Friday, June 28, 2013

Mara De Luca at Quint and Hunt Slonem at Madison by Cathy Breslaw

Quint Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA

“Even If The Lights Go Out”: Mara De Luca

Review by Cathy Breslaw

MARA DE LUCA – Even If The Lights Go Out | June 8 – July 27, 2013

“Even If The Lights Go Out” is an exhibition of acrylic and mixed media collage paintings by Los Angeles based artist Mara De Luca.These ten large scale abstract works were inspired by the mystical poet Rainer Maria Rilke’s collection called“ Duino Elegies”. De Luca’s works strongly reference sweeping gestural landscapes – some giving subtle indications of vistas with hills and sky while others suggest cloud formations.  The paintings are minimal in the number of shapes and forms - just enough to create luminous and sometimes transparent washes of color creating an ambiance that is atmospheric in nature. There is an ‘other worldly’ feeling about the works bringing the viewer along to float in the empty spaces within the canvases. A few of the ‘sky’ works are more literal in their color choices while the others are focused in the fuschia – purple – gray range suggesting skies and landscapes one might see at sunrise or sunset but with much greater intensity.  While the paintings are quite enchanting with subtle beauty, they are also disquieting. There is a certain loneliness and emptiness in the calm, quiet spaces of the landscapes alluding to De Luca’s reference to Rilke’s poetry suggesting a world that includes both beauty and despair.

Madison Gallery, La Jolla, CA
“Butterflies and Rebirth”: Paintings by Hunt Slonem
Review by Cathy Breslaw

At first glance, Hunt Slonem’s large exhibition of oil paintings appear as simply a collection of richly colored, decorative images on canvas.  However at closer examination, these works featuring birds, butterflies, flowers and human faces Slonem reveals a deeply intimate, sensitive familiarity and keen technical knowledge of subject matter.He creates his paintings in his New York studio that also serves as an aviary where he cares for rescued birds. Through pattern, repetition and color, each painting portrays a field of images of mostly birds or butterflies seemingly suspended in space, appearing and disappearing as they move in and out of view.  There is an underlying grid structure to most of Slonem’s works and a surprising subtle free-handed cross-hatched pattern scratched into the surface of each painting.The cross-hatching alludes to a cage or screen that may be restraining the birds or butterflies. Painted in an expressionistic style, these works have a sense of levity, light and space that is both spiritual and joyful.
Cathy Breslaw is a southern California visual artist, writer and lecturer who has had over 25 solo exhibitions, and 50 group exhibitions across the country at museums, art centers, college and university galleries and commercial galleries. Her work can be found in many private and corporate collections. Her work and writing can be seen at:

Spiral: New Paintings by Gail Roberts

Scott White Contemporary Art, La Jolla, CA
Review by Cathy Breslaw

Spiral by Gail Roberts at Scott White Contemporary Art  (7655 Girard Ave. Suite 101, La Jolla, 92037)has an opening reception: Sat, June 8, 6-8 pm and continues until  until July 27More info: 858.255.8574


“Spiral” is an exhibition of oil paintings by Gail Roberts.  Roberts, whose work is primarily representational, incorporates Fibonacci, a mathematical principle referencing number sequences and spiral patterns in nature.  Her work portrays nature’s decomposition of organic matter in the form of bird nests, feathers, twigs and leaves. This imagery appears to serve as commentary on our relationship between nature and culture. The central theme of nests is a metaphor for the life cycle of birth to death and Roberts sometimes juxtaposes these nests with text about birds in flight, hunting and being hunted. 

Curiously, there are no images of birds in these paintings, only evidence that the birds were at one time present in these environments. Some of the works are painted on canvas while others are painted on 12 inch squares of marble, slate and terrazzo – materials that are culled from the earth and commercially produced. Many of Roberts’ compositions have a delicate and fragile quality in the way they are painted, bringing to our awareness the temporal nature of life.It is the “empty nests” we recall when we walk away, wondering what Roberts left unresolved  - that there is more to her story – a narrative that remains unexplained.

