By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
A recent graduate of UC Berkeley now entering her second year at UCLA, Simonson is one of the youngest artists in this year’s show and, as you may gather, one of the most zestfully articulate. In person, she is spirited and chipper. Her paintings, however, are dusky and moody, characterized by a restless, fluttering sort of brushwork and deep wells of basementlike shadow. Her unlikely muse is the common moth, a source of terror in her childhood years transfigured into a symbol of euphoria and transcendence. For those of us not entomologically inclined, it may be difficult to conceive of a beautiful painting of a moth, but here you go.
Simonson’s project received an unforeseen boost this past March from the discovery of a new species of crustacean called Kiwa hirsuta, or “yeti crab,” whose lobsterlike pincers are covered in a fur that is apparently identical to the fur on the bodies of moths. “Given that a series of mammoth lobster portraits preceded my three years of moth paintings,” she says, “I was deeply thrilled by this apparent hybridization of my two central subjects.”
She traveled to Paris this summer to study the only known specimen.
Jacob Stewart-Halevy, UCLA
Jacob Stewart-Halevy describes his composition process as “carving out a sort of theatrical space for my paintings to rest.” The works are basically landscapes and still lifes, but with a painterly tweaking of various elements that plants an unsettling and intriguing element of doubt in the viewer’s engagement with the piece. “Many of the objects painted waver between the natural and the artificial, the real or projected, sense and nonsense,” he says.
The piece in our show, untitled (building), portrays a housing development that could be anywhere — indeed, is made up of buildings in various parts of Los Angeles and Caracas, where Stewart-Halevy travelled, and from Google image searches. Some is invented. Whether it’s an active building or a ruin, however, is difficult to tell: There are pieces missing, it slants slightly, and slumps. It exists — but not entirely, floating precariously (like so many things in this world) between shaky ground and what looks like a very nasty storm cloud. “It is a painting of living architecture,” he says, “one that always threatens to disperse or fall apart, implode or grow out of control, that borders on the uninhabitable and the decorative.”
Stewart-Halevy is spending the summer in a remote part of Iceland.
Louisa Van Leer, CalArts
“My art always starts with the city,” says Louisa Van Leer. “The city is a constantly changing network of relationships; it is erased, redrawn, built over and reconstituted, each time revealing new things about its inhabitants.”
With bachelor’s degrees in both fine art and architecture from the Rhode Island School of Design, Van Leer situates her work in the space between the two. Much of her project revolves around billboards and signs and the sightlines they predicate around the city, which she frequently represents as white cones that multiply and clutter the various spaces. In one very digital image, she imagines the cones as long, white flags billowing from a pair of billboards in Silver Lake. If she could keep the flags from being tangled up in the traffic, it would be a brilliant public artwork.
For the show, she’s created a pair of 6-by-10-foot billboards that will be mounted on the roof of the gallery, with text created by shadows that will shift across the sign with the shifting of the sun. The text: “NOW” and “NEVER,” and a nighttime lighted version, “WAIT” and “SEE.”?