Santa Monica Art Studios, housed in a former airplane hangar at the Santa Monica Airport, opened its doors this past weekend for the 6th Annual Open Studios event. I have been to several of the six yearly events, ostensibly to support one of the artists in residence, my old friend Rachel Grynberg. But each year I really enjoy the variety of works on display, and the ability to meet the artists and their representatives. This year’s event did not disappoint.
The hangar, including a front space (the “Arena 1 Gallery“), a couple of hallways, and over 30 studios, was lined with artwork that ranged from a giant Clint Eastwood-clad Barilla spaghetti box to paintings, prints, photos, and much more. The Arena 1 space was occupied with a show entitled F-Utility (with a dot, not a dash), curated by artist Oona Gardner and displaying a number of pieces and images from a variety of artists, including Julie Schustack, Mark Moskovitz, and Matt Monroe. Moskovitz’ You Are Here series of digital prints was a result of something that would be right at home on blogging.la: the Cleveland-area artist took an east-west run from the Highland Park area to the Santa Monica Pier and back — over 30 miles — and took snapshots of what he saw along the way.
Monroe’s Frontier also picked up the travel theme, but in a different way. His piece — the most noticeable of the entire event — was a full-size covered wagon made from plastic IKEA items, including shower curtains, baseball bats, ice trays, and toy guns. Imagine how America would have been different if the pioneers had been able to stock up at IKEA before their trek westward, and neatly store their items in large plastic tubs.
I also had an interesting conversation with Andrea Lithgow, artist and proprietor of the Dandy Jewelry mini-shop arranged on a couple of tables at the back of the hangar. Andrea makes and sells beautiful glazed ceramic jewelry, including bracelets, necklaces, and more. Her pieces are hand-made yet “mass produced”: even though many pieces were similar looking, no two were identical.
Whether you want to contemplate art vs. commerce, are in the mood to buy some fascinating pieces (reasonably priced, compared to what I have seen at other art events), or just gaze at the glaze, Santa Monica Art Studios should be on your list. The Arena 1 F-Utility show in particular will continue at the Studios through November 20.