ArtScene October 2013: Continuing and Reccomended: Mark Dean Veca

Mark Dean Veca: 20 Years - Selected Works from the New Monograph; September 2013

Mark Dean Veca’s lines squirm across the familiar image of the American icon in "Flag 2." It’s as though he squished a small intestine within the iconic symbol and allowed it to ooze and melt like cheese falling off the side of a toasted sandwich. While the exhibit is not large, this small survey of his work jumps off the walls. The exhibition was organized to celebrate a recent monograph published by Zero + Publishing. "Just Win" is one of the most impressive pieces. It’s a menagerie of iconic symbols that are tied together through an organic green cloud. In between this floating glob, we see cartoons, detached eyes, and a range of notable pop culture symbols. From the logo of the Oakland Raiders, whose late owner’s (Al Davis) motto for the team was “Just win baby,” to a radiant Rabbit sculpture in the center by Jeff Koons, who is best known for auction records. Mixing bright colors, excitable forms, and a knack for cultural touchstones, the result is a pop surrealism explosion that doesn’t disappoint (Western Project, Culver City). 


Daniel Brice: New Paintings and Works on Paper

November 2 - December 21, 2013 

Western Project is proud to present the third solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist, Daniel Brice. Continuing his investigation of the coastal landscape, Brice has stepped up his geometric and rough-hewn works to cinematic size. In the lineage of historic artists interpreting western America, such as Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran, Brice constructs large scale paintings to speak of the immense beauty and natural wonder of the California landscape. His minimal abstract language does not utilize the drama of Bierstadt's works, but lays claim to the same idea of grandeur. Saturated color is Brice's tool to relate the immensity of the Pacific Ocean; a fathomless depth of blue is bordered with simple borders; the artist owns his subject with eloquent suggestion. It is his luminous color - akin to Thomas' use of light in his landscapes, which relates the feel of specific climate and place.

Contrasting the sense of cool coastal weather, Brice uses intense reds and oranges to express the heat of California valleys and interior terrain. A solid block of intense reds, again thinly bordered, evokes the summer heat of Southern California and the claustrophobic Santa Ana winds off the desert. His green and white paintings relate more subtle seasons or temperature; soft spring or arid fall moments. Brice's particular use of oil paint echoes Brice Marden's 1970's abstractions; intuiting place and feel, scent and light. But the use of burlap instead of canvas gives these works a rougher, more 'Western' and hand made quality - less European, less precious, and innately more emotive. Landscape painting has never looked so calloused and alluring.

Brice has shown in galleries and museums in New York, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Atlanta, among other locations. He has twice been an artist in residence at the Tamarind Institute at the University of New Mexico and is in numerous private and public collections.

Matthew Penkala: The Day You Crossed A Nova: New Paintings

MATTHEW PENKALAThe Day You Crossed A Nova: New Paintings January 11 – February 8, 2014

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Western Project is proud to present the first solo exhibition of paintings by Los Angeles artist, Matthew Penkala. A 2002 MFA graduate of Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit, Penkala has spent the last few years refining his work into an eccentric minimalist territory. Reminiscent of 1960’s color field painting by artists such as Larry Poons and Helen Frankenthaler, Penkala updates the atmospheric language by suggestions of contemporary technology; hyper color and references to illuminated screens of lap tops, smart phones, monitors and televisions. He primarily uses an airbrush to create the abstract images, drawing compositional windows within a field of color to create the illusion of internal/external and artificial/natural spaces. The transitions between spaces are sometimes ephemeral and sometimes abruptly delineated; the use of color is intense and florid but in no way sentimental. The viewer must visually negotiate their surroundings in his paintings. Penkala shares a sensibility of the slip sliding videos of the late Jeremy Blake, where what you think you see becomes something else as the eye picks up more subtle shifts of surface qualities and hidden details of the whole; a seeming narrative but none. Penkala plays with optics and film conditions as visual bait to conflate the actual and the representation; fragmenting the visual experience into a series of changing moments, into a state of flux, into an ‘unfixing’ of conceptual models rather than concretizing them. The boundary blurring Penkala plays most importantly produces an awareness of experience, ravishing and intriguingly fluid.

