Monday, May 24, 2010

Cheryl Medow, Gary Polonsky and Peter Kempson May 25 - June 19, 2010

TAG Gallery is proud to present new works by Peter Kempson, Gary Polonsky and Cheryl Medow.

May 25 - June 19, 2010

Artists' Reception Saturday May 29th, 5-8pm


Though relatively new on the fine art scene, Peter Kempson has already exhibited at LACMA, the prestigious Los Angeles Co. Museum of art. His canvasses are remarkable for their detailed precision, as his style evolves from realism to photorealism.

With a wry sense of the city's proclivity to spin paradox on top of paradise, Kempson's L.A.ndscapes were called "love notes to Los Angeles" by one critic, and he has recently been awarded the commission for a large painting to grace the lobby of the L.A. Firemen's' Credit Union. Nonetheless, his paintings have been purchased for collections across the U.S. and in Europe.

Kempson has had a career as an advertising art director and creative director at Ogilvy & Mather in New York and McCann Erickson in Los Angeles, with numerous awards for creativity to his credit, including several Clios and an Emmy.

When viewing his paintings, it may be hard to believe that Peter Kempson is a self-taught artist. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Virginia, which is reflected, in the story-telling quality of his work.

Though he has begun painting other cities, beginning with his hometown of New York, Kempson's primary focus remains capturing the unique and ironic character of Los Angeles where, as he puts it, "...validation may come in the form of an Oscar statuette or a stamp on your valet parking ticket."


Los Angeles artist Gary Polonsky presents a series of three dimensional "botanical" pieces in his new show at TAG Gallery. He has abandoned the flat, rectangular canvases of his early work to experiment with, and then expand upon the use of other materials. The results are "canvases" with no corners, with painted surfaces that twist, and undulate, sometimes showing both sides of the piece. Most of his "canvases" have rough, textured edges, a notable characteristic of real leaves.

Yet, on close inspection of any of his colorful leaf paintings, one notices that he still incorporates expressionist methods, suggesting his early admiration of Jackson Pollock, and other abstract expressionists.

Seen in person, the painting's surface jumps out at the viewer because of the varying degrees of depth; and some, like his two orchid paintings, extend almost eight inches into the room.

A graduate of Santa Monica City College, and Art Center College of Design, Polonsky has been involved in art for almost fifty years and has shown his work in several galleries, both here in the Los Angeles area, and San Francisco.


"Is that a painting?" "Are those stuffed birds?" "Are those really wild birds?" These are some of the questions you may find yourself asking when you see the works in Cheryl Medow's latest exhibition, Wild Wings which continues her exploration of her passions for photography, birds and the environment. She presents idealized images of the wild birds she photographs in idealized environments to emphasize the interconnectedness of all creatures.

Medow travels from her backyard to other parts of the United States, Europe, Central and South America and parts of Africa in search of just one more bird, one more photograph of the flying descendants of dinosaurs.

Her images are initially captured in the field as photographs of birds, landscapes and sky. Then they are melded in the studio through modern computer techniques and tools to produce a final idealized image that is simultaneously hyper-real and hyper-artificial, reminiscent of the dioramas found at the Museum of Natural History.

Medow graduated from UCLA with a BA in Art & Design. Her recent work has been published in 100 Artists of the West Coast II, NANPA Expressions Magazine 2009, Nash Editions: Photography And The Art Of Digital Printing. Her awards include NANPA Juror's Award, Brand Art Library Competition and The Topanga Canyon Art Center, Best of Show Award. She has donated her work to the Inner City Arts Program in Los Angeles and this year, has been asked to donate a work to the Venice Art Walk Silent Auction.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Gary Polonsky Interview

Large Leaf Group 3
acrylic on wire mesh 53 x 63 x 5 1/2"
Gary Polonsky

Gary Polonsky's Botanical Series expands the boundaries of painting with added dimension.

Gary, where were you raised, and how has that environment and/or emotional climate influenced your art making?

I was born and raised here in LA. As a young boy, I was always drawing and building things: Erector Sets, wooden models, plastic models, paper models. Even Popsicle sticks. They were perfect for creating buildings and bridges.

