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Recycled and Reshaped: 3 Artists, 3 Perspectives at the Palos Verdes Art Center

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David Jang with his installation piece in the Palos Verdes Art Center. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

Paint and canvas are just the beginning in two peninsula exhibitions

Something’s brewing on top of the hill. Last Friday evening the Palos Verdes Art Center held an opening reception for “3 Artists, 3 Perspectives,” curated by Scott Canty, and this coming Saturday, March 3, Zask Gallery premieres its newest show, “Lost but Profound.” Both venues are currently just a paint splash away from one another, located in the Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates.

“I wanted an exciting exhibition of color and movement,” Canty says, “so I chose work that reflected my idea.” And thus Quinton Bemiller was selected for his bursts and flowing streams of bright color, Alexandra Weisenfeld for her juxtaposition of figurative and abstract elements, and David Jang for his restless, churning installation piece – reminiscent of wind turbines, windmills, or maybe the engine room of some imaginary steamship.

“I have had the opportunity to exhibit these artists separately in different settings,” Canty continues, “but never together.” Of the three artists, Canty had previously shown the work of Jang and Weisenfeld at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery where he serves as both director and curator, and Bemiller’s pictures at LAX.

He’d set his sights on a show that would energize the Art Center, which has been in a temporary location for some months while the permanent site is being renovated. Bemiller’s large canvases certainly have that effect – they call out to the passerby. The dynamism continues, literally, when the viewer notices Jang’s piece, which the artist – in an email – refers to as an “architecturally integrated site specific installation.”

The final gallery, Canty notes, brings calm to the space. “I simply enjoy her sense of this world,” he says of Weisenfeld’s paintings. “Her keen observation and studies of animals and humans have a real playfulness. In her work you can see abstraction and representational imagery all working together at the same time, creating layers of images, and creating a wonderful narrative.”

Alexandra Weisenfeld. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

A visceral understanding

Although each of the three artists on view in the PV Art Center have received equal billing, David Jang has the slight edge in that he also has a few works on view in Zask Gallery.

How he ended up here, not so much Palos Verdes but Los Angeles, is quite a story. Born in Seoul, Korea, in 1975, Jang came to the United States in 1989 without knowing English. When it came to math and art, the subjects he excelled in, that wasn’t an obstacle. He ended up with a BA in sculpture and painting from the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, Minneapolis. He relocated to Los Angeles early in the new century.

As for the large piece on display in the Art Center, he explains that the work is not about itself, per se, but rather about the relationship between the viewer and the object, and thus the formulated thought or dialogue that emerges from the encounter.

As for the wood panel work, exhibited in the Art Center and also at Zask, these pieces are fascinating because the industrial flavor is evident when one is up close, but from further away there’s an art nouveau or Oriental allure to them.

Or, as one reads on the press release that accompanied an exhibition of his work in San Francisco’s Sandra Lee Gallery, “David Jang transforms the detritus of urban life into minimalist paintings of formal elegance – gritty, yet sublime – that echo the contemporary industrial landscape. Jang deconstructs repurposed materials – plywood, aluminum cans, scrap metal – painting with a grinder or blowtorch, to reveal a surprising formal beauty hidden within the industrial process. The distressed surfaces of his paintings have the austere elegance and gritty patina of objects that have withstood the tests of time to reveal inner truths.”

There is always a certain amount of hyperbole in press releases, exaggerated claims for originality and all that, but this statement gives a fairly accurate assessment of Jang’s work.

Quinton Bemiller. Photo by Bondo Wyszpolski

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

“I met David Jang on Facebook,” Peggy Zask says. “He was having a solo show somewhere in Orange County and his photos of the exhibition were bold and intriguing. I contacted him on Facebook and arranged a studio visit. My husband and I were amazed by the scale, use of movement, originality, and the critical connection to today’s contemporary art movement of re-appropriating objects.

“I scheduled a show for him simultaneously with Palos Verdes Art Center. Jang made the decision to put his more complex installation at PVAC and his more saleable pieces in the Zask Gallery group exhibition of art made from found objects.”

“Lost but Profound: Art using the Found Object” is a group show that features 14 artists from Southern California. A previous show with the same name and similar work was held last year at the gallery’s former location in the Golden Cove shopping center on the other side of the hill. “But in a year’s time,” Zask explains, “I have met many more artists and have found an unending variety in the scope of what can be described as a found object.

“I am interested in it as an art form,” she continues, “because it is growing so rapidly as an art movement; artists are embracing the rich world of material cast-offs with an unprecedented vigor. The variation in the art is as broad as our culture’s materialism and as diverse as its imagination. These artists help us see these objects in a new perspective with unexpected juxtapositions, creating new form and new meaning.

“Artists are now ‘painting’ and sculpting with all kinds of cast-off industrial waste, shoreline debris, digital and electronic refuse, and the like. Color, value, shape, form, and texture – the elements of art. Not only are they free, but in a ceremonial way these artists are slowing the cycle of waste, making a strong statement about it, and opening up a broad and exciting realm of possibility in creativity.”

Zask realizes that this kind of art has been around for a long time, and assemblage art – which might be another name for this kind of work – has had its practitioners locally, from Ron Pippen and Eva Kolosvary-Stupler to the Torrance Bookends, Chuck and Dora Meyer, whose entire home might be considered one big assemblage sculpture.

Art by David Jang on view at Zask Gallery, comprised of aluminum cans, wood, wax, oil and stain.

Zask herself mentions Joseph Cornell, Louise Nevelson, and Ed Keinholz, “who used found materials in very different ways. Today’s artists are limitless in the direction of this movement and it seems to be evolving at a rapid pace.” In short, she concludes, “This type of art captures the imagination of all who see it.”

Besides David Jang, Peggy Zask is also displaying work by Jacob Butts, Pat Cox, Evan Everest, Chuck Feesago, Geoffrey Kieran, David Lovejoy, Frank Miller, Seth Pringle, Ann Marie Rawlinson, Jay Reed, Jeff Reed, Yu Cotton-Well, and Ben Zask.

3 Artists, 3 Perspectives is on view through April 22 at the Palos Verdes Art Center, 550 Deep Valley Drive, suite 261, in the Promenade on the Peninsula mall in Rolling Hills Estates. (310) 541-2479 or pvartcenter.org. Lost but Profound, which opens on Saturday with a reception from 6 to 9 p.m., is on the lower level of the same shopping center, suite 151. The work is up through April 8. Call (310) 429-0973 or go to pszaskgallery.com. ER