Reporting from Laguna Beach: Spangled and Spankin’ New

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Laguna Beach is producing more diverse and vigorous shows than ever, and this month proves it. Within a few blocks of one another, close enough by foot to enjoy a warm fall evening, three art exhibitions opened last weekend.  Like walking from Tomorrowland through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle past Fantasyland to the Haunted Mansion and then out to Main Street USA, it’s different lands, same zip code.

“Futureland 2012: The American Flag” at AR4T Gallery with a 22 gun salute to the American flag; “Creepy Cruisers” at 225 Forest with 80 Halloween-themed skate decks; and the debut show “Continue to Continue” at brand new CES Contemporary, which is an exciting and sophisticated new addition to Orange County.

In “Futureland 2012: The American Flag” at AR4T Gallery, a group of artists were asked to create their version of Old Glory while considering what it might look like in the future. When asked what he thinks the flag might look like 50 years from now, artist Trace Mendoza said:

Thinner, lighter, with more memory space.

Refreshingly, most of the American Flag interpretations wave a positive air. This uplifting show is a reflection of Torrey Cook’s ability to group talented emerging artists who have fresh takes on the free world. Trace was among a few who imagine triangular lines and new colors for the flag; Corey Smith‘s Obsolete Machines and Emily Hoy‘s collage are other shining examples. Flag artists who retained the stars-and-stripes rectangle shape and dimensions to a more comforting effect include Craig “Skibs” Barker and Carl E. Smith. There’s something so habitual about those stripes. It’s the stars that seem to appear and re-appear throughout the 22-piece show…

(Top photo: Corey Smith, Obsolete Machines)

“Futureland 2012: The American Flag”
Oct. 4-27, 2012
AR4T Gallery
210 Coast Hwy.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Open Friday-Sunday 12 – 6pm

At AR4T Gallery: Left to right: Matt Tackett, Danny Schutt, Craig “Skibs” Barker

At AR4T Gallery: Trace Mendoza, Ameridurrr

At AR4T Gallery: Nick Simich, Ride On, Billy Ride On, and David Blake, Pay at the Pump, Chump

At AR4T Gallery: Carl E. Smith



Around the block on Artwalk, “Creepy Cruisers” could be a name of a theme park ride. 225 Forest is displaying 75 or 80 skateboard decks (I heard both figures) all dressed up for Halloween. Like attending a massive costume party, there was a new crazy thing turning my head every half-second; unlike any costume party I’ve ever been to, there was a lack of “sexy” skateboards. In this bag of tricks standouts were The Head and the entire wall with the human bone. I tried to smell it but I was afraid to get too close…

“Creepy Cruisers”
Oct. 4-30, 2012
225 Forest
225 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Open Monday-Sunday 10am-9pm

At 225 Forest: Creepy Cruisers, 80 of them

At 225 Forest: Ryan Clemens, Corner of the Bar, and Trace Mendoza, Love Grows Where my Doom Metal Goes

At 225 Forest: Jason Maloney, The Black Ghost, C.R. Stecyk III, Sustantivo (wood, brass, lead, copper, tin, steel, human bone) and Nathan Alexander Rico, Creaking

At 225 Forest: Aaron Brown, The Head



On the corner of Ocean Ave… Carl E. Smith has been a busy guy. On Oct. 6 he presented a new gallery in downtown Laguna Beach that showcases the artist-gallerist’s affinity for collage and contrast. The debut group exhibition is an introduction of what’s to come from CES Contemporary as it aims to fill a missing niche of young contemporary national and international artists in Laguna Beach. Works by Andrew Schoultz, Corey Smith, Lola Dupre, Ira Svobodova and 12 others are lucid representations of future happenings at this cool new light-filled spot. The show is aptly called “Continue to Continue,” a phrase Carl’s late father used often. Says Carl:

To ‘continue to continue’ was to always progress forward, investigate and persevere. The bright group of contemporary artists in the exhibition exemplifies the desire to continue to advance; to explore and push boundaries; and to progress, positively.

Carl has been producing shows since 2010 from a location in the Laguna Beach canyon where, unless you knew where to turn off the road, was a hard-to-find spot. Now with geometric floor to ceiling windows right across from city hall, he’s sure to get more well-deserved attention.

As soon as I arrived at the grand opening last Saturday I was told to seek out Peter Gronquist‘s branded taxidermy jackalope. I was sidetracked by Corey Smith’s Odic Force that with a combination of glossy and matte resin that looks back-lit but isn’t. I noticed a lot of gold in this show right away, and after exploring found Annunciation, a woven work of book pages and 12-carat white gold by Larissa Nowicki and a drip American Flag by Andrew Schoultz. Both prime examples of what Laguna Beach will see as CES Contemporary continues to continue.

“Continue to Continue”
CES Contemporary
Oct.6-Nov.4, 2012
480 Ocean Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Open Tuesday-Friday 10am-6pm and Saturday 10am-5pm

At CES Contemporary: Peter Gronquist

At CES Contemporary: Lola Dupre

CES Contemporary, new to Laguna Beach

At CES Contemporary: Corey Smith, Odic Force

At CES Contemporary: Larissa Nowicki, Annunciation (detail)

At CES Contemporary: Andrew Schoultz

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