A supportive family allowed me to pursue my art, but making a career of it was another matter. My father was in the import business, and had a large warehouse in Culver City that used to be the laundry for Culver Studios. I had about 1,000 square feet of space to use as a studio. And use it, I did.

One of my early motivations was the discovery of Jackson Pollock, and Abstract Expressionism. The energy, and enthusiasm of his work, and others was appealing and exciting. Most of all - it looked like a lot of fun. So my serious experiments with painting began many years ago.

What in particular fuels your passion toward this art you are making in 2010? Why the “leaves Gary? I’m completely fascinated with those leaves.

I’m finding - especially as we “all” age, a greater appreciation for the more common elements that make up what we perceive as life. My earliest experiments in AE were initially to emulate Pollock. It was all about learning - trying something new. It still is!

That sense of fun, that feeling - creating something unique, the pleasure and excitement of seeing your creation coming together - out of nothing. Those issues are motivating my work. The abstract work didn’t depend on a particular starting point or plan. Just the size of the canvas and a few colors. Other series, years later followed with other types of painting. Now – almost 50 years worth.

The leaf series developed over a short period of time, but as opposed to the abstracts, these began with a specific idea and a tentative plan. Using a (film) camera, scanner and computer, I started building a library of leaves with the idea of making them into paintings (not necessarily 3D though).

Again, I discovered another artist that sparked something in me - Patrick Hughes. His 3D “canvases” were amazing, unique, exciting, and very motivating.

With the idea of the third dimension in my head, and my library of leaves, I guess the idea just happened. Fascination: excellent word for it. I was fascinated with the colors and patterns of leaves, which were very reminiscent of my early work .Take a close look at practically any leaf on the ground. You’ll see small colorful abstract patterns, and colors. Each leaf is unique.

The only thing preventing me from proceeding with the series was the issue of the “canvas” itself; it wasn’t square anymore, it wasn’t flat, there were no stretcher bars, and no canvas. That critical issue meant that the requirements for the new canvas material were many. What material do I use instead of Canvass? Wire mesh!

53 Leaves
acrylic on wire mesh 26 x 26 x 3"

Gary Polonsky

What would you like your viewer to experience; do want to influence them toward some action or viewpoint?

Any experience is OK with me. When I was doing abstract expressionistic canvases, on more than one occasion someone would come up to me and say how much they liked the work. Each person had their own take on what they were looking at, but most liked the piece for some mysterious reason they could not always put into words.

Of course, there were some who didn’t . When that happened, I asked them what it was that they didn’t like. Almost always after some thought, they would say it was because they saw something in the painting (that I had not seen) that displeased them. I found those opinions to be quite helpful.

Painting - the arts in general, have their own language. No words are necessary - or required. The only influence, or viewpoint I hope to suggest is that life is more precious, more profound - than we realize. The only action I suggest is to awaken, like the Budda, to the higher consciousness, and wonder of life.

Could you talk a bit about your process in creating your work? Do you have a visual or emotional response that you initially want to capture? Do you always have a plan and stick to it? How do you begin and continue through completion?

As I mentioned before, I use digital tools to capture, compose, and develop ideas. I always carry my 35mm camera with me in hopes of capturing the beauty, and uniqueness of nature. And some subjects (small, colorful - fast – fish for example) require video.

Yes, I do have an initial idea that I try to capture, and develop, and then focus on. But an idea, a plan is just that, only a guide of sorts. Most plans change as the painting, or the series of paintings progress.

Interestingly enough, mistakes pay a big part of the process too. Most ideas, most paintings, when completed are not exactly what I anticipated when I started. And many times, those mistakes turn into something usable later on.

I also work on several pieces at the same time, so that if one painting becomes tedious, or a problem develops that requires me to consider what next to do, I always have another piece, or two, to work on.

Does any of this making of art that you do really matter? Why do you believe that?

Yes, it matters to me, and I believe it matters to most people - everywhere because it allows us the opportunity to share a common bound, a recognition, a communication that goes beyond words, or language, or cultures. Something we all can share, regardless of where you are from.

It’s an epiphany we experience as individuals that can be recognized, appreciated and shared with a diversity of people. All in the hope that each of us, in our own unique way, contributes to making our world a better place by promoting a higher understanding, and a greater respect for our selves, our planet, and our collective awakening consciousness.

