Audrey Kawasaki 'Karamari' oil and graphite on wood 13"x 20"
Last night was the art opening to Audrey Kawasaki's solo show, "Mayoi Michi", at Copro/Nason Gallery in Santa Monica. I drove up from San Diego with my wonderful artist friend, Celëne, who promised to keep me awake for the 2 hour drive home that evening. I hate driving back and forth to LA in one day, I tend to zone out while driving at night and most of the time there's nothing so important it's worth risking my life... except this time. And I was lucky enough to have Celëne's company too to make the trip even more fun (and safe :) ).
Celëne and I started our drive around 10 am, heading first to Giant Robot in Santa Monica. I had never been to a Giant Robot store and it's something I've been excited about doing for awhile now... and it was only 15 minutes away from where we needed to be later that night, Capro/Nason Gallery. We're two girls on strict budgets so we did our best to refrain from buying and enjoy more of the eye candy. We were super lucky to discover that across the street from Giant Robot is Giant Robot 2, where they act as a mini gallery besides selling even more fun Japanese stuff you never knew you needed but must have.
I was super excited to see that across one full wall was a kozyndan installation of their bunnyfish with a giant ama (female abalone diver), swimming amongst them. It was splendid! I love these artists and had seen the process of them making and installing the bunnyfish through their flickr site but I had never actually seen any of their painted work in-person. It was a lovely unexpected treat.
Also at Giant Robot 2 was another artist I'm a fan of, Heisuke Kitazawa, better known in the art world as PCP (stands for Paranoid Corporation Presents, inspired by a Radiohead song). The colors are sweet and tasty and with themes that make you feel like you're in the middle of an ethereal cartoon dream. New to me was work by Robert Bellm whose paintings were chalked full of wonderful colors and detailed lines. His bird pieces were my favorite and his work complimented both kozyndan's and PCP's.
If you're ever in the area keep your eyes peeled for gr/eats which is the cleverly titled Giant Robot restaurant that is almost hidden away but well worth looking out for. Another unexpected surprise inside was the work of Ai Yamaguchi. Thick cut-out shapes of layered wood with painted flowers decorated the small interior with the main painting being quite large and spectacular, a perfect piece for this space... but I didn't take a picture so you'll just have to visit it yourself and be pleasantly surprised by this sweet and vibrant work. So much eye candy! We were hungry and quite pleasantly satisfied with the menu selection, food presentation and peaceful atmosphere.
With only enough driving directions to get us to our next destination, we headed over to Bergamot Station Arts Center to visit the numerous galleries while we waited for the official opening of Audrey's show at Copro/Nason, a space that is within the Bergamot Station complex. If only San Diego had something as professional as this place. It was wonderful to walk through so many art spaces with such diverse and well-thought out collections. Celëne and I were very inspired and it was such a treat to visit so much new work.
Two of our favorite finds were Alex Steinweiss (the creator of album cover art) at Robert Berman Gallery and Mel Kadel at Richard Heller Gallery. The Santa Monica Museum of Art is celebrating their 20 year anniversary with a creative and interactive installation by Michael Asher. "The work is a conceptual history of SMMoA’s exhibitions from 1998 to the present. For the installation, Asher reconstructs all the temporary walls—44 exhibitions’ worth—built during that time period." -www.smmoa.org
You can walk through the skeleton of past walls and experience a whole new way to look at gallery space. Celëne and I walked through two different sections at the same time and each time we spotted the other it felt like we were looking at a mirror image, it was a bit surreal. Unfortunately we were not allowed to photograph the experience, but I do recommend viewing and walking through it yourself the next time you visit Bergamot Station.
Installation at SMMoA
We were curious to see if Copro/Nason was open before the official artist reception at 8pm (it was only 4 and we didn't want to drive anywhere, get lost and ruin our intention of seeing Audrey's show) and to our delight, it was! OMG!! We had the place pretty much to ourselves to be fully immersed into the presence of all the beautiful new work by Audrey Kawasaki. I kept repeating "f***k" in a low whisper which was awe induced by the incredibleness I was viewing first hand. I had only seen Audrey's original work once before when she created her custom Kokeshi for my show and to now be surrounded by her exquisite and sublime girls so lovingly painted... it was just a bit too much for me to contain myself. Sorry, Audrey, for cursing at your work, but it was out of sheer delight and fascination.
We tried to find a tea shop to spend the extra time we had left before the reception but only managed to find treats at a grocery store within walking distance and enjoy a rusting water sculpture sitting area close by. Alas, we were still going to be early for Audrey's show and I was getting tired from all the walking and driving. We tried visiting the gallery once more to see if Audrey would arrive early (I've been wanting to introduce myself in-person since was have exchanged emails in the past and from the Kokeshi project). But alas, Audrey is rather shy about attending these things and so Celëne and I decided we'd had a wonderful day despite not meeting Audrey. It was getting too late to wait any longer and we needed to be on the road while I was still awake (remember I hate driving at night, we had a two hour drive still to get back home and I'm more of a morning person than a night one). I was sorry to have missed one of my favorite artists but the day was so perfect that I decided there had to be one hiccup and I'll live through this one. Until next time. :)
Audrey Kawasaki 'After the Fire' oil on canvas 30"x 30"
To see the rest of Audrey's "Mayoi Michi" show paintings online, visit her livejournal page here.