A self-portrait by William Wray
The Pink Show at Castelli Art Space, November 30 – December 3, 2017
5428 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles
By Janice Bremec Blum
The color pink as well as its varieties that range from bubble gum to flamingo to cherry blossom, is most often associated with little girls and their delicate femininity. But when you give the color to a group of creative, visual artists and ask what pink represents to them, you enter into the color behind the color. Meet William Wray, artist and co-curator of the Pink Pop-Up show happening at the Castelli Art Space in Culver City, California.
I sat down with Wray as he and a team of people were preparing the gallery for their Pink show. Sitting on an outside patio next to a wall of sparkly, pink curtains, I simply asked, “Why pink?”
“It’s a common thing in the gallery world to have a theme. I detest themes.” Wray gives a chuckle and a smirk. “Generally, they’re a choice to get commercial attention, hoping for salability.” Wray tells me. “But I wanted to have a theme that didn’t tie the hands of the artist in any way.”
From that declaration, the only instruction the artists were given by Wray and his co-curator Carlos Iglesias, was to present a piece that has pink in there somewhere. Whether that meant a painting of the vocal artist Pink or the look of a healthy glow, the choice was up to the artist. As I walked through the gallery still in the process of getting assembled for the show, there was indeed a plethora of pink in all its glory. “Pink,” Wray explains, “is going away from being just a ‘girl’ color and being an everybody color.”
At the Pink Show, there is only one agenda on the table which, I’m told, has nothing to do with the title. It’s about how all art can live together in harmony. “There’s a certain kind of classism in the art world.” Wray explains. “A lot of very contemporary art might not be so open to art that is narrative or illustrative.
Oftentimes, there’s a sense that that world may be left out of a certain kind of art gallery or a show. And vice versa. There could be a more Conservative Western gallery that may embrace the noble savage type of stuff which is the opposite extreme. I’m looking to be in the middle.”
In the “Pink Manifesto” defining the philosophy of this show, the question about the controversy of different concepts of art is addressed clearly.
“Can very contemporary art live in the same room with cartoon surrealism and some variation of narrative traditional art without the room bursting into flame?” Looking at the various “pink” work that was still being hung on the walls, I can assure you that the local fire department need not be on speed dial. From what I’ve seen so far, the work is magnificent. Classic. Whimsical. Surprising. Unique.
And all pink.
The wide realm of artistic expression by some of today’s leading artists rest upon the unifying comfort of that color.
“Curating an art show with such varying artists,” says Wray, “is somewhat like trying to seat a squabbling family at the dinner table.”
Whereas, according to the manifesto, this show, “gives many disparate artists a chance to eat together at the same table,” placing the art around the gallery takes a meticulous eye making sure that everything is complimentary and hostility is left at the curb. It’s about finding the balance. “We look forward to the tension of the merry go round of possibilities,” states Wray.
Before leaving, Wray couldn’t impress upon me enough the immense gratitude that he has for all of the contributing artists. There is diversity not just in the artistic expression of the color pink, but also within the artists themselves. Collectively, Wray feels that this collaboration encompasses narrative + contemporary + skill + technique. A winning combination for a pink-tastic show!
Janice Bremec Blum, Editor in Chief
BRADFORD J. SALAMON
Bradford is an American portrait painter whose subjects are often fellow artists. He imbues ordinary objects of the past with an iconic art status beyond their cultural history. Bradford’s passion about the California art scene includes curating art shows and documenting fellow artists on film.
(Frank) Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary street artist, graphic artist, muralist, activist, illustrator and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island in 1992. He first became known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” (…OBEY…) sticker campaign while attending college, which appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. He became widely known during the 2008 U.S. Presidential election for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster.
The work of Pat Riot, whose artistic view satirizes all forms of media, has been showing in Los Angeles since 1996. His diverse influences include television; MAD Magazine; artists Henry Darger, Ray Johnson, and Tim Hawkinson; the old school video arcade game “Space Invaders”; BANKSY; and the timeless futurist, Buckminster Fuller.
Seonna felt like an outsider in school until she discovered she could open up communication with her art. From photo realist and comic book influences, her art evolved back into the more collage-oriented creations of her childhood. Seonna’s themes often include allegories of that lost child trying to find her way through her imagination onto her path in the world.
Sean is a figurative painter whose technical accuracy of his Alla Prima paintings, is derived from a deep understanding of drawing and his own system of mixing colors. Using the human form in familiar urban scenes (and often using his friends as models) he reveals a truthful, and often raw spirit that makes his work a distinctive, contemporary testimony of our time.
William is co-curator of The Pink pop-up Show. He blends traditional skill sets of realism and the sheer energy of abstract expressionism in an ongoing evolution to find the right balance between two seemingly unrelated styles. He challenges himself to create a brand of realistic expressionism, he hopes to use as a bridge into the customarily circumspect contemporary art world. He has lived in California most of his life and studied painting at the Art Students League in New York. Making his living as a cartoonist who specialized in painted subjects, he spent many years coalescing an eclectic array of art styles, ultimately finding his voice in a contemporized reflection of traditional California regional painting that focus on humble subject matter rarely considered as fine art.
Neon has been Michael’s medium of expression for nearly a decade. His work reflects a fascination with the symbols of language, technology, and their influence on popular culture which he transmutes into visual word games from his unconscious. Despite the internal origins of his works, he strives to make them bold and easy to read, as any good sign design should be.
Painting for Jennifer is a mysterious process. A figurative painter, she loves the paint itself. The application of the loaded brush has a sensuousness that has developed into her personal language, yet she still feels like a bystander to this internal world that seems to drive itself thru her unconscious mind.
