Archive for April, 2009

Sculptor Matt Devine believes in simplicity as an antidote to contemporary life. He works both large and small. When he’s not concentrating on a commissioned work for an architectural exterior, he’s creating sculptures in the studio. Some are elemental-looking forms punctuated by beautifully worked apertures. Other have multiple components, like half-circles (“half-moons” is his term) and slender poles. All have elegant patinas.


We were lucky to meet and photograph Matt in his new studio space, complete with a large overhead crane, railroad tracks and a great plan for this old glass factory. The Glashaus is a renovated space turned into artist’s lofts and shared space with business partner and fellow sculptor, Greg Bortherton. Together, they hope to create an artist community in the Logan Barrio of San Diego. Matt is pictures here with his canine buddy, Buddy, in the first days of construction. We plan to return to photograph the studio when the Glahaus has it’s grand opening and the artist and design center is completed.



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Lynn Hershman Leeson has worked extensively in photography, video, film, installation and pioneered interactive computer and net-based media art. She has been at the forefront of “new media” art since the 1970s, developing fluency in new digital technologies as they evolved. Lynn has been responsible for a number of technological innovations, including the first interactive computer-based artwork, the first artwork to use touch-sensitive screen technology, and the first networked telerobotic art installation. She was a part of the Feminist Art Movement in the United States and still demonstrates today her originality while continuing her feminist mission to explore female communication practices, insight and sexuality.


Lynn’s studio was a buzz of activity on the 2nd floor of a brick building in the Mission District. She has a handfull of assistants who are kept very busy by her hectic schedule.


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Billy Al Bengston is one of the Los Angeles ”car culture” stars of the 1960’s and 70’s, was among the first to leave traditional oil paint on canvas for sprayed layers of automobile lacquer on aluminum in soft colors, achieving a highly reflective, translucent surface. He was once a semi-professional motorcycle racer and early on, painted custom bikes. After seeing the work of Jasper Johns at the 1958 Venice Biennale he adopted the motif of a set of sergeant’s stripes. This recurring chevron image was painted with industrial materials and techniques associated with the decoration of motorcycle tanks and surfboards.
In 1962, Billy rented the Venice News building to use as a studio. He is still there today and that is were me met him and his small white puffball of a dog, Louise. He had just returned from from 3 years in Victoria Canada. Billy is retired and doing what he wants to do…. like body surfing every morning…. we caught him about 1/2 hour after his am swim, he looked fit and very happy.


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The old mayonnaise factory, in Oakland, has been Bella Feldman’s studio since 1975, where today, she makes extraordinary objects-objects that rivet your attention by their physical appearance; the weight, mass, volume, material, posture, balance, and motion. Bella creates what she calls “anxious objects” — ranging from large-scale, imposing pieces to smaller more intimate pieces. We visited Bella in her studio to see her mechanical glass and metal sculptures, which were breathtaking.


Bella came to California in 1951 and became one of the first women professors at California College of the Arts. She has been working in steel and glass since 1995. The morning we visited her and artist JP Long, her assistant, she was experimenting with digital image grind marks in metal that she was adding pastel to enhancement. Bella spends a great deal of time in London which may explain the European flair and sophistication of her work


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We met Ignat Ignatov and Lucky Boy the chihuahua, in a guest house, in Reseda, where Ignat lives and paints. Each of his figure, portrait, still life, and landscape subjects seems to dictate the style and approach, his paintings are always alive with color, light, texture, atmosphere, energy and emotion.

Ignat was born in Veliko, Tarnovo and grew up in Sevlievo, Bulgaria. He was classically trained in the atelier approach to fine art. He is now a U.S. citizen and teaches at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art.

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We crossed the railroad tracks, that run through the alley, behind a Quonset Hut styled warehouse, where many years ago beer was shipped and stored. Since 1983, Laddie John Dill has worked in this building creating permanent forms for his interest in topography, light and texture. The characteristics of glass and cement, the interplay of smooth and grainy surfaces, and the effect of color on these materials gives this work strength and power. Many of the pieces are huge and look completely at home in this ginormous space.


Laddie developed a process of “painting” with cement, incorporating smooth sheets of glass that contrast to the varied textures of the cement. The alkaline properties of cement provide the basis for color. Colors are applied and kept wet by spraying; the longer a color remains wet, the whiter it oxidizes. Alkalies and limes in the Portland cement eventually dry and remain on the surface, when the color is right, he seals the surface to prevent further oxidation.


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My first trip to Santa Monica was to photograph Ramona Otto. Stepping over the threshold into her house and studio was like walking into a 3D crossword puzzle. “Lucky”, “Bird” and “Watch” dogs, which are life-size sculptures of dogs that are created from hundreds of found objects and recycled materials. For example, “Watch Dogs,” are made from old watch parts, dog tags, 1940s figurines, vintage jewelry and dog- and time-related buttons, charms and trinkets, which can take up to three years to collect. Triptychs of colorful hotel keycards from friend, Graham Nash’s music tours, pencilboxs made from… well pencils. In Ramona’s world, catfishes are fish made from cats. Her art can include anything from watch parts, pennies, keys, tickets and china to an antique cash register drawer and hotel keys.

A Quaker childhood, a love of traditional American folk art themes and humor help Ramona create whimsical memory vessels and furniture using scrabble tiles, stones, pencils, broomsticks, yardsticks, found objects, tin cans and stamps. Despite having no formal art school training, Ramona’s artworks are imaginative and witty expressions that capture the delight of secret surprises and rediscovered treasures.


Ramona’s work comes from the desire she has to “save” and recycle the interesting vintage pieces that she finds battered and bruised at flea markets and yard sales. She puts a “Treasure List” on the back of each piece listing the history of the found objects in the piece. Many of the titles of the pieces involve word play and are very witty, like – “My Type Of Man” a valentine piece made for her husband from typewriter parts.


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