Los Angeles Times Sculptors and painters pair up

Christopher Knight

Pairings” is an exhibition that teams six painters with six sculptors whose work is deemed somehow harmonious, like dinner entrees matched with compatible wines. The match might be conceptual or formal, although the link isn’t always clear.

At Denk Gallery, the three most compelling pairings tend to be formal.

Jenn Berger represents a gangly giraffe by starting on the floor with a drawing on paper of spotted limbs, moving up to a fully sculptural body made of fur stretched over chicken wire, segueing into a tall two-sided rendering on canvas of a very long neck and topping it all off — up near the ceiling — with a beguiling video portrait of the animal’s head, idly munching on leaves. Hanging nearby, colorful non-figurative canvases by Martin Durazo slip and slide among gestural, geometric, spattered, stenciled and stained applications of paint, each orchestrated into a seamless yet energetic whole.

More simply, organic shapes float through pictorial space in chromatically vivid paintings by HK Zamani, while Lana Duong lifts organic forms from the floor and suspends them from the rafters in actual space, in a two-part ceramic work and a hanging vinyl sculpture. Tribal symbols of an apparently fictional civilization crown chunky stoneware vessels by Kiel Johnson, and a culturally ambiguous, mythological red beast slithers through a swirling cascade of blue birds in a monumental diptych painted by Andrew Schoultz.

These pairings do succeed in nudging closer study to speculate on why they have been put together. Ultimately, though, assuming a viewer doesn’t already examine art is problematic. The process mostly feels like a parlor game that’s only occasionally amusing.

Also on view are painter-sculptor pairings by Carlos Beltran Arechiga and David Hendren; Mira Schnedler and Andre Woodward; as well as Chris Trueman and Michael O’Malley.

Los Angeles Times By Robert Abele

The Oscar-nominated shorts may have smaller running times, but the themes tackled are often big.

Of the live-action films, three explicitly dramatize real-life terror threats. Kevin Wilson Jr.'s dread-filled "My Nephew Emmett" — already a student Academy Award winner — follows the night in 1955 that Moses Wright (a heartbreaking L.B. Williams) lived through the abduction of his 14-year-old nephew Emmett Till by crazed racists. A continent away, Katja Benrath's "Watu Wote/All of Us" depicts Kenya's simmering distrust between Muslims and Christians as a bridgeable divide when the danger — in this case, a bus attack by terrorists — is existential.

Reed Van Dyk's naturalistic standout "DeKalb Elementary," meanwhile, painstakingly unfolds via tight framing and real-time editing an exchange between a single mother/temp secretary (Tarra Riggs, magnificent) and an armed, discontent interloper (Bo Mitchell). Inspired by a 911 call about an Atlanta school shooting, it's an unspooling marvel about the gift of empathy.

Communication is also central to the bittersweet emotions behind Chris Overton's effortlessly heart-tugging "The Silent Child," about a neglected deaf 5-year-old in a hearing, nonsigning family, and the uphill battle for a social worker (deaf advocate Rachel Shenton, who also wrote it) in drawing her out. Talking is no cure, however, for the dueling psychiatrists — one who's actually a delusional patient — in this batch's only comedy, Derin Seale's Pythonesque confection "The Eleven O'Clock."

Humor with sentiment usually rules the animated category, but this year, that's only exemplified by Pixar's "Lou," directed by Dave Mullins, which inventively imagines a schoolyard-bully problem solved by a crate full of lost and found items. A nastier wit pervades two others: the Roald Dahl adaptation "Revolting Rhymes," from filmmakers Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer, which turns the happy-ending plight of classic fairy tale characters (voiced by notable British actors from Dominic West to Rose Leslie) into an interlocking farce of crime and vengeance; and the ravishingly CG-textured, wordless, six-director French entry "Garden Party," whereby a wrecked, bullet-riddled mansion hosts a gathering of curious amphibians.

More delicately touching is the stop-motion "Negative Space" from Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata, which finds fanciful grace in a grieving man's memories about his father's relationship to, and lessons in, suitcase-packing. On the heavy-handed end lies the Kobe Bryant-written and narrated "Dear Basketball," directed by Glen Keane, a predictably soaring, sketch-animated reverie to boyhood dreams and career glory — scored by John Williams, no less — that thinks it's a slam dunk when it's a missed three-pointer.

Mindy Alper in the documentary short "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405."
Mindy Alper in the documentary short "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405." (ShortsTV)

The strong documentary nominees suggest that the world's cruelties have tough adversaries in kindness, caring and dedication. In Cleveland, ex-cons can learn French cooking and restaurant management through a training-to-work program depicted in Thomas Lennon's "Knife Skills," set at a French fine-dining establishment staffed by the newly released.

In the grim-yet-stirring "Heroin(e)," filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon tackles the opioid epidemic in her overdose-devastated home state of West Virginia by chronicling the tireless frontline efforts of three tough, sympathetic women: a deputy fire chief who races from emergency to emergency, a firm-but-friendly drug court judge and a charity-driven lady who brings food to addicted prostitutes.

Illness and infirmity color two emotional tales. In "Edith+Eddie," director Laura Checkoway introduces us to interracial nonagenarians in love, whose late-in-life companionship is threatened by an impatient daughter and a callously applied guardianship. Frank Stiefel's "Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405" offers an intensely moving portrait of 56-year-old Angeleno artist Mindy Alper, whose life is an ongoing struggle to balance depression and often debilitating mental disorder — including a decade without speaking — with a richly expressive talent (for drawing and sculpture) that thrillingly connects her soul to the world.

And ultimately, these docs ask, what is it that defines us? Things beyond our control, our pasts, or what we make of them? Kate Davis' "Traffic Stop" toggles between dashcam footage of an upstanding 26-year-old Austin, Texas, schoolteacher's terrifying experience with out-of-control racist cops, and her life since as she tries to not let the experience derail her from hard-won, everyday achievement and joy. "Traffic Stop" is a slice-of-life corrective to unwarranted internet notoriety, and like the best of these shorts, a compassionate inquiry into others, the movie equivalent of a concerned "How are you? Tell me what happened."


‘2018 Oscar Nominated Short Films’

Not rated

Running times: Live action program, 1 hour, 36 minutes; animated program: 54 minutes; documentary program: 3 hours, 2 minutes

Playing: In limited release

Painters' Table Jason Ramos07/2016

The Eyes Have It

Jason Ramos reviews the recent exhibition John Mills: For Your Eyes Only at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Los Angeles.

Ramos writes: 

"For Your Eyes Only, John Mills’s newest solo exhibition at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, is not about the 12th James Bond film from 1981 starring Roger Moore as 007. But the title is a clue as to what parts of the viewers’ body should be prioritized when experiencing this current body of work. Mills’s second solo with the gallery has him continuing with the square format, the white-ish grounds, the modest-to-heroic scale, and a visual language inspired by early European abstraction. A surface critique might argue for some more bolder, declarative evolutionary changes from one exhibition to the next, but as pointed out in the title, these works aren’t for a viewer’s cynical, novelty-seeking lizard brain. These works are for your eyes, only, the eyes being the only part of our brain that is in actual physical contact with the world outside of our own heads.

