Saturday, June 25, 2022

Steve Gibson: Listen With Your Eyes at SIP Art Space

 by Patricia Frischer

For those of us who are visual, listening with our eyes is second nature.  But when you listen, you often hear things differently depending on your mood. My mood was set when I arrived to see the Steve Gibson exhibition at the SIP Art Space  in San Marcos by an article I had read in the New Yorker magazine.  The article Bodies of Evidence by Anthony Lane describes the 2022 version of a film by David Cronenberg Crimes of the Future.  The key for me was the "single conceit: a plan to reboot the human digestive system so that we will gradually be capable of eating plastic."  So primed, I saw these organic shapes as human remodeled internal organs. I know this is very specific, but that is what I saw/heard in these works on the last day of the exhibition. When I read Doug Simay's curator statement, he quoted Gibson, "Paint like you are an alien."

I have seen many series by Steve Gibson and his technical skill  using gouache is always impressive. The color is so flatly applied that it could be silk screened and the lines are so precise that it almost seems mechanical. But I am always drawn to the wonderful colors that sing from the page. Maybe that is that it what I hear above all and unchanging.   

All of his works seem to me to be like comic book illustrations without the story or the figures. The color and compositions are stimulating and they seem to read from frame to frame. I don't particularly care that I don't know the meaning or if the meaning changes with each viewing. I just get lost in the complexity of the patterns and the juxtaposition of all those hues. 

A word about SIP Art Space which is not just the brainstorm of Vicki Walsh, but also her studio and classroom. SIP derives from the course she used to teach at Lux (now ICA North) and the Athenaeum. It stand for Someday I'll Paint. Walsh had a successful business career, but we are lucky that she found her someday, sooner rather than later. Her current work is about the black sheep that we all adore and hopefully will be on view once the series is finished. 

The large airy studio and back court yard are great for overflowing reception guests who are lucky to have a food truck available and a wine shop next door. The small gallery is the perfect clean well lit place and Walsh cleverly has offered it to a variety of curators at no charge. 

Elegant exterior of SIP art Space, a wonderful breath of art air in San Marcos. 

The Listen With Your Eyes exhibition  from May 17 to  June 24, 2022
For more information on the work in this show at SIP Art Space  contact: Vicki Walsh 858.336.6678

See more works by Steve Gibson in the report by the Contemporary Art Committee of the SDMA. 

The next show at SIP Art Space is curated by Anna Stump  
High Desert Carnival 
July 9 to August 19, 2022
Opening Reception July 9 from 4 to 7 pm. 
215 South Pacific Street, Suite #104, San Marcos, CA 92078

Sunday, June 12, 2022

LEMPICKA Onstage: A Thrilling Experience of an Art Deco Artist's Life

By Lonnie Burstein Hewitt 

 Self-Portrait: (Tamara in the Green Bugatti), 1929. Tamara de Lempicka Estate, ARS 2022.

Few women have had a life as theatrical as Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980), the art-deco artist whose name now graces a Broadway-bound musical at La Jolla Playhouse. 


Born in Warsaw to a wealthy Jewish lawyer and a Russian socialite, young Maria Gorska managed to get her grandmother to spring her from a dull Swiss boarding school and take her on a grand tour of Italy where she discovered a love of painters like Caravaggio and Veronese and had a chance to take some art lessons herself. 

When her parents divorced, she went to live with an aunt in St. Petersburg, and met her first husband, Tadeusz Lempicka, when she was only 15. A year after they married, the Russian Revolution broke out, and she had to use her wiles to spring him from prison. They wound up in Paris--a great place to be in the 1920s, but they were refugees, and he wasn't cut out to be a breadwinner. So she started painting in earnest, and within a few years was showing and selling seductive portraits of upscale patrons and female lovers, combining classical and cubist influences in her art while diving into a bold new world featuring Rafaela, the street girl who became her main model and muse. 

As Tamara de Lempicka, her adventures went on to include a wealthier second husband--a baron whose mistress she had painted--and a well-timed departure for the U. S. before the Nazi invasion of Europe. After years of mingling with the rich and famous in New York and Hollywood, many travels, and continuing to paint even when her style went out of style, she finally ran out of steam in Cuernavaca, Mexico, leaving her ashes to be scattered on the legendary volcano Mt. Popocatepetl. 


I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with Carson Kreitzer, the lyricist/playwright who originated the concept of Lempicka, and Matt Gould, the composer who also collaborated with her on the book. Their joyful spirits made the phone interview come alive.

"The show's actual beginnings are lost in the sands of time," Carson said. "I can only go back to when I met Matt in a workshop for composers and lyricists in 2010 and talked him into doing this really insane thing. I was used to writing about troublemaking women, and I'd been carrying the idea around for a few years, ever since a friend turned me on to Lempicka. Once I saw her paintings, I felt her story had to be a musical, but I don't write music… so I found Matt."

"In all fairness, it didn't take much to talk me into it," Matt said. "When I looked at the paintings and Carson showed me what she'd written so far, the words just sang off the page."

"I originally had in mind a Brecht/Weill cabaret kind of thing," said Carson.

"I saw it more as Les Miz--an enormous, sweeping musical," said Matt.

They've spent years developing various iterations of the show: first at Yale Repertory Theatre, then at the Williamstown Theatre in Massachusetts, always trying to get to the core of their mission: "to bring this incredible boundary-breaking woman into the current consciousness and give her the show that she deserves." Lempicka was heading for La Jolla when the pandemic intervened. Now, finally onstage at the Playhouse, this new version, helmed by Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin, looks like a winner. 

"We're trying to do what Lempicka was trying to do: use her work as a springboard to create something new," Matt said. "Eden Espinosa, who plays her, will be a revelation, and Rachel is creating astounding stage pictures. We aspire to be as grand as a Lempicka and let the audience in on the wild ride of her life."

FOOTNOTE: Although in her last years, Lempicka fell out of fashion, her paintings have lately been selling for millions. Once again, her time has come…and you won't want to miss this chance to experience Lempicka for yourself. 

EXTRAS: Googling Lempicka can give you a look at many of her paintings, and you can watch a delightfully informative talk about her by Roxana Velasquez, Director/CEO of San Diego Museum of Art, on YouTube.

You can also listen to Woman Is, a single from the upcoming Lempicka cast album, online. The lyrics not only give a real sense of the artist's passionate nature, but also her feelings about art. 

"A painting is not a woman or a warhorse or a glittering sky," she sings.
"A painting is canvas, pigment, plan, and design, always design…Everything is design!"

Mandell Weiss Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse
2910 La Jolla Village Drive
June 14 - July 24

Info/Tickets:; (858) 550-1010

Lonnie Burstein Hewitt is an award-winning author/lyricist/playwright who has been writing about arts and lifestyles in San Diego County for over a dozen years. You can reach her at

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Erika Torri: The Continuous Thread

 by Patricia Frischer

Erika Torri resplendent in Zandra Rhodes dress in a pose we all know and love.

Athenaeum Music & Arts Library presents Erika Torri:  The Continuous Thread from June 11 to July 16 with an opening celebration June 17 from 6:30 to 8:30 which is free.  On display will be approximately 40 out of 1,400 of Erika’s textile pieces created in the late 1970s and 80s, along with a selection of artists’ books, portraits, publications and ephemera that represent Erika’s tenure at the library including some works from her private collection.  Erika Torri became Executive Director of the Athenaeum in 1989 and is retiring this year. We thank her for 33 years of service to the arts community. She will continue to build the world renowned artist book collection for the Athenaeum. 

The following is just a small sampling of the miniature delights on display. The first set is inspired by the family portrait. Most of the others are landscapes or still lives, but they are abstracted. At first one wonders if  this out of necessity or on purpose. But  like Erika herself, each tiny stitch is well thought out and carefully placed. Even 1400 of these beauties would fit into a couple of boxes, conserving materials and space at a time when we have learned that bigger is not always better. 

Here are a few of the arts works from Erika Torri's own collection. 

Ed Ruscha

Ernest Silva

This is the collection of SD Art Prize Artists that have shown at the Athenaeum over the past years. Not only did Erika Torri arrange for the shows to take place at the Athenaeum, she is still a member of the SD Art Prize Committee. The SD Art Prize is produced by San Diego Visual Arts Network. We are eternally grateful for her support. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Timken Museum Reopens

 by Patricia Frischer

View out front windows

I have been waiting for months for the Timken Museum of Art to reopen and finally today the doors welcomed us in. At first I could not notice anything different except the removal of those old turn styles. But then I realized that the lighting and wall color was giving the works a different look. In fact when I took the photos for this article, there was no need for lighting adjustment. Everything looked clear and distinct and the window gleamed and showcased the view out the front and the pond out the back. Even the pristine new floor reflected calm and elegance. 

