NoHo’s Satsuma Gallery mixes studio and exhibition space

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sydneyember90BY SYDNEY EMBER

The minimalist sign identifying the entrance for Satsuma Gallery is a marked contrast to the rusted antiques bookending the contemporary gallery on the outskirts of the North Hollywood Arts District (NoHo). But the visual juxtaposition is not the only unique aspect of the gallery. Inside, the artists in residence also use the space as their studios, giving visitors a glimpse into the actual creation of the pieces that will later hang on the gallery walls.


Satsuma Gallery sits on the outskirts of NoHo, amidst an antique store and a stained glass design shop.

“It’s very, very much a working artists’ studio,” said Richard Doran, the owner of the gallery. Currently, there are five other artists sharing the space with Doran – Keri Rosebraugh, Debra Kagan-Murray, Kerianne Connor, Catharine King and Victoria Howard.

The individual studios and exhibition spaces flow together, with speckles of paint on the ground leading to walls adorned with finished canvases, photographs, and clay forms. The result is an informal, comfortable atmosphere in which visitors are free to watch the artists at work.

A vaguely festive vibe fills the space, perhaps a result of the lingering bar from the opening of  their current show, Satsuma Solstice that Doran says attracted 350 people.

The individual studios and exhibition spaces flow together.

The individual studios and exhibition spaces flow together.

Rosebraugh’s playful animal forms, almost caricatures, flow into Connor’s work, which is heavily architectural.  Her multi-canvas compositions use string and resin to create artwork reminiscent of blueprint sketches mingled with abstract floral forms that pulsate with colorful intensity.

Further along the whitewashed walls hangs Kagan-Murray’s work – whimsical paintings saturated with rich reds, purples and golds.  Concentric circles join furtive lines and stripes, while pillowy animal forms dance on nearby canvases.

King and Howard share a studio space, but King’s paintings of bold stripes that seem to leap from the canvas are more abstract than Howard’s paintings and pastels of leaves, flowers and bulbs.


Richard Doran's "vessels," what he calls his flowing, organic containers, line shelves in the back of the studio.

Doran’s “vessels,” what he calls his flowing, organic containers, line shelves in the back of the studio. They are textured, yet simple, seemingly created by the Earth itself.  He described his pieces as embodying ­the concept of a journey – metaphysical, physical, spiritual – apparent in the grace and meandering lines of color on the forms.

His photographs of flowers, both color and black-and-white, mirror the natural shapes of the containers, linking the two media in a way that is surprisingly instinctive.

Though the artists do not work together on their pieces, Doran said they often talk and show the other artists their work to get feedback. But he added there may be plans in the future for all the artists to collaborate on a single art piece, a concept that would undoubtedly combine the disparate artistic styles.


Debra Kagan-Murray's work - whimsical paintings saturated with rich reds, purples and golds.

Doran opened the gallery about five years ago when he was looking for studio space. His neighbor,  Marshall Latter, who owns Glass Horizons, a stained glass design shop, had available space next door, which Doran then began to use for both exhibiting his work and painting. He found other artists in need of space, leading to the current gallery model, though he says he’s the only original member of the group left.

The gallery typically only holds exhibitions for its own artists, but there have also been invitational shows, where the artists will bring in other artists whose work they enjoy, and open shows, where a curator decides the pieces. They have also had benefit shows -where a percentage of the proceeds go to different organizations – and a show for high-school artists.

But Doran says the gallery may soon showcase other artists to provide different artwork for viewing and lessen pressure on the resident artists to produce art quickly. Because the gallery is on a largely industrial street that sees little foot traffic, Doran says he hopes displaying more artwork will attract more visitors and give exposure to new people.

Despite NoHo’s growing reputation as a cultural destination, Doran said he thinks the visual arts are not as well represented in the area, something he is trying to change by attracting more people to his unique gallery.

“I think people are trying to get as much work on the walls as they can,” Doran said. “We’re very much a studio.”

Satsuma Solstice: A Group Show with
 Kerianne Connor, 
Richard Doran, 
Victoria Howard, 
Debra Kagan-Murray
, Catharine King, 
Keri Rosebraugh.Though July 18 by appointment only.  Satsuma Gallery 
5447 Satsuma Avenue
 No. Hollywood, CA 91601(818) 508-7459

Sydney Ember is a student at Brown University, where she is a senior staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. She is studying cognitive neuroscience and maybe literary arts or philosophy. She is a graduate of Harvard-Westlake in Studio City.

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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