Having staked his claim with his format, ground, scale and referents, Mills’s new work is free to juggle the possibilities and delights offered with painting’s phenomenological effects. Space is stacked, folded, stretched and warped; marks, dabs, and scribbles flow, writhe and repeat themselves as if moving through time. Elements in each composition obey a felt sense of optical logic, the edge of the canvases being the most influential formal element. In the larger works Ellipsis, Sign Language, and Formal Foilbles, dabs/blobs/circles/dots bounce off the frame like Pong, tracing their paths into another spatial dimension, never bouncing out of the frame. Underneath and around them in the background and on their level, more familiar Mills-esque elements follow the blobs’ lead. More than even his last exhibition, Mills’s work reads like transcriptions of consciousness, reactions to emerging visual structures in each painting, a result of their being based on smaller drawings. Flashes of identifiable imagery are now joined in equal measure with more direct visual sensations; in Birdcage, Off the Wall, and Mental Charms the picture plane is carved and contoured on top of distant, hazy, clouds of fluffy background. While the emergent imagery in his last solo, High on Signs, frequently took the shape of suggested faces, heads, leaves and feathers, here scribbled into the grounds are goofy cartoon character bits and pieces, comically floating around, as in the paintings Commune and the aforementioned Off the Wall, recalling somewhat the line and character of Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson.

Suggestive associations abound in all the paintings, perhaps the most visually poetic being Out There, a smaller work from 2015. Simple diamond shapes read like kites in the wind, completing a recurring motif of motion through time and space. This work along with the paintings titled Master Stack and Nature Crush inch up to referencing landscape imagery, yet another possibility offered by the broad range of the abstract square format, the ultimate modernist invention. Mills’s squares this time, however, rely less on their identification as revivals of modernist aesthetic than as accessible, sensitive meditations on the affecting presence of marks, dabs, lines, scribbles, doodles, smudges, shapes and other basic visual responses. They are in a closer arena of work that would include such masters of affecting simplicity as Richard Tuttle, Mary Heilman, and Robert Ryman, though with an eye towards the basic components of intuitive pictorial imagery that is reminiscent of the recent work of Laura Owens, David Lloyd, Chris Martin, and Torey Thornton."

Los Angeles Times The power of the doodle: John Mills' art opens a door and lets your imagination walk through


David Pagel

If doodles could hallucinate, they’d probably see images similar to those that flit into focus across the sensuous surfaces of John Mills’ new paintings.

At Rosamund Felsen Gallery, “For Your Eyes Only” consists of 15 small, medium and large canvases that the L.A. artist has dabbed with brushes and scratched with both ends of pencils, sometimes leaving graphite marks and at others incising lines into layers of paint that have not yet dried.

Each of Mills’ daydreamy paintings transforms the casual scribbles and meandering marks of doodles into a pleasurable romp that wends every which way and often ends with an explosive realization of the freedom to be had — and the wonders to be discovered — when you don’t where you’re going.

Aimlessness rarely looked better. Nor delivered more consequential results.


ArtScene Recommendation by Jody Zellen

By Jody Zellen

Huge gestural paintings of tractors fill the gallery walls with energy and passion in Karen Carson's latest show. The subjects, mundane machinery usually driven by men, are transformed into brilliant meditations on landscape and culture. Although Los Angeles based, Carson spends ample time in Montana and it is there where she not only takes in the vast landscape but also encounters tractors. To Carson's eye, a tractor is not merely a tractor. It's an imposing vehicle, an economic and cultural reality and something that must be looked up to, the more so when it is painted in basic primary colors.


ARTILLERY Review: Steven HullFebruary 24, 2016

by Kristen Osborne-Bartucca

Like a modern-day Ishmael, Steven Hull spent the last few years sailing and seeing the watery part of the world. Hull’s enthusiasm for his new hobby unmistakably influenced his current exhibition of painting, sculpture and sound installation at Rosamund Felsen. The nautical and the carnivalesque, two fitting bedfellows in their evocative and lonely surrealism, dialogue with each other in Hull’s work; he contrasts the sense of adventure and whimsy commonly associated with both milieus with the melancholy and anonymity that are perhaps even more pervasive.


L.A. TIMES Artist Steven Hull takes a seat at the dark carnival of lifeFebruary 2, 2016

by Christopher Knight

New paintings, sculptures and a group of compelling drawings by Steven Hull are eccentric evocations of the risks, rewards and penalties of going out beyond one’s usual limits.

For his 11th solo show at Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Hull goes out to sea. Anchored by sculptures of a sailboat and battleships loosely reminiscent of Chris Burden’s work, the show also features paintings and drawings on carnival themes. They recall early Modernist images of life as a tragicomic circus of love and loss, stylish dignity struggling with inelegant humiliation.


L.A. TIMES Power, feminism and giant, knitted balaclavas: artist Maureen Selwood's Pussy Riot tributeNovember 13, 2016

by Carolina A. Miranda

Los Angeles artist and animator Maureen Selwood watched with the rest of the world as the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot became famous for the unauthorized concerts it staged in locations all around Moscow, from a prison garage to Red Square.

After the activist musicians took to the altar of Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior in early 2012 for an impromptu punk jam — with the refrain "Mother of God, drive Putin away!" — some of the band members were convicted of hooliganism and served time in prison. But the video of the young women, decked out in bright dresses, colored tights and a rainbow's worth of balaclavas, prancing maniacally before the Cathedral's gold-leaf altarpiece, turned the band members into global activist-celebrities practically overnight.


PATTERN PULP Tuesday's Gallery Picks (Maureen Selwood)October 27, 2015

Inspired by the medieval trial of Joan of Arc, the treason of anti-Nazi activist Sophie Scholl, and the contemporary punk prayer of Pussy Riot, Maureen Selwood’s Sounding the Note of A grapples with the uncompromising feminine. Selwood extols the power of sensuality and thought to transcend violence at Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

KCRW Hunter Drohojowska-PhilpAugust 6, 2015

The Medium is the Message

At Rosamund Felsen Gallery adjacent to CB1, dyed and hand-sewn felt pieces by Nancy Jackson incorporate her usual detailed drawings but rendered as small lenticular discs. One represents images of women, with eyes that open and close, embedded in a design that references cosmology. Others are abstract symbology. It is a wonderful show by an eccentric but always interesting artist. Also on view are the unexpected pleasures of paintings by veteran Les Billar. On view through August 8.



NewsOK OSU exhibit conjures question: 'Are these tractors sexy?'

By John Bradenburg


STILLWATER — They’re aren’t many subtleties, and that’s a good thing, about the large, loosely gestural acrylic paintings of farm machines in Karen Carson’s “Movers and Shapers: Combines, Tractors and Swathers” exhibit at the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art.

The 13 mural-sized works, which Carson jokingly calls “my big boyfriends,” are in several rooms of the Postal Plaza Gallery at the museum.

The Los Angeles artist presents these gargantuan machines “from a female point of view as humorous portraits of masculine vanity,” a gallery spokesman said.



ARTILIKELA Rosamund Felsen Delivers with Kim MacConnel


Moto Okawa


Traveling east from Santa Monica to Downtown Los Angeles, Rosamund Felsen’s new space in the industrial and truck noise-filled Santa Fe neighborhood is beautifully airy. Its much anticipated debut is marked by the bright and bold, decorative abstracted patterns created by the West Coast veteran painter Kim MacConnel. The inaugural moment is an opportunity for the legendary gallerist to once again make her statement and stake her claim in the hip and hopping scene. And she delivers.





