Kathy Leonardo

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LA Art Party Newsletter

LAArtParty is an arts and entertainment website. Established in 2010, it is an online go-to guide for what's happening in and beyond the LA area - this includes dining, travel and more.

Founded by journalist, and "Blues Mama" Kathy Leonardo (a longtime performer), the campy site has an unusual slant which will keep you entertained. Leonardo has been writing for the past 15 years about various subjects for the Huffington Post, THRIVE GLOBAL, LA Weekly, etc.

Each month the LAArtParty staff, led by Kathy Leonardo decides which events will be featured. Posted at noon on the Thursday prior to the last week of the month, LAArtParty.com features the Top Ten Art Parties, plus other fun events each month. VIP subscribers find out ONE week prior to the public and receive discounts and invites to VIP parties throughout the year.

See Contact Page to find out how to become a VIP subscriber so you don't miss any more great ART Parties!! See Contact/Rates Page to find out how submit and promote your own events!

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An Artist's Journey of Healing

This article was also published on THRIVE GLOBAL

The word cancer evokes a different reaction from everyone. Stephanie Visser has been on her own artist journey all the while defying the disease. The saying "art heals" rings true for her. "Painting has always been a refuge for me," said Visser, who painted between each of her seven surgeries. "I am more determined than ever to say what I want to say. My awareness of limited time to get it done and leave something of import behind is pushing me like crazy."
Stephanie-Visser-withWork
Stephanie Visser with her work

Visser's initial diagnosis came in September of 2013. An unusual tumor was found on her chest wall which came from a simple basal cell carcinoma. It had traveled into her body destroying skin and tissue. Since it was in close proximity to her heart, the doctors reacted quickly. Visser was lucky - it was non metastatic which meant she was able to avoid going through chemo.

She thought it was all behind her when she had a car accident in July of 2016. She was rear ended by a commercial dump truck which took out the back of her car. After visiting her doctor, she was told she needed two more surgeries due to the damage her seat belt created on the site of her previous carcinoma surgery. She has taken it all in stride, despite a year-long fight with her insurance company.
stefanievisser lowres-inception untitled06 a rl 72x48 2012 edited-1
Stephanie Visser, Inception Series, Untitled 6, 72 x 48, Acrylic Stained on raw linen

She said she was angry at first, but continued to paint throughout it all. "I think there is a peace in it that is healing and soothing. Never do I come away from the studio unaffected. Doesn't mean I am always happy with the day's work or the results, but the body itself works out emotions just in the act of doing." Visser said it's the only place where her mind stops, and she can allow something else to take over. "For me, I disappear...or I should say my personality disappears. My body is there working. I am analyzing what I am doing and why, what is the next color or brush stroke needed, but the me that is the most interior me is now operating it all."

When asked what is the best way for friends to relate to someone with cancer, she stressed that she was more comfortable when her friends acted and treated her normally. "Illness can be isolating. You miss the ordinariness of friends and family just talking about their day or their problems or their kids." She also went on to say for those embarking on this same journey, that each person heals differently. She found she had to be kind to herself. "It's not just the physical healing...it's the psychic healing that has to happen too. Especially when you realize you will never be the same. Physical scars and physical imperfections are hard to deal with, but they do heal and you do adjust to them. It's the spiritual and soulful healing that comes much slower. And often people don't understand that. Especially when you present as healed on the outside. The inside wounds are still sometimes gaping holes."
May13-2017-lowres-StephanieVisser perseus untitled002 ammc ca 74wx57h 2011 1
Stephanie Visser, Perseus Series, Untitled 2, 74 x 57, Acrylic Mixed Media on Canvas

Visser continues to create while anticipating yet one more surgery in June. She agreed that it puts a renewed perspective on one's life. "I am most inspired these days by truth. And that just means that when I look at work, I respond, not from my mind, but from my heart and soul...one can always tell when an artist has put their heart on the page." To find out more about Visser, see her website at http://stephanievisser.com/

On View Now: Oracle, a New Installation at the Broad

In an increasingly small world that spans politics, culture and commerce, The Broad will present an interpretation of the elusive globalizing forces at work in contemporary society in Oracle, a free collection installation this spring that will fill the museum's first-floor galleries with more than 30 works from the Broad collection.
April-2017-TheBroad-OracleOpening April 29, 2017, the four-month installation will feature works by over 20 artists including El Anatsui, Mark Bradford, Peter Halley, William Kentridge, Julie Mehretu, Shirin Neshat, Albert Oehlen, Jeff Wall and Terry Winters, plus recent acquisitions by Ericka Beckman, Sterling Ruby, Oscar Murillo, Tauba Auerbach and Andreas Gursky. Four artworks in the installation will make their debut in Los Angeles, including one work completed this year.

