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Top 3 This Week

Let Lindsay Preston Zappas curate your art viewing experiences this week. Here are our Top 3 picks of what not to miss. Scroll down for Insider stories.

“Your Presence is Encouraged,” curated by Isabel Yellin. Image courtesy of the artists. Photo: Jeff McLane.

1. “Your Presence is Encouraged”

For the past two weekends, a backyard in Highland Park has served as the humble venue for “Your Presence is Encouraged,” a group exhibition curated by artist Isabel Yellin. A second version of the show, set to debut in June, will include several more artists at the gallery Various Small Fires. The exhibition loops together LA-based female sculptors—many of whom muse on ideas of domesticity—whose playfully irreverent works are awash in golden SoCal golden light.

Nevine Mamoud’s “Hot Toy Straddle” is a pink glass form, reminiscent of an absurdly elongated breast, that balances delicately on a stone block. Nearby, Rosha Yaghmai’s “Facade Test” melds rusted pipes found around the city into a compositional maze. Amanda Ross-Ho recreates a childhood memory of a sandbox-turned-fantastical strawberry patch. Yellin explained that these experimental works arise from the freedom found in artist-organized exhibitions. “Artist-run initiatives allow for this freedom to try something different…” she says. “To have a concrete outdoor opportunity to try something new and very experimental and physical with your work ... I think we were all just desperate for it.”

On view: April 10–April 24, 2021. Appointment only, Various Small Fires exhibition forthcoming.

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“Hot Concrete” at Sow and Tailor.

2. “Hot Concrete: L.A. Arrangement” at Sow and Tailor

Across town, artist Greg Ito has opened a new gallery space that focuses on celebrating LA artists and the community. Ito, along with his wife Karen Galloway and friend Stefano Di Paola, has launched Sow and Tailor with its inaugural group show, “Hot Concrete: L.A. Arrangement.” Walking into the space off of Grand Avenue, the works clustered at the front of the venue mimic the streets of Los Angeles—a maquette for Peter Shire’s public sculpture in Elysian Park, and a Sayre Gomez trompe l’oeil painting that looks like discarded price stickers like you might see stuck to a park bench. Yet, progressing through the exhibition, the works slowly become more personal and figurative, like our private domestic spaces that act as reprieves from the bustle of the city. Together, the exhibition celebrates LA culture, local artists, and the messy yet vibrant energy that our city encapsulates.  

On view: April 18–May 30, 2021

Sow and Tailor
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Emma Soucek, “I miss you, but I haven’t met you yet,” 2021. Paper pulp, collage, acrylic paint, glue 48 x 54 inches. Image courtesy of the Artist and Parrasch Heijnen, Los Angeles, CA.

3. Emma Soucek at Parrasch Heijnen

At Parrasch Heijnen in Boyle Heights, Emma Soucek’s paintings are made with repurposed paper that the artist contorts into colorful compositions. The artist recycles bills and stationery to create paper pulp that she dyes into vibrant hues before adhering it to the canvas in tactile layers. Once applied to the canvas, the paper pulp soaks up neighboring colors, creating smooth gradients that bloom across her compositions. 

Formally, the works take inspiration from quilting and textiles, which is particularly apparent in works featuring gridded squares lined up in neat rows. Others, like “I miss you, but I haven’t met you yet,” relish in more expressive gradients that roll across the canvas, interspersed with darker lines and curious collaged imagery. The exhibition is smartly paired with two works by acclaimed artist Howerdina Pindell, whose layered hole punch compositions provide a thoughtful contrast to Soucek’s paper-pulp constructions. 

On view: April 7–April 28, 2021 | Open map

Parrasch Heijnen
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Gallery Talk: Artists cultivating post-isolation community

Gallery talk is your insider look into the stories of gallerists, curators, and artists in the Los Angeles art community.

Amanda Ross-Ho, “Untitled Backyard Memory (Strawberry Sandbox),” 2021. Redwood, latex paint, acrylic, roofing nails, colored sand, resin replica strawberries, carabiners and rings, scale mail, aluminum chain, jump rings 39” x  39” x 7.5.” Image courtesy the artist and Mitchell, Innes & Nash. Photo: Jeff McLane.

How two group exhibitions foreground solidarity and experimentation

As LA-based artists, both Greg Ito and Isabel Yellin were interested in organizing exhibitions to bring the LA art community together after a year of isolation. Yellin says that the concept of her exhibition wasn’t originally about Covid, but that it kept pushing to the front of her mind as she was planning the show. 

“I really miss my community and really believe all of our works have a strong conversation together. So why not bring us all together in a backyard and have a space where we can all be experimental and try new things, and really revive the energy that we’ve all been missing.” 

Ito echoes this impulse to offer a space where more experimental exchanges between artists can take place: “You need a place to grow and experiment, and I really aim to make space for that—to give artists those types of opportunities… It's important to have that space for our creative community to have those exchanges.”


Lindsay Preston Zappas is KCRW's Arts Correspondent and the founder/ editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles (Carla).

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