If I may quote, from Thomas Moore (Care of the Soul), who puts it so profoundly: Creative work can be exciting, inspiring, and godlike, but it is also quotidian, humdrum, and full of anxieties, frustrations, dead ends, mistakes, and failures. It can be carried on by a person who has none of the soaring Icarus whishes to abandon the dark shadows of the labyrinth in favor of the bright sunshine. It can be free of narcissism and focus on the problems the material world furnishes anyone who wishes to make something of it.

Creativity is foremost, being in the world soulfully. For the only thing we truly make, whether in the arts, in culture, or at home - is soul.

Gary Polonsky with Large Leaf Group.

Gary Polonsky's exhibition at TAG Gallery begins May 25, 2010.

Monday, May 17, 2010

An Interview with Peter Kempson

Gate to Malibu Pier
Acrylic on canvas 24 x 36"
Peter Kempson

While acknowledging the unconventional, Peter Kempson’s paintings pay homage to Los Angeles as a landscape subject.

Are you originally from Los Angeles? If not, what brings you here? Do you consider where you are from an influence on your artistic development?

I came to Los Angeles from New York City in 1996, to take the position of Associate Creative Director at Lois/EJL Advertising. As I paint L.A.ndscapes, I'd say that my adopted hometown has had more of an influence on my art than where I was raised. To one who grew up associating the idea of a city with the vertical thrust and paved-over urbanity of Manhattan, L.A.'s relationship to Nature and sweeping vistas are exotic, and her gifts for nonchalance and self-parody are a refreshing change from cities that take themselves a bit too seriously.

Why do you create? What excites you about painting?

What excites me about painting right now is the opportunity to share my fascination with others. What can you say about a place so blessed by mountains and sea, and yet whose iconic structure is a half-ruined real estate sign from the 1920's? Los Angeles is a city where validation may come in the form of an Oscar statuette or a stamp on your valet parking ticket, where people live in palaces, bungalows and cardboard boxes and wear cars like clothing. She spins paradox on top of paradise with unselfconscious ease. My work attempts to capture the ironies and idiosyncrasies that make her L.A. One critic referred to my paintings as "love notes to L.A." A little surprising as I paint her billboards, telephone poles and all, but I suppose the affection I feel for her comes through on my canvasses.

What is the process that you use for your paintings?

My process begins with photography of L.A. scenes I find interesting or amusing. I avoid the obvious (and much pictured) views like the Hollywood sign or the Chinese Theater. I then use Photoshop to compose an image, sometimes from as many as 20 photos, often changing the color of a house, moving a palm tree or adding and deleting elements to create a harmonious composition. I paint from my printouts, making additional changes as I go.

Yard Sale
Acrylic on canvas 24 x 36"
Peter Kempson

Did you go to art school?

I did not go to art school, per se. My degree is in English from the University of Virginia, and I did post grad work in Communication Art & Design at Virginia Commonwealth University. I consider myself primarily self-taught as an artist.

Who are some artists that are currently producing work that you like or that you’d consider an artistic influence on you?

I appreciate abstract art, but am drawn to representational work. I admire many artists from Richard Estes and Edward Hopper to Dali and Magritte, but can't say that any have had a direct influence on my work.

What’s your biggest fear?

My biggest fear? I suppose it's that I will not have time to do the kind of work I want to do.

Do you think art is important?

Yes, of course I think art is important. It is the way we communicate with one another in ways that hold deeper meaning and insight than any "tweet" or "twitter." Art expresses our times, environment and ourselves, and provides a link from our souls and minds and hands to those who will come after we have gone.

Peter Kempson.

Peter Kempson's upcoming exhibition at TAG Gallery opens May 25th.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cheryl Medow Interview

Ovampo Sparrowhawk ©2010 Masai Mara, Kenya
Digital Pigment Print
Cheryl Medow

Blending photography and a painterly sensibility Cheryl Medow elevates images of wildlife into a rarified domain.

Where did you grow up?

Los Angeles. I graduated from UCLA with hardly ever leaving home. After graduating, I started traveling around the world with my camera, family and friends.

