A ridiculously big show deserves a ridiculously big name. And hence...LALUZAPALOOZA. Having people say the name of the show should have been the end of the night sobriety check test. Over 15,000 images were whittled down to 220 pieces for the coveted wall space in the 27th annual juried show at La Lu de Jesus Gallery, ground zero for the Low Brow/Pop Surrealism movement. The wonderfully varied range of work came from a talent pool of artists and craftspeople from a variety of professional walks of life. The crowd that packed the gallery on opening night was just as eclectic and intriguing as the work that hung on the walls, dangled from the ceiling and was set behind glass. Inside the gallery/emporium, art enthusiasts, artists, curious bar-hoppers and scenesters strained to get a closer view of the work. While outside, everyone kept a safe distance from the lurking geriatric Barbie wannabe. You guessed it! Angelyne "The Former Billboard Queen of LA," was unsuccessfully attempting to lure over unsuspecting prey from the, thankfully, darkened interior of her illegally parked pink corvette.
The gallery's presentation reflected the mentality of the store- an explosion of fun and unexpected gems around every corner and stuffed into every available nook and cranny. Was it a great way to display such a volume of work? Not if you wanted a breather between pieces. But, at the same time, we as collectors often do not have the physical space we would love to devote to our collections and end up doing a similar "hang the whole shebang" effort so we and others can enjoy our expanding collections daily. I do wish they would convert the whole back half of the space to be a gallery, though.
It is like a variety act talent show, but on a wall. You will inevitably have favorites. But, the beauty of group shows of this magnitude is there is something for everyone, both in terms of style and pricing. You really have to come back again to truly take in all the details of the work. In a show like this, it is always a fun guessing game to see if you can conjure the artist name before looking at the sticker.
It really is very important for artists to hone in a recognizable style or subject matter to be set apart. Of course, the work should evolve over time, but as long as an artist enjoys their work, I don't see anything wrong with creating within the same zip code. If it gets boring for the artist, but the art still moves, I would imagine it would become a catch 22 for an artist and tough feeling trapped producing what they themselves may come to perceive as one note.
Favorite stand-outs for me included:
Alexis Lopez's Embroidery that was clever, cute and cutting.
Apricot Mantle's "Big Badaboom" piece was very striking thanks to an amazing car inspired frame with illuminated taillights that was made with actual props from the film "The Fifth Element".
D.W. Marino's mixed media work "That's It?" is brilliant because of the macabre twist the expression takes on in the context of a Porky Pig bomb falling.
Miso's micro naughty bits created with oil on glass allows you the opportunity to inspect things a bit more closely with an attached miniature magnified glass.
José Rodolfo Loaiza Ontiveros's irreverent re-imagining of Disney iconic characters make everyone smile.
Dave Lebow's oil paintings of ordinary women doing extraordinary things like attacking a robot with a wrench or mothering a baby creature with tentacles.
The best work titles would have to be Peter Adamyan's oil on wood reliefs "The Fat Ass Saves the Day as the Artist Contemplates the Fate of Coochy Cooty and America's Over Consumption of Non Kosher Delicacies" and "She Wolf Barbie of the S.S.".
I'm a firm believer that collecting art should be based on the quality and creativity of the work, not just on an artist's name or collector base. I think group shows like this are a fantastic opportunity to introduce new or lesser shown, but equally-gifted artists. Sean Stepanoff's work has a very distinctive style created with ink and zipatone on board and I discovered he has a zine with more of his fun portraits.
Laluzapalooza runs until March 31 at La Luz de Jesus Gallery.
Words and images by Rick Galiher