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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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Review: Jessica Lang Dance at the Music Center

Though dance may be experienced as an ephemeral art form, New York-based choreographer Jessica Lang presented a series of performance pieces that took the audience on a tangible and memorable journey through conceptual, personal and socially conscious environments. The program flawlessly integrated accomplished modern and classical dance movement, evocative costumes and stunning architectural objects in abstract and timeless spaces amplified by mesmerizing sound tracks and video backdrops that involved an expansive assembly of creative collaborators.
Image: Tesseracts of Time, photo courtesy of Jessica Lang Dance

The first work, Tesseracts of Time, conceived by architect Steven Holl in collaboration with Lang and Architectural Director Dimitra Tsachretia, consisted of four segments, during which dancers moved in typically angular form "under," "in," "on," and "over" the fragments of "tesseracts," which are 'geometrically the four-dimensional analog of the cube; with a cube consisting of six square faces, the hypersurface of the tesseract consists of eight cubical cells.' Music by contemporary composers David Lang, Morton Feldman, John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and Arvo Part. Costume design by Brandon McDonald, lighting design by Nicole Pearce, Artistic Assistance to Film, Kenji Segawa, Technical Assistant for Filming Dancers, Milan Misko, and Stage Set Construction by Paper Mache Monkey.

Next was The Calling, a solo dancer wearing an exquisite long flowing white dress and moving in a slow meditative manner evoking a sense of personal inner reflection. Costume conceived by Lang and designed by Elena Comendador and performed to the transcendental music of Trio Medaeval, Thousand Yard Stare brought us into a stark scene -- the stage stripped of any scenery or backdrop exposing the lightening fixtures and industrial back wall. The dancers in military-style uniforms marched in formation, dragged themselves over the floor and carried each other portraying to the music of Beethoven in what Lang clearly acknowledges as a vision of war and an homage to courageous veterans.
Image: The Calling, photo by Komaru

The final two pieces fully integrated the use of video/film projection. White created with Director of Photography Shinichi Maruyama took to us into an abstraction of time and space with dancers layering over each another and moving in variations of real time, slow motion, fast forward. The final work, i.n.k., presented a production of images, sound and movement, with video art by Maruyama, original score by Jakub Ciupinski, costumes by Elena Comendador and lighting by Nicole Pearce and teams of video editor/compositors. The black and white design of the moving splashes and globs of fluid on the screen, the shapes and shadows of dances and the created a perfectly synergistic and immersive viewing experience.

Dancers in the company are: Clifton Brown, Patrick Coker, Julie Fiorenza, John Harnage, Eve Jacobs, Kana Kimura, Laura Mead, Milan Misko, and Jammie Walker.  http://www.jessicalangdance.com/

Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center continues with Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater (March 8-12), Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire (May 19-21), Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg: Tchaikovsky (June 23-25), and BalletNow (July 28-30). Visit the website for more details. https://www.musiccenter.org/

Review: Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2017!

Art Los Angeles Contemporary is an annual contemporary art fair held at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. The air was brimming with exciting new energy that we felt the moment we stepped out of our cars. An installation of white shoes greeted us in the lot. We politely stepped over a performer laying on the red carpet in a red bodysuit, an appropriate camouflage.
1-ALAC-Jan-2017-RedGuyinstallation-RobbyGordon-byMarkAllenSee image: Dr Robby Gordon gets into the act with a performance art peice

Breezing through the booths to get a feel for the fair in it's entirety, Shulamit Nazarian stood out amongst the crowd. As a Venice local, I am familiar with this hip gallery and their youthful exuberant programming. I got the chance to speak with gallerist Shulamit and she informed me on their new location opening in Hollywood in less than a month. “We're opening a new space, it's about 3,500 square feet. It's in Hollywood just south of Melrose on La Brea – used to be a car garage and has really been transformed. It has a buttress ceiling with a large exhibition space that we're very excited about.” - Shulamit Nazarian.