KCRW Pattern & Decoration Revisited


Hunter Drohojowska-Philp


Rosamund Felsen, who first opened a gallery in 1978, has left her Bergamot Station outpost for the industrial arts zone downtown. It is next door to the new location of CB1, the collector-turned-dealer space of Clyde Beswick, and very near the new location of Cirrus, the gallery of print publisher Jean Milant, who first opened downtown in 1970. An enormous rent increase forced him to move from his 6th and Alameda location with just 30-days notice but he is now in a hub of activity with Night Gallery, Francois Ghebaly Gallery and The Mistake Room within walking distance. A new gallery for the artists collaborative Durden and Ray is across the street. So old-timers join newcomers to add depth and history to the neighborhood. 



Visual Art Source Kim MacConnel


Betty Ann Brown


To walk into an exhibition of Kim MacConnel's "Avenida Revolucion" paintings is to find yourself in the middle of a parade down the streets of a Mexican town. Flags flutter, costumes sparkle, music soars, and the world becomes a tsumani of color and motion. The riotous patterns of MacConnel's paintings swirl around in dizzying profusion, animating the walls with brilliant intensity. Orange circles bubble up through blue chevrons; red ribbons undulate through green fields; serpentine lines of white dance across yellow and turquoise. MacConnel uses all of our favorite choices from the crayon box with a playful exuberance that is at once childlike and entirely sophisticated. His deployment of geometry is also knowing: irregular triangles are sprinkled with dots, then scattered across a white field in a practiced dance of form that establishes a graceful equilibrium, rather than a mindless jumble.



L.A. Times Why Rosamund Felsen left Santa Monica for downtown's industrial arts district


Carolina A. Miranda


There are a lot of reasons that longtime L.A. gallerist Rosamund Felsen is in love with her new exhibition space in downtown Los Angeles.

There is the light, a soft, filtered glow that pours down from the skylights onto a series of bright abstractions by Encinitas-based Kim MacConnel. There is the continuous rumble of the busy industrial street outside, with its mechanical parade of graffiti-bombed trucks and seafood delivery vans.



art ltd. Tim Ebner at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

Jody Zellen

Tim Ebner’s hand-sewn sculptures of schooling fish at Rosamund Felsen Gallery are a delightful feast for the eyes that elicit smiles from all audiences. They also celebrate Ebner’s skills as a craftsman and his ability to excel at whatever medium he uses to create his works. His evolution from hard-edged geometric sculptures to childlike paintings of animals to these playful soft sculptures is the trajectory of a courageous artist who follows his instincts and is unwilling to be pigeonholed. Ebner was a surfer, but is now a fisherman, whose materials and subject matter have shifted to follow his relationship to the sea. The relationship between the surfer or fisherman who travels atop the water looking down or into the sea and the fish that populate that environment informs his process. His early works evoked the surface and materials of surfboards whereas his current work articulates his love and fascination with sea creatures.


Fabrik Fresh Faces In Art

Kio Griffith

In the meditative balance of figuration and abstraction, John Mills engages mark making with new visual playing fields, an agile order of painted space and the ground it roots itself in. Colorful forms and gestural linework bleed into one another creating compositions of meandering romantic terminuses defying gravity over muted white ground, void but determined.


Art Scene Review

Michael Shaw


John Mill's abstractions are light on density; there's typically more white or off-white backgrounf space than foreground imagery. But what initially may come off as faint and/or ineffectual quickly becomes experientially complex.


Los Angeles Times John Mills Seems Positively Giddy

David Pagel

New abstractions by John Mills deliver giddy, mischievous fun

Bare-bones efficiency and wondrous luxury mate in John Mills’ new paintings, which are some of the most casual mischief to have come out of Los Angeles in some time. At Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Santa Monica, “High on Signs” fills three rooms and a hallway with 20 paintings that are easy to approach and hard to tear yourself away from.  



L.A. Times Fishy installation induces smiles

By David Pagel

Sillyness and sophistication often seem to be incompatible - the former all about unself-conscious fun and latter focused on serious refinement.

At Rosamund Felsen Gallery, the two fuse beautifully in Tim Ebner's smile-inducing installation of more than 100 fish sculptures the artist has made from elaborately patterned fabrics, sofa stuffing, ceramic eyeballs and welded chunks of rusted metal.



The Huffington Post Tim Ebner at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

By Peter Clothier

Rosamund Felsen Gallery has a current exhibition of Tim Ebner’s work. What a treat! For readers in the Los Angeles area, this is one absolutely not to be missed. It’s sheer delight. Click on that Rosamund Felsen link and you’ll immediately see what I mean: there’s an image of Tim Ebner (he looks like he’s having wicked fun!) and the recent work he’s showing at the gallery, where all three spaces are chock-a-block with... fish!

It’s like being under water in some vast, exotic aquarium, with fish of all shapes, sizes and colors swimming all around you.

Ebner’s fish are stitched together out of a mass of colorful patterned materials. The eyes of the larger ones are glossy, hand-made ceramics, and the smaller ones, beady glass. All seem to be staring at the odd-person-out in this magical environment—yourself. Each has its own distinct facial expression and its body language, fierce...


ArtScene Tim Ebner at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

By Marlena Donohue

(Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monice) A Studio preview of Tim Ebner's newest work offered the luxury and joyw of seeing the current show in the context of the artist's entire, diverse career arc. Ebner's new installation features "school" of 4-to5-foot fabric fish "floating" at about eye level in sprialing metal armatures (Sculptures in their own right), plus clusters of smaller fish suspended atop thin metal rods tall enough to hover overhead.


ARTICULATED ARTISTS John Mills talked to Alli Sharma at Weekend Gallery in Los Angeles


AS: When I look at your paintings I imagine some of the marks are made from felt tip pens, is that something you use in your drawings?

JM: Most of my paintings are based on prior ink drawings. For a long time I used black ink on paper, then I discovered coloured markers and that opened up the process because then I could start drawing with colour as a means to create composition and think about how shapes and colours interact on the initial drawing surface. It was a revelation, but I have been doing this now for a long time. So the painted marks reference prior marks that I made in a drawing process. Sometimes they’re mediated to appear almost precisely how they were originally in the drawing and sometimes I allow the paint to be thicker or barely there at all. I diverge from that script often by using the tactility of the paint, how paint behaves differently to ink.


Los Angeles Daily News Joshua SiskinJanuary 30, 2014

Gardening with Australian and South African plants create a textured layer of artistic looks
I was recently privileged to visit the garden of Lavi Daniel in Cheviot Hills. Daniel has aesthetically assembled an astonishing collection of Australian and South African native plants.

A studio artist accustomed to applying paint to canvas, Daniel has creatively combined trees, shrubs and ground covers to create a memorable floral and foliar quilt that wraps around his house. Having examined some of his current artistic renderings, it would appear that there is a symbiotic relationship — or perhaps I should say cross-pollination — between his horticultural design and graphic art. At least one of his paintings conjures up the image of a kaleidoscopic, if not yet hybridized, grevillea flower.
We are accustomed to demanding floral gratification from our plants, yet many Australian and South African natives could make a strong case for foliar focus in the garden. Blue pearlbush (Maireana sedifolia) is an excellent example of this. Silvery blue, roundish leaves are held tightly along the stem. Blue pearlbush is a tough plant, capable of handling most soil types and accepting full sun to partial shade, depending on how hot your summer waxes. It is also tolerant of cold temperatures down to 20 degrees.
Eucalyptus is probably the best known Australian genus of plants and it has many outstanding representatives with baby blue to silvery foliage. In Daniel’s garden, a young Eucalyptus macrocarpa is showing its chalky white leaves, while a Eucalyptus kruseana displays blue-gray shish kebab foliage along with golden yellow flowers.
Daniel has a fondness for burgundy bronze foliage too, as is evidenced in his recently planted Leucadendron ‘Burgundy,’ as well as in a mature, arching burgundy-copper peppermint tree (Agonis flexuosa ‘Jervis Bay Afterdark’). The yellow, orange, pink and red variegation in the leaves and bracts of his Leucadendron ‘Jester’ is a pleasant surprise.