From everyday experiences to protest movements as monumental as the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East, to themes that probe systems of social control or examine global commerce, artworks in Oracle tackle the effects of organizational frameworks on global events and private individuals. Some works in the installation symbolize marketplace machinations, both official and unofficial, while others are meditations on games, surveillance, vast data sets, mathematical and biological patterns, and even the logic of art itself. Just under the surface of the works in Oracle is an air of anxiety, as if individuals' freedoms within these manmade phenomena are illusory or beyond reach.

Oracle will feature a solo presentation of paintings by Albert Oehlen, abstract paintings so thoroughly and cleverly steeped in an aesthetic of excess and indulgence that the artist persuasively communicates a visual picture of breakdown. Oehlen's works portray a world on the brink of collapse, delicately navigating an overwhelming and anxious complexity.

Julie Mehretu's monumental painting Cairo, 2013, presents the ancient Egyptian city caught in a furious wind blowing off the Sahara, its structures and history extending into black and white vectors. Simultaneously, the work portrays Cairo as the contemporary, revolutionary city in the political spotlight of the Arab Spring, which raised the world's consciousness about government suppression and citizen-led change. Cairo embodies dichotomies: ancient and contemporary, social and political, mass and individual, while expressing a city's life and the complexity of its continued existence.

Like Mehretu, Mark Bradford's mixed media collages Across 110th Street, 2008, and Boreas, 2007, combine abstraction and mapping. Bradford's work also speaks to the two works by Terry Winters in the installation-----Branching Structures, 1996, and Untitled , 2001. Whereas Bradford and Mehretu's map-based works often look at social and geographic systems, Winters' work is inspired by his exploration into equally complex biological and mathematical systems.

Ericka Beckman's You The Better, 1983/2015, was acquired by the Broad collection in 2016 and includes a digitized 16 millimeter film and set pieces with synchronized lighting that comprise the installation. The 32-minute film examines games of chance and the powerlessness of players to affect the outcome, drawing the viewer into the action with a life-size projection.

Iranian-born, United States-based artist Shirin Neshat creates films and photographs that investigate the rigors of Islamic law's effect on gender politics and daily life. The artist's immersive installation Rapture, 1999, will be on view in Oracle . Shot in Morocco and featuring two black-and-white projections shown on opposite walls, the work depicts a divided world where architecture and landscape stand as metaphors for entrenched cultural beliefs about men and women.

One of the installation's most recently acquired works, Tauba Auerbach's Shadow Weave - Chiral Fret Wave, 2015, will be on view for the first time in Los Angeles. The black-and-white strips of canvas create a pattern at once engaged in ancient technologies of weaving and redolent of digital imagery, specifically pixelation. Combining science, mathematics and aesthetics, Auerbach's painting invites viewers to engage in its layered effect----- both its mesmerizing patterns that create contemporary trompe-l'oeil and its literal layers of woven canvas that make up multiple oscillating planes while simultaneously approaching flatness.

In Thomas Ruff's jpeg series, the artist enlarges images to a scale where they become extremely pixelated. In a time when the constant bombardment of images leads to desensitization, Ruff uses abstraction as a tool to re-sensitize. Like Ruff who examines the dissemination of images in the digital age, Colombian-born, London-based artist Oscar Murillo explores modes of contemporary distribution. Another recent acquisition, Murillo's trade today, 2014--15 will make its L.A. debut. Consisting of eight flag-like canvases hanging from steel bars, the work examines today's borderless economies.
TheBroad-AndreasGursky-Amazon-2016AndreasGursky-2016-ArtistsRightsSociety-ARS-NewYork-VGild-Kunst-Bonn-Courtesy-SpruthMagers-BerlinLondonOne of the most recently completed and acquired works, Andreas Gursky's Amazon, 2016, will be on view in Oracle. The photograph, spanning more than 13 feet, captures a rare moment of calm in an Amazon.com warehouse, devoid of the workers who usually occupy the space. The image is in crisp focus, filled with row after row of miscellaneous goods in no discernible order. In this timely work, Gursky masterfully illustrates a mass distribution system built from algorithms, its patterns so complicated as to appear odd or even random. Amazon inspires an archaeological approach, uncovering a moment in time----- a strata of the contemporary cultural landscape-----through a plethora of artifacts produced for consumption.

