John Knuth is a painter, and like many artists throughout history, he employs a robust staff of studio assistants — only his number in the hundreds of thousands, and this army of apprentices consists entirely of houseflies. Knuth raises them from larvae, feeds them sugar and nontoxic acrylic pigment, and lines their coops with canvas. This method of mark-making yields paintings of surprising balance, detail and emotional impact. Using relatively limited palettes, playing instead with pattern, density, layering and empty space, Knuth's work manages to look like very good modern art, even though it's made with fly puke. This show, “Base Alchemy,” is Knuth's debut solo project with 5 Car Garage, an alternative space located in Emma Gray's back alley. In addition to the “fly paintings,” Knuth is showing works from his “mirror” series, in which he distresses taut Mylar with emergency roadside flares, partly revealing lovely, apocalyptic, sunset-hued paintings underneath. There is also talk of “appearances” by a certain California kingsnake breed known for its morphing and unnatural color profile — further articulating the artist's dual interests in eccentric color and collaborations with nature. Snakes, flies and fire — good thing this all transpires in a retrofitted concrete bunker. 5 Car Garage, address provided with RSVP to, Santa Monica; Sat., Aug. 30, noon-4 p.m.; free. Exhibition continues through Oct. 10, by appointment.

Sat., Aug. 30, 12-4 p.m., 2014
(Expired: 08/30/14)

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