When it comes to tactile attraction, the woollybushes (Adenanthos spp.) have no comparison. Furry foliage covers these plants, which include ground cover, shrub and arboreal species. Banksia flowers, large and prickly, offer a textural contrast.
Of all the plants in Daniel’s garden, the one making the deepest impression on me was Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt.’ This charming, mounding ground cover will undulate its way through a garden bed if not beyond. I immediately wondered if ‘Cousin Itt’ might be used as a lawn substitute under certain circumstances — not as a surface upon which to play croquet, but simply as a drought-tolerant expanse of green.

Here, a short lesson in horticultural nomenclature and geobotany is in order:
Virtually all of Daniel’s plants belong to the Protea family. Protean means changeable or capable of many different forms and, based on both floral and foliar variation among his plants, it is eminently understandable how their family name came about. The principal garden-worthy Proteas native to Australia include Banksia, Grevillea and Hakea genera, while the Leucadendron and Leucospermum genera are indigenous to South Africa. 

As for trees, Eucalyptus are native strictly to Australia, while Acacias, while drought tolerant in the garden, are indigenous to both wet and dry climate regions around the globe, from Australia to Africa to the American Southwest. Acacias also appear in shrub and ground cover forms.

Daniel was intent on artistically matching, layering and contrasting his plants, not only with one another, but with existing hardscape as well. In one whimsical flourish, he decided to plant a Grevillea ‘Magic Lantern’ above a red street curb, the plant’s flower color perfectly matching the paint on the curb. 

Daniel brought my attention to the fact that the familiar garden ornamental known as pink breath of heaven or Diosma (Coleonema pulchrum), a South African native, emits a fragrance when you brush against its leaves. I had always wondered about the breath of heaven label since its flowers have no scent. The key to appreciation of this species is to plant it, as Daniel has done, along a pathway so that each time you walk by you brush against its foliage and imbibe its delicate perfume.

While touring his garden, Daniel kept mentioning Jo O’Connell, from whose nursery he procures both his plants and the mulch he uses in his garden. With Australian and South African natives, proper mulching is key to maintaining a steady diet of available minerals since any sort of conventional fertilizer should not be applied. These plants require a slow, steady feed of decomposing compost and humus.

Australian soil is low in phosphorus and South African soil is low in both phosphorus and potassium, so standard fertilizers, which contain these elements, would be counterproductive. O’Connell recommends two products —  Garden Humus and ES-2 — that are available through Agromin (www.agromin.com), a mulch and soil amendment company in Oxnard.

Aside from annual mulching, Daniel waters his plants with conventional spray sprinklers once a week, and occasionally twice a week during very hot weather.
O’Connell has a nursery (www.australianplants.com) near Ojai. She grows hundreds of species that neither you nor I have ever seen. Go to her website and you will quickly appreciate the vast cornucopia of treasures to be found among Australian and South African plants. Her nursery is open to the public, but you must make an appointment if you wish to pay a visit.

Artillery Karen Carson by Eve Wood

by Eve Wood

Karen Carson has a tremendous sense of humor, as is evidenced in her most recent exhibition at Rosamund Felsen. Having chosen farming equipment—most prominently, tractors—as her subject matter, Carson revels in the sheer monumentality and vibrant colors of these exquisite forms. Whoever would have thought tractors could be so compelling?


L.A. Times Karen Carson gives farming sex appeal at Rosamund Felsen

by David Pagel


By the time Monet got around to painting pictures of haystacks, viewers pretty much knew that his works were not about farming.

All kinds of subjects, including perception, time, workmanship and mortality, as well as paint’s capacity to make and convey meaning, played into the Impressionist’s images of life in the French countryside.

Times have changed — and not for the better.



ARTILLERY Steven Hull at Rosamund Felsen GalleryOctober 2013

by Eve Wood

The inside of Steven Hull’s brain could be likened to a flowering tree in constant bloom. His newest effort, “Balcony,” is an exploration into the various ways that meaning is extrapolated from any artwork, or for that matter any “thing” in the living known world. Hull’s sculptural installations are riotously inventive and seemingly hell-bent on exploding open any preconceived ideas we might have as to what art is capable of in its purest form. Works like the enigmatic, and strangely menacing “Grandma” has a shamanistic appeal, though this grandma could also have sprung fully formed from the mind of Stephen King, standing on green stairs in front of a glowing pink disk and holding a wayward eyeball. My, my, Grandma what big eyes you have indeed!

ARTSCENE Review: Steven HullOctober 2013

by Jody Zellen

Steven Hull has fun making art. His works are playful installations with miniature steam engines and marionettes. Fans spin and colorful panels are stacked against the wall. The abstract and representational, real and imagined mingle within room-sized installations. He uses the walls as framing devices and allows his “paint- ings” to extend into the space so that they become sculptures and paintings simultaneously. While the narrative thread through the work may be obtuse, it is clear that Hull’s placement is not arbitrary; he is interested in how the parts add up to create the whole. In this installation he has collaborated with the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, bringing puppets into the mix in order to add another layer of interactivity to the work.

L.A. TIMES Parties Gleefully Crashed (Steven Hull)September 13, 2013

by Christopher Knight

Steven Hull has done many projects that cross boundaries typically drawn among artists from various disciplines, including writers, musicians, illustrators and performers, as well as within disciplines like painting and sculpture. A new, psychologically prickly body of work brings marionettes into the delirious mix.

Hull titles the show “Balcony,” the term for a gallery found in a theater. At Rosamund Felsen, 10 tableaux mix abstract paintings, both gestural and geometric, with assorted masks and figures.

One room also includes vintage marionettes loaned for the occasion from the Bob Baker Archive – a bony skeleton, a baggy clown, an anthropomorphic flower and more. The art gallery is unveiled as a puppet theater, a public stage for surrogate emotion and substitute activity.


ART LTD. Critic's Picks: Los Angeles (Steven Hull)September/October 2013

by Eve Wood

For decades Steven Hull's work has been marked by a riotous comic sensibility, as though life itself were a meditation on the absurd; yet beneath the exacting wit and garish colors, one can clearly discern a passionate and committed mind at work. Hull has long been a "multi-faceted practitioner and curatorial figure" on the Los Angeles art scene and has been exhibiting at Rosamund Felsen since 1998. His projects are diverse and far-reaching and include long-term collaborations with other artists, musicians and writers,  his own practice as an artist seemingly  intensified by his interest  in and support of other artist's efforts. In 2010, Hull co-founded Las Cienegas Projects with a curatorial program that focuses mostly on more esoteric work and community participation.


