Rising From the Ashes
New galleries sprout where others have fallen.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
There’s been good and bad news on the local art gallery scene. Since last summer, when the economic meltdown began, Highlands Sculpture Gallery – in business for 25 years – and Olivier, Elliot and Sebastian Fine Art in Carmel and the Jody Royee Gallery in Carmel’s Mid Valley Center have all closed. So has Sofanya’s Gallery at Fernwood Resort in Big Sur, and Grand Avenue Art Works! in Pacific Grove. Other galleries fear they may follow suit.
But as the wheel of financial fortune seeks its next player, a number of artists and gallerists have made moves defing the odds. Prominent painter Johnny Apodaca opens Gallery Apodaca in Carmel (Dolores between Fifth and Sixth, 250-7031) this Saturday, 4-8pm, as an extension of his Sand City location. He moved into the compact space, next to Carmel Art Association, when Galerie Plein Aire vacated it for the more visible digs in front previously occupied by Highlands Sculpture Gallery.
“It was the right time in my life to have a gallery in Carmel,’’ says Apodaca. “There are other artist-run galleries in Carmel and that’s exciting. It feels good there.”
The works Apodaca is showing in his new gallery are colorful explosions and gushes of paint, looping and shoving with playfully orchestrated messiness; and hushed meditations of color and tone, like his arresting “Carmel.”
“It’s all about the painting, itself, the experience with the canvas. It’s a return to my classical Abstract Expressionistic training 30 years ago,’’ he says. “I have to push myself to do work I haven’t done before. But I like the idea of beauty; that’s what I try to capture.”
The gregarious art ambassador (and his work) is everywhere – from a donated piece at the Monterey Yacht Club to a prized spot in the permanent collection at Monterey Museum of Art, as well as their 50/fifty exhibition at La Mirada (closing this weekend); from a large painting at Carmel Art Association to an upcoming “urban plein air” workshop at fine art base June 27-28.
In other promising art scene news, fine art base (652 Redwood Ave., Sand City, 917-455-2844), launched last February by designer Elizabeth O’Malley and photographer David Wilkinson, forged new ground with the green-friendly works of the art + environment show and sprawling Point Lobos photo exhibit, and is staying on its contemporary course with an upcoming July 11 show (7-10pm), Fear Out Front: sing, a performance art/video installation featuring J.R. Uretsky, Michelle Magdalena and spoken-word poets.
One of Seaside’s few venues for public art nearly evaporated when Frames on Broadway (805 Broadway Ave., 394-9394) was sold to parties who laid off its workers and intimated shuttering the business; the incensed original owner John Wiseman bought back his 16-year-old store (and four others), rehired his staff, and last weekend, opened a photography show by Ken Doo.
Galerie Plein Aire (625-5686), celebrates its expansion in conjunction with next door neighbor Apodaca’s studio gallery opening this Saturday. Their space is infused with light, walls packed with paintings in the namesake style, including Cyndra Bradford’s bold, abstract takes on plein air.
In a regenerative move reminiscent of Big Sur’s post-fire foliage growth, Sofanya White rebounds from her gallery folding with a potluck art party on an idyllic plot of land off Palo Colorado at her Dome Gallery & Studios (626-2876, www.sofanya.com) this Saturday, 4pm-midnight. Attendees include redwood sculptor Robert Parko, Sofanya and her mixed media and “essence portraits,” poet Hue-Be, singer/guitar slinger Gerald Constantine and others. Call for directions.
Up north, Kim and Luis Solano of Moss Landing braved the choppy waters of the county’s art scene by launching Haute Enchilada Gallery Uno (last November) and Dos (last month) at 7902 Moss Landing Road (633-5843).
These new entities join a host of comrade studios, spaces and groups like the Octopi Collective (236-6923) that are, against the tide of convention and the economy, pushing forward new voices and visions. They include Salinas’ @risK Gallery (10 Soledad St., Salinas) in Chinatown, which has been harnessing hip urban art from local youngsters with community building efforts by the city and development agencies. In Monterey, Butterfly and Lantern (845 Wave St., 655-0303) don’t do a lot of shows, but when they do, it’s ahead-of-the-game stuff like graffiti on plywood or the fantastical Surrealistic oil paintings of Lawrence Hollien (who, sadly, died last November at age 42). Youth Arts Collective (427 Calle Principal, Monterey, 375-9922) schools young artists early, thus replenishing the local artist pool. Alternative Café in Seaside (1230 Fremont Blvd., 583-0913) has been a reliably strong hub in the wild world of underground art, and is bolstered by sidelines in printing and film/video. Wave Street Studios (774 Wave St., Monterey, 655-2010), meanwhile, brings in big-city artists and local cats like hip-hop painter Reggie Warlock.
They’re doing their part. Let’s do ours to keep art vital in this time of regrouping.