Los Angeles artist Sterling Ruby's recently acquired work, SP272 (1), SP272 (2), 2014, a large scale diptych, will be on view for the first time in L.A. The spray painted canvases contain fluorescent pinks and greens in dystopic landscapes.

Oracle will be on view in The Broad's first-floor galleries from April 29 through Sept. 3, 2017 and is accessible with free general admission tickets. The Broad's third-floor galleries will continue to show a robust and changing selection of postwar and contemporary works from the Broad collection.

The Broad is located at 221 S. Grand Ave., LA, 90012; For more information on The Broad and to sign up for updates, please visit thebroad.org

Kline Academy - Art Classes!

Kline Academy of Fine ArtKline-Academby-Patio-1
3264 Motor Avenue, (Near National), Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 927-2436; (310) 837-7194; http://www.klineacademy.com

FOUNDATION CLASSES

Beginning Drawing Foundations | Instructor: Julio Labra | Time: Sat. 10am - 1pm | 4 Wks: $240 ...............................................

Beginning Painting Foundations | Instructor: Julio Labra | Time: Sat. 10am - 1pm | 4 Wks: $240 ...............................................

Renaissance Drawing | Instructor: Terry Kelly | Time: Sat. 10am - 1pm or 2 - 5pm | 4 Wks: $240 ..............................................

Beginning Classical Painting | Instructor: Cheryl Kline | Time: Wed. 6:30 - 9:30pm or Thur. 10am - 1pm | 4 Wks: $240 .........

Classical Painting Workshop | Instructor: Cheryl Kline | Time: Wed. 6:30 - 9:30pm or Thur. 10am - 1pm | 4 Wks: $240 .........

KlineAcademy-Foundations-1Beginning Figure Drawing | Instructor: Terry Kelly | Time: Sat. 10am - 1pm or 2 - 5pm | 4 Wks: $260 .......................................

Beginning Figure Painting | Instructor: Terry Kelly | Time: Sat. 10am - 1pm or 2 - 5pm | 4 Wks: $260 .......................................

Figure Drawing & Painting Workshop | Instructor: Terry Kelly | Time: Sat. 10am - 1pm or 2 - 5pm | 4 Wks: $260 ...................

Tonal Figure Drawing | Instructor: Ira Korman | Time: Tue. 6:30 - 9:30pm | 6 Wks: $390 ............................................................

Classical & Contemporary Portrait Painting | Instructor: Cheryl Kline | Time: Wed. 2 - 5pm | 4 Wks: $280 ................................

Michelangelo: Controposto e Anatomia | Instructor: Thomas Garner | Time: Wed.10am - 1pm | 6 Wks: $420 ..........................

CLASSES FOR CREATIVITY

KlineAcademby-Hal-Damian-a-2See image: Hal Damian at work

Beginning Abstract Painting | Instructor: Scott Yeskel | Time: Mon. 7 - 10pm or Tue. 10am - 1pm| 4 Wks: $240 .....................

Abstract Painting Workshop | Instructor: Scott Yeskel | Time: Mon. 7 - 10pm or Tue. 10am - 1pm| 4 Wks: $240 .....................

Contemporary Painting Workshop | Instructor: Cheryl Kline| Time: Thur. 7 - 10pm | 4 Wks: $240 ..............................................

Outdoor Landscape Painting | Instructor: Sharon Weaver| Time: Fri. 10am - 1pm | 4 Wks: $240 ...............................................

Relief Scuplture | Instructor: Gavin Gardner | Time: Tue. 6:30 -9:30pm | 6 Wks: $399 .................................................................

Painting Environments | Instructor: Kenny Harris | Time: Mon. 9:30am - 12:30pm | Coming Soon .............................................

WORKSHOPS

KlineAcadeby-2Finding the Essence of the Figure with Juliette Aristides | 3 Days, Fri. - Sun., Mar. 11 -13, 10am - 5pm | Price: $695 .............

Call for Info
Zorn Palette Color Workshop with Brianna Lee | 2 Days, Sat. - Sun., Apr. 23 -14, 10am - 5pm | Price: $395 ............................

