Archive for January, 2014

Masha Keating painting, on display at galerie 102

Masha Keating painting, on display at galerie 102

Artist Interview: The  paintings of Masha Keating,  the sculptures of Molly Smith

 Galerie 102’s new exhibit

Event: Feb. 2 – Conversation with the Artists

By Demitri Corbin

A week after The Porch Gallery opening, I went to the second opening for the new Galerie 102 on January 18.  Nature vs. Nurture features the work of painter, Masha Keating and sculptor, Molly Smith.  And like the Porch Gallery opening, the Galerie 102 reception proved to be the main event of the weekend.  I love seeing galleries full – especially with young people – I mean elementary school children with their parents. Exposure to the arts makes for future arts patrons.  I am not writing as a critic.  I’m an art appreciator, so I can only talk about what I like.

First, I want to say I love Galerie 102.  The small, intimate space reminds me of a gallery you might walk into in mid-town Manhattan.  The lighting is first rate.   Curator Jolene Lloyd, as with her first exhibit, We Are One/We Are Many, has paired the two artists’ works with a keen eye.  I arrived early enough to view the show before the place filled up and waited for an opportune time to take painter Masha Keating aside for a brief interview.  In time, we stepped away from the adoring crowd and into the gallery courtyard where we sat and chatted.

DC:  First, tell me about the piece on the wall by the reception desk, number six.  Aside from the large piece that’s the one that really caught my eye.

MK:  With that piece I wanted to play with surrealism.  The flower takes on characteristics of a person, and is speaking through a dreamy state of gravity.  I don’t like to say what I intended it to be.  I want people to stop and think, not make it too obvious or representative.  They have to think and allow the human characteristics to come through.  This one is a generation advanced from the first.  There are larger versions of that.  I don’t plan out what my paints will be in the end.  I work with the emotion and play with meditation.  I’m inspired as the painting changes…the strokes inspire other strokes, sending visual information.  I don’t stick to the original.

DC:  Now, you live in Santa Barbara.

MK:  Yes.

DC:  And your accent?  What is that?

MK:  Russian.   I’m from Moscow.

DC:  And painting?  You’ve always painted?  Did you go to school?

MK:  I’ve always painted.  I’ve always been identified as good at art.  In Russia, my family, everyone was always encouraging.  My grandfather was an artist.  Coming to the US I always knew it was what I wanted to do, so in Los Angeles I studied at Otis Fine Art College.  I have a BFA.  After I graduated, I went into graphic design for a while.  Being from an immigrant family, I had a hit a period of reality. Now I’m the mother of 3 boys. Being a mother, everything stopped, including graphic design.  After a while I was ready to back to work and I went back to fine art.  It’s been 4 years now.

DC:  Have you done any other shows recently?

MK:  Yes, I just had a show in Chicago.

DC:  And how did Jolene find you?

MK:  Through ARC, I sent in my resume.

DC:  What is ARC?

MK:  It’s a women’s collaborative program – women’s art.

DC:  And how do you like Ojai?

MK:  I like it here.  I like driving here.  And I like what she’s doing here with the art scene in Ojai.  She’s enthusiastic, she loves art.  And it’s always a treat finding someone like that.

DC:  I think that’s it.  Thank you, Masha.

MK:  I’m sorry, I was so nervous.

DC:  Really?  You didn’t seem so.  I should let you get back to your guests now.

MK:  Thank you.  It was wonderful talking with you.

Later on I had a chat with Jolene Lloyd to get to know more about sculptor Molly Smith.

JL:  She’s in Massachusetts nursing a new born, she couldn’t make it.

DC:  And she’s from your artist’s roster?

JL:  She’s represented by Kate Werble Gallery in New York.

DC:  She’s not on your roster – how did you find her?

JL:  By visiting great artists and she’s wonderful!   She’s  an environmental artist and she works with

Found and repurposed objects.  Like the sculpture there (pointing) she made that from her old T-shirt

And the one there is made from an old funnel.  Her sculptures are a study in balance.  They become (?).  The balance gives life.  Her work is deceptively simple…I love her work, her ability to take simple objects and reimagine them into conceptual art…her execution and her composition – what she does is magical.

DC:  Thanks, Jolene.

JL:  Thank you, Demitri.

We returned to the reception where Masha Keating stopped me to add one last word to the interview.

MK:  I wanted to say that I left Russia before the fall of Communism and I have not returned to see the new Russia.

DC:  Thanks.

As I write I am thinking of all the words I heard during and after the opening describing the work on exhibit that evening.  Here are a few:  vulvic, nurturing, Georgia O’Keefe, Judy Chicago-meets- ’70s acid art, amazing, superb, exciting, fascinating…

See for yourself.  Nature vs. Nurture, the paintings of Masha Keating and sculptures of Molly Smith are on view at Galeri 102 through February 23.  Galerie 102 is located at 102 East Matilija St., Ojai California.  For more information visit:  galerie102.com.

