Gabba Gallery’s Jason Ostro Talks Art, Music, and Giving Back to the L.A. Community

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Art by Max Neutra for Remix: The Art of Music

On Saturday, August 4, Gabba Gallery is hosting a public reception to celebrate the launch of “Remix: The Art of Music,” a group show of visual art inspired by music. As in the gallery’s previous exhibitions, “Cratedigger” (2016) and “Cratedigger, Vol. 2” (2017), part of the Remix show will feature pieces that are 12 inches square, the size of a record album cover. Album covers for both real and faux bands will be on display. This year, the gallery will also be showing music-themed pieces created without any restrictions on size or materials. Remix includes art by Shepard Fairey, Morley, Mikael B, Mickey Avalon, Val Kilmer, and many more artists.

A portion of all sales from “Remix: The Art of Music” will benefit Adopt the Arts, a nonprofit organization that raises money for elementary school art programs. Jason Ostro, Gabba Gallery’s director and curator, says, “I feel very strongly that if I didn’t have art growing up as a child, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today.”

Photo of Jason Ostro by Stephen Levey
Photo: Stephen Levey

Ostro has lived in Los Angeles for about twenty years, and when he opened Gabba Gallery in 2012, he saw an opportunity to use art to beautify the gallery’s Historic Filipinotown neighborhood. He says, “The Alley Project is a project that we have done for our neighborhood in the HiFi district. It started off as a project to basically give the neighbors safety, a cleaner environment, and also allow for beauty and inspiration. What we did is, we went through our first alley, and we cleaned up tons of refuse. We helped relocate some homeless people, and cleaned up buckets of feces and all kinds of disgusting things. Once the alley was clean, with neighbors’ help, we got twenty-four artists together, and the artists went up and down the alley and painted all the open areas that we had permission to paint.” The project was a big success—Cartwheel Art has even offered mural tours in the area—that Ostro reached out to additional homeowners for permission to expand it. “At this point, we’re in multiple different locations in Southern California with over 200 murals and hundreds of artists.”

Since then, Gabba Gallery has been involved in all sorts of community projects, including Vision Zero, which works to keep people safer on L.A. streets. Ostro says, “We donate to different things that artists want to do. We did a print release where we donated thousands of dollars to a suicide prevention line. We’ve had projects where we’ve donated to animal organizations, and we’ve helped Art of Elysium raise money from some of their art for their programming.”

Artwork by Keith Dugas for Remix: The Art of Music
Artwork by Keith Dugas

With “Remix: The Art of Music,” Ostro brings combines his passions for art and giving back with a third love—music. He says, “My entire life, I’ve been an audiophile. I’ve been somebody who has been, for lack of a better word, a cratedigger. From my freshman year of college up until this day, if I travel anywhere, one of the things I like to do is go to record stores.” His interest in album art is what inspired the first Cratedigger show. “The whole idea of album art as a medium for a show was just a no-brainer for me. It was basically taking me and putting me back into a record store and letting me just be surrounded by music and albums that I’ve never seen before, and there was some stuff that I was super excited to experience.”

“Remix: The Art of Music” opens Saturday and runs through August 25. Ostro says, “This is one of my favorite shows of the year, because I get to see so much music-oriented stuff. If I could do anything with my life, I would be around music all the time. Music and art is kind of like my happy place.” With this show, he’s inviting us all to share that happy place with him.

One Mic by Vakseen
One Mic by Vakseen

Asked to name his all-time favorite piece of album art, Ostro mentions Tommy and the Woodstock album, but musically, he’s interested in all sorts of genres. “I definitely was a classic rock kid growing up and then once I went to college, I started buying tons of jazz and tons of fusion. I got into hip-hop, and I got into drum and bass, and jungle, then I went back into classic rock, and went into house, and more hip-hop… I’ve been DJ-ing on and off since ’93 or ’94, but now I basically just buy music for myself.”

He says his favorite record stores in L.A. include “Rockaway Records in Echo Park, The Record Parlour across the street from the Dream Hotel, and of course, you can’t go wrong with Amoeba,” but he admits he’s holding back. “There are other ones that I won’t tell you about, because I don’t want people to find my hidden spots.”

Till the Break of Dawn by Christopher James
Till the Break of Dawn by Christopher James

Top image: Artwork by Max Neutra

Participating Artists:
8333, Alex Achaval, Kii Arens, Mickey Avalon, Mikael B, Cody Bayne, Donna Bates, Teri Berman, Bohemia Incorporated, Bioworkz, Clinton Bopp, Brandon Boyd, CANTSTOPGOODBOY, Kate Carvellas, Scottie Chapman, Keith Dugas, Dytch66, Shepard Fairey, Joey Feldman, Adam Greener, Mike Habs, Patrick Haemmerlein, Cloe Hakakian, Mary Hanson, Brooke Harker, KC Woolf Haxton, Hero, Cyrus Howlett, Iskar, Warren Jacobson, Christopher James, Jspot jr, Val Kilmer, Jennifer Korsen, Hope, Kroll, Anita Kunz, Sean Kush, Andrea LaHue, Liquid Brain, Corban Lundborg, AJ Masthay, Bobbie Moline-Kramer, Moncho1929, Morley, Jules Muck, Max Neutra, Henry Niller, Jeremy Novy, Olive47, Jason Ostro, Antonio Pelayo, Isaac Pelayo, Phobik, Chris Pienta, Christina Ramos, Roaming Elephant, Joan Scheibel, Ricky Sencion, Septerhed, Jeffrey Sklan x Teachr, Amy Smith, Bisco Smith, Skye Amber Sweet, Stephen Levey, Teachr, Ten Hundred, Tatiana Tensen, TrustyScribe, Vakseen, Jennifer Verge, Jimi Vieira, Christine Webb, Marion Wesson, Pastey Whyte, Mimi Yoon, Torie Zalben, Tania Zatikian, And more!

August 4 – 25, 2018
Wednesday – Saturday (12 – 3 pm) or by appointment

Opening Reception:
August 4 (7 – 11 pm)

Gabba Gallery
3126 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Lil Sina by Mimi Yoon


Peter Tosh by Clinton Bopp

Portal 43 by Brandon Boyd

Into the Blue by Mikael B.

What a Wonderful World by Warren Jacobson
What a Wonderful World by Warren Jacobson

Artwork by Anita Kunz for Remix: The Art of Music
Artwork by Anita Kunz

Valleys of Neptune by Corban Lundborg
Valleys of Neptune by Corban Lundborg

Red Violin by
 Joan Scheibel

Bisco Smith

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