Call for Info
Gold Foil and Oil Painting with Pam Hawkes | 5 Days, Mon. - Fri., June 6 - 10, 10am - 5pm | Price: $1249 ...............................

Call for Info
The Classical Figure, A Modern Approach with Robert Liberace | 3 Days, Fri. - Sun., Aug. 26 -28, 10am - 5pm |

Cloud Painting Workshop with Cheryl Kline | 1 Day, Call for Date, 10am - 4:30pm |Price: $225 ....................................................

The Broad, the New Contemporary Art Museum Now Open, Downtown LA!

The Broad, the new contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles officially opened to the public on Sunday, September 20, 2015. Built by philanthropists and longtime art collectors Eli and Edythe Broad, The Broad will welcome visitors from near and far with free general admission to an inaugural installation drawn from two collections of more than 2,000 works of contemporary art.

PhoTheBroad-iwan baan grand avenueto by Iwan Baan

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), The Broad makes its home in the city's burgeoning Grand Avenue arts corridor, across the street from architectural icons including Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

"Edye and I are delighted to announce an opening date, and we are already looking forward to welcoming the public to our museum," said Eli Broad. "It is our privilege to give this museum, the works in our art collections and a sizeable endowment and free admission as a gift to the people of Los Angeles. When we open our doors on September 20, we will be greatly advancing Eli and Edye's vision of sharing contemporary art with the broadest possible audience," said Joanne Heyler, founding director of The Broad. "The combination of innovative architecture and provocative art will make visiting The Broad an experience to remember."

The new museum's opening installation will be a predominantly chronological selection of masterworks from the Broads' extraordinary personal art collection as well as that of The Broad Art Foundation. The installation will begin with works by major artists who came to prominence in the 1950s, including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly. The Pop art of the 1960s—an area of great depth in the collections—will be represented through works by Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha and Andy Warhol, among others. Moving into the 1980s—the decade when The Broad Art Foundation was established—the installation will present a rich concentration of works by artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Keith Haring, Barbara Kruger and Jeff Koons. The installation will continue up through the present, with works including a monumental, immersive, nine-screen video piece, The Visitors, by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, which was only recently acquired for the collections, among many other new acquisitions.

TheBroad-iwan baan third floor 0Photo by Iwan Baan

Artist BJ Nilsen's sound installation DTLA, draws on the nataural environment of Los Angeles. Just as The Broad's porous architectural "veil" subtly interweaves natural light and glimpses of the urban streetscape of Grand Avenue into its galleries, Nilsen will bring the soundscape of downtown Los Angeles into The Broad. Stillness, the second installation featured as part of Sky-lit, will be activated after dark, and is a sound and light work by Los Angeles multidisciplinary artist Yann Novak. Stillness creates an immersive environment for reflection, inviting visitors to contemplate the effect of climate and light on their physical and emotional states.

The Broad is located at 221 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.  Today's hours are - 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Be sure to check website and to RESERVE FREE TICKETS. To find out more about the collection and upcoming events and exhibitions visit www.thebroad.org

On View Now: Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel presents "Jason Rhoades: Installations, 1994 – 2006," the first major Los Angeles exhibition devoted to the politically charged, darkly exuberant art of Jason Rhoades. Comprised of six major works spanning the artist's career, this exhibition constitutes a long-overdue, comprehensive survey in his adopted city.
Feb18-2017-Hauser-Wirth-Schimmel-JasonRhoade
See Image: Installation view, 'Jason Rhoades. Tijuanatanjierchandelier,' CAC Centro de Arte Contemporaneo, Malaga, Spain, 2016  © The Estate of Jason Rhoades  Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth, and David Zwirner

While Rhoades' groundbreaking installations found early recognition in Europe and New York, the artist spent the entirety of his career in Los Angeles, where he lived and worked until his untimely death in 2006 at the age of 41. The exhibition at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel is conceived to share and celebrate his unwavering vision of the world as an infinite, corpulent, and lustful universe of expressive opportunity. Assertively pushing against the safety of cultural conventions, Rhoades broke accepted rules of public nicety and expanded the frontiers of artistic opportunity through unbridled, brazenly 'Maximalist' works. In short, Rhoades brought the impolite and culturally unspeakable to the center of the conversation.

The exhibition exclusively focuses upon six immersive installations, occupying 28,000 square feet in the North and South Galleries at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. These works will be shown as they were conceived and exhibited by the artist during his lifetime. 'Jason Rhoades: Installations, 1994 – 2006' is organized by Paul Schimmel in close collaboration with the Estate of Jason Rhoades. The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully- illustrated catalogue, documenting all of the installations in the show.