I asked her about the changing LA art scene and the strategic decision behind opening the new location in Hollywood. “I feel that a lot of cutting edge, really contJan2017-ALAC-2-Shulamit.MarkAllenemporary art galleries are moving into Hollywood and that area. With the issue of traffic, it is nice for the art audience to be able to hit as many galleries as they can in one day. We feel that can help us all.” - Shulamit Nazarian. I was curious to hear more about Shulamit and her background in art. “I am an architect and Iranian transfer to America. I always thought it was nice to learn about people through their history, heritage, and culture. I felt contemporary art was the best medium to be able to expose your ideas and your thoughts – whether they are futuristic or looks to the past. I felt these were important messages to be given through the medium of art.” - Shulamit Nazarian.

See image: Gallery owner, Shula Nazarian

We finished the conversation talking about her roster of artists and the qualities they share. She explained her interests in her artists and the inaugural exhibition opening at Shulamit Nazarian Hollywood. “Most of our artists are interested in their identity and politics. They all share that in one way or another and carry those ideas out in their work. February 18 is our new opening. It's called “Escape Attempts” curated by Kathy Battista. Our inaugural show of seven female artists that are talking about feminism and minimalism and how artists are looking back at minimalist history and how it has been primarily male dominant. These women are taking these ideas and the identity - how they feel it. It's going to be a very dynamic show - seven women from very different backgrounds – New York, LA, Germany – and yet they share a vision.“ http://www.shulamitnazarian.com/

Walking around the fair was both exhilarating and highly stimulating. We strolled the white-walled labyrinth in quest for the visionary best. Honor Fraser made for the best utilization of space with their colorful minimalist installation by Victoria Fu. Dan Levenson's installation at Susanne Vielmetter schooled us on the history of art. Yautepec from Mexico City streamlined their artist roster in two digital touch screen catalogues, almost like an Amazon for expensive art.

Mixo3-Jan-2017-Ed Ruscha-ALACmixografia-photobyMarkAllengraphia Print Gallery showed off their faux-metal multimedia paper prints by Ed Ruscha, "CASH FOR TOOLS."

See image: by Ed Ruscha  http://www.mixografia.com/

Los Angeles gallery Michael Benevento Gallery gets the award for strangest sight with the work "Nude Shoe" by Martin Solo Clement. Jamie Warren, the gregarious goofball of the art world made an appearance at The Hole Gallery from NYC. Jenny Holzer's words cut like swords in an auspicious print edition on display at Alden Projects from NY. 

Luis De Jesus gallery from Los Angeles pushed conceptual boundaries while still exhibiting work that is aesthetically beautiful and reminds us that painting is not dead, and neither is craft. The large cyanotypes by Lia Halloran were both impressive in scale and technique.

Using cyanotype chemicals, one of the oldest photographic techniques, 4-Jan2017-ALAC-LiaHalloran-LuisdeJesusgalleryshe created prints from her paintings on vellum that honor women's achievements in astronomy. Her celestial cyanotypes not only honor female scientists, but also reference Anna Atkins - the first major female photographer who created a series of cyanotypes of her fern collection.

See image: Simply Beautiful, Lia Halloran's large cyanotypes at Luis de Jesus Gallery, https://www.luisdejesus.com/

Cyanotype is a process of using chemicals that are photo sensitive such as Potassium Ferricyanide and painting them to paper in the dark. Once dried, the paper is then exposed to sunlight with a negative of some kind, and the resulting print is revealed by washing the paper in water. Halloran's work honors the sun, the photographic process, and the history of female achievement in a cohesive and captivating aesthetic.

David Lynch's small works on paper lined the booth walls of Kayne Griffin Corcoran's booth like a neo-classical French salon. Using watercolors, graphite, and other drawing mediums, he creates hauntingly beautiful scenes that flow together to create dark and mysterious storyboard. Genevieve from KGC gave me a brief history of David Lynch's art practice: "We have a solo presentation of David Lynch's works on paper from the past decade and also two sculptures. He went to art school in the 1960's and created a works on paper, paintings, sculptures, and photography simultaneously with his film career.
See image: David Lynch's small works on paper lined the booth walls of Kayne Griffin Corcoran's booth; http://www.kaynegriffincorcoran.com/

In fact, it predates his film career. He wanted to create a moving painting and so he created a painting and overlapped a film on top of it and that kind of began his film career - 3-dimensional painting. He thinks of them as separate activities but they are all in the same world, the same language."

