Littletopia – Not so little anymore!
Littletopia – the show within a show – is back for its fifth year at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the LA Art Show this January 10-14th. This years section curator is Rachael Cronin of Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans, who not only brings artists from their gallery, but also invites galleries and artists from around the world to participate in the vision originally set by Noah Antieau’s of creating a very eclectic grouping of unique contemporary art. With a focus on pop-surrealism and lowbrow work that is sometimes dark and sometimes whimsically amusing with pop culture references, the variety of art includes paintings, illustrations, mixed media, assemblage, sculpture, installations, and functional art.
Entering the decidedly distinct realm of Littletopia, one passes through a massive archway, signaling you are indeed entering a different world. Each year, a different artist is selected to create the iconic entry installation. This year, internationally renowned muralist and installation artist Dennis McNett (aka Wolfbat) was selected to build the archway. Wolfbat is known for creating large-scale work with incredibly intricate details, folkloric imagery, and psychedelic patterns.
A highly anticipated annual tradition at this show is the Littletopia honor of a person of great achievement at an awards ceremony on the fairs’ first full day. This year, the honoree is Margaret Keane, creator of the iconic “Big Eyes” stylized artwork. Her special Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to her by artist Mab Graves, who says she is one of his greatest inspirations. Her gallery, Keane Eyes Gallery of San Francisco, is presenting a retrospective of her work inside Littletopia, entitled “ Margaret Keane: A Survivor and Woman of Two Centuries.“
There will be another tribute this year, the second one a sorrowful memorial to a renowned and beloved art pioneer. Greg Escalante, a visionary art advocate with a thriving gallery in LA’s Chinatown, and the co-founder of Juxtapoz Magazine passed away unexpectedly a few months ago. In previous years, some Littletopia programming was handled by the late Escalante, who was a huge proponent of the lowbrow art movement, and a champion to many emerging artists in that genre. His memory and legacy will be honored in various ways throughout Littletopia, including a sponsored bar featuring a mural by Jillian Evelyn, and a memorial altar.
Another must-see installation within this unconventional art arena is an installation presented by Superchief Gallery of LA. A first time participant in the fair, Superchief will bring the centerpiece of their most recent exhibition “Space Angels,” a solo show featuring artist Bunnie Reiss. The installation features a 22-foot “space boat” created in memory of the victims of the Ghost Ship art community fire that killed 36 in Oakland last December. Following Margaret Keane’s award ceremony, Superchief Gallery will host the official after-party at their gallery space in Downtown LA. Stop by their booth in Littletopia for more information and the address.
Superchief Gallery will also be presenting an installation by Jeff Gillette titled “ho’od.” The following is a quote by Jeff about his work
I have been visiting third-world slums extensively, from my first quick snapshots of shanties on a Calcutta city tour in 1983, through two-years living in poverty in the Peace Corps in Asia, to a month-long artist residency in 2017 where I built a Disneyland Castle façade on slum shacks in Mumbai. Inspired by the sensory assault of slums and their surrounding filth (open sewers, landfills and lots of flies), I create “Too Realist” work that I juxtapose with popular icons of Western Culture, most often from Disneyland, near where I live and work in California. For this year’s LA Art Show, I am playing on the decomposing iconic Hollywood sign.
