Intro to LA art - Part l // Bergamot Station

On a recent visit to LA, we spent two afternoons enjoying art in LA. Day l we visited Bergamot Station in Santa Monica and afternoon 2 at LACMA. Bergamot was a very different art experience than our last LA visit when we toured the Getty.  My brother-in-law Neil, who we were visiting, planned the two days, and besides the unusual, searing over-100 degree weather, both days were terrific, and different. Bergamot Station in Santa Monica is a gallery complex that opened in 1994. The train station dates back to 1875 when the Red Line trolley ran from LA to the Santa Monica Pier. Both the Pier and the gallery site retain their original rustic and industrial feel.

First stop at The Frostig Center, to see their 2012 Collection. The 60 year old Center is an internationally acclaimed school for students with learning disabilities. When the Frostigs founded the Center, they created an ongoing series of sculpture and art, annual collections by LA artists that would help support the program. Ray Turner created these 9" sq. paintings on glass of each of the Frostig artists.

Sculptor Ken Price created this small series as a set. Unique for this collection, as he typically works much larger. We saw the Price exhibit at LACMA and learned more about his much acclaimed works.

a Frank Gehry sculpture

Leslie Sacks Contemporary had an exhibit of Charles Christopher Hill's graphic paintings. The linear paintings have "endless layers of acrylic varnish" that create depth and a beautiful texture.

Earlier works combine layers of mixed media, cloth and thread.

Loved the contrast of the next exhibit, Bill Barminski's work at the Robert Berman Gallery. Barminski, an LA artist and adjunct professor at UCLA creates work as a statement on pop and consumer culture. Barminski comments on the "nostalgia people feel towards 'classic' products in the post-war era".

A replica of the surfboard the artist had at 13 from K Mart.

Cardboard Air Jordan's.  I'm familiar with the classics - and have a limited understanding of their place in sneaker history, thanks to my son Brett.

The Lois Lambert Gallery had an interesting exhibition, Dress Code, by Gwen Samuels. Samuels creates replicas of clothing and shoes, using digital images on transperency and then hand-stitched together. She uses mixed media, combining old and new. Loved the corset...

and shoes

Then two photo exhibits. Toshio Shibata at Gallery Luisotti. These powerful images of nature are at once abstract and detailed.

Peter Fetterman Gallery specializes in 19th and 20th century black and white photography, with an emphasis on human imagery. There were two terrific exhibits, Photos de Cinema with a number of images of Jean Seberg  filming in Paris.

and Grace, by Elizabeth Sunday. For 26 years, Sunday has created beautiful images that reflect traditional life in Africa. She uses a flexible mirror to photograph "reflections that blend and dissolve the boundaries between her figures and their environment".

I was thrilled to see an iconic photograph I love in their collection, Girl in the Window, by Ormond Gigli. In 1960, Gigli envisioned this photo as he watched an East 58th St. brownstone being torn down - he placed 47 formally dressed models in the windows the night before it was demolished.

We throughly enjoyed walking through the galleries at Bergamot Station  - in the few hours we were there, we saw very diverse collections, giving us a great introduction to LA art.


Tracy Burtz // An Artist's Exploration of Women

I was recently re-introduced to Tracy Burtz, a mutual friend suggested we meet.  As I read the email introduction, Tracy's name and face appeared from the past, bringing back memories of high school art class. Tracy and I knew each other from our early art training. I looked forward to meeting at her studio, especially after visiting her website and seeing what an accomplished artist she became since those initial art days.

This painting, La Sposa, has stayed with me since first seeing it.  It's a more recent work and filled with all that Tracy expresses as an artist.

We reminisced about Mr. Blackburn and Mrs. Sperber, our art teachers at New Rochelle High School, that we both had spent a summer at RISD and how that began to shape the creative directions we both took.

From the early years exploring drawing and painting, Tracy never stopped.  She studied at Boston University School of Fine Arts and followed with an MFA at Queens College.

Her drawings reflect her incedible skills of composition, line and form

After grad school, Tracy left NY for 5 years in Paris, She studied with a variety of artists, Elaine DeKooning, James Weeks, Leland Bell and more, and describes these years as “fascinating and bohemian”. The influence of those years are evident in her work.

Back in NY, Tracy started teaching and showing her work, in NYC at Hoorn-Ashby on Madison Ave , and assorted galleries in Chelsea, Westchester and CT and exhibitions in Taos and Paris.

Her subjects are varied; portraits of women, couples, still lifes and seascapes.  We spoke about the themes that tie it together - the traditional training emerges,  it’s “all about picture-making, and what makes a great painting; composition, color, darks, lights, value, line and texture.”

You can’t help but feel Tracy’s love of women - her life is filled with 3 sisters, a daughter, Milena Corin, who has been the artist's favorite model throughout her life, and many women friends. She explores their beauty, their sexuality and their everyday lives.

Tracy’ s work is extremely personal. Talking and walking through Tracy’s home and studio (a picture-perfect Victorian barn, c.1850's, with 20' ceilings and fabulous light in South Salem, NY) is like passing through different moments in her life, each piece tells a story, about herself, about her models and their connection, about motherhood, marriage, divorce and the moments and emotions in between them all.

Time spent in Nantucket, Hawaii, Morrocco are expressed in small beautifully executed oil pastels.

and classic Still Life's express simple moments; the kitchen table filled with fresh flowers, coffee, cookies and chocolates

Each piece brings you to a different part of Tracy’s life, and the stories about them.  Color is what strikes me the most about Tracy's work, and why I come back to La Sposa, it's quieter than most of her work - but in it's subtlety is depth of color, expression, form and line - all the traditional components that Tracy focuses on.

and then another favorite, Blue Girl, about color and yoga - a part of Tracy's life and also how we re-met, through Linda Kreisberg, our mutual friend and yoga teacher.