Event Coverage: Opening Night for 2018 stARTup Art Fair in Venice Beach at The Kinney

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The 3rd annual Los Angeles stARTup Art Fair held two weeks ago at the Kinney Hotel in Venice Beach provided a beautiful showcase for the increasingly popular art fair where each artist turns a hotel room into their own gallery space. This iteration of the contemporary fair featured nearly 70 individual unrepresented artists with very diverse works in all mediums, including some highly unusual ones!

Opening night was a packed house, with traffic hanging out long after the 9 PM supposed closing time. The show programming was very well attended and included panel discussions, portfolio reviews, performance art pieces, and two special art activation areas presented by Cartwheel Art featuring local Downtown Los Angeles artist Jerico Woggon. Known for his signature black light sculpture installations, Woggon created a site-specific black –light reactive sculpture in the courtyard, as the first activation.

I’m with the artist Jerico Woggon

The second activation presented by Cartwheel Art was a black and white photography slideshow of Jerico’s DTLA-themed photos projected on a wall above the pool.

                 Photo by Jerico Woggon

Part of the allure of this show is that it is well–curated, providing an incredibly diverse mix of artistic talent, from complex and conceptual to just simply beautiful. Following is a short-ish highlight of some outstanding work from an impressive collection of artists.

Juliana Coles is a mixed –media collage artist from Albuquerque NM, who builds the narratives in her artwork layer by layer, combining graphic images with her own spirited text. Her drawings and paintings express her own uninhibited emotions and feelings about society and the challenges of life. She also is the creator of multiple art books through a practice she developed called “Visual Journaling.” Her books combine an active meditation technique and spiritual practice that draws upon symbols from the unconscious mind for transformation and healing, created by her to stimulate new pathways in her brain after her epileptic seizures.

Leslie Morgan’s work is inspired by the ocean, with her charming work having names like “Fish Bombs” and “Marina Memories.” Creating most of her work in cool blues and turquoise, her gallery suite embodied the tranquility of the seaside.

Another peaceful ambiance was created via the beautiful encaustic landscapes of San Francisco artist Robin Denevan. His lush velvety paintings are created first in oil, then enhanced via layers of resin and melted beeswax. His technique of adding and removing layers of oil paint and wax give his paintings both a depth and luminosity that is extraordinary, creating a very contemporary version of a traditional landscape.

Brian Huber’s work is created from large sheets of acrylic paint, cut, folded, rolled and manipulated like paper to create forms based on the abstraction of landscapes, architectural elements, and geometric shapes. He professed that the inspiration for the lyrical movement in most of his work stems from early and regular exposure to music while growing up in New Orleans.

Gillian Keller’s psychedelic fantasies are explosions of brilliant color and spiritual imagery. Her works reflect beauty and darkness, humor and suffering, where rainbows and mermaids abound, and a painting of the crucifixion portrays Christ as a woman.

“Scorched Earth” by Britney Penouilh is part of a series dedicated to the surprises hidden under the surface of the earth, specifically as they pertain to the San Andreas Fault. As a former student of both fine art and geology at the University of New Orleans, her interest in geology and the natural environment are her greatest inspirations for her mixed media panels and sculptures. Using a collage technique, pages of books about science, culture, religion, and philosophy are layered underneath her highly textural paintings, adding to the storyline of the mysteries beneath us.

Tucker Eason and Laura Hapka

Eason’s expressive and intimate portraits and figurative work expose his subject’s vulnerability while also delivering that feeling of familiarity, as if you know the subjects personally. His technique of creating subtle texture adds depth and interest to his poignant artwork.

Laura Hapka creates abstract geometric paintings via a complex procedure involving color mixing, layering, resin-coating, and then re-painting another layer. The resulting depth and intriguing color combinations invite closer inspection.

Philippe Jestin creates his silhouette paintings using a laborious process of creating translucent reliefs of resin on panel. Both the color and the absence of color create the dimensionality of his work.

David Koeth’s latest work – the Citrus Series- is a group of spheres created through the collection and manipulation of citrus peels. The recycling of this material, as well as the shape of his work, reminds us of mother earth and what is needed to maintain her as well as honor her.

Lastly, one of the most intriguing and impressive installations at the fair was the elaborate depiction of the Eight Deadly sins by Santa Cruz artist Gary Irving.  The multi-media work in 8 pieces incorporates painting, photography, storytelling, and sculpture, presented amidst a blood red backdrop.  Irving creates highly-stylized photo composites with a definite narrative of these “sins” as they relate to the destruction of the planet. These somber portraits are then set in elaborately hand-constructed and carved frames full of symbolic details that continue the story of each sin depicted in the composition. The storyline of each piece is detailed in a booklet that accompanies the work.

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