Making its debut in Los Angeles, the Objects of Art Show provided a vibrant blend of both contemporary and historic works, and in some cases a fusion of the two. At The Reef in DTLA this past weekend, Friday night’s gala opening offered viewers a look at a wide ranging collection of paintings, sculpture, weavings, antique furnishings, books, jewelry, and other ornamental objects.
The eclectic mix of folk and tribal art, international works, and a strong component of Southwestern style insightfully blurred the lines between antique collectibles and the finest in contemporary art. From stunning, silk-stitched woven baskets with an astonishing floral theme to African tribal art, abstract painting, Mexican pottery, and antique brass jewelry molds from Pakistan, it would be difficult to find a more extensive array of all things art.
With over 70 exhibitors on display, the show’s co-founders, Kim Martindale and John Morris, have crafted an exhibition that lifts collectors and viewers’ boundaries by presenting such a range of beautiful objects.
The many woven works on display were particularly astonishing. One-of-a-kind Wounaan Rainforest Baskets created in Panama blend intense geometric designs with stylized images of jaguars, flowers, iguanas, and parrots. Made with woven palm fibers and a rich palette of dyes, these exquisite pieces meld a fresh and modern look with as astonishing heritage.
Contemporary painting did not get short shrift either; the Bruce Lurie Gallery displayed a terrific collection of Nelson de La Nuez’ mixed media works. De La Nuez takes pop culture images from Mr. Monopoly to Calvin and Hobbes and makes them uniquely his own, in some works evoking the style of Roy Lichtenstein.
Ethos Contemporary Art offered terrifically tactile acrylic, crystal, and glitter works on archival ink jet prints on canvas, lush and depth-filled ocean-themed images such as “Gem Squid” and “Leftovers” from artist Barbara Strasen.
Elsewhere, Astrid Francis created vivid, brightly colored creatures against richly colored backdrops; the complex compositions are fantastical and absorbing.
Sculptural works also stood out, such as Victoria Roberts’ mixed media guitar “For What It’s Worth” inspired by the Buffalo Springfield song of the same name and her “Alpha Dog Star,” part compass, part clock, both emblematic of American culture.
The Los Angeles Art Association featured the eerie white suitcase sculptures of Sara Alavikia, “Absence,” a mute tribute to something nameless. Peter Walker’s perfectly rendered graphite-on-paper portraits were all delicate line and photographically-precise imagery.
At the Fabrik Projects space, Betsy Enzenberger’s whimsical Mini Pops & Ice Cream Cones sculptural series of resin sweets were delightful to look at and elegiac in approach: nothing lasts forever.
Antique works throughout the exhibition were carefully curated, whether the work was a 19th century baby Jesus from Goa, African wood carvings such as a Mende Elephant Rider from Sierra Leone, or a 19th century Salo Mpasso face mask.
Wearable art was also in abundance, from dazzling intricately beaded Native American tribal garments to both antique and recreated turquoise and opal jewelry, silver rings, and copper bracelets.
Within Objects of Art there was also a special exhibition, “The Journey is the Destination: Safari with Dan Eldon,” a collection of limited edition prints by the late author and photographer Dan Eldon, who termed his personal philosophy “Safari as a Way of Life.” His encompassing, collage-like scrap-book journals have been reshaped into a book which was also available for sale. The feature film, The Journey is the Destination, based on elements of Eldon’s life, was screened at the event as well.
Friday night’s opening gala benefitted Rock the Elephant, an international organization dedicated to creating awareness and action around the wildlife crisis in Africa and elsewhere. Their mission of conservation consciousness supports African elephant conservation through the International Elephant Institute, Elephants without Borders, and the Botswana government.
A surprise performance by Venezuelan-American artist Cristobal Valecillos in collaboration with Timothy Yarger Fine Art offered Friday’s attendees a preview of Valecillos’ Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA exhibition with a performance of “Los Diablos de Yare.” Masked tribal dancers in flowing red performed a vivid rhythmic fusion of tribal dance and modern choreography that literally flowed through the exhibition hall. The full performance is scheduled for October 21st.
Overall, the Los Angeles iteration of Objects of Art offered a full spectrum of works that fascinated and engaged viewers with the depth and breadth of its offerings.