Jonathan LeVine Projects and Heron Arts are pleased to present East Looking West, an exhibition of artists currently based on the West Coast, curated by Jonathan LeVine.
Jonathan LeVine is known for introducing the West Coast lowbrow aesthetic to the East Coast. With a particular style, vision, and palette influenced by comic books, B-movies, advertising, and car culture, the lowbrow aesthetic is both a cultural reality and a romantic encapsulation of how The West is seen from afar. It represents eternal sunshine, a way of life, the possibility of escape, and a fresh start.
A lot has changed since then, global influence has blurred regional distinctions and the West Coast aesthetic has been re-appropriated throughout the world. Interconnectedness, the Internet, and increased mobility has intensified a swirling of cultures. East Looking West is a stylistic melting pot showcasing West Coast natives and transplants. Revisiting our roots, we focus the lens on the West Coast and take a look at what is happening now.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
AJ Fosik creates intricate, vividly colored three-dimensional pieces that reference folk art, taxidermy, and cultural ritual. Fosik’s wall pieces and freestanding sculptures of anthropomorphized animals are carefully crafted from hundreds of pieces of wood that he cuts and paints individually by hand. Once the basic forms are complete, he adds threatening teeth, claws, and eyes to give the objects an intimidating presence. Totems and fetishes, as well as the “random, chaotic and arbitrary nature of existence,” fascinate Fosik, who’s from Detroit, Michigan and based in Portland, Oregon.
Anthony Ausgang was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1959 and his family moved to Houston, Texas in the early 1960s. After a short stint studying art at The University Of Texas in Austin, he moved to Los Angeles and began classes at The Otis Art Institute. In 1990, he had his first solo show at Zero One Gallery and began designing record covers, posters and working as a consultant on computer generated animation. In 1993, Ausgang was included in the Laguna Beach Art Museum’s seminal exhibit Kustom Kulture, which investigated art influenced by gearhead car culture. In 2009, his work was included in Apocalypse Wow! at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome in Italy, and in late 2012, Ausgang was the featured international artist at the Rewind show in Bologna celebrating the 50th anniversary of Fender guitar in Italy. Vacation from Reality is a publication of his major artworks up to 2007.
Inspired by the basic building blocks of the geometric world, Augustine Kofie has formed a retro-futuristic aesthetic which transplants these shapes and angles into a soulful, organic, yet highly mathematical form of abstraction. Merging his traditional graffiti education, his inclination toward “certain color forms and certain application techniques”, with his deep love of illustration and preliminary design, his fondness for “drafts, architectural renderings and pre-production concepts”, Kofie plays with form and line, with balance and depth, twisting and manipulating his murals, his illustrations, his compositions, into ever new and dramatic arrangements
Ben Venom juxtaposes traditional handmade crafts with extreme elements found on the fringes of society. His work can be described as opposing forces colliding at lightening speed. Imagery found in vintage tattoos, the occult, and motorcycle gangs are stitched together with recycled materials using techniques usually relegated to your grandmother’s sewing circle.
Brett Amory received a BFA from the Academy of Arts University in San Francisco in 1975. He’s best known for his take on the urban environment, featuring gritty architecture and the faceless individuals waiting for another day to pass. More recently he’s been focusing on bringing the gentrification aspect of city life to the museum environment with installations and artist residences at both the deYoung Museum and Ft. Wayne Museum. He currently has a solo exhibition on view at Jonathan LeVine Projects in Jersey City.
Camille Rose Garcia was born in 1970 in Los Angeles, California. Her paintings are critical commentaries on the failures of capitalist utopias, blending nostalgic pop references with a satirical slant on modern society. Creative influences include Phillip K. Dick, William Burroughs, Henry Darger, and Walt Disney. In 2007, the San Jose Museum of Art exhibited a mid-career survey of her work entitled Tragic Kingdom: The Art of Camille Rose Garcia. Her work is included in the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Art and the Los Angeles Museum of Art.
Carlos Ramirez – “In our harried, modern life, paintings can have a way of softening our man-made environments, serving as a window to an emotional view of nature. I strive to strike a balance between the harmony and chaos that exists in the natural world. I am heavily influenced by nature and find that connection constantly reflected in my paintings. Painting has a way of bringing me back full circle to my creative roots. Through the interplay of line and color I develop a personal language to depict the world. It is my own private voice expressed, an exploration into a world purely of my own making with no external rules or needs. It allows me to speak from my heart, to what moves and motivates me, while serving as a mirror of my being and growing the connection to who I am.”
Christian Clayton is an artist, painter, image maker and storyteller. Over the span of 20 years, he’s put out an enormous amount of work, from his individual studio practice as well as from his collaborative, Clayton Brothers. Clayton lectures nationally and internationally. In 2015, he was awarded The Great Teacher Award from the Art Center College of Design student body. His teaching credentials also include Cal State University Northridge and Otis College of Design.
Cryptik creates from a palette of wonder, where all science, math, and true art spring from equal mystery. His is a clear-eyed art practice of more questions asked than answered. The Southern Californian creative’s intricate, almost trance-inducing works—be they on mammoth walls, slap stickers, or hanging in galleries—find voice in images of spiritual universality. By his hand, Eastern philosophical thought and mantras hypnotically merge with the black letter bombing of cholo writing. The ancient and the sacred marry in a modern quest—through art—for conscious awakening and awareness.
