your work was chosen for a T.V. Commercial, which can be the best type of flattery for anyone. Television commercials are made to get your attention. If something you see in a commercial gains your interest even only for a few seconds, then the producers have done their job well. The fact that they are using Barrett's art to get peoples attention is great, even if it was to provide some nice background for their station logo. It's irresponsible for them as an organization not to credit the artist for his work.
The next time you are at an art show think twice before taking a photo. You might want to ask permission, most artists will be happy you asked. Be prepared to tell them what your going to do with that photo as well.
If you are familiar with the Normal Heights area you probably have been to Lestat's Coffee Shop. Besides serving great coffee and being open 24 hours a day, they have a music stage with live entertainment nightly. It's a unique place, with a comfortable atmosphere. Old Victorian furniture reupholstered in bright colors. Statues and columns inside and out. The clientele is very diverse, depending on what time of the day or night you go there you can see many different types of people.
Art by David Russell Talbott
I have been displaying art there by local artists for the past few years. It's a great opportunity for the artists and I, because we can reach such a wide audience.
One thing that sets Lestat's apart from the rest, Is that when the owners first approached me to start hanging art in his space, I told him that I wanted to show underground, or outsider art, not the mainstream type of art you see day to day. I have shown some controversial work in the past and even had complaints about what was being shown.The management has always stood behind me and supported the artists' work. It's a rare occurrence when I had to take art down because of the subject matter. There have been times when people took it upon themselves to take down art because it offended them. One customer would repeatedly come in and take down a piece of art and place it against the wall backwards, so he didn't have to look at it.He was offended by the homosexual theme of the artwork. One of the owners finally caught him in the act and told him not to do it anymore. I was prepared to take the art down but the management stood behind me, saying that more people liked the art than disliked it.
Lestat's now has two locations, the original Lestat's is located at 3343 Adams Avenue in Normal Heights. They have a stage next door to the coffee shop that hosts music and comedy events. The new location is at 4496 Park Boulevard in University Heights. This Saturday we will be having a show opening there called, "The World Through the Lens" A collection of photography by six local artists. Photographers capturing life and beauty through the camera eye. Work ranging from nature, culture, architecture, and daily life. Photos by Gibran Barrack, Josh Bulriss, Julie Grace, Thomas Kelly, Lee Sie and Chris Swabb.
The show opening is Saturday, September 24th, from 6-9pm at Lestat's on Park. 4496 Park Boulevard in University Heights 92116. The art will be on display until November 1st.
Wonka Gallery Founder