Closing night: Water & Wood 2017
by Janice Nigro
The evening started off right, even though I was going solo. When asked at the entrance, I announced like a kid that I was an artist and pointed enthusiastically to my work on the wall.
If I was reluctant before, I no longer was at calling myself an artist. “Well you can vote for yourself then,” the woman at the entrance said as she handed me a card to vote for best in show. Let me say, I believe she was supporting me.
I surveyed the gallery. Not as crowded as opening night, but enough people, dogs (yes, dogs!), and food and wine to make it interesting. I was an artist for at least one last evening.
I started to have a Cinderella moment thinking about what would happen after the night was over. I snapped out of it when two of my best friends in the South Bay showed up and voted for me as best in show.
The big attraction for closing night was live nearly nude body painting. And there you have it, this was the real deal-a bonafide art exhibition with even the nearly nude model. To keep it PG, body parts were strategically covered, but not by much.
I had definitely taken one step further out of the world of science.
I timed my arrival rather poorly, though, as the artist, Paul Roustan, had already completed his work on the model. In just an hour and a half. Unfortunately…In the absence of viewing the actual painting process, I somehow felt as if I was now just staring at a woman who had nearly nothing on.
Roustan had painted the woman’s entire body, including her face, in the exhibition’s theme of water and wood. She looked like a nymph from the sea, with waves, currents, and sea foam covering her body and her long, curly flowing light brown hair like a Venus in a Botticelli painting.
OK, that’s one career option that’s no longer available to you after a certain point in life. The paint needs to go on smoothly.
I didn’t know what to ask, other than how does it feel to be body painted? I wondered whether she got some kind of pleasure out of it because you can’t help but think of some practical issues. You wouldn’t be able to sit on anything for example. I thought he had used brushes, but it was airbrushing which on a cold night she told me wasn’t so fun. The kids later in the evening sure liked testing the airbrush on their own faces though.
It was an impressively detailed body painting. I thought, after all of that, does she just go home and take a shower? “Yes,” he said. “You have to give your art away anyway.” He takes photographs so in the end it doesn’t matter that the work literally goes down the drain.
Snygg Mas, a photographer working under an alias, won best in show for his work entitled “Hermosa Flow.” A brilliant composite of over a year’s worth of photographs depicting life at a specific location in Hermosa Beach.
If I had to choose though, it would have been the work of Drica Lobo. Her paintings are acrylic on canvas and wood, depicting beach life in the most vibrant colors imaginable. Color your life she says, and she does. She makes it all happen in her small garage. One of her big canvases, Moon Shadow, was chosen for the cover of the Easy Reader which was coincident with a full moon and a lunar eclipse occurring the night before the opening.
She also happens to be a smashing dresser. She puts unlikely, inexpensive items together creating a new look that perhaps only she can carry off. For that night, it was a short faux furry jacket, bolero pants, and bright red matt lipstick. That she is Brazilian is all I need to say.
Fewer people were around, but there were enough interested in discussing my photos. Some were surprised that they were all animals, while a few others knew exactly what they were.
My photographs did not sell, but I did what I was supposed to do: I talked about art. I learned how other artists got started-Emily Brantley even had a transformative moment professionally while snorkeling with turtles in Hawaii. Something I could relate to. I also learned a couple of things that will hopefully guide me more gracefully through the next such event.
If I could change one thing, my display would have been more professional. One way to do this is to print photographs on art paper. And to make them big! I just didn’t have the time to do it for this event.
I felt more vulnerable there than at the farmers’ market where my work is on display weekly (normally when it’s not raining). In the exhibition, people were looking at my work as real art. I wondered whether my photographs were displayed properly, whether my message was clear, and most of all, whether I belonged there at all. I didn’t expect to feel that way, but I soon got over it because the exhibition turned out to be a lot of fun.
Finally, art is work that we do as professionals, and we should be paid as professionals. I got that message from a story about a first date from one of the artists. Her date casually asked her to draw something (she is great at it). She quite simply asked if he would do his work for her for free. It’s somehow a concept today that artists, writers especially, should do their work for free or for nearly nothing. But she knows her value.
Water & Wood 2017 was a great success. Voting cards for best in show (400) ran out the first night. Ten pieces were sold over the week, including the work of some children. The event ended up in the black, paying for itself as well as generating some revenue for local arts programs. If you missed it, the exhibition in an abridged form continues. Rafael McMaster decided to rent the venue for the next month. Some artists have chosen to keep their work up so it’s still available for viewing at Hermosa Design, 618 Cypress.
That’s a wrap as they say to my first artists’ exhibition in the Los Angeles area. There is more to come…Another exhibition is in the works for April, and I have a solo exhibition at Java Man in Hermosa Beach in July 2017.
So stay tuned for more…
©Janice Marie Nigro/janikiInk.com