Ever Gold Projects, based out of San Francisco, exhibited a duo show by artists Petra Collins and Petra Cortright. This Petra-fying display brought simple and colorful imagery to the fair, creating a meditative space amongst the cacophony of the crowds. It was a pleasant surprise to see Petra Collin's photography in person, she is quite the Instagram celebrity and I have been following her work for years now. Not only were the images serene, by the large printing and framing was museum grade quality.

Pr6-Jan-2017-ALAC-PetraCollinsesentation was key and further enhanced the work. I spoke with Andrew from EVP and he gave me the run down on the Petra/Petra duet: "This is a two-person booth of Petra Collins and Petra Cortright, two artists that I have been working with for a while. We though it would be fun to do a Petra/Petra booth, they're both friends and their work is reminiscent of each other. They both have an interesting aspect of their career working in fashion: Cortright has done videos for Stella McCartney, Collins has worked with Gucci and Adidas."

See image: by Petra Collins; http://evergoldprojects.com/

I was especially interested in Collins work and wanted to hear more about her art career. "She is a 24 year old artist originally from Toronto. She started working for Richard Currin when she was 15 and then started working for Ryan McGinley when she moved to New York. Through that, she has always been involved with fashion and editorial but also art too, obviously. So, for her, everything else is an extension of her art practice. It's a very contemporary outlook, everything comes together. The traditional boundaries got broken down, and its great to work with two really incredible young female artists."

All images provided by Mark Allen; For additional info about Art Los Angeles Contemporary, visit  https://artlosangelesfair.com/

Review: Jacob Jonas The Company at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts!

Jacob Jonas The Company at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Bram Goldsmith Theater In Beverly Hills - January 13, 2017
 by Michael Baroff
The youthful, energetic, and highly skilled Jacob Jonas The Company delighted the audience with an evening of four dance works including two world premieres at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.  This wonderful venue celebrates the classic and the modern as it is the restored original 1933 Beverly Hills Post Office now housing the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater and the contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Bram Goldsmith Theater.
JacobJonasTheCompany-WallisAnnenbergCenterforthePerformingArtsPhoto by Kevin Parry for The Wallis

The first work on the program, In a Room on Broad St., is an extended multi-scenario piece inspired by Jonas' ideas about how society views competition. During 30 minutes, the nine performers, wearing street clothes, move through the bare space pushing, pulling, configured as a mob, as small groups, pairs and individuals and maneuvering on and and around folding chairs in often enigmatic tableaus. Most striking about the piece, and the company itself, is the integration and synergy of the unique skills of the individual performers that  blends modern dance, ballet, hip-hop, gymnastics, acrobatics, partnering, parkour, and cyber-yoga.
After a brief interlude, the first half of the show included the premier performance of f l y, which references the Swedish word for escape, that Jonas describes as being birthed through watching a heartbeat monitor as it flat-lined and which explores the themes of endurance and deceleration where the dancers move on and off across the stage in a series of formulaic repetitive and seemingly erratic gestures,
After the intermission, we were shown Grey, also a premier, a large screen video presentation featuring five dancers moving through the marble walled environment of the J Paul Getty Museum to original music by Chris Westlake and for which cinematographer William Adasheck captured striking close-ups and overhead shots
The last work, Obstacles, to the music of Phillip Glass, featured a duo between Jonas and Marissa Labog, who choreographed the piece with Jonas through an improvisational process.  The work was inspired by Jonas' friend Mallory Smith who provided a voice over narration of her experience and  perseverance overcoming a life-long health challenge
JacobJonasTheCompany2-WallisAnnenbergCenterforthePerformingArtsPhoto by Kevin Parry for The Wallis

At the end of the performance, Paul Crewes Wallis Artistic Director, was joined on stage by Jonas and the company for a conversation with the audience. Jonas, who is 24 and a graduate of Beverly Hills High School, talked of his early beginnings doing street performances in Venice and current desire to bring dance to a wider audience to through social media. The conversation highlighted the group's ability to portray raw emotion and connect with each other through sharing energy. Members of Los Angeles-based troupe are Jill Wilson, who is also company manager; Anibal Sandoval, with a background in break dancing and martial arts; Brooklyn Reeves, a graduate of Chapman University; Charisa Kroeger, graduate of Loyola Marymount; Jacob "Kujo" Lyons, with 20 years experience on the global b-boy/break-dance scene; Jeremy Julian Grandberry, trained as a member of the NYC Joffrey Ballet School's touring company; Kimberly Bridgewater, graduate of University California Irvine; Lamonte "Tales" Goode, showcases a fusion-style of gravity-defying balance and dance moves; Marissa Labog, dancer, actor and stuntwoman; Nic Walton, acrobat, free runner and parkour; Renee Stewart, graduate of London Contemporary Dance School; William Adasek, lighting designer and cinematographer.  http://jacobjonas.com


The Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion entrance was turned into a snow tunnel blasting out snow, light set up and music all merging together to create a whimsical multidimensional experience. The time of the night played a major role on the engird and why it was so easy to feel like being around of the dream world was current.

SMusicCenterafterHours-DebiCable2-photoby-ErinJuliannaee black light art by Debi Cable; photo by Erin Julianna

The dance floor was turned into an interactive installation piece, paired with art projectors and captivating sounds that set the tone for the background. The eclectic technology and the interactive experience of the ultra violet light takes art to another dimension. The wall to wall black light video installation was magical. The energetic visuals develop higher vibrations frequencies the 3D glasses allowed the art jumped off the walls so the effect was able to fully experienced. The colors were so vibrant and the live songstress provided another means to capture the essence of multi dimension artistry.

The tunnel was flooded with sounds of live performances of storytellers retelling classic
tales bouncing off the walls. The tonalities and depths captured the attention of people
pass down the tunnel way. The background sound mixed with Victorian lights props
produced the most unique multi dimensional existence.

MusicCenterafterHours1-ErinJuliannaphoto by Erin Julianna

Shadow performances combined art and live shadow movement through projectors, and
lights to create a dreamlike multimedia performance which felt similar to a recital. The art
and the shadow became one with the other, digitalized and human interaction through art.
The live dream interpreters clarifying dreams was the most intriguing and eerie moment of
the experience piece. The low light scheme, music and set props guide the mood towards
a spooky yet liberating pleasure.

The harp provided smooth and dreamy sounds paired with minimal light and the crowd
position in a circle surrounding the artist generated a calming harmonious energy
throughout the room.

Not all the details came from the huge installation pieces, but it was the small specific
details that made the overall experience interactive between the art and the audience.

Event Review: BODYTRAFFIC at the Broad!

Lobodytraffic1s Angeles-based BODYTRAFFIC contemporary dance company performed to a full-house audience at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. The very well received program included three unique works: "3 Preludes," a preview of "Private Games: Chapter One," and the world premier of "Death Defying Dances."

See image: Melissa Bourkas & Guzman Rosado from "Death Defying Dances," photo by Joshua Sugiyama

"3 Preludes"
was performed to the music of George Gershwin with live accompaniment by pianist Inna Faliks. The dancers, wearing street clothes and moving with a range of fluidity and chaotic rhythms, evoked  bustling cityscape scenes and interactions. "3 Preludes" was choreographed by Richard Siegal with lightening design by Burke Wilmore and included performers Tina Finkelman Berkett, Joseph Kudra, Matthew Rich, and Guzmán Rosado

"Private Games: Chapter One (preview)," choreographed by Anton Lachky, integrated the tribal beats of Drums of the World with the classical music of Joseph Haydn, N.J. Zivkovic, B. Biskupstungna, Johann S. Bach.  We were transported into a strange and confusing alternative reality by the dancers as they evoked frenetic fleeting moments as they became immersed in interpersonal games and changing roles being played out in wonder and amusement through a cacophony of intense physical and verbal expression. Costumes were designed by Raquel Barreto, Anton Lachky, and BODYTRAFFIC with stage lighting by Burke Wilmore, and featured  performers Lillian Rose Barbeito, Tina Finkelman Berkett, Joseph Kudra, Lindsey Matheis, Matthew Rich, and Guzmán Rosado.