Aron Wiesenfeld is an allegorical figurative painter. His work often takes the form of a visual allegory in which a young woman is confronted with the need to step off of some kind of precipice that will lead to the next unknown path of life’s journey.
Ash does every kind of art there is from fine art painting to comics and toy design. His painting has his own style comic book structure with a expressionist painting energy confidently applied over the top of it that is at once both tender and violent, sexual yet warm and playful.
The fine art of Chris Reccardi (who is Pink Show artist’s, William Wray and Glenn Barr’s fellow “Ren and Stimpy” alumnus) reflects a wide range of literary and visual influences, from classic Victorian/Edwardian-era science fiction, to classic cartoon styles of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, to modern design. While Chris is known for his digital fine art prints, he will have an original painting in the Pink Show.
DAVID BUCKINGHAM Sculptor David Buckingham roams the gritty industrial areas, dodgy neighborhoods, and low deserts of Southern California in search of discarded metal forms of all kinds. In his Los Angeles studio, he uses an array of power tools and sheer force of will to muscle them into works of art. All colors remain as found, the purity of faded color carrying a history, he refuses to try and duplicate with new paint.
Dave is a self-taught artist who developed his own vision as an animator and comic book illustrator. Turning to fine art in 2003, he produced cartoonish scenes filled with his unique disturbing imagery. Dave explores body image, lewdness, hedonism, and sexually awkward-looking girls with unique flaws and imperfections, in search of his own ideal of feminine beauty.
David is a contemporary impressionist painter from Canada who recently started to experiment in varied and unusual abstract expressionist styles. That rapid evolution to other disciplines is what interested the curators of the Pink show as David demonstrates that a traditional skill set can help expand the artist’s toolbox of styles.
David assembles one-of-a-kind robots from random objects. He studied oil painting at the Art Students League of New York and the National Academy of Design. His robots have been featured in museums, galleries, books, and on television. Previously, David spent 17 years as an animation producer for film and television.
ESCOTO + CARRARA
Escoto+Carrara (Frederico Escoto and Roberto Carrara) are Mexican artists and life partners, who still call Mexico home. Photographer and painter, they compliment to one another’s talent in a visual dance, culminating in an array of colors and movements pushing both photography and painting to the next level.
Gig is a painter and an advocate for public art in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was awarded the 2016 Fellowship Grant in Painting by the Nevada Arts Council (NAC), and has worked on various exhibitions and projects with the Nevada Museum of Art (Reno), Nevada Arts Council OXS Gallery, UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum, UNLV Donna Beam Fine Arts, Clark County Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, Clark County Library Galleries, the City of Las Vegas Galleries, the Nevada State College Galleries, and with curator Dr. Robert Tracy at the UNLV Healy Hayes Gallery.
The surreal universe of Glenn Barr (who is Pink Show artist’s, William Wray and Chris Reccardi’s fellow “Ren and Stimpy” alumnus) – is a drenched haze in a post-apocalyptic urban Dreamscape. His Detroit work has been labeled a variation of lowbrow pop — or as he calls it, “B Culturalism.” With a nod to old master painting, pulp art, comics and animation, Barr’s paintings are mesmerizing in their narrative complexity and technical depth.
Gordon was trained in figure painting yet somehow gravitated to doing large paintings of objects and clothing using beautiful bright colors and flawless (yet painterly) rendering. His objective is to infuse the inanimate with energy and life.
Gronk Nicandro, a Chicano artist from Los Angeles, has developed an international reputation for a provocative body of work that includes painting, drawing, opera set design, and murals. His work is collected by museums around the country, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Robert was born into a family that encouraged self-expression and personal artistic journeys. His journey has given him a rich a varied background–he spent part of his youth attending a radical art camp called Lincoln Farm, he went on to expand his personal and artistic horizons by travel throughout the world, and found work in Amsterdam as a government supported artist. He eventually settled in to a 30 year career at Shasta College in Redding, CA as a professor of theater, directing and lighting countless productions. He has curated dozens of exhibitions and is credited with discovering the Violent Femmes. During the last ten years, Soffian ventured from the public world of the theater to the private world of painting.
Soffian says this about his work, “I wish to paint things we all know or dream…very often I am first motivated by the excitement of the materials I am using…obviously I enjoy vibrant colors, and the texture of the physical body of the paint…for some reason, I have felt I needed to express something….what is the nature of that need and what it is compels me to keep doing this work is the subject of my life.”
John Brosio has found by default that he is a painter immersed in a state of perpetual discontent and learning to see. Though always fascinated by the idea of making “Star Wars” kinds of fantasy movies, he has applied his imagination to layered narrative painting. Following a long series of images that depicted moments of impending disaster, his work has evolved toward a more conceptual combining of imagined tableaus of a child’s toy and drawings into an orchestration of select visual relationships.
Loic Zimmermann is a French filmmaker and visual artist based in Los Angeles. His focus gradually shifted from illustration and 3D to photography and filmmaking. He also continues in VFX as an art director in major motion pictures. We have managed to coax him back to doing a mixed media painting for the Pink show.
Mark English has been one of the leading illustrators in the U.S. and abroad for three decades. In 1995, as Mark began to paint more personal fine art, he sought to infuse new and exciting compositions with a rich alchemy of unusual textural sources that have contributed to a kind of unique painterly collage. Transparency and translucency reign, with rich colors and atmospheric perceptions of space and scale. His works reside in many private collections and exhibit in solo and group shows throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.
Jorge Pinzón Casasbuenas