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L.A. PAINT Opens at Oakland Museum of California
Don Suggs, Les Desmoiselles d’Avignon (Patrimony Series), 2006. 90” in diameter. Courtesy LA Louver, Venice, CA.

OAKLAND, CA.- Philip Linhares, chief curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California, contends that Los Angeles is the new capital of American art. To prove his point, Linhares organized L.A. PAINT, a look at the vast and vibrant Southern California art scene via 11 influential artists.The exhibition opens Oct. 4, 2008 and continues through Mar 8, 2009. L.A. PAINT highlights The Date Farmers (Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez), Brian Fahlstrom, Steve Galloway, Loren Holland, Hyesook Park, Steve Roden, Linda Stark, Don Suggs, Esther Pearl Watson, and Robert Williams.

“These painters represent four distinct expressive modes—abstraction, narrative, surrealist/fantasy, and the cartoon and graffiti street-art ‘Lowbrow school,’” said Linhares.

The exhibition is the result of numerous Southland visits by Linhares to explore galleries, cultural centers, and studios, often pursuing suggestions from colleagues and artists.

René de Guzman, senior curator of art at the museum, steered Linhares to The Date Farmers, who collaborate to create groupings of painted images on salvaged corrugated metal and old signs. Lerma and Ramirez use commercial (Sponge Bob, Coca-Cola, and Playboy) and religious icons to explore American culture in images familiar to Mexican Americans.

San Francisco artist Younhee Paik suggested former classmate Hyesook Park, whose large, textured, monochromatic canvasses convey a sensitivity to nature and an appreciation of classical Asian landscape painting. Park sometimes incorporates assemblage in her work

Brian Fahlstrom’s abstract paintings were first seen in the Orange County Museum of Art’s 2006 California Biennial. His enigmatic paintings fluctuate between landscape, still life, and portraiture, never landing soundly on any one format. Fahlstrom is a confident student of the 19th and early 20th century European masters.

Linhares discovered Steve Roden’s colorful abstractions in a group exhibition at the Luckman Gallery at California State University, Los Angeles. A composer of sounds works as well as a painter, Roden is inspired to color-code his musical notes and mix his media. He develops and imposes specific criteria for each of his paintings.

Surrealist painter Steve Galloway was introduced to Linhares by Los Angeles installation artist Michael C. McMillen. Galloway’s meticulously detailed work depicts the clash of modern industry with nature, and other irrational juxtapositions.

Linda Stark has been engaged with the substance and function of paint for nearly two decades. Her powerful, symbolic work often conveys the emotional and psychological states of women, on surfaces sculpted in shallow relief. Stark’s strong statements can appear deceptively simple.

Don Suggs, a Texas native, grew up in San Diego and earned his MFA from UCLA, where he now teaches. Suggs’s work has varied so greatly over the years that the title of his recent retrospective at the Ben Maltz Gallery of the Otis Art Institute was “One-Man Group Show.” His newest work, part of L.A. PAINT, features target-like concentric circles on round canvasses up to 60 inches in diameter.

Esther Pearl Watson’s father was an eccentric who built space ships in his rural Texas garage. Various disasters forced the family to move often: Watson’s faux primitive paintings provide a narrative of the family’s saga.

Loren Holland is a 2005 MFA from Yale and a painter of personal narratives. Her work on paper has satirized sexual stereotypes of African American women. She recently moved her studio from her grandparents’ garage in Compton to Long Beach.

Robert Williams, godfather of the so-called Lowbrow school of painting, began as an underground cartoonist. With sarcasm and glee, Williams created a subculture of unchecked greed, consumerism, and depravity, eschewing critical approval. He founded the freewheeling Juxtapoz Art & Culture magazine in 1994.

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