ArtScene Diane CalderApril, 2013


Nancy Jackson sets the stage for our journey out of the ordinary with “Interior,” a modestly sized gouache and ink work on paper. Displayed on the entry wall of the gallery, it establishes the muted pastel pallette and passion for ornamentation that instantly informs us that we are “not in Minimalism anymore.” Those familiar with the work of Florine Stettheimer, an introspective early 20th century artist best remembered for the innovative cellophane and lace sets she designed for the 1934 operatic production of “Four Saints in Three Acts,” may discern echoes of her concerns in Jackson’s output. Both New York-based women - if separated by time - effectively incorporate references to transparency and luminescence into their art, suggested metaphorically here in the diaphanous drapes that frame the windows of Jackson’s “Interior” and the slightly off center reflections she captures in her ornate vanity mirror. 


Jackson’s “Paraportal (Photo-Op)” invites viewers to center themselves under a delicately colored, conscientiously constructed, ornamental cut paper construction that serves as a framing device. After realizing that each viewer's own image appears relatively small when the totality of “Paraportal (Photo-Op)” is present in their camera’s view finder, visitors may conclude that, like Alice complying with instructions to “Eat Me,” they can grow their size relative to the artwork simply by stepping out into the room, away from the wall and closer to the camera.


When visitors have their backs to “Paraportal (Photo-Op),” the ceramic elements laced together in “Space Lace #1-9,” hung sky high on the opposite wall, are most clearly visible. Jackson wears a necklace similar to elements in the wall hanging, reinforcing her shaman-like appearance in Grant Mudford’s insightful photo portrait, featured on the gallery’s invitation to this show. Next to the artist, enthroned on a mountain of pillows, is “Blue Tree,” an enchanting assembly of intricate jewel-like elements that is a worthy tribute to Jackson’s complex sensitivity to color, texture, pattern and form, and most likely a coincidental acknowledgement of Stettheimer’s posthumously published book of poetry, “Crystal Flowers.”


Also amazing on an intimate scale, are the four works in Jackson’s “Cozy Bubble” series, featuring doll sized beds centered in protective shell-like frames, with a variety of interiors designed to provoke delightful dreams. On the opposite end of the size scale, elements composing Jackson’s wooly installation “Shagman,” evoke an evening of carnival fun, intermixed with Mike Kelley’s incredulity. Even though “Streetsweeper 1” and its twin, equipped with brushes that serve as tails, add touches of frivolity, a disconcerting element clings to this work.


The scene-stealers in this show tend to be the intricate, multi-media sculptural pieces exquisitely fabricated by Jackson. But those who pay less attention to the half dozen paintings Jackson positions throughout the galley, performing like poetic chapter headings and sign posts, may miss subtle innuendoes embedded in the artist’s work. The most autobiographical of Jackson’s flat, framed creations may be “Blue Bubble,” a collage constructed out of gouache, pastel, watercolor, and thread on paper. In it we see a figure resembling the artist strolling nonchalantly on an embossed, biomorphic sky blue platform of her own creation, orbiting above the curved surface of the earth. Carefully observed, this painted work and other fantasies created by this intuitive artist compel us to take time to dream, adjusting our perspective to fully examine each work we encounter in her enchanted world of possibilities with a sense of wonder before continuing down the path towards the next adventure Jackson has in store for us.


(Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica)

Visual Art Source Kim MacConnel12/2012


Michael Shaw 


Take one look at the announcement photo for Kim MacConnel's sixth solo show here and you'll know you're in for a riot of color. But not one without structure; MacConnel employs an approach that is equal parts systems and intuition. Each panel is divided into three or four columns, or vertical panes, within which slightly irregular triangles, parallelograms, half-ovals, and the like face off with their respective borders, whether negative and/or positive space. Given suggestive but ultimately minimalist titles such as "Bunny," "Rabbit," or "Dove," his latest bodies of work – including a mural-sized, multi-panel piece that was included in his retrospective "Collection Applied Design," at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (October, 2010 to January, 2011) – have ditched acrylic on canvas in favor of enamel on wood. Are they more finite? Probably. Sexier? Definitely (or maybe it's the other way around). MacConnel has never been shy about wielding palettes of unadulterated primary and secondary colors, though typically he balances in just enough sections of black and/or white to give one's eyes room to breathe; still, they're far from sedated.



art ltd. Karen Carson: "La Condition Humaine" at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

By Jody Zellen

In "La Condition Humaine" Karen Carson pushes the conceptual boundaries of image/text juxtaposition by offering large banner-like paintings with kitschy type situated above and below loosely rendered yet enigmatic faces. In these works, she combines the gesticulation of an expressionistic application of paint with the funkiness of circus banner typography and the verbal acuity of advertising slogans. The 26 un-stretched works on canvas are push-pinned to the walls. Each work boldly asserts a two-word pairing that at first glance seems obvious, but upon meditation, especially in relation to Carson's images, resonates on multiple levels.


Los Angeles Times David PagelJuly 26, 2011

Art review: Lavi Daniel, Grant Mudford at Rosamund Felsen Gallery

If you look at the art in the exhibitions you visit before reading the wall labels, you will probably think that the show at Rosamund Felsen Gallery is a three-artist effort. Its paintings, sculptures and photographs do not resemble one another. Made of different materials, in distinct manners and far-flung attitudes, each seems committed to goals all its own.

But individual pieces speak to each other. With a little patience you sense that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A quick glance at the wall labels adds a curious ripple: the exhibition presents works by only two artists.

The entryway and two east galleries are occupied by 12 intimately scaled paintings and five tabletop sculptures by Lavi Daniel. His oils on canvas and linen are the best he has made. Solid, muscular and brushed into existence with a perfunctory, get-it-done-quickly vigor, each is also dreamy and elusive: a lovely symphony of subtly modulated organic tints quietly electrified by otherworldly light.

Daniel’s sculptures are crusty lumps, patiently built from blobs of paint scraped from his studio floor over the last seven years. Think of a haystack in a painting by Monet rendered in 3-D by a ham-fisted model-builder.

In the west gallery, medium-size photographs by Grant Mudford fill your eyes with highly controlled explosions of color, texture and shape. These exquisitely printed pictures of the small garden surrounding Daniel’s studio stop time and expand space. Each intensifies the visual deliciousness of every detail, celebrating the singular beauty of each leaf, frond and blossom; branch, blade and petal; plank, tile and pebble.

Mudford’s photographs function as stepping stones between Daniel’s paintings and sculptures. Together, the three bodies of work take you on a trip that is not very long yet filled with endless possibility.

 Images, from top: Lavi Daniel, "I Wanted to Wonder..." 2010-11; Grant Mudford, "Garden 5," 2011. Credit: Rosamund Felsen Gallery

Huffington Post Tracey HarnishJuly 21, 2011

Lavi Daniel at Rosamund Felsen Gallery


It's a curious mix that Lavi Daniel conjures in painting and sculpture. Both are about density but in very different ways. The paintings use light to push some shapes forward while others dangle in space. Forms are a cross between organic and geometric which adds to the ambiguity of their existence as something tangible. There is the feel of light coming over the horizon, a shelf that recedes into a crevice in a cave, a rock formation that juts from a wall.


These things are only alluded to, while color is cool and vibrant, something you might come across in wanderings where the average human does not tread. The sculptures are surprising because they are mud-like masses, a shrub that has mutated thickly with unnatural color. Where the paintings shimmer and visually hint at depth, the sculptures are dense and visceral, irresistible, they beg you to touch them, feel them, roll around with them.