When I was young, there was far less asphalt and cement, so I spent a lot of time outdoors, playing, catching caterpillars and watching them turn into butterflies. I was always out doing something in nature. I didn’t realize how interesting birds are until I went to Africa. Our first trip guide asked, “Do you like birds?’ I said yes and asked why the question? He said, “When the animals are not around, the birds will always be around, so you’ll never get bored.” I found that watching birds is far from boring. They may be small, but their lives are incredibly interesting, busy and sometimes outright funny.

I initially wondered why it wasn’t more like National Geographic. Then I realized that National Geographic only shows you the final result, highly edited, leaving out all the waiting and waiting for the animals to show up and seeing no animals for a day or more. This made me even more interested focusing on birds. I must say, of all the places I’ve been, the birds in Africa are the most spectacular, Brazil a close second.

What made you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

Art has always been a part of my life. The creative aspect comes from my family. My immediate family pursued music. I found my niche in the visual arts. Creativity is where I continue to find my “Self”. When I am working on my art, I can get to a calm, Zen-like place. I make it a practice to be with myself as much as possible – thereby being an artist fits my needs.

How do you choose your subject matter, and where do you find inspiration?

For this show, I think the birds have found me. When I approach them, they don’t necessarily fly away. Some, almost, say, take the picture already. What are you waiting for – I’m posing for you.

I’ve always been inspired by nature. In the Masai Mara in Kenya, you can stand in one spot, twirl yourself around and see the horizon everywhere. No buildings, no other obstructions - it just goes on forever. That feeling of spaciousness warms my soul.

Carmine Bee-eater ©2010 Manda Bay, Kenya
Digital Pigment Print
Cheryl Medow

Are there any artists, contemporary or historical, that you count as influential to you?

On a trip to a Paris museum, I spent hours staring at the Monet Lilies. The sofa that I sat on was oval and the paintings were placed in a way so that they were not just in a straight line and I sat there feeling like I was at the edge of these ponds just taking in the beauty of them. The Impressionists have a soft, romantic, ethereal quality and I strive to have my photographs feel like watercolor.

I know that your images are more than just photography – how do you make them? Can you share that?

I go out in the field and take photographs with my digital camera, capturing images of birds, animals, sky, clouds, water, reflections, all that I see as beautiful or interesting.

To create a photo like those in this show, I find and watch a bird (before he flies away), noticing everything around him. I also take in the surroundings of the animals, the sun raising or setting, the clouds – I want them all in the final photograph. If the bird (since birds are rather small) is to be sharp and printed large, I have to take the shot only of him, leaving out all that wonderful information about the surroundings.. So, I will use more than one photo in my work layering in the backgrounds, foregrounds, central image and additional details that I find compelling. I call them digital pigment prints, which seems to be the current name for photographs that are digitally enhanced.

My fellow artists call me the “bird lady” and the “mask lady”. If you take a Photoshop class someone will eventually show you how to make a mask. Usually they are very rough around the edges, but mine are very, very precise, down to little feathers that are showing on the edges of the bird. Masks are one of my major tools.

Is there a separation between your "normal" life and your artwork?

When I work in my studio, my husband feels himself to be a Photoshop widower. I can stay up until late at night or work in the evening so I’m not available. Also, I have found that vacations are now working vacations for me. Even when we went to Hawaii - we’re supposed to relax, go for walks, but I wanted to go where the Albatrosses were and take pictures. So I’m taking all my camera equipment with me. And I’m weighed down by sixty or so pounds of equipment. So, it has intruded on my life, but it is my life.

What scares you, if anything?

That I won’t come up with another image. That I will not feel beauty in my life.

I’ve been doing birds for a couple of years now and I always thought that something will happen and I’ll move on to something else. And I still haven’t. It makes me think, “Oh my goodness, I’ll only be known for birds.” And so….

What do you see as next?

I’ve become so aware of landscapes. On my trip to Brazil to photograph jaguar, all the photographers waited around for a jaguar. While we were waiting, they saw me taking pictures of the clouds and the water, which were absolutely stunning. It’s a note to remind me that at every turn there is another road. When I see a new path, I will know it.

Until then, I will just keep exploring.

Cheryl Medow at work in Kenya.

Cheryl Medow's next exhibition at TAG Gallery begins May 25, 2010.