There is returning statue of the Flying Mercury installed one of the side gardens and  a fountain bubbled delightfully at the other side garden. The art on display is all the permanent works of the collection. Each one deserved our attention and that is why we can visit and re-visit, finding a quiet place for contemplation and an atmosphere built to allow us to feel the work as well as see it.  
View out back windows

Luca di Tomme; Trinity and the Crucifixion with scenes from the Life of Christ

The Last Judgement. Russian Icon

Francisco de Zurbaran: Saint Francis in Meditation

Ella Ferris Pella; Salome. This is one of the new acquisitions and the first female artist in the collection! Let's hope that is a trend. She looks like she is ready to have a head on that plate. 

John Frederick Peto: In the Library

Raphaelle Peale: Cutlet and Vegetable

Pieter Claesz: Still Life

Anonymous: Still Life

Flying Mercury comes home!

Wonderful to see a younger generation viewing the art

Lovely necklace with proceeds partly going to support the museum

A small but perfectly curated selection of items for sale in new gift shop. 

Next show featuring Marianela de la Hoz as the summer artists in residence. 

Timken Museum of Art 
1500 El Prado, Balboa Park
San Diego CA 92101

Monday-Tuesday: Closed
10 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday
Subject to change for special events

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Shinpei Takeda & James E. Watts and Oceanside Unfiltered

by Patricia Frischer

Shinpei Takeda, James E. Watts, Zach Cordner

Oceanside Museum of Art


Shinpei Takeda: Limit of Your Safe Space
Until Sept 11

Those familiar with Shinpei Takeda’s woven works know that he gives us a wonderful all encompassing experience of space, both airy and solid at the same time. Often there has been a underlaying message about the state of the world giving additional meaning to the works. The large art that greets you at the entrance to this exhibition with it grand scale and barbed wire interior speaks to those past works.

But in this show in which he explores both virtual and augmented reality, he reaches out to the community to ask, “How do you define your own safe space?”  Many of us consider our homes a safe space after more than 2 years of a global pandemic. We see Ukrainians in the daily news struggling for a sense of safety. But there are people who are not just affected by temporary crisis, but deal with displacement and combat long term.   He choose five people around the world who became collaborators in this process of defining safety and to do that he had to create a safe space for them to communicate.

For this project, communication took the active form of 2d and 3d object design. To show off the results, there is one virtual reality scene created where you don goggles.  There are also five more augmented realities that you access with your smart phone. And to make your feel comfortable and safe there are woven chair hammocks instead of benches for easy viewing. (Hint: to get out of the chair hammock, just back up until you are standing!). There is also a video presentation of the workshops he arranged.   

This exhibition is supposed to open conversations about what it means to feel safe from discrimination, criticism, harassment, and any other emotional or physical harm in society and in emerging virtual spaces. You need time to do this so allow plenty when you visit. 

Shinpei Takeda

Shinpei Takeda - detail

Shinpei Takeda - virtual reality

Shinpei Takeda - augmented reality

Shinpei Takeda
Shinpei Takeda - detail

View from front of gallery to the rear of gallery. Photo: Shinpei Takeda

James E. Watts

until July 17

The James Watts Institute for Artistic Behavior is the private domain/library/playhouse of an artist inspired by literature.  He attaches pieces of printed metal scrap  which have their own stories 
to wooden bases. So there are layers and layers of meaning in this almost life sized gathering of a variety of characters. There are jokes and unexpected juxtapositions plus hand carved stone additions that seems to add a bit of gravitas.  Beth Smith has included some of our favorite works in this mini-retrospective. The charming set of Perfect Day Quilts and flower vases are also available in the gift shop. 


James Watts - Flowers

James Watts - flowers

James Watts - Perfect Day Quilt

James Watts - detail

James Watts - Frankenstein

James Watts - Quosimoda, Esmealda, and Goat

James Watts - Don Quixote, Sancho Panza and horses

Oceanside Unfiltered
until May 29

Zach Cordner has put together a great cross section of images of the underbelly of Oceanside which are fascinating and not as frightening as you might have expected.  Two of his own works are included but are not the usual celebrity images of his you might see in Rolling Stone magazine. The Jordan Verdin wall of homeless people is especially beautiful….yes, beautiful and you can see it at the sample video at the top of the page. A video in the exhibition by 2thabrain with its tattoos and jacked up muscle cars is worth the 9 plus minutes that it runs.  

Other local photographers include Dominic Cooley, Sergio Garcia, Robby Gogatz, Trevor J, Charlie Neuman, Jens Ochlich, Brookes Reeder, Cameron Reeder, JT Rhoades, Edna Navarrete, Adam Ruzzamenti, David Stoddard and Andres Ximenez.

Zach Cordner

Zach Cordner

A new shelf for the Museum Store

Allan Marrow

Allan Marrow - After the Fire, limited edition linocuts

The next exhibition at OMA is A Kind of Heaven from May 21 to August 21st.