Matthew Penkala has shown at David Richard Contemporary in Santa Fe, Bruno David Gallery in St. Louis, Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Santa Monica, College of Creative Studies, Detroit, Arizona State University, Tempe. He was a recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation MFA Grant Award in 2002.

For images and more information contact the gallery: /


Tim Forcum: New Paintings July 27 - August 30, 2013

Opening Reception Saturday July 27, 6:00 - 8:00 PM [portfolio_slideshow click=lightbox]

Tim Forcum: New Paintings July 27 – August 30, 2013 Reception for the artist Saturday July 27 6 – 8pm

Western Project is proud to present a new body of paintings by Los Angeles artist, Tim Forcum. Heavily influenced by the works of Lee Mullican and Dynaton artists such as Gordon Onslow Ford, Forcum uses a personal pictorial language to describe a transcendental experience of nature. With suggestions of landscape and figuration, the artist also recalls historic modes of abstraction; the cubist faceting of the early 20th century is played reductively and subdivided in his eccentric compositions. Forcum embraces history to speak of the same organic wonders of the world as his predecessors. Not as just a formal language, but a metaphoric, alternative reality. Different from the luminous and visionary Southern California landscapes of Frederick Wight, Forcum’s work looks to describe the mystical yet universal; a micro/macro vision using naturalistic forms and abstract patterns. It is the rhythm and structure of his shapes which allude to the unseen; a suggestion of form and shadow, or movement implied by a scraped palette knife or a surrealistic inversion of color and forms. His surfaces range from highly burnished to scratchy, a kind of impolite yet seductive, methodical interplay, mirroring his painting process of moving back and forth between spontaneity and calculation. Each work contains an individual logic, sometimes recognizable, often more a subjective knowledge structured and fragile; or perhaps each work a mapping; space behind the physical plane, a seeing of the unconscious, or the unseen dance of the universe.

Forcum has previously shown at D.E.N. Gallery, Pharmaka Art, WEEKEND and the Zero One Gallery in Los Angeles, California. He has shown in conjunction with the Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, California, also in San Francisco, Palm Springs and Barcelona. His work has been reviewed in Flash Art, The Los Angeles Times, Art Ltd., Coagula Art Journal, LA Weekly, Tema Celeste Contemporary Art and many more publications. He is an MFA graduate of California Sate University Fullerton.

DION JOHNSON: Vivid Slipstream - June 15 - July 20, 2013

New Paintings and Works on PaperJune 15 – July 20, 2013 Opening reception for the artist Saturday June 15th 6 – 8pm

Western Project is proud to present the second solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist, Dion Johnson. Vivid Slipstream is a new body of work of dynamic opposites; of expansiveness and compression, darkness and light. In the tradition of Karl Benjamin and Lorser Feitelson, and their interest in the environment and landscape, Johnson uses color to evoke the contemporary urban, digital and natural landscape of Southern California. Influenced by the architecture of Eero Saarinen and geometric gestures of Ellsworth Kelly, Johnson skews the vocabulary of abstraction into a hybrid techno-language.

Johnson begins his images with drawings on his Mac Book Air and then creates each work by hand. His compositions use broad open shapes with convex/concave edges against multi-planed bands, evoking atmospheric spatial shifts. The diagonal structures possibly allude to car windows or an opening retina, each exposing a radiant vastness. More, the ten-foot long Propeller work suggests both a day and night window with its black and white panels. Johnson’s use of color is intuitive, historically much the same as John McLaughlin, though his Pop inspired vision comes from the commercial tangle of cities and billboards of Southern California. Johnson’s work is a clear balance of the harmonic and dissonant qualities of our environment; whether observing the curvature of freeway interchange or bright noon daylight, the paintings mirror the complexity of sensations lived on the edge of the Pacific Rim.

Johnson is represented by Western Project, Los Angles, De Buck Gallery, New York, and Marty Walker Gallery, Dallas, Texas. He has shown at the Rebecca Ibel Gallery, Columbus, Ohio, Stephen Stux Gallery, New York, Carl Berg Gallery and Richard Heller Gallery in Los Angeles, James Kelly Contemporary in Santa Fe, Torrance Art Museum, and other galleries and museums across the US.

His work is in public collections such as The Columbus Museum of Art, Columbus, Ohio, The Capital Group Companies, Los Angeles, California, Creative Artists Agency, Century City, California, Progressive Corporation, Mayfield Village, Ohio, Wellington Management, Boston, Massachusetts, and many more.