While the color in the paintings is very ordered, the three-dimensionality of the corpulent masses of the sculptures are messes of color mixtures. They seem to encase every color nature has provided the eye with and then go onto experiment with various mergings and contrasts. It is especially interesting viewing when you look at a sculpture that is paired with a painting in relief. The juxtaposition of the two creates high contrast yet also adds to the complexity of each.

Art In America Annie BuckleyNovember 16, 2010


Nancy Jackson’s latest exhibition, her sixth with Rosamund Felsen Gallery, was a lighthearted tour de force consisting of seven paper mobiles, at once intricate and majestic, nine works on paper and 12 sculptures. The keen balance of intellect and intuition Jackson has displayed in prior exhibitions was here injected with levity and wisdom, revealing another facet of an artist adept at using fantastic imagery and meticulous processes to probe psychological mysteries and metaphysical dramas.

Untitled (Large mobile), 2010, is 22 feet high, and it stretched from ceiling to floor. The all-white work is made of plastic rings strung together with thread, one above the other, each hung with cut-paper shapes, thousands in all—curlicues, discs, moons, arrows and the like, all in rhythmic patterns. Peeking out from the bottom is a solid glass object; shaped like an upside-down exclamation point and surrounded by a fluff of monofilament, it resembles a sea creature and exudes a playful sexuality. In the same room was a small gouache and ink on paper, The Way it Works (2009), in which a lush plant, its juicy green leaves and delicate pink tendrils bursting from a thick stalk, erupts from a mountain of human skeletons. The undulating shape of the plant mirrors that of the mobile, and their actions are reciprocal—one descending gracefully, the other reaching energetically up.

Six equally elaborate mobiles, each about a quarter the size of the large one, occupied a second room, along with a wall sculpture, Untitled Heads 1-11 (2010). In the latter, 11 shiny black papier-mâché-and-clay masks sit in the end of springy velvet-covered tubes that stretch into the room like serpents. Each face, about a foot high, sports a set of pointy white teeth, a bright red mouth and a quirky hat. In the context of the artist’s interest in psychology and dreams, the creatures connote anxieties and neuroses, yet their grins suggest mischief. The area of the wall on which the heads were installed was painted in broad swaths of matte black; the immediacy of the brushstrokes struck a balance with the labored intensity of the mobiles.

The dreamlike narratives of the paintings and drawings in another room have a darker sensibility but retain seeds of optimism. In one four-part ink-on-paper drawing (each sheet letter-size), a turbaned woman snatches a glowing crystal from a stand, only to have it grow back during her getaway. The storyboardlike sequence suggests a parable about a benevolent light. In a small gouache on rice paper, Untitled (NY), 2010, a detailed depiction of an urban street, a torrent of yellow, blue and white lines seems to have replaced the buildings. Is the city being blessed or destroyed? It depends on one’s perspective, but the rest of the exhibition—with the patient process inherent in the hand-cut mobiles and the playful absurdity of the heads—tips the reading toward the benign over the apocalyptic.

Image: Nancy Jackson: Untitled Heads 1-11, 2010, enamel, papier-mâché, aluminum tubing and mixed mediums, 80 by 87 by 21 inches; photographed by Grant Mudford, courtesy of Rosamund Felsen Gallery.

Los Angeles Times Leah OllmanSeptember 17, 2010


A Tonic Against the Inauthentic


Responding to the sense of alienation in art that she felt had been fostered by modernism, historian and critic Suzi Gablik made a case for “The Reenchantment of Art” in her book by that title, published in 1991. She called for a renewal of art’s social responsibility and moral purpose, a reconnection with its roots in myth and archetype. Though Gablik voiced her concerns about the soulless state of art nearly two decades ago, that despair is just as easily invoked by much of the insular, over-schooled and hyper-strategic work that fills galleries today.

Which is why Nancy Jackson’s new work at Rosamund Felsen Gallery feels so restorative, so truly enchanting. Jackson’s show, as ever, is an event for the spirit, invigorating in its authenticity. A group of mobiles, all-white, floor-to-ceiling cascading rings, dangling dots, loops and fringe, is breathtaking, both blatantly festive and quietly sublime. Made of paper, Styrofoam, aluminum, polymer clay, thread, monofilament and glass, they hint at the mystical and also the musical, while testifying to the fundamental human impulse toward ornamentation.


In one room, six of the mobiles are offset by a group of shiny black, vaguely animal heads on tubular, velvet necks protruding from a painted dark patch on one wall. Comic and grotesque, with sly smiles and ridiculous hats, the pack looks slightly crazed, as if malevolent forces were intruding upon the sanctity of those ethereal, gently twirling white confections, sullying the innocence and purity of the assembly, and playing out a primal conflict between light and darkness. Jackson’s ink and gouache drawings, too, often set beauty against death. Strange, fantastic and darkly funny, they affirm Jackson’s commitment to an art of exquisite craft, complex beauty and a deeply human sense of fear and wonder.

Work Study Eowyn WilcoxSeptember 23, 2010


The Fantastical and the Real

Nancy Jackson's work embodies the fantastical, but in her most recent show I wasn't thinking in any way of modern fairytales which skip the difficult parts of life, but of old, ancient fairytales, the kind that A.S. Byatt talks about in The Children's Book as being dangerous.  The kind of fairytales the Grimm brothers collected, and that most parents won't read to their children because fairytales like these are really meant for adults.

And at the same time, Nancy Jackson's work also reminds me of Emily Dickinson's poetry, because it is fierce, lonely, and exultant in its loneliness.  All through her show I was amazed by the sense that I had never seen anything like this before, and that all this was sincere, real, the inner workings of not just any artist's dreamlife, but Nancy Jackson's particular and peculiar dreamlife, laid out with absolute honesty.  Her cat-masks with their long whiskered chins were scary without being frightening, friendly but also sinister and dangerous.  I had the sense, which occurs in the very best fairytales, the ones most sublime and at the same time most true to life, that I was fully enwrapped in her world, discovering that the mobiles spin at different rates when you move by them or breathe on them with some of the reflected power the artist must have felt at the same discovery.  And on such a scale!  Twenty-two feet from floor to ceiling, trailing whiskers and threads and white flower blossoms, and all without ever tipping out of the poetic intensity of the dream. 

My favorite pieces in the show (along with the cat-masks) were the drawings, which were a revelation.  They reminded me of Ensor's drawings in their intricacy, loneliness, and also in the scale and style of the work, but without his note of perversion.  The skeletons in the drawings, the autumnal themes brought a note of death into the show which was deeply moving, and appropriate.  It reminded me of what I was thinking about with the skull in Braque's studio---that all artists, to some extent or another, are making art to postpone their death, or to live on beyond death (to not be forgotten)---that they are, in fact, making art for or against death, in preparation for its coming.  Death is an undercurrent in all art, just because it is either passing quicker than we are if the materials are ephemeral, or because we know it will last long after we die, if the materials are lasting.  And at a deep level, art is a way that thought lives on even after the flesh decays.  And I have to admit that the skeletons felt like something out of my dreams, because I used to dream often about skeletons throughout my childhood and adolescence.  But I digress.

The Threesome gave me the thrill of the cat-faces again, in that it was something the likes of which I had never seen, and in which I instantly and implicitly believed.  There was something about the emptiness of the room, the blurry city outside the windows, and the way the three ghosts seemed to describe three parts of the same process of disappearing: tears welling up on the left, invisibility in the middle, rock-like stoicism on the right.