BODYTRAFFIC2ASee image: Tina Berkett & Joseph Davis from "Death Defying Dances," photo by Joshua Sugiyama

The program concluded with the world premiere of "Death Defying Dances" with choreography and costume design by
Yann Seabra and lighting design by Burke Wilmore and featuring the music of L.E. Freeman / Mann Holiner, J.C. Johnson and inspired by Judy Henske and her persona as "Queen of the Beats."  Henske's recorded provocative narration, song lyrics and bluesy vocal styling dominated the piece as the dancers, wearing colorful and fanciful costumes, portrayed and acted out the characters in her fabled story-lines.

BODYTRAFFIC exemplifies the best in a need to appreciate and support bringing live performances to the LA stage and call further attention to and nurture what is clearly a thirst for dance of all forms that helps us experience how to live and move together as our city life continues to be redefined and reimagined.

Review: All About that Bass...at the Angel City Jazz Festival

Four of the most innovative bass players in Los Angeles came together for Extreme Bass Night at this year's Angel City Jazz Festival which that took place in Santa Monica at The Edye at the Broad Stage. Each one of these masters demonstrated their virtuosity while showcasing the outer reach of the bass' musical range.
Photo by Richard Bilow; Miles Mosley and drummer Tony Austin

The evening began with Mike Valerio, a veteran musician who can be heard on hundreds of television and movie scores. Mr. Valerio's solo set began with an impressive version of one of the Fugues from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Then, he mentioned that he was in the studio recently with John Williams and proceeded to play a solo from that session that highlighted his brilliant classical and jazz chops. However, the highlight of the set was a version of Paul Simon's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. The song began with the musician creating a beat by banging on his bass. He then looped this beat, began slapping away at his bass and sang the song with a very strong, impressive soulful voice.

The second set featured the sonic experimentations of contrabass guitarist/composer Steuart Liebig who uses an extensive collection of pedals to create layers of sound that expand his sound palette. Mr. Liebig used brushes, mallets, cymbals, socket wrenches and other oddities to create unique musical textures. Though trained on the upright double bass, Liebig plays the electric six-string model – the contrabass guitar. The extra strings allow for more chordal possibilities in addition to being able to go lower and higher. Although at some times, it may have been challenging to hear, there was no doubt that Mr. Liebig's knows what he's doing and has a lot of fun doing it!
Photo by Richard Bilow; Mike Valerio, Tim Lefebvre, Steuart Liebig and Miles Mosley

After a brief intermission, Tim Lefebvre's set showcased his avant-garde jazz/funk credentials. He has played with Tedeschi Trucks Band (his full-time gig), Chris Botti, Toto, Sting, Uri Caine and Donald Fagen. He's also one of the last bassist to record with David Bowie – his bass work is featured on "Blackstar." Mr. Lefebvre played a stylish looking, vintage, light blue Fender Jazz bass throughout his set and after a brief solo offering, beats wizard Troy Ziegler and keyboardist Rachel Eckroch joined him. The trio's evocative set over a civil rights speech set up a tension filled jam session that featured high pitched bass and keyboard solos that didn't stretch too far and always found their way back to the beat.

The fourth bassist to grace the stage was Miles Mosley – the bassist/co-founder of West Coast Get Down – the well-known collective of musicians that have put Los Angeles jazz on the map through their recent world tour with Kamasi Washington. Mosley has toured extensively across the globe with many artists including Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, and Herbie Hancock. He has successfully combined bow work, effects, and 'in-your-face' dexterity to give his instrument his own signature sound. He was joined on stage by Tony Austin – another member of the collective whose creative drumming is such a pleasure to hear and watch. These two musicians have been playing together so long there chemistry is unique. They are always locked in with each other creating a never ending groove that makes your head bob. The set featured a smoking version of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child," which was followed by Mosley's original "Abraham" – a brand, new single that is out now and will be featured on his new album in January 2017.
Photo by Richard Bilow; Tim Lefebvre and Steuart Liebig

The night concluded with all four bassists along with their collaborators taking the stage for an experimental jam session where each bassist tried to outdo the other by seeing how many weird and wonderful sounds they could get out of their instruments. Of course, they threw in plenty of traditional shredding solos. In the end, it was clear that these guys all have the ability to uniquely communicate their expressions through the bass and to musically think "outside the box".

