Thursday, July 26, 2018


by Patricia Frischer
Allison Wiese
(all photos by Patricia Frischer)

HIGH-KEY: COLOR IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA deserves to have some color in the text of this article. It will be showing through August 12 at the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park.  You come down the wonderful staircase and see Allison Wiese's terrific art.  Who doesn't want a bit more pink in their and  built like a brick wall.

This show is geared to those who want to see good art, but maybe are not familiar with the role that color plays in the marketing of Southern California Art. Bright colors were not deemed to be very sophisticated in the art world right after the war. When Pop Art hit the news, all the commercial hues of common products entered the gallery space.  But it took Southern California's candy colored skies, water and flora to inspire local artist to break out of the sophisticated brown, black, and often muddy palate of abstract expressionism and shine some light from the sun. No longer were bright colors restricted to vacation homes in tropical climates. These color became acceptable in high art circles.  

Come see how these contemporary artist are carrying on this tradition in their own individual ways. Check my instagram to see some of the videos from the show. 

Exhibiting artists include many who have been part of the SD Art Prize including Claudia Cano, Max Daily, Victoria Fu, Han Nguyen, Matt Rich, and Allison Wiese

Max Robert Daily - this is a squished beach ball! 

Claudia Cano  - wonderful cleaning supplies from her Rosa alter ego above and below. 

Michael James Armstrong gives us the drama and intrigue of a Tyrell

Closer view, notice the fuzzy top half of the image and the subtle red near the floor. 

Matt Rich,  "art off the wall" work. 

We stopped for a quick visit to the innovations being created at the SDAI camp. 
I discovered a tiny art star in the making who produced a mini book. Watch in the future for Shaianne  Kedama and her Amazing Magical Book of Small Food 

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Art of Joe Caroff at Sergott Contemporary Art Alliance

by Patricia Frischer

The Art of Joe Caroff at Sergott Contemporary Art Alliance until Aug 17, 2018

Celebrating a career that spans over eighty years, Joe Caroff recently commemorated his 75th wedding anniversary and will be turning 97 this August. His investigations into the nature of abstraction have covered a wide range of media including prints, drawings, collages, paper works, and large-scale paintings. The  Art of Joe Caroff presented by Sergott Contemporary Art Alliance  in Rancho Santa Fe. For more info: Tom Sergott 858-756-2377 Showing until Aug 17 by appointment.

Joseph Caroff was born in 1921 one year after my own mother and he is 97 this year. He has lived and worked in New York City his whole life. Tom Sergott’s mother knew this artist and gave a small painting to Tom when he was quite young. Sergott’s mother loved the theater and Sergott even contemplated going into the arts, but instead turned his hand to the art of surgery. This relationship between artist Joe and his admirer Tom has lasted a life time, almost like a father and son.

When Tom Sergott retired he learned more about the visual arts and realized that Caroff had a treasure trove of painting which has not received the recognition they deserved. Caroff was known for his graphic design business he had established in 1965. He has credits in over 300 film campaigns including West Side Story, Barbarella,  Greatest Story Ever Told, plus Orion Film logo, the Fox trademark, 18 covers for Decca Records, 20/20, ABC News, ABC/Olympics, Turning Point, lots of NY Racing Association logos including Belmont, Aquaduct and Sarasota and probably the most famous logo for the James Bond series.

During and before the war, he had been class president at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Design. He had designed propaganda leaflets air-dropped in Europe. He was a B-17 armorer in the 8th Armey Air Force working in maintenance and army intelligence. He created and taught art classes but is probably best remembered for the naughty pictures of women he painted on B-17.

In 1980, he retired from the commercial art world to concentrate on his paintings but not before winning the National Award for Best Toy Package. He continued to use his graphic skills to help in fundraising especially medical and museums charities.

Caroff has had New York exhibitions including his series The Terni Suite, 1986, The Iconic Metaphor, 1990, and Controlled Gesture. In 2011 he wrote a psychographic portfolio drawn while sitting up called all lying down and he showed The Liberated Line at the Painting Center in 2012.

Tom Sergott decided to help shine more light on Joe Caroff. Caroff designed a logo for Sergott Contemporary Art Alliance and Sergott started to display his work along with the work of other San Diego regional artist in art fair throughout the county. Sergott expanded to include artist he discovered all across America and in his travels especially to Cuba and Mexico. Sergott also has a permanent display gallery in Rancho Santa Fe where you can see this retrospective.  

