Since 2006, Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City has been at the center of worldwide pop surrealist explosion. Shag has shown here. So have Paul Frank and Tokidoki. Locals like Natalia Fabia and Luke Chueh made their mark, in part, thanks to their solo exhibitions at the gallery. On Saturday night, those artists and over 50 more graced the walls of Corey Helford and neighboring CHG Circa for the group show “Art Collector Starter Kit.”
Some of the artists included in the show have been working with Corey Helford since the beginning. Others were more recent discoveries by co-founder Jan Corey Helford. The only thing most of the pieces had in common was size. With few exceptions, the contributions to “Art Collector Starter Kit” were a uniform 12″ x 12″. That's petite for this crop of artists, but the small pieces served a purpose. Gallery co-owner Bruce Helford explained that this was a chance to offer work from some of their hottest artists at a lower price point. “New collectors and people on a limited budget can begin their collection with an original,” he explains.
Of course, the finds inside “Art Collector Starter Kit” don't come cheap. Most was priced at over $1000. While plopping down $4000 for a painting would seem unreasonable to many people, it's actually a pretty good deal for an original from Josh Agle, aka Shag. Not surprisingly, more than half of the show was sold before the opening night festivities.
For the artists, the show posed a special challenge. Eric Joyner, who depicted “a robot loitering by a bakery” in Donut Trooper, typically works on 30″ x 40″ canvases. Many of the artists here had to scale down their work considerably. “You have to really get in there and it's hard,” says artist Korin Fought, whose oil painting Conjoined, appeared in the show.
But there are ways around the spacial limitations. Paul Frank says that his completed pieces are usually 16″ x 20″ or 18″ x 24″. Since he makes his own frames, though, he was able to scale down his scene of a bear and a fish taking a mysterious trip.
Sometimes, the smaller format had its advantages. That was the case for Van Arno. “I've been trying for a long time to do a Joan of Arc piece and I did lots and lots of compositions, but I only really liked the head,” says the L.A.-based artist. With this smaller-than-normal perfect square, he was able to zoom in on what he liked about his Joan of Arc and combine her with Andrew Jackson for Orleans.
Outside of the size, “Art Collector Starter Kit” was open-theme. Carlos Ramos points out that, sometimes it's difficult to come up with an idea when “the net is super wide open.” Ultimately, he depicted Satan in cel vinyl for Baphometh. Joey Remmers says the show gave him the chance to work on ideas that were “sitting on the side.” Luke Chueh took the opportunity to re-imagine a previous painting with his contribution, Panda. “This is the second time I've done that painting and, so far, it's my favorite version,” he says of his bear transforming into a panda.
With two galleries packed with art and people, Corey Helford was obviously onto something with “Art Collector Starter Kit.” The event gave artists a chance to work outside of their comfort zone and collector's a chance to pick up smaller, lower-priced pieces. For L.A. art shows, that's a win-win.