After four years and 40 shows, WWA Gallery is coming to a close. The Culver City art spot is ceasing operations to focus on its sister shop Wonderful World of Animation. The gallery's final event, a group show from the international collective Prisma, opened Saturday night and will be on display through March 15.
Since 1993, Wonderful World of Animation has focused on selling production art from animated films and television series. Through that work, gallery owner Rob Faucette and colleague Dave Radford had come into contact with lots of artists who were also illustrators or animation artists. With help from Wonderful World of Animation owner Debbie Weiss, WWA Gallery sprang to life – focusing on emerging artists, particularly those with narrative and figurative elements in their work.
Over the past few years, WWA Gallery supported local and out-of-towners alike with its mix of group and solo exhibitions. Popular events included group shows like “I Believe in Unicorns” and “Horrorwood.” Artist Steven Daily brought his animation-influenced group show “Gag Me with a Toon.” Sweet Streets packed the venue with one of its 2011 fashion/art events. Meanwhile, the gallery helped promote the works of locals like JAW Cooper, Julian Callos and Ken Garduno.
There are a few reasons for the gallery's impending closure – among them that Radford is leaving Los Angeles. Other reasons are more general. “It's a tough market,” says Faucette. “We started after the economy bust.” WWA Gallery had its successes, but that was thanks in part to the support from the animation gallery, he says. “It doesn't make sense for us to continue the fine art.”
Faucette will remain with Wonderful World of Animation, where he has worked for over eight years. In addition to running WWA gallery, he procures animation art for the sister shop.
On Saturday night, a low-key crowd turned up for the opening of WWA Gallery's final show. Prisma was founded by artist Kaspian Shore, who is based in Germany. The international group includes a few from Southern California. Prisma members JAW Cooper and San Diego-based N.C. Winters were on hand for the opening.
“What's really cool about the collective is that the work itself is really diverse,” says Cooper. Despite the diversity of the artists, she adds, “There is a cohesion.” Cooper mentions that this can be found in the artists' interests in nature and science, amongst other things. “I think that's the strength of the group, diversity but with a shared vision of beauty.”
Prisma's show was open-theme. Works ranged from a striking collage by Vaghe to a small graphite and acrylic piece from Ana Bagayan. The collective's second annual show with WWA Gallery, it was also, of course, their last.
“I'm honored to be able to show with [WWA Gallery] before that ends,” says Winters, who previously appeared in an installment of “Gag Me with a Toon” at this space.
Cooper has shown at the gallery a few times. Most significantly, she unveiled “Erode,” a series of 12 works centered around themes like self-destruction, in 2012.
“WWA Gallery is very special to me because the people who run it are so generous and supportive. They don't try to control anything,” says Cooper. “They want to help you make the best work that you can.”
She adds, “I'm sad to see it go because they are wonderful people to work with and easygoing and flexible.”