August 4 – 28, 2017
Opening Reception: Friday, August 4th, 8-11 PM
A Place Worth Knowing
Annie Owens lights her watercolor paintings as if they were vintage photographs or film stills, giving them a film-noir vibe that adds melodrama. Here, we find her characters at odds with themselves in a remote world, riding their bicycles or sitting at the edge of an empty road that travels in two directions. Even a little black house, a recurring image in her work, floats over a cross roads and is destined to stay there until a decision is made.
As one of my favorite authors Algernon Blackwood put it, “No place worth knowing yields itself at sight, and those the least inviting on first view may leave the most haunting pictures upon the walls of memory.”
Here, Blackwood refers to the dark and seemingly unknowable wilderness. Many of his writings involving the backcountry drew metaphoric parallels to humans, personifying the worst and best of the human condition with the howling of the wind or the ominous sound of tricking water. He would describe the properties of the wild as if he were talking about a living-breathing organism.
Taking my queues from Blackwood’s quote, “A Place Worth Knowing” allegorically speaks to our habit as humans of turning away from the seemingly unknowable in ourselves and in others. Preferring to view the strange and unusual from a safe distance in much the same way mysterious and unexplored mountain ranges appear daunting and unreachable – opting to observe rather than to interact.
A willingness to explore the unknown with respect and an open heart yields an environment that is welcoming and soul soothing, if you leave your proverbial baggage at the trailhead from the start. If not, all that you bring with you distorts and multiplies as the miles wear on and the backcountry becomes host to your worst demons and ghosts. For me the wilderness is transformative, both in good ways and bad but always useful. Following a downward decline into a depression in 2016, I’ve found the best side myself in the backcountry, but I have also run into the most pitifully ugly side of who I am as well.
The figures in my work are an amalgamation of all the women and girls I’ve known, for better or worse, molded into a generic form in generic dresses that I sometimes use to embody a thought, a feeling or attitude. For example, the figure in “Encroachment II”, who dwarfs her surroundings, represents the rather arrogant human imprint on rural landscapes. While the figure in “Cordova” who is caught mid-turn presumably to move away from the viewer into the distance portrays either hesitation or a sense of finality. I painted this after a visit to my home state of Alabama with a random side trip to the small town of Cordova that to my knowledge has no connection to my family. I think I was looking for hiking trails. The little town just stuck with me.
Wormwood is self-explanatory for the most part. A biblical reference to the apocalypse where the figure is the 3rd angel just before blowing her trumpet, signaling the coming of the wormwood star that falls to earth poisoning the earth’s lakes and rivers. Atypical of what I normally choose to do with her art, this is an obvious environmental statement and given the political climate and literal climate change, I think it’s timely.
“I have recently been intrigued by nature’s survival mechanisms, such as camouflage and deception, as means for predation and mating. In our society, flowers are emblematic symbols of sublime beauty, femininity, romance, fragility and purity, but these popular perceptions are overthrown when one confronts the devious and crafty ways of flowers. Bee orchids, for example, lure male bees, for the purpose of pollination, by employing smells and colors resembling a potential mate. But there is no actual reward awaiting the bee in exchange for its services; it’s a horticultural con. Through a dark, hybrid floral motif inspired by vintage botanical imagery, I want to exhibit the subtle and deadly courtship between predator and pray, and the idea that danger can be hidden in the most innocent and vulnerable seeming things.”
Edith Waddell is a Peruvian-born artist based in Los Angeles. Her fascination with psychology and botanical iconography has provided a wellspring of symbolic language that allows her to compose anthropomorphic floral arrangements, inkblot-like creatures and whimsical plant-animal hybrids as metaphors for the human psyche, and spirituality. Her flowers and bouquets result in a colorful metamorphosis and synthesis of flora and fauna, conveying hints of seduction, sexuality, femininity, spirituality and nostalgia.
Karen Hydendahl’s figurative art explores themes of internal struggles of pain, delirium, and optimism under siege. Her inspiration is mainly derived from her own lifetime battle with migraines – pain invisible to anyone outside her own orb. The auras and hallucinations inform how she approaches each subject. The crispness of her silkscreen technique and vibrant color palette paired with the softly painted double exposed distant glances of her subjects inspires a curiosity infused with unease. Sometimes, Hydendahl paints people she doesn’t know but combined with her own inner morass, creates a third personality. Over half the portraits in this collection are of other people who do battle with migraines and the balance of prescription meds.
Hydendahl is an accomplished designer and artist for fashion and animation. Her roots include fashion illustration, design and pattern making. Her work in the animation industry began with Color Styling and Art Directing. She was the Art Director for the (now cult) MTV show ‘DARIA’. She currently works on storyboards for the FOX show ‘BOB’S BURGERS’.
Karen Hydendahl graduated with honors from both Art Center College of Design and Brooks College.
Born the daughter of a Baptist minister in Texas, Lizz Lopez attended The University of the Incarnate Word under the tutelage of nuns, became a registered nurse, moved to San Francisco to attend the San Francisco Art Institute, graduated with an interdisciplinary Bachelors in Fine Arts, moved to Southern California after the dot com bust to make movie posters for Sony and Lions Gate, worked as an ICU and hospice nurse for years, attended CSUF/Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia, received a Masters in Nursing in anesthesia, and settled in downtown Los Angeles.
Lizz continues to paint, draw and put people to sleep. This is her first feature exhibition at La Luz de Jesus Gallery.
Daria Theodora is a semi-hermit who draws whatever she wants from the cute to the pretty to the weird in her “cave” in a Boston suburb. Also, she draws to eat desserts.
These images are a collection of strong, and yet vulnerable, women and girls, represented by their desire to protect and be protected. They are reserved and quiet, and as they try to stay courageous in the face of adversity, they grow stoic. But then, they are not without heart; they, too, have feelings.
Contact Gallery Director Matthew Gardocki for purchase info: