You have to applaud a gallery that eschews lofty, esoteric themes in favor of merely exhibiting artists they believe in. Saturday night, C.A.V.E Gallery in Venice opened their latest show without some contemplative title, or any unifying motif. It is simply a display of three talented artists, Gustavo Rimada, Randy Noborikawa, and Craig “Skibs” Barker, doing very different things. It is a warm and inviting show that is utterly without pretense.
Gustavo Rimada was the reason I was there. I had pretty much fallen under his sway since viewing “La Muerta” back in March of last year. Rimada’s art is visceral. It’s the kind that seizes you by the throat and pulls you across the gallery floor immediately. Imagine the most beautifully executed female portrait tattoo you’ve ever seen. Now imagine all nine muses sweeping in and breathing life into that portrait until her cheeks are barely blushing, and her hair is adorned with blooming roses. Imagine that pulsating vision awash in moths, butterflies, skulls, antlers, and various symbols of the sacred and profane. Such is the art of Gustavo Rimada. He renders all this with spare, graceful brushstrokes. Nothing is overworked. Every new piece by Rimada impresses me more than the last, and I was pretty impressed to begin with.
Craig “Skibs” Barker works in the mixed media collage realm that was first given legitimacy as a vital art form by Richard Hamilton in the Fifties. Barker’s work seems fond of the Fifties, peppered as they are with glamour girls, soda jerks, pulp novels, vintage television sets, and kitchen appliances. He pointed out to one of the attendees that a particular image was of his wife. “I’m a leg man”, he confessed. I assume a hopeless romantic as well.
Randy Noborikawa was a new name for me, but it’s one that’s going to stick. He’s trying a number of different ideas. While his paintings often incorporate flashing neon, it’s not neon for the sake of garishness. He’s exploring how light bends form and subject matter. Some of his pieces were so different that I found myself checking the title card to make sure it was by Noborikawa. While I understand the value of having one’s art instantly recognizable in the land of the short attention span, I have greater respect for those artists who are more concerned with an idea than a definitive look. I think it’s brave. I’m very curious to see what roads Noborikawa travels next.
It’s worth noting that in the back half of the gallery, on The Project Wall is a display of Renee Lawter’s charming sepia tone watercolors. Playful, childlike and with an undercurrent of dark wit, Lawter’s illustrations could very well get us a little closer to filling that Maurice Sendak size hole in our lives.
None of these artists have much in common, and that ultimately doesn’t matter. I think C.A.V.E. is confident in each artist being able to stand on their own, without the crutch of a tie-in. They think you’re smart enough to handle more than one idea at a time. Stop by and thank them for that.
The show runs through September 16, 2012C.A.V.E. Gallery 1108 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice, CA. 90291 310-450-6960 email@example.com Hours: Wednesday – Sunday 12pm to 6pm or by appointment Text and photos by Keith Ross Dugas