The Angel City Jazz Festival has consistently featured the most innovative and original national and international jazz musicians working today and hats off to them for putting together an adventurous night of improvised music. I can't wait for next year! Find out more here: http://angelcityjazz.com/ http://www.thebroadstage.com/

Event Review: Time for You to Get Down with the West Coast Get Down

Much has been written about the West Coast Get Down, a collective of musicians/friends from Los Angeles that are making a big noise in the music industry.  The band is composed of some of the best players on the planet, including bassist Stephen Bruner (better known by his stage name Thundercat) and his brother, drummer Ronald Bruner Jr., as well as bassist Miles Mosley, drummer Tony Austin, keyboard player Brandon Coleman, pianist Cameron Graves, trombonist Ryan Porter and saxophonist Kamasi Washington.
PianoBar-signOver the last seven years, the group has honed its craft at a little bar in Hollywood called “The Piano Bar.”  The little dive on Selma provided the musicians a home and a relaxed vibe that allowed them to practice their chops while writing a lot of music. In my opinion, it also made them one of the best live bands in the world!  Last week, the Piano Bar closed and the band came together to say goodbye to an old friend. 

They played two sets to a packed house mixing up originals and covers with their unique blend of jazz/funk that recalls Miles Davis, James Brown, Prince, and the Crusaders. 

Last year, after 5 years of dedicated work, saxophonist, Kamasi Washington released “The Epic” – a three-disc, 175-minute musical masterpiece recorded with a ten-piece band, choir and string section.  Upon its release, the band played a sold-out show at the Regent in downtown LA that was recorded by NPR.  Listen to it - CLICK HERE!

The sessions from “The Epic” resulted in numerous albums from other members of the group and the next one up is best player Miles Mosley who will release his album UPRISING in January 2017 on Alpha Pup / World Galaxy. Co-produced by Tony Austin and Barbara Sealy, the record features Washington, Austin, and fellow West Coast Get Down members Ryan Porter, Brandon Coleman, and Cameron Graves, as well as Dontae Winslow and the late saxophonist Zane Musa. Its lead single, “Young Lion” premiered last week - CLICK HERE!
westcoastgetdown-RBilowThe sessions from “The Epic” resulted in numerous albums from other members of the group and the next one up is best player Miles Mosley who will release his album UPRISING in January 2017 on Alpha Pup / World Galaxy. Co-produced by Tony Austin and Barbara Sealy, the record features Washington, Austin, and fellow West Coast Get Down members Ryan Porter, Brandon Coleman, and Cameron Graves, as well as Dontae Winslow and the late saxophonist Zane Musa. Its lead single, “Young Lion” premiered last week - CLICK HERE!

It may have been the last time to see the band at the Piano Bar – but, you can still see them play live.  In fact, Miles Mosley will be playing with Tony Austin on drums as part of the Angel City Jazz Festival’s Extreme Bass Night on Friday October 14th at 8pm at the Edye @the Broad Stage in Santa Monica.  While Kamasi Washington will be at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa on Saturday, October 8th and the Walt Disney Hall on Sunday, November 6th.

The West Coast Get Down is writing the future of jazz and you would be wise to catch these masters live in town before they take off again for another world tour!  Or, maybe you want to wait until they reopen the Piano Bar.

Melissa Chandon’s “American Weekend” Offers Warm Shades of Nostalgia!

On Saturday, June 25, I was at my usual art haunt...Bergamot Station Arts Center (in Santa Monica) rushing...while attempting to see as many new exhibitions as possible. As I barreled into Skidmore Contemporary Art to view a solo exhibition titled "American Weekend," featuring the paintings of Melissa Chandon, I noticed my stride slowed, and my frantic energy subsided. A wave of nostalgia hit me. The warm pastel hue of the paintings surrounded me as I took a moment to breathe in the exhibition. Memories of playing with my sister in the back of my family's old paneled station wagon popped into my head, along with fragmented snapshots of trips to state parks and sing-alongs in the car. "American Weekend" transported me back to when I was five with no agenda other than to live life and play.

