Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin: 'A Common Thread' at L.A. Louver Gallery

Installation View of Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin: A Common Thread

In the upstairs gallery of L.A. Louver Gallery, painter Sandra Mendelsohn Rubin is showing a suite of works that depict views of Mendocino County. Connected by the theme of water -- which appears in a swimming pool, river views, a pond and a lake -- Rubin's paintings also form an extended painted essay on patience and preciousness. I saw the show after a morning spent driving through dense LA traffic, and the expanse of white walls between Rubin's paintings, interspersed with Rubin's faultless and serene canvases, provided a tonic for my senses.

Bridge Over the Navarro, 2013, oil on polyester, 6 1/2 x 7 1/4 in.

Several of the exhibition's aerial views are very small: for example, Bridge Over the Navarro is just over seven inches across. As a result, I was drawn near as I inspected the painting, only to find that at close range it suddenly felt expansive. Rubin's brushwork is uncannily perfect, and the detail of a roadside stop sign represented by a pinprick of red paint -- look for it to the right of the bridge -- made its verdant green surroundings suddenly seem vast. The two thin, straight lines defining the edge of the bridge add a note of manmade geometry that provides a counterpoint to the blue river's serenity and meandering natural presence.
Aqueduct at Quail Lake, 2014, oil on polyester, 9 x 54 in.

After looking over some of Rubin's smaller paintings, her Aqueduct at Quail Lake, which is five and a half feet wide by nine inches tall, felt like a mural. It is a magnificent painting -- one of Rubin's very best -- that is remarkably spare and disciplined. The prevalent greens of Rubin's aerial works falls away as this work presents a study of rippling water wedged between dry, rocky triangles of tan and grey earth. I took a long time looking at this painting, knowing that soon I would be back in my car fighting the rush hour traffic again. I wanted to be in the place of the lone figure fishing the aqueduct's rippling waters, soothed by a view of cool blue water and waiting for a fish to bite.

Detail of Aqueduct at Quail Lake

Through Saturday, March 28, 2015
L.A. LOUVER 45 N Venice Blvd Venice, CA 90291
Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 6 pm

Chris Liberti: 'California, etc.' at John Natsoulas Gallery

The subject matter in Chris Liberti's recent paintings comes from his interest in the way the forms around him can be re-configured and made to work together. Whether Liberti is painting rooflines, bookshelves, palm trees or telephone poles, he sees them not as isolated elements, but as part of a larger scheme.

I recently interviewed Liberti in connection with the show of his work on view at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, California.

John Seed Interviews Chris Liberti:

Chris Liberti

JS: Tell me about your art education: who was your most important mentor?

CL: Jim Phelan was a big influence. When I studied with him at Buffalo State College in 1995-6 he introduced me to the work of Richard Diebenkorn and Frank Auerbach, who both became very important to me. Jim is a "painter's painter" who let me do my own thing. His goal was to get each of his students on the path they wanted to be on. He never painted in front of us or showed his own work: that was important. He didn't want us to be too distracted by what he was doing.

148 Across, 2015, 30 x 24 inches, Oil on canvas

JS: How would you describe your approach to painting and imagery?

CL: It's kind of been a struggle between abstract and representational. I don't want to lock myself in to being one or the other. I think of abstract as free: there is more looking involved, more than looking at what was being painted. Also, I like working with the negative space around an object more than working with the thing itself.

Garages, 2015, 30 x 48 inches, Oil on canvas, Oil on canvas

JS: You have mentioned to me that both Diebenkorn and Van Gogh continue to influence you. What do you admire in each man's work? I admire their uninhibited use of color, the immediacy of their paintings and also gestural and painterly qualities. Both Diebenkorn and Van Gogh had the ability to take everyday scenes and subject matter and turn them into something compelling. You can see and feel their passion for their work and each used line very powerfully

Lemon Tree, 2015, 16 x 20 inches, Oil on canvas

JS: Your paintings look as if they have been worked and re-worked many times: is that true?

CL: I have a problem on deciding when things are finished. I constantly work over things and am never truly happy. For example, the painting 148 Across was started in 2008, and then I worked on it again recently.

Canal Wall, 2014, 12 x 16 inches, Oil on canvas

JS: What do you enjoy most about painting?

CL: Physicality: that's what I enjoy the most.

Dock, 2015, 18 x 14 inches, Oil on canvas

JS: How do you know when a painting is finished?

CL: If I can get into a piece and get into that zone, someone else will feel that same way. I'm not looking for a specific feeling. I hope others can as well.

Chris Liberti: California etc. 
March 11 - April 11, 2015
John Natsoulas Gallery
521 First Street Davis, CA 95616

Temporary Space LA: An Alternative Exhibition Platform

Richard Shelton: Photo by John Seed

Temporary Space LA, which opens its first physical location on Saturday, March 21 at 5522 Wilshire Blvd, is meant as an alternative to the traditional gallery model. Dreamed up by artists Richard Shelton and Stacie Meyer, it was conceived to help artists have more control of the sale and display of their art. Designed to serve "mid-career" artists who have been working for at least 20 years, Temporary Space will present both physical and digital exhibitions of their artwork. It will also connect artists and art buyers directly without a "dealer" serving as an intermediary.

Temporary Space LA

Artists themselves will decide which artworks will be on view in the gallery's physical space where technologically based tools, including digital archives and spoken commentaries by art historians and others, will enhance the understanding of each artist's work and career. It's an ideal situation for artist/curators who want to take control of the presentation of their own work, and who want to have a complete digital archive of their work assembled. One of the ideas behind the project is that mid and late career artists have been under-appreciated -- both critically and economically -- and Temporary Space hopes to rectify this by making years worth of work visible and available.

A Temporary Space billboard on view in Los Angeles

Sales of artwork will be worked out between each artist and their collectors. There will also be opportunities for buyers to purchase digitally on the Temporary Space website, or interact directly with the artists at their studio. The space's commission rate is fixed at 25 percent, less than the typical 40-50 percent rate charged by traditional galleries.

"What we are doing here," says Richard Shelton, whose own work will be on view in the space's first exhibition, "is bringing the art gallery experience into the 21st century." After Shelton's two-part show, exhibitions of works by Margaret Neilsen and Scott Greiger will follow before Temporary Space moves to a new downtown location at the end of 2015. Temporary Space is an ambitious project that is intended to move, morph and evolve over time. With its commitment to technological innovation and mission to present art and artists in a more complete, direct fashion, Temporary Space will be an experiment very much worth watching.

5522 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, 90036
 Opening: Saturday, March 21, 2015, 6 - 10 PM
To RSVP or for more information: (323) 297-8464

Richard Shelton: 50 Years of Painting
Curated by Fatemeh Burnes
Part One: March 21 - May 2, 2015

Links: An interview with Richard Shelton, Stacie Meyer, and Melissa Urcan