Here are the featured artists and galleries within Littletopia:
701 Gallery – This unique gallery is located within the heart of the Santa Fe Arts District in Denver, CO. It features mostly photography and mixed-media art works by Todd Duane Miller. https://www.tdmfineart.com/
Todd Duane Miller
Art Du Marche – Their mission is to expand the world of talented young Japanese artists to the international stages. They are known to create pop-up art exhibits in various locations including Los Angeles. http://artdumarche.com/
BoxHeart Gallery is a contemporary art gallery in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, exhibiting innovative regional, national, and international artists whose artwork exemplifies the diversity and originality of contemporary art and fine craft. The gallery, run by husband and wide team Nicole Capozzi and Joshua Hogan was named one of Pittsburgh’s “10 Best Contemporary Galleries” by “The Culture Trip.” http://www.boxheartgallery.com/
Bunnie Reiss is a Los Angeles-based artist whose focus is on large scale art installations and public art murals infused with mysticism and brightly colored folkoric motifs inspired by her Eastern European background. Her Space Boat is featured at Superchief Gallery . http://www.bunniereiss.com/
Copro Gallery, located at the Bergamot Station Art Complex, focuses on emerging artists in the pop-surrealism and low-brow art movements. The gallery was founded in 1992 by the late Greg Escalante and Douglas Nason. http://www.copronason.com/
Cordesa Fine Art is located in the Los Angeles Arts District, and features contemporary emerging and established artists in all mediums. It was established in 2015 by Meghan Kate Corso and Luke Lombardo. https://www.cordesafineart.com/
Gersten Fine Art is operated by artist Geoffrey Gersten, an internationally represented artist in his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. His whimsical art featuring unique characters and pop-culture motifs is also seen in galleries and exhibitions spanning the US with solo exhibitions in Taiwan and Madrid. https://www.ggersten.com/
Above 4 pieces by Geoffrey Gersten
John Natsoulas Gallery of Davis, California was established over three decades ago to support emerging local artists as well as advance fine art in all mediums. They have earned numerous honors through producing historical and high-profile exhibitions, publishing hundreds of artists’ catalogs and books, hosting educational conferences, and spearheading the country’s first Transmedia Art Walk in downtown Davis, with its fifty plus sculptures and murals by local artists. This year, they will feature surrealist painter Avery Palmer at the Littletopia section. https://natsoulas.com
Jonathan Levine Projects is committed to new and cutting-edge art, exploring the terrain of the high/low and everything in between. As a youth growing up in Trenton, New Jersey during the 1980s, Jonathan LeVine recognized the appeal of countercultural aesthetics including punk flyers, comics, graffiti and tattoos. In 2001, after years of independently curating at alternative venues, he decided to open a gallery specializing in this nascent art movement. https://jonathanlevineprojects
Josh Tiessen Studio Gallery, established in 2010 between Toronto and Niagara Falls, has been voted #1 in the region for the past three years. The gallery features the contemporary realism of international award-winning artist Josh Tiessen and guests. Oil paintings employing symbolic imagery demonstrate innovation and technical mastery. Josh Tiessen Studio Gallery will present a two-person exhibition with Josh Tiessen and Adrienne Stein in the Littletopia section of the LA Art Show. http://www.joshtiessen.com/
Keane Eyes Gallery of San Francisco is the namesake gallery of the renowned artist Margaret Keane, whose work has been influencing artists for nearly 60 years. Her large-eyed waifs have also inspired toy designs, cartoons, numerous illustrators and filmmakers including Tim Burton. Her portrait commissions include everyone from the Mayor of San Francisco to Liberace to Tony Morabito, the former owner of the San Francisco 49ers. The Littletopia gallery installation will be showing a retrospective of her work. https://www.keane-eyes.com/
Mirus Gallery is a San Francisco-based gallery championing new movements in contemporary art, led by curator and art dealer, Paul Hemming. The gallery features a program of contemporary artwork by emerging and mid-career artists in both solo and thematically organized group shows, highlighting engaging work that emphasizes skill and process on a sentient, emotional and evocative level. http://www.mirusgallery.com/
Paradigm Gallery + Studio, established in February 2010, started as a project between co-founders and curators, Jason Chen and Sara McCorriston. They aimed to create a space to make and exhibit their own art as well as that of their peers. It has now become a gallery of diverse contemporary artwork from around the world, providing an artistic space for both the visual and performing arts, with a focus on both emerging and established Philadelphia-based visual artists. https://www.paradigmarts.org/
Dennis McNett (Wolfbat)
Red Truck Gallery – After years of being a traveling gallery, exhibiting at shows and doing pop up curations in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris, Red Truck has returned to its permanent home on Royal Street in New Orleans. Gallery founder Noah Antieau originally curated the Littletopia section of the LA Art Show. Red Truck Gallery is full of “great art by great people.” https://www.redtruckgallery.com/
kristen liu wong
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Superchief Gallery LA is an independent artist-run gallery in a large scale warehouse location in the Arts District of Los Angeles, with a second location in New York City. It was founded in 2012 by Edward Zipco & Bill Dunleavy in Brooklyn, NY As a multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary platform for artists from disparate scenes and collectives, enabling them to participate in the larger community. https://www.superchiefgallery.com/