What both artists reminded me of, and which I am grateful to both of them for, and which most great art makes me feel, is the sense that even though art is the most refined fantasy, still it teaches us deeply of the real, that it is in fact, deeply real, life distilled and intensified in an object or image.

ArtScene Jody ZellenSeptember, 2010

Nancy Jackson's current show splinters in two directions. In her narrative works on paper, detailed drawings and paintings come off as quirky, cutting and humorous. The surprise, however is the multi-part mobiles that hang from the ceiling in the main gallery. White cutouts of flowery, geometric and ornate shapes dangle from one another, spanning the distance from floor to ceiling. These obsessively fantastical and intricate works are both seductive and charming. Each piece resembles a chain of an ornate chandelier (made from light materials) that has been taken apart, stripped of the original context, and fashioned together to become more than the sum of its parts (Rosamund Felsen Gallery, Santa Monica).

L.A. Weekly The Power of Negative Thinking

by Doug Harvey

One artist who manages a remarkable tightrope balance with many levels of negativity — while always managing to surprise — is painter Karen Carson, whose work has ranged from minimalist geometric fabric "paintings" (with zippers allowing reconfiguration) to baroque, mirror-studded, cobbled-together architectonic abstract explosions; shaped-canvas cubist bouquets of decorative-clock flowers or stealth-bomber/vulture hybrids; vinyl banners combining Las Vegas gaming design with stripped-down Buddhist aphorisms; and backlit bar-style light boxes depicting raging forest fires. Her latest body of work continues her recent exploration of strategies like rectangular surfaces covered entirely with paint, constituting an image of a landscape. For Carson, that's pretty far out.


Los Angeles Times David PagelJuly 4, 2008


There's no glamour, just deep themes


Intimacy is Nancy Jackson's forte. Each of her seven diorama-scaled sculptures and page-size drawings in another room at the gallery creates such a convincing little world of its own that it's easy to forget yourself in its presence -- not to mention where you're standing and everything else around you.

Jackson's meticulously rendered gouaches are all about contemplative solitude, of following one's own path and meandering through out-of-the-way places. "Crossroads," "Hard Rot" and "Bird Mountain" suggest that difficulty, luck and humility may lead to self-knowledge, but only if the self doesn't get in the way.

The two best pieces are the most elaborate. "Ka" is a wall sculpture that mimics the format of a ceremonial mask but also embraces the nestled complexity of multiple realities, its eyes and mouth opening onto worlds-within-worlds.

The only free-standing sculpture, "Oum," is more than 6 feet tall. But it is made of such fragile materials -- string, wire, clay and porcelain -- that it doesn't tower over viewers, but rather seems to be the model of a solar system inspired by dangling earrings and delicate chandeliers.

As a group, Jackson's low-tech, handcrafted works engage viewers -- and the world around them -- by making room for respite.

Los Angeles Times David PagelJanuary 11, 2008


Realism, with a dose of whimsy

January 11, 2008|David Pagel

Karen Liebowitz's paintings of pretty women mending fishing nets, riding leviathans and blowing up inflatable pool toys blend classical mythology and pop culture in an ambitious mixture of fantasy-fueled Realism. The combo is loaded: provocative, promising and pointed, yet a bit too pedestrian to get viewers to suspend disbelief and abandon themselves to the pleasures of these beautifully painted pictures.

Two gigantic oils on canvas anchor Leibowitz's exhibition at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery. The first features five bikini-clad babes perched in a sea cave, where they repair rips in an old-fashioned fish net. Bright sunlight pours in the heart-shaped mouth of the cave, bathing their bodies in a warm, sexy glow. Each appears to be lost in her own thoughts, like Penelope unraveling her daily weaving while she longs for Odysseus, or a world-weary twentysomething waiting for the sun to set and the clubs to open.

The second image depicts a young woman in a red negligee and black bra sitting on a barnacle-encrusted rock as the frothy surf licks her toes. A lightning storm blows in from the horizon as she parts her lips, closes her eyes, tips her head back and prepares to blow a lungful of air into an inflatable toy.

The toy is the best thing in the painting. At one end, it's a lump of crumped silver-blue plastic, gripped tightly by the light-headed heroine, who just might be in ecstasy. Its other end is a sea monster's tumescent tentacle, covered with rosy orifices and extending beyond the image's edges to suggest a beast as big as anything Jules Verne envisioned. Between the two ends, Leibowitz handles the transformation from inanimate object to monstrous mollusk with aplomb, using glistening, viscous pigments to bring fantasy to life in ways that are at once seductive and scary.

Two sofa-size paintings show the creature in action. In one, a surf chick dressed like a mod belly dancer blows a ram's horn as she rides the beast with the confidence of a rodeo champ. In the other, she hangs on for dear life, no match for the imaginary animal's awesome power. In both, the monster steals the show, its purplish hide pocked with flowery suction cups and dripping bits of golden kelp.

Thirty small studies -- in charcoal, watercolor or oil on panel -- reveal various stages of Liebowitz's process: tightening compositions, trying out different settings and refining the figures' postures, gestures and expressions. All lead to the four big paintings, where the 32-year-old artist has room to strut the stuff she does best.

It involves an ethos of earnest workmanship -- or painstaking craftsmanship -- married to a sense of campy preposterousness. Think Margaret Nielsen meets Carlo Maria Mariani. Or John Currin without the breathless reverence. Or Lisa Yuskavage with greater emotional range. Or Rebecca Campbell without the ambiguity.

Leibowitz has not worked out all the kinks in her attempt to make paintings that are heroic and both timely and lasting. But she shows herself to be a painter worth watching, an artist unafraid to take big risks and with the talent to meet them.

Los Angeles Times Alex ChunJanuary 4, 2007


Rolling with the changes in his tastes

Two exhibitions of Lavi Daniel's work show some of the journeys his perspective has taken.


THE career of 52-year-old Los Angeles artist Lavi Daniel has been marked by constant change, so when his work appeared in not just one but two solo shows last month, it came as no surprise that he was once again refocusing and refining his vision of modern abstraction.

A 32-piece exhibition at Pasadena's Armory Center for the Arts canvasses Daniel's career and features his largest and most recent works, gestural abstract oil painting with fluid lines of color, while over at Santa Monica's Bobbie Greenfield Gallery, another exhibition homes in on his small-scale, architecturally minded monochromatic ink-wash drawings.

"For the last 20 years, I've continually visited Lavi's studio and continued seeing his work taking off in different directions and exploring the abstract language," says Anne Ayres, curator of Daniel's Armory exhibition. "Finally in 2004, I saw work that gave me so much pleasure that I thought it was time to collaborate with him and the Armory Center on a mid-career retrospective."

For Daniel, the two exhibitions represent recognition for a career that received early notice almost 20 years ago when he was selected for inclusion in the Orange County Museum of Art's now-defunct "New California Artist" series. They are also the culmination of a long and often difficult journey that began when Daniel, at 5 years old, definitively declared he would be a painter, after combing through his grandfather's expansive art library.

After an aborted stint at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he struggled to make his way as an artist until he met his future wife, Diane, in 1975. Together, they took what little money they had and traveled to the rain forests of Borneo, where they collected 19th century textiles -- a trade that supported them for the next 25 years.

Returning to Los Angeles, Daniel found success as a figurative painter, but by the time his work was showcased at Santa Monica's James Corcoran Gallery in 1988, he had already begun to shift gears.