David Choong Lee was born in 1966 is Seoul, Korea and is currently based in San Francisco, California. In 1993, he moved to the United States to pursue his education and received a BFA from the Academy of Art University (San Francisco) in 1997. He received an MFA from the same university in 2005. He’s made a notable shift from realism to abstraction in recent years, with his new work containing lush, vibrant landscapes and otherworldly figures. Unlike his past realistic figurative work, his new imagery stems entirely from his imagination and is the result of laborious studies: painting and rearranging over and over to develop a new visual vocabulary.
Gary Baseman is an American contemporary artist who works in various creative fields, including illustration, fine art, toy design, and animation. He is the creator of the Emmy-winning ABC/Disney cartoon series, Teacher’s Pet, and the artistic designer of Cranium, a popular award-winning board game. Baseman’s aesthetic combines iconic pop art images, pre-and post-war vintage motifs, cross-cultural mythology and literary and psychological archetypes. He is noted for his playful, devious and cleverly named creatures, which recur throughout his body of work.
Known for lush and meticulously painted riffs on Old Masters that feature pop culture icons of the past, Isabel Samaras’ ribald images are woven with references to classic horror movies, ancient mythologies, cherished TV characters, tribal societies, and childhood fairy tales. Magical realism and the forbidden fantasies of fabled characters frolic in a world where elusive desires become reality, re-imagining ill-fated journeys that turn into enchanted honeymoons. A common thread that runs through much of Samaras’ work like a red string tied to her heart is that of love: maternal affection, romantic devotion, illicit enchantments, tender yearnings, unrequited passion, and the idea that everyone, even monsters or disembodied hands can find someone to love them.
Jeffrey Gillette’s paintings examine the aesthetic structures and visual patterns of human settlement, specifically that of shantytown style slums in India and South America. To the artist, there is something ineffable behind the obviously chaotic and desperate appearance of these places — a universality of human spirit and a strange beauty which comes out of the necessity and raw honesty of the will to survive. Despite the seriousness of his observations, Gillette sees ironic and amusing juxtapositions that occur when Disney, corporate logos, and pop icons from consumer culture appear as building blocks of shanty settlement construction. His works reflect these ironies as well as add a playful dimension to art historical relationships.
Jeremy Fish has been a San Francisco local for the last 20 years and has been awarded artist residencies at both San Francisco City Hall and Coit Tower. He is known for his library of animal characters and incorporating them into local landmarks and legends. His artwork has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world while also maintaining a commercial presence, designing skateboards, t-shirts, vinyl toys, periodical illustrations and sneakers. In 2006, he collaborated with hip-hop recording artist Aesop Rock on a book entitled The Next Best Thing.
Mario Martinez (Mars-1) paints from a penetrating perspective of great depth. Viewers are drawn into his imaginative compositions, overflowing with colorful geometric and organic shapes, layered to form unique patterns and textures. The artist signature style of vast, abstracted, quasi-extraterrestrial looking landscapes feature imagery of surreal distortions, contained within spherically convex transparent bubbles. Skillfully combining optical color blending with perspective line work, his painting techniques result in very three-dimensional forms, which echo the anatomy of architecture, and microcosmic structures of biology.
Seonna Hong’s paintings are quietly narrative and often autobiographical. In 2004, she received an Emmy Award for Individual Achievement in Production Design for her work on the animated series My Life as a Teenage Robot. In 2006, she was the recipient of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant. Hong continues to show her work in shows and galleries around the world, such as the notable Kaikai Kiki Gallery in Tokyo, Japan.
Shag (Josh Agle) is a painter, illustrator and designer, currently based in Los Angeles. His work cannily captures a certain fantasy of the good life in mid-20th-century America — a time before Vietnam, hippies, feminism, race riots and fossil fuel scarcity. On wide panels in neon-candy colors and in a style simulating semi-abstract cartoons of the early 1960s, he paints funny, curiously touching suburban pastorals. Modern, mostly glass houses are nestled in bucolic landscapes; suave men in tuxedos and beautiful women in evening dresses and bikinis pose indoors and out in states of perfect composure.
Shepard Fairey received a BA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1991. He designed the iconic Hope graphic of Barack Obama used during the 2007-2008 presidential campaign, which was acquired by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery the following year. In 2009, a mid-career survey of Fairey’s work was the subject of his first major museum exhibition at The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Fairey’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego.
Souther Salazar‘s installations transport the viewer into a vibrant and endless world of overlapping drawn, painted, sculpted and animated narratives and dreamscapes — half-remembered, half-imagined places where stories can develop and take on a life of their own. Utilizing a variety of mixed media, found objects and layers of assemblage, his work evokes the wonders and imagination that many of us abandoned in childhood.
Tim Biskup works with playful and vibrant psychedelic imagery in the pop-design genre that emerged in the late 20th century through such diverse media as screen printing, textile production, and rotocast vinyl. He was a significant contributor to the GAMA-GO clothing line.
Tristan Eaton was born in 1978 in Los Angeles, California. At the age of eighteen he designed his first toy for Fisher Price and became an icon in the designer toys world. His works have been exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City and are part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.
ABOUT HERON ARTS
Heron Arts was founded in 2013 by Mark Slee, an active member of San Francisco’s creative community, organizing events since the mid-2000s. Prior to Heron Arts, Slee was a member of Facebook’s product design and development team. He is joined in 2015 by directors Noah Antieau and Tova Lobatz, who are pursuing ambitious programming that will encompass installations and experiential interactive environments, alongside traditional gallery exhibitions.Collectively the three hope to provide San Francisco with a fresh outlook on contemporary beauty in the arts.