On view: February 18  – May 21, 2017

Where: Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, 901 East 3rd Street, LA, 90013
Website: http://www.hauserwirthschimmel.com/

New Whitney Museum Lives Up to its Legacy!

I had the chance to visit Whitney-Museum-Renzo-Piano-mainthe new Whitney Museum this past June…it was fantastic. Art lovers can enjoy five floors of iconic art, plus stupendous views of the city. The impressive building was designed by Renzo Piano and is built right up to the start of the now celebrated High-line.

Whitney Museum of American Art. Photograph by Ed Lederman

I went to high school just down the street from the old Whitney and spent many an afternoon at the impressive museum. So it was with much trepidation that I reserved my tickets online for the ‘new’ Whitney. However I was gleefully surprised by its new venue and of course the art.

The Whitney’s collection features over 21,000 artworks by more than 3,000 artists in the United States during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The exhibition “America Is Hard to See,” utilizes over six hundred works from the Whitney’s collection; some incredibly well known and others rarely seen before. The title was inspired by a Robert Frost poem.

June-2015-WhitneyMuseum-JasperJohns-ThreeFlags-1958See image: Jasper Johns Three Flags 1958, Encaustic on Canvas; photo by LAArtParty

Organized chronologically by date, each floor celebrated the American masters of each generation. Jasper John’s Three Flags was a perfect focal point for the exhibition “America is Hard to See,” Jasper John’s Three Flags was originally acquired by the Whitney in 1980 for one million dollars to celebrates it’s fiftieth anniversary (that’s some anniversary present).

On your next trip to NYC, be sure to save a day to take it all in. Whitney Museum of American Art, 99 Gansevoort St., New York, NY 10014; (212) 570-3600; http://whitney.org/

LA Art Party Takes on New York City!

LA Art Party took a trip to New York City at the end of June 2015.

Having been born and raised in NYC, June2015-NYC-outsideJamesCohanit was like slipping on a comfortable old shoe. As always, the energy of the city was bustling, and the New York art vibe had grown even stronger. I spent an entire day exploring the new location of the Whitney Museum.

See image: Outside James Cohan Gallery

As far as art parties...I found some fun ones. I did most of my art-hopping in Chelsea, home to the popular tourist attraction - the High-line. When I lived there, the High-line was an abandoned El train (as we called it), and Chelsea was a wasteland overrun with prostitutes and drug dealers. Covert operations occurred amidst the looming storage rental warehouses where many of us diehard New Yorkers (living in studio apartments) dared to stash our precious crap while others fled to Long Island and Jersey. Flash forward...Chelsea is one big hoppin' art party, complete with an artsy swag. It took me three hours to get through the many art openings from 24th Street to 26th Street - whew - lots of new galleries.

June2015-NYC-metroPicturesAt Metro Pictures, artist Olaf Breuning offered his bigger than life oval and round steel collage. These were quite impressive - some standing at 9 feet tall. A humorist, the artist pokes fun of the multi-faceted inundation of new technologies and everyday demands of our modern life. Through his art, he accesses the power of what we are all forced to deal with in today's world. Definitely worth a view...be sure to pop in before August 6, 2015. Metro Pictures, 519 West 24th Street.

I stopped at various others such as Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, 505 West 24th Street, and Berry Campbell, 530 West 24th Street.

One of the earlier art parties that I attended was probably my favorite exhibition. "Efflorescence" debuted new works from Zhuang Hong Yi, Ellen de Meijer, Gavin Rain, and Alexi Torres at UNIX Gallery...and no, my enthusiasm for the exhibit had nothing to do with the fabulous wine they were serving (though it didn't hurt).

I was completely blown away by Zhuang HongJune-2105-NYC-UnixGallery Yi's work: Intricate petals made of what appeared to be paper...each delicately wrapped as one flowed gracefully into the next. A striking view from afar which became even more extraordinary up close.

See image: Zhuang Hong Yi

The same can be said about the work of Gavin Rain. Viewing his art while standing in different parts of the gallery unveiled engaging nuances that had not been previously revealed. Rain brings traditional pointillism into the digital age while inviting his audience to participate in the metamorphosis of the work. "Efflorescence" runs through August 22, 2015. UNIX Gallery, 532 West 24th Street.

Continuing my art party hop, I continued to 11th Avenue, where I followed a crowd into a building and then up an elevator. What happened to my New Yorker instincts - I'll never know! Luckily, the elevator opened up and there before me were many friendly faces and a bustling reception for Gallery Artists XII at Walter Wickiser Gallery, Inc. You can catch the group exhibition through August 19. Walter Wickiser Gallery, Inc., 210 11th Ave #303.

Next, heading east on 25th Street, I found a hip edgy crowd at Marlborough Chelsea, 545 West 25th Street. Then continued down the street to Clamp Art, who specializes in photography. The group exhibition "Six Degrees" showcased the work of the 2015 RISD MFA Photography Program graduates. I enjoyed the young energy here...great to see a new crop of artists coming onto the scene. Clamp Art, 531 West 25 Street.

June-2015-WinstonWachterWinston Wächter Fine Art New York hosted a vibrant art party to celebrate Scott Patt's second solo exhibition titled "Bigger. Smaller. Funnier."

See image: Winston Wächter Fine Art New York

The pop artist created a painting every day and reached out to his social media audience for daily feedback. Perhaps one would say that the exhibition was co-curated by the followers of Patt, since they ultimately helped to decide which artworks would be exhibited.

The artist makes use of simple images and cliché sayings to comment on the striking state of consumerism. "Bigger. Smaller. Funnier." runs through August. Winston Wächter Fine Art, 530 West 25 Street.

The June2015 -NYC-FergusMcCaffreygalleries were all quite different...offering a broad range of eclectic shows. Some of the venues were just as spectacular as the art. Several had upstairs and downstairs galleries, such as Fergus McCaffrey located at 514 West 26 Street (see image) I just loved the art here.

On the other end of the spectrum, I came across Rodi Gallery, a mobile gallery founded in 2013 by artists Elise Graham and Aaron Graham. Apparently a performance of some sort had just occurred...I was on a tight schedule however, so I quickly moved on (but I loved the idea).

Another incredible gallery space that I stopped into earlier in the day was located just off 10th Avenue. Jim Kemper Fine Art welcomed art patrons into its gallery with a luxurious entryway displaying glorious steel sculptures from artist Ewerdt Hilgemann. Once inside, the art of Jasper John caught my eye along with work from William Kentridge, Stanley Casselman, and more. Upstairs, a glass wall opened up the space and gave the feeling that one could just fall out onto 10th Ave. This is an architecturally disarming gallery featuring an illustrious list of renowned artists. Jim Kemper Fine Art, 501 West 23 Street.

June2015 -NYC-GeorgeBillisWrapping up the art party hop, I headed to the George Billis Gallery. Upon entry, one could see the entire exhibition laid out below. The work of Julian Cardinal was on view along with several other gallery artists. I finally had the chance to meet George Billis. As many of you know, I often list openings for the Los Angeles location of this gallery. Having dealt with Tressa Williams (director of George Billis Gallery, LA) for many years, it was great to finally meet George, an extremely affable man. George Billis Gallery New York, 525 West 26 Steet.

Finally, I briefly popped into James Cohan Gallery to catch an eclectic group exhibition curated by Tina Kukielski titled "All Watched Over," on view through August 7, 2015. James Cohan Gallery, 533 W 26th St.There is a photo of this gallery at the top of this article.

Stay tuned for more out of state adventures...Yeah, Mama's got a lot planned for you.

Mirza Davitaia Finds His Way Back to Art!

Mirza Davitaia has always shared an unwavering connection with his art. At just thirty-nine years old, he has held prominent positions in diverse fields, yet his art has remained a constant throughout his life. Raised in Georgia (situated at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe), Davitaia served as a member of Parliament, Chairman of Parliamentary Committee, Deputy Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, as well as the State Minister of Diaspora Issues.