Masha KeatingNature vs. Nurture Opens at galerie102 in Ojai, with paintings by Santa Barbara artist Masha Keating and sculpture by East Coast based, Molly Smith

‘Conversation Series’ with artists set for Feb. 2.

 By Helen Solomon

Ojai, CA – galerie102 is pleased to present “Nature vs. Nurture,” a two-person exhibit on view January 18 to February 23, featuring paintings by Masha Keating and sculpture by Molly Smith. The second installment of the gallery’s popular Conversation Series, with the artists, will be held on Sunday, February 2 from  2 to 4 p.m.

“Nature vs. Nurture” explores both artists’ interpretation of the natural world and the transformation of those objects found in nature and the importance of an individual’s innate qualities versus personal experience,” says gallery owner/director Jolene Lloyd.

Keating’s large-scale abstract works are an exercise in observation and exploration, delicateness and boldness. Her work embraces the discovery and surprise that comes with the process, resulting in a lucid, free-flowing example of exploration.  A flower becomes a gigantic symphony of movement and a figure gets lost within the velocity of the flower.  “To me, the process begins with the interpretation of an organic form, whether it be a plant, landscape, or, more recently, a figure in motion,” says Keating.  “Then the painting becomes a metaphor for life; every element informing and influencing one another, each an integral part of the whole.”

Keating was born in Moscow, Russia in 1977 and immigrated to the United States in 1990. She attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and in 1999 received a BFA from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.  Her work was exhibited in solo at the ARC Gallery in Chicago, IL.  Keating’s paintings are held in many private and public collections across the country, including the permanent collection of the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport in Santa Barbara.

Today, Keating lives and works in Santa Barbara.

Sculptor Smith uses found and handmade materials; as seen in her piece ebb constructed out of a piece of handmade cornhusk paper gently interlaid on a slab of split wood.   Her sculptures rest, hang, and balance in arrangements that emphasize the transience and ephemeral quality of the natural world, also suggesting the possibility of further transformation.

To create the works for this exhibit, Smith has made each new environment her studio.  “For the better part of last year I traveled across the country and along the way I made artwork out of materials that I collected from the places I passed through,” says Smith.   “For me, this way of working matches the fleeting nature of my impressions and my hope is that the objects hold the energy of the instance of their creation and resonate a sense of presence, of being aware of a moment.”

Smith was born in 1976 in Kansas City, Missouri.  She obtained her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1999 and her MFA from Columbia University in 2004.  She has had solo exhibitions at Kate Werble Gallery, New York, Romer Young Gallery, San Francisco, Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum, CA and KS Art, New York.

Today, Smith lives and works in a timber frame house that she and her partner Josh built in the woods of Worthington, MA.

galerie102 is located at 102 W. Matilija St. in downtown Ojai. For more information visit galerie102.com or call (805) 640-0151.

Alexandra Cantle's work at the Porch Gallery

Alexandra Cantle’s work at the Porch Gallery

The work of Alexandra Cantle at Porch Gallery

By Demitri Corbin

Having heard about Alexandra Cantle’s work, I was both eager and intrigued to attend her opening at The Porch Gallery. The show, Language as a Material, drew an enthusiastic crowd to view Cantle’s work  in which she shares her experience and understanding of people with dyslexia.

I was intrigued for my own reasons, having had signs of dyslexia in elementary school, as well as coming across many students with various learning disabilities in my teaching. I wondered how art would convey the experience.

But the gallery was packed!  Patrons puzzled in front of pieces and the den of conversation seemed to be amplified by the words on the walls.  Before I had a chance to take in the work, I got a chance to chat with Ms. Cantle about her subject matter.

Young, talented and energetic, Ms. Cantle exemplifies the emerging contemporary artists the Porch Gallery curators Heather Stobo and Lisa Casoni are introducing.  Originally from Ojai, she now lives in Los Angeles.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Art from the University of California and a Masters of Fine Art in Public Practice for Otis College of Art and Design.

And the passion she has put into her work is apparent in some of the reactions I witnessed from gallery patrons.  I stood with a couple of friends in front of the piece, “Process,” a 4-paneled piece which shows the distorted word.  My friend could not shake the frustration of wanting a 5th panel to show the word pristine and perfect, “like it should be.”  I informed her that that was what the artist intended.

Ms. Cantle’s work is both engaging and thought provoking.  It gives insight into a human condition of which many people are not aware and it sparks dialogue.

On Saturday, January 25 at 1 p.m., in collaboration with the “Language as a Material” exhibit, artist Tamarind Rossetti will lead an interactive project; an hour-long workshop on Language as material.

Workshop participants will experiment with language and explore ways to open up space and time, in the stories we tell.  The outcome of the participatory project will be on view for the continuation of the show through February 7.


The Porch Gallery is located at 310 E. Matilija St. in Ojai.  For more information visit www.porchgalleryojai.com.