GDCA Gallery’s March offering is a celebration of creative explorations utilizing various unusual and difficult elements or compounds of such elements: Junk metal sculpture, thermo-graphic imagery captured on brushed aluminum, classic photography thematically centered on the raw materials and downtown construction sites, Urban themed photography mounted on highly polished aluminum, fused glass sculptures, inlaid with precious and semi precious metals, and of course some of GDCA’s signature abstract expressionist paintings, lest we forget where we are. Welcome to “Elements” featuring the works of Robert Toll. The sculptures of Robert Toll command the space, flawlessly harmonizing with each adjoining artist’s point of view, and anchoring the group by lending gravity and dimension to all the surrounding works – they define the experience from beginning to end, somehow unifying all the different elements at play. Many people will experience a sense of familiarity when seeing Toll’s work, and most likely you have seen it – in many movies, TV series, as well as countless public spaces and installations throughout Los Angeles. GDCA regulars wax poetic remembering Toll’s breathtaking collection of horses made of ‘extreme found metal’, aka scrap metal and junkyard parts. However, his work on display this month, ranges from his rarely exhibited installation piece “Killing the Messenger” – a life size figure made from metal strands kicking in a TV set -, to “Guitar”, part of a series of 30 musical instruments the sculptor created (also from extreme found metal), “guitar” being the last remaining piece of the collection; all the way to his kinetic abstract sculpture “10 thousand lead balls”, combining dramatic concentric curves and lines with sheets of Plexiglas that contain thousands of lead balls. The sculpture is movable and the audience is invited to manipulate the piece, rendering it effectively a modern industrial “rain stick”. Marlene Capell is another veteran of the LA art scene. Well known for her signature style of “Portals”, which provide her with consistent structure, Capell never fails to impress with her willingness to explore the new and unknown. Now in her 80s, she has introduced and almost sculptural texture to her paintings. Her gestures are nimble and refined and her colors are fresh and impeccably configured with economy and grace, and just enough irregularity to captivate our eye. She remains shining example of the fact, that when consistently applied, an artist’s work only gets richer and deeper over time.
Photographer Charles McCauley returns to GDCA with his new PLUMB series. His followers will clearly see the connecting point and unifying vision to his previous ‘Romance’ and ‘Corner’ series, but this time he turns his artfully dissecting gaze to the walls and raw materials of Downtown construction sites. Many of the images cease to exist in a matter of days. They are covered over, transformed into a new incarnation, part of the beautification and remodeling of DTLA. Ironically McCauley’s sense of beauty favors the hidden, that which lies buried underneath, and is brought to light, maybe for a day, before it is reshaped and welded into a new embodiment. Had he not been there to capture it, that fragile moment of beauty may have never been seen. His eye consistently identifies the abstract paintings that exist all around us, tucked in the details of decaying walls that go unnoticed but for his lens. A recent addition to the GDCA talent pool, Cody Riess promises to keep us on our toes. Her paintings have a large presence, however they remain somewhat mysterious. The artist makes ample use of white, as well as grey tone scales, creating harmony, sophistication and stillness. This tension is broken with splashes of color and confident lines, forceful at times, broken and haltingly at others, like an afterthought. Riess uses movement with great economy and there is a pensive quality, perhaps a femininity that translates through multiple layers concealing and revealing one another. The result is well balanced and peaceful, simmering with an underlying vitality. Riess creates a world in which we want to reside. Award-winning Jonas Bienenfeld brings us yet another stunning cityscape via his urban landscape photography printed on aluminum. His vibrant colors and scope of composition lend a hyper-reality to the images. We feel as if we were experiencing our point of view, as if we were physically within the picture, awed before the gargantuan skyline, and as if at any moment we could spread our wings and take off. Bienenfeld’s technique also allows us to appreciate the versatility of this medium, as his polished presentation creates a beautiful contrast to the raw metal works in the show. To that point, artist Duncan Linthicum alternately realizes his own aesthetic, creating a much more abstracted image on brushed aluminum. The result is seemingly more textural and complex to define. Linthicum initially fuses a variety of precious and base metal components with a blowtorch, a process he calls ‘thermaforming’, photographs their dramatic iridescent color schemes before they fade, and then commits the image to brushed sheets of aluminum. The effect is surprisingly earthy and warm given its’ material. The instant dialectic between the plasticity of the melted metal, which appears three-dimensional, and the robust flatness of the sheet metal on which it is printed, both compels and confounds us, as we find ourselves ‘pulling focus’ between the details of the subject and the elegant form that contains it. Fused glass artist Cynthia Ann Swan has taken her work to a new level. The promise of an inspired art form that her previous glasswork installations contained, have come to fruition in this magnificent wall-mounted ‘Black and White Collection’. The Collection is articulated in 4 series: ‘Dreaming in Ice’, ‘Black Ice’, ‘Virtual Cow’, and ‘Diamonds in the Dark’. All of the creations are vignettes of occurrences during one magical winter night, a ‘Midwinter Night’s Dream’, so to speak. In one of her glass sculptures, “Beyond the garden Wall” Swan beautifully interprets the Children’s poem “The Fairies”. The pieces are realized in expert craftsmanship, and the metal and wood panels that secure each sculpture provide a continuation of its visual narrative, complete with built-in LED lights that lend added dimension and focus. Her ‘Dreaming in Ice’ series reveals a sophistication and minimalism that is profoundly stirring. True to form, the artist also incorporates a healthy measure of whimsy in both her titles and in the pieces themselves. Her ‘virtual cow’ series invites us to play Swan’s version of ‘Where’s Waldo?’ as we are challenged to discover the individual cows in “Black cow eating licorice in the Dark”, “Black and white cow eating Oreos in the Fog” and “White cow eating marshmallows in the Snow” respectively. Despite the humor in these pieces, Swan is clearly letting us know that she is a force to be reckoned with. She has many a story to tell and a voice that will be heard. “Elements” will be on view at GDCA through March 31st. For appointments and hours of operation please call (323) 805-9361.
By Gregory Allen