Phyllis Green, "Claudette", ceramics, 2005, on display in the Leo Castelli Gallery at Brenau University
Phyllis Green, "Claudette", ceramics, 2005, is on display in the Leo Castelli Gallery at Brenau University as part of the exhibit "L.A. Stories."

Exhibit to showcase variety of Los Angeles artists

Mar. 3, 2020
Kristen Bowman
Gary Brewer, "Velocity of Perception", oil on canvas, 2016
Gary Brewer, “Velocity of Perception”, oil on canvas, 2016

Known for its strong connection to the New York art world, Brenau University hopes to introduce the community to artists from the other side of the country with L.A. Stories, an exhibit in the Leo Castelli Gallery running through May 7.

L.A. Stories is curated by Paul Paiement, a California-based artist and tenured professor in the Art Department at Cypress College in Orange County, California.

Paiement first visited Brenau a little over a year ago to discuss a show of his own work, at which time he toured the campus and was impressed with the university’s Permanent Art Collection.

“It’s interesting how the collection evolved and what it offers to students at Brenau,” Paiement said. “A lot of times, that’s really overlooked at a lot of universities. I was really impressed by how Brenau’s collection is being displayed for all to see. It’s not being warehoused or in just a few select places. That was very impressive to me, and artists especially see the importance of that.”

While touring, he noticed how many of the artists were from the East Coast, and he remarked to university staff that it would be great if there was more West Coast representation.

Kendell Carter, "Effigy for a New Normalcy VI (Accepting Greatness), gold-plated sneakers, 2017
Kendell Carter, “Effigy for a New Normalcy VI (Accepting Greatness), gold-plated sneakers, 2017

“Traditionally, the art world has been so New York-based,” he said. “But times are changing and things are shifting. I don’t think everything is happening in Los Angeles, but there is a lot happening there. I hope this brings a basic kind of exposure to all the really wonderful things that are happening here. There is a really amazing collection of artists here.”

Paiement said an exhibition of West Coast artists should reflect Los Angeles’ vast demographics.

“The show is about diversity, but about not only the diversity of the artists — that’s a buzzword — but the approaches to artmaking here are incredibly diverse. The works don’t fit into a style or a school.”

Paiement said the show doesn’t even fully capture that artistic diversity — “We’ve just cracked a door here,” he said — but there is something that ties all the works together, too.

“If I were to describe that, I’d say it’s very much a reflection of Los Angeles,” he said. “There’s a certain polish that artworks produced in LA have. Even though there are all these different approaches, it comes down to a certain finish, a polish, an aesthetic. And I think it’s optimistic. It reflects our 340 days of sunshine.”

Paiement said finding that unity was the greatest challenge in curating the show and credited Brenau Galleries Director Nichole Ferguson for tying it all together.

Abel Alejandre, "I Can Do Anything", graphite and paint on paper, 2015
Abel Alejandre, “I Can Do Anything”, graphite and paint on paper, 2015

Paiement chose 30 artists for the show, all of which reflect that vast artistic spectrum and are recognized and well-respected by the international art community.

Ferguson said the university’s Permanent Art Collection has a long history tied to the New York art scene. John S. Burd, a former Brenau president, befriended Leo Castelli for whom the gallery is named. Castelli was one of the greatest art dealers of the 20th century and went on to become a supportive member of the university’s Board of Trustees and pivotal agent in Brenau’s galleries.

Today, many of the works of artists Castelli represented — including Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol — are part of the university’s Permanent Art Collection.

Ferguson said she’s thrilled the university can now share with the greater community what is happening artistically on the other side of the country. An opening reception for the show will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, in the Castelli Gallery, located in the John S. Burd Center for the Performing Arts on Brenau’s Gainesville campus. Paiement and several of the exhibiting artists will be in attendance.

The artists in the show are: Abel Alejandre, Cherie Benner Davis, Andrea Bersaglieri, Justin Bower, Todd Brainard, Gary Brewer, Cole Case, Kendell Carter, Martin Durazo, Frido Evers, Samantha Fields, Phyllis Green, Lisa Ikerd-Carradine, Ben Jackel, Dion Johnson, Yoory Jung, Virginia Katz, Jerome Lagarrigue, Aline Mare, Siobhan McClure, Robert Miller, Hagop Najarian, Deborah Roberts, Greg Rose, Leigh Salgado, Molly Schulps, Phumelele Tshabalala, Ernest Velardi, Stephen Wozniak and Andre Yi.

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