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Monday, January 12, 2009

Saturday Night: Van Arno at Shooting Gallery, and "Family First" at White Walls

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2009 at 7:15 AM


Van Arno and "Family First Group Show

Shooting Gallery and White Walls

January 10, 2008

Review and Photos by Joshua "Creep" G.

Better Than: Having your parents call for computer help, every day.

Elsewhere: See the rest of the show on Creep's Flickr here.

The end of 2008 was filled with exciting shows, closing an otherwise great year for art. I was pretty sure the shows would take a bit to get back in gear, but this weekend showed me otherwise. Of course I can't just skip on over to all the receptions taking place in Los Angeles or New York, but with galleries like White Walls and Shooting Gallery so close to me I can see great art right here. I usually take that two hour bus ride, but this time I rented a car and drove myself and the girlfriend over the bridge to enjoy the day. I loved the fact that the city wasn't as cold as what we've been dealing with the past few weeks.

So after something nice to eat, and checking out a few shops, we headed over to the galleries. I like to get there a little early so that I can take photos of the work without having to ask people to move aside, or wait for them to move. The crowd didn't really pick up until around 8pm. So I have plenty of time to look at all the work, and get multiple shots of each piece. I really can't stress how great the lighting is in these galleries; I can think of a handful of galleries that could use a setup like this.


I was familiar with the art of Van Arno, but I was never really struck by it like I have been with other artists. I always just looked at the work online, and then moved to other work. That behavior will no longer be happening. After seeing his work in person I have a huge appreciation for it now. When you look at the works from a distance, they look like they are perfectly blended and then you step in closer and see that many of the brush marks are pretty loose. Just laid on there to add a highlight or reflected color. This is always what i loved about painting by artists like Glenn Barr, those loose confidently applied marks that make the work so much more intense. This is also why it's so important to see the work up close, or have someone like myself that takes "macro" shots of the paintings just to be able to geek out on the paintings later on.

The best thing about Van Arno's show, was that they supplied a list that not only gave you technical information and prices of each of the works, but also provided back stories. So the piece shown above, "Tongue for Turnips on Tobacco Road" was supplied with this story: "Erskine Caldwell's Tobacco Road was a powerful social-realist novel about rural poverty, and went on the be a gigantic hit, mainly because it was so incredibly dirty. This piece depicts the seduction of a coal miner by his over-sexed sister-in-law, who has designs on his turnips......"

Some of the stories were a blast to read, and really added that extra edge to the works, not like they needed them, but it's always nice to know that each painting has had a story behind it and wasn't made to just look good on your wall. There was also a great amount of icons in each of the works, Johnny Cash, Freddy Mercury, Joan Jett and the ever-living Kieth Richards.

The "Family First" show at White Walls was filled with artists that the gallery has supported for years. So you could walk in and see work by Sylvia Ji, Shawn Barber, Aj Fosik, Mike Giant, Adam Flores and the highlight for me, Ian Francis. I have been a huge fan of his work for quite some time and have yet to see it in person. In the doorway between White Walls and Shooting Gallery three paintings by Ian Francis hung there, glowing, letting me know that I would surely stand there for too long looking at them and begin to upset my girlfriend that needs to work at 5am.

I must have took at least 20 images of each one of the paintings, they truly are amazing. Each piece is mixed media so you have oil, pen, charcoal acrylic and photo transfers created a wonderland for your eyeballs. "Red Forest" was his only painting that lacked a figure, and I know some collectors were upset by this and thought the work looked unfinished, but I disagree. I love the fact that Ian created a landscape, and didn't feel the need to repeat himself and create works that closely fit a common layout. You don't like it, fine you don't have to, but at least appreciate an artist that is doing something different for change.

Moving to the right of the Ian Francis works you see Sylvia Ji with two new paintings and one by Shawn Barber that looked like was leaping off the wall at you. I knew he was going to be showing one of his "doll" series painting, but I didn't know that it would look so 3-dimensional. The way that he handles the paint, and works the dark areas of the painting that baby looks like it's getting ready to fly at you.

You can see under the Shawn Barber and Ian Francis pics above, that each artist in the show had his/her name applied under one of their works in script. It was really a great addition, and added to the whole feel that White Walls has. The consistency in these names was spot on, whoever did them has a steady hand. If I had done something like this it would have been done in crayon and looked like a 6 year old kid hopped up on espresso shots had been set loose. So I appreciate the skill level here.

Making your way to the very back you see a huge wall filled with smaller drawings by Albert Reyes - my drawing Professor would have loved this - many of the works were done on old book covers. I had to stitch three images together to get this one, it was really huge. I like the idea that in this group show you had artists that showed one to three works, or like Albert a huge wall filled with little ones.

On the opposite side of the wall was two works by Shepard Fairey, it must have been early when I was there because I didn't see too many people stopping to really check them out. I quickly moved to the left and looked at works by Jim Houser and Adam Flores, who was showing three works that each looked amazing. I really dig his style, the close you get to each painting reveals all the intricate lines and textures that he is able to get. My girlfriend is a big fan of his work as well, so now I know that whenever he has a solo show or a few paintings in a group show like this she'll be with me to check it out.

There was so much more work to see that night, all of it looked amazing. It also was a great tool to show you how many exceptional artists you can see at this gallery during any given show, but being able to see them all at once is what makes this show so amazing. There is no way anyone should let this go by without seeing at least once. And since your right there head on over and see Van Arno's show as well, it's worth the walk next door as if thats hard.

Another Saturday filled with great art, mediocre food and for the first time a nice heated ride home in a rental car, something I should make a habit of.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: Many of the artists in the Family First show are favorites of mine, but some won me over, like Van Arno next door.

Random Detail: I never knew that you could go upstairs at White Walls and see work from previous shows there. So head on up and check out some work you might have missed.

By the Way: Adam Flores has a print available over at Curbs and Stoops

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Josh Creep


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