LiB’s “Lightning in a Paintcan” Pulses with Artistic Enthusiasm

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Every year I look forward to Lightning in a Paintcan. It is the live painting event that takes place during SoCal’s Lightning in a Bottle music festival. Extremely diverse and talented artists are scattered throughout the grounds of the festival, working steadily as competing DJ beats flow through the air. Festival goers are free to connect with artists, often interrupting their work to express exploding enthusiasm. It’s an interactive experience both artists and audience appreciate and enjoy. Although artists come to work here with plans, ideas, sketches and color pallets of what they will create, they cannot help but be informed by the environment in which they are drenched over the course of the festival weekend.

Under inevitable July sun beating down in Temecula, CA, I spoke with Carmen Zella, from the DO ArT Foundation, which runs the Lightning in a Paintcan event.

The purpose of DO ArT is to get art into the community, and Lightning in a Paintcan acts as a fund raiser for many of their public art programs. Right now they are working with Los Angele City Councilmember Jose Huizar on a totally imaginative project designed to expose art practically to parts of Los Angeles by replacing advertisements on 20 bus stop benches with art. The project is aptly titled “Why don’t we do it in the road?”

With the same passion and zeal that creates such unique community projects, DO ArT desires that Lightning in a Bottle become the premiere live painting festival. For LIP, they sort through hundreds of submissions looking for diversity of voice, unmistakable energy and inspired technique. Carmen says that during the festival, they strive to treat their artists like the rock stars they are!

Often artists working live at festivals like this are an after thought she says, something brought in for ambiance or scenery:

At Lightning in a Bottle we want to treat our artists just as well as our musicians and DJs. They are not an afterthought; they are a huge part of our festival.

Artists work from Thursday through Sunday night. On Sunday night, the Live Auction occurs. Reflective of the art enthusiasm that runs throughout LIB, most pieces sell, and some sell big. A few artists sell their work before it is even complete. John Park, whose recent show at C.A.V. E. was covered in CARTWHEEL, sold his piece Saturday afternoon for the buy-now price, not bad for a weekend of running into old friends and hearing some great music! Of course, he did work much harder then most of us played, one night falling asleep in front of his canvas with paintbrush in hand! (Hey, its a hard job but, somebody’s gotta paint.)

John like many of the artists here, seem to absolutely thrive in this environment. Every time I cruised the festival, I would see not just festival attendees, but the artists themselves approaching each other to compliment one anothers work. It was so cool to watch the art community come together in this way. The camaraderie was potent and inspiring!

Even as I spoke to various artists, they would generously praise one another. A name I heard often was Christina Angelina who produced five paintings at LIP this year. An extremely focused artist, confident in her unique voice and point of view, she not only created her own pieces, but collaborated with two other artists, Hans Walor and Alexander DCD,  to create some exceptional and imaginative work.

So many artists and so much great energy. LIP really delivered with their handpicked artists this year. Although I didn’t get a chance to speak with every artist, their work spoke volumes. It was so much fun to see the pieces brought together, mostly complete, on Sunday night.

My favorite piece of the weekend, the one that caught my eye early on, was a blue and orange abstract by Alexander DCD  Wow! Awash with vibrant color and framed here and there with angular white lines and circles, it was a piece easy to envision living with: I could imagine it hanging on my wall while I was having breakfast, or entertaining friends, or typing away at my keyboard. Alexander says this was his third year at Lightning in a Paintcan, and its something he looks forward to more and more. Alexander’s two other pieces were equally modern and dreamy.

During the auction, Hans Walor was still working hard on his solo piece. Despite being incomplete, the emerging detail was striking. A finished piece of his could also be found in the Satellite C.A.V.E. gallery set up under a tent. Curator Patrick said he is looking forward to a future show at C.A.V.E.‘s Venice location featuring Hans. Be sure to look for coverage here at CARTWHEELart!

While Hans said that next year he’d like to to try a quieter area of the festival in which to work, artist Michael Pukac said he relished working within the festival, and the rhythm of whatever music surrounding him really effects his work in a positive way. The free flowing fish in one of his pieces really did seem to be whirling in dance!

Artist Patrick Morgan allowed himself to be more then a little influenced by the festival atmosphere, when he included within his piece an art installation created for this year’s LIB. I saw many people stop to watch him work, and the end result was both super whimsical and amusingly slick.

CARTWHEEL correspondent Max Neutra, who has contributed a piece to the upcoming TKU “Oh Brother Where Art Thou” benefit created an offbeat and inspired electronic polar bear. I wondered later about the environmental implications of painting an animal (one currently under duress as a result of increasing climate changes) being dissolved into electronic music. It was definitely a piece that stayed with me well after the festival weekend.

One of the more stunning pieces of the weekend was Griffin One’s portrait of a somewhat futuristic festival girl donned with a large headdress made of horns, bones and a giant turquoise eye-like jewel. Something about her made me want to know more. Enchanting.

Artis Aly Koroman reached for both comfortable nostalgia and modern tribalism in his work this year. His piece, Body and Soul Mechanics, features a young 1950‘s boy’s smiling face floating above strange hieroglyphics and two dimensional graphics. It could be easily placed above a pool table in a hipster dive bar or work as the center piece of an eclectic living room.

Telopa’s portrait a of young woman wearing strange face paint, holding an exotic mythical bird and staring listlessly at the viewer was really beautiful. It pleasantly reminded me of Frida Kahlo’s work, and I laughed as a heard another person remark the same thing to her friend.

One piece that I had to stop a little a longer to admire and enjoy was a bright smiling sun by Jeff Logan. When I heard a girl scream

That’s my favorite piece of all!

I turned to see what she was talking about, and was confronted with a painting of a world ripe with color, bordering between cartoon and mythical realism. A model stood in front of the piece showing off Logan’s bodypaint work. I loved that the she seemed to be presented along with his canvases as a “living” work!

The diversity of the LIP artists truly offered a something-for-everyone experience. For interested buyers, pieces that did not sell are still available.

As I attend the many art openings of the upcoming year throughout LA, and run into the live painting that is so popular and gratifying to watch, I am sure to continue reflecting on the work I saw this weekend.  Lightning in a Paintcan attracts more and more artists, and as artists grow throughout the year,  and it is exciting to think what we might find there next time. If you were there, please let us know: What was your favorite Lightning in a Paintcan piece this year?

Top: Alexander DCD. All photos by Julio Moreno, except those of Christina Angelina’s solo work, which were provided by the artist.

John Park

Christina Angelina

Christina Angelina and Hans Walor

Hans Walor

Alexander DCD

Patrick Morgan

Max Neutra

Michael Pukac


Griffin One

Aly Koroman



Jeff Logan







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