Wayne White - Captiva 2013 - Works on Paper from the 2013 Rauschenberg Residency

More information on the Rauschenberg residency is available on the foundation website HERE

Samantha Fields: 2013 COLA Individual Artist Fellowship Recipient

COLA Exhibition: May 19 to July 7, 2013
Opening Reception for the artists: Sunday, May 19, 2:00 - 5:00 PM Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, Barnsdall  Park: 4800 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027 | 323.644.6269

Samantha Fields, Eugene 2 (DETAIL), 2013, acrylic on paper, 54 x 42 inches
Samantha Fields, Eugene 2 (DETAIL), 2013, acrylic on paper, 54 x 42 inches

COLA  2013

City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellowships Visual Arts Exhibition

Sunday, May 19, 2 to 5 p.m. Opening Reception Hosted by the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery Associates

Awarded each year by City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), the C.O.L.A. Fellowships honor a spectrum of the City's most exemplary mid-career artists and support the symbiotic relationship between LA, its artists, its history, and its identity as an international art capital. The 2013 C.O.L.A. award recipients in the visual arts are: Lisa Anne Auerbach, Krysten Cunningham, Ramiro Diaz-Granados, Samantha Fields, Judithe Hernández, Carole Kim, Nery Gabriel Lemus, Rebeca Méndez, and Rebecca Morris. For more information about the C.O.L.A. Exhibition and Performances, please visit

 Read more about the COLA 2013 recipients and exhibition: HERE

Samantha Fields, Stop, (DETAIL), 2013, acrylic on canvas, 28 x 34 inches
Samantha Fields, Stop, (DETAIL), 2013, acrylic on canvas, 28 x 34 inches

Samantha Fields in "Dangerous Beauties" Opening May 5, 2013

May 5 - July 31, 2013  Sturt Haaga Gallery, Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge comeandsee_tear-copy

"Dangerous Beauties," an exhibition of artwork and living plants exploring the theme of the danger of confusing "beauty" with "goodness," opens with an artists reception at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5, in the Sturt Haaga Gallery at Descanso Gardens. The public is invited. The show continues through July 31.

Nature doesn't attach value judgments to its workings, but people do. Trees, flowers, foliage, entire landscapes are judged by people to be beautiful. The same holds true with works of art.

The goal of "Dangerous Beauties" is to present works of nature and works of art that are, in formal terms and on the surface, quite beautiful. But there is a twist: Behind their surface beauty, these plants and artwork reveal a darker side.

The exhibition will include artwork by: Daniel Beltrá, Fatemeh Burnes, Merion Estes, Samantha Fields, Mark Licari, Michael Light, Eve Luckring and Constance Mallinson. Artworks include paintings, photographs, prints and fabric collage.

The artworks will address views of the world seen from afar and from above, as well as close-up. Often resembling an abstract modern art masterpiece, the viewer may think they are just looking at an arresting pattern. But after learning what is depicted, these artworks reveal a second and more perilous or even haunting aspect of their beauty. The subjects are diverse, including oil spills, wildfires and other scenes of devastation.

The plant component of the exhibit addresses the poisonous, the invasive, the nettlesome, the offensive, the intoxicating, the painful and the outright carnivorous. This will be achieved using living terrariums and container gardens placed throughout the galleries. Among other plants included are Austrocylindropuntia (Eve's needle), Euphorbia (crown of thorns), Sansevieria (African spear), Kalanchoe (Pencil milk bush), Ilex (Holly), Zamia, Floridana, Dracaena, Codieaum (Croton) and Pachypodium.

"Dangerous Beauties" reminds us that successful stewardship of the natural world requires our attention to details and a thoughtful reading of what is occurring around us. Beauty is only dangerous if we dwell on the surface of things, without fathoming its depths.

The Sturt Haaga Gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011. Admission is $8 general, $6 seniors/students with I.D., $3 children 5 to 12; children 4 and younger free. Information: (818) 949-4200 or

About Descanso Gardens: Established as a public garden in 1953, Descanso Gardens is located at 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge 91011. The Gardens are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas Day. Descanso Gardens is accredited by the American Association of Museums.