Santa Monica and Venice have always been integral to the influential Los Angeles art scene, which I am thrilled to say is decidedly on the rise. Often dismissed for some supposed lack of culture, we are finally being recognized as a respected center for the arts. Over the past few years, numerous European museums have been celebrating our contributions to the evolution of art, including a well curated exhibition at the famed Pompidou in Paris. Our museums and galleries are growing in number and prestige, and even New Yorkers have come to terms with this; transplants now head up at least two major museums here. And graduates of the numerous art schools around town, who historically would gravitate to the East Coast, now choose to stay in Los Angeles. That means that the quality and quantity of working artists here is unprecedented and growing exponentially each year. Painters, performance artists, architects, graphic designers, fashion designers, stylists, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, writers, musicians...you name it and we're all working and living in LA. It has become an incredible place for collaboration even (and perhaps especially) in the midst of our challenged economy. For all of these reasons, the days of mocking Los Angeles are over.
Bergamot Station is one of the reasons that our reputation is on the rise. A collection of art studios and galleries, it was named both for the wildflower that flourished in the area and the site's original 1875 Los Angeles & Independence Railroad station that used to take passengers downtown. The trains were replaced by trolleys until the 1950s and then replaced by nothing at all, which unfortunately made the buildings fall into disrepair. But Santa Monica, always wonderful at preserving history and giving it a new future--such as the Annenberg Community Beach House--transitioned the property into the one that makes up today's Bergamot Station.
On Saturday night, my friend, painter Casper Brindle, celebrated opening night with a talented group of artists at Bergamot's William Turner Gallery. The show's title says it all-- The Gleam in the Young Bastard's Eye: Finish Fetish & the Continuing Fascination with Sensuality of Surface in Contemporary Art. "Finish Fetish" was a label that East Coast critics gave to LA Minimalism in the 1960s due to the often polished and colorful work that seemed inspired by the surface of SoCal hot rods and surfboards. In fact, the movement is much more and often overlaps the "Light & Space" movement as well. Minimalism should never be underestimated; a seemingly simple shape or collection of colors does not mean a limited or lesser experience. Quite the contrary...I often find it's in these works of art that I am drawn in deeper and experience much more. Saturday's gallery was filled with paintings and sculpture that shared a spectacular range of colors and finishes that were so tactile, it was difficult to not reach out and touch them all.
The opening night was actually part of one big cocktail party across Bergamot Station, so I was able to take in other galleries and artists as well. You can get a good sense of it here, but I definitely encourage you to experience it in person for yourself. Don't miss it.
ABOVE: Splash by Greg Miller (William Turner Gallery)
One gallery's reference to Bergamot Station's history with the railroad (above)
and a current map of the site
A gorgeous day to check out the galleries
WILLIAM TURNER GALLERY
Crowds included the artists themselves, such as Eric Johnson and Lisa Bartleson
My own LA Minimalism: 1980s black wool longsleeve shift, 1960s tomato red leather satchel,
Steve Madden faux leopard peeptoe pumps, vintage pearl drop earrings, pearl choker necklace
Falling Waters by Roland Reiss (above)
The sun, sea, and sand inspired work of friend (and surfer) Casper Brindle--
Yellow Stratum (above) and Blue Stratum
Special sneak peek of one of my favorite works from Casper
Socorro by Andy Moses
Love the polyester resin sculptures of Eric Johnson
Johnson's Piacere (above) and
Blue & Red by Fred Eversley
Binker by Alex Couwenberg
Videotape Ecstasy by Michel Tabori (above) and
Lisa Bartleson's Sphere XXII
JAMES GRAY GALLERY
In front of a work in the group show that's one thing from a distance...
...and another thing (carefully cut comic books) up close
Photographs from the early 1960s work well with the work of Myron Stephens (below)
More painting and sculpture from the group show
LATIN AMERICAN MASTERS GALLERY
The work of Milton Becerra plays with color, texture, and space
THE TAG GALLERY
The detailed and colorful work of Carol Kleinman
Portrait of Carol with one of my favorites of her work (above)
and a detail of her jewelry from France
Reflections of lily pads in a Hawaiian pond (above)
and a Japanese textile
ROBERT BERMAN GALLERY
Fashion-inspired work from Robert Heinecken (above)
Clever Pantone-inspired 'landscapes' and floral 'still lifes' by Victor Landweber (above)
and his Pink Masterpiece
Exiting Bergamot Station, named long ago for the wild flower in the area