"It was painful -- the audience was onto my work, but I was off it," he recalls. "I spent three years groping because I moved away from what I had been in command of.

"What happened is that I had been moved by the work of Terry Winters [best known for his sensual abstract paintings], and I was being moved by line drawing by Pygmy women in the Ituri Forest in the Congo." (Along with Borneo textiles, Daniel and his wife also collected Pygmy drawings, 50 of which were published in the 1996 book "Mbuti Design: Paintings by the Pygmy Women of the Ituri Forest.")

A series of high-contrast abstract "finger-made" paintings ensued, but drew little notice from either the press or the galleries.

Then in 1995, his wife was diagnosed with cancer, which took her life five years later. Daniel reacted to his wife's death by exploring pastels and creating what Ayres calls "light-drenched fields of brilliant atmospheric color."

"These paintings were all about daring to dance at the edge of the void," Daniel says. "Diane's death was mind-blowing, and I needed to know that I could paint without her in my life."

AFTER the pastels, Daniel's work took yet another turn as he was reinspired by the Pygmy drawings. "I had this enormous appetite to expose my line again," he explains. "I started from a place of wanting to expose how well I draw and bring character to a line and make it probing and honest and effective, and dramatically confident or tenderly wandering."

The result was an explosion of otherworldly biomorphic and architectural ink washes that evoke images of tree branches, piers and unfinished buildings, and more recently, their counterpoint, huge paintings with big thick tactile lines of color that sweep across the canvas like a roller coaster.

As it turns out, the ink washes were born of necessity. After moving from his longtime Mar Vista home and while waiting for construction on his new Cheviot Hills studio to be completed, he was left with his kitchen as a workspace. There, he produced five or six ink-wash drawings a day and more than 300 in total.

LA Weekly Doug HarveyDecember 22, 2006


There’s absolutely no postmodern layers of self-reflexive irony to be overcome to appreciate the work of Lavi Daniel. A midcareer survey of the local, mostly self-taught painter’s painter at the Armory — guest curated by longtime fan Anne Ayres — traces his progression through several distinct, and distinctly earnest, phases over the past 24 years, ranging from the montagelike, verging-on-abstraction representational work of the mid-’80s to his recent bravura monumental oils on canvas depicting loopy, vaguely architectural structures that articulate complex illusionistic space without actually crossing the line into illusionism. En route he visits hazy, luminous geometries, hovering iridescent pastel voids and confident ink-wash grids. While each period yields up treasures — the trumpet-feet-curtain combo (all of the artist’s works are untitled) of 1988; the Chinese-takeout-containers-in-the-mist from 1997 — Daniel has clearly hit his stride in the last couple of years, synthesizing the type of linear spatial abstractions familiar to the work of Terry Winters and Brice Marden into something wholly original and uniquely Angeleno. An additional 27 examples of the virtuosic ink-wash drawings are also on view at Bobbie Greenfield’s.

Los Angeles Times David PagelDecember 11, 2006

A tactile journey

Lavi Daniel's mid-career exhibition of paintings and ink washes moves from refined to raw, from highly formalized to spatial ambiguity.


Lavi Daniel is a meat and potatoes painter. At the Armory Center for the Arts, a mid-career overview of his works on canvas, panel and paper is true to the ethos at the heart of his art. Organized by guest curator Anne Ayres, "Parables of Space: Lavi Daniel: A Twenty-Four-Year Survey" puts substance ahead of style. The visually satisfying and emotionally rich exhibition avoids the glamour and trendiness that often accompany contemporary art and sticks, instead, to what Daniel does best: hearty paintings whose pleasures are part of their unfancy earthiness.

There's not a lot of formal innovation in Daniel's paintings. But there is also very little repetition. It's clear that the 52-year-old Los Angeles artist has staked out fruitful territory.

And the range -- from figurative to abstract, with atmospheric deep space and shallow picture planes, taut geometry and loose gestures, wet-on-wet brush strokes and chalky, mortar-like accumulations of thick, gritty pigment -- suggests nothing came easy. Where other painters working in this idiom regularly make such struggles into the subject of their art, Daniel is too humble to do so. Selfless generosity frees his art from autobiography, giving viewers the freedom to discover its hard-won pleasures for themselves.


The four-gallery exhibition has not been installed chronologically. But it isn't difficult to determine the rough order in which the works were painted. Its 22 paintings and suite of 10 ink washes fall into three loose groups: staged tableaux (1982-88), evocative depictions of atmospheric space (1994-2002) and expansive views often glimpsed through abstract architectural structures (2004-06).

Daniel's earliest paintings are the most fastidious. The newest are the loosest, most confident and, happily, the simplest. The exhibition takes visitors on a step-by-step journey, moving from refinement to rawness, from a highly formalized affection for theatrical mystery to a basic love of spatial ambiguity and paint's tactile sensuality.

The six paintings from the 1980s appear to have been made from photographs. Most feature the limbs or torsos of androgynous models posed as if they were mannequins, still-lifes or movie stills. All are radically cropped, as if a camera had zoomed in for a close-up. Little space is left between viewers and paintings, enhancing the intimacy -- or the claustrophobia.

The smallest, a page-size gouache mounted on canvas, shows a prone figure's bare feet protruding from behind a blue curtain. In a mid-size image, a figure's arm sticks out from behind a sheet of plywood that serves as a backdrop for a blindfolded goat. And the largest, at nearly 5 by 9 feet, depicts a performer ducking and covering as the tail feathers of his or her costume rise overhead.

The charged moments Daniel paints do not seem to belong to full-blown narratives as much as single instants that welcome epiphanies. But the drama feels forced, the artifice too arch to get beyond mannerist manipulation. The best thing about these gouaches is their surfaces: They are luscious, velvety and luxuriant, bathed in sensuous light and suffused with resplendent textures that beg to be touched.

Daniel abandons figures to focus on the surfaces of the works in the next group, a series of atmospheric abstractions.

In four mid-size oils on panel from 1994-2000, angular geometric forms appear to emerge from thick fog. To give these paintings their buttery tactility, Daniel applied the paint with his fingers and palms, massaging and caressing it into desired form. Three slightly smaller pastels on paper from 2002 replace the quasi-mechanical forms with pure blackness surrounded by warm light, suggesting the presence of various voids and their spectrum-spanning auras.

The last group includes the show's largest paintings (measuring up to 12 by 8 feet) and smallest ink washes (the size of notebook pages). In these, Daniel leaves behind the smooth, carefully worked surfaces of the second group for brushwork that is either rough and vigorous or casual and offhand -- so swiftly applied that its unselfconsciousness is unmistakable.

The little ink washes, done in 2005 when Daniel did not have a studio, resemble the silhouettes of buildings under construction. Their backgrounds often dissolve in blinding light, which seems to recede to infinity. They have the presence of dreamy studies.

Daniel's eight big paintings, four each from 2004 and 2006, are more grounded and gritty, muscular and meaty. They anchor the exhibition.

The dark ones recall subterranean structures -- ad hoc systems of pillars, planks and buttresses. In others, fractured planes of unblended colors and knotty lines evoke freeway interchanges. And the brightest, painted in a Mediterranean palette of cool aquas, sandy golds and smoldering oranges, are also the most expansive. Their otherworldly beauty is all the more potent for being painted with Daniel's down-to-earth directness, with no fancy flourishes getting in the way of the basics.


`Parables of Space: Lavi Daniel'