Meet the gallerists, young artists and museum patrons making the L.A. art world go ’round.
Eva Chow sits at the confluence of everything that is creative in Los Angeles. Married to entrepreneur-artist Michael Chow, she co-runs the family’s Mr. Chow restaurant empire across the globe—plans to open another restaurant in the Middle East are in the works—and has worked in production in the film industry, as a CFDA-member fashion designer, and studied traditional watercolor as a child. Those diverse threads make her the ideal co-chair—alongside Leonardo DiCaprio—of the annual must-attend event of the season: the LACMA Art + Film Gala. “Film is a very strong form of art,” she says. “It’s been influencing artists, fashion designers, musicians for a long time—all creative things in the universe are connected.” Over the past four years, celebrities, collectors, artists and musicians have flocked to the Gucci-sponsored bash to fête everyone from Martin Scorsese and David Hockney to this year’s honorees, Barbara Kruger and Quentin Tarantino. Chow is responsible for putting all the pieces together. “I look at it as a creative organizational thing,” the seasoned hostess says. “Everything that works is never because of just one thing. It’s the 1,000 details.” LACMA Art + Film Gala, Nov. 1, 323-932-5878; lacma.org.
Everyone wants a piece of David Kordansky. Fresh on the heels of launching his new gallery on La Brea Avenue, journalists from the national press and emerging artists want to know and be known by the 37-year-old dealer. Kordansky turned a former martial arts studio and car dealership into a 12,700-square-foot space to present his 30-some artists, which run the gamut from L.A. painter Mary Weatherford to photographer and Chicago-based sculptor Rashid Johnson. Inspired by Richard Wright’s novel of disillusion, Native Son, Johnson’s aggressive new show, “Islands,” is the debut exhibition for the gallery and features pieces made out of oak, paint, poured soap and wax. “Rashid and I came up together in the art world, and his ambitions as an artist have consistently pushed mine as a gallerist. I knew he would be inspired by the challenge of developing an exhibition for a building that didn’t yet exist,” he says. David Kordansky Gallery, 5130 W. Edgewood Pl., L.A., 323-935-3030; davidkordanskygallery.com.
His paintings swirl with bold brushstrokes, distorted figures, and muted and bright colors. “I hope my paintings come across as raw, with no excess whatsoever in them,” says Alexander Yulish. The 39-year-old credits his dynamic approach to a childhood in the studio with his mother, famed illustrator, painter and sculptor Barbara Pearlman. She’s obsessed with process, he says, often painting directly over a piece as soon as she’s finished—“a brave, brave trait.” Pedigree aside, the former actor, whose work is collected by the Annenbergs and Eugenio López Alonso, strives for emotional impact. “My favorite kind of art can turn on you,” says Yulish from his downtown studio. “One moment you see it, and it’s soothing, and then, next minute, it goes after you with a knife.” As for his upcoming September 2015 show at Ace Gallery in Beverly Hills, he’s promising plenty of twists and surprises. alexanderyulishart.com.
“I like to play with the idea of foreground and background,” says new-kid-on-the-block Dwyer Kilcollin. Her topographical sculptures of crushed rock and resin come to the fore this fall at the Foire International d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) (Off)icielle show in Paris and a solo exhibition-cum-outdoor installation in East L.A. co-hosted by LAXART and M+B Gallery. After stints at various galleries in her early years and recently graduating with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California, the Armory-featured artist only seems to be gaining momentum. She’s working on a special techie project with augmented reality start-up Daqri. Open her iPhone app and point your cell at an image or billboard, and voila, a sculpture you can see from every angle. “It’s like using your screen as a window,” she says. dwyerkilcollin.com.
Esther Kim Varet
Gallerist Esther Kim Varet is trading her digs on Abbot Kinney for a new location in a very big way. The art dealer and Ph.D. candidate bought a building on Highland Avenue a year ago and enlisted a rebuild from the firm Johnston Marklee for her gallery, Various Small Fires. No element was left to chance in the 3,000-square-foot space—walls were soundproofed, a light consultant was brought in to maximize sunlight without glare, and a 2,000-square-foot roofless space was constructed to house work by creators such as experimental composer and visual artist Scott Benzel, who’s building a replica of the Capitol Records spire (only inverted and surrounded by a string quartet riffing on the Beach Boys) for the opening on Oct. 9. “That’s what my gallery has come to represent: experimentation and creative possibility,” she says. “Two of the most important starting points for a conversation about art.” Various Small Fires, 812 Highland Ave., L.A.; vsf.la.
After an exciting dawn to 2014, when François Ghebaly moved his eponymous gallery from Culver City to a 12,000-square-foot warehouse Downtown, the Frenchman turned Angeleno has been keeping busy. Fall promises to be just as frenetic with two solo exhibitions featuring the youthful 32-year-old Sayre Gomez’s social-media influenced paintings, and a paean to Mike Kuchar, whose films tie into the ’80s New York underground experimental film scene and queer identity in the United States. (There are also trips to Frieze in London, FIAC in Paris and NADA in Miami on the agenda.) The disparate nature of the artists Ghebaly represents is an essential part of his choices. “My intention is to show things that will last beyond the moment of an exhibition,” the 35-year-old says. “The beauty of art is that it is something that is bigger than us.” For Ghebaly that means everyone from painters to sculptors to video-based artists can have a home. “I don’t believe in something tight and concentrated,” he adds. François Ghebaly Gallery, 2245 E. Washington Blvd., L.A., 323-282-5187; ghebaly.com.
By Elizabeth Khuri Chandler.
Photographed by Jessica Sample.