Cathy Breslaw is a southern California visual artist, writer and lecturer who has had over 25 solo exhibitions, and 50 group exhibitions across the country at museums, art centers, college and university galleries and commercial galleries. Her work can be found in many private and corporate collections. Her work and writing can be seen at:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ernest Silva, Jay Johnson and Chuck Arnoldi at OMA

Volcanoes and Full Moons: Ernest Silva, Looking For Things: Jay Johnson, Tony Delap: Selections from 50 years (opens June 29 and three until Sept 15), Intersections: Charles Arnoldi (only until Aug 25) at the Oceanside Museum of Art (704 Pier View Way, Oceanside, 92054) More info: Daniella Susalla 760.435.3720

I was very impressed by the curator’s statement for the volcanoes and Full Moons exhibition, a mini retrospective of the work of Ernest Silva. Daniella Susalla worked hard and successfully to put together this and the other three major shows at the OMA. All these artists are top quality and two of them Silva and Jay Johnson, both SD Art Prize established artists, are local to San Diego. It is nice to see our own on equal footing with Charles Arnoldi and Tony Dulap.

I am a huge fan of Ernest Silva’s art and he is an immensely likable and intelligent man who is as charming as his work.  In this show, I recognized his continuous use of a recognizable set of images that is his visual language.  I was most surprised to be unable to date any of the works.  Within a theme (and the work was hung in themes) the dates ranged over 40 years. His consistency in no way means there are limitation in the variety of the work.  Instead,  I feel that the work has a freshness that makes it impossible to recognize a chronological order.  I always feel as if I am looking at pages from a graphic novel when I see Silva’s work. You know there is a story there but it is up to you to make it up in your head. Nostalgia and Nature live side by side with Scary and Silly. 

I also admire Jay Johnson greatly and especially the way he has combined his graphic design and display sensibilities which are top notch with his fine art vision. But I am the most taken with his small metal and turned wood figures. The small boat from this small show was the winner for me although the large work which we first showed two years ago at the Art San Diego Fair is a museum quality acquisition waiting to be made. 

I know the twig themed works of Charles Arnoldi but it took me a while to transition to the flat paintings. That is why the hacked painting for me was the star of this show. It looked like he had painted on a thick wood slab and then sawed it like someone who had never used a chain saw before…rough and in your face and bold. I like that raw power.  


So now it is up to you to go and see this great collection of show and tell me what you think of Tony Dulap art on display. 

Here are two additional reports by Cathy Breslaw on Jay Johnson and  Ernest Silva :

Looking for Things: Jay Johnson at Oceanside Museum of Art

Jay Johnson’s exhibition in the Parker Gallery is an elegant collection of wall works reminiscent of both assemblage and minimalist sculpture.  The works call to mind the sculpture of early 20th century sculptor Brancusi in their highly well crafted wood forms and the minimalist works of American sculptor Donald Judd. Johnson’s work is both quirky and playful, as well as poignant and symbolic. His metal sculpture “Flag Path”(2009),  mixes small oval shapes with pine cone-like texture, gestural line, a statue-like figure holding up a sign with an oval metal shape within it. This wall piece comprises a balanced set of shapes whose compositional formality outweighs any narrative meaning. Symbolic formalism is a hallmark of Johnson’s work. Another larger piece “I Keep Looking for Things”(2010)is a black and white wall piece made of ceramic tiles with photographs , and some painterly forms on tile creating a vertical assemblage of square and rectangular tiles joined together.The photographs suggest biographical material.The composition follows a visual pattern that is more mechanical rather than personal in its content. Johnson’s love of shape, form and craftsmanship along with an intriguing combination of materials, forms the foundation of the work in this exhibition.

Volcanos and Full Moons: Ernest Silva at Oceanside Museum of Art, Oceanside, CA

“Volcanoes and Full Moons” is a large survey of Ernest Silva’s work that spans four decades.  Paintings,installation, sculpture, and drawings create a landscape rich in visual poetry and story telling that is uniquely Silva’s own.  Sometimes illustrative and often with a loose painterly style Silva’s work evokes early twentieth century art history and an appropriation o the work of Matisse and Gauguin,together with a mix of German Expressionism and folk art. Many of the subjects of these works explore personal imagery of deer, lighthouses, bodies of water, birds, tree forests, volcanoes and burning fires – all recognizable as Silva’s vocabulary honed over many years. Silva’s mostly large scale works include a series of black and white expressive paintings depicting nude figures in idyllic landscapes. They are simultaneously romantic and thought-provoking, and appear to speak to a deeper universal search for meaning. Other richly hued paintings of interiors and outdoor landscapes are narratives that require the viewer to decipher or create on their own.Creation, destruction, bringing awareness to the fragility of the environment  and natural world and the duality of darkness and light are all themes that are explored in Silva’s work.