-1-Huff-MelissaChandon-SkidmoreContemoraryArtPhoto courtesy of LAArtParty.com; Melissa Chandon at opening reception on June 25, 2016 at Skidmore Contemporary Art

I soon found the artist engaged in conversation with her fans. She was articulate, passionate, and open about her work. "I am captivated by the American landscape and road side vernacular," explained the artist, who has been painting since 1996. She revealed that her biggest inspiration was her teacher and friend, Professor Wayne Thiebaud, who urged her to 'never quit.' Chandon continued, "Thiebaud taught me to push forward with examination and determination so that I can continue to grow." At the age of 95, Thiebaud, who is still creating, is a shining example of this. Thiebaud's inspiration on the artist is evident, however Chandon has forged her own relationships with new subjects while implementing her own voice. "Take Red Rolls with its chrome and highlights," said the artist. "It has a glow much like a Thiebaud cupcake, served up on a yellow surface with a long cast shadow. It is here where I am fascinated by abstraction that I create movement. A good painting is one where the viewer can enter the pictorial surface, the eye is drawn in and is able to move about and then exit. Monet was an absolute pro at this feat."

-2-Huff-MelissaChandon-SurfWagonImage: Melissa Chandon, Surf Wagon, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 36"

Chandon said David Hockney has also had an impact on her. "The way Hockney handled water in a swimming pool is somewhat similar to how Thiebaud handled water in a drinking glass," explained Chandon. "Their ability to capture light is amazing. I like to think that we, as artists, borrow from those who came before us and hopefully we inspire others." Chandon herself is an adjunct professor, currently teaching at UC Davis. One can only assume her love of art and knowledge is in turn inspiring up and coming artists. She cited Andy Warhol, Joan Mitchell, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Henri Matisse, Edward Ruscha, Richard Diebenkorn, and Chuck Arnoldi as additional influences.

She went on to say that she is fascinated with the post-world war birth of suburbia, particularly in Levitttown, Long Island, created by famed real estate developers Levitt and Sons. Automobiles are another source of attraction (as a subject) for the artist. "I feel I deeply appreciate beauty and fetishes and highly designed objects," added Chandon. "It is odd to me when you see a vintage car out on the road...say an orange 2002 BMW series. When you see them, they scream extinction and look as if they are a rare bird."

-3-Huff-MelissaChandon-OrangeBMW2002-48x48Image: Melissa Chandon, Orange BMW, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 48” x 48”

Art is so subjective, and as viewers, we bring our own history to what we see. For me, Melissa Chandon's "American Weekend" brings to mind happy family vacations and lazy summer days prior to the havoc introduced by the digital craze. "American Weekend" provides a glimpse into a story book that so many of my generation have shared. The artist appears to remark on our society's obsession with consumerism. The images Chandon portrays conjure up memories of family (in its purest form). Although she chooses not to paint people into her works, one cannot help but visualize one's own family home movies.

Chandon's work is rooted in realism juxtaposed against a backdrop of pure ebullience. The pastel palette further expounds on the playful serenity and nostalgic sentiment. "American Weekend" pays tribute to the patriarchal archetype...a simpler time when the phrase 'politically correct' had not yet been uttered.

-4-Huff-MelissaChandon-PostModern-Poolwith-DivingBoard-65x85-acrylic-on-canvasImage: Melissa Chandon, Post Modern Pool with Diving Board, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 61" x 85"

Chandon's work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and internationally. Her paintings are in notable public and private collections such as Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young Museum Morgan Flagg Collection), Morris Graves Museum, Napa Valley Museum, Triton Museum of Art, University of New Mexico, Cancer Research Center, and more.

Chandon is currently represented by Caldwell Snyder Gallery in San Francisco, Hubert Gallery in New York, and Skidmore Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

-5-Huff-MelssaChandon-Boat-for-Alex40x40-HRImage: Melissa Chandon, Boat for Alex, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40"

Treat yourself...take a moment out of your busy schedule to breathe in the paintings of Melissa Chandon..."American Weekend" will transport you back to your childhood and offer a moment of respite from today's hectic over-stimulated world.

Skidmore Contemporary Art, Bergamot Station, 2525 Michigan Avenue #B-4, Santa Monica, CA 90404; The exhibition will remain on view through July 30, 2016;  http://skidmorecontemporaryart.com; http://melissachandon.com/

-6-Huff-MelissaChandon-Route-66-TeePee-Motel-40x40Image: Melissa Chandon, Route 66 Tee Pee Motel, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 40"

Image: Melissa Chandon, Red Rolls, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 48" x 48"