-1-550-Huff-Mirza-ningbomuseumSee image: Photo courtesy of Mirza Davitaia, artist at group show, Ningbo Museum of Modern Art-China

From 1994 through 2013, Davitaia was also a busy TV/film producer traveling between Germany, Georgia, and the United States (NY and LA). Starting with music videos and commercials, he went on to produce a documentary Misha vs Moscow with NY based director John Philp. He is best known for producing 5 Days of War, directed by Renny Harlin and starring Val Kilmer and Andy Garcia. He was also the executive producer of Jacky in the Kingdom of Women. All the while, he yearned to get back to creating art. Today, he devotes all his time to art. He owns an art gallery located in Hollywood (M.D. Art Studio Gallery, 7952 West 3rd Street, L.A., 90048), which offers art instruction in addition to hosting gallery exhibitions. http://www.mdartstudio.com/

The son of an established artist, he was raised surrounded by creativity. Davitaia spent countless hours tooling around his father's art studio...watching, learning, and creating his own art with help from several studio assistants. At ten years of age, his parents sent him to an art school for a classical art education. He went on to apprentice with various well known artists and attended Tbilisi State Academy of Art. Sculpture was the first type of media to catch his eye. Later, painting became his main focus. He continues to work in oil, acrylic, watercolor, ink, and collage.

Davitaia said he creates on a daily basis. Sometimes it's painting; other times it's sketching, taking photos, or working on new ideas. "I have periods when I work in one or two mediums simultaneously," explained Davitaia. "After a while...when I exhaust one particular idea, I move to another series or medium." He went on to say that he does not wait for inspiration, but often it occurs unintentionally.

-2-550-Huff-Spirit-Rain-2014-Mixedmedia-on-canves30x40inchSee image: Photo courtesy of Mirza Davitaia, Snakes in Rain, oil on canvas, 2014, 30 x 40 inches 

His recent Rain series was unconsciously inspired by his childhood memories of summer weekends at his grandmother's house in a small village in the western part of Georgia. Davitaia recounts the story beautifully in his blog.

"In the room where I slept next to the bed on the wall - hung an old rug. It was beautiful. It had some strange shapes and colors of the ornaments that kidnaps a child's imagination and, takes him somewhere far away, to some fairy worlds." He continues (per his blog), "Years passed and one day my grandmother sat me to her side and told me the story of how she had purchased the rug. It turns out that, in fact, it was in Tbilisi during the Second World War period. She said that it was very expensive, but she liked it so much that she had to spend all the savings she had to acquire it. Anyway she did it. 'I want to gift this rug to you, and if you need money for some good purpose, only in this case you can sell it and use the money,' she said." (end of blog)

Later, he found out the true value of this seemingly ordinary Shirvan rug, which was much more than anticipated. It afforded him the opportunity to attend the prestigious Academy of Fine Art in Nuremberg,Germany. He said he knew his grandmother would have approved. It was years later that he would realize his grandmother gave him a two-fold gift...one of her most prized possessions and also the inspiration to create his Rain series. To read more about the rug story, see Davitaia's blog. http://mirzadavitaia.blogspot.com/2015/04/eternal-east.html

-4-550-Huff-Mirza-Davitaia-Sotial-NetismSee image: Photo courtesy of Mirza Davitaia, SN2, collage and acrylic on wooden panel, 2015, 20 x 24 inches

The artist is currently working on a new series, which he has dubbed Social Netism. He explained..."Once post modernism has ended, social netism should begin. As we all know, social media is penetrating all aspects of human life: from private and business to politics...it enables each of us to be more actively involved in the processes and influence them. We spend multiple hours of our everyday life in social media." Davitaia had the chance to witness first hand the power of social media during his time serving with the Georgian government. "I have closely observed and studied the phenomena of Arab Spring and Kiev's Maidan and the decisive role of social media on those events and many others. Thus, I have decided to make social media a main topic of my new art series." Social Netism is an interactive series, allowing the viewers and their comments (via social media) to become an integral part of the artistic process.

Become an interactive part of Davitaia's new series by posting on his FB page here - https://www.facebook.com/mirzadavitaia.art

-3-550-Huff-Mirza-Snakes-in-RainSee image: Photo courtesy of Mirza Davitaia, Spirit Rain, oil on canvas, 2014, 30 x 40 inches, (currently in the permanent collection of Ningbo Museum of Modern Art-China)

His art has been exhibited at the National Museum of Georgia, the Museum of Visual Art in Russia, as well as a solo show in Nuremberg Germany. His most recent museum exhibition was a group show in 2014 at the Ningbo Museum of Art in China. The museum acquired one of his paintings (the only work chosen from the group show), titled Spirit Rain, for its permanent collection.

Davitaia continues to create and be inspired by the world around him. When asked if he misses his political career, he answered, "No, I don't. I think it is not necessary to be in politics in order to deliver political statement. I still am and will in the future deliver my political ideas through my art and movies."

To find out more about the art of Mirza Davitaia or to read his blog, visit www.mirza-art.com