What a joy it was to see all these works by Joe Caroff. I had seen many pieces over the years but it is rare to see a grouping from artist that spans so many years all beautifully displayed in one place. You can tell the loving attention with which Tom Sergott has arranged the works to best show them off with the help of co-curator and installed by Juno Grace Lee.  Beautiful flower arrangements by his wife Ann grace the space.

The work actually reflects the history of art from about the 1920’s on. There are works that reference Braque’s cubism, Leger’s mechanical renditions, and glide into abstraction. But I am particularly attracted to the works from 2012 which can really be considered his late work, when he returns to his roots of graphic design. The line is always important in his work, but in these brilliant compositions, the line literally comes off the page. Many artists start to fade in their later years, and many go back to a previous style, but Caroff, like Matisse, has found a way to invent a style all his own which is bold and relevant.

These are precious work, with amazingly low prices, and they should be seen and appreciated.  Many thanks go to Tom Sergott for bringing this art to San Diego.

 You can see a Joseph Caroff retrospective The Art of Joe Caroff at Sergott Contemporary Art Alliance until August 17 by appointment or join the mailing list to get news of the closing exhibition when a short film on the life of Joe Caroff will be shown. (858) 756 2377

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Artist Portrait Project by Jennifer Spencer

by Patricia Frischer

Jennifer Spencer photo by Pasha Turley
(Other photos by Patricia Frischer)

Jennifer Spencer signing her books. 

The Artist Portrait Project by Jennifer Spencer is launched at Warwick's bookstore (7812 Girard Ave, La Jolla,92037) on July 19th with a little reception at 7:30 pm. This is a photographic memoir of portrait sessions with 50 San Diego Artists with included a presentation and a book signing by the author.

A large crowd turned out for this artists re-union to celebrate the launch of this book which has been in the making for several years. Many of the 50 artists were present and so not only did Jennifer Spencer sign the book, but autographs were collected in the time following a short presentation by the author. 

Jennifer Spencer, through her dedicated work with the umbrella arts organization COVA, is beloved by many San Diego Artists.  These artists make up the bulk of the portraits in this book and what is interesting is how she has continued to learn about and support them. This is shown not only in the words that accompany the images, but in the images themselves. They tell us more than words could ever express.  She has caught a mood of a time and so these photographs, which are works of art themselves, will also be an important historical record of this visual arts community.

Jeffery Laudenslager

Deanne Sabeck

Ann Mudge

Nilly Gill

Helen Redman

Becky Guttin

Ric Todd

Pasha Turley
Joseph Bennett

The large crowd all holding up books that they bought on the night!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Beliz Iristay at Bread and Salt

by Patricia Frischer
Bread and Salt presents Beliz Iristay
Regular Gallery Hours: 11 - 4  Tuesday - Saturday or by appointment

If you have not been to Bread and Salt lately, then it is time for a re-visit. Jim Brown who owns the building is supporting three spaces, the gallery when Beliz Iristay is showing, an artist's residency space and a performing space. The Sardine Bar, an art installation by Max Robert Daily is thriving, the Athenaeum has three spaces, a gallery, a print shop and a soon to be ceramic studio. Kathleen Mitchell and Wendy Maruyama have just moved in to a studio next door and Ice Gallery, one of the first showing spaces is still there. There are at least two other spaces that I saw in partial use and an upstairs as well. 

Beliz Iristay takes full advantage of the large gallery space with a well thought out exhibition that concentrates on her Turkish Heritage. It is wonderful to see traditional symbols and images brought into contemporary artworks. She embraces the past culture and comments on current political issues.

She uses a variety of mediums to explore her concepts, including color transfers on bricks, ceramic sculptures, plates with glazes and slips and even found objects like the Turkish rugs that are Incorporated in a work about Ataturk, the great leader of the Modern Turkish  who brought the county into the 20th century. You see his head tumbling down though the years past fallen minarets but landing upright and still strong. The the current retroactive government of Turkey is trying to turn back the clock to pre-Ataturk times.   

Beliz Iristay has a full schedule coming up with works in the Museum Of Contemporary Art, San Diego Art Institute and a two person show with Irene de Watteville at the Athenaeum in La Jolla. It is gratifying to see this deserving artist getting the exposure she deserves.