Awe-inspiring. Jaw-droppingly, soul-moving beautiful works of art. Friday night I was faint with appreciation for what is the strongest, most focused group shows La Luz de Jesus has offered this year. Each artist in “The Macabre Show” exhibited coherent, cohesive, and unique visions that blended seamlessly, creating a powerful impact that left attendees uncharacteristically subdued as they drank in the paintings by Steven Daily, Scott Holloway, Craig LaRotonda, Miso, Gail Potocki, and Jasmine Worth, and marveled at Myron Conan Dyal and Mavis Leahy‘s contrasting sculptural visions.
The sheer scale of Dyal’s works dominated the gallery. Dark red, black, sienna and ochre, labial and liminal shaped, they glistened like otherworldly flowers, alien, both menacing and yet disturbingly comforting in their looming intensity. Comfort plays a key in Mavis Leahy’s work, which is also disturbing, but with a far more whimsical and feminine take. While Dyal works in papier-mache on a huge scale, Leahy creates her work–some of which which has been featured in Country Living magazine, though probably not pieces like those in her “Rest in Peaceful Slumber” series at La Luz!–from bird and animals skulls, bones, and tiny decapitated china dolls then adds antique fabric, needle point, pearls and other embelisshments. With a body of colorfully patchworked antique fabric, the deer skulled Wycliffe grins rakishly amid the duck and bird-boned dolls. Leahy’s reliquaries and shadow boxes are delicately decorated and complex pastiches–I’d already purchased one based on the photos, and seeing them in real life astounded and enchanted me so much, I splurged for a second. (It’s complicated being a collector and an arts writer, but I love art, so I write enthusiastically about art that moves me. And when I can, I buy pieces that speak to me).
Miso’s latest series–I have one of her pieces from last year–show evolution, progression, and transition as an artist; in her current series, “Birth,” she explores mutation and malformation. Miso is working in color now, painting more humanoid figures in her tiny works, and instead of attaching antique magnifying glasses to view her miniature medical oddities, many are painted on optical glass.
LaRontonda’s “Rise of the Robosapiens” series was impressive in its scope and execution, taking human figures reminiscent of Italian frescoes in their execution and metamorphosing them into semi-mechanized humans. Roman and medieval styles also figure prominently in Scott Holloway’s gold leafed paintings and drawings that feature beautifully rendered skulls, bones and hands (plus a human heart) placed to convey motifs of death, bad luck, love and beauty. Stunning.
Steven Daily spent over a year researching the subjects for “Melchizedek,” his study of the supernatural elements in the Bible, reading the texts in Hebrew and Greek and well as the New International Version (I prefer the King James’ Version and the Lamsa translation from the Aramaic, but NIV has become the modern go-to edition. You can compare the KJV and NIV and other translations verse by verse at biblegateway.com, really fascinating to see the the shifts in language). His piece Apparition details a scene from the Book of Daniel whence comes the phrase “the writing on the wall,” while Fallen is classical portrait of one the Nephilim, the giant spawn of angels and the daughters of man, noted for their red hair and double rows of teeth. John the Baptist, a rabbi/Jesus, one of the Elohim, the slain Goliath, and other Biblical figures also appear in Daily’s luminous, detailed paintings.
Daily also collaborated with Jasmine Worth on Worship, a drawing in her “Dark Mothers” series (All of Worth’s pieces sold out by the time the show opened, very impressive to see the red dots beneath every piece). Her eery meditations on the Divine Feminine are darkly evocative and enchanting.
Gail Potocki debuted her triptych Whispered and Unkept, a seductive and mysterious work. Two birds frame the central figure of a woman behind whom emerge the legs of spider. The triptych is a progression: The first bird’s beak is wrapped in red ribbon. The same red rims the eyes of the woman who is rising from her chair, one hand on on the skull of a horned animal, whose eyes also glow with crimson. In the final panel, blood gushes from the bird’s mouth. The ornate frame presents a lengthy caption in Latin, carved and tipped with gold, detailing secretive scenario.
The crowd moved from piece to piece, discussing an photographing the works from “The Macabre Show” in hushed tones, even as they greeted each other effusively and snapped lots of photos.
And once again, like a cow’s meal, Angelyne appeared. The Methuselahesque self-promotrix parked her pink Corvette in the red zone outside La Luz, but it looked like no one came out to buy stuff out of her trunk–why should they with such amazing art inside? Angelyne is big on telling people not to take her picture, but what she doesn’t realize is that anything that can be seen in public by the human eye is allowed to be photographed. And she should be grateful anyone wants to try to snap a shot of her, though no one bothered this time. A photo of her car is proof enough that she still walks amongst us, swathed in pink with a brown crepe tan.
“The Macabre Show” is absolutely astounding and beautiful, a perfect start for the All Hallows season, redolent with otherworldly influences and symbols that usher in the season of the witch. Please see it.
(Top photo: Apparition, Steven Daily)“The Macabre Show” Through October 28 La Luz de Jesus 4633 Hollywood Blvd 323-666-7667 Monday-Wednesday 11am-7pm; Thursday-Saturday 11am-9pm; Sunday noon-6pm
Photos 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 22, 23, 24, 26: Lisa Derrick; Fallen, Worship, Branch Antlered Mother, Dark Mother, Unkept and Whispered courtesy of La Luz de Jesus; all other photos by CARTWHEEL’s multi-talented Lee Joseph.