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Jeff Hartline and Kammy Lennox have shared a lot of things over the years as brother and sister, from joint birthday parties to matching (now capped) missing front teeth — Jeff lost his skating; Kammy lost hers on a beer bottle. Now they share an art space. For the past year and a half, their Jeff Electric Gallery in Silver Lake has attracted a growing crowd of local artists and neighborhood celebs like John C. Reilly, Tatiana von Furstenberg, Ione Skye, model Kirsty Hume and Lost in Translation costume designer Nancy Steiner. Tonight’s opening is for photographer Darcy Hemley, who makes a living shooting stars like Scarlett Johansson for glossies.
“It wasn’t like I ever said, ‘Jeff, let’s start a gallery,’ ” says Lennox, as she lights votives in the gallery’s back yard, 30 minutes before guests are scheduled to arrive at Hemley’s opening. “My husband’s brother needed a place to have a show, and Jeff’s front space was empty.” Hartline, who is an electrician, lives and works out of the storefront that doubles as Jeff Electric Gallery.
“Typically, you have to have had a show to get a show,” Lennox continues. “We created this as a launch pad for artists in the neighborhood. People we know and love. People who we feel deserve a show like this.”
“And,” Hartline inserts, “we have so much fun doing it.”
So far, most of the artists who have shown at Jeff Electric Gallery have been friends.
Friend and photographer Amy Fleetwood (Mick’s daughter) makes her living producing shoots for magazines like Vogue, but had been shooting images on her own for years without showing them. As a result of Fleetwood’s second show at Jeff Electric last month, she is now being courted by some of L.A.’s larger galleries.
Lennox, who has pixie-length bleached blond hair and perfectly dimpled cheeks, finds it hard to describe the aesthetic behind the paintings, drawings, collages and other artworks she and her brother show — except, she says, it has always been “beautiful and sometimes humorous.”
And always, there has been a chandelier. At every opening Hartline and Lennox feature a different handmade chandelier in the window from Silver Lake artist Meredith Clark; her Chandi line of lighting pieces sell at Shabby Chic and Anthropologie, and she just completed a massive chandelier for J.Lo and Ben’s Georgia mansion. She is by far the highest-priced artist in the space.
“A lot of the artists we bring in are priced for the neighborhood, so their friends can buy a piece of art and feel good about it,” says Lennox. “That was the point with the back yard, to have an area where people could talk about the art and talk to the artist. Where we could celebrate what the person has just done. Like a party, basically.”
Tonight’s party isn’t just about art, however. Hartline has just bought a new 1957 Streamline trailer, which he has parked in the back yard and covered in Christmas lights.
“I got it on eBay,” he says enthusiastically as the first guests start to arrive. After some restoration, the trailer will serve as a bedroom. “I was sleeping in the loft for two years, and it was time for a change.”
Hartline’s eagerness to move into his back yard has a lot to do with the noise that comes from living on one of the last remaining ungentrified stretches of Sunset Boulevard. A few doors down from the popular Club Los Globos, Hartline’s storefront has seen a lot of action since he’s been here. One night he chased a tagger down the street in his boxers. Another time a shootout left bullet holes in his ceiling. And once, he says, “someone took a dump” in his doorway.
That said, he loves the space and is proud to mention that he is “totallythe neighborhood electrician.”